Pathway to Paris gave voice to the urgent issue of climate change on Sunday night at Carnegie Hall, celebrating the launch of its 1,000 Cities initiative and the organization’s three years of environmental advocacy.
Founded by Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, Pathway to Paris orchestrated the event in partnership with the UN Development Programme and 350 org – bringing together a collection of artists, activists, academics, musicians, politicians, and innovators to shine a light on 1,000 Cities’ imperative mission, supported by a Care2 petition which invites the world’s cities to transition off of fossil fuels in a call to action.
The evening opened with powerful speeches and performances by Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, who curated the event, encapsulating the essence of Pathway to Paris. “Climate change is our unifying global concern,” stated Jesse Paris Smith. “It breaks down and defines the geographical borders and walls we have created. It unifies us all and urges us to realize our collective voice. Music is our universal language. The power of music brings us together, showing how truly interconnected we all are. The Earth is our home, and our home is in danger. The signs are loud and clear. There is no longer time for borders and walls. Our hope is that by the end of this night, you will all be climate leaders.”
“We believe the solution lies within transforming our cities and communities,” added Foon, announcing the new 1,000 Cities initiative. “This evening, Pathway to Paris is launching the 1000 Cities initiative, an initiative to unite the world to move above and beyond the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement. Tonight we are inviting 1,000 cities around the world to become 100% renewable and transition off of fossil fuels by 2040 in order to make Paris real.”
The evening’s attendees enjoyed many once-in-a-lifetime moments, including R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe covering “Sunday Morning” by Velvet Underground, Patti Smith's retelling of Cat Stevens’ “Where Do the Children Play” and Joan Baez dancing with Talib Kweli, who was backed on the bass guitar by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Concert-goers were also asked to participate in the concert, as Bill McKibben paused the show for 60 seconds to allow attendees to write letters to Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the EPA and Olafur Eliasson used Little Sun solar-energy lights (littlesun.com/shop) to orchestrate a breathtaking illumination of Carnegie Hall, before revealing that each light used would be sent to Puerto Rico to help those still lacking power following Hurricane Maria.
Heralded by Patti Smith’s fierce cries of “it’s decreed the people rule,” the crowd ascended into a deafening chant as Stipe, Baez, Kweli, Cat Power, Tanya Tagaq, Tenzin Choegyal and the 3,000 people in attendance contributed their voices to “People Have the Power;” collectively reminding the world that we have “The power to dream, to rule, and to wrestle the world from fools.”
The festivities continued late into the night as concert-goers, VIPs, and the evening’s talent gathered together in celebration. Guests included Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Edward Norton, Mario Batali, and Nick Zinner of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Celebrations for the concert kicked off with a cocktail party the night before, hosted by Journal Hotels at the Mondrian Park Avenue in Yours Truly, the subterranean nightclub. Party attendees were addressed by Patti Smith, accompanied by Pathway to Paris founders Rebecca Foon and Jesse Paris Smith, on the importance of its mission, and to thank everyone for joining the cause.