A Temporary Village Is Popping Up in Healdsburg for People Wanting to Create a Better Future

The monthlong event marks the first phase in creating Esmeralda, a permanent, utopia-like settlement in Northern California.

Healdsburg will host Edge Esmeralda, a monthlong gathering organized by Edge City, “a society incubator,” and the Esmeralda Land Company

The June event will take the form of a temporary pop-up village for “founders, scientists, urban planners, researchers, engineers, philosophers, storytellers, and beyond … thoughtful people who are brilliant, curious, and kind … who believe the future can be better and are actively working to make it happen,” according to the event website

The goal is to foster a thriving community dedicated to innovation and well-being. The Healdsburg event marks the first phase in creating Esmeralda, a permanent, utopia-like settlement in Northern California. 

“This gathering is based on a participant-driven format called an “unconference” in which the agenda is created by the attendees themselves, rather than centrally planned by the organizers,” said event co-organizer Devon Zuegel.  

The organizers of Edge Esmeralda are looking to foster conversations on how to create a better future. (Courtesy of Edge Esmeralda)

The projected itinerary includes talks and discussions on various themes, such as human organization, artificial intelligence, crypto, health and longevity, and multiple types of hard tech. The knowledge and experiences gained during the June gathering will serve as the foundation for the longterm vision of Esmeralda. 

Sonoma County locals can attend the event for $200, while visitors from other parts of the country and the world will be paying up to $2,000.

“By giving each guest ownership over how the time is spent, it turns the event into a shared project. Building things together builds strong relationships, and it can blossom into longer-running collaborations after the event. We want locals to feel empowered to not just attend the sessions already on the schedule, but to also bring their own expertise and knowledge to co-create the schedule as well,” said Zuegel.

Healdsburg was chosen as the destination for the event for several reasons, including the co-organizers’ connections to the area and the high concentration of local talent at the forefront of movements like regenerative agriculture. 

“Healdsburg is a beautiful town with a rich history and reputation as a center of healthy living. It has great urban design, with a walkable town center that prioritizes local businesses and is centered around a public square, which makes it perfect for the walking- and biking-oriented lifestyle we want to promote in our community,” said Zuegel. 

Circe Sher, who co-founded Piazza Hospitality, which developed and manages Hotel Healdsburg, Harmon Guest House, and h2 hotel, believes the event could serve as an infusion for Healdsburg’s hotels.

“If all goes well, we expect to be very busy in June at all three properties with a large portion of the occupancy at h2 and Harmon coming from Edge Esmeralda participants,” she said. 

Sher also is excited about what Edge Esmeralda might bring to the Healdsburg community. 

“I love the idea of all these people coming to town and discussing innovative ideas, hopefully solving a few problems, and enjoying the town mostly by foot or on bikes,” she said. 

Each of Sher’s hotels is located within blocks of Healdsburg’s town square. Hotel Healdsburg offers access to 8-speed PUBLIC bikes for a ride around town or between sessions of the Edge Esmeralda event.

The h2 hotel, known for its sustainable design and living roof, has a Green Room that will serve as one of the venues for Edge Esmeralda programming. The hotel also offer bike rentals as well as complimentary Ashtanga yoga classes on Sunday mornings. 

Leading up to June’s Edge Esmeralda event, Harmon Guest House will launch a new guest chef pop-up series at its Rooftop bar and terrace, which will run May through July. The hotel also is planning to debut a new artist installation in May, featuring the work of local artist and wine producer Alice Sutro, which is part of the hotel’s ongoing, rotating art installation series. 

‘We’ve always thought of our sustainably designed h2hotel and Harmon Guest House as great spaces to foster big ideas and conversations, and I am delighted that Edge has chosen to have some of their sessions at our properties,” said Sher. 

The organizers of Edge Esmeralda have connected with locals leading up to the June event. 

“The Healdsburg community has been incredibly welcoming to us. One of our key priorities has been talking to at least one local every single day for the last few months, and it’s been incredible to see each of those locals get energized by the conversation and begin overflowing with ideas for how to make June wonderful for locals and visitors alike,” said Zuegel 

Families with kids are also welcome to Edge Esmeralda, and childcare is available, in addition to activities for families throughout the month. One area of focus will be on integrating family life with a creative life.

With a big vision for the future, the organizers of Edge Esmeralda are envisioning the Healdsburg event as an example of a new way of living and interacting.

“This popup village is a perfect microcosm to showcase what is possible,” said Zuegel.

Edge Esmeralda is 2-30 June in Healdsburg. For more information about the event, visit edgeesmeralda.com