I am a sociophile. i really love to be among people – both strangers and those i know.
I went to the Transformus regional Burning Man festival a few weeks back. i went with Mac and some other Acorners and Sky from Twin Oaks.
It was Mac’s first transformational festival event and she was completely enchanted. We were doing different things and for the first couple of days; i actually felt a bit lonely at points. Add to this that my ex-lover Kate was at this event. Kate and i had a major motion picture romance, big attraction, myriad actions and events under our belts together, turbulent untangling. A big part of me craves this type of tightly connected, take-on-the-world romance. Looking for this type of partner is what i call the search for Princess Charming.
On the night of the burn i ran into my old friend Michael White, who was being daring with life choices. He had given up his lucrative software consulting work to chase his dream of starting up a company which made sound vests. i wore a prototype of the vest at Transformus – which made me feel like i was a living base speaker. i could easily see a market for these among serious party goers, of which there are many. But it was Michael’s daring thinking of taking BM cultural elements into the urban environment and his imaginative proposals for new festivals that really got my imagination firing.
And then i had my transformational moment at the transformational festival. i realized the whole search for Princess Charming is probably the wrong adventure and even likely a distraction from the many compelling things i want to be doing now. It was time to fire Princess Charming – or more precisely downsize or eliminate this job position.
There was something liberating about this idea, and something scary and quite new for me. I have been blessed with brilliant, capable romantic partners for most of my adult life. Besides feeling well loved and challenged in these connections, having a central partner is often a brake on my most reckless and self-sabotaging behaviors. Giving up on this type of relationship was going to mean more work and taking more responsibility, which i was not excited about.
When i talked with my various advisers i was a bit surprised by the results. “About time,” said Rez who i am trying to tempt out of his high paying job into new community starting adventures. He felt like my princess pursuit was in the way of other things which were important to me. Tree pointed out that it would change the way i showed up socially, which it certainly has.
At the communities conference i saw how it changed the way i interacted with powerful women that i was attracted to. i did not try to enchant them or even as deeply figure out who they were to see if the Princess Charming job might be a good fit. Nor did i focus unusual attention on potential partners who were available for this role and thus i spent more time with people who were just going to be at this event and then might not seen again for a long time.
And of course this is not something i control as much as i might like to think i do. Romantic relationships come at you often when and from where they are least expected. So while i am not actively looking, i will leave the job description on file, in case the universe has other plans for me.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
A handful of communards and folks from the Keep went to the mid-Atlantic regional burn, Transformus. Feonix and i applied for a grant to do a Burning Man style internal Post Office and were accepted. Madness did some excellent art work and made the physical office happen.
Lots of people enjoyed carrying mail and receiving mail. We moved easily 200 letters and packages. Feonix got the postal carriers these snazzy quasi official looking hats and we were one of the many hits of the event. We hosted a love letter clinic, told myriad jokes and stories and postal patrons shared with us how the event had changed their lives and helped them become more of who they wanted to be.
As and activist i walk away from Transformus with the perennial (and much debated in this blog) question “Can Festivals save the world?” Transformus was certainly inspirational and i had my own personal revelations (which i will write about in another blog entry).
One of the things i was struck by this time was how events beyond the control of the organizers influence these festivals. On the last two nights of Burning Man events there is the burning of an effigy of a man and temple burn. At the big burn in Nevada these are two quite powerful events.
What happens is there is a performance, with fire spinners and various pyrotechnic displays leading up to the effigy of the man being ignited. And then after the participants watch for a while, they start to move. And ultimately, thousands of people are running around this burning, crumbling structure.
Unfortunately, rumor has it, a few years back, someone in an altered state of consciousness ran into the fire at Transformus, perhaps in an effort to kill themselves. The regional authorities responded predictably and clamped down a number of safety regulations on event. The result is that the fire safety perimeter for the effigy burning is much larger and unlike the big burn in Nevada, it is not longer possible for people to run around the fire.
This might seem like a small point, but to me it had a huge effect. One of the ten guiding principals for Burning Man is Participation. What this means is we are trying move away from the idea that you come to a festival to be entertained and instead are engaged and active. You are not there to be audience, but rather an organizer. As an activist, this is mimicking the change we need to see in the world, pushing people away from their passive screens or viewed performances and towards thinking about how they want to be making things happen.
My dear friend Reyes from the Keep wrote a wonderful detailed blog post about the Post Office and Transformus in general. Included in it are the principals of the Post Office, which are hear for your edification and entertainment.
Post Office Protocols and Rules:
1. For each service, we strongly recommending gifting us an item, story, memory, or joke.
2. Both the writer and the recipient must pay postage fees to send and receive mail.
3. Postal officers are allowed to read mail unless specifically requested not to.
4. Postal officers may be deterred by swimming, kissing, or other time-squandering activities. However, they must do their utmost to deliver all the mail in their care.
5. All postal officers must wear a postal uniform cap at the time of their service — when they have completed delivery, they must return the PO caps with all due speed.
6. Postal officers may keep any gifts they earn for themselves.
7. The postal mistress, Brosie Brazen aka Leo Locks, may change any rule at her leisure.
8. At any point, there is always something to do at the Post Office. All postal officers are volunteers and all people are encouraged to volunteer. Similarly, all are encouraged to write mail. Postal Officers are never the servants of the “customer,” and are to be respected.