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The Importance of Community During Level Up: Race for Humanity

Today we have another guest post from Jacob Gries, a freelance writer and avid runner who is joining us for Level Up: Race for Humanity. After completing Community Week, he’s back with another post with his take on finding community in today's world.

All of a sudden—seemingly in the blink of an eye—our lives were collectively taken away from us as a result of COVID-19. Or, at least, our lives as we knew them. Our weekly routines were disrupted, from stopping at a favorite coffee shop for a quick pick-me-up to the commute to work, which offered much-needed alone time before entering the rigorous grind of the workday.

It’s been difficult to adjust to this new normal, but, as we’ve all had to adjust over the last several months, it’s become clear how important person-to-person interaction is, and how fundamental it is to our existence. While that might sound a tad crazy, prior to the era of social distancing it felt as if people were becoming more reliant on technology to communicate with others and with the outside world, rather than making the effort to meet up with a friend or a group of people.

“Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” is a 1988 song by the rock band Cinderella, one I’m sure most everyone has heard at least once in their lives. The song perfectly encapsulates our current predicament; we took the entire concept of community for granted and are now trying—and perhaps struggling—to find ways to fill that void in our lives. But, fear not, there is hope on the horizon. It’s been refreshing and heartening to see people make efforts, whether through weekly video chat appointments or daily socially distanced walks around the block, to maintain a sense of community and check in on important people in their lives.

This search for community is why Level Up: Race for Humanity is so important. If you’re reading this and participating in the race, you’re part of a global community that’s trying to make the world a better place. It might sound cheeky but it’s true. You’re also part of a larger, worldwide running community with people of all ages and skill levels, a community that is welcoming to new entrants if you or someone you know is longing for a way to stay connected to others during this difficult time.

If there’s a silver lining to what we’re all going through, it’s that we’ve all gained a greater appreciation for the people who we once chose to meet for a Friday night beer, weekly book club meetings, or the sporadic, unplanned moments that created some of our best memories. However, everyone trying, against all odds, to preserve that sense of community is one of the best omens for the future I can think of.