Dear Minnesota Dragon Boat Club members and friends,
My heart is heavy. Like many of you, I have been glued to social media and to news reports, as I have watched George Floyd, a Black man, be killed in our city at the hands of Minneapolis Police. I have been grieving. I am frustrated. I am confused. Black lives matter. As we join in respectfully observing the formal memorial service for Mr. Floyd, it is not enough to be in grief; it is time to move toward justice.
As an organization, the Minnesota Dragon Boat Club is dedicated to the ideals of inclusion and participation.
These are our guiding principles:
- Community: We provide opportunities and give back to our broader community by emphasizing the role that exercise and physical fitness have in disease prevention and management.
- Compassion: We provide an opportunity to paddle to everyone. We minimize barriers to participation. All are welcome.
- Challenge: We move out of our comfort zone and try new activities on and off the water.
- Competition: We seek athletic camaraderie in the dragon boating and paddling world through appropriate opportunities.
Let’s examine each of these in relation to the current unrest and challenge ourselves to embody each of these principles in our daily interactions.
Community: We provide opportunities and give back to our broader community by emphasizing the role that exercise and physical fitness have in disease prevention and management.
We are learning how people of color are impacted disproportionately by COVID-19, and indeed other illnesses. How can we help people already working in our communities in ways that are useful to eliminate these disparities?
Compassion: We provide an opportunity to paddle to everyone. We minimize barriers to participation. All are welcome.
How can we minimize barriers? What can we do to be welcoming to everyone when they approach the boat? What can we do to make our sport available to more new paddlers?
Challenge: We move out of our comfort zone and try new activities on and off the water.
If ever there was a time to move out of our comfort zones, this is one of them. What new activities can we try? Can we go help with clean up? Can we volunteer and support the many pop-up food shelves and community resources? Can we be one of the demonstrators? Can we run for office? Can we lobby for change in our policing system? Can we support the programs that minimize the need for policing? How can we care for everyone in our community?
Competition: We seek athletic camaraderie in the dragon boating and paddling world through appropriate opportunities.
The friendly competition of dragon boating is motivated in the spirit of helping everyone be a little bit better than we were the day before. How can we help each other do better for our community each day? In ultimate frisbee, there is a principle of “spirit of the game,” in which, “Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors…” How do we bring our spirit to everyday interactions and lift everyone up?
In the words of Paul Wellstone, “We all do better when we all do better.” Let’s seek to understand and make change together.
Chair, Minnesota Dragon Boat Club Board of Directors