When The Times first interviewed Feasterville native Jason Peters in 2019, he vowed to walk from Philadelphia to the ocean in Atlantic City, New Jersey if his podcast 2100 reached 15,000 downloads.
Two years later, it was time for Peters to buy some walking shoes – a pair of “hideous” Skechers – for the occasion.
“I’m pretty much only gonna wear them for this,” he said. “I’ve been embarrassed breaking them in.”
Peters’ podcast launched in 2019 and serves as a time capsule for the people of 2100 to help them understand our current culture. Topics range from mental health to homelessness, with special guests including the inventor of the foam finger, Philly Jesus and both mayors of Niagara Falls, the latter of which was a dream interview for Peters since he started the podcast.
“I asked them both the same questions as a compare and contrast of the two nations. It’s like twins. It’s like a science experiment,” he said. “With them, I left two physical time capsules that are only to be opened in 2100 and they have a secret message in them that can only be put together if the two nations come together. I’m doing future diplomacy.”
Though 2100 hit the milestone 15,000 downloads at the beginning of 2020, Peters’ schedule – and the COVID-19 pandemic – didn’t allow him to hit the road to Atlantic City just yet.
“I envisioned it as me just stoically and depressingly just walking alone to the ocean with maybe a couple friends dropping by with cameras to post on Instagram so that my circle could see it,” he said.
However, this extra time allowed Peters’ trek to the ocean to transform into a philanthropic cause – raising money for the nonprofit We Love Philly, founded by Peters’ friend Carlos Aponte, who walked with him this past weekend. Funds were raised on Friday during a sendoff event for the pair at Cherry Street Pier in Philadelphia.
Aponte created We Love Philly to serve as an outlet for area teens who are unable to thrive in a traditional classroom setting. Students who enroll learn the importance of volunteering and helping people in need, practice meditation, and hone their skills in podcast production and video editing. The ultimate goal is to give the students ownership of their education and teach them life skills they can utilize outside of school.
“When a student wants to learn and young people are invested in their education, the possibilities are endless,” said Aponte.
“He [Carlos] was definitely different,” said We Love Philly student Thayid Wilson. “You could tell how passionate he was about education, about actually helping students personally.”
Proceeds from Friday’s sendoff event will benefit We Love Philly’s Project Ownership initiative.
“The funds will be used to purchase a shipping container. The students from We Love Philly will then do the work to change the shipping container into an Airbnb as a way of learning life skills and learning about land ownership and the concept of ownership,” said Peters. “I didn’t learn about ownership in high school, how important it is to own a house versus rent, how property is the foundation of prosperity in this country. It’s an incredibly important thing to teach children. It will also put money in their pockets. I just really believe in the idea, so we’re raising funds for that.”
Peters and Aponte planned to raise a few thousand dollars for the initiative. They also expected to have a relatively smooth stroll over the weekend, though some details were still up in the air during The Times’ interview with Peters last Tuesday.
“I’m pretty much a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of guy. As of now, three days out, I have no idea where we’re sleeping. We have not gotten that far. We know we’re walking on the White Horse Pike. We know we’ll have a kickoff event with lots of people. I’m gonna be interviewing teachers and children the whole way, creating a podcast episode about education. We’re scrambling as it comes, but that’s kind of my style.”
According to Peters, his style is also not being in the spotlight.
“I want to put the mic in the kids’ hands rather than make it all about me and my show,” he said. “The walk is all for We Love Philly. I really don’t care if people listen to the podcast anymore. I have hit my goals. I don’t even check the stats. The podcast is just a fun, positive thing. I never saw it as a money maker. It’s a solely artistic process that’s tied to nothing. I think that’s what resonates with people. I can just fly off the handle and rope people into shenanigans.”
For Peters, completing this walk is in line with his lifelong mission – to keep doing things that others feel is impossible. Since 2019, he’s appeared on CNN, worked for the hip-hop station HOT 97 in New York, had articles published by various news outlets, appeared in several rap music videos and now, walked over 60 miles to Atlantic City.
“People start to drop off if you don’t up the ante, or at least hit them from the side in a place where they don’t expect. I like doing that because there’s not a lot of people just doing whatever they want to do, which is essentially my philosophy,” Peters said. “I’ve got enough shenanigans up my sleeve that I never want to be doing the same thing twice. I always want to keep people on their toes.”
Visit welovephilly.org for more information on We Love Philly. 2100 is available on Apple Podcasts.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org