Are you a cousin? Are you related to AJ Jacobs

At RootsTech, we all held up “I am a cousin” signs. We’re all related to AJ–and to each other! (Photo credit RootsTech)

Because it’s not really about AJ and me. It’s about the fact that we’re all related—by blood, adoption, and marriage. Well, in a way it’s about AJ, since he’s the one organizing the Global Family Reunion.

I can sense your heads tilting to one side, trying to puzzle out where I’m going with this. Let me explain.

NY Times Bestselling author AJ Jacobs (author of A Year of Living Biblically) believes that we would have a kinder gentler world if we acknowledged that we’re all related.

You might be skeptical about his world being a kinder, gentler place premise, but AJ is definitely right about us all being cousins. There are already over 270 million of us connected by the global family tree, and DNA technology proves that is just scratching the surface.

To help us all realize our connectedness, AJ is organizing a global family reunion this June in New York City. And he’s inviting all 7 billion of us—everyone on earth.

The Global Family Reunion will be a family reunion meets a world’s fair, meets a music festival, meets a TED conference. And all the proceeds will go to Alzheimer’s research–because Alzheimer’s robs us of the stories that connect us.

Cousins with a proven connection to AJ (i.e., those that are within 100 steps of connectedness through blood, adoption, and/or marriage) will “get a bracelet and be part of the biggest family photo in history.”

How will you know? has a handy app for that! Plus, helping you figure that out is part of the RSVP process. Again, it’s not really about AJ: If I’m related to AJ and you’re related to AJ, we’re proven cousins!

Why you should care about being related to AJ if you’re not into family history?

Wondering if this is a thinly veiled attempt to turn you onto genealogy, make you subscribe to, and go trotting to cemeteries across the country? Of course not. isn’t the only vendor out there. Just kidding!

Family history is really just a way of telling stories and connecting with family. You don’t have to delve in full force and spend every spare minute searching for dead relatives to connect with your roots. What better way could there be to connect with your ancestry than to celebrate with other people that share them?

Plus, I secretly suspect that most people are actually “into” family history. Some of you just aren’t into doing the research yourself. That’s okay. If we all had the same hobbies, family reunions would be boring.

Therein lies the pixie dust of the AJ’s concept. You get a boost towards connecting yourself to the global family tree by going to the Global Family Reunion. When you RSVP (for the NYC or a “branch” party), you list your parents’ and grandparent’s data and generous genealogists help you figure out where you connect!

Plus, you don’t have to have any interest in family history whatsoever to want to cure Alzheimer’s. Having fun and working for a cure is a win-win!

Why should you care if you’re related to AJ if you are into family history?

Because celebrating our relatedness will also make the genealogy world a kinder, gentler place. As the global family tree grows, we’ll be able to explore more branches. It won’t just be something pretty to look at, it will be accessible. The kids can climb it. The old folks can sit in its protective shade. The friendships and cousin-ships that are discovered will be like tree houses. We’ll hang out together and explore all the perches and branches.

Related to AJ Jacobs

How are you related to AJ?

The global family reunion won’t just result in a bigger global family tree. It will be a fuller, more connected tree. For instance, back on the sixth of March, Wiki Tree calculated that I was 29 steps away from AJ Jacobs. As it mapped out the “cousins,” I found that I was AJ’s aunt’s husband’s four time great grandfather’s brother’s son’s mother-in-laws’ sister’s son-in-law’s wife’s great uncle’s five times great granddaughter.

Now, as more cousins are added to the tree (and I can only assume that the Global Family Reunion is at least partially responsible for that), I come even closer. Okay, only four steps closer. But there’s one less marriage. I am, in fact, AJ’s aunt’s husband’s four time great grandfather’s brother’s son’s grandmother-in-law’s brother’s mother-in-law’s sister’s five times great granddaughter.

Your Turn:

Seriously consider attending the Global Family Reunion this summer—either in NYC or here in metro Detroit. (Don’t forget to go to and RSVP.)

Connect with your relatives and get to know new cousins. If you’re in the Detroit Metro Area, here’s your invite, or read more here.Global Family Reunion Invitation

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