Perhaps in an attempt to seal his legacy as the "cool" leader of the free world, President Barack Obama's South by South Lawn Festival (get it?) kicks off Monday on the South Lawn of the White House. The guest list is an impressive one, suggesting that if the president calls with an invite, it's hard to decline.
The whole shindig is Obama's answer to South by Southwest — Austin, Texas' music, media and tech festival — and is aimed at solving big problems.
"At SXSL, we'll call on every American to roll up their sleeves and discover their own way to make a positive difference in our country," the White House said on its website. "And it's an opportunity to celebrate the inspiring work so many Americans have already accomplished."
The Lumineers, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (Jones had to cancel at the last minute because she had pneumonia but the band will play on) and DJ Beverly Bond were among the invited musical acts. Obama, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe will host a chat "about the importance of protecting the one planet we’ve got for future generations." There's also a number of panels, a talk by artist James Turrell and an appearance from the cast of Netflix's hit show "Stranger Things."
The event was planned with South By Southwest and outside the musical acts and the chat with DiCaprio, the planned panels have a mix of activists, politicians, business leaders and others. One titled "Fixing Real Problems," for instance, will be moderated by New York Times Magazine writer Jenna Wortham and will feature the CEO of messaging platform Slack and the founder of a group aimed at increasing opportunity through technology in Queens, New York, among others. Another session called "How We Make Change" will feature an introduction by congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis.
The day starts with a "breakfast session" called Hard Things Are Hard, an Obama idiom, held at Washington, D.C.'s Newseum. The sessions such as "Fixing Real Problems" and "How We Make Change," as well as "Feeding the Future" and "LA, A Case Study In Innovation" are billed as the "afternoon sessions."
Obama's talk with DiCaprio is scheduled to begin at about 7 p.m. EDT, according to the White House's schedule for the president.