Double Shot of Community


A good coffee shop can become like the heart of a community. Okay, a heart that beats a little faster after a second espresso, but a heart none the less. That's the vibe we found when we took the OutThereSR welcome wagon to ACRE Coffee in Montgomery Center. See for yourself. Maybe you'll recognize a few friendly residents.

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A creative force of nature

Arts advocate is a creative force of nature


Spring Maxfield feels most at home in her own backyard, with its garden, beehives, chickens and several art studio buildings, hidden in the Roseland neighborhood of Santa Rosa.

But her sphere of influence extends far beyond her modest two-bedroom house and her family — her husband of 20 years, popular local artist Todd Barricklow, and their two young daughters.

In 2008, Maxfield co-founded the immensely popular annual Great Handcar Regatta, which ran for four years in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square, drawing as many 15,000 people to see fanciful, artistic, mechanical creations race on the rails there.

"She was instrumental in what the regatta was, and what it became," promoter Ty Jones of Santa Rosa, the event's co-founder, said of Maxfield.

Blending the fashions, mechanics and science fiction of the 19th century in the now-trendy mix known as "steampunk," the event inspired its patrons to join in the fun, swarming the streets in period costumes.

Despite Maxfield's penchant for flamboyant headgear, she was happiest working almost invisibly behind the scenes, even as the regatta itself became a giddy circus. Among artists, eccentric clothes served as camouflage.

"I love wild hats," she said. "They fit anywhere."

Since then, Maxfield, who describes herself as an arts advocate rather than an artist, has continued to promote the artwork of others, with several big new projects in the works and a series of smaller ones to her credit.

Her husband, a ceramic artist, became known at the Handcar Regatta for his outlandish, oversized bicycle creations. Maxfield estimates there are 50 bikes on their property, including a couple out front near the street.



Music to the masses

Hootenanny founder bringing music to the masses



Josh Windmiller firmly believes that music brings people together. He doesn’t claim to have originated that philosophy, but he’s undeniably putting it into practice on a local level.

Four years after starting his North Bay Hootenanny series, with live music by local bands, Windmiller now presents free concerts at five Sonoma County venues, with shows running at least weekly at each place, and sometimes several times a week.

Windmiller (that’s his stage name) also presents special one-shot shows, and even organizes bus trips for local fans who want to see North Bay bands perform in San Francisco.

“From the very first North Bay Hootenanny, my goal has been to make music accessible, and create an atmosphere for interesting collaborations between members of the community,” Windmiller said.

Windmiller, 31, was born in Marin County and grew up in Santa Rosa as Josh Stithem, the son of local physical therapist John Stithem, who runs Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy in Santa Rosa.

“Sometimes, when you’re starting something new, it’s good to change your identity a little bit,” he said of his professional name. He took the name from a literary hero, Don Quixote, who battled a windmill that he imagined was a giant, he said.

“I made it a verb: to windmill, to battle giants,” he said.

That makes him a “windmiller.” The “giants” are the Internet, television and other media mammoths that mass-manufacture culture and create a gap between performers and their audience, Windmiller reasoned.

He brings a well-educated perspective to his endeavors, with three degrees from Sonoma State University — bachelor’s degrees in liberal studies and theater, both from 2005, and a master’s degree in education from 2010. He also studied arts education in England for a year in 2003.

A seasoned performer as well as a self-made impresario, Windmiller first established himself on the Sonoma County live music scene in 2007, as front man, lead singer and guitarist with the eclectic folk, rock and blues band, The Crux.