Springfield body suspension group promises more precautions

Monday, February 27, 2012 | 12:23 p.m. CST

SPRINGFIELD — Members of a Springfield group who suspend their bodies from trees with hooks through their skin will be more cautious about who might be watching and are looking for a more secluded spot to hold the activity, a group co-founder said.

The body suspension practice drew attention after a resident complained that members of the Springfield chapter of the Anti-Gravity Relaxation Organization were hanging from trees in a residential neighborhood where children could see them.

The Springfield City Council recently rejected a proposal to ban the activity in outdoor, residential areas, The Springfield News-Leader reported.

Josh Taylor, co-director of the Anti-Gravity Relaxation Organization, said the group will take more precautions while it searches for an isolated property to use for its monthly meetings.

"We're going to take every precaution we can to make sure people don't witness it if they don't want to," Taylor said.

After receiving a complaint from a resident, city staff wrote an ordinance to keep the activity from being done outside in residential areas without written permission from surrounding property owners. At a Feb. 13 council meeting, the proposal did not get the five votes needed to pass, although four of the seven councilmembers present voted in favor of it.

Mayor Jim O'Neal, who voted against the measure, said he thinks the restrictions went too far and would have created unnecessary bureaucracy.

"I understand why some neighbors would take offense at it," O'Neal said. But if practitioners will "use good judgment and be considerate, we don't have to have the government involved in everything."

Councilman John Rush, a strong supporter of the restrictions, said he hopes the council will reconsider.

"We didn't solve the problem that was brought to us in the first place," said Rush, who suggested banning anyone younger than 18 from even watching body suspension.

"I don't think this is a healthy thing for children to observe or participate in in any way ...," he said. "I'd like to see it reconsidered, but I don't know when and I don't know what the new ordinance would look like."

Taylor said the recent attention had attracted a couple new members to the group.

"It's never going to be a common thing," Taylor said. "But 90 percent of the people, even if they don't understand why we do it, tend to think we have every right to do it ...

"So we're going to keep doing what we're doing, and if there are laws passed, we'll work within them."

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