The Event: The Do Lectures is a four day happening that originated on Fforest Farms in Wales, U.K., and features a series of lectures by “doers” from all over the world. This September marked the inaugural Do Lectures USA held at Campovida in Hopland, Calif. The program featured talks by The Buried Life gang, creators of the TV show of the same name, John Fetzer, CEO of Fetzer Vineyards, Cindy Mehl award winning film maker, among others.
The Venue: Owned and run by husband and wife Anna Beuselinck and Gary Breen, Campovida is a certified organic farm and working vineyard. Outfitted with a 10-room retreat center, tasting room, sprawling organic gardens, professional culinary kitchen and 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, Campovida is a unique choice for a custom gathering.
The Contact: Anna Beuselinck, who collaborated in the planning of the Do Lectures USA.
Could you talk a little about Campovida and how you came to be running it?
My background is in executive off-sites and I always wanted to have a place that was more inspirational then a bad meeting room in a hotel. I got this idea that a place with 10 rooms would be the perfect amount of space— big enough to have a great event but not so big that you lose the personal touch.
The actual grounds of Campovida had initially been shut down in 2006, but we didn’t come to the property until 2009. My husband had been in a nearby town called Ukiah to look at some real estate, and was shown to this property as an afterthought. It was listed as a vineyard, so we would never have had reason to look at it, or to know that it had 10 rooms. It was perfect.
We moved up to Hopland from Oakland and we have found that Hopland is a brief 1.5 hours away from San Francisco or the East Bay. It’s a short way to go to tap into a completely different environment.
What kinds of events do you usually hold there?
Lots of weddings, family reunions, corporate retreats both large and small and annual sales meetings. Sometimes we’ll just have 10 executives on the property for a retreat, but we have hosted larger groups too.
How did you come to host the Do Lectures?
When we were looking at the property in 2009, my husband and I asked my dear friend Duke Stump, who is now the curator for the Do Lectures, to come out and give us his professional opinion about the grounds. At the time I was pregnant with our second child, we had not yet officially purchased the property and the whole venture was still in a state of flux. Duke’s visit came right before he was set go Wales for his first Do Lectures. We talked a lot about the event over the course of his visit, and although it sounded amazing, I knew that with this big new project and a child on the way there was no way that I was going to make it to Wales for at least five years. So I told him that we would have it at Campovida.
In 2010 we invited the founders of the Do Lectures to stay with us and we got to know each other. At the end of the visit we came to conclusion that Campovida would be the official location for the Do Lectures USA.
The basis of the Do Lecture is ideas + energy= change. I was so inspired by that thought process, and I felt that Gary and I were walking a parallel path with Campovida. Gary and I are big in trying to make Hopland sing again. Talk about a case study—this is a case study of a small town in America. In 2006 the entire town was primarily shut down. We are striving to revive a small town in America and in doing that we cater not only to the community, but to people outside of Hopland as well.
How did you start the planning process for the Do Lectures?
Well, this year was a beta for us, so we really learned a lot. The number of speakers was a huge jumping off point. Campovida has 10 rooms and we wanted 15 speakers, so in dealing with the room shortage we came up with the idea of tepees. The Pomo Indians of Sanel Valley who originally inhabited this land had lived in tepees, so we thought that it would feel like a step back in time.
Ultimately, the question we kept asking was what is the effect we want to create? We wanted a sense of intimacy with everything. We wanted the event to be special and high-impact, and the tepees really facilitated this goal by pushing people to look beyond their boundaries. There was a level of community about camping out in the field, showering in the winery and stepping outside the comfort zone. We were looking at what would create the effect that we were trying to create, and teepees seemed like the route to take.
We ended up with 15 speakers and 40 participants. Attendees and speakers stayed in the teepees, which we did “glamp” a bit. They were made-up with Swedish cots, bedding, pillows, beautiful rugs, solar lanterns and such. Although it was alternative accommodations, they were far from roughing it.
Aside for the actual lectures, what were some of the activities available to attendees?
We did yoga in the barn every morning, followed by breakfast that we made using all local and organic ingredients, mostly from our own garden on the property. Dinners were served in the Tuscan garden, and were literally farm to table since, again, we primarily used produce from our garden. Every night we would host a wine bar in the tasting room, and Adam Lamoreaux [a speaker at the event] from Oakland’s Linden Street Brewery brought beer as well.
Each night of the event we had a different activity for the attendees and speakers. The first night we used Fun Flicks [an outdoor movie company] to screen Cindy Meehl’s Sundance winning film Buck. The second night we had music in the barn with Ted Lennon who plays with Jack Johnson, and on the third night we had bonfire with more music. By the end of the three days, a community had been built of these amazing doers from all over the world. By the third night, everyone was friends.
What were some of the significant challenges you faced?
The entire event was volunteer powered. Everyone working was a volunteer— our chef, yoga instructors, service staff— everyone volunteered, whole-hearted of bringing this together. The Do Lectures are a not-for-profit event and the goal is not to make a lot of money. That said, being that we were all volunteers, we all have other jobs, and finding time to pull everything off was definitely a challenge. We struggled with holding to an experience. How do we do this and have it be an experience in itself? This was a huge opportunity for us; we couldn’t be Do UK, and we didn’t want to be—but recognizing what our identity was going to be was a significant part of the planning process. Another challenge was budget. It can be tough when you start a project and you don’t have one! Do US started with Duke Stump, a credit-card investment and a leap of faith, and it turned out to be an amazing event.
How do you feel that Campovida promoted the success of the event?
The name Campovida means field of life. To me the word field has a few different meanings: it can relate to literal space like this huge open field at Campovida that literally gives us spaciousness, or there is a field that is all about a state of mind and people coming together. Although we have all of this physical space and we don’t need to come together, people still want to. In short, we have enough space to create the intimacy. Campovida also has an element of exclusivity; we have the option of shutting the gates. We are a privately held family owned business, so we have the freedom to create whatever environment we want. That freedom was a huge asset to the Do Lectures, and we’re really looking forward to next year.