Where Creatives Find Know-How, Community, & Affirmation

Image: Creative Commons

Image: Creative Commons

In this Age of Convenient Information Access and ready-made persona formation, why invest time and money in any training?

It was a warm sunny morning in Taos, New Mexico when I guided fifteen writers through a meditative yoga flow. When I asked them to check in with questions such as, “What am I here for?” and “What am I writing for?” a couple of them got watery eyes. Read more

Tapping into Creative Collaboration

tracking wonder - collaborate

Collaboration, it turns out, is essential for creative productivity and innovation.

The New York socialite Mabel Dodge knew something about putting talented, engaging people from different backgrounds and creative media in the same room. With the right atmosphere and combination of people, ideas could ignite that might inspire creative action (including even, a few love affairs). Read more

Constant change is not sustainable for creative projects: conversation with 0 Positive Festival co-founder

Teaser: The Novelty Spurt is that burst of wondrous enthusiasm we feel for on a new project. The Novelty Spurt is comprised chiefly of three parts: Lightning Bolt, Energy Jolt, and Brick Wall. When the Lightning Bolt strikes, you or a group of people get an inspired idea. The Lightning Bolt gives an Energy Jolt. With youthful vigor, you create and work and stay up all hours. And then, crash. A Brick Wall. Your body crashes. An emergency arises. Or you face the inevitable challenges of execution, resource allocation, collaboration, promotion, and launch.
The temptation when faced with a Brick Wall? Avoid it by finding another Novelty Spurt.
Meet Joe Concra and his band of game-changing music-art-health care festival organizers and how they’ve tried to get over, under, and through their share of Brick Walls to sustain one of the freshest music festivals to come along in years. (The 0 Positive Festival – that brings together musicians, artists, & health care providers in barter – happens Oct 6-8, 2012 in Kingston, New York, 90 minutes N of the city.)

1. From Artist to Organizer
New York painter Joe Concra attended The Truck America Music Festival in the Catskills in 2010. That event would inadvertently shift Joe’s focus from making a living as a painter to co-founding and coordinating the 0 Positive Festival – what has become arguably one of the most original and best “do-good” music festivals with the right scale that has a premise with potential to take off across the United States.

A few weeks after attending that U.K.-based Truck America festival, a dentist in Kingston, New York, mistook Joe as the music festival organizer and said, “The only thing wrong with that festival is that I can’t bring those guys [musicians in Monogold] to play for me in exchange for my fixing their teeth.”


“I will fix these musicians’ teeth,” the dentist said in essence, “if you will bring them to Kingston.”

Joe went home, told his partner and fellow artist Denise Orzo, and pitched his pal, journalist and photographer Alex Marvar, and then pitched another area doctor the crazy premise.

Let’s bring musicians to Kingston in trade for free health care.

And so – with wide-eyed zeal – the 0 Positive Festival and its winning tagline of “Bartering the art of medicine for the medicine of art” was born and launched. In three months. Marvar gathered bands to play in turn for free health care.  Concra and Orzo rallied artists to paint public art – murals and other work – on Wall Street. The doctor, Dr. Art Chandler (director of the Columbia Medical Hospital in Hudson) and Dr. Tom Cingel (the dentist with the original request) gathered doctors, dentists, chriopractors, acupuncturists, and other health care providers to offer free care in return for music and art.

1200-1300 people converged on Wall Street of Kingston – 90 minutes north of New York City in the idyllic Mid-Hudson Valley. The area is a charming and slowly revitalized neighborhood that has buildings and sidewalks from “Small Town America” and owns bragging rights to sporting the only intersection in the U.S. with buildings dating from the 18th century on all four corners.

In its second year, 2011, the 0 Positive Festival provided

$38,600 of medical services + $17,600 in dental work = $56,200 worth of free services.

Sponsors in 2012 include the biggest proponent of local music in the Hudson Valley (WDST), the largest magazine in the area (Chronogram), the area’s largest health care system (HealthQuest), and a stellar branding and data-tracking business (Evolving Media Network).

41 bands like Dead Heart Bloom, the Felice Brothers, Richard Buckner, and Mercury Rev’s Grasshopper will play. 40 artists will have work integrated into the festival’s urban-small town fabric. Not bad for a group of wide-eyed musicians, artists, and dentists. Any problems?  Read more