The eco-glitterati came together to bask in the glow of Empowered By Light’s second annual Light Up The Night party, a sold out affair in San Francisco. Fresh off his movie premiere of "The Avengers," Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo flexed his celebrity muscle and co-hosted the party held at the venue Roe to bring renewable energy to rural Zambia.
A beloved advocate for the environment, Ruffalo told the cheering crowd that it is time to move beyond fossil fuels and harness the power of sunlight. "I support Empowered by Light because they are bringing light and renewable energy to those who don’t yet have it. They are teaching whole nations that we don’t need fossil fuels to be modern," exclaimed Ruffalo.
The actor is a green superhero (The Hulk) not just on the big screen but also in real life, where he has a solar array on his New York home and spends many weekends battling the polluting practice of extreme natural gas drilling called fracking.
Guests at the party sipped on eco-friendly cocktails from VeeV Acai Spirit, sustainable varietals from eco.love Wines, and organic yerba mate beer from MateVeza. VIP partygoers received stylish Lifefactory glass bottles and RunRunRun bags made, coincidentally, from recycled water bottles.
Empowered By Light was founded last year by Marco Krapels, Moira Hanes and Gianluca Signorelli to improve lives through clean, renewable technology. With their Solar: Zambia project, they are delivering thousands of solar-powered LED lights and cell phone charger kits to rural African families and schools.
A recent trip to Zambia in May showed that the LED lights are not only eliminating the hazards and pollution of open-flame kerosene lamps but also helping children improve their performance in school. The Ministry of Education in Zambia recently told Empowered by Light the good news that school children using the LED lights improved their test scores by as much as 236 percent.
“During our last deployment, we saw first-hand the incredible impact our lights are having,” said Krapels. “It’s richly rewarding to think that tonight, 8,000 children in rural Zambia are reading because of our efforts, where previously they would have been in total darkness.”
Krapels also announced the organization’s plans, in partnership with Suntech America, to install a sun-powered, micro grid system for Sioma High School in Zambia. As a highlight of the event, Andrew Birch, the CEO of solar company Sungevity, presented Empowered By Light with a $40,000 donation in support of the new grid. “There is a universal need for electricity, but a fundamental lack of access,” said Birch. “Empowered by Light is making a difference in rural Zambia, and we are proud to be making a difference with them.”
The festivities’ sponsors and partners including such environmental heavyweights as Rabobank, the Clif Bar Family Foundation, Suntech, Lemnis Lighting, CleanPath Ventures, Global Green USA, and SHFT. Overall, it was a blockbuster, star-studded evening where guests left feeling on cloud nine about their ability to make the world a lighter and greener place.
All photos by Drew Altizer