❗ Your attendance and participation with this group indicates your explicit commitment to these ideals! ❗
I (Rory) promise I’m not trying to overcomplicate things. Let me try and explain the thought process that lead me here. <3
Long story short: shit happens. Burning Man tests us in so many ways. Sometimes it’s hard to discuss things that distress us, especially between people. Let’s make that easier.
We had discussed in a previous meeting (I think the post-burn 2019 meeting) having a doc like this, and the camp mediator. Many larger camps have some similar structure in place, I think. I was thinking about them again recently and I realize such a system in place could have helped us all at some point. In hindsight, this seems like such an obvious solution. (Of course, the devil is in the details...)
At least, I can say it certainly would have helped me - more than once. I know of a few others who felt similarly helpless in various situations, where I think some camp structure in this area could benefit us all. Of course our camp didn’t deliberately choose to enable these helpless situations - but I think we can do better to provide support to avoid them in the future.
Nobody should feel helpless. Especially among such great friends.
Right now, with no structure in place, this awkward conflict resolution implicitly falls on the camp’s lead. Making camp lead our de facto mediator is unfair IMO - the time and emotional commitment is not something they explicitly signed up for. Alternatively, if campers have a conflict with the camp’s lead, those campers currently have no avenue for resolving the issue.
So I think having some volunteer camp mediators is a good way to go. I’m not sure how they should be confirmed/trained/supported/etc... I hope we can establish that process together. :)
Ultimately, this document is a vehicle for discussion. We all know problems of all sizes/shapes are unavoidable at the Burn sometimes. We must be able to face them head-on if necessary - or they might be allowed to fester.
We must enable each person to feel empowered to seek that resolution - and we must establish confidence and trust in each other to create a safe space to facilitate that.
We all have to be willing to engage in a discussion (at the very least) if we learn we play some part in causing distress for someone. And, on the other side, how do you start that conversation without hurting/annoying the other person?
It comes from us all agreeing to the process, I think. Giving this support lends legitimacy to the designated mediator, whom I hope everyone can respect and trust.
For example, it's probably important that the mediator and any parties are sober for any organized discussion. That quickly gets messy! I guess we have to establish an expectation for people to be sober for the mediation? So… we can’t mediate now, so let’s schedule the mediation in advance? How do we know people will be on time/sober? How do we prevent avoiding the mediation? Again, I think the answer comes from us agreeing on the process.
Any structure we can provide to help navigate this weird mess in advance puts less stress on the mediator and all parties - and makes expectations clear for everyone.
So let’s discuss this together, honestly and openly, in the hopes that it helps us address future struggles in stride! <3
P.S. I’ve poured about 6 hours of my life into this doc so far and I WILL CRY if you flat out reject this without helpful feedback or alternatives 😅
This is our conscious group effort to explicitly establish our
previously implicit expectations for ourselves and fellow participants.
Hopefully, this is all dreadfully mundane and obvious.
All the same, it’s important for us to all be on the same page - and be clear about expectations.
Let’s outline our sincere intentions for all participants -
to help remind us all of our commitment to enable our best and support one another.
These are not “rules”, in that we don’t want this to govern you.
These are the terms you freely agree to, to party with us!
Please do not be intimidated. We understand mistakes will happen.
However, for repeated or major breaches, we should expect the group to have some
structure in place to help resolve any tension through conflict resolution.
This document was not created in response to any specific incident.
This was created to ensure all participants always have:
New participants should hopefully feel:
Excitement and confidence upon reading our commitment to each other!
Old participants should hopefully feel:
Renewed vigor and appreciation for these responsibilities to one another!
If you are not comfortable with everything you see here,
it might not be best for you to party with us.
Please: ask questions, involve others, and initiate discussion!
We understand that adult human interaction is challenging at best.
Especially at Burning Man, or when substances are involved. None of us are perfect.
At times, tensions will be high and feelings can be hurt without great care.
Despite this, each of us commits to provide every attendee with
the bare minimum - mutual respect - at all times.
We endeavor to love and support others when we sense an opportunity!
We strive to gently and honestly communicate when we lack the spoons to help -
and respect the boundaries of those who communicate such.
In general, we aim to enjoy and enable positive experiences with people,
and we seek to be as inclusive as possible.
We won’t shy away from communicating if we feel overwhelmed!
We will communicate if we need space, patience, or time to cool off.
We do our best to grant people the distance they request.
How to communicate when we need support?
Consent does not solely refer to sexual intimacy -
it extends to touching, hugging, entering a person’s space, and many other interactions as well.
Consider and actively discuss new implications for Consent
that are present in our COVID-conscious world!
Consent can be revoked at any time. Consent is sexy.
Consent is mandatory.
We endeavor to always respect people’s:
preferred pronouns, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
By gently correcting each other’s misgender mistakes, we hope to
shift the burden to correct onto the group as a whole, while also
not dwelling on the mistake. Help keep us on point!
When we notice a lapse in these commitments, we will all seek to
gently remind the involved parties, and seek to immediately de-escalate (if necessary).
We should not be defensive or upset if someone points out a small mistake.
The feedback we receive from others is invaluable.
A lapse in these commitments does not mean all bets are off.
We are all still fully committed to the expectations listed in this doc.
Most tension should be resolved independently and respectfully by the involved parties,
without requiring any intervention from campmates.
Most tension might quickly fade away within a day, and require no further discussion.
If we identify extended tension or distress - in ourselves or others - the situation is not resolving.
It is in the camp’s best interest to not allow this tension to fester and grow.
In these situations, we will remind ourselves (and others) of the last-resort resource
we have in place to address and resolve conflict: Mediation.
We will help create a judgement-free safe space, where this extended tension can be
privately worked through - under the guidance and direction of a Camp Mediator.
Mediators will be made known to the camp prior to extended duration events.
For smaller parties, you might need to ask around for
someone who is present, comfortable, and prepared to mediate.
How to select the ideal Mediator for a given situation.
Anyone can express a concern to a Mediator. The Mediator will follow up with
any involved parties, and verify if the situation has already been adequately resolved.
If both parties agree a compromise has already been met, mediation is probably not necessary.
If one party maintains there is still unresolved conflict, the others should
endeavor to participate in mediation.
The designated Mediator should have final say on if the mediation should take place.
Mediation requires the sobriety of the Mediator and all involved parties.
Ideally, the involved parties should commit to a 0.5-1 hour session within the next 12-24 hours.
Mediation will not be designed to solve your problems for you.
Instead, we will focus on de-escalating tension, asking measured questions to
share and contextualize emotions, finding compromise, and
renewing the essential commitment of respect to all participants.
We all respect the hard effort and emotional sacrifice the Camp Mediator makes on our behalf.
We will engage meaningfully, and in good faith, when others express such a need to engage.
We will trust that every participant has read and enthusiastically agrees with these principles.
We would remove ourselves from attending if we cannot commit to these expectations.
tl;dr: Don’t just treat others how you want to be treated -
treat others how they want to be treated! :)