Taken from RollingStone (Sep 8, 2005)
Franti Raps for Planet
Well-traveled Spearhead frontman wants you to get a passport
by TRACEY FORD
Musician/activist Michael Franti and his band Spearhead will perform concerts across the country in New York, Chicago and San Francisco this fall as part of a campaign to encourage more Americans to obtain passports. The campaign was launched by Lonely Planet, which has published more than 600 international travel guidebooks, and is supported by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who has drafted a bill to make September National Passport Month.
Franti, who first left the country for a trip to Canada at fourteen and recently documented a trip to Baghdad in the film I Know I'm Not Alone, believes that international travel can help to educate and improve foreign relations. "When I look around the world at what's happening today, I feel there's so much being misunderstood of other cultures and religions by Americans," he says, "and there's so much being misunderstood by the rest of the world about Americans."
With fewer than twenty-three percent of Americans equipped with a passport -- the lowest percentage of any industrialized nation -- Lonely Planet hopes to inspire more Americans to take advantage of the benefits of travel. Those who attend the events -- featuring Franti and Spearhead, as well international acts including Haale (Israel), Yang Ying (China) and Hassan Hakmoun (Morocco) -- can get information on how to obtain a passport and have their photo taken on-site. Lonely Planet recently published the book, Don't Let the World Pass You By! 52 Reasons to Have a Passport, to make their argument.
Lee introduced her bill this summer. "As the most senior Democratic woman on the House International Relations Committee, I have seen how traveling abroad promotes understanding and goodwill," she writes in an email exchange. "When people connect with other people, it opens the doors to increased peace, tolerance, and acceptance."
"The best way to change the world is not by politicians having wine and cheese parties," adds Franti. "It's for people in this country to get out and learn from other places. And for people in other places to see the best of what we have to offer -- which is our people, not our bombs."
Lonely Planet shows:
9/22: New York, Spirit Club
9/24: Chicago, Park West
9/30: San Francisco, Mezzanine