June 12, 2010, was a landmark day in Nordic Walking cooperative efforts
Two significant Nordic Walking events occurred yesterday — not the introduction of a new kind of pole or the unveiling of yet another technique tweak, but one event and news of a new grassroots organization that underscore the commonality of different aspects of the Nordic Walking community. As I often say in conversation with people involved in Nordic Walking, whether instructors/trainers/educators or pole suppliers, I have no horse in this race. I don’t care which technique new Nordic Walkers learn or which poles they use. I have an ardent belief that Nordic Walking presents an opportunity to get outside and that poles add a fitness/cardio/upper body bonus to any walk. This is true for elderly people who gain stability and confidence from using poles to competitive walkers who are capable of marathon distance Nordic Walks and for the big bell curve of Nordic Walkers in between. It encourages me advocates of one particular technique or sellers of one particular pole brand find ways to work together to elevate the entire activity. That happened twice on June 12, 2010.
Nordic Walking Expo
Hyland Park in Bloomington, Minnesota, was the site of the second annual Nordic Walking Expo, an exposition — free and open to the public — to introduce Nordic Walking to a new constituency, to include Nordic Walking enthusiasts in the Twin Cities area and to underscore the social aspects of Nordic Walking as a small-group activity. I was unable to attend this year, but reports are that the weather, which started out clear and dry, unfortunately deteriorated as the day went on, but enthusiasm did not wane among those who stayed.
The Expo was both national and local in nature. Great Lakes Nordic Walkers, formed as a small pod of Twin Cities instructors, planned a local promotion. Nordic Walking North America, a US-Canadian group that started last year and put on the first annual Expo, was seeking a site for the second one. The local event became a national one, using the name Nordic Walking Expo, and the pattern is now established for future events. NWNA president Malin Swenson and vice president Gary Johnson are already beginning to look at locations for 2011. If you have any suggestions, click here and submit your ideas via the comment form.
Equipment manufacturers and distributors, and Nordic Walking educators were on hand to present workshops and lead Nordic Walking classes. I was unable to attend this year, but I did participate by phone in a debriefing of sorts. I believe it was Suzanne Nottingham, a veteran fitness instructor and founder of Nordic Walking Now, who observed, “People were really smart and asked good questions. It was the first time at an event that people could pull me aside to talk. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Speaking from the local perspective, Linda “Nordic Walking Queen” Lemke, called the Expo a “thrilling event” and was enthusiastic about the presence of national leaders on the Nordic Walking scene. She also went on to describe some of the various programs she is involved with in the Twin Cities. Working with Hoigaard’s, a major outdoor sporting goods retailer, has provided a Lemke with a platform to work from and support for even modest individual outreach efforts. The concepts of some of the programs were fodder for thought among others at the meeting.
I don’t have attendance guesstimates or even any images, but when I receive some that I may share, I’ll do another post.
World Nordic Walking Federation
Also on June 12, the announcement came via the UK-based Nordic Walking eCommunity about a new grassroots organization called the World Nordic Walking Federation. The three well-known names spearheading this effort Marko Kantenev from Finland who first codified what has come to be called European-style Nordic Walking, Mike “Walking Wizard” Gates from Australia and America’s own pioneer, Tom Rutlin who developed Exerstrider poles and the Exerstrider Method.
These big names from the Nordic Walking world brainstormed this but Say they are minimally interested in “leading” anything and mostly interested in growing world-wide interest in Nordic Walking as a recreation, fitness and public-health activity.To that end, there will not be a board of directors but rather a board of servers who served the Nordic Walking community. Idealistic, perhaps, but hopefully also effective in bridging the Nordic Walking turf wars that in many ways retard the growth of the activity, especially in this country.There is no website yet, but it will be web-based organization.
The mission statement and other founding principle are as follows (this from the eCommunity site and presumably available for sites like this):
WNWF MISSION STATEMENT
“The mission of the World Nordic Walking Federation is to unite member individuals, organizations and industry partners in educational, research and promotional projects aimed at increasing participation in Nordic Walking and thus creating a critically needed positive impact on public health on every continent around the globe. Our central focus will be on educating, empowering and encouraging people of all ages, abilities and means to enjoy a more active life, and in doing so prevent the onset of many of the epidemic diseases of sedentary living through regular enjoyment of the body, mind and spirit-nurturing benefits of Nordic Walking”. (end of statement)
Since service to the expanding Nordic Walking community is the mission of the WNWF, it is proposed that there be created a Board of Servers (as opposed to Board of Directors). While this board will by necessity help direct the early course of the Federation it is intended that a board consisting of those committed to serving the community would underscore the mission of the Federation on the premise that the power of the Federation is derived from serving the grass roots community. To this end, each Server will be expected to make a pledge to the community, as follows:
WNWF MEMBER BOARD OF SERVERS PLEDGE
“As a member (of the Board of Servers ) of the World Nordic Walking Federation, I pledge to place the organization’s mission of service to the Nordic Walking community ahead of my personal and/or professional goals with a full understanding that a united effort fully committed to serving — rather than exploiting — the Nordic Walking community through the Federation’s stated mission is what is absolutely essential in order to bring about the maximum life-changing public health impact and participation in this fun, healthy, life-enriching physical activity on a global scale”. (end of pledge)
Work is currently ongoing to develop the mechanics of the organisation. A domain name has been allocated and a web site is under construction to serve as the focal point for information. At the same time, this forum will also provide updates on development and will facilitate discussion.
There will surely continue to be bumps in the Nordic Walking road, but I am greatly encouraged by two conduits for cooperation and communication regarding Nordic Walking,