Jesse Israel wants to make New York quiet—if only for a moment.
Driven to connect people meaningfully since childhood, Israel is the founder of monthly meditation meet-up, Medi Club, record label and tech venture studio, Cantora, social bicycling movement, The Cyclones, and, starting last year, mass meditation series, The Big Quiet.
His latest Big Quiet event—expected to attract around 2,000 people with everything from DJs to sound baths—will be in Central Park starting at 6pm at SummerStage Mainstage this Wednesday, July 13th.
Here, Israel lets us know what drives him to set the stage for innovations in calm:
Live The Process: Have you always been someone who connects people, whether intentionally or unconsciously?
Jesse Israel: Yes, both. The earliest I can remember is on my 8th grade retreat, when I led a mission to bring all the boys’ cabins across the woods to visit all the girls’ and landed two years probation. But I found real connection from the camaraderie of the shared mission. I've continued to play with that notion over the years by creating different clubs and communities that bring people together through a shared purpose like the Cyclones Bike Club and the “Burger Boys” Cheeseburger Club. Even the way I ran my record label, Cantora, involved throwing concerts as a means of bringing people together through art and culture.
LTP: What inspired you to launch The Big Quiet?
JI: I was organizing group meditations in the form of social hangouts at a loft in Soho, and they were growing in size. I sensed that there was a real hunger for this type of experience: part meditation, part celebration of culture and modern living and part community. I was looking for a way to allow our Medi Club (only a few months old then) to bring this to the rest of the city and, since I sit on the Arts Committee at SummerStage, I presented this idea of hosting a mass meditation as one of the SummerStage events. Amazingly, they agreed to it, so I brought this to the Medi Club community and together we co–created the first Big Quiet (BQ) a year ago.
LTP: What will make this upcoming version in Central Park special and unique?
JI: We’re taking over the entire venue for the night and creating a celebration of quiet and culture: great music, great food, great performances at a much larger scale than we've done before. We’ll also be introducing our first ever BQ Bazaar, featuring the creators and studios of the BQ Community—free food treats courtesy of Sweetgreen, Inday, Splendid Spoon and Sweet Loren's—and a marketplace with Outdoor Voices, Thinx, Away, Skyting Yoga, Thinx, MNDFL and Tribute.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
JI: The experience of being in my true nature.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
JI: It means loosening our grip around perfectionism and particular outcomes, so we can appreciate the ups and the downs in the present moment. It’s these ups and downs that make life colorful.