This story is part of the Special Edition series by Souls of San Francisco for The Passion Co.
City: San Francisco, California
Business Site: www.fest300.com
Personal Site: www.chipconley.com
What’s your story?
“I grew up in Long Beach, LBC; I went to Snoop Dogg’s high school. I was the curious white boy in a predominately black public high school. Loved it. Long Beach Poly High School. No high school in the US has more NBA and NFL pro athletes than that school. They call it the school of scholars and champions and it was.”
“Yeah, so after that I went to Stanford, got an MBA and studied visual art. I moved to San Francisco when I was 23 and two and a half years later I started a hotel company called ‘Joie de Vivre.' My first hotel was in the Tenderloin and it’s called The Phoenix.”
I know that place. You guys host ArtPad there! That’s an awesome event.
“Yeah, I love that one. That was my first hotel 27 years ago. Since then I’ve created 52 more boutique hotels. I like doing creative things. I’ve written 4 books, I travel around and give a lot of speeches. My passion is a website I have that features the 300 best festivals in the world. It’s called Fest300. I’ve been to 32 festivals in 22 countries this year. "
32 festivals this year?
"What can I say…I’m a curious white boy. Cultural curiosity is something I learned very early. I’m fortunate that I was ‘the other’ growing up because that’s not something many white people experience. And I’m gay too so that’s another layer. Being ‘the other’ is very valuable, it can be very painful too, but there’s some value in it that helps you to understand other people. "
"The world is full of ‘the others’. We have 7 billion people on the planet today, we’ll have 10 billion in 30 years so we better get to know ‘the others’."
So that’s what the festival circuit is all about?
"Exactly. It’s all about cultural curiosity. I went to a whirling dervish festival in central Turkey that celebrates Rumi, the poet: the first whirling dervish. It was beautiful. And to go as an American to a muslim festival in a very devout part of Turkey is something we need more of."