Climate change took center stage at Carnegie Hall for the fifth annual “Pathway To Paris” concert bringing attention to the forces that are compromising our planet.
Launched five years ago by musicians and activists Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, the event has grown from a small downtown venue in the village to a major New York City concert hall.
In partnership with The United Nations Development Fund and 350.org., the new 1000 cities initiative urges cities around the world to transition off of fossil fuels to renewable energy by the year 2040.
After opening remarks by Smith and Foon, singer Patti Smith kicked off the evening by reading a poem by Emily Dickenson followed by an impassioned collection of musicians, activists and speakers each performing songs and/or addressing a message relevant to the cause.
Audience participation was a highlight of the evening. In a standout moment, a collective effort to persuade New York City to divest themselves of their pension fund investments in fossil fuels (oil, gas and pipeline companies) was powerful. With paper and pen provided, the crowd was enlisted to write letters to the New York City Comptroller expressing their concerns. The letters were collected in the lobby after the performance. In another interactive moment, the audience were given small solar devices and filmed with everyone lighting them on cue, demonstrating unity and the power of a grass roots movement. The devices were all donated to Puerto Rico.
Other highlights included artists joining other artists on various songs and Tibetan elders gracing the stage for one number.
The lineup of artists and speakers included: Patti Smith, Joan Baez, Bill McKibben, Michael Stipe, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Achim Steiner, Flea, Talib Kweli, Cat Power, Tenzin Choegyal, Tanya Tagaq, Olafur Eliasson, Rebecca Foon and Jesse Paris Smith.
The night concluded with artists, speakers and audience members singing “People Have The Power,” lead by Patti Smith from her album Dream Of Life.