Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Community, near and far

Megan Capuano
South Middleton School District
W. G. Rice Elementary
Boiling Springs, PA
1st RTC hike of 2015: Mid-Atantic ATC office, Boiling Springs

According to Merriam-Webster, community means a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. Wikipedia states that a sense of community is a concept which focuses on the experience of community rather than its structure, formation, setting, or other features. We are members of many communities and in my lifetime the sense of community has been empathetic, compassionate, and helpful.

The last few years I have been feeling that the sense of community is shifting to be less helpful, less compassionate. I realize I have a pretty sheltered outlook but it has always felt like humans wanted to watch out for each other and human kindness drove our actions. Now, social media is filled with videos of people doing bad things and celebrating in mistakes made by others. Videos showcasing pain and suffering are being shared with “LOL” captions. Inhumanity is being promoted as the norm and that is sad to me.
Last RTC hike of 2015: Hawk Rock

The community of Trails To Every Classroom (TTEC) shares a positive, compassionate, helpful, and sincere sense of community. TTEC is a network of people, teachers and students, all humans all looking to make the world a better place. We come together as a community to share our common love, the Appalachian Trail (AT).

I have lived within ten miles of the AT my entire life but I probably spent only a few hours on it until two summers ago. I decided to train for an ultra-marathon and that requires many hours running trails. I fell in love immediately and now I spend free weekends running the AT and plan to continue running North and South. I am a part of the AT community.

Since I started my love affair with the white blazes, I have introduced the trail to others. My sweetie hails from Colorado and fell in love with the AT on his first run. It is very different than hiking in the Rockies. Our kids have hiked with us. I have introduced trail running to a few friends. My favorite accomplishment is the Ready To Climb program where I introduced the trail to ten 4th grade boys. Only one had been on the trail before the program. I talk with their parents periodically and everyone has taken their family onto the trail. They want to do the program again. They want to hike and they want to be on the AT. Everyone I have taken to the trail is now a part of the AT community.

TTEC accomplishes more than having teachers write curriculum for the AT, it expands the Appalachian Trail community and adds to a positive, compassionate sense of community. When the TTEC teachers came together as a group this past summer it felt good knowing that I could talk to any person at the resort and have something in common – the Appalachian Trail. I am not a hiker and really I’m not even very outdoorsy but I love the AT – truly, I am in love and would marry it if I could and I’m not even the marrying type :-). But I still have something in common with a thru hiker.

The community!! TTEC works to bring others into the wonderful world of the AT and the outdoors. Being in nature and feeling love makes it difficult to hate. Trails To Every Classroom is reaching another generation to join the Appalachian Trail community.

Don't underestimate the power of your vision to change the world. Whether that world is your office, your community, an industry or a global movement, you need to have a core belief that what you contribute can fundamentally change the paradigm or way of thinking about problems. ~Leroy Hood

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North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald