"We’re playing in the margins," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom admonished the nearly 400 guests gathered on February 28 in Santa Monica Airport's Hangar 8 to celebrate and support Conservation International. With climate change threatening to destabilize already fragile ecosystems worldwide, the message was clear: bringing human society into balance with nature is an imperative.
While Mayor Newsom’s stark words underscored the urgent need to address environmental crises such as climate change, CI Chairman and CEO Peter Seligmann offered a vision of hope with descriptions of CI projects that provide real solutions for absorbing carbon, protecting threatened species, and benefiting local economies. He reminded the audience that they had a crucial role to play in spreading a conservation message. "We need you to turn your friends on," said Seligmann.
Several other friends of CI also took the stage to share their reflections on conservation. DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg discussed his commitment to CI and shared a clip of the upcoming animated film Kung Fu Panda. CI Chairman's Council member Nancy Ritter shared her experience traveling with CI to Indonesia’s Raja Ampat islands, where she saw firsthand the natural splendor CI protects and met some of our local conservation partners.
A highlight of the evening was acclaimed nature photographer Frans Lanting’s presentation LIFE: A Journey through Time. Lanting's lyrical words and images explored the development of life from single celled organisms to complicated ecosystems, tracing the often fragile interconnections that define life on Earth.
A special element of the Los Angeles event was the music by MASS Ensemble. The unique harmonies of their custom instruments provided the perfect emphasis for CI’s message that human societies can and must live in harmony with nature.
Harrison Ford closed the evening, thanking the guests for being part of a entertaining evening in support of a very serious cause.