The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.
You’ve heard me talk about how much I love our community here in Palmer, Alaska. I love all of the community festivals, parades, fairs, markets, fundraisers, runs, bike rides, clean-ups, skis, hikes and trail days.
During our first year living here, before my outdoor habit, I happened to see on Facebook that there was a holiday parade downtown. We hopped in the car and made it there just in time, wearing no where near enough clothing for standing still in the cold and missing out completely without even knowing it on what I now know is a day of fun before the parade. I have no idea what other events we missed that year, because I had no idea they were happening.
But then something changed when I started my outdoor habit: I started looking for outdoor community stuff.
And not only did I find a great way to meet people who love the outside just as much as I do. I met people who inspired me to chase new hobbies. I met people who helped me feel at home here where we live in a way that’s deep and wide and feels permanent. I met people who taught me to get outside more.
A listener and friend who lives nearby asked me a few weeks ago how I learn about all of the community stuff I go to after he missed something from which I posted a picture. He felt like things were happening left and right and he had no idea how he was missing them — but he simply didn’t know they were going on.
In this age of so much information, that’s a relatable problem. There’s so much noise in the world that it can feel hard to hear about the things you WANT to know about. You might feel crowded out by the things you don’t care about. How are you supposed to block out that noise? And if you’re someone who WANTS to go to community events, how are you supposed to know they’re happening?
I’m not saying I’m perfect at this, but I have figured out a few good ways to figure out what’s happening. Maybe they can help you, too, so here they are.
First, there’s no school like the old school. You know those community flier boards at coffee shops and book stores? Believe it or not, people still use those — and it’s a fantastic way to learn about community events. That’s where I learned about a new weekly farmers market, a band that came to town that I absolutely loved, a hiking night and a ski fundraiser. Maybe you’ll also read about drum lessons and a dog poop scooping service that you don’t need, but in there you can find things you do want to know. And hey, maybe that dog poop thing will come in handy after all.
Next, there’s the new school version of that bulletin board — Facebook events. If you have a Facebook account, navigate to the events tab and go to “discover events” change the location to whatever town you want, and then filter for your preferred dates window. Tada!
While working on this episode, I did my own local search and found a favorite fall festival that I had forgotten is happening soon, a band I like is doing a free outdoor concert, and the dates of the upcoming football games at the high school next door to my house, so at least now I have been warned. You’re likely to find more outdoor stuff than you really want to go to by doing this kind of research, honestly, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The third way is by word of mouth. That’s probably not helpful right now if you are currently having trouble figuring out where to find these events, but I promise it will happen. Because the more outdoor community stuff you go to, the more you’ll learn about other things coming up. I went to a recent outdoor health fair because while I was at the weekly summer Friday festival, someone came up and told me about it.
I learned about a Thursday evening family walk/series because I was at the Monday evening community walk/run series.
I found out about the ski club because I saw an advertisement for low-cost ski lessons, joined their mailing list and BAM now I know about way too many community ski things.
It’s a snowball effect, really. The more community stuff I go to, the more community stuff I learn about. I hope you guys really like your community because this could get really out of control. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
While sitting doing some high quality people watching at the fair this month, I had this overwhelming feeling for how much I just adore where I live — the people, the place, all of it. Maybe it was the delicious fair food talking, but I was just so full of gratitude for every weird, wonderful human being I’ve met here and all the crazy things they’ve had me do. I walked over to a stage where I found two women I often run by — I don’t actually know their names, now that I think about it, but we laughed about how fun it was to see each other all the time.
I belong here in this place, and it’s the community I’ve found outdoors that makes it feel that way.
You can see photos of my outdoor time, including many many community events, on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. And I want to see your outdoor time, too. Share whatever it is you’re doing outside with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.