Environmentalists will be decked out in a hundred shades of green over the next few days as they celebrate Barack Obama's inauguration with no less than three "green" balls — and I'm going to two of them!
The Green Inaugural Ball: Maximum Celebration, Minimal Impact kicks things off Satuday, January 17 at 8 p.m. in the Mellon Auditorium, just a stone's throw from the White House. Various speakers will incude Chris Paine (producer of the film 'Who Killed the Electric Car?'), Margie Alt, Executive Director of Environment America, and Graham Hill, Treehugger founder and now a muckety-muck at The Discovery Channel (The Discovery Channel's Planet Green network is the prime sponsor of the event). But the highlight of the evening will no doubt be the performance of Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-born Grammy Award-winning "musician/producer/social activist."
Every facet of the Green Inaugural Ball has been designed to reduce its impact on the environment, say event organizers. That means the "heavy hors d'oeuvres" will be organic, many of the drinks will be organic, throwaways will be at a minimum and recycling will be done to the max (hence the mantra of the party). Event organizers are even purchasing carbon credits to offset the transportation of all truck deliveries and staff commutes.
In addition, five percent of each ticket sold will be donated to one to the event's non-profit partners, including a few of my favorites (Environment America, Green Corps, Assateague Coastal Trust, and Environmental Working Group). At $500 a ticket, it sounds like many groups will benefit.
On Tuesday, January 20, the actual evening of the inauguration, I'll be kicking up my heels at the Environmental and Clean Energy Ball. This is the sixth ball this crowd of renewable energy advocates has organized, and I think I've been to almost all of them.
Even though tickets cost $200 a pop, the event sold out in no time. It's being held at the beautiful Sequoia restaurant right on the Potomac River in the heart of Georgetown. I'll be sitting at a table with the crowd of enviros I worked with at Environmental Action in 1977 and 1978 (yes, some of us have been at this that long!).
The biggest challenge of the night will be getting to the ball. I know enviros take mass transit seriously, but things may have gotten a little out of hand this time around. The FBI or CIA or somebody has decided to close all driving bridges that link Virginia to Washington, DC (that's what they get for being a red state for so many years…), so the friends we're planning to meet up with at the Sequoia may need to row their own boat across the Potomac to get to the event. We'll be looking for signals of their arrival: one if by land, two if by sea?.
There's no talk yet of celebrity appearances at the Sequoia. Sixteen years ago, on the night of Bill Clinton's first inauguration, we partied at the same locale. Richie Havens, the sixties/Woodstock icon, performed "Here Comes the Sun," and Clinton's proposed EPA Administrator Carol Browner stopped by to say hello. We're not sure who'll be dropping in Tuesday night, though of course, Pres. Elect Obama and Vice-Pres. Elect Biden have been invited. Maybe Carol Browner, who is making a comeback as Mr. Obama's proposed energy czar, will show.
Not surprisingly, the Clean Energy ball is co-sponsored by companies like the American Council on Renewable Energy, the National Hydropower Association, and Green Advantage. The American Coalition for Ethanol managed to sneak in there, too, though I'm not sure how, since everyone seems to have soured on the idea of turning corn into gas.
The only green event I haven't yet scored a ticket to is the one being hosted by Al Gore. In fact, I didn't even know about this ball until I noticed a disclaimer in the FAQs on the Green Inaugural Ball's web page. It says, "According to the Washington Times, Al Gore is the honorary chair of "The Green Ball: Inauguration of a New Green Economy." To the best of our knowledge, his event is invitation only." Al, even though it's late, if you send me an invite, I'll come.
Next: What should I wear?!!!