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Parties: Out with a Bang

by Carly Schwartz

A blustery night in Golden Gate Park didn’t stop hundreds of partygoers from descending on the Music Concourse for the California Academy of Sciences’ annual Big Bang | Next Waves gala. Attendees mingled over cocktails and canapes to the soundtrack of the Fil Lorenz Orchestra, followed by a series of talks and presentations, a locally sourced seated dinner inside the museum’s piazza and a dessert reception featuring beats from DJ Toy.

The festivities launched the second phase of the Academy’s Hope for Reefs campaign, which aims to reverse the decline of the planet’s coral reefs within the span of a generation. Keynote speaker Alexandra Cousteau, an ocean restoration expert and founder of Oceans 2050, spoke about the fundamental interconnectivity of global water issues and the need for a systems-based conservation approach. Academy coral researcher Elora López-Nandam and research scientist Alison Gould also led a fireside chat to discuss their work.

“Gala goers left more informed about the threats facing the natural world, filled with hope about humanity’s power to mitigate these threats and regenerate the natural world,” said Academy spokesperson Jeanette Peach. “And let’s not forget the good food, great company and fun party they enjoyed!”

Co-chaired by Kevin and Julia Hartz, the 12th annual event raised more than $2 million for the coral reef initiative. Among the 320 dinner and 600 dessert reception guests, notable attendees also included Pisces Foundation co-founder and trustee Randi Fisher and KQED host Priya David Clemens.

According to Peach, the most exciting aspect of the yearly gala is the chance to access firsthand the Academy’s important work. “Our Big Bang guests connected deeply with our science,” she said. “They were inspired by the work we’re doing, our new mission and our global partnerships. We will continue to lean into strong and forward-thinking educational content to inspire our supporters to partner with us.”

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