Today, more than half the world lives in cities, with that number projected to increase dramatically to over 70 percent by 2050 (source: United Nations and World Health Organization report). Cities have historically been the center of civilization, culture and knowledge, and as such, represent a unique convergence of natural, social and built environments. Stress to any one of these environments weakens the ability of a city to respond to a shock, as we saw with Hurricane Harvey and the devastation it wrought upon Texas and Louisiana. Hence the focus of efforts such as 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), a pioneering initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation dedicated to helping one hundred cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of this century. Rockefeller is not alone in this focus. National, regional and local funders are finding both bold and discrete ways to emphasize climate action that begins with cities. From the commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy to a holistic resilience strategy, philanthropy is diving feet first into addressing the needs of citizens and city visionaries when it comes to tackling climate change.
Southface’s annual Visionary Dinner is anticipated each year by the Atlanta business community for the convergence of business leaders, policy makers, design, development and construction professionals and sustainability innovators in one evening. Traditionally, the Visionary Dinner has featured a single keynote speaker offering a message of environmental action and new perspectives on sustainability. Past speakers include renowned thought leaders in business and academia including Ray C. Anderson, Lester Brown, Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, Bridgett Luther, Andrew Winston and many others. This year, Southface hopes to advance a new conversation about the contemporary environmental movement’s focus on cities and resilience. We have invited thought leaders in philanthropy to have a conversation that will resonate with our audience and inspire attendees to action. Invited panelists include Otis Rolley, Regional Director, The Rockefeller Foundation; Florence Vasser Seydel, Trustee Elect at the Turner Foundation, Inc.; Lois R. DeBacker, Managing Director of The Kresge Foundation’s Environment Program and Darryl Young, Director, Sustainable Cities at the Summit Foundation. WSB TV’s Katie Walls, a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and AMS Broadcast Board Member, will be the emcee for the evening.
Now in its nineteenth year, Visionary Dinner raises awareness and funding for Southface’s continued work in high‑performance affordable housing, green infrastructure, clean energy, healthy buildings and sustainable communities. In addition to the panel discussion, Steve Nygren, visionary and developer of Serenbe, will be awarded with the Argon Award for Sustainability in Action. The Argon Award is presented by Southface to showcase an individual or an organization that is leading the way in advancing sustainability efforts through innovative solutions. Winners are selected by a knowledgeable panel of experts, and Nygren’s commitment to improving people’s quality of life through healthy environments has earned him Southface’s highest honor. In addition, an all-female roster and chef panel will craft delicious meals and desserts for the night. Guests will enjoy a three-course plated meal along with interactive food stations. Join us for networking opportunities and a new mix of entertainment, information and celebration.
The Visionary Dinner will be held on September 19 in the Oceans Ballroom at the Georgia Aquarium from 6PM-9PM. Visit www.visionarydinner.org for more information.