People Have The Power
Presented by Pathway to Paris
New York City, 22 September 2020: On September 22nd, 2020, the climate action non-profit Pathway to Paris released a new video featuring individuals from around the world singing the song ‘People Have the Power,’ written by Pathway to Paris long standing supporter Patti Smith and the late Fred Sonic Smith, both musicians and activists in their own right.
**The video is being released on September 22nd, which is the 6 year anniversary of Pathway to Paris and during climate week in NYC and also during Climate Week NYC 2020, which occurs September 21-27. (September 21, 2014 was the first People’s Climate March, which at the time was the biggest and most diverse mobilization in climate action history, where 400,000 people took to the streets of New York City to demonstrate the urgency of the climate crisis and demand for action.)
Along with Patti Smith and founders of Pathway to Paris, Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, the video includes participants from 25 countries, 46 cities, and 6 continents. Notable among the 8 minutes of an incredible diversity of faces are Joan Baez, Ben Harper, Legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, Stella McCartney, Michael Stipe, Tibetan singer and Pathway to Paris Board Member – Tenzin Choegyal, Bill McKibben, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Cyndi Lauper, Angelique Kidjo, Youssou N’Dour, Chris Stills, Forward and Captain of the Italian National Basketball Team – Gigi Datome, Italian pop singer – Giovanni Caccamo, Lenny Kaye, Micah Nelson, Nikolai Fraiture (The Strokes), Italian singer Manuel Agnelli (After Hours), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Icelandic Singer – Olof Arnalds, French Designer – Agnes B., Pennie Opal Plant and Michael Horse, French singer Zazie, and Rain Phoenix. The video also includes special cameos including family moments from Jackson Frederick Smith and many of the organization’s friends and collaborators from around the world – students, activists, artists, mayors, musicians, writers alike. Though the video may be humble in its production, it is impressive and powerful in its energy and messaging.
Both Patti and Jesse Paris Smith have often noted the history and intention of the chosen song (written and recorded in 1987 when Patti was pregnant with Jesse, and released in 1988 on the album, ‘Dream of Life.’). Fred Sonic Smith envisioned an anthem for the world, a clarion call for anyone who might need it, hoping for the song to serve as a unifying aid and amplifier for protest movements, political campaigns, and more. Though he did not live long enough to see this happen, his family has been continuously and deeply moved watching his dream come to fruition, perhaps long surpassing his expectations as the song grows in its usage around the
world. Just as he imagined, it has been claimed globally by individuals and groups, sung by choirs, children, covered by bands and well known singers during festivals and recorded on charity compilations, chanted during marches and demonstrations, its lyrics adorning handmade signs carried by protesters, sung during political campaigns, gatherings for environmental and humanitarian causes, and often serving as a closing finale song for fundraisers and global concerts, as it has for every Pathway to Paris event since 2014.
Pathway to Paris has hosted two virtual festivals during the current global pandemic, offering a platform like that of their physical concerts; for individuals to speak and perform with a collective vision of transforming the world while sharing tangible solutions.
“A vision for the future includes a just transition out of the era of fossil fuels and into an era of 100% renewable energy, including the critical issues of racial justice, gender equality, protected rights of the indigenous, and the end of suffocating poverty. An adoption of true human compassion while dismantling a climate of fear, leaving prejudice and hate in the past, and moving towards a future of global unity. The current pandemic surrounding Covid-19 has shown moments and threads of hope and optimism, but it also has shown just how fractured the communication of our planet remains. This same frustration has been experienced for decades with the climate crisis and just about any unifying global issue of great urgency. We struggle to adapt and survive based on the information we are given and the immense lack of alignment in our decision making. There couldn’t be a more urgent time for the country and the planet to unify as one collective force, and yet we see more examples of the failure of this concept to take hold. Our current reality is one of immense suffering and a promise of continued disaster if we do not get together on our agreements, set more ambitious goals, and make drastic plans for change today.” –Jesse Paris Smith, Co-founder of Pathway to Paris
““We are in a time where our interconnectedness has never been more pronounced. This time presents an opportunity for us as a planet to truly see how our epic challenges are deeply connected, and our collective solutions need to address these challenges holistically. Due to the state of emergency we find ourselves in globally (current science highlights that we might hit 1.5 degrees as soon as 2024), we need to put our resources and attention as quickly as possibly in designing and creating a world that is no longer dependent on the use of fossil fuels while building a green economy that is rooted in equity, justice, human rights and ethics if we want a future for ourselves and our children.”-” – Rebecca Foon, Co-founder of Pathway to Paris
This coming election serves as an enormous opportunity to help move the Paris Agreement into action.This is the simple notion of the video: ‘VOTE.’ It is a call for Americans to vote in November, and it is a call for everyone in the world to vote in their own local elections, whenever they may be. Vote often and everywhere; in your country, in your state, in your city, in your neighborhood, in your school. Vote to choose something, vote to reject something. The word itself carries a great power, and so the concept has a heavier and broader meaning than the notion of casting a ballot during a presidential election. As the song states in its closing words, it is the plea to exercise your right to ‘use your voice-’ in every way. Identifying your own
platforms, abilities, and resources, and using them to your advantage. It calls to use your voice in the voting polls, by writing letters, signing petitions, calling your local government officials, creating discussion groups, making videos, holding conferences, concerts, and meetings, and speaking to your family, friends, and neighbors. Have the difficult discussions, have the hopeful discussions, and ‘vote like your life depends on it, because it does.’
Pathway to Paris, over the course of many months, brings together what seems to be both our finale song for the current era, and an opening song for the next. Let’s not allow 2020 to be the finale for the end of the world, but a transition into something new, as we join together like never before in human history, to start a new chapter of true unity – a new era for each other, for our children, and for future generations.