Very recently, many of us in the suspension community have had our focus shift to events that are taking place in Springfield, Missouri. The act of body suspension, and in particular the AGRO Springfield team, has become the center of attention for local council members and media outlets. What started as a simple team suspension meeting place has quickly escalated into talk of passing city ordinances to possibly eliminate or restrict body suspension in outdoor or visible locations. It is certainly surprising news for many of us, and we all know that decisions like this don’t impact only those in that area but the community as a whole.
AGRO Springfield had selected what they saw as a private location to hold their monthly meetings; the back yard of co-director Kristen Atkinson. Their team chose to hang tarps along the fence to help block the view of neighbors as they suspended, but those in bordering yards were still able to see into the area if they tried. One neighbor, whose wife and daughter were able to see the suspensions taking place, chose to contact local councilman Nick Ibarra, state representative Melissa Leach, and other state agencies with his complaint about what he viewed as an inappropriate act for his family to be exposed to.
From KSPR Channel 33 News in Springfield, MO:
Health officials prepared a list of possible regulations on suspensions used by other communities. City councilman Nick Ibarra asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would address concerns. “I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s private property rights but there is a delicate balance between their rights and the rights of kids to not be afraid to go in their own backyard,” Ibarra said. He says he will meet with individuals on both sides of the issue as well as local tattoo and piercing artists. Ibarra says he could have a draft of the ordinance as early as next week. A public hearing would be held. City council members would ultimately decide if they want to pass an ordinance.
From that original interview and news clip, the situation seems to have escalated very quickly; in the last two days almost every news outlet in Springfield has contacted the directors of AGRO Springfield for information, photos, and interviews. It doesn’t seem to have stopped with local news either, ABC News took them time to contact them as well about what is taking place. Luckily for all of us, the directors of AGRO Springfield, with guidance from Rick Pierceall, are attempting to remain level headed and calm throughout this ordeal. They are currently trying to learn more about what the city council members might plan to include in the draft of possible regulations to be written, as well as looking more into what they can do to have a positive impact on this situation. I would like to note that their team did nothing wrong to cause this situation. They had a regularly scheduled meet, in a member’s back yard, where people nearby witnessed body suspension; this very easily could have been any of our teams in that situation.
I am sure we will hear much more about this as it unfolds over the next few days and information becomes available about the proposed ordinances as they are written. Right now, there is talk of getting together with council members and the neighbors who complained to find a way to resolve this situation that is in all of our best interest. I know that on many of the news pages there are a couple negative comments from people who don’t understand what we do. Please keep in mind, if you choose to comment on the articles being written or to respond to those people, do it in the most productive way possible. We certainly don’t have to stoop to their level by name calling or throwing attacks back at them. Let’s ensure we present ourselves in a very positive way, and make sure those watching us right now know what an amazing group of people make up our community.
In the mean time, take a second to hop on any of the AGRO pages, or those of the directors to send them some love and support from our community. They are hard at work trying to keep us informed about what is taking place, and trying to resolve this situation in the best way possible.