What Do We Mean: RenegAID

One of our board members keeps reminding the rest of us to keep our focus on Natural Disaster like a focal point for a laboring mother. A focal point to distract us from the pain and fear that keeps popping into our heads. I am ever grateful for her reminders as our thoughts wonder around the landscape of chaos, expressing our opinions on what we see as haunting.

Last evening I spent time catching up on some inspiration by watching TED talks.

The one I have referenced here made me think…

Shouldn’t RenegAID be to survivors of Natural Disaster what TED talks are to inspiration and ideas? And shouldn’t RenegAID be to survivors of Natural Disasters what Burning Man is to art?

The event of natural disaster is not political. And we are about the event. In a catastrophic disaster, people who spontaneously show up to engage and help on their own volition, their own time, their own risk, their own money are called renegaid. They do whatever presents itself in the world of absolute chaos. They are not bound by policy and procedure and insurance clauses like volunteers who arrive from relief organizations such as Red Cross, etc. They are not bound by their schooling and corporate level. They are the off duty neighbors who drop what they are doing and run in to help, led by the spirit and not by rules. Rules don’t work well anyway in pure chaos. Corporations and governments exist awhile and then change but neighbors are forever.

In her TED talk, Nora Atkinson calls the Burning Man experiment in collective dreaming, off the grid, anti consumer community an “active collaborative making community.” It exists internationally year round but comes together once a year in the desert… made up of artists, scientists, welders, engineers, garbage collectors, etc. And when their time together is over, they disappear without a trace. Although the art is amazing, what inspires Nora most is why people come there again and again to make. She believes it gets to something that’s essentially human. She says that when people first come to Burning Man, they don’t know how to make this stuff. It’s the “active collaborative maker community” that makes it possible. And when artists stop worrying about critics and collectors and start making for themselves, these are the marvelous toys they create.

I loved the Burning Man people who came immediately and spontaneously to Katrina with bulldozers and tents and set up neighborhood with the Buddhist Temple. Spontaneous, engaging, willing to give of their talents and do whatever needed to be done in the moment, not worried about money or insurance. They were pretty renegaid.

Eunice
Referenced TED Talk: Why Art Thrives at Burning Man by Nora Atkinson

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