Imagine, a celestial Hollywood gala held outdoors with guests surrounded by majestic trees, and everyone ends the night by howling at the moon. That was the scene at the 31st annual An Evening Under the Harvest Moon presented by the TreePeople, and it was magical.
The real stars were twinkling above, but really the stars of the night were the TreePeople’s honorees Irmelin DiCaprio, Dr. Jonathan Fielding and Karin Fielding who received the Evergreen Award for Visionary Leadership and the Actors Conservatory Ensemble got the Barbara Goldenberg Award for Volunteer Service. All have supported the TreePeople with their commitment to creating a climate-ready, water-secure Los Angeles with an equitable tree canopy for present and future generations. Wow, that’s a mission statement worthy of the TreePeople’s wild tradition of howling at the moon.
An Evening Under the Harvest Moon was held on October 6 at the TreePeople’s headquarters in Coldwater Canyon Park, one of the most beautiful places to take a hike or a leisurely stroll along the 45-acre preserve.
“In the face of the increasingly severe extreme climate events threatening the health and safety of the people of Los Angeles, TreePeople is dramatically increasing its efforts to protect people and reverse the causes,” said Andy Lipkis, the ultra-enthusiastic president and founder of TreePeople. “We are fortunate to have global leaders in the protection of public health and the environment, Irmelin DiCaprio, Dr. Jonathan Fielding and Karin Fielding, and special volunteers such as the Actors Conservatory Ensemble, who are playing key roles in dramatically expanding our programs and their impact.”
This reporter was in awe of hearing from Irmelin DiCaprio, who received her Evergreen Award for Visionary Leadership from Lipkis. Irmelin taught her son Leonardo DiCaprio to be respectful of the environment and brought him to TreePeople events when he was a child. He has become a champion of environmental causes thanks to his mother.
Irmelin was born in a bomb shelter in Northern Germany, at the end of WWII, and as a child emigrated to the U.S. with her family. In 1998, Irmelin and Leonardo formed the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation which grew into a platform for environmental causes. Irmelin produced The 11th Hour, a 2008 documentary spotlighting environmentalists, including the TreePeople’s Lipkis. To date, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has contributed over $100 million in financial grants to over 200 different nonprofit organizations worldwide. Leo’s mom is a force for nature.
Producer Laurie Benenson (Dirt, Beasts of No Nation) presented the Transformative Leadership Award to Dr. Jonathan Fielding and Karin Fielding. Dr. Fielding schooled everyone on what’s being done by the LA Urban Cooling Collaborative, led by TreePeople, researching the rising heat in the city and the effects on public health and mortality. The scorching impact is indisputable.
California State Treasurer John Chiang presented the honorees with proclamations. Notables on hand included mega-producers David Zucker and Lauren Shuler Donner, actress Molly Shannon, Fritz Chestnut, Steve and Katheryn Koren, Julie Ann Emery, Samuel Page, Brittany Ishibashi, Aliyah Moulden, Adrieanne Perez and the super sweet actor Robert Forster, who is in What They Had, a film praised at Sundance, with Forster, Hilary Swank and Blythe Danner, released Friday, October 19. Forster said, “It’s about a love, lifelong and evergreen.”
Highlights of the elegant, woodsy event included Jim Hardie, TreePeople’s Director of Park Operations, conducting a lively auction. The gala raised $540,000 for TreePeople projects in L.A. County.
The celebratory fundraiser was emceed by lovely British TV host Kalee Hewlett. Also deserving of a shout-out is this year’s dedicated host committee, including Diane Behrens, Laurie and Bill Benenson, Suzanne Booth and LeMel Humes, Gay Browne, Beth Burnam and Monte Tomerlin, Kate and Art Coppola, Penney & Jim Cox, Andrew B. Fielding, Preston J. Fielding, Jay Griffith, Judy and Mark Kahn, Suzanne and Rick Kayne, Sue and Carl Robertson, plus the UCLA Jonathan and Karin Fielding School of Public Health and David Ward.
All TreePeople are proud to be tree-huggers.
Margie Barron is a member of the Television Critics Association and has written for a variety of top publications for more than 35 years and was proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team of Margie and Frank Barron.