Nearing its one year anniversary, we’re looking back at the results of O+ Festival in Haverhill. O+ brought more than a weekend of entertainment and exchange to Haverhill last spring. Haverhill is speckled with the lasting effects of O+ Festival, existing in the people who live here, who see the possibilities and feel the resounding love in the exchange that took place. O+ sparked a fire in so many of us to connect and create the change we want to see in a city we are smitten with. I continue to be inspired by the people I’ve worked with over the years, nationally and locally, who stepped up and brought their heart and soul to seeing the success of this festival, like Sarah LoVasco, the powerhouse of an art coordinator who volunteered for a position because she was so committed to investing in the betterment of our city. I’m reminded of this warrior worker who was on scaffolding all hours of the day assisting in the mural on Merrimack Street, and so many volunteers, because they are my community. They became my family through this experience.
If you’re wondering why we’ve been quiet up here in Massachusetts, it’s because Sarah and I have been building The Switchboard, a community-driven gallery, workshop and event space. The gallery features a rotating wall of local artists, with the next exhibition highlighting the work of three women illustrators, one of which was a superstar O+ Haverhill volunteer last spring.
Since our inception this past winter, Sarah and I have this unspoken understanding of what we want to see at The Switchboard. From Acoustic Saturdays to the Creative Writing Summer Camp, all of our ideas have aligned, and the upcoming potluck series is no exception. We both love hosting and bringing the community together to share thoughts over an eclectic smorgasbord. As a kid in Kingston, I would accompany my mom to monthly potlucks hosted by artists, patios filled with creatives sharing ideas and supporting each other. These events remained with me after all these years, and I hope we can replicate that. We want The Switchboard to be a welcoming place to connect with others organically.