O+ Festival Returns to Bay Area 7th-9th November With Expansion to Petaluma

Same Amazing Festival, New Host City; plus Q & A with Dave Green from Lagunitas

With a lot of time and thought, O+ San Francisco has decided to expand out to the rest of the Bay Area with the desire to leave a solid impression of community assurance, urban renewal, and wellness celebration on a series of smaller, up-and-coming cities.

We feel that the nature of O+ is a grassroots movement designed to be grasped by the hands of its hosting community, and adopted to fit that city’s specific needs – to nurture the foundation of community while also inspiring new and ongoing relationships between care providers and the creative community. Our aims are to infuse each community with more art, music, and patronage to local businesses, and ultimately establish a year-round O+ headquarters in each hosting city to continue the innovation and community unity through the donation of wellness and art.

O+ San Francisco was an exceptionally powerful and successful event, as we raised more than $50,000 worth of impact of arts and wellness in just three days, providing dozens of artists and musicians access to free care, and gifting the city’s participants with a full weekend roster of music concerts, live art performances, healthcare events, workshops, and a community-run, volunteer-staffed pop-up clinic. We are proud of our positive effect on San Francisco, gracious of our past participants and volunteers who made it all happen, and incredibly excited to spawn a new O+ experience in this year’s chosen neighboring city.

With that being said, we are humbled and pleased to announce that this year’s festival will be O+ Petaluma, which takes place Nov. 7-9, 2014. Petaluma is a gorgeous river city and tight-knit community in Sonoma County, California, just one hour north of San Francisco. It is also the home of the Lagunitas Brewing Company, O Positive’s first national sponsor. Since coming aboard last summer, Lagunitas has demonstrated considerable support for the festival’s core mission, and has become a large part of the heart and soul behind the operation.

Now that the festival is taking place on Lagunitas’ home base, we are delighted to be working more closely with the real working, living, breathing people behind this incredible company, and wanted to get a little more insight into its connection with the festival, and its leadership’s thoughts and visions about O+ Petaluma.

David Green of Lagunitas Brewing Co. (Photo by Joyce Manalo)
Dave Green of Lagunitas Brewing Co. (Photo by Joyce Manalo)

We interviewed Dave Green, Lagunitas’ National Sponsorships and Events Director, and loved his answers so much that we decided to just post the whole interview:

O+: How did Lagunitas become involved with O Positive? You mentioned before of the founder of Lagunitas being an artist himself, and having a love for “eclectic” or “freakshow” art?

Dave Green: There is a weird, awkward, but so perfectly balanced connection that has been made. You speak of Tony, and his love for music, for the eclectic, for the oddities and for the bizarre, and truth be told, this is, in a way, how we happened across O+. We have some friends here on the West Coast, in said bizarre industry—The Vau de Vire Society—who helps in a major way to produce our infamous annual Beer Circus that we throw at the brewery here in Petaluma, and now for the first time this year out at our new facilities in Chicago. They help source the talent that Tony (Magee) loves. The contortionists, the sword swallowers, the weirdos that we all love to gawk at! Tony drives to see things that you cannot un-see, the things that push the norms. One of the people on their roster is Deb Gatiss. She was our connection. She had been working on O+SF with Joe Concra and reached out to us July 2013. The deed was done.

What happened next was typical of a brewery like ours during that time of year. It was brushed aside, to be handled after our “bigger fish” were fried. After a series of upward bounds I found myself with the O Positive connection dumped on me, and I was just learning the ropes of Lagunitas. I had started in June! We arranged a call with Joe and Liz Harrington, who coordinates their sponsorships … by this point, it was early October. But I was sold! I made quick work of getting a pallet of beer out to Kingston, and booked my flights. The local brewery, and O Positive sponsor, Keegan Ales, was kind enough to let us use some of his cold storage space to store our beer. Tommy Keegan, the owner, actually has some history in the Bay Area, and told me a great story of a visit to our brewery in the ’90s that made me laugh! I will let him tell that story though… So the whole weekend I ran around meeting all of the wonderful people behind this operation, getting that pallet of beer everywhere, and doing what we do! The entire community was so welcoming. I actually stayed at one of the care provider’s house, John McKinney. This house is probably one of the most beautiful, and one of the oldest houses I had ever been in, and damn does he keep it nice. I felt like I was sleeping in a museum, short of the red velvet ropes. At the end of the festival, I had been bitten. I knew that this was going to turn into something more than what it already was, and really had no ceiling to its success! From that weekend forth, I have spread the gospel that is O Positive.

O+: Do you have a special or personal story in connection to O Positive and/or what is the reason that you are personally involved?

Dave: Benevolence. There is nothing like this—that is so true to the roots of why humanity exists. To see the love that the community of Kingston glows with in person was seriously a life-altering occasion. It is hard to put into words what this means to me personally without getting a little emotional. Two of our biggest drivers for a company are community and music. O Positive is just that. Understanding it over the phone when I first talked with Joe and Liz was one thing, but seeing it in action was a whole new thing entirely. O Positive is so much more than just being about the music and the giving back to the community and the artists. It perfectly demonstrates things that have been in many ways forgotten in our modern society. No money, no greed, no “dog and pony” show—just benevolence. Just kindness. Just doing what is right. Something not religious unless you want it to be, but something that draws spirit. Like a cosmic infrastructure of altruistic ideals. Something more than just surface. Something deeper. Something that to some may be the unconscious.

One of my favorite memories is that of the first night I was in town. It hit me in two stages. We had set up a promotion at the Santa Fe restaurant in Kingston, where we would have a view of the opening celebration parade from the patio. The first was that the folks at the establishment were nothing but welcoming. Just gave and gave and gave, and asked nothing in return, all for the “greater good” that O Positive influences.

The second was something else. A gentleman showed up, searched me out, and handed me a large cardboard box full of T-shirts. The T-shirts were custom-printed with our logo, the logo of the restaurant, and of course the O Positive logo. He just gave them to me, and said that hopefully these would help! This man was having dinner at the restaurant just the night before the event, which is where he learned about O Positive, and the party we were having. This man also owned a print shop, and he told me that he was so touched by the story, that he went to his shop and worked throughout the night to create those T-shirts so that he could deliver them to us in time for the gathering.

I don’t cry at movies, I don’t cry when I am in pain, I don’t cry at funerals, but this—this made me shed a tear or two. Corny, maybe, that a man with my crying reputation was brought down by a box of T-shirts. Cardboard, cotton, ink. But what else was in that box was this man’s selflessness. Was his passion. Was his kindness. Was benevolence.

O+: What are your intentions for O+ Petaluma? And what are your hopes for the effects of O+ on the town of Petaluma? How do you think that O+ Petaluma will differ from O+ San Francisco and O+ Kingston?

Dave: Our intentions are simply to see this be successful. The beauty of the O+ Festival structure is that it tightens the bonds within the community. This is proven in the success of Kingston. The once barren, “wastelandish” town surrounding the hollow IBM building is now, a bustling, artsy community that has desire. I want to live there! Petaluma is a great West Coast counterpart to Kingston. An artsy, almost bedroom community to the SF metropolis, as Kingston reflects to NYC. Born from farmland, grown with music and once again, desire. Packed full of great food, great music, and great people.  O+ will have the same effect here. There is a good web here, good bones, and the festival will serve as the glue, the fastener. O Positive will leave an impression by design that will strengthen this Petaluma web, and project beyond into further reaches of the West Coast, and/or further.

This is first and foremost about O+ and not about Lagunitas—down to the branding, the advertisement, everything. We are not in the spotlight. We work with a lot of great music and art festivals, and they all ask us what we want to do as far as Internet logo placement, radio ads, banner space. My answer is always, “Is this a festival about music, or is this a festival about banners?” I’ll sometimes hang my banners upside down to prove that it doesn’t matter. The feeling we get from watching the festival succeed is all we need to stay involved.

O+: Do you see a volunteer-run exchange service/clinic as a system that could work in the long run in the town of Petaluma?

Dave: I think Petaluma is the perfect place to establish a year round O Positive system. With the influx of great art, food, music, and some of the best holistic medicine within a stone’s throw, the community of Petaluma and the surrounding communities will have that soul, that passion, and that benevolence.

O+: What is Lagunitas as a company most excited about in terms of the festival?

Dave: To show our hometown of Petaluma what we have been doing on the East Coast! To introduce them to this new structure, to guide, to give insight, and to improve the community.

O+: Are there any other comments that you have?

Dave: The people that are involved with and have curated O Positive are of a special breed—not like the Westminster Kennel Club. I compare it a lot to the likes of the people I work with here at the brewery. We aren’t for show; we are for do. There are certain things that just should be. I leave you with a quote from Einstein…yes, I’m quoting Einstein:

“Knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be.”

O Positive is what should be.

O+: Thank you Dave.

The 2014 Petaluma website will be available soon and we will be starting the art and music submissions then. We are also looking for interested Healthcare and Wellness Practitioners, as well as festival Volunteers. For more information on how you can get involved please contact aimee@opositivefestival.org.