My husband, Andrew, and I celebrate our ten year anniversary this weekend. We’ve now known each other longer than not (over 18 years), and this milestone anniversary has caused us to reflect on the power of two. Leave it to Andrew for making the most impact by being gone for the last several days, so upon return, I really appreciate his contributions.
When Andrew is away, I get lots of help from others. If we lived in Oregon, we might turn to family for support. I love my neighbors, colleagues, and the daycare system for assistance, but this little community in Stroller Hikes has had the greatest impact. Even before Max was born, 5 years ago, I was out hiking with others, finding answers to my questions. Like many social experiences, I found our conversations to not simply be a give and take of information, but an opportunity to really develop complete ideas. I’d share my experience or idea, then Julia, Maya, Lisa, Kristen, Melissa, Amy, or countless others would pipe in about theirs, and we would all leave feeling that our perceptions were more complete and we were fulfilled, having given, taken, and developed understanding about parenting, health, ecology, or any number of other topics. (A photo from Los Alamitos Creek from over 4 years ago, above.)
I still find this with Stroller Hikes – being on a hike for an hour or more builds a captive audience to whatever the group might explore or encounter along the way. A child might present a wild treasure, a parent might share a concern, or someone might weave a story to captivate the masses, to be integrated with others’ contributions. This happened last Monday, when Andrea led a rugged hike at Ed Levin Park. After 100 minutes, we’d hiked a substantial distance, climbing hills and sweating in the sun. We spied cows, wild turkeys, dragonflies, field mice, and soaring birds and hang gliders, and informed, entertained, and gotten to know each other. It was a wonderful way to start the day – feeling accomplished from an exercise, social, and natural perspective.
Synergy happens weekly from a technical standpoint at Stroller Hikes, too. Behind the scenes, our technology staff and three high school interns have been hard at work to streamline integration of content at StrollerHikes.com with the newsletters, calendar, and other media. We’re working on an aesthetic and formatting overhaul to the site, as well as developing an app for finding a hike. We meet weekly to discuss progress and ideas, Stroller Hikes tech gurus Emily and Amity balancing listening to Angela, Puneeth, and Helen’s ideas about aesthetics, user interface, and communicating value, with teaching them about programming, work flow planning, and data organization. There really is synergy here! Certainly Emily or Amity could do much of the work on their own, but we’re growing more than a technical product in our work – we’re fostering creativity, learning, empowerment, and shaping lives, including our own.
Altruism was a trait identified in ants and bees years ago. Initially, scientists questioned the value of organisms being altruistic. It didn’t make sense for the individual survivability or reproductive efficiency of one animal, for it to exert effort helping others, particularly when this help seemed selfless. But from an ecological perspective, the benefits became clear – even when immediate, direct effects were not obvious, positive long-term impact was eminent, from society and for society. Organisms from altruistic species don’t live in their own bubbles – they live in synergy with others, expanding their bubbles to let others impact them.
Thanks for expanding your bubbles to include others, Stroller Hikers!
Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly