Saturday, 27 October 2012
Getting fit to give
It must be my luck in Philadelphia to keep finding someone having a bad day breaking down in tears. It’s like I’m walking through the cracks of the system. What happens in a go-for-gold society, when you don’t quite make it, when you don’t quite fit in? There is an advert on TV for the Republicans at the moment, claiming that America is in danger of losing its core values to the ugly spectre of socialism. What I see is the opposite: gold casts a shadow, and within it, the ‘acceptable debt’ of privilege bed down for the night invisible and forgotton. What a thing is human, that we seem to have no idea how to construct a society for us all to live in, to harness our potential – whether in terms of people, or in terms of organisations endlessly competing instead of collaborating. The more I think of it, a world of diminishing resources is perhaps the only thing that can save us, to force the ego to ‘reach out’ to our fellows in the realization that we can no longer afford the gasoline in the tank to drive alone.
It’s a stereotype that everything is an extra size up in America, but it’s the same story we have in the UK about charities: there are the big not-for-profit cruise ships draining the hot dollars to fuel engines that keep going in the straight lines of the status quo, and there are the nifty but small kayaks, canoes and speedboats, innovating to reach the deeper issues and solutions that cruise ships sail over in their backwash. At lunch yesterday I was with the kayaks and speedboats, and it felt like we had formed a docking marina for the passions, frustrations and beliefs of all the small ships in the world. This is the pulse of the revolution: people who are fighting for their values and vision without selling out, people who are seeking to create a sustainable world based on community and giving.
Among the kayaks was Ploome run by the wonderful Christina Stoltz, who has enough energy to sail the world and back in the blink of an eye. It would be a complete misunderstanding to say that Ploome is just a community space for Pilates and movement workshops. Plume is what an 'advantaged thinking 'organisation looks like – or in its own words,’ Intelligent Fitness in Action: a Pilates studio and movement arts boutique celebrating body diversity and promoting social responsibility’. Every class in Ploome gives back resource through its sister charity, Req.1, to help someone experiencing trauma to heal through the power of movement and dance. It’s a simple and brilliant concept: the community is buying something it wants in terms of a centre for fitness and fun, and at the same time the community is being educated to create a stronger community by reaching out to include those most in need . ‘Get fit and give back’. I hope this is the future of gyms.
Little boats like Ploome show that creating the future is within our power, if we stick to our values and vision. It’s not so much a 'big society' we should be talking about, but a more intelligent and compassionate one: a society and a not-for-profit sector that is ‘fit’ to be human, because we are a community for each other.As Christina puts it, ‘let’s go beyond the barre’. It’s time to get the cruise ships, corporates and community into the studio to dance!