Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thank You Week Love Letter No. 4: Loco for Local Community

Isn't it the worst when a company's marketing looks completely different from what your first-hand experience is with that company?  There's a house plant company called The Sill, which literally markets itself as the friendliest, happiest plant company in the world, making plants accessible and fun for all.  The concept was fresh two years ago, so I followed the company online as they grew from an online-only store to a real store.  When I excitedly went into their actual store a year ago for the first time, I was met with silence, curt answers to questions, a snide remark to a basic plant question, and an unwelcoming vibe.  The store felt nothing like the online marketing.  When I feel tricked by marketing, it's like, bye.  But when a company is what they say they are, I'm all in.  That's the idea behind this thank you series where I've been thanking the authentic companies in my life all week.  I want to do a little something to spread the word of people who are doing good and doing good business.

On day 1 of thank you week love letters, I recognized fitness companies that encourage real wellness, not shrinking bikini sizes.  On day 2, I pointed out a site that helps cut out the (physical and emotional) excess in our lives.  On day 3, I talked about early education resources that have been invaluable to our family.

Today, I appreciate organizations in my community: Capoeira Brooklyn and the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.  These are super local to me, whereas my other posts have mostly been nationally or even internationally accessible.  More than ever, though, I'm thinking about community on a smaller scale and wanting to surround myself with my family, on my block, in my neighborhood, in my city, in my state, in my country!  But, community starts small.

I'm lucky to have Capoeira Brooklyn on my block.  My son has been learning this Brazilian martial arts with Mestre Foca since Greyson turned 3.  This capoeira studio isn't just teaching a skill or a sport to make a buck.  When a child or adult takes capoeira with Mestre Foca, he's also buying into a lot of good energy, a spirited community and a group that truly embraces all people.

Mestre Foca and his wife teach and practice capoeira and their two kids also practice the sport.  They don't just preach, they live it.  To me, this family represents the spirit and energy of capoeira.  I love that the whole family is dedicated to capoeira and they all share the love of it with the world.  Capoeira is not just martial arts, but it's also dance, music, culture and Brasil...and it's all the energy that those things represent.  It's love, it's community, it's fitness, it's so many things in one sport.

Tudo bem, Mestre Foca!

My son tried a capoeira class in Brasília (below left picture) and he tried a class in London (below right picture) this year.  And of course you can't judge a teacher by one class, but I had the distinct feeling that these classes were more about just the physical aspects of capoeira and not more.  They were taught more like a typical kids soccer class.  Watching those classes my son tried made me appreciate Capoeira Brooklyn even more.  Thank you, Capoeira Brooklyn, for representing the skill as well as the spirit of the sport!

The Brooklyn Public Library.  What would I do without it?!  As a major (former) book hoarder and the mother of two kids, we go through dozens of books weekly.  I live super close to the Park Slope branch, which has the size and charm of a small town library, but we have all the resources of the whole library system via the app and website.  My most-used feature is putting books on hold through the app.  Our branch doesn't have that many books, but I just put almost any book on hold via the app and then the library sends me an email when the book has arrived for me at my branch.  It's like a free bookstore!  I put just-released books on hold all the time.  I spent so much time paring down my books when I learned about the Minimalists that I have no desire to buy books for the fun of collecting.  We buy books for the kids, but I try not to buy books for myself since I can get most things from the library.

Since we go to the library multiple times a week, we know and love most of the librarians.  I don't know how they're so patient with hordes of kids and weird people in the library, but they are saints.  They ooze love of books and they truly get satisfaction helping you find a book.  Something else I love about the library is that it's one of the centers of community for us.  We always chat with friends there and it's a place that makes our neighborhood feel cozy.  Thank you, Brooklyn Public Library for being a rich resource with nice librarians.

As I write this post, I am really thinking about how much I appreciate my community.  Park Slope has been a wonderful neighborhood for our family.  Thank you, Park Slope!

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