Alumnus Will Butler of Arcade Fire to speak about civic engagement

    Arcade Fire band member and Weinberg alum Will Butler will return to Northwestern Nov. 2 to talk about blending his music career with social activism as part of this year’s One Book, One Northwestern programming.

    Butler (WCAS ’05) is the keynote speaker for Civically Engaged Young Alumni Week, a three day event sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement.

    “He’s a really unique and interesting individual because he’s taken a field like music that a lot of people don’t necessarily associate with social activism,” says Asha Toulmin, a Medill senior and former North by Northwestern staffer who serves as a student fellow with the Center for Civic Engagement.  “He’s a really good example of how you can incorporate that mentality into whatever you do.”

    This year’s One Book, One Northwestern selection is “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” by Tracy Kidder, the story of global health visionary Dr. Paul Farmer and his charity Partners in Health. Arcade Fire has worked with Partners in Health for years to raise money for Haiti, and has pledged to donate $1 million to Haiti charity Kanpe.

    “The concept is to give students a perspective from Northwestern alumni who are doing something where they’re civically engaged,” Toulmin says. “It’s just really about trying to help students see how they can tie in what they’re doing now with creating something really valuable and meaningful later, after they graduate.”

    On Nov. 3 and 4, the conference will conclude with panels of Northwestern alumni discussing their own experiences working outside of typically defined career paths to support issues they care about.

    Butler will speak at 7:00pm in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum. Toulmin says it’s “possible” that Butler might treat students to an impromptu performance, but says nothing is planned yet.

    Editor’s note: The article did not originally clarify that Medill senior Asha Toulmin has contributed to North by Northwestern in the past. Her most recent article was published November 2009.

    Thanks to commenter Ben for pointing out the oversight. Apologies to all parties for not crediting the commenter soon after the clarification was added.


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