I love community. I love the community that has sprouted up around it’s all yoga, baby, and I love the wider community that the blog has connected me to. I love that blog comments and Twitter allow me to connect with people all over North America, from the comfort of my living room (or on the bus, at the café, wherever I happen to be).
As much as I love online community, I love real community even more. But I have to admit, it’s harder. I have to leave my house. I have to fit it into my schedule. And often, community, or my ideal of community, can be difficult to access. Last summer I went to Toronto for the Yoga Festival Toronto, and I was amazed (and even a little jealous!) of the yoga community there. I saw a celebration of diversity, integrity and progressive ideas. When I returned to Montreal, it seemed pale in comparison to what’s happening in Toronto. I wondered: What is happening in my own city? Where do I even begin to find it?
I wrote a blog post about this, and somebody read it, then we had coffee. That lead to a small gathering with a couple of others to listen to a Yocoto town hall, which we didn’t even listen to because we were too busy talking. Brainstorming. Dreaming. By the end of the conversation we had decided… to organize Montreal’s first yoga festival! It seemed crazy, but we had enthusiasm, energy and commitment.
These conversations have lead to yocomo (yoga communauté montréal), which made its foray onto the internet with a group blog and Facebook Fanpage. I see it as not necessarily an effort to build community, but to draw out and unite the little sub-communities (often centred around studios or teachers). From the yocomo blog ‘about’ page:
The goal of yocomo is to unearth the gems of the everyday yoga community. Together, we can span ideology, tradition, culture and language, and break down the barriers between lineages. We can connect and share our personal experiences for the growth of the community. We will talk, laugh, sing, eat, celebrate, dance, enjoy life.
We are here to connect the community of yoga practitioners in Montréal in a way that supports dialogue, creativity and growth. We are committed to empowering individuals, connecting the vast range of traditions and practices, and coming together to support our community’s growth and celebrate its vibrant diversity.
It was soon time to get off the computer and into the ‘hood! Yocomo had a little debutant party in the spring with a public conversation: When is yoga a healing art? We’re excited to host our second public event tomorrow, a community picnic in a Montreal park. We’re doing it with zero budget or sponsorship, making the food ourselves and asking attendees to bring their own plates and utensils.
And I’m nervous and excited. What if nobody comes? What if people do come? What if they come with expectations? What if they have no expectations? And this is when I realized: real live community is a risk. It reminds me of my humanness, of my vulnerability, my dorkiness. As a shy extrovert, it reminds me that I’m often more comfortable with my fingers on the keyboard than face-to-face with human beings.
The picnic is an experiment in crowdsourcing: the intention is to draw out the community, to ask people what they want and what they can give, to discover who has talent and energy to invest in a grassroots yoga festival. It’s an open call to design an event that reflects the vibrancy of this city. It’s exciting and scary and inspiring.
Yocomo Community Picnic
Tuesday, July 12th 1:30-4:30 pm
Parc Lafontaine, at the picnic table area just east of the Calixa-Lavallée Cultural Centre/lawn bowling area
More details on the Facebook invite!
And check out our first press on the Montreal blog, Midnight Poutine!