Last night in San Francisco, Hollywood and Silicon Valley converged, and it was not for a new startup or a new blockbuster but to raise money for THRIVE-Gulu, a charity dedicated to helping Ugandans thrive again after the trauma of war, and specifically by getting their voices heard thanks to technology and social media among other things.
Another charity event, you may think? As actress and THRIVE co-founder Eliza Dushku (Buffy, Dollhouse, Bring It On) jokingly said: "I know that I'm an actress with an African charity... New idea!" Difference is, you don't get very often Joss Whedon, director of multi-million dollar movie The Avengers, Randi Zuckerberg (whose band Feedbomb played Fund Me Maybe) and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in the same room. And they were there also because the purpose of THRIVE is very much linked to what technology allows us to do, as Joss Whedon eloquently put it, "the most basic human need is humanity, the most basic need is to have something to thrive for, to have an identity, to be heard … we have to understand that without thriving, there's no surviving ... because if we're just surviving, if we're marching towards nothing, it's a prison march."
There has been a lot of talk lately about bridging the gap between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, and fostering more collaboration between America's top industries. Whether it was rivalry, mutual disdain or just ignorance thad delayed this collaboration, since The Social Network's success in 2010, it has become pretty clear that when the two said rivals team up, they can make a whole lot happen. Why not collaborating also by raising money for a good cause?
Ben Parr, former Mashable editor and founder of The Peep Project, organized last night's event by bringing together his connections from both the film and the tech industry. A month ago, Silicon Valley's Hermione Way hosted an event tracking the convergence between both industries. Maybe this is only the beginning of a lot more to come.
THRIVE-Gulu puts a different perspective on survival, stressing the importance of what happens right after surviving: how does one go from there as a human being, and how to rebuild one's sense of identity. If technology and social media can help (even used computers and cameras were asked for thoughout the auction) then Silicon Valley was the right place to be.
Stay tuned to What's Trending for a video coverage of the event - in the meantime you can catch videos of Joss Whedon, Eliza Dushku and her mother, THRIVE president Judy Dushku, explaining why THRIVE is worth investing in. http://www.thrivegulu.org/