This year I chose to volunteer as the Women's Coordinator for the Gold Coast Mountain Bike Club with one of my key goals to support and enhance the sense of community amongst women in the sport. At the start of the year we worked through our wish list of ideas, goals and vision for 2019 and distilled it down to creating a mini mountain bike festival for women that was inclusive of all levels, capabilities, ages and styles of riders and a whole lot of FUN.
This whole event was about mountain bike PLAY to draw the community of women together in once place, meeting and interacting, connecting, making new friends and having a great time. With something for everyone we covered some serious racing for the elite riders through to categories for women who had never entered an event before and were super nervous. With the goal of community PLAY at the centre of the event we layered in some tag team sprint races that required team interaction with other women they potentially didn't know prior to the day. The exchange of a tutu over helmets (hilarious to watch) for the tag team and a silly slalom that really did take silly to a new level the sense of community was taken up a notch. We added another layer of bonding over seriously good food for lunch and celebratory drinks and cake to finish the day. The day was such a success at achieving our goals, the newer riders wore huge smiles on their faces and are ready to sign up for next year and the elite riders who weren't sure about our less serious races had a blast really getting amongst it all.
So what's this got to do with day to day life, what's this got to do with you? Psychologist, author and speaker Brene´ Brown talks about our ultimate need for a sense of belonging and philosopher Ichiro Kishimi discusses finding a sense of belonging in community both close to 'home' and as part of the whole in Adlerian psychology.
PLAY draws people together. PLAY is a key ingredient to creating a sense of community feeling. Through PLAY we are able to create community feeling. PLAY allows us to show up and explore aspects of ourselves, the world and the people around us in a childlike way that is unencumbered by outcomes and goals and allows us to connect with one another. The elite riders at our event who thought our less serious races were a waste of time quickly proved to be completely on board with PLAYing, connecting and the less serious riders in a new way that wasn't simply attempting to beat one another in a race. PLAY took the edge out of the concept of racing for the newer riders.
Integrating PLAY and creating community feeling doesn't require an event of this nature or scale, closer to home it could be as easy as getting a few friends together, doing something fun with no specific outcome in mind. It could be putting on some music and having a good boogie at home with some friends. It could be creating a meal with a twist with your family or flatmates where everyone contributes a flavour, a dish. It could be trying something new with a friend, partner, colleague, out on a date and having a good laugh along the way.
Here’s to PLAYing with how we create community feeling and find our own sense of belonging.