I'm often asked why we fought so hard to make Mosaic an all-ages event, and it only takes remembering my mother to realize how important children are to the sustainability and health of our community.
Despite it being Mother’s Day, not a day goes by without reflecting all the valuable lessons my mom taught me right up until her passing just over two years ago. I’m forever grateful because she not only allowed me to become who I am right now, but actively encouraged it. She taught me that if I felt strongly enough about something, to stand by it with all my conviction as she did with her own beliefs. Whenever I’m in great need for strength and inspiration, I need to look no further than the beautiful woman who gave me life and raised me.
At Burning Man, the greeters mantra is “Welcome Home!” When I first heard those words, I took it to mean “Welcome Home, misfit!” It was an island of misfits in the middle of the nowhere. My people were there. My weirdos!
At Burning Man, everything you can imagine is there, and if it isn’t, it will show up years later. I ran into people in their 70’s and 80’s making art, gifting food, offering water, talking deep philosophy. I also found a village called Kidsville right next to the Alternative Energy Zone. After years of exposure to Burning Man, these children will grow up to be the future artists, greeters, rangers, First Aid workers, city builders, event planners, and event producers.
We’ve heard every argument why underage children shouldn’t attend burns, and addressed them all.
It typically comes down to Radical Inclusion vs. Civic Responsibility, instead of Civically Responsible Radical Inclusion. You can’t cherry pick one principle over another, they’re all supposed to be played in harmony.
Radical inclusion doesn't mean "everyone can go. "It means "non-discriminatory access for everyone, regardless of your skin color, sexual orientation, regional affiliation, religion, race, or age."
Civic Responsibly simply means basic infrastructure is put into place (portable toilets, event insurance, parking plans, emergency response protocols, etc.) Civic Responsibility does not mean “we are protecting everyone from danger!”
There is danger everywhere. It is the right of the parent to choose what they expose their children to, and the parent's responsibility to protect their children if they perceive danger.
Burning Man is a cultural movement, not an event. You can't change culture without breaking the traditionally accepted norms of what you expose your children to. You don't have to bring your children, but we shouldn't exclude parents who wish to.
Children will not be the future greeters, rangers, medics, gate people, and event holders if they are not included.
After last year’s Mosaic event, I saw some online discussion about the gifts we received at the event which “melted our souls.” It got me thinking of the most touching moment I had while attending Mosaic 2014. It was during the Saturday night burn, but wasn't the burn itself....it was this woman standing in front of me holding her baby.
The woman was facing forward, fascinated by the huge burning effigy, but her baby was held over her shoulder, facing me...fascinated by the little glowing lights I had around my neck. I grabbed my lights and jiggled them which got the baby's attention. The baby looked up at me and smiled. I hit one of my light controller buttons making them blink, and the baby started laughing. Everyone was watching this gigantic beautiful art piece burn to the ground, but to this baby, there was nothing more fascinating than these little glowing lights.
If that mother couldn't bring her baby, neither would have come, and I never would have had that beautiful simple sensation of entertaining the mind of a child with my little glowy $5 light string, making us both laugh, which made the mother laugh, joining everyone's laughter over the collective joyous experience.
These endlessly curious little versions of ourselves will soon replace us. Curiousness, fascination by everything, wonderment about how so many strange things are possible, how are they done, how can we make more, do more, build more, and BE more? I was moved to tears because I saw myself, asking "what is THAT??"
I mean, really, I want to know, what IS that?
That is a mother, with her child, and they're standing with you at a burn, that's what it is. The burn incinerated the childish, and nourished the childlike. Our community fought hard for that gift. Mosaic Experiment will continue to protect it.