We have a new member of the family here at 5.life and it has made me reflect on family and community especially in light of the last 15+ months. As a young family that was transferred far from home in the early 90s, the climbing community in Central and Southern Ohio quickly became our family. When we first opened Vertical Adventures, those same people pitched in to help build (literally) and run the gym. We all did life together. We celebrated holidays and births, mourned deaths and traveled together. As the business and sport grew so did our family.
Carrie Roccos
Over the years some family members have moved away others have had squabbles and some have had heated debates but for the most part we have remembered that we can and do trust each other with our lives. We’re all climbers who love a crazy sport that most of the world doesn’t understand. If we’re united and excited about it, we can share it with others in spite of our differences. In March of 2020, the world shut down. We were forced to go home and not do the things we loved as climbers, as professionals, as students. Our worlds became separated, and we couldn’t gather to celebrate or mourn any longer. The otherness that had been creeping into our world infiltrated even our climbing family and those little squabbles and big debates moved from the campfire and the dinner table to social media. We were becoming deeply, deeply divided. In late May we all watched in horror as the life of a man, was taken from him without any regard for his humanity. The world was rightly outraged but unfortunately, we turned on each other. The divisions that had been accentuated by quarantine became deeper and we looked to everyone else to blame and hate.

We all need to be broken-hearted over so much injustice in the world. We need to see evil where it truly exists yet not conflate it to someone we don’t see eye to eye with. Instead of blaming the group we are not part of, we need to see that we agree on the pain and work together to heal hurts and mend division. When I work with girls rescued from human trafficking, I become angry at people who think pornography or prostitution are victimless. When I hear shouts that all police are racist and to defund them, I get frustrated for the thankless job my friends do while risking their lives to try to make the world better. When I hang out with kids in The Bottoms and see their terrible family situations, often due to serious addiction, I’m outraged that some would make all drugs legal. That anger, frustration and outrage is misplaced! Yes, I need to rail at these evils but focus my strength and energy to helping the victims and offering my gifts and talents to help where I’m able. I may need to put myself in new and uncomfortable positions to work through the problems our world faces. This sounds like working a project at the Red to me, but one with the capacity to change lives and our world for good.

Now that the world is opening back up we can sit together by the fire, break bread together and work alongside one another again. Let’s close our screens, open our doors, and talk to one another. In fact, we have the perfect venue for this right behind VA. Now that our restrictions are being lifted, I invite you to use our fire pit out back. Shoot me an email or text and let’s get together and talk through some of this. Let’s find what our common passions are and work together to turn our anger, frustration, and outrage on the evils we can affect for good. This community is strong and cares deeply about injustice. I’ve seen it come together in the past and I am confident it can again.

I love this community and look forward to seeing where it goes over the next 27 years!