“Deeply Rooted”

“You want to be purposefully rooted in the place that you live.”
-Scott Austin, Pastor at Artisan Church in Rochester, NY

Why yes I do Pastor Scott.  YES I DO.

All the way back in 2006, KMN and I were fortunate to stumble upon the young, vibrant Artisan Church community just down the street from where I lived.  Although work and travel often divided our attendance, Artisan quickly became our “church home” in Rochester.  And today, although we miss the community terrible, the wonders of modern technology and a few Apple devices deliver each sermon to our kitchen table over Sunday morning breakfast.

The quotation above was shared a few weeks ago by Scott during a sermon series entitled Gardening in Babylon.  The central passage from this series is:

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you, and pray on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” -Jeremiah 29:7

To me, this sentence makes good, solid sense -and I don’t really think it matters what your feelings about Christianity are.  Take out the “pray” part, if you are so inclined.  No matter where you are, or what brought you there, I find it hard to imagine a situation where your well-being and that of your community wouldn’t be intricately linked.

To really, truly live somewhere means to make it your home, even if only for a few years – or months, if that’s how you roll.  That means investing – in the people, schools, local businesses, and infrastructure.  That means recognizing the community’s strengths, helping improve its weaknesses, and working consistently toward the dream of an even better place.  That means contributing, even in small ways, whether you intend to stay for a few months, a few years, or the rest of your life.  That means making the choice to help shape, guide, and grow this home into the kind of place where you (and hopefully other people) want to live.

To me, this is what being “purposefully rooted” means.  The idea of being rooted, of nurturing a relationship with a place and people, and of really digging deep into a community, strikes a chord with me.  Roots are important to me.  I grew up in one town – one community – and lived there for my entire life, until I left for college (which was less than an hour away).  In contrast, I’ve been a bit of a nomad for the past few years, moving from Rochester to Pasadena to Hollywood to Sussex County to Singapore.  Still, in all of these places – whether I lived there for 3 weeks or 13 months – I tried to be purposefully rooted.

Roots manifest in many ways – from community dinners to patronizing local businesses to volunteering down the street.  But (and you had to be expecting we’d come back to this eventually) one of my favorite ways to be rooted is to RUN.  Running is how I put down ROOTS – running lets me grab hold, take refuge, and secure myself in a new place.  This happens in one thousand different ways…

Running is what forces me to slow down enough to see the coffee shop on the corner, the yoga studio upstairs, and the sign advertising the Weekly Farmer’s Market.

Running is the first way I connect with my neighbors – the fellow runner along the canal, the woman down the street who walks her dog each morning, and the security guard at the building next door.

Running is how I make friends – from the local trail runners, to the track club, to the folks who read this blog and drop me an email.

Running is how I make a place home.  And I know that I’m home…

…when I can’t quite decide which group to join for a weekend run.
…when I learn the quickest traffic lights, the uneven spots on the pavement, and the undulations on my favorite trails.
…when I know where I want to go for a post-run snack.
…when I know the local races, their pros and cons, and the best spectating spot for each.
…when I can introduce my local clients to running spots they’ve never seen before.
…when I can step out the door, lace up my sneakers, breathe deeply, and feel…

…at home
…at peace
deeply and purposefully rooted.

Are you “deeply rooted” in your community?  How do you establish roots in a new place?  How do you deepen those roots after you’ve lived somewhere for some time?

[This blog will likely never dwell on my relationship with religion in general, or Christianity specifically.  But for anyone who is intensely curious…don’t be.  My position is unusual, but not especially interesting. I’ll only caution you against drawing any conclusions without really knowing the whole story.]

24 thoughts on ““Deeply Rooted”

  1. Sarrilly

    This is one of the many things I love about you – the way you invest in the community around you! You’ve written about “home” before – and I love reading about how you make different locations “home” to you! (btw – soo cool that you can introduce locals to new spots they’ve never seen!) 🙂

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I suppose that I spent part of the more transient part of my life wondering where home was – but ultimately decided that I should just make everywhere home. I love all my homes, for different reasons. It just seems like a waste of time to HATE a place you live.

      And you, my dear, are the best example of investing in the PEOPLE around you. I learned from the best. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Leigh

    It took me a long time to feel rooted in Phnom Penh. Luckily, I do now. I had to transform my space into something peaceful, calm, and beautiful. I had to find the local cafes where I can spend the afternoon sipping coffee and working. And, most importantly, I had to find my people. I love the sentiment of this post.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I think it’s much harder to put down roots in the absence of family/friends – and you pretty much “cold moved” to PP, no? Many of my moves have been to places where I’ve had community in place already (even if that meant stealing some of KMN’s community). And a hobby like running helps a lot – unfortunately, not every hobby is as convenient a vehicle for finding community and roots.

      Reply
  3. Sheila

    I get deeply rooted in a lot of ways – but I think it’s mostly just “doing life” with others – school drop off, seeing the same person on the running trail over and over again, helping out a friend in need, going to a local sporting event, etc. One thing I LOVE about where I live is it’s big enough to really “disappear” but also feels like a really tiny town despite it being a reasonably sized city.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I think the trade-off in getting “rooted” IS the loss of anonymity, particularly in really small towns. I think Rochester was also a perfectly sized city – it felt small and comfortable, but also large enough that I could be anonymous for a spell, if I preferred!

      Reply
  4. Allison

    Beautiful post Holly, really.
    We are not deeply rooted. For some reason we are so hesitant to get involved or go deep.
    You really gave me something to think and pray about.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Thanks, Allison. I do think it’s easy to get comfortable and/or scared (these are my two biggest reasons for resisting roots) – when I get stuck, I think about someone in my life who really know how to root – and I try to do what he/she would do, rather than what I WANT to do…. 🙂

      But don’t get me wrong – I don’t (by any means) have the whole thing figured out. And don’t sell yourself short – think about your job, your barre classes, your tutoring – all of those are opportunities for rooting – and you may already be a bit.

      Reply
  5. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama

    This is a great reminder to be rooted in community. My husband and I used to be very involved in volunteer activities with our track club and local Girls on the Run council before we had children. Of course, we had to shift some priorities, but now that life is setting down again, we need to shift again. Thanks for the reminder and thought-provoking post!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Glad you found something in there to make you think, Nicole! And as Deb points out – don’t forget that having kids means you have a whole pile of other opportunities to root (and probably are without thinking about it). Further – I think that having kids is, in fact, one of the biggest ways that people root. This is a temporary investment in a local community – but a long term investment/rooting in the WORLD…

      Reply
  6. Debbie @ Deb Runs

    As parents of young children it was always easy to become rooted in our community through our children’s sports teams, school, church activities, etc. Now if we were to move, it would be more difficult, but I know that running would be a huge part of it finding our community. I agree that there’s no better way to discover what’s in your new hometown than through running.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Running is amazing, and has helped this introvert (yes, believe it or not, I’m an introvert) get grounded and connected in lots of new communities. I didn’t think about it for the first few years/moves, but after awhile, I realized how awesome it was to think, “Hey, if I want to meet some people, I’ll just go join some locals for a run.” There’s something about the easy, fuss-free, low-pressure possibilities for connection that just make running the perfect vehicle. (Bowling is pretty good, but I’m a considerably better runner than I am a bowler!)

      Reply
    2. Stephanie@nowirun.com

      Debbie, I couldn’t agree with you more. Andrew’s plays at the local theater and Gabe’s participation on the soccer team have brought us into contact with SO many people locally. Since these people own businesses, are doctors, etc. we also think of supporting them when we have needs to meet outside of how we know one another.

      Reply
  7. Meagan

    We moved about a year and a half ago and I feel like I am still in the process of putting roots down. There’s a bit of a generation gap where we live now and that has made it a bit harder. But I am always looking for ways to be more active in the community- even if it’s something small like attending the annual Fireman’s Parade or Fall Festival. Running definitely makes me feel more connected to the place I live. I notice a lot more when I’m running (or at least notice different things) than when I’m driving. I certainly wouldn’t realize how hilly it was here if I didn’t run those hills on a regular basis. 🙂

    Reply
  8. greengirlrunning

    I know I feel at home and rooted in a place when the simple, little things become important, and even sentimental, and I almost don’t see the big more obvious stuff anymore. Like, I never pay attention to the gas station in my neighborhood anymore, instead I notice the amazing mountain at the end of my powerline-less street and the beautiful trees that line it. Having two kids in school and an amazing group of running friends helps me feel very much part of a community. I also recently realized just how deep my roots are in the town where my grandfather lived now that I have to say goodbye to it. It’s amazing how many little things in that town, and all the memories I’ve made there make it feel like home! Great post Holly 🙂

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Isn’t it lovely how we can have multiple homes? And sometimes, it takes awhile to realize that a place is/was a home.

      And really…aren’t the mountains the big obvious stuff? The gas station is just a detail. 😉

      Reply
  9. Cecilia @MommiesRun

    I don’t know how deeply rooted I feel in my community, speaking of my town. But I am deeply rooted in my running community. I attend group runs held by our local running store and I’m active in our city’s running club. I have made so many friends and it’s become a part of who I am. I love this community.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      But since you are all in geographical proximity, I’d argue that being deeply rooted in the running community IS being deeply rooted in the community, right? In a super-technology, on-line based world, physical proximity is not a prerequisite for many things (work, school, etc.) – but it’s really hard to run with someone via Skype (unless you’re both on treadmills). So being rooted with people who live near you IS being rooted in the community – and it’s certainly the case for me!

      Reply
  10. Stephanie@nowirun.com

    What a great verse for this post. It’s funny. I don’t think I’ve ever really rooted myself purposefully in a place until moving to Flagstaff. I know a bit about the community, I try to shop locally. I try to eat locally. When I’m going to pick up a quick breakfast I think ~ better for Biff’s Bagels to have my $$ than Starbucks. I never ran until we moved here and running has DEFINITELY rooted me to this place. My brother bought me an Aeropostale (sp?) shirt that says, “I run this town.” It couldn’t be more true. Almost anywhere I drive I’ve also ran (or close by).
    I’m only curious about your beliefs because you said I shouldn’t be 😉
    I haven’t figured out how to stop the spamming on my blog from deflecting your comments. I’m sad about this.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Not sure about the spamming; I haven’t commented this week. Have you been able to find & Unspam some of my previous comments? Let me try again – perhaps it will automatically detect that they are safe now (this has happened in a few other cases).

      As someone who seems to root anywhere (everywhere?), my question for you: Why do you think you only began rooting when you moved to Flagstaff? Why not anywhere before?

      Reply
      1. Stephanie@nowirun.com

        Holly – I can’t find your comments to unspam them 🙁
        I take back what I said about not rooting. When I lived in Marquette, MI, the second time I did work on getting involved in church, kids group-meetings, etc.
        I’m from a town that I love dearly, and because of how much time I spent there with my family and in schools I’ll always have fond memories of it. It isn’t, in my opinion, the kind of PLACE that you get attached to… does that make sense?
        As for why Flagstaff (and maybe Marquette, too)… I’m far from family where I’m at here. My boys were at an age when we moved that made me think it was important to be vigilant about getting them involved in activities they liked. When I started running I had no idea how spending time outside in the community, on trails, in parks, etc. would effect how I feel about Flagstaff. The landscape feels like it’s a part of me.

        Reply
        1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

          Hm. So strange. Well, I’ll keep trying and see what happens. Do you use Akismet to catch your spam?

          And I think my analogy kinda breaks down when we start differentiating between places and people. I think it’s perfectly legit to be “rooted” somewhere purely based on the people – even if you have no attachment to the physical PLACE. Because that group of people, with that particular association to, really will only exist in THAT place. Either way – I’m glad you have roots today! Now, if only we could figure out the comment/spam issues… =)

          Reply
          1. Stephanie@nowirun.com

            Agreed… Flagstaff is about the place(s) and is quickly also becoming about the people. Canton, MI is all about the people (and maybe the memories associated with some of the places).
            Yes, I use Askimet.

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