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Redford, DiCaprio among guests for Natural Resources Defense Council gala

April 15, 2009|TINA DAUNT

Anyone who doubts that green is still Hollywood's favorite color just needs to take a look at the sponsors and guest list for the upcoming gala celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Southern California office.

The event is set for April 25 at the Beverly Wilshire and longtime superstar environmental activists Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio will be among the guests. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose beachfront home is widely admired by advocates for "green architecture," will host. Co-chairs include a who's who of the industry's environmentally conscious types, including Colleen and Bradley Bell, Dayna and Steven Bochco, Kelly and Ron Meyer, Cindy and Alan Horn, Peter Morton and Heather Thomas.

The evening's theme, which will be incorporated in musical and film presentations, is "David vs. Goliath," a tribute to the local NRDC group's many court victories on behalf of clean air, public health and open spaces. (Pioneering environmental attorney Mary Nichols, who now chairs California's Air Resources Board, helped open the group's local office back in 1989, when B-Hills thought green was what came on the salad plates at the Bistro.)

Music will be provided by Maroon 5, and Rosanna Arquette will DJ the after-party.

"You can be tough doing bad things, and tough doing good things. NRDC, in my opinion, is tough doing good things," Redford said in a statement. DiCaprio, also a trustee, called NRDC "probably the most effective environmental organization in the world. It is willing to take on major corporations and the government itself to hold them accountable for the environmental policy that's out there," he said in a statement.

Now if Rosanna can pick cuts that get those two guys to linger on the dance floor, she's the one who deserves a gala.

Fundraising gets personal

Political professionals like to say that all politics are local, but for those involved in the fight to reverse Prop. 8's ban on same-sex unions, it's become deeply personal, as well. This week, Rick Jacobs, who chairs the Courage Campaign -- the focal point of the reversal efforts -- began circulating an e-mail by author Tom Dolby that indicates how these new politics may play out in the months ahead.

Dolby's letter is at once a fundraising appeal and a passionate account of what Prop. 8's passage meant to him, his partner Drew Frist and their families. "My partner, Drew, and I are getting married this Saturday," Dolby writes. "But not in California, where I grew up and my family has lived for more than 30 years." Instead, the couple will marry in Connecticut, where same-sex marriages still are recognized. "That is why we will be legally married this coming Saturday in the state of Connecticut, where lawyers tell us we'll always have equal rights. However, according to the state of California, our marriage will be meaningless. This is not acceptable. Equality belongs to everyone and same-sex marriage should not be reserved for those who can only travel to another state, 3,000 miles away.

"That's why I asked my family last week to make a $25,000 challenge grant to support the Courage Campaign's transformative 'Camp Courage' training program for marriage equality activists -- a personal action in direct response to the [pro-Prop. 8] National Organization for Marriage's $1.5 million 'Gathering Storm' national TV ad campaign."

Dolby notes that since he began circulating an account of his impending marriage and his family's challenge donation, the campaign has raised $72,572.

The author argues that the Courage Campaign's new direction "represents the future of community organizing. Modeled after Camp Obama, the program utilizes the 'Story of Self' to transform personal experiences into authentic narratives that can persuade undecided voters."

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tina.daunt@latimes.com

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