Meeting of the Minds Recap

Seattle, Washington

WEDNESDAY EVENING: Getting settled

Wednesday night everyone headed to the University of Seattle Campus to stay in one of their dorms – Chardin Hall. Yes, that’s right, we all stayed in a dorm! And no, they don’t have Sleep NumberTM mattresses. We were all pleasantly surprised to receive a swag bag on each of our beds, which had 2 pairs of Brooks shoes, shorts, and a shirt. Thanks, Brooks!

THURSDAY: Brooks HQ

We met outside Chardin Hall at 5:50am and started the morning with a 5-6 mile run with the one and only Des Linden! (In 2018, she was the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon since 1985). The run consisted of an out and back where we stopped at the halfway point to listen to some words of wisdom from Des. Post run we headed back to the dorm, showered, and got breakfast at the University of Seattle’s student center/dining hall. 

8:15am – We hopped on a bus and head to Brooks Headquarters. The first hour there, the CEO Jim Weber navigated us through a powerpoint detailing the history of the company and the plans for the future. Brooks used to make shoes and apparel for all sorts of sports, but after a rough patch, they decided to change direction and focus solely on making the best running gear possible. 

From 10am-4pm we were split into smaller groups and circulated through the different departments of Brooks. Each class was about an hour long, with 30 minutes squeezed in for lunch and “yearbook” photos. In those classes we viewed powerpoints from each department head. We got to see how they design, develop, and test their shoes. We had workshops teaching us about all the different types of consumers and how their shoe styles/designs fell into those categories. We went hands on in their apparel department, looking to solve current problems runners have with apparel, like chaffing, safety while running, and what we as runners want to see in the future. 

4:30pm Once all these workshops were wrapped up, everyone went to the roof of Brooks HQ for a group shot. We then headed out on a walk to Gas Works Park to hang for an hour before dinner. Once that hour passed we started walking again and ended at.. a marina! We all went aboard a boat and had dinner and a cruise inside Seattle’s inner harbor! The captain was a great tour guide, teaching us all about the buildings and structures we passed by on our way out and back. Once the voyage was over, we piled back into the buses and headed to Chardin Hall for some much needed rest. 

(Things that weren’t discussed that day: How the partnership with Brooks will work; what we (our city) get out of it; what does Brooks get out of it. Our understanding at this point is that the relationship is mutually beneficial, in that Brooks will provide some financial support, race entry discounts, and will support us at M.O.M. as well as NP Summit, while November Project will promote Brooks through social media and by word of mouth.)

FRIDAY

Friday: Inclusion Language, Cultural Appropriation, and Safety

Friday morning started with an amazing workout at November Project Seattle! Once the workout ended, we headed back to shower, eat, and got down to business. 

Having fun at NP is so important and something that should be happening all the time, however, there is a very serious side to this movement. We need to ensure that NP is a place where people can feel safe, included, welcomed, and be themselves. We had two very special guests with us this weekend, Soumya and DA, who drove the workshops and conversations that we had on Friday. They are both November Project members and were there to educate us and guide us to building a better community at November Project.

Inclusion Language & Cultural Appropriation: 

Use of the term “Tribe”.  Some people use it, some don’t, but we have all heard it before. Since its inception, November Project referred to its participating cities as “Tribes”. This term was chosen to show the family feel, comradery, and bond of the different cities. Cultural appropriation is something we, not only as NP members but as human beings, need to take into consideration when choosing certain words or phrases. Tribes are specifically used to describe indigenous groups of people and nothing else. This may take some time to get used to, but we ask that everyone respect this and use other terms like city, family, or group.

Understanding Social Identities:

In this exercise we were given a packet with different social identities listed, such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sex assigned at birth, gender identity/expression, sexual identity, education level, size/appearance, national origin, ableness/disability, skin color, geographic region, use of english, marital status, religion, parental status, athleticism, age, occupation. We were then asked to rate these different social identities in categories – importance, how apparent it is, how it’s regarded and how this identity affects you. The importance of this exercise was to think about what social identities are important to you and how society views them, and at the same time how it may view someone with completely different social identities. This allows us to attempt to understand different perspectives. 

Calling in instead of calling out: 

This deals with when someone says or does something wrong, inappropriate, offensive…etc. A general tendency is to “call out” that person for the statement they made or action they took. Calling In is a technique in which you approach this person in a way that is not shaming them, but to understand their perspective and then provide them with some knowledge or background information on why their actions were offensive. The point of this is so that there is a level of progress that is made in this conversation and people walk away with a better understanding.

Safety:

Safety on this day wasn’t really focused on perfect push-up form, but instead it was on the level of safety at the workouts and other NP events. The main topic was sexual harassment and sexual assault. It is unfortunate, but this stuff occurs even at November Project and events surrounding it. A few co-leaders shared their stories of situations where they had to step in and help out members. We discussed the proper steps we need to take as leaders if something like this were to arise. This is not an easy subject to talk about but it needs to be addressed and all members need to know that if there is ever a situation where you feel uncomfortable or that you are being sexually harassed or assaulted, it is important to let the leaders you feel most comfortable with know so we can help you. November Project has a zero tolerance policy with any form of sexual assault or harassment and we will do our very best to help in every way possible. 

You may wonder why some of these are things we talk about when November Project is a workout group. We talk about them because they are important to know, so all members can come to our workouts, feel like they belong, and feel like this can be a place where they can be themselves. This is how we continue to build a community that is inclusive. If you have any questions about the topics above, please reach out to us! 

SATURDAY: Leadership 101

Saturday morning was full of opportunities to work out, including yoga in the rain with Yoga Steve of NP Buffalo, and conditioning with Coach G of NP Toulouse. We got rained on, got our sweat on, and then got ready for our day.

We appropriately stayed on campus on Saturday for our Leadership 101 classes. Splitting up into groups, we had four courses that we rotated through throughout the day – fitness form, recruitment techniques, tagging, and presenting the Positivity Award – followed by a panel with NP HQ]. Here’s a look at our class schedule:

9AM Tagging: Getting a refresher on how best to tag a shirt is always welcome, for new and long-standing leaders. Rectangle all the way around; line through the middle; fill in the open spaces; clean lines; light coats on tech shirts and waterproof material; spray from the same angle; wipe down your tags. Biggest takeaway: If you line up the tag just right, the bottom of the M and the top of the JE will form a Batman symbol. Now you can’t unsee it.

9:30AM Recruitment Techniques: Whether your city is on the bigger side or just starting out, recruiting is a huge part of November Project. We want to make sure that when we’re recruiting, we’re doing it in a way such that people who could be interested have the best chance of showing up. So, approach people in a space where they seem comfortable! That might not be with their headphones in, already on a run. Talk to people outside of running clubs who may already know what they like or are looking for. Finally, wear tags outside of the workout! Biggest takeaway: Anywhere you wear November Project gear, you are representing the movement. Act like it!

10AM Positivity Award: We discussed language use a lot this weekend, surrounding a variety of topics. The Positivity Award was one of those. The ultimate goal here is to create consistency – not to say that every city has to present their award in the same way, or on the same time schedule, but we all want to give our members a glimpse into why this award is a BFD (big effin’ deal). Biggest takeaway: The Positivity Award is an oar handle. It represents the roots of this movement: if even one person was missing from your boat, your crew team could not do the intended workout that day. We emphasize that this award is not only for someone who embodies positivity, but also being a team player, and embracing our “just show up” mentality.

10:30AM Fitness Form: Our final class of the day had us doing push-ups, burpees, and hoisties, and learning a) proper form and b) how to explain that form to our group members. We also exchanged workout ideas between leaders for some inspiration. Biggest takeaway: “The Bojan.” One partner holds a plank; the other partner jumps over their legs, then army crawls underneath. Tough and fun, the ideal combination.

11AM Panel Discussion: Our Q&A session with Brogan, Bojan, and Laura, the two founders and current Community Boss of November Project, was all about transparency. The three panelists discussed their day-to-day responsibilities, the direction of the November Project movement, upcoming facets of the nonprofit (which will be revealed by NP later but can’t be discussed yet as they are still in the works), and how the money that is donated to November Project gets utilized. Biggest takeaway: The goal of November Project is to use fitness as a vehicle to build community. 

For the second half of our Saturday, the group took buses to a nearby beach in order to spend some quality time with other leaders and NP HQ. We played volleyball, spike ball, frisbee, football, and even learned how to scrum from Coach G! Despite the water being FREEZING almost every leader decided to jump in. After a bus ride back to our dorms, we met at a local brewery to finish out our night. 

SUNDAY: Back Home 

Sunday involved a plane ride home and a lot of reflection about our experiences at M.O.M. We’re still trying to figure out exactly how all of the concepts that we discussed will contribute to November Project, and specifically Philly, moving forward, and we’re excited to bring our conversations and ideas back to our city! If you have any questions about our time at M.O.M. or thoughts about this blog post, please reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, or in person at a workout.

John, Kate, and Vinny

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2 Replies to “Meeting of the Minds Recap”

  1. We all shine brightly within the same vast sky. We are different shapes and colors, flicker and burn with different intensities, but every one of us is a star. Together we form constellations, coherent assemblies that share a common mythology, and freely provide inspiration and guidance to those who seek it. As one constellation goes to sleep, on the other side of the world another awakes, displaying it’s part in our mural of light, for all of us to look up to.

  2. Was there any discussion over training certification for leaders? Liability if someone should get hurt or another incident arises?

    Did the nonprofit status of NP get discussed or explained at all?

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