If guests at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability’s annual gala, honoring Paul G. Allen and Toyota needed a reminder of what they were gathering to raise money for and celebrate Monday night, hosts Jeanne and Tony Pritzker were happy to provide.
Their Beverly Hills home has not only a sweeping view of the green city of Los Angeles, but also the UCLA campus, the students of which are beneficiaries of the money raised from various items auctioned off throughout the night.
The night’s theme, “Innovators for a Healthy Planet,” alludes to the gala’s honorees, Toyota and Allen, cofounder of Microsoft. Presenters Brigitte Griswold of the Nature Conservancy and musician Robbie Robertson highlighted Toyota and Allen’s dedication to protecting the environment and doing more to improve it than many others in their field.
“Paul is the only friend I’ve never known who says, ‘Do you want to go to the bottom of the ocean?'” Robertson said of his lifelong friend.
Also in attendance were host committee members Courteney Cox, Christina Hendricks, Freida Pinto and Moby, in addition to guests James Marsden, musician Edei, Eiza Gonzalez, Angela Lindvall, Madelaine Petsch and Pollyanna Mcintosh.
The event’s co-chairs, film producers Lawrence Bender and Alexandria Jackson, were joined by MC and retired basketball star John Salley.
Musician Jackson Browne even played a set, singing songs about the beauty of the ocean and the value of democracy.
Before entering the grandiose white tent erected over the Pritzker family tennis courts, guests were free to explore the main floor of the estate, grabbing a drink either in the courtyard area filled with posh white outdoor sofas or the outdoor patio and lawn where students presented their research projects with names like “GIS analysis of Southern California rocky intertidal habitats” to eager listeners. A bassist, working with a synthesizer foot pedal, played modern tunes as a green screen photo booth snapped pics of smiling faces.
In the tent, where guests were served a course of a delicious wedge salad and main course of grilled fish with saffron rice, Romanesco broccoli and asparagus, the lighthearted mood was brought down to earth as Salley brought on Jackson, Robertson, Griswold and others. Every speech and introduction highlighted the grave importance of IOES’s research and storytelling in the climate and green sectors. Toyota Motors’ CEO of North America Jim Lentz, accepting on the company’s behalf, explained the many ways Toyota is working to effect global change in the auto industry and beyond.
“Great causes require great storytelling to communicate their aims. Never before has the power to encourage action through engaging audiences been a more important component of what we do at Vulcan,” Allen said of his company. He went on further to call on Hollywood and the entertainment industry to use its power of storytelling to “encourage prompt action on the things that matter most for our future.”