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November 8, 2021

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Susan, thank you very much. Congratulations. Kudos to Hank, everyone at New York Tech for doing something that enriches this city. And when you enrich New York City, you enrich the whole world. Really, it’s a special time when we need more inspiration. We need something to help us find our hope. And the power of art and culture at this time in history cannot be overstated. I really want people to think about what we went through for two years. We’re only beginning to understand it, but what we do know is that we searched for every element of hope, every glimmer, every moment that made us feel like we could pull through, we could get back what we had , maybe we could even go further. And, in this city, as art and culture began to reappear, that hope reemerged, that sense of possibility. It was amazing to watch. We couldn’t be whole without arts and culture in our city.

So as another exhibit opens, it reminds us of what we have overcome. And it’s a good time. Yesterday we had the New York City Marathon, which is still coming back strong – a beautiful moment. And today, for the first time in a long time, international visitors are arriving at our airports. So it’s all happening at the same time as this exhibit, telling us that we’re overcoming, we’re finding our way to something better.

I want to take a moment very quickly to say that this exhibition moves me on many levels. It particularly moves me because it illustrates the extraordinary contributions to the city and to this nation of the Brzezinski family. And I want people to think for a moment, choose your favorite Brzezinski –

[Laughter]

And then think of all that this individual has done. But bring them together into one family and think of the energetic and relentless sense of giving back in every way, in public policy, in journalism, in art, in academia. It’s extraordinary. We sometimes – I think Joe will appreciate that – look back, and some of us look back, a bit, with nostalgia for certain generations. We are talking about the greatest generation of World War II. We are talking about the generation of the founders and those who helped us create this nation at the time of the American Revolution. And we wonder, did this moment in history create greatness? Or was it the particular combination of people who came together just for a brief, bright moment? But we should be inspired by the fact that one family in a few generations has done so much, given us so much and given us so much hope.

So let’s first give a round of applause for Brzezinski from afar.

[Applause]

And if there is a beautiful tree available, she would like to meet that tree. It’s basically a tree-based version of online dating.

[Laughter]

But what extraordinary works she has created. And at a time when we realized the power of art to both support us and give us hope, we also found ourselves turning to nature. And I think everyone in this room will agree, we’ve strayed a little too far from nature. We talk about sustainability and we talk about tackling the climate crisis, we realize that anything that brings us back to a connection with nature helps us survive at this point, and certainly gives us a sense of spirit that we sometimes miss in the day- the madness of today in which we live.

So these beautiful works bring us back to our essence, bring us back to our hope. Emelie, I hope you can hear us there, but thank you. Thank you for what you are doing for this city and this nation with this beautiful exhibit. Let’s thank her.

[Applause]

And I also want to make it clear, Joe, that I was including you in the family in this eulogy, because, you know, I don’t want to – you’re pretty good too, Joe.

[Laughter]

Unknown: [Inaudible]

Mayor: There is still hope. There is still hope. Everyone, listen, I’m going to wrap up on this. What makes a recovery? What makes a recovery? We are all asking for it right now and we are defining it. A recovery is sometimes considered physical. Are people coming back to work? Are there the same number of people in the streets? Are there the same number of jobs? These are all very real things. We care about these things. But the recovery that interests me the most is our belief that we can go further. I hope that after this pandemic, the biggest crisis we have ever faced, we will come out of it feeling like our own strength. Just as Emelie’s art shows us the beauty of nature, and her art and her life are a story of resilience, I hope we emerge from this moment renewed. Tired, yes, but renewed. I hope we see the strength in each other. I hope we feel together. I hope we recognize what we’ve all been through and how we’ve helped each other in ways we never could have imagined. I hope everyone who comes to this exhibition leaves ready to do more. Thank you.

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