A tireless supporter of community, John Crowley, owner of Aqus Caf?Foundry Wharf, strives to find ways to build connections between people, whether its through music, special events, meetings or even pub crawls. His dedication to bringing the community together has earned him one of Petaluma's highest honors — the 2014 Good Egg Award.
"I'm quite delighted," said Crowley. "I was really surprised because I always thought it went to people who had done a whole bunch more than me, but I guess I have done a lot. It's nice to be honored and have my work recognized."
The Petaluma Downtown Association presents the Good Egg Award each year to a community member whose efforts have helped preserve and contribute to the promotion of the City of Petaluma and its history. The Good Egg program's goal is to encourage citizens to become advocates for their city and act as ambassadors. Crowley joins a long list of former Good Egg Award winners dating back to 1983, including "History of Petaluma" author Adair Heig, KTOB radio personality Ron Walters and Bill Soberanes, Argus-Courier columnist and founder of World Championship Wristwrestling.
Crowley is "the Pied Piper of Petaluma's cultural and social riches," said Lyndi Brown, who nominated Crowley for the Good Egg Award.
A native of Ireland, Crowley grew up in Dublin and worked in his family's pub as a teen. He came to Petaluma in 1993 to work as a Unix system programmer. Today, he owns and operates Airware Systems Inc., an air transportation logistics and management systems for cruise lines and wholesale tour operators.
In 2001, Crowley decided to create a community-building event — the Pub Crawl. The roving quarterly crawl gave participants the opportunity to explore the city's historic buildings, streets, restaurants, galleries, taverns and shops. It lasted more than eight years before going on hiatus because so many other new activities were spawned in Petaluma. The Pub Crawl was revived in February, with plans to keep it going throughout the year.
"It's nice to actually have landed here in Petaluma where building community is natural because there's so much of it here anyway," said Crowley. "Community is something that people really need and want."
Crowley opened Aqus Caf?Foundry Wharf in 2006, turning it into a community living room, gathering spot for conversation, music, book readings, art exhibits and a wide variety of interest groups. The caf?preserves one of the city's first manufacturing sites, the Corliss Gas Engine Works, which was built in 1908. Heritage Homes of Petaluma presented the Foundry Wharf with an Award of Great Merit for Historic Preservation in 1990.
The Petaluma Moose Lodge has Crowley to thank for breathing new life into its club, which had a building in disrepair and was suffering attrition by aging members. Crowley saw the potential in preserving the building by refreshing its membership, and invited younger members to join. The club became the fastest growing service lodge in the country. The influx of new members, funds, talents and energy resulted in a repaired, remodeled and revitalized building and community club.
Keeping with the spirit of community building and networking, Crowley founded the Petaluma Palooza Community Expo in 2012, which is part nonprofit showcase, part business gathering, part education fair and a chance to socialize with locals at one community event. It offers local residents an opportunity to come together, to contribute, and to enrich and sustain the culture, commerce and creativity of Petaluma.