Creative Self Exploration with Mutual Respect of Personal Boundaries
Through an informal, casual, and organic process we like to form personal relationships with our membership and participants without imposing our aesthetic and personal preference on their expressions (when possible).
After participating with, and collaborating on the development of many community minded organizations and projects between 1988 – 2007, Napalm Dragon took initiative to create an organization that would foster the healthy development of The Cascadia Burn.
Together with his wife Snow Dragon, they founded Burn BC and invited participation and collaboration from amazing, talented, and eclectic members of the Burning Man Community, the Arts Community, Musicians, and Performance Artists.
Encouraging a playful attitude, and working with amazing and wonderful people, the Burn BC Arts Cooperative emerged from an experimental phase with one guiding concept at it’s core.
“Creative Self Exploration with Mutual Respect of Personal Boundaries“
After many discussions with responsible community minded people, and considering the common thread of these discussions, “Creative Self Exploration with Mutual Respect of Personal Boundaries” articulated the sentiment of the Burn BC Arts Cooperative, clearly and concisely, without imposing personal esthetic preferences on the creativity or expression of the participants and our community.
A Goal (Direction)
Burn BC has defined four clearly mandated goals to support the meaningful relationships, and projects, that we wish to foster. These goals support the meaning of the Burn BC project which evolved from nearly two decades of experience and observation. To reach the underlying root of the Burn BC project and it’s direction (and how to communicate it) we looked at ways to define the Core Values of the project by defining a Mission Statement.
In the earliest stages of developing the Burn BC project we attempted the conventional process of defining a Mission Statement and Vision Statement. However, we quickly realized that creating a conventional Vision statement and Mission statement for Burn BC might undermine the self-management and experience of Immediatism by participants. We risked over-defining core values and principles from our biased and subjective perspectives by inadvertently imposing limited aesthetic definitions; potentially closing the door to innovative self discovery.
We considered how we would like Burn BC to embrace community values and how we relate to these community values on a personal level. Our goal was to encourage people to be creative and expressive without demanding this from them. We also wished to encourage self management and refrain from imposing unneeded impositions on personal self management.
We then looked at the Burning Man 10 Principles (which we respect) and considered how we (here in BC) relate to Burning Man’s interpretation of The Burn. While we liked these principles and wished to respect what Burning Man has contributed to the overarching cultural paradigm, we understood that absolute adoption of these principles could undermine our personal and critical interpretations of the overall paradigm we respect and admire.
Through much discussion with a variety of people throughout our community (Artists, Musicians, Community Event Organizers, Burners, and various eclectic participants) we looked at “Radical Self-Expression” as a core starting point.. We admire and encourage the expressions of our peers, but we also don’t demand it. So we examined what was at the root of our relationship to “Radical Self Expression” and discovered “Creative Self Exploration”
Creative Self Exploration is an internal process of self discovery through creative experimentation. It encourages participants to “find the self, and express it”. It opens the doors of self-definition and from that we share in the byproduct of our Creative Self Exploration.
This fit very well with Burn BC and from that we formed the 4 founding goals of Burn BC. It did not impose our personal aesthetic preferences on the Radically Expressive participants, and offered room for personal playful interpretations beyond our known perspectives.
A Limit (scope)
We then looked at a limiter.
We recognized that successful projects have a good sense of direction but limit their scope to focus clearly on a well articulated and clear direction. With “Creative Self Exploration” as an unimposing direction for the project, we had to consider to what limits we felt comfortable fostering the creative exploration of participants.
There were challenges in defining a limit without creating a complex structure of policies and guidelines that could interfere with critical thinking, self-management, or Immediatism. We knew that unfettered playful creativity could suffer quickly under unreasonable restriction, so we looked at where an appropriate limit to our scope would be declared.
We examined this aspect of the equation closely, treading with caution around the issue of censorship. As artists we understood the critical importance of letting unfettered creative energy loose. So looking at where a limit would be set, we looked at the one area of a personal expression that no one has a right to tread across. This is the area of personal boundaries.
It offered a very fine, but clear line. As artists we understood that “Offending Sensibilities” can sometimes be an important part of the creative message. We also understood that the aesthetics of creative Play, which can be spontaneous and random, can cross into realms and forms that some find uncomfortable. But unless a serious personal line is crossed these actions are only offensive to sensibilities, rather then offensive towards an individuals personal boundaries.
We understood that personal boundaries are very important to healthy living, and that challenging our sense of personal boundaries can unveil direct unmediated and empowering experiences for many people. Pushing personal boundaries, as well as challenging each others sensibilities, can often be a very healthy and important aspect of personal creative growth. No one has a right to push or cross our personal boundaries, but we can encourage each other to push our own personal boundaries.
Our limiter would be “Personal Boundaries”
A Relationship (Values)
With an understanding of a goal and a limiter, we looked at how the two would relate. We like to encourage people to self-manage as part of the exercise in creative freedom. We knew that crossing personal boundaries was undesirable, and led to problems.
We wanted to communicate to participants to “Please respect the intent and direction of this project, by respecting the contributions to the project”. This meant respecting our hosts as well as the creative individuals who put so much energy and effort into the collaborative experience. We felt that a mutual relationship to these goals and limits, would inspire a near synergy of experience during the events we host.
With Mutual Respect there is a reciprocal relationship that encourages community development and creative collaboration. “Mutual Respect” would be the base value of our relationship to each other.
A Core Concept
With these factors carefully considered, a simple, concise and unimposing concept evolved to define the core of the Burn BC Arts cooperative. Through “Creative Self Exploration with Mutual Respect of Personal Boundaries” we found a common thread that invited creative expression, and a respectful relationship with the participants who share that creative expression.
We then decided that during events we would remind participant that Burn BC events offer the freedom to self-manage without imposing unreasonable rules, policies, or procedures on our creative participation. But that this freedom means self-management is a conscious and vital aspect of personal creative exploration. So, in conjunction with the core concept of Burn BC we remind people to…
- Respect the Space
- Respect the Art
- Respect Each Other
- Respect Yourself
We feel that when these mores are respected, it leaves the door open for us to flourish as a positive, expressive, supportive, dynamic and open ended project that will continue fostering “Creative Self Exploration with Mutual Respect of Personal Boundaries” as it grows and develops the Cascadia Burn.