[Hooping.org’s Editor Philo Hagen looks back on 9 revolutionary years with gratitude.]
by Philo Hagen
Nine years ago today Hooping.org spun our way onto the world wide web. I’d just discovered hooping after Jason Strauss handed me this big, awesome, home-made hoop at a party. A DJ was spinning some terrific trance music and I suddenly found myself hooping for the first time, feeling the hoop circling my body, spinning in rhythm with me to the beat of the music, watching the towering Redwoods and the stars high above them, feeling as if this plastic ring was somehow connecting me to bigger things, yet all the while bringing me into myself. Vera Fleischer and I talked endlessly about the experience as we hooped for hours and at the end of the night, Jason decided to give each of us a hoop of our own, on one condition. We had to promise that we’d make good use of them. I quickly ad-libbed, “Well of course we’ll make good use of them. Don’t you know Vera and I are the co-founders of, uh, uhm, Bay Area Hoopers?” Vera, right on cue, chimed in with, “Don’t you know that we hoop in the park every Sunday?” Someone else overhearing this exchange expressed interest in joining our as yet make believe group and a little to our own surprise we all found ourselves spinning it up at what was probably the first organized community hoop group the following day, a group that is still in existence today with hundreds of members. How crazy is that?
After the party that first night and still giddy, I scoured the web for info about this incredible thing called “hooping”, only to be surprised by how very little there was. There were Jason’s Hoop Making Instructions. There was someone named Hoopalicious spinning things up in Los Angeles. She looked cool. Betty Shurin had a site that shared the benefits of hooping – and that’s just about where the trail came to an end. While nine years ago doesn’t really seem like a very long period of time, in internet years it was several lifetimes ago. Even MySpace and Tribe.net had yet to arrive. Flickr wouldn’t show up for another year and YouTube wouldn’t be on anyone’s radar for much more than two. At that first Bay Area hoop jam I told my fellow hoopers that I’d just bought the domain for hooping.org so we could spread this here hoop joy to everyone, everywhere, all around the world. Ariel, Jason, Vera and Amy all enthusiastically signed on to help and on May 4th, 2003, Hooping.org was born.
Back in 2003 the site featured a hooping blog, a photo gallery that anyone could upload pictures to, and community forums that soon became the nexus place for hoopers far and wide. People who previously didn’t know each other with names like Baxter and Spiral and Stefan and Lara found their way to Hooping.org and a real hoop community began to take shape. Thinking back on those early days though I have to wonder if any of us really had any idea where we were headed and all that was to come. I don’t think any of us could have guessed that we’d have our own special hooping holidayday or a film or weekend gatherings, and yet now we have all of those things and so much more.
While Hooping.org has continued to evolve over the years, when I think back over all the spins and turns along the way I’m left with such a tremendous feeling of gratitude. I’m grateful for each and every one of you who show up here each day that are as enthused about this thing called hooping as I am. I’m grateful to have something in my life that I’m still as enthusiastic about 9 years later, something that continues to teach and reveal more to me. I’m grateful to have friends today around the globe that I treasure deeply, that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in real life as well as knowing online – all simply because of our love for the hoop. I’m grateful for all of you who have shared your photos, videos and stories here for all of our mutual inspiration for fun and for free. I’m grateful for our advertisers who truly keep this thing online, allowing us to remain a totally free service that is entirely owned and operated by hoopers and for hoopers.
In the past year Hooping.org has continued to expand with the addition of two new Assistant Editors, Bonnie MacDougall and Natasha “Hoopsie Daisy” Young. We’ve added two new video editors as well, Saladora Pantz and Warren Madderra. We’ve brought on a new photo editor, Noora Helenius as well, and our original content has continued to expand with the help of such awesome writers as Abby Alten Schwartz, Casandra Tanenbaum, Kim “Kamala” Burden, Lara Eastburn, Rayna McInturf, Shannon Herrington and Shea Brock. We’ve also had the pleasure of showcasing many guest bloggers like you. Our 10th year online promises to be a big one with all sorts of things in the works and if you’d like to be a part of the Hooping.org team let us know.
The real miracle of it all, however, has come spinning into my life from the circle itself. Nine years later hooping continues to fill my heart and change my life in ways I never expected. So on this day, on Hooping.org’s 9th Hoopiversary, I just want to take the opportunity to say thank you and to let you all know just how much you mean to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining us inside the circle on this incredible ride that is bringing hope, health and happiness to the world. Thank you for nine magical and revolutionary years! You truly are the most amazing community that anyone could ever hope to be apart of and if anybody asks, I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003.