Let me start this post off by being fair. Some people had a very lovely time at this event. They felt good vibes. They got free swag. They even got a comfy spot on the lawn. I was NOT one of those people.
They touted this as the, “largest-ever Yoga event in the history of inner peace” with over 10,000 people expected to swarm into Central Park on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 for a FREE event hosted by Flavorpill and a plethora of corporate sponsorship including JetBlue, Smart Water, Standard Hotels, Gaiam, and others.
I waited in a line, that stretched over a mile and half, for over 90 minutes. Question #1: How did they expect over TEN THOUSAND people to access an area with only TWO entrance points? Question #2: Why did they give people under 2 hours to accomplish this? CLEARLY NOT FEASIBLE
When I finally got to the entrance of the lawn, the event was cancelled because it starting raining. Frustrating, but fair enough. Question #3: Why was ONE event staff person trying to manage an angry crowd of THOUSANDS at the front of the line?
Chaos ensued. Massive crowds stormed the citadel for the free yoga mats. People pushed, shoved, elbowed, as if trying to secure their last meal ration before embarking on the 40 year journey with Moses in the desert. The rain started to pick up. A girl trapped at the front started whining and crying for help. People started to get more aggressive as they saw others scurrying with two, three, even five yoga mats in hand.
The Zen art of mastering the mind, self, and attaining inner peace, was not achieved.
It was amazing I survived at all. I even managed to get a free yoga mat for myself.
A couple days passed. Flavorpill sent out a mass e-mail. In short, they knew it wasn’t all roses but promised a rain-check in September for those that waited so long and never made it inside (such as myself). They also said, “If you have additional feedback, we’d love to hear it.” This was my moment.
An excerpt from my love letter:
I just want to echo the sentiments you have undoubtedly been receiving regarding, not only the long lines, but the horrific crowd management as a whole, that took place during this event. I realize that you relied on a network of volunteers, however they were not sufficiently trained to manage this event…The experience was so awful, I don’t want a rain check. In fact, I never want to attend another event like this in the future, which was so poorly executed by you. I want to be removed from all mailing lists, and my account at flavorpill deleted. Please forget that you ever knew me.
Maybe I struck a nerve with that last line, or maybe they were just trying to avoid a blog post like the one you just read. But they responded today with this:
Thanks so much for your feedback. My sincerest apologies that we disappointed you in any way with this event.
Providing this event to such a large community for free was an enormous undertaking, with many challenges. We were placed under many restrictions by the Parks Department and were largely understaffed, but tried our best to make it work. We know now, thanks to feedback from many who were present, where we need to improve, on everything from the registration process to the line management.
We’re already taking the steps to fix the line management, security, and the number of and training of volunteers for the September rain date.
Again, our apologies and namaste,
I appreciate their response. It lets me know that someone was actually on the other end, listening. However the jury is still out on on whether I’ll be around in September to see if they walk the walk. I may still be trying to find my “inner peace.”
Photo credit: Ryan Jensen