Dear Old Newbie…

This note came to NP contact page from someone named Old Newbie. I’ll share the full note and my response below.

Being the old newbie that I am, I couldn’t figure out how exactly I should send a “We Missed You” post, or if this privilege is only for co-leaders… but given that someone will read this regardless, I figured I’d give it a shot.

My “We Missed You” post is for the Mothership. This might be a little strange, but if someone can write a post for missing yearbook photos, I’m sure I could write an entreaty to the place where it all began. You might also be wondering where I come off, since the stadium is where it has always been, the hill on Summit Ave is still killer, the decks are steadily flowing, and every day brings more newbies than ever before… but I still feel like something is missing.

I’ve been a steady member of the Boston tribe for a few months now. I showed up to the steps for the first time on an unseasonably warm day in the winter, not knowing anybody, never having seen a recruitment paper, but knowing that I was stepping in to the promise of free fitness and something to do in a city that until that day had not seemed particularly welcoming to me. I didn’t consider myself an athlete by any means, and probably hadn’t intentionally run a mile since the Presidential Fitness Tests they make you take in grade
school. I didn’t know I would spend the next week hobbling up and down the stairs at work, telling my friends about all the crazy intense people that I met, and wondering what in the world was in the water that day that made me want to try showing up.

But then I just kept showing up. I saw the beauty of this community – the smiling faces, the sweaty warm hugs, the constant encouragement and lack of judgment. Before I became a really regular attendee in Boston, I attended another NP tribe that shall remain nameless, and after a 20-minute bounce and fierce workout, I realized how much I loved NP in general, but how I *really* loved The Mothership.

Sure, calling Boston the Mothership is a nice throwback to the people who started it all, a way to re-assert dominance and centrality in a movement that is spreading at break-neck pace. But Boston also had the “mother” part down of the mothership, too. In Boston, I felt nurtured. I felt empowered. I felt important. I felt like it didn’t matter whether I was the fastest or the slowest, the oldest or the youngest, if I was single or married, with kids or without. Everyone was welcome in the mothership.

But I am sensing a change that maybe has been happening for a while, but definitely has been most discernible in the preparations for NP summit. I forgave the Mothership when there was only a brief, picture-free post on the blog for the Monday workout. I forgave the
Mothership when there was no post on Wednesday for the workout at all. I forgave the Mothership for making the Friday Summit crowd feel like they had to make a tag to show that they *didn’t* go to Summit 4.0. I forgave the Mothership when the post-Summit workout was the same as the one for Marathon Monday. But I have a harder time forgiving when a co-leader, even in a moment of weakness, says today that NP Summit is what November Project is all about.

Now, I don’t want to take away from what seemed like a fabulous weekend, filled with accomplishments from many of our tribe members. I’m sure that if I am ever lucky enough to attend Summit, I might find it similarly transformative. But if I’m reading the
book/blog/transcripts of the 587 NP-related interviews correctly, I believe that the cost of Summit is either totally free or subsidized for co-leaders. I think there’s a problem when someone asserts, even in jest, that the only event that will incur a significant cost in a free fitness movement is what that said movement is all about.

Part of #worldtakeover means that after a while, who the leaders define as “the world” will have to change. In Boston, there are people from all walks of life, various occupations and economic statuses, and different responsibilities. Maybe these sound like excuses in a no
excuses zone, but not everyone can afford to take a weekend off. Maybe there are plenty of people who wanted to, but couldn’t for whatever reason. It doesn’t build community to remind people how great something is when it is just out of their reach.

The Mothership that I found when I started NP, the Mothership that keeps me coming to NP, the Mothership that I now have to have faith still exists, knew that its potential to expand could only be measured by its capacity to reach individual lives. The Mothership I knew, knew that all of the Tribe needs encouragement, not just the ones at the front or the ones on the plane or the ones who make it out of bed. The Mothership I knew understood that degrees of separation from the big Bs of the movement was not a measurement of loyalty to the tribe, and knew how to treat people accordingly. The Mothership I knew helped remind me of the meaning of accountability, which I suppose is why I care enough to write this novel-of-a-comment that might not ever see the light of day.

I guess what I’m saying is, Mothership, I miss you.

My response…

Dear Old Newbie,

I am glad you reached out regarding your concerns, but I am always going to defend the tireless work our leaders put into providing you and the city of Boston with an amazing workout. On Monday, after organizing a great workout in the morning, Chris and Chris and Emily, took time out of their lunch breaks (from the jobs that actually pay their bills) to hold a second gathering for anyone in the area. Later that day there was a photo album and blog posted. Immediately after the workout on Wednesday, they were rushing to the airport to catch a flight to Ontario, where internet and phone service is scarce. They could have easily handed over the stadium workout to babysitters to avoid the stress of getting to their plane on time, but they were there. Because this community is important to them. Unlike most of the 29 NP cities, Boston leads 3 workouts a week, they post 3 photo albums a week and write 3 blog posts. The leaders organize social events, answer countless facebook messages and emails, and try and talk to every stranger on the street to invite them into the welcoming community you have helped build. They do this all for zero dollars and zero expectation of reward. If they miss a blog post or don’t post photos in what you would call a “timely fashion”, I ask you to take a second to think of all of the hours they have put in to making your NP experience a great one. And don’t forget, most of the time they don’t even get their own workout in because they are cheering you on through yours.

It really bums me out is that you have a hard time with a leader saying that NP Summit is what November Project is all about. It bums me out, but I understand where you’re coming from. Let me explain.

The first NP Summit was a gathering of the leaders of the first 7 cities. We knew that if we wanted to develop a strong bond between the leaders and the cities they were leading, we had to do something more than an hour long google hangout, so we got everyone to Edmonton, Canada. During that weekend we realized two things:

1. We need to have the second summit. The information shared, brainstorming accomplished, and relationships ignited between the leaders in December of 2013 was invaluable. These friendships are still going strong today and letting that die out would be a huge mistake.
2. We need to invite our tribe members, as the amount of fun we had with the Edmonton tribe was insane and all we could think of was “how can we bring more people to this party?”

We completely understood that not everyone would be able to attend due to the significant cost and time commitment. But we worked hard to make this trip free for the leaders as a reward for their love, dedication, and sacrifice they provide to this movement without asking for anything in return.

So when the leaders say that the Summit is what NP is all about, they’re saying that the collaboration, learnings, and connections between the leaders during those 3-4 days is literally shaping up your NP experience for the better. They’re talking about the new information they learned and the experiences they got to share with Tammara, the leader of NP Calgary, Steve, the leader of NP LA, and Rakel, the leader of NP Iceland; some of the very few people in this world that really understand what they’re going through every week. They’re saying that it’s a huge testament to their leadership that people who they design workouts for every week are willing to use their hard earned money to travel across the continent to celebrate a global movement that we’re all very proud of. They are fulfilled and energized by those experiences and they’re trying to share that excitement with you and the rest of the tribe.

Were we loud and obnoxious via social media, talking about the Summit for the months/weeks leading up to it and will we continue to talk about it for the weeks/months to come? Yes, but I can not apologize for any of that. We are very proud of the fact that we can put an event like this together, and I urge you to see the goodness that will come as a result of having the summit, instead of focusing on the fact that you weren’t there.

This is a great line of yours: “It doesn’t build community to remind people how great something is when it is just out of their reach.” I agree with this 100%! So I’ll remind you of something that’s in your reach:

– The racing – #Sunrise6k – free, or any other race in the $20-$30 range that may be going on this summer in Boston area will have tons of #grassrootsgear sprinkled all over the place.
– The hugs, the chants, the friendships – visit the stadium at 6:30am every Wednesday. Things can get rowdy.
– The massive crowds – A decent stadium day in the summer is about 700-800 people.
– The party – There were some in the past, there will be more in the future. #BetterThanBedtime anyone?
– DJ Phoenix – PR Day, last Wednesday of the month.

These are all the things that you have access to every month, and luckily in Boston three times a week. For people that don’t live in Boston, the past weekend was the first time they’ve seen anything close to it. So we ask you to stop “forgiving” your leaders for a photo-less blog post, and instead, thank them for committing their time to improve yours.

Thank you for your time.

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One Reply to “Dear Old Newbie…”

  1. Dear Mothership,
    Thank you for all that you do. For the past 3 years, you’ve been a steady force in my life, regardless of the weather, your own personal responsibilities, and anything else that might come up in a normal life. It is such a privilege to have this incredible community right here in our city. I deeply appreciate all that you do, Brogan, Bojan, Emily, Chris Capozzi, and Chris Payne.  And all the other leaders that make this movement international and bigger than the sum of its parts. And the tribes members that give more of themselves to NP than what’s asked of them. Thank you. 

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