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One Degree of Kevin Bacon

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Kevin Bacon

    As of this moment, Gov. Pat Quinn has a Bacon number of 4.

    You may be familiar with the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” which is based on the fact that actor Kevin Bacon has been in every kind of movie -- from Animal House to Apollo 13 to My Dog Skip -- with every kind of actor, from John Belushi to Neve Campbell to Frank Langella. The “Bacon number” is the number of projects separating Bacon from any other actor. Bacon was in Frost/Nixon with Clint Howard, who was in Austin Powers in Goldmember with Sharon Osbourne, who was on Celebrity Apprentice with Rod Blagojevich, who was in the Blagojevich administration with Quinn.

    This spring, Quinn and Bacon will finally be working together, when Chicago hosts the 2012 National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the world’s largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders, from June 18-20.

    Bacon has used his status as the linchpin of Hollywood to start the website six degrees.org, which connects donors to over a million charities. Besides Bacon, celebrities at the conference will include Barbara Bush (the former first lady, not the dark-haired Bush twin); Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Chicago Bears defensive end Israel Idonije; Iraq veteran and actor J.R. Martinez; and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. After this event is over, they will all have a Bacon number of one.

    “Chicago is not only the city of Big Shoulders, we are the city of big hearts,” Emanuel said in a press release. “Our city has a remarkable history of combining service with innovation. We’re proud to host this year’s conference to facilitate conversation about not only what has worked in the past, but to discuss innovative solutions for the future of civic engagement and volunteering.”

    Chicago has its own Kevin Bacon-like volunteer website, OneGoodDeedChicago.org, where Chicagoans can connect with nonprofit organizations based here in the city.

    The National Conference on Volunteering and Service is convened by Points of Light, a volunteer organization that takes its name from the “thousand points of light” line in President George H.W. Bush’s 1989 inaugural speech. (That explains why the conference is Bush-heavy. Besides Barbara, Bush family speakers will include her son, Points of Light CEO Neil Bush, and his son, recent University of Texas graduate Pierce Bush.) Points of Light has “a mission to connect the brightest and most cutting-edge civic entrepreneurs to generate change and make a meaningful difference in people’s lives,” according to a press release.

    But the important thing about attending this conference is that, if you attend, you, like so many people in Hollywood, will be one degree away from Kevin Bacon.

    Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!