Tribal Weekend!

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What is a Tribe? I’ve asked this before and am repeating my ramblings about it below. This weekend personified how a tribe works, and turned an otherwise overwhelming weekend into an example of the community we’ve created.

The California RAW Powerlifting Championships took over the gym on Saturday. It was the biggest strength event we’ve had yet, but even the clock creeping deep into the evening didn’t dampen the community spirit that made this strictly volunteer event completely worthwhile.

For starters, we had 15 Bodytribe lifters compete, completely raw (only 2 used belts, and not a single wrap to be seen), and, of course, completely natural. The team vibe was extremely strong, and several personal, state and even world records were broken. Over half our lifters were first timers, but all the performances were stellar.

Beyond the lifting was the support of the Tribe. There were so many Bodytribers in attendance, giving everything from moral support to food to help on the platform to clean up duties to t-shirts. To say I couldn’t have done it without all of your warmth and effort would be akin to saying I couldn’t fly without an airplane. Duh. You guys saved the day.

Sunday morning I was prepared for a big day of clean up. Bodytribe is ill prepared for 120 people, all their food, several dogs and a whole bunch of children, spending 9+ hours in here. The turnout for this meet caught us a little by surprise. When the party ended, the Tribe was pretty trashed. With a couple tons of weights and racks strewn about, baby powder and lifting chalk turning parts of the gym into winter wonderlands, and more tipped over beverage containers than I could count, I decided to just leave it until Sunday morning.

Upon finally dragging myself to the gym come Sunday morning, I opened the door to a completely restored, sparkling clean Bodytribe. I was shocked, as was Erin, who arrived at the same time to help clean, and Allyson, who showed up a few minutes later (both of whom put in a huge days work either competing judging or coaching the day before). Bodytribe trainers Brian and Larry (both of whom helped on the platform on Saturday) conquered the dirt, grime and spilled Red Bulls first thing in the morning, giving me very little to do except scratch my head and be extremely thankful.

And I am. Thank you all for making this meet a success. I am truly grateful.

Sorry I didn’t get footage of all of you, or better quality footage, but here’s a quick peak at some of the lifting:


What is a Tribe?

There’s something intimate about the concept of a tribe, and I’ve been working hard on defining it. Then I found my struggle has been to define what personal empowerment means within a tribe. How does this blatantly selfish act of physical improvement make the planet a better place? In other words, how do we save the world through deadlifts and tire flips?

Of course this means defining ‘tribe’ beyond our camp at Burning Man or learning how to hunt a lion with spears.

According to Wikipedia, the source of all information that kinda sorta might be true, “the term is often loosely used to refer to any non-Western or indigenous society. Many anthropologists use the term to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups.

“In common modern understanding the word tribe means a social division within a traditional society consisting of a group of interlinked families or communities sharing a common culture and dialect.”

Unfortunately, a high school clique meets the criteria presented in this modern definition, as would separatist groups, cults and political parties (am I being redundant?), while the spear-hunting pagan archetype fits the more traditional view.


My romanticized version of the modern Tribe is an idealized community or society that recognizes and perpetuates 3 major tenets: communication, equality and sustainability.

Sadly these three goals are almost non-existent under our current leadership. Communication, despite the overwhelming technology at out fingertips, seems to be dominated by the folks with the poorest forum and dialog abilities dominating what we read and hear. In other words, the dumbest are the loudest. Stupid now has volume and means. Dialectic has turned into text messaging and internet name calling. We seem to all talk more than ever, thanks to marvelous innovations in ubiquity, yet any sort of quality filter seems to have de-evolved from our personal software.

This rant seems ironic after just proposing a tenet of equality, but, let’s face it, people aren’t equal. This is actually proven by racism and sexism, not through actual differences in the races or genders, but because such insipid beliefs exist. It takes an idiot to believe race or gender should, by right, create a hierarchy, proving that, simply, perpetuators of this myth are morons. In a just and intellectually equal society, such tendencies to hate a fellow person for such shallow reasons would be much harder to embrace, since any rational human being with two brain cells to rub together could logically see that neither gender nor race, in themselves, have anything to do with the quality of a human being. But in our current condition, where, even awash in supposed ‘communication,’ it is still too easy to live in a bubble of dumb, being only influenced by like-minded chowder heads (often starting with family). It may take some serious education (REAL communication), maybe in the form of strict unconditional, judgment-free love, to eradicate deep-seated hatred based in ignorance.

So thus begins my thoughts on the modern Tribe. Input welcome…


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Showing 10 comments
  • Zac

    The clean-up “miracle” is epically awesome. Hell, I’m impressed that anyone who lifted the day before had the will to move – I spent the day shuffling about, trying to eat & occasionally applying liniment.

    Uhm, where’s the video? Youtube is telling me it doesn’t exist…

    As for other footage, looks like Eric from Powerhouse posted some –

  • chip

    The video is taking a bit to process, for some reason. I uploaded it about an hour ago, should play soon.

  • Megan

    Aw man. They did the clean-up? That’s just beyond awesome.

  • Andy

    Holy shit that was a scary-looking squat, Sara! But you ground it out…

  • Tamar

    Whatever a tribe, or the Tribe, is…I love it. Just sayin’.

  • Veronica

    The tribe wouldn’t be the awesome thing it is without it’s fearless leader! 😉

  • chip

    ‘Fearless’ my ass. I’m very awkward in social situations and I have a very real fear of broccoli.

  • ultrafknbd

    Again, as one who tends to Lone Wolf-it most of the time, it’s an unusual feeling to belong. Granted, my awkwardness doesn’t help. But Saturday in particular, despite my relative anonymity, I felt inspired. Perhaps, belonging – without any regard for reciprocity – sires tribalism; which in turn, begets inspiration.

  • chip

    You are now dubbed ‘the quiet spotter.’

  • Creakyjoints

    Senior comments:
    Is a tribe perhaps simply that village it is said these days that it takes to raise a child? Which is, in reality, a shunning of parental responsibility. What about those long ago frontier children raised in deep-forest log cabins or lonely island outposts?

    Communication? Can’t help but laugh. Communication improves when we learn that smart things, intelligent ideas, insightful feelings can be passed on without use of PhD vocabulary.

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