These are keys words in our Mission at PlayaSkool.
Recently, Michael Henderson, Martin Wolfgang Michlmayr, Steven Issley and I had the chance to participate in several conversations about PlayaSkool while we visited Ahau Tulum, Mexico over the 2016 New Years Eve celebrations. We were all fortunate to be a part of the special magic that Skooler David Graziano is creating in Tulum. We were joined by many Skoolers who over the years have been a part of this growing family and it was really special to be surrounded by people who's lives have been touched by what we do. More importantly, to hear the stories of how their experiences at Burning Man and PlayaSkool have helped them realize their dreams and goals in the real world --- which is very much WHY we do WHAT we do!
We were joined by other theme camp organizers, art car designers and enthusiasts, radically participatory burners, and many others. Through the course of a week, we were asked some really key questions and both Michael and I are really grateful to be able to have met with those who expressed real interest in knowing primarily the following: who we are and more importantly are not, what we do, who we serve and what we are all about.
Few people realize that PlayaSkool began when a large group of us were "priced out" of our seed camps. In order to decrease the number of people in these camps we had participated in, the organizers raised their dues dramatically in hopes to "cull out" those who didn't have the money to belong. A group of seven incredible leaders -- Michael Henderson, Nicole Schmidt, Scott Pack, Jay Rockliffe, Emre Özaltin, Annette Özaltin and myself banded together to create PlayaSkool and a platform to bring together our friends from around the world to share their experiences and bring those back to their communities --- to "bridge the gap" between the playa and the real world.
In the beginning, we didn't have our name. We called ourselves the Proletariats. The proletariat is a term for the class of wage-earners (especially industrial workers), in a capitalist society, whose only possession of significant material value is their labor-power (their ability to work); a member of such a class is a proletarian.
Our mechanism for sharing and giving back was a "school" where we are all teachers, students, and participants. It was actually Skooler Dr. Claire Thompson who came up with the name PlayaSkool. Of course, the boys wanted to have a shower camp . . . we girls wanted something of more substance and Annette, Nicky and I began discussing the basic concept of SHARING. We believed then that if we could frame the concept of shared experiences within the principles of Burning Man where everyone is invited, included, accepted and involved, we could create a powerful community OUTSIDE of Black Rock City --- our impact being focused outwardly --- much like the TED platform. PlayaSkool would be a place to invite our friends to come and SHARE with each other and the rest of Black Rock City. Our desire was to foster personal GROWth through these experiences of SHARING. We believe that when we GROW we are LEARNING and looking for meaning both inside our own experience but more importantly outside of Black Rock City back in our own communities. When we bring this experience back to the world, we help EVOLVE our lives and the lives of those around us.
Through the years, we too have EVOLVED as a community. But we have not strayed from what we believe: we are a global community of movers and shakers who believe that Black Rock City is place for us to meet and share our experiences with one and all with a goal of changing communities around the globe.
This past year, I personally had the experience of bringing the TEDx format to Morelia, Mexico. What is your story? What are you bringing back into your communities around the world Skoolers? What impact are you having out there? And how are you planning to share that when you come HOME to PlayaSkool and Black Rock City this year? How will you SHARE with others in order to help them LEARN from your experience so they can GROW and create their own?
There's a lot of talk about Plug and Play or Turn Key Camping and because of how we are perceived, we are pegged as a Plug & Play camp. Truth be told, I actually coined the term "Plug & Play" while openly participating in meetings with Harley Dubois, Burning Man founder. Part of our modis operendi is openness and I participated to SHARE in hopes of LEARNING AND GROWING AND EVOLVING. Throughout this process we continue to learn that people believe what they want to believe and for the record, we've never sought to provide tours or to create an experience for you --- YOU create your OWN experience at PlayaSkool. We invite our friends from around the globe that have something to SHARE with our community and the larger Burning Man community. We are not exclusive and seek to find a way for anyone interested to be a part of our community. It's that simple.
Our Mission is to foster positive change in the world . Whether that's through helping Skoolers with their TEDx programs in communities in Mexico or providing support for Skoolers in Greece helping aid Syrian refuges or providing assistance to women in Cambodia or helping to consolidate the global efforts for bringing awareness to issues like housing, water, or climate change to throwing great events in London, New York, Toronto, Mexico City, or wherever you Skoolers are having an impact --- PlayaSkool is a global change organization with proven impact.
Over the next few weeks I will talk more about this on our website: www.playaskool.com in in our blog. I encourage you to share your own stories of how you are having an impact and how you can share that at Burning Man with others.
It's important that SKOOLERS understand and be able to communicate our Mission. This is YOUR camp, YOU are PlayaSkool. We look forward to what you bring to Burning Man this year to SHARE.
In love and dust . . .