June 23, 2017
Next Tuesday, Los Angeles celebrates its second annual Climate Day LA—an event bringing together over 1,500 Angeleno leaders, advocates, and locals “to strategize, implement, and celebrate local solutions to climate change” and capping off with a fundraising gala DJed by everyone’s favorite Angeleno, Moby, and an evening concert with Neon Indian, Weyes Blood, and a DJ set by Eric Wareheim (you know—Big Bud from Master of None?). The event takes place at the beautiful Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles this year, and is presented by KCRW, Climate Resolve, ecoAmerica, FORM, and IHEARTCOMIX in support of the Path To Positive LA initiative for climate solutions. We wanted to find out more about the inspiration for the event so we reached out to one of its organizers, Jonathan Parfrey of Climate Resolve (who, also founded CicLAvia).
Read on to find out more about the event; the daytime portion (starting at noon Tuesday) is free with RSVP; gala fund-raiser (5PM) is $150; and evening concert (7PM) is $35; proceeds benefit Path to Positive LA.
6.26.2017 UPDATE: From the event promoter—”Due to unforeseen circumstances, the evening concert portion of our event with Neon Indian, Weyes Blood, and Eric Wareheim has been cancelled. All concert ticket holders will be refunded.”
raven + crow: Alright, for the uninitiated, do ycivilind starting by telling us about Climate Day LA—where did the idea for this come from?
Jonathan Palfrey: Our changing climate is going to alter just about every aspect of modern life—it’s a big deal—and we need to get ready. Climate Day LA was created to invite new people to make a difference on this most important issue. Our group, Climate Resolve, is partnering with a DC-based organization, ecoAmerica—the nation’s experts in climate communications and strategy—and together we’re reaching out to new constituencies with fresh new ideas.
That’s great to hear. I know last year, with the inaugural Climate Day LA, it was much more of your standard conference; this year, it seems to be leaning more in the entertainment realm—was that a calculated change of course to attract more of the general public? …or are you all just big Moby fans?
You’re right. We’re obsessed with Moby.
We’re also fired-up about re-attaching activism with music. Every progressive movement has been grounded in song—from Civil Rights to the singing revolution of Estonia. We also need to reach folks in their 20s and 30s, and music is a great vehicle to reach them.
Was it a challenge to get all these people from seemingly disparate fields—policy, entertainment, the nonprofit world—sitting down at the same table and committed to this as an event?
Climate Resolve’s creative director, Jacob Cooper, is our connection to the music community. Through his career as a musician, Jacob intro’ed us to the creative team at IHEARTCOMIX. Our Outreach Director, Kristina von Hoffmann, was introduced to the team at the Ace through a friend, and shortly after meeting with them we decided to collaborate on this event. We wanted to organize a concert that would reach new people. When it comes to climate change, we need more people to dial-in, become aware of the threat and make climate change a priority, and then to dedicate themselves to be part of the solution.
What are you hoping the event will accomplish for Angelenos?
Climate Day LA is an event that will be rich with information and cool ideas. There will be specific actions people can take, right there and then from their seats. It’s why the conference is free—we want to encourage folks to learn what’s happening on climate change right here in LA, and change the course of history. Sales of tickets to the gala and concert will support local projects and programs.
Not to veer too much toward the negative, but, given the current political climate (pun intended), can I get your thoughts on the importance of this kind of dialogue in context of what’s going on in Washington?
You mean the decision by Trump to back out of the Paris agreement and to appoint climate deniers? Here’s the thing, as bad as it is in DC—and I won’t sugarcoat it, it’s awful—many others are stepping up. Cities are stepping-up right here in California.
Even though Mayor Garcetti and Governor Brown have been damn good on climate change, they can’t do it alone. We need more citizens exerting their small “d” democratic rights and demanding that we protect the planet. It starts in LA, in California, and then spreads across the nation.
Do you feel that it’s the role of the state and/or local entities to pick up the slack when it comes to fighting climate change then?
Climate Resolve’s number #1 principle is this: Although climate change is global, we experience climate change locally, in our neighborhoods. Even though the federal government is a mess, LA and California are stepping up. In fact, California now has a competitive advantage over other states. Renewable power is cheaper and it’s the future. And California is ahead of everybody else.
It is encouraging, in these largely (for many of us) discouraging times to see the positive reaction on the local level many are having. I wonder though—most of us are used to fighting this fight in the arenas of government, non-profit campaigns, lobbying, but do you see opportunities to turn the tide from unexpected populations, like the tech industry or activist investors, of instance?
Yes! Our offices are located at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. We share space with great innovators working on solar power, energy-efficient lighting, car-sharing and more at companies focused on the triple-bottom line: people, planet, profit. We need technology and policy and science to inform each other and keep pace—with both social good and economic benefit.
Oh, yeah—you’re actually rock-throwing distance from our studio; I had no idea.
So, I know you’re moderating a panel during the day—can you talk a little bit about what you hope to cover and who’ll be speaking as part of that?
Climate Day LA features two very cool panels.
The first highlights young emerging leaders. It’s moderated by KCRW’s Avishay Artsy and includes Aura Vasquez, LA’s brilliant new DWP commissioner, Araceli Campos, President of the LA County Women and Girls Initiative and Nourbese Flint of Black Women for Wellness. You may not know these names today…but they’re LA’s future.
Then I’m moderating a panel featuring established leaders like Tom Steyer of NextGen Climate, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, and the brilliant Rachelle Reyes Wenger of Dignity Health — all of whom have made substantial progress in climate activism.
What are you personally most excited about for Climate Day LA?
I want to meet new young people—fresh for battle to protect the planet.
Climate soldiers. Nice. I guess I’m wondering—specifically from someone as informed on the subject as you—if you’ve had much experience in convincing the many unconvinced that A) yes, climate is a real thing that’s going on, and B) here’s why it’s important that we work to change course; how do you approach the subject without totally turning off those who disagree with you?
Funny that you ask—at Climate Day LA there’s a mini-play, directed by Aaron Lyons of the LA Fringe Festival, that takes place at Thanksgiving where all hell breaks out when family members disagree over climate change. It’s fun and informative. Plus we’re offering a whole session on do’s and don’ts on climate communication.
That’s great, actually. Total aside, but thanks for founding CicLAvia—I feel like that’s one of the most popular regular events in Los Angeles.
Isn’t it great? CicLAvia taught me that the best kind of organizing isn’t a wagging finger, isn’t being a scold, but instead, organizing works best when you invite people into a better place, to have fun. Joy is the best motivator.
One hundred percent agree with you on that. Thanks again for taking the time to talk, Jonathan—see you Tuesday.