WASHINGTON, D.C. This inaugural season has seen countless balls and festivities around town, all vying for attention and the sharpest guest lists. Two events, however, chased the same purpose: to present an eco-friendly ball to celebrate the incoming president. The first Green Inaugural Ball was held on Friday, while the second kicked off last night at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, with sponsorship from more than 75 organizations, including the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and American Wind Energy Association. But the biggest draw? Host, green guru, and former Vice President Al Gore.
Around 2,000 tickets for the fest reportedly sold out in 15 minutes, as the ball promised performances from Maroon 5, Will.i.am, Melissa Etheridge, John Legend, and Michael Franti. But the real focus was on the theme of the night. “The most important thing we did was take a global look to make it as green as possible,” said greening committee head Shelly Cohn of Ameresco, which develops energy-efficient projects. “We were as carbon-neutral as possible. We wanted to support the vision of Barack Obama in advancing a new economy.”
Email invites were chosen in lieu of paper ones, carbon offsets were purchased instead of gift bags, tree seedlings decorated the venue, and a green carpet of recycled materials took the place of the standard red. The passed hors d'oeuvres focused on organic, local, and sustainable food, as a joint effort between Grand Cuisine Caterers and local chef Nora Pouillon of the organic-focused Restaurant Nora in Washington. Although there was no sit-down dinner, guests excitedly crowded around the massive stage in the inner Kogod Courtyard, taking in remarks from heavyweights such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Gore himself.