“Will it Blend?” is a popular viral video series produced by blender manufacturer Blendtec, wherein a man clad in a lab coat puts sundry items into an electric mixer (a Rubik’s Cube, glow sticks, an iPhone) to answer the title question.
Soon the Aqus Community’s Artists’ Mixer attempts the same but with presumably less destruction and with more enduring and useful results. Hosted by the Petaluma Arts Center, the event convenes at 6:30 p.m., Thursday April 7, at the center’s Lakeville location.
John Crowley, the event’s organizer and proprietor of the Aqus Cafe (which, itself, is something of community incubator in the Foundry Wharf) is the man in the metaphorical lab coat. Will it blend? Yes, but he’s quick to remind that this is not “the typical mixer where you get a glass of wine and stand around the peanuts hoping to start a conversation with somebody. ”
Instead, the artists’ mixer borrows a page from the “speed dating” playbook. “We address the age old issue of how to start a conversation at a mixer by gently forcing people to have multiple short conversations with other in a fun non threatening way,” says Crowley. “It really makes it easy and makes it fairly natural and normal for people.”
Crowley says that after a couple of rounds, one’s guard comes down and because everyone is participating it basically becomes the “new normal.” Inasmuch as artists can be “normal.”
“It’s a very short conversation, so it’s not as though you’re put in the spotlight. There’s only two other people listening to you, so it’s quite, quite intimate. You’re not a big crowd, which also that can be intimidating, and the other two people are probably just as introverted as anybody else. ”
Petaluma Artists Aren’t the Only Ones Mixed Up
Crowley hosts myriad niche mixers throughout the year – “Drinks with Shrinks,” for example, gets therapists together – as part of his mission to foster real community. He was inspired after reading Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, which explores decline of the nations’s social capital. And by “social capital” he’s not talking about investing in Facebook. He means the inherent value of trust, reciprocity and connectivity that manifests from a functioning social network.
“A more connected society or community or city is just a more fun place to live, and everything works better from businesses, to social life, to personal life, to love life, to everything. It just is so much more elevated,” says Crowley, who witnessed the declining social equity in his native country.
“I remember talking to people in Ireland, and they were saying, ‘Remember when we used to go down to the local pubs, or we’d run next door to borrow butter?’ Now, we don’t do that because we’re all either stuck watching television or commuting or working too hard, or the news always reports about the murderer next door,” he says with a laugh.”Communities function so much better when people are connected. People are happier, businesses thrive better and communities are safer and more vibrant when communities enjoy a high degree of social equity.”
Artists can also enjoy a high degree of social lubricants at the mixer where beer and wine will be served. No word if there will be a blender on hand for margaritas or pureed Rubik’s Cubes.
Aqus Community’s Artists’ Mixer begins at 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Thursday April 7, at Petaluma Arts Center, 230 Lakeville St., Petaluma.
Daedalus Howell is the author of Quantum Deadline, a darkly comic sci-fi crime novel, set in Lumaville. Also, you’ll never believe the strange goings-on at DaedalusHowell.com.