Building Something I Need [Bklyn]

For this birthday blog, I couldn’t decide between two themes–
1) If you build it, they will come
2) Something I Need
So instead, here is a mashup of both. 

“If you build it, they will come.”

This is a bounce we use in Brooklyn. It was most recently used by my coleader Jessica to kick off the Brooklyn Buster. For five mornings in the middle of winter, we met at 5:58AM. People came, no matter where we met or what the weather was like. We built it, and they came. Jessica crafted certificates for those that showed up all five days. We both signed them like we were official somebodies. Someone lamented that he would’ve shown up that one day if he knew there would be certificates. In reality, it was a piece of paper with ink. We built it, and they wanted to come. 

No joke, Zoë put this above her graduate school degrees. Yeah, it’s a big deal!

Not too long before that, on New Year’s Eve, we hosted the first Go For Brokelyn. For the last day of the year, could you push yourself to go for broke at our beloved Fort Greene Park? When this event was first a seedling of an idea, Jessica & I thought just twelve people would show up to tackle 1650 steps, 36 burpees, 36 jumping jacks, and 8 figure-eight running loops. We were off by a ginormous margin. Sixty people took on the challenge that morning. That’s five times the amount that we expected. We built it, and they came. 

Doesn’t look like the 12 people we expected

A few months before that was Sierra’s retirement workout. Mint chocolate ice cream was involved, and we bought enough for what we thought was a good estimate. Sierra’s a popular person…maybe 60 people would show. As people lined up for the burnout, I panicked. There were too many people and not enough ice cream cones. And the ice cream was melting a goopy mess onto my hands because we couldn’t scoop fast enough. That morning we had exactly 100 people. Well, it’s 102 if we count the unborn babies, 104 if we include the pups. Hot damn, what did she build? (Everyone, please ask Sierra what she promised to do if we ever ever ever reached 100 people. Yeah, just her please.)

Sierra, sorry there wasn’t enough ice cream at your retirement party.

If you build it, they will come. This theme has been in my head for a while now. If you build it, they will come. But then all of a sudden, we had to stop coming. No more in-person workouts, no stairs, no hugs. No more connecting in a way that is a fundamental cornerstone of our community. “November Project” is sprayed high & tight on the front of the chest to facilitate face-to-face engagement with fellow humans. And now, none of that. We switched to virtual workouts on Zoom. What about technical delays? What about people that can’t jump around in their apartments? If we built around this weird time, would people still come? 

Something I Need

One of the first nights of quarantine, as I laid in bed, I watched OneRepublic on Instagram live. The band played this song, Something I Need. It seemed simple. It seemed grounding and raw. It struck me as necessary–to know the something that I need to survive, particularly in a time where everything seems upside down. 

I had a dream the other night
About how we only get one life
Woke me up right after two
I stayed awake and stared at you
So I wouldn’t lose my mind

The first verse reminds me of the times that I needed to get to November Project for the bounce. Yes needed. Whenever I was having a hard time, I was more keen than ever on leaving the house by 5:00AM (before NP Brooklyn existed, I was commuting an hour and half to get to NYC’s 6:28AM workout). Sometimes I just needed to hug friends, get real tight, & bounce like a fool. I’d wait nervously on the subway platform, thinking over and over that I just needed to make it to the bounce. That thing I needed lasted no more than five minutes, but it could move the needle. It was something I needed. 

I’ve always loved the bounce. It brings us together. We chant or sing or repeat after the leader, but there’s always the same response at the end. No matter where you are, “fuck yeah”

There were others that spent more time commuting to November Project than doing the actual workout. It was worth it (still is, check out NP NYC). There was some sort of magic that drew us. Three & half years ago, Jeanie Tinnelly & Sierra Asplundh decided to sprinkle that November Project magic into Brooklyn. New York would be the first city to host two November Project groups. Would it work? After five months of pledging, it was clear. November Project Brooklyn became official. Crisp stencils & a clean positivity award were presented. Sierra & Jeanie recognized that its existence was something that was needed.

Where oh where would we be without this duo? Jeanie Tinnelly & Sierra Asplundh, everyone.

On the fourth day of the most recent Brooklyn Buster, we met at a pier. It was far from public transportation. It was raining, it was cold. The person doing our guest bounce was stuck on the subway and therefore late. In many ways, it wasn’t set up to be a great workout. That morning, we ran around placing dried black beans into mason jars, and tagged each other with a burpee buff. We ran around like a vortex until we were called to huddle in the middle. Jessica came up with that workout. It was creative and engaging and tough. For that morning, it was something we needed. 

Yeah you heard right–we ran around putting black beans in mason jars.

Building Something I Need

I’ll tell you a secret that I haven’t even told Jessica. When I first started thinking about our third birthday…I thought maybe we could just skip it. We can’t meet in person anyway, the hype wouldn’t be the same. And just like how I was wrong with estimating attendance, I was wrong here too. 

Since this transition to quarantine, we have

  • Hosted collaborations with other NP cities in the same time zone
    • Our first one, with Baltimore had attendees from Israel & China
  • Gotten parents to come (looking at you Zoe’s father who uses virtual backgrounds, Jessica’s mom who brings her dog, Jeremy’s mom, Morgan’s mom)
  • Gotten siblings to come…which isn’t just an easy bullet point because I haven’t even gotten my sister to come. Kudos to Reva’s brother, Amanda’s brother
  • Hit 96 participants at our May 1st workout
    • We even got West Coast friends showing up at 3:28AM their time, and Irish friends who “took a work break” 
  • Been able to not mute all during the workout. Okay, that doesn’t seem crazy to you, but it’s crazy to coleaders. To have so many humans on a virtual platform understand the space we’re in is wild. Jessica and I can roll through instructions without interruption. But while we’re moving, you all know to cheer each other on. This is a manifestation of two November Project community agreements–Respect & Elevate Others. Wild, right?
The bounce is still something I need. Even though we’re on Zoom, the sound is delayed, it’s awkward, we’re still leaning into it. No matter where you are, there is still one way to respond.

That hesitation I had about building during this weird time…the answer is becoming clear. If we build it, people will come. People have come. There are elements that draw people back. In what we build, there is something we need. Something you need. Something I need. 

Recently, some of our members put together a montage of the song Something I Need. There’s a slight tweak to the lyrics, but this thing that is NP Brooklyn is in many ways something we need.

You got something I need
In this world full of people,
There are some lifting me
And if we only live once,
I wanna live with you

Brooklyn, Happy 3rd Birthday. Stay bright, whether we’re at Fort Greene or Zoom. Thank you (yes you) for showing up, and let’s keep building something. 

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