NPSF Town Hall Recap

Thank you to everyone who showed up to our Town Hall! We were happy and grateful to see over 20 people attending. Your excitement about NPSF and willingness to help us improve it is inspiring.

Before we recap the meeting, we’d like to define how we’re looking at Diversity and Inclusion. We want NP to be diverse. Why? Because a community is stronger when it is diverse. Because free fitness should be for everyone. NP claims to be an inclusive and welcoming place but we aren’t seeing diversity that reflects that claim. We look at diversity as an indication that we are being inclusive, and the lack of diversity as a sign of places where we are failing to achieve our goal. We would also like to recognize that we will make mistakes and we want all of you to hold us accountable. We’re not afraid to make mistakes as long as we’re pushing for a better NPSF, and know that we are open to receiving any and all feedback from our members.

We acknowledge the lack of diversity within November Project globally, at NPSF, and within NPSF leadership. Our goal with the Town Hall was to brainstorm how we can make NPSF more inclusive so we can change this and ensure no matter who you are, if you join us you feel welcomed and valued. We always strive to be inclusive but in light of the national conversation about race in response to the murders of Black people throughout the US, it feels more important than ever to examine our role in perpetuating structures of systemic racism. This is also a unique time given the global pandemic. While we’re on pause from in-person workouts, we have the opportunity to reimagine what NPSF could look like.

That brings us to our Town Hall. It was a flurry of thoughtful ideas that we are excited to implement. We will summarize the overall thoughts of the meeting for you here, and talk a bit about what we can do now before reopening.

An overarching theme was that we need to develop a more inclusive and tight-knit community. One of the ways people fall in love with NP and get excited to show up and return to the workouts is when they find friends at NP. The workouts can be a great place to make those first connections but it takes time and repeated encounters to build deeper relationships, and that’s usually easiest outside of the workouts themselves. We heard feedback that people who aren’t on Facebook miss out on a lot of these opportunities, and we’re developing ways to communicate and connect with members outside of classic social media. 

In addition to communications, some ideas presented for increased connection were more dedicated promotion of breakfasts after the workouts, a more diverse array of social events in the evenings, a return of potluck house gatherings, an occasional weekend workout with time to hang after, group volunteering, group camping trips, and more. We especially think it is important for us to get involved with and show up for BIPOC led organizations. We know that if we expect people to show up for us, we have to show up for them too.

Part of growing this community is also being more welcoming to new people, both on their first day and while they’re still getting their bearings at NP. Learning names is big. Saying “Hi” when we get there in the morning. Asking names over and over again until we remember. Not having shame when reasking names and not being upset when people reask ours. Getting people into the NPSF Social Group as soon as we can, as well as introducing them to everyone in the group, and making sure they know of upcoming events and other workouts. We’ve been trying to stay on top of these things when we can with first day intros, but we acknowledge that it’s not enough. We’ve often skipped the newbie meeting and forgotten people’s names. This is not an excuse but rather a chance for us to ask for help – we need all of you in it with us. When you show up, just start saying “Hi” to people, get their name, introduce them to NPSF and the social group, invite them to things. That energy and openness is the foundation for a community that people will want to show up for again and again.

Some other themes that resonated with us were making it easier to find people to run, bike, or carpool to workouts with so that everyone can have a safe and accessible way to get there;  varying the workout locations to make NP available to people across the city; changing the perception that you have to be super fit to show up to NP, or that you have to be a runner; and celebrating members by giving out the positive award more often or creating new ways to acknowledge people’s contributions to the group.

Another significant part of the town hall was dedicated toward what NPSF workouts will look like when we return in person. Our goal is to reopen with one workout a week, and given the group’s feedback on the diversity of the community surrounding Dolores Park when compared to Alta Plaza, as well as it’s ease of access for runners, bikers, and public transit users, our Wednesday and sole meeting location, at least when we first return, will be Dolores. In addition, we had been planning some collaborations with other fitness groups before Shelter-in-Place and we’re excited to continue those and find new opportunities to build partnerships (if you have ideas for groups you’re excited about, let us know!). We also want to look into what can be done virtually to start work on these initiatives now. 

Most importantly, we want to call all of you in to participate in these efforts with us. The Town Hall was just a start – in order to be successful, we need to continue these conversations with you all and work together to take the actions that put these ideas into practice. It takes all of us to make NPSF awesome, and we need your help to make the changes we all want to see. We created a form for you to let us know how you’re interested in getting involved, and you can fill it out here: https://forms.gle/nqL4wu5wjk1GLZrL6. We’re looking for help planning events, welcoming new people, running workouts, and even leading! We’re so excited to work with you all to make NPSF the best it can be.

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