Have you ever sat down and tried to put your family tree together? You know, sit with pen and paper in hand, draw a tree and branch by branch add individual family members . Not easy is it? In fact, it’s quite laborious. I have tried a few times and always end up quitting because it is just too tedious of a task, usually ending in frustration because I have again left off family member names I knew nothing of until pointed out , by one of my elder relatives.
With genealogy websites like Ancestry.com, My Heritage.com and Geni readily available for anyone to start their own family tree the once tedious task of creating a family tree has become a lighter one which can now be shared and built upon by family members spread across the globe .
With everyone on earth now 4 degrees of separation thanks to Facebook and social media Author A.J. Jacobs sees us all as being related to each other in some way . The aim of his Global Family Reunion ? To connect the human race. Why?, We Are all Family!
The TED Talks speaker with over 18K Twitter followers and TED views of over a million is the founder of the Global Family Reunion. He is also the best-selling author of The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically and Drop Dead Healthy and is an editor at large at Esquire and a NPR commentator. Crownheightsmom sought out AJ after hearing that he is planning the MOTHER OF ALL FAMILY REUNIONS in New York on June 6 Crownheightsmom needed to know just how he is going to pull it all off and more so where is he going to fit all of his darn family members. I mean seriously he has invited YOU and seven billion members of the human family. AJ says, “Those with a proven connection to the world’s biggest family tree (currently at 77 million people) get a bracelet and take part of the largest family photo in history.”
It has gotten easier with DNA testing and the internet to connect to long lost family members. AJ’s Global Family Reunion will be one more opportunity to connect . Global Family Reunions will be happening all over the world simultaneously and across the US at places like the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Clayton Library Center in Houston, Texas, Allen County Public Library in Wayne, Indiana and the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri
Added to this global excitement are invited celebrities and experts helping to pull it all off. So expect to see featured talks and presentations by known figures including filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, magician, David Blaine,Former President, George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush (via video), Comedy Central star Nick Kroll, NPR host Ophira Eisenberg and former Obama administration member Cass Sunstein and more.
The day promises to be fun says the Global Family Reunion’s website with lots of activities including taking the world’s largest family pic, a talent contest, lots of info and exhibitions about family history and genealogy.and of course with the event being held at the New York Hall of Science, there will be over 450 interactive museum exhibits.
An Epic Family Festival
Music! Talks! Comedy! Genealogy! Contests! Potato sack races! Crafts! LOTS of celebrity cousins!
CrownHeightsMom talked with A.J about the big day. Below is what he shared.
CrownHeightsMOM: June 6 is a BIG day for you. I would love for you to share a bit about that date and the event you are having called the Global Family Reunion. What exactly is it ? A.J. Jacobs: The Family Reunion is a World’s Fair meets a music festival meets a TED conference. It’s fun for every generation. There are more than 50 entertainers and more than 400 activities – music, exhibits, food from around the world, trivia quizzes, scavenger hunts, you name it.
CrownHeightsMOM: Why did you start the Global Family Reunion? A.J. Jacobs: About a year ago, I got a surprise email from a stranger that said, “I am your twelfth cousin.” At first, I figured the guy wanted to me to wire $10,000 to a Nigerian bank. But as it turned out, the man was part of a team of scientists and researchers helping to build a Family Tree of the entire human race. But it’s not even a tree anymore. It’s an Amazonian forest. The Global Family Tree is now at 270 million people. It’s unprecedented, and I saw this as proof we are part of something larger than our individual selves. And here’s the cool thing: If you come to the Global Family Reunion, we have a team of genealogists who will try to connect you to the Big Tree so you can see how you’re related to Nelson Mandela and Lady Gaga and everyone in between.
CrownHeightsMOM: Why is such an event important? A.J. Jacobs: For one, all the proceeds after expenses go towards Alzheimer’s research and education. But I also think the event is important, because once we see how we are all connected, hopefully we’ll treat each other with more kindness. Which sounds optimistic, I know.
CrownHeightsMOM: How can families get involved? A.J. Jacobs: They can sign up on our website to volunteer at the event.Of course, I also encourage anyone interested to buy a ticket online or make a donation
CrownHeightsMOM: I see lots of celebs seem to be involved . Whom exactly will be there? A.J. Jacobs: Presenters will include Morgan Spurlock, David Blaine and Henry Louis Gates. We’ll also have Sister Sledge singing “We Are Family.” And hopefully you’ll be there too!
CrownHeightsMOM: Sooo, after the reunion, then what? A.J. Jacobs: I’d like a nice peaceful break from the madness where I can spend a week or two eating takeout with my wife and watching movies with my kids while not having to worry about getting event permits or lining up vendors. But I also have to finish the manuscript for my next book, It’s All Relative, which is about my journey through all this genealogy research and organizing the Global Family Reunion, so my break will likely be short-lived.
CrownHeightsMOM: Btw, are you prepared to deal with the “drama-filled ” or bad behaved far flung relatives because as you know You know there is bound to be a few in attendance. A.J Jacobs: I just nod my head, smile, and listen reflectively. That’s about all you can do in those situations.
CrownHeightsMOM: Did you by any chance contact Madea aka Tyler Perry for any tips on throwing a family reunion. A.J Jacobs: : I have not, but that’s a great idea! I wish I had thought of contacting Madea months ago, now.
CrownHeightsMOM: What will the money raised go towards? A.J. Jacobs: Fighting Alzheimer’s. We’ve partnered with the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund and the Alzheimer’s Association New York Chapter who will use the proceeds for Alzheimer’s research, education.
CrownHeightsMOM: What have you told your wife and kids to expect out of the Reunion? A.J. Jacobs: I think they can expect a fun, wild, exciting, and educational experience. My 8-year-old said he wants to be head of security, but I’m afraid we’re hiring some bigger people for the job.
CrownHeightsMOM: You chose the New York Hall of Science, home of the 1964 World’s Fair as the location for this event. Is there a significance ? A.J. Jacobs: It’s a beautiful location with a lot of space, which is hard to find in NYC. And the museum’s hands-on exhibits are really cool.
CrownHeightsMOM: You have gotten such a positive response to this event and so many celebs have come aboard. Why do you think this is? A.J. Jacobs :I think it’s the ultimate social network. We are all part of the global family, and there’s something appealing about that. Also, they’re my cousins so they have to be enthusiastic.