Communities – ‘Bout time

Simon Madden & Ross Taylor try to plant seeds in fertile soil by creating the Grampians Bouldering Festival

As the editorial in this issue points out, community can be a tricky thing. Community is not a place, but it can be intimately linked to a place. It’s not one person or one organisation, nor is it information on the Internet. Community is a feeling – like the vibe of the constitution – and a set of relationships between people.

You can’t fake community for long. If it’s not legit then it falls apart pretty quickly because people are generally pretty good at spotting phoneys and empty facades. But you can create the conditions that are conducive for community to develop.

We have heard from tonnes of people wondering why there was no festival in the Gramps. People thought it was a good idea but no one was taking it from idea to an event – maybe because it’s a big job. We feel like we are in a pretty privileged position to do something as the editors of Vertical Life and the publishers of Grampians Bouldering, and so we did. We started the Grampians Bouldering Festival.

Jane Andrews takes flight off the tall and committing Copperhead (V7), Venus Baths – luckily her community is there to soften the fall. Image by Ross Taylor

Jane Andrews takes flight off the tall and committing Copperhead (V7), Venus Baths – luckily her community is there to soften the fall. Image by Ross Taylor

The goal is simple – we want to do something that people are into, that will have an impact on them and that they will remember. Members of a community have a sense of belonging and they trust and care for each other. One of the most powerful ways to develop this is to share experiences and a common history. Everyone has had the experience of meeting some new people out at the blocs, talking trash, swapping beta, discussing politics, arguing over whose home crag is better and then shouting encouragement as problems get sent. That’s how we have made heaps of mates – laughing, cheering, shouting and eating. We also hope the festival provides the opportunity for boulderers to share their knowledge, particularly with the growing number of climbers who are new to the sport and have much to learn.

The bouldering festival is not the most important part of the bouldering community, but we hope that it brings some people together, that they share experiences and lay down good memories, that at the Festival relationships blossom, that the connections between people thicken and that those strands contribute to the community so that not only we continue to have a good time but build a community that can work together and each other and traverse the precious places where we boulder with respect and minimal impact.

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