What's a better way to break the ice than to arm wrestle with a complete stranger? In 2014, Elise Granata designed the Power Hour of Fun program for her birthday to just bring a community of people together and have a great night. Since then, she has developed the concept into a large-scale, interactive event that has been a sensation at conferences, events and parties around Santa Cruz, Bay Area and New York. On September 9th, she will be bringing the fun to Motion Pacific in Downtown Santa Cruz!
1) What's your main gig and what do you love about it?
By day, I am the Community Catalyst at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH.) I get the distinct joy of engaging with our members, volunteers, and collaborators. I love it because I know how alienating it can be to feel connected to a meaningful community, and I get to create those connections for dozens of people to engage with the MAH every week.
2) How did you come up with the idea for Power Hour of Fun?
It was originally created for my 23rd birthday party. I had moved to Santa Cruz about 1.5 years prior, and had made lots of acquaintances but not a ton of close friends. I wanted to design an experience that would be fun for everyone to do without it feeling like another awkward party where nobody talked to each other despite all feeling obligated to be there for the birthday person. For some reason I thought back to the OG 'power hour' format. This is a drinking game where one takes a shot of beer per minute, usually to the tune of a playlist of 60 minute-long songs. Fast forward to casual brainstorms with a few friends/colleagues/strangers-- but mainly my best friend Pia and I-- which led to sixty different activities for the very first Power Hour of Fun. It was a wildly fun night. I remember feeling totally bowled over by the potential of this experience. If this group of 50 "random" people walked away with barriers broken down and hearts opened up, how powerful could this experience be for more people? I've since facilitated Power Hours for more events, conferences, and team-building experiences with the same outcomes. I have no doubt it's going to be an unforgettable time for New Wave Networking on September 9th.
3) Since Power Hour is such a successful venture, how do you juggle the main hustle and the side hustle?
This is 100% an evolving answer for me. To be honest, I struggle with the juggle. There are some days where I've booked Power Hours and wish I didn't because I feel totally burnt from work, and other days where it feels like an easy project to maintain and I'm grateful for the simple catharsis of sharing this thing with other people. Largely, it seems to be the thing I always say I'll grow when I have the time. I'm currently looking into splitting the work with others and forging a more intentional work-life balance. And I really want to! Maybe when I have the time. (Jokes!)
4) By now everyone has heard about the gourmet awesomeness of Abbott Square, but for us youngsters, what are some cool things that are happening that we don't want to miss out on?
The weekly free programming is really at the heart of the Abbott Square experience. Make something new at a Crafternoon, try yoga or salsa at Shake the Square, or dive into Santa Cruz nerddom with Hands-on-History. All free, every week. Check out the upcoming list of events here: https://santacruzmah.org/events/category/abbott-square/
4) What are some fun activities that you enjoy doing around Santa Cruz County?
I love sweaty hikes, eating a lot of vegan food, buying comics at Comicopolis and Atlantis, running on West Cliff, and taking long meandering walks with my partner that are punctuated by buying snacks.
5) Where can we find you hanging out?
At the MAH! Come say hi.