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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 2:06 pm | Fair 65º


Freeze! Locals Stand Up Against Poverty

In a flash, a movement without a movement makes a silent statement

At 3 p.m. Sunday, a portion of State Street had additional obstacles for tourists and locals walking around downtown — people frozen in place along the sidewalk.

A whistle rang out from the corner of De la Guerra and State streets that prompted at least 40 people to stop where they were for almost 10 minutes.

Passers-by navigated around them or stood nearby to watch. There were many cups frozen halfway to mouths, steps half-taken and even a violinist with his bow stuck halfway across the strings. More than one pedestrian gave in to the temptation to poke the statue-like figures, but most just wanted to know what the group was up to.

The group was part of a global grassroots movement — Stand Against Poverty. Its larger movement, “Stand Up and Take Action,” has millions of participants worldwide to demand progress toward the Millennium Development Goals put forth during the U.N. Millennium Summit.

Santa Barbara’s contribution, the freezing flash mob, was organized by Education Generation UCSB. The student organization was created in 2008 and supports a Canadian program, educationgeneration.org, which provides scholarships to students around the world.

Melissa Veras, one of the UCSB group’s organizers, said this particular method of attention-getting was chosen because of its fun factor.

While 12 people participated in the group’s march last year, many more showed up to Sunday’s event. Education Generation UCSB approached local nonprofit and performing arts groups to participate, as well.

“It’s something easy, something fun and it appeals more than a march,” Veras said.

The group was pleased with the attention and, its members hope, increased awareness.

“It’s the most peaceful, impactful effort at getting poverty more resolved,” Veras said.

More than 116 million people participated in last year’s events worldwide, which broke the Guinness World Record for largest mobilization. This year, Stand Against Poverty reported 8,192 events planned during the weekend action period.

The Millennium Development Goals include a framework to end poverty and inequality by 2015. The eight goals are eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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