[Photos Courtesy of Getty Images for UNDP]
"When we launched Pathway To Paris, it was in response to The People's Climate March in New York," Jesse Paris Smith explained over the phone, one week before P2P's benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. "But The 1,000 Cities initiative was evolving Pathway To Paris even further … and we wanted to offer a tangible solution for citizens to get involved and a global solution to really offer something that could turn The Paris Agreement into reality. Now we're a non-profit. We didn't really know what would happen from the beginning, but it's all been very organic. Because of all the people who are so passionate and want to get involved, it's all this collective energy that gains momentum."
The growth of co-founders Smith and Rebecca Foon's project is evident, as they went from responding to the march in 2014 to throwing spectacular events in collaboration with some of today's most notable musicians and activists.
Last night, the P2P concert took place in partnership with 350.org and United Nations Development Programme to raise awareness of climate change prior to the UN conference. P2P was also celebrating the launch of their latest initiative 1,000 Cities, and all proceeds went to UNDP
. Performers included Patti Smith
, who performed several times and closed out the show with "People Have The Power" and Joan Baez, who later came out and danced with Talib Kweli
during the performance of his 2002 hit "Get By." The night also saw performances from the hilarious Michael Stipe, Red Hot Chili Peppers
' Flea, the chilling Cat Power
, Canadian throat singer Tanya Tagaq, and Tibetan artist Tenzin Cheogyal. Foon explained how the lineup came together, "People that come on board are there because stars aligned and they really, really care about the issues. I think that's a big part why the events are so successful, because there's just so much meaning behind them. People really come from their hearts, and are really committed, and really care about our planet."
Looking at where the world stands today, environmentally and politically, sometimes it's hard to feel hopeful. However, the event instilled a new sense of hope, which is what the founders wanted guests to walk away with, "I hope that they can see at the concert that there is hope and that cities around the world are taking a lead and doing incredible work," Smith shared.
It was the ambitious speech from environmentalist Bill McKibben, who advised everyone in the audience to use the blank sheet of paper under their seat to write a letter to Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the EPA, urging to divest New York of fossil fuel. And it was the creative brain power of Olafur Eliasson who used Little Sun
solar-energy lights to light up the blacked-out venue (the solar lights would then be sent straight to Puerto Rico and trust me, those little things provided a very
"Climate change is our unifying global concern," Smith said during the show. And she's not wrong -- that's just blatant fact. I left Carnegie Hall feeling very hopeful last night, and feeling like I actually participated in making a change. But our work is barely done here, "I hope that [people] see that there's something they can do, and that they come away from the concert wanting to get involved, having tangible ideas of how they can get involved, and that they will continue to do their part and tell others." What Smith and Foon are doing is amazing, and with their powerful connection between activism and music, there's no doubt they will continue to inspire others to make a change.