Q&A: Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director for Climate Day LA

We reached out to Jonathan Parfrey, the Executive Director for Climate Day LA. The event, which takes place on Tuesday, June 27th will include forums about climate change, headed by politicians and activists, as well as musical performances and DJ sets. 

Q: How did the idea to bring music and climate change activism together initially form?

A: I attended Survival Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl in 1980 — and it changed my life. It was not only a great concert but had a core message. Back then, music was a key part of the movement to stop nuclear war and it was exciting to be part of that. Today, we face another major threat: climate change.

Q: Did Climate Resolve approach entertainment companies/venues or was Climate Resolve approached?

A: Climate Resolve’s creative director, Jacob Cooper, is our connection to the music world. A musician, Jacob intro’ed us to the creative team at IHEARTCOMIX and cool folks at the Ace Hotel. We wanted to organize a concert that would reach a new audience — and Jacob led the way. 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.

Q: How are you bridging the gap between political leaders, music artists and attendees for an environmental cause? 

A: Climate Day LA is in three parts. A free conference takes place in the afternoon. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti is kicking-off the day. The mayor has been amazing — he’s organized over 100 mayors across the United States to uphold the Paris climate accord. And we’re having many other amazing presenters including Long Beach Mayor Garcia, Tom Steyer, and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Plus there’ll be ways for attendees to directly influence climate policy. And other cool bonuses like virtual reality demonstrations, plays, tutorials. The conference will be both inspiring and fun.
The late-afternoon gala features the great activist-artist, Moby. He’s DJing. The gala provides an opportunity for Angelenos to meet one another and also financially support climate activism.
The evening concert features Neon Indian and Weyes Blood . . . we’re super-excited that they’re lending their great gifts for climate action.

Q: What are the ultimate goals for the event? Fundraising? Awareness? Inspiring action?

A: The ultimate goal of Climate Day LA is to build awareness of the climate problem, and then parlay that concern into concrete political action. The conference is free — we want to encourage Angelenos to hear what’s happening on climate change in LA, what we can expect, and where we can make a difference. Sales of tickets to the gala and concert will support local projects and programs.

Q: What projects or actions will the money fund?

A: Climate Resolve’s believes that climate action, when done correctly, can help people in all sorts of ways. For example, the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions stems from car exhaust. So we’re working with Metro to expand train and bus and bike service. To do that work, and do it correctly, takes time and good staff work. Another example, we’re helping low-income Angelenos get cools roofs and solar panels. Plus we’re helping schools save water and energy. These are but a few of our excellent programs that helps curb climate pollution and also prepare the region for climate impacts. Contributions will help fund these programs.

Q: What were some of the successes of last year’s event Climate Day LA event? Do you have bigger aspirations/goals/expectations for this year?

A: We had a great turnout last year — in fact we sent a declaration from the people of Los Angeles to this gathering of world governments in Paris. It was great. During the workshops, people were hunched over tables, filling boards with climate actions on post-it notes. And, even though last year was cool, this year will be cooler. We’re using apps to bring people together and to help people advocate for new climate policies.

Q: Do you believe that music and the arts are central to political activism, especially climate change/environmental activism?

A: Music and the arts can bring people together. Just as music has brought people together during every progressive movement in American history, now, music will help us face the climate challenge.