Admit it: Obama is a cool president. He shares playlists on Twitter, he goes deadpan on Between Two Ferns, and now he’s having a house party — or a White House party, if you will.
Inspired its namesake, South by South Lawn (SXSL) is a day-long event which will have musical performances, interactive booths, exhibits, film screenings, and discussion panels centered around fostering innovation and bringing lasting change to our country. In a blog post on Medium, President Obama wrote:
“Much like the festival I dropped by in Austin earlier this year, SXSL is, at its heart, a call to action. The folks out on the lawn today are artists, creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators who will share how they’ve used their unique skills to engage their communities in making the change they want to see — whether it’s curing cancer, fighting poverty, empowering women, and so much more.”
Just a few of the interactive exhibits taking place:
6x9: A virtual reality exhibit on solitary confinement to demonstrate why the inhumane treatment should be banned. The viewer will experience the psychological impacts of long-term sensory deprivation such as blurred vision, hallucinations, and a sense of floating.
Find Your Park Machine: A digital wayfinding sign that uses audio, visual, and geo-location elements to give guests the chance to experience all 400+ of America's national parks in just 60 seconds!
Round Robots: A collaboration between Black Girls Code and Sphero gives visitors the opportunity to program and play with spherical robots.
To-Do Note Installation: A sticky note installation where guests can write down their plans to make a positive impact in their community. This exhibit was created by Illegal Art group.
Other Events At South By South Lawn
- Musical performances by The Lumineers, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and DJ Beverly Bond.
- Panel discussions with industry leaders on some of society's most pressing topics. Topics include technology, sustainable agriculture, social justice, and how individual citizens can bring change to our country.
-White House Student Film Fest: There will be screenings of three student films chosen from the 3rd Annual White House Student Film Festival. Students submitted more than 700 short films on the theme, "The world I want to live in."
-DiCaprio will screen his climate change documentary Before The Flood.
Update: Obama Talks Climate Change
In the feature event, President Obama held a panel on climate change with climatologist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, with Leonardo DiCaprio acting as moderator. DiCaprio opened the conversation with this golden soundbite:
"If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in facts or in science or empirical truths, and therefore, in my humble opinion, you should not be allowed to hold public office."
The crowd erupted after the thinly-veiled jab at Donald Trump — and it was only the first of several applause breaks during the discussion. DiCaprio asked if our planet has the ability to recover, or if the damage is past the point of regeneration, President Obama said:
"We’re seeing climate changes at the more pessimistic end of the range that [was] anticipated by scientists. So we’re really in a race against time."
When DiCaprio asked, if we don't take immediate action to combat climate change, will things get exponentially worse? President Obama responded:
“If we tap the brakes now, then we don’t go over the cliff. When you think about climate change there’s a big difference between the oceans rising three feet or ten feet. Three feet, it’s going to be expensive and inconvenient and disruptive. But it’s probably manageable. Three feet means you move the houses back a little bit from the beach. Ten feet means the beach doesn’t exist.”
Dr. Katharine Hayhoe sheds light on her experience dealing with the polarizing, time-sensitive issue:
“One of the most insidious myths is I have to be a certain type person to care about climate change. But the reality is, if we are human, living on this planet, it’s the only planet we have. We already have all the values to care about climate change in our hearts. We have to figure out how to connect those values to the issue of climate.”