I write this not as the Lead Ranger or as the Vice-Chair of Blazing Swan but as a participant and community member.
The Black Rock Rangers at Burning Man hold a very poignant ceremony for Rangers who pass their Alpha Shift. It’s called ‘Crossing the Line’ and originates from their first year of operation when Burning Man Org. needed to provide a search & rescue team for participants who became disoriented and lost. This was a new thing at the annual event and the group of volunteer participants who made up that first batch of Rangers arrived on site a little nervous and still unclear as to what their role was and what it would entail. Ranger Danger, the Black Rock Ranger’s founder, seized the moment. He took a piece of rebar from his truck and drew a line in the sand with it and said “On the other side of this line, there exists a world where everything is different.” The Ranger’s crossed the line together…leaving behind default world and engaging as volunteer participants in a temporary community like no other founded on the 10 principles. This year our theme is Happy as Larry in honour of Larry Harvey, the founder of Burning Man, who passed away last year. When we enter Jilakin Rock City, we are crossing the line and will be celebrating Larry’s life, legacy and influence with a cheeky nod to the Aussie vernacular
I offer this story to the Blaze community as a conversation starter and metaphor for why many of us return year after year. Why we unconditionally gift our time, energy, skills and passion for something that holds the possibility of transformational change. Why many of us walk the line close to burnout, risk sacrificing relationships and put in additional hours after our full-time employment. We wish to create with others a world where everything is different.
The lead-up to Blaze this year has forced me to question if some in our community truly share this vision. Blazing Swan Inc. has been faced with many issues that belong in default world…or would not even be issues if these folk behaved like adults and took some personal responsibility. A small number of participants have treated the Committee like de-facto parents with their radically self-entitled demands.
I believe that where we face issues involving the behaviour of individuals which impact detrimentally on others, then the community should be discussing these openly. If we have a ‘community standard’ then we all have a responsibility to question when it is seriously violated and seek resolution when we feel it has been breeched. Anybody can do this at feedback(at)blazingswan.com.au.
Where this can get difficult is that fuzzy area involving individuals who are not sharing a consensual reality with the rest of the community…or who have no intention of coming to Blaze. As we enter the home stretch in the 51-week marathon of creating our pop-up city…please be mindful that if you are making a request to another in our community that they may already be pushing themselves to the limit to cross the line…
At a Blaze…we all intentionally ‘cross the line’ and do so to leave our everyday lives and experience for a week the magic that can happen where everything contains the possibility of being different. If you’re coming to Blaze this year…leave your shit behind or deal with it like an adult.