Councilman and candidate for public advocate Eric Gioia, of Queens, held his 35th birthday celebration and “green” campaign kick off at the W Hotel’s Whiskey Bar in Times Square last night. His guest list included Morgan Spurlock, writer and director of Super Size Me (who appeared in an ad recently), and Karenna Gore Schiff, daughter of Al.
Gore Schiff was in charge of the birthday introduction, while Gioia spent most of the evening surrounded by supporters bouncing with American Idol enthusiasm. “This reminds me of my disco days,” Council member Vincent Gentile told me, pointing to the floor of glowing colored squares we were standing on.
The event’s invitation advertised Gioia’s campaign as “the first carbon-neutral campaign in NYC history,” which sounds good. What does it mean?
“It’s an interesting approach,” Gentile said. “He’s pioneering a change. Like, they don’t have invitations…everything is emailed. It’s good, it gets everyone thinking.”
I asked Gioia to explain. He was only too happy. “The first step is recognizing the carbon you use,” he said. “Once it dawns on you, like Gandhi said brilliantly, ‘You can be the change you want to see’ — once that sets in philosophically, it’s a mindset: how much carbon do I use?”
“It’s a campaign,” he also said. “We’re going to buy paper, we’re going to have volunteers…So, we’re going to measure that carbon and then we’re going to dial back. I guarantee 90 percent of the people here tonight came by subway. That right there reduces the carbon footprint immediately.”
The event was planned for Times Square to accommodate travelers from all boroughs, particularly people traveling on the 7 train from Long Island City, which is in Gioia’s district.
“I think anybody that’s doing it is doing a great thing,” Spurlock told me.
Or anyone who’s still doing it, at least.
“I just wouldn’t make a movie out of it,” he said, explaining why his next project won’t be environment-related. “We did one ‘green’ episode in the first season of [his TV series] 30 Days–their homes were made out of hay bails and stuff. But Inconvenient Truth has been made. Leonardo DiCaprio did 11th Hour. It’s pretty much been done.”
Giving introductory remarks, Gore Schiff told Gioia’s attendees, “He is running the first-ever carbon-neutral campaign in New York City,” and recalled wondering what to get him for his birthday. “So I was thinking, ‘Well, maybe I could get him bike shoes, or one of those little curly light bulbs,’ but then I thought that what Eric would really like is a campaign contribution.”
“And I also got you a book, which is an anthology of environmental writing,” she added, noting that it was wrapped in the metro section of a recyclable newspaper.
After Schiff finished speaking, Gioia screened that campaign video.
“I believe that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people that we will bring to the polls who have gotten the message through this,” he said, talking about the video afterwards. “I think people are tired of the status quo, and if we can get a lot of people like this to spread the word, we’re going to win big. It’s not even going to be close.”