On starting a new community

Craig: When you’re deciding to actually create a space like the Akron Movement Family, you’re automatically going to face this contention because your normal community members are outdoor Parkour people; they’ve been in parks, they’ve been on sidewalks, and the standard things we think of, and now you’re saying [00:22:00] to them, “I’m going to make this space, and we’re going to train here.” In my experiences, I’ve seen a lot of struggle with people trying to bring their community indoors, and they tend to resist.

Andrew: Yeah. There’s resistance, I think. I’ve been told that there’s really two separate communities, and I’m finding the truth to that as I’ve tried to start a community and then be a gym owner. I had this vision. At the beginning, I thought the way it was going to work is I was going to build this community, and it was happening. I [00:22:30] was seeing this community build. I had this tight-knit group of guys. We would train every day, and it was growing. People were adding onto it. I think people saw the beauty in that group and wanted to be a part of it. Then that faded a little bit, and people moved away, and things happened. I ended up with the opportunity to start this gym, and I thought … I had always thought that I would build an outdoor community first and that we would have this tight-knit group, [00:23:00] and then we’d all come together and we’d make it happen.

Craig: Create this anchor point around which our community will then grow outward, right.

Andrew: Yeah. I had this vision. I remember seeing footage from Australia of the Owls Gang Parliament. I think it was those guys. They had a gym, and it was in a garage and with a bunch of janky stuff in a tiny little place, and everything’s grimy and everything’s a mess. I was like, “Yeah, that’s what I want.”

Craig: It’s a tool. It’s literally a tool that accomplishes their goal. It’s not shiny.

Andrew: I was like, if it’s that then you know it’s all heart. It’s no money, it’s no business. [00:23:30] That’s what I wanted, because I don’t want to be a businessman. Yeah, it didn’t really work that way. I thought that the community would come together and all do this together, but I’ve found that it’s hard. You have to fight through sometimes on your own and that outdoor community comes and goes, and they do their thing, but starting a Parkour gym is really starting a new community. We’ve had to start over from square one trying [00:24:00] to find people, find the people that we know are out there that would love this and would want to be a part of it and do it.

I guess thinking about trying to live out this new realization I had or this new purpose is … It all started with coming up with a name and a reason for what I was doing. It ended up being Akron Movement Family. I put a lot of thought into that name because I wanted it to represent what I was trying to do [00:24:30] and what I wanted to be and who I wanted to help. My sister and I, we were training together a lot at this point and decided to try and work together on this project. Talking things through and thinking about it, we really wanted it to be about community. We wanted the heart of it to be community, so we feel like the name had to be local. Akron had to be in there. [00:25:00] We wanted it to be about movement. I think I started to realize that movement is so central to life. It’s a strange thing because it seems like an abstract thought, “movement,” like what is movement or why do we move, but it seems to be the heart.

Craig: It seems to be deeply ingrained in the human experience. You go places, and you do some work on bars with people, and people [00:25:30] that you don’t know, maybe no common language, in a split second, you can tell whether they’re comfortable or whether they’re uncomfortable with bars. Is this the first time they’ve had their feet on a bar? There’s just so much in movement. It’s very intimate and very human.

Andrew: I had this thought I went through and became really fascinated with the idea that I think movement is life. Movement is life in so many different layers, both that … It’s kind [00:26:00] of the definition of life at a cellular level. A moving cell is living, whether that’s a tree or that’s an animal or that’s a human. That’s life, but then also thinking about water. Tracers often talk about the Bruce Lee quote, “flow like water,” but I think there’s even something more to that, which is so cool. My dad made a comment one time about moving water, the sound of moving water being so beautiful, and it started me thinking, “Well-”

Craig: What is it about that? Why are we drawn to [00:26:30] moving water?

Andrew: Everyone loves being at a river. People love water, but water is the basis of life. We’d die without water. Moving water is life. Stagnant water-

Craig: Yeah, stagnant water, probably not a good thing.

Andrew: It’s death. You drink that, you’re getting some kind of disease or something. That’s basic survival skills. We find beauty and we find life and purpose in moving, living water. If you don’t move, you’re dead, and I think that applies to us as humans, [00:27:00] how we live our lives, whether that is in relationships or that that’s just being physically, obviously, like are you just sitting all day. Are you just sitting in your car? What are you doing?

Craig: We’ve found ways to sit while moving.

Andrew: Yeah, we have. We somehow managed to do that. We got to get back to the point of remembering that if you’re not moving you’re dying. You sit long enough, you’ll die, literally from sitting. Your body will fall apart. It rots away. The same’s true [00:27:30] as … For me, as a person, am I moving somewhere? Am I progressing? Am I growing? Am I maturing, or am I stagnating? Am I sitting still and rotting in place? I think we have to be moving, and Akron Movement Family needs to be about that. It needs to be about movement.

Also, the third part of the name is family. I was really motivated [00:28:00] by different experiences through my life and really caring about kids and wanting to see a community that could be that, could be a family to people as … The more I live, the longer I live, the more I see that everyone’s struggling with something. Just because you made a kid that’s got a smile on their face doesn’t mean they’re not going through something horrible at home.

Craig: Right.

Andrew: My sister and I really came up with this vision to create a place where kids and [00:28:30] adults could come and have a space where they were safe and where they were loved, where they knew they were loved and cared about, and that they would feel … Whether they had this anywhere else in their life or not, that they would feel they had a family, and their family being people that love and care for them and are going to be faithful to them and be there for them, whatever they’re going through. Akron Movement Family was my attempt at trying to begin that [00:29:00] vision.