Anywhere with nothing

Brandee:
But what makes parkour unique, in my opinion, is the way that we have built ourselves our own industry and the way that we still have this ability to do our practice anywhere with nothing. There are very few practices I can think of that can be done anywhere with nothing and then have that addition community aspect where you can literally go anywhere in the world, find somebody through the internet and they will take you in and show you around. That’s still pretty unique. Now is it the only thing that’s like that? No. It’s almost like we’re unique but not special.

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Experience

Brandee:
Yeah, I would fix it in that I want both to be together. I don’t want to just teach people, I want them to be experiencing something, because what is better than feeling like you did something? That’s what really impacts people and gives them something to remember. It’s not oh, I went in and that person showed me how to get over this wall. Its, I went in there, I was shown how to get over this wall and then I got to do it, or I got to apply it somehow or I got to put myself against a challenge involving this skill. It has to go together for me, because I have no interest in running just a fitness class for people or copy and paste.

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To be strong, to be useful

Brandee:
Yeah. I have to be honest, even up until that moment of teaching it, heck, even starting the session I say everyone, look, this is still a half-baked idea.

Craig:
Working progress, right?

Brandee:
We’re going to do some baking here. I need you to help me. Essentially, what I brought to the table was that we as in a lot of parkour people, community, maybe not so much the newer practitioners, for the most part heard phrases like, “be strong and to be useful.”

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Density

Colin:
Tyson and I had this idea. Before we had ever built the parkour park that parkour was so great that if you build a parkour park anywhere it would be awesome, just like any site. Because we haven’t done one, seem impossible to get someone to allow us to do it. Yeah, under a bridge like in an alley way. Who cares? We’ll just build it. It’ll be great.

Colin:
Designing Rhodes, I didn’t give a shit about the plantings or the site and how it looked really. I was just like give me as many square feet as you can possibly give me to put bars and stuff in, because that’s the value. I’m just going to pack the space with parkour junk.

Colin:
My thinking has evolved since then. I had a conversation with … Are you familiar with Street Movement?

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Clippy

Colin:
Yeah. I mean, the people who are designing, who built … Sorry, who constructed Penzer Park is Marathon Surfaces, they’re a Canadian firm. I also work with them on the latest park I opened, which is in Northern British Columbia in Fort St. John.

Colin:
In both of those cases, I was available. I wasn’t on site throughout the build process, but I was talking to the contractors to answer questions.

Craig:
Shoot you a photo. What the hell?

Colin:
What’s going on here? This is supposed like he left off a measurement between these two things and then I pull a model up and check that measurement. Yeah, I mean, I think I have a memory of talking to the lead foreman or the lead builder on Penzer and him sort of saying like, “Man, I really didn’t understand what this was going to be or like why things were laid out the way they were when I was looking at this initially. Like okay, I guess, we’ll drill the holes where he says to drill the holes onto these things.”

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America

Colin:
Yeah, before we build the park, we’re like, “Okay. Well, first thing we’re going to do is we’ll just volunteer over time. We’ll get a parkour park done in Seattle. A little park, that will be pretty easy because we’re here and then we’ll go build parks in other places. It turns out that’s the hardest thing in the world.

Craig:
What are the hurdles? Is it … I mean obviously the politics but is the issue zoning or is the issue they don’t understand what the space is for or?

Colin:
It’s a big city. The bigger the city, the harder it is to get anything done on a reasonable timescale. My guess is that, unbeknownst to me, there’s like … Parkour park is like percolating and bubbling up somewhere in the Seattle City Parks Department. In five years, it will pop and then they’ll build a parkour park.

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Tip of the iceberg

Amos: And so, we’re seeing mistakes made that have dire consequences. And I think that’s one of the strong ways this national governing body can bring something beneficial is to have build recommendations, a collection where we’ve all learned these lessons we can pass on because these entrepreneurs are going to come in, whether we like it or not. Any time there’s something beautiful in the world, in my experience is that capitalism can rear its ugly head and come try to commodify that thing and sometimes the consequences can be terrible. So that’s going to happen no matter what. We can at least make sure parkour’s safer, people are getting the right information. One of the other ways I see it being very powerful, it gives us all a voice. Maybe take a scenario where a news media outlet just completely misconstrues something that happened, this has happened multiple times already, it’s really frustrating, and then we have really bad press about parkour altering people’s perceptions of what we do.

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Governing Body

Mark: I think there are a number of reasons that a governing body is necessary. The forefront for me is if there is an activity that people enjoy doing, somebody is going to try to control it and who that somebody is dictates a lot of what the public sees that activity being. So in this case, and this gets personal for me, my reason for wanting to be part of that governing body is because I’m very passionate about parkour and the benefits that parkour brings to people’s lives, and I’m very passionate that parkour is not about certain things. And so I want to make sure that the vision of parkour that gets passed on to the public eye is one of health and helpfulness and community and self improvement. I think that those are very important aspects of parkour to me. And so whoever is stewarding parkour, I want to make sure that that’s on their plate. I want to make sure that those are things that they are actively driving as the things that parkour should be known as.

Mark: I think that another thing that a governing body brings to the table, really and this is a funny word, but I’m going to use it anyway, is the safety of everybody involved. It really protects everybody’s interests. If we have owners of gyms, how did they know that their equipment is up to a standard and what should that standard be? And how does a mom bringing her four year old to that facility know that the instructors are at a certain level and how do they know that the equipment’s been built well and the curriculum has been done well. And I think that those are things that a governing body can help guide.

Legitimacy

Blake: I think the first thing that we get is legitimacy. And legitimacy is really valuable in the larger context. parkour is a sport that’s growing very quickly and we’re developing a lot of things from gyms to certifications to clothing lines, to courses for four year olds or 80 year olds. And when we’re looking at the larger picture of parkour and how that’s represented to the media, to the general public. And a lot of people still see it as young kids jumping between rooftops.

Craig: Yeah, very wild, organic, crazy activity.

Blake: and having an NGB is really valuable to get that legitimacy, but also to have people that can advocate you at municipal or state or national levels. Having a common network of similar providers that are doing the same thing and that you can network with, you can talk with, you can share ideas with that already exists organically within the parkour world. But in a lot of ways, the goal of USPK is to bring a lot of that together and to expand access. Because right now it’s a select group that has access to that and we want to make sure that parkour remains and continues to be inclusive and representative for all.

Face of Legitimacy

Caitlin: I think that we are very culturally conditioned to be independently oriented, like had to do it yourself, don’t rely on anyone else, and to be suspicious of … Truthfully, to be suspicious of actual true community-


Craig: Yeah. Anybody try to tell you how to do it?


Caitlin: Yeah. That’s not exactly … That’s not what a governing [inaudible 00:04:20] is trying to do. We’re not trying to tell you how to teach your classes …


Craig: Yeah.


Caitlin: … we are saying, “This is … These are safety procedures you should follow. Here’s the best way to build equipment possibly.” This is not just one or two people, but this is experts in our community coming together, [crosstalk 00:04:34] on this neutral platform again, to get a list of recommendations of best practices. This is at the end of the day. This, only works by consent. It’s not that every person immediately must do these things. As our members become members, and say, “We will uphold ourselves to these higher standards.” That’s actually how public trust is created, it’s that, we’re saying that, here are these standards this organization has set.

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American Rendevouz

Blake: Yeah. I think our mission with American Rendezvous since the very beginning has been to kind of create a community space, a collaborative space, a neutral space where a lot of folks can kind of come together from all different backgrounds and disciplines and different histories or legacies of parkour or ADD or freerunning and train together. And that’s something that has been integral to the events since the very beginning. And that’s something that I think is really important in a national governing body because at the end of the day, if we’re going work together, we have to feel safe, we have to feel like our opinions are being heard and our voices are being heard, and we have to feel like that’s representative.

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Pressure

Naomi:
Yeah. Because we naturally, I mean everyone, just naturally benchmarks themselves against other people. And we look at our progression, not just in terms of what I could do last week, but also other people. That’s just a really human way to look at stuff.

Melissa:
Right. And it’s not just coming into the thing, it’s what you’re bringing in with you. The mindset you’re coming into it with, or the expectations you’re coming into it with, whether that’s on yourself, or on the activity, or from society on you. And all of those I think play a particular role in how we view ourselves in that space.

Naomi:
That’s one thing that I really remember was a massive learning for me from starting parkour, that when I was a teenager and early 20s, before I discovered parkour, when I was young, I was very active and sporty and so on. But then you hit sort of late teenage years, and I started to only look at my body in terms of what it looked like. That was my only relationship, really, or conscious relationship with my body, how I feel about it was related to, am I happy with the shape and the size and that?

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