Thank you & 2017 Announcement!
Thank-You Colorado ... and hello....?!
So, a month has gone since the gathering in Denver / Boulder, Colorado, where women (and for the first time, men) from all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds, came together to share their experiences, their movement, and their unique voices! It honestly feels like yesterday--I am STILL living off the energy of that weekend and am so pumped up for next year already--can it be 2017 today?!
2016 saw a major change in the event, with the inclusion of a co-ed day as apart of the weekend as well as a keynote speaker, (plus parkour dance performances, scenic hiking, water balloon fighting, light saber battles, and more...). And, combined with some of the early feedback I've already seen, I absolutely can not wait to start planning and improving for next year!
Thank you DENVER / BOULDER!
The 2016 gathering was an amazing and unique experience, foremost due to the immense hard work and passion of Kristine Dietrich, the Local Leader for this years event. She, and her partner in crime Renae Dambly, approached me at the end of last years event in Seattle, having attended for the first time. They were so stoked, full of energy, and eager to share their home town communities in Colorado. As soon as the location was announced, they set to work brainstorming what would ultimately be an unforgettable weekend. There are so many logistical details that go into planning an event of this scale that most people don't realize, and Kristine really stepped up--from devising a fun but sane schedule and figuring out travel for 80+ people between two cities, arranging for food, coordinating with the gyms for sleeping/housing, as well as problem setting for our saturday challenge night, media & videography organization and direction, getting and selling shirts, selecting speakers, and, of course, dealing with the last minute crazy--all the while doing this for free while working a ridiculous full time job as a rocket scientist (no joke there, she is bad-ass).
Needless to say, without her tireless work and dedication, this event would not have happened.
On that note--Apex Movement Boulder, Apex Movement Denver, Justin Sickama, Ryan Ford, and Amos Rendao, deserve a huge thank you for their overwhelming hospitality and warm welcome of our community From sleeping and socializing to learning new skills and pushing ourselves against various physical and mental challenges, I think most women who attended Apex have found a community they can return to in the future and feel at home with.
Another thank you to Sabrina Vere Nicol for help with scheduling, Ale Parker and Sarah Wait for assisting with checking participants in, and Autumn Goodridge for helping check problems for challenge night, Vinny Fiacco for coordinating, Zach Morin for designing some DOPE, classic looking shirts, and of course, Renae Dambly for her constant brainstorming and support in the creation and execution of this event. This weekend would have been a shadow of what it was without the robust local community supporting the event and volunteering their unique skills.
A large thank you to Julie Angel, for not only taking the time to share her work and the story of parkour, including the story of women within the history of parkour, but for her photography, sharp eye, and thoughtful mentorship as we continue to push through the growing pains of this event. I am so grateful to have you apart of this event each year and to grow together!
To all of the session leaders, including Cordelia Storm, Brandee Lairde, Kristen Swantek, Renae Dambly, Alyssa Serpa, Jade Shaw, and Jacob Smart: Thank you for all of your hard work planning out thoughtful, interesting sessions and sharing your knowledge freely with others. I am consistently stoked at high caliber of instructors and new voices that step up to teach and lead each year-You were truly a phenomenal group of teachers! -and I encourage women everywhere to consider in the future applying to teach!
I also want to give a big thank you Anya Chibis and Michael Graef, who spent the weekend immersed in our community in order to capture as much photo and video as possible. I seriously get excited all over again whenever I watch or see something new in my feed.
Thank you to past local hosts, including Mandy Lam and Brandee Laird, as well as other women in leadership roles around the country who continue to lend their support and input as we grow each year, including Alice Popejoy, Chrischelle and Chris Borhini, Nikkie Zanevsky, Melanie Hunt, and Iris.
Finally, (yes, finally!) I want to thank every single person who came out this weekend and shared their movement, their energy, and their passion! This is what makes this experience so provoking for those who choose to attend. Being visible--and sharing your passion, and seeing that it inspires others to move: We want parkour to be a positive and inclusive movement community, and by participating, playing, and providing feedback, we together are actively helping create a community where everyone feels like they are welcomed, appreciated, and powerful.
For those of you not familiar, the Womens Gathering is a nomadic event. Every year we choose a new city and community to host the gathering. Several fantastic cities put in bids to host the 2017 gathering, each with their respective strength and unique local culture that will, without a doubt, someday in the future provide a backdrop for an amazing experience! However, I do need to choose one, and after some careful consideration, and a desire to continue to move around to different parts of the continent, I am so thrilled to announce that the 2017 Womens Parkour Gathering will be held in Boston, Massachusetts!
A small local team is already assembling, with powerhouse Natalia LaPré Boltukhova as Local Leader and her Parkour Generations Americas community providing support. Feedback from this year is already pouring in. If you haven't had a chance--please definitely submit your thoughts on the past year to help us in Boston!
As the months go on we will continue to provide updates and information both here and on our facebook page. If you are interested in hosting the 2018 Gathering, or have any questions about hosting, please reach out to me here.
A Final note
A while back I made a post about why I love sharing parkour with others, and that it was a driving force behind the creation of this event (and other things). Every person in their life is marginalized in some way, whether in life or work or, as many women practitioners have experienced, in their choice of play. Parkour, though, is a way of thinking and an approach to life--it is a tool for personal empowerment. Through its practice we realize we can face a great obstacle, train our bodies and our minds, and find a path over, under, or through (even if the outcome is different than what we were originally looking for). We can rise above, take control, and create the community we want to be apart of.
This event, and the other events that I organize, have similar goals (even though they may appear to be distinctly different): I hope to create inclusive spaces for self-expression, to establish and reinforce an environment of mutual respect, and to empower each and every person to explore and celebrate their movement and their unique voice. #wpkm?
I hope that if you haven't had a chance yet to attend that you will consider coming out in the future, and that for those of you who have come out, that you take some of what you learned and experienced back into your own communities in order to create positive change :)
See you next year in Boston.
Director & Event Guardian