GLC 2017: GLC First-Timers Jump Right In

Check out more stories about the 2017 Global Leadership Conference.

Call them “GLC Virgins” — Burners who are attending the Global Leadership Conference for the first time. You can’t identify these special unicorns from the outside, but inside they are perhaps the most porous of sponges as they soak up inspiration, knowledge and the whole experience of this once-a-year gathering among hundreds of Burning Man community leaders.

We got to know a few of these newbies during Day 1 of the conference and found out how it’s going so far:

Kim Dee, Vancouver, BC

Who are you and why’d you come to GLC?

I’m a biologist by day, Burner by night (catchy, right?) who happens to be part of the Safety Pod on the Production Team for Vancouver’s regional Burn, Burn in the Forest (BitF). I’m also a regional Ranger (and Khaki) for BitF and am passionate about community building, conflict resolution, and consent culture. I’m honored to be here as an identified community leader.

What have you learned here so far?

I’ve learned a lot about our Regional Network, East Bay Burners, Ranger training, and what herding over 600 brilliant cats looks like in a convention center setting. It’s only 1:30 pm on Friday, so I’m hoping to learn more leadership skills, risk and safety planning, Firefly’s Conflict Committee, and how to measure social change.

What’s one thing you’re doing this year to bring the 10 Principles to your everyday life?

Through work and play, I’m engaging in opportunities to build greater Radical Self-reliance so that I can better serve all the communities of which I’m a part.

Rhianna Hobbs, Melbourne, Australia

Who are you and why’d you come to GLC?

Rhianna, Rhi, or Phoenix on playa. I lead the Crew Department for Burning Seed, Australia and also co-lead the Crew Wrangling team. I came to GLC on behalf of Seed to learn from Burning Man and the Regional Network to take key ideas and learnings home, and also, on a personal level, to meet people within this global community that I’m so passionate about.

What have you learned here so far?

So far I’ve mostly focused on how other regionals are doing things, through informal discussions with people I’ve met. I also plan to take home some formal learnings from sessions, particularly around leadership and succession planning, as well as safety and risk management. A lot of the key trending issues across the regional network are definitely relevant for us at Seed as well.

What’s one thing you’re doing this year to bring the 10 Principles to your everyday life?

I quit my job at the end of last year to focus on my work with Burning Seed and also to visit Regionals and Burning Man. I’m bringing the 10 Principles to life through my focus on this community for at least this year.

Madeline Snow, Melbourne, Australia, and San Francisco, CA

Why’d you come to GLC?

I work as the Comms 2iC (Second in Charge) at Burning Seed, Australia’s largest burn.

What have you learned here so far?

This morning I did the session on “Giving and Receiving Feedback.” I had done a little bit of that before in my professional work, but looking at things through a volunteer and Burner lens [was helpful]; it’s not always how you do things in the professional world.

I also learned ways to consistently manage people that isn’t just about one specific conversation. For example, there’s this thing called a “shit sandwich,” where you want to avoid, in theory, when you have to give someone feedback, also throwing in a bunch of compliments because it can de-legitimize the message you’re trying to send. To mediate that, try to be more proactive with positive feedback in the day to day so that when you need to give difficult feedback it carries a bit more weight.

What’s one thing you’re doing this year to bring the 10 Principles to your everyday life?

Having just moved to the Bay Area, inclusion and expression are two things that I’m being very conscious of. Not that I wasn’t back in Australia, but when you’re being thrust into a new space, you become very aware of how you’re expressing yourself, how you’re being included, and how you include others.

Joshua Shessel, Toronto, CA

Who are you and why’d you come to GLC?

I’m Mountie, and I came to GLC because I’m a Meta Regional and also a Track Lead.

What have you learned here so far?

I went to a great session this morning that Sauce ran that was about leadership challenges. It helped me identify that when people have organizational conflict with someone else, it is almost always a fear response. Everyone shared stories and all of us described a fight, flight or submit instinct — all fear responses. It reminded me that when you’re dealing with someone who has that response, you have to listen to them, and you also have to listen to yourself when you’re having a response. Understand that it’s human. Give people space to be that way and forgive yourself when you have that experience. But own it. Because it’s universal, the thing that makes you a better person is acknowledging your own humanity.

What’s one thing you’re doing this year to bring the 10 Principles to your everyday life?

I’ve brought Burning Man to my business as a way to radically include people who’ve never heard of it. I work in the tech industry out of Toronto so a lot of people aren’t familiar with Burning Man. I’m slowing bringing the ideas of the 10 Principles as an ethos behind how to deal with your coworkers, how to deal with people around you.

Angie Chang, Los Angeles. CA

Why’d you come to GLC?

This is the first year that I received an Honoraria art grant, and I wanted to come and meet as many Burning Man leaders as possible to pick their brains and network and learn from them. We’re bringing a six foot Daruma doll to the playa this year. The Daruma is the Japanese symbol for intention making. It’s a doll where you dot one eye when you set a goal, and then when your goal has been met, you dot the other eye and then you bring it back to Temple to burn. This year, we’re inviting participants to dot one eye on the playa, and then a few years down the line, we’re hoping to bring it back to the playa to dot the other eye, and then leave it at the Temple.

What have you learned here so far?

Oh my gosh, where do I start? The first session I attended was the contract session and I learned the pitfalls you have to look out for. I also attended the public relations session, and I learned how important it is to craft your message before any incident. You’ve got to think through any potential thing that could happen and then prepare for it all.

What’s one thing you’re doing this year to bring the 10 Principles to your everyday life?

This art project came about in 2010 as a tiny idea when we were on the playa. Now we’re rallying together a bunch of people from all these different cities, and we’re building something for Burning Man that everyone can interact with. Communal Effort is really the Principle that resonates with me this year

Meeki, New Jersey

Why’d you come to GLC?

I came because I was invited and I felt very honored to be. I guess I’m a leader in my community.

What have you learned here so far?

Today I really felt inspired, which is really why I came: to get inspired to have more energy to do stuff in my community. For example, one of the things I was thinking about was how nice it would be to turn my backyard into a community garden.

What’s one thing you’re doing this year to bring the 10 Principles to your everyday life?

I think I’m going to continue to be radically self-expressive in my thoughts and communications with people. Talking about the Burner stuff that we talk about to people who are not Burners is an interesting experience, and I think people are more receptive to it than we expect them to be.


Top photo by Chuck Revell, first-timer photos by Mia Quagliarello

About the author: Mia Quagliarello

Mia Quagliarello

Mia Quagliarello is a San Francisco-based 'Burning mom.' By day, she does curation, community and social media work at a startup; by night she's either working on her blog, Disco Nap, going out to see live music, or snuggling up with her two kids.

2 Comments on “GLC 2017: GLC First-Timers Jump Right In