African Community and Conservation Foundation Impact Benefit and Auction
Out of all of the gold-toned prose in Karen Blixan’s acclaimed memoir Out of Africa, there is a single line that stands out more than all the rest: “You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.”
It’s a sentence that manages to evoke not only longing -- “When will I get to live among lions?” but also awe --“How lucky is she, to get to live among lions?” Lions, after all, are beautiful and magnificent creatures, and to get to live among them is a rare, one of a kind experience.
Unfortunately, however, our chances of living among the lions today are on the decline. The Colonial Africa of Blixen’s time was only the beginning of a long and terrible chain of events that has forced Africa into its current situation, where rapid industrialization, foreign influence, and climate change pose threats to not only lions, but to all the other wildlife and people living there.
Luckily, however, organizations like The African Community and Conservation Foundation are here to help. Founded in 2018 by the US Charity Friends of Peace Parks, The African Community and Conservation Foundation aims to preserve Africa’s wildlife and support surrounding communities through anti-poaching, community outreach, and conservation programs.
In order to raise some of the funds needed to support the future of these programs, The ACC held an auction at the elusive Chase Contemporary Gallery, where guests dined on hors d'oeuvres from Coco J’adore, enjoyed work from photographer’s Robert Dutesco collection The Wild Horses of Sable Island, and mingled with guests like fashion designer Donna Karan, Victoria Secret Model Sofie Rovenstine and Superbowl champion Justin Tuck.
In between cocktails and a dance performance from modern dance company Jennifer Mueller/The Works, guests were also treated to a speech from Brady Forseth, CEO of the ACCF. Now, I’ve been to my fair share of charity fundraisers, and more often than not, it’s easy to come away feeling as if the event is much more about the guests than the cause. But Forseth’s speech was nothing if not genuine. He spoke openly and directly about the problems facing African communities today, from the social stigma surrounding periods to the still present ritual of Female Genital Mutilation. He elaborated on the necessity of finding a sustainable way for people and wildlife to live together, and emphasized the importance of environmental education and female empowerment. Speaking about such a serious subject to a bunch of half-tipsy New Yorkers is not the easiest task in the world, but Forseth managed to make clear just how much he cared about his work with the ACCF, and how much more he felt could be done to push these communities forward.