Include us, we’ll include you.

Hello. I’m glad you’re here.

I first heard about the November Project long before I started attending workouts. I blamed the early hour, the weather, and my hectic student’s schedule for my inability to #JustShowUp. But ultimately there was one thing that was truly barring me from making the short journey down 23rd Street from Foggy Bottom: I had no one to go with. I simply did not want to face a group of strangers — who likely knew each other — alone.

I shouldn’t have worried.

My very first November Project workout.

When I finally found some willing friends to accompany me, we were greeted with open arms (literally) by the most welcoming collection of souls I have ever encountered. It was as though every single person I met made it their personal mission to make me feel like part of the group. But because that sense of inclusion is so deeply ingrained in the NP culture, I could tell that it was an effortless and completely unconscious endeavor. It’s simply what you do when you #JustShowUp: you include. So that’s what I felt: included. Even when I continued going by myself, before anyone recognized my face or knew my name, I always felt like a valued member of the tribe. I cherished that feeling. The enhanced physical fitness, spectacular sunrises, and my first job out of college were just added bonuses.

This wholehearted embracing of all people could not be happening in a more appropriate location, the very monument honoring the man whose presidency was characterized by his goal of accepting everyone as free. One hundred years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Martin Luther King Jr. used the steps of his memorial to deliver the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, perpetuating this same message of equality. And here we are, week after week beneath Abe’s marble gaze, drawing on the precedent set by these great men. The Lincoln Memorial represents the unity that we strive to achieve through every burpee and sweaty hug. We don’t run the steps of the Lincoln Memorial just because it’s a tough set of stairs. We do it because it sends a message, one that all November Project tribes strive to exude:

#JustShowUp, and you will be included.

This memorial, whose silhouette we wear proudly on our chests, is our home. In the two and a half years that we have been running these stairs, Lincoln has seen our highest highs and our lowest lows. But above all, it has seen our unwavering love, both for our city and for each other. It serves as a beacon to all who might join us, its history echoing our mission.

I only hope that since we’ve #FoundOurPark, we can continue to be included there. Because I guarantee that if you include us, we’ll always include you.

Like what you read? Give Julie Sarah Buchsbaum a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.