November Project Baltimore —
Can we get an “AWWwwwWWWwww Yeah??”
Ok, a little louder for the people in the back — AWWWwwWWwWWWW YEAHHH!
Yes, ok, that’s good. Let us start off by saying we miss the $h*t out of you, all of you. If we had to list out the things we miss most, it would be: seeing you, hugging you, being with you at early hours twice a week, and hugging you some more. We also kind of miss making you do burpees, but that goes without saying.
Over the last several months, we, as co-leaders and as people of the world, have spent a lot of time reflecting on what November Project Baltimore was, is, and will be. We have our own thoughts, but your feedback also matters deeply to us, so we sent out a survey — to old members, new ones, lifers, one-timers, follow-us-on-social-media-but-never-showed-upers– to get a pulse of what you all think about our current inclusivity and representation.
We had 31 people participate in the survey and about 75% of you felt like representation, or seeing other people who look, think, dress and act like you, matters at NP. Most of you had positive experiences with NP Baltimore, but some of you didn’t. And many of you reflected on what made NP Baltimore welcoming and an overall positive experience, and a lot of that had to do with how heard or seen you felt by the group during the workouts.
You see, these results show us that who we want to be, what our goals are as a community hasn’t changed much – free, inclusive, welcoming, fun. But after our own self-reflection and getting your feedback, we see that who we actually are hasn’t met our own standards.
Take for example our lifelong mantra: Just Show Up. That phrase means different things to different people. For some, it’s a call to leave everything behind and just be in that space for an hour of work. Some might say it means their fitness level doesn’t matter. It might even mean being there when you need the warmth of others but can’t give anything back.
For some, all of that means there is no barrier of entry. Just Show Up. Despite your mood, life circumstances, or fitness level. We’re free! We’re inclusive and welcoming! We’re fun!
But to others, our just-show-up kind of mantra ignores the assumptions we make about the simplicity and ease of *just* coming to a workout. We are free, kind of. We don’t charge anything for our very random, usually fun, sometimes quite hard workouts…unless you count the cost of time, sleep, and getting to the workouts. Showing up requires access to transportation and time available with your job, family, and other life duties – and those things cost *something*.
Since the start of November Project we have attempted to be inclusive and welcoming, but we’ve come up short there, too. The majority of our workouts take place in generally white, wealthy neighborhoods, making it easiest for those neighbors to attend our workouts. And we’ve recruited more often than not by word of mouth, which often leads to people who look like you, dress like you, work where you work, and literally run in your same circles. We’ve used language that hasn’t been fully inclusive. So, we are inclusive and welcoming to those we cater to, which is just another way of saying, we aren’t.
We are fun, except when we aren’t inclusive and welcoming, in which case, we are not fun at all.
Maybe you agree with some of this, and maybe you don’t. Maybe your reaction to this is one of confusion or concern, and maybe that’s because, for you, November Project has always been a place of inclusion and big welcoming hugs – and we love that, but we want that for everyone.
At various times, we probably have aligned with different versions of “just show up.” This is what we want to be better at; to extend that just-show-up spirit further – to reach more people in their own capacity. We know we are a workout group, but we have also become a community. And as a community within the community of Baltimore, we want who we are to reflect that as well. We want anyone and everyone who comes to a workout to leave feeling safe, accepted and knowing that we will always be open to them if they choose to come back.
Ok, cool … so what, you ask?
All of these thoughts are encompassed in the November Project Community Agreements — a set of expectations that we will uphold our community members to, alike. We feel like a discussion is in order, so we are hosting a town hall on September 15th at 8PM on zoom in order to reflect on all of this together as a community. So encourage your friends, share a #verbal, and show up to share, listen, question and discuss.
Hold up, though… we have one more ask.
In order for us all to be on the same page, if you’re able to do a little bit of homework for us prior to the town hall we would really appreciate it!
State of November Project Baltimore Homework
- Read the Community Agreements (link above)
- Read the Black as Fuck NP BAL blog by Kaye
- Read The Talk NP blog from co-leader, Kwame from Kelowna
- Watch/ listen to the Wisconsin Notes episode with DA and Soumya (NPs diversity and inclusion consultants who met at NP Madison!)
- Extra credit!!!! **extremely powerful episodes that should not be missed!
We love you, and we can’t wait to share this discussion with you as we learn and grow with and from one another.
X’s and Boh’s
Bryson, Kaye, and LizzieShare via socials: