Let’s Talk About Participation (Guest Blog by Dave)

Photo by Jody Bailey, 2019 Rock n Roll Vegas with Brooks Running and November Project A fun filled weekend running around Las Vegas for the Rock n Roll races, and November Project 2019 Annual Summit — in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Today we have a guest blog from Dave Nitkiewicz, November Project GR superstar, about his experience at November Project Summit 7 in Las Vegas.

This is not another post railing against participation trophies. This is also not a post about entitlement or generational differences. When I say participation, I’m talking about collective action. I want to explore with you the question: What happens when we embolden a community of people to think beyond themselves and to embrace their inner power?

Let me take a step back. My first ever race was April, 2019 when November Project (NP) created a Sunrise 6K (3.7 Miles) as a group workout. At the time was the hardest thing I’d ever done physically. I was desperate to finish without walking, thanking the stop lights for allowing me to catch my breath. 7 months of training later I just finished my first official half marathon at the NP Annual Summit.

Nine miles into the race in Las Vegas, NP had created a cheer station to be reckoned with. This was a Rock n’ Roll race with bands every mile or so up and down the Boulevard.

Do you want to know what was going through my head for the first nine miles?

“What should I do to show my appreciation for the NP Cheer Station?” I even talked about it with other runners who happened to say hello after noticing the NP Grassroots Gear I was wearing.

After some deliberation I decided to drop to a burpee as a callback to the group workout the morning before at the Las Vegas City Hall and scream “Y’all Good?!?!” and then collect as many high-fives as I could. So that’s exactly what I did.

After reflecting on it a little more, that was easily my favorite part of the Summit.

It wasn’t my own personal achievement of finishing the race, but rather the energy exchanged in that moment, captured above. It was a moment of pure…participation.

We know we should workout. We believe we should workout. But until we adapt our environment and try something new we won’t make the commitment to improve our habits. We won’t participate.

So many voices around health ask that we comply, pay our dues, and play by their rules. It’s always easier to not think for oneself, to find a nice little hierarchy and settle in. That is a reactive. NP is about being proactive. NP is about so much more than counting your steps and calories and moving along with your day or continuing to pay for a gym membership we don’t use enough.

NP allows and practically demands that we do more. That we share, create, and shape the reality of our community. That we participate in the change that we want to see. NP is more than fitness, it is a movement. It feels owner-less, and that is the true source of its strength.

Most people give up way too soon when it comes to taking ownership of their health. There’s no such thing as a quick fix; change that transformations is gradual. It takes a lot of time and practice. In the words of one of my hometown heroes Ari Weinzweig: “When it comes down to it – despite the heft of the headlines that might make us believe otherwise, the vast majority of what goes on around us is just that – small, seemingly insignificant, primarily peripheral stuff. Add it all up, along with a big event here and there, and you have your life.”

NP helps everyday people like us gain a sense of ownership and connection to one another, society at large, and of our own lives. Participation in NP is a constant and compelling experience that keeps people working together on the things that matter. NP asks us to believe not in their ability to create change, but in ours. They bring change by embracing collective action and through the strength of their core values of human development and community building through empowering group workouts.

To the founders of NP, Brogan Graham and Bojan Mandaric – I congratulate you on your vision, and I look forward to joining you and participating along with the 52 other member cities NPSummit 8 in Minneapolis, October 2-4 2020.

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