There are some basic skills that you need to have for this role – you must be computer literate, of course, and a good communicator with both spoken and the written word. But there’s much more to the role than nuts and bolts.
A Regional Contact must have leadership skills and be committed to collaboration. Have you worked in a group before? Managed a team or a project? It is important that Regional Contacts be enthusiastic about working with and organizing people. This role is, at its very core, about collaborating with others. You must be the sort of person who is committed to collaboration – with co-regionals, with the participants in your area, and with regionals across the network and those in geographically adjacent areas. Sometimes, it’s important to view leadership as “followership”.
In many cases, especially as the Network grows, and particularly in urban areas, we’re asking Regionals to come aboard as members of a team of co-regionals. Our process for selection of these teams represents a very studied formula to create a balance of personality types, of thinkers and do-ers, of diverse segments of a community, and a range of leadership qualities. You may not end up working with your “best friends” in this role – our “chemistry equation” may put you in a team with people you have never met and put you in contact with members of very divergent local sub-communities. Even if you are the sole regional contact in a smaller area, a dedication to collaboration with a diverse variety of people and viewpoints is the only way you will meet success in this role.
As in any other situation where people work together, it’s not always easy, and challenges can arise. Most Regional Contacts would agree that sometimes one may be put into challenging situations requiring one to help facilitate your community through a problem or issue. More and more often, we look for Regional Contacts who posses the skills to be able to help mediate and facilitate in such situations virtually or in person. A cool head and a nondefensive attitude are integral tools to this role – one must keep them about oneself at all times, especially when things get rocky. Being able to remain impartial to situations and conflicts that might involve friends or peers is important. A good Regional Contact needs to be able to see the big picture and to help the others to do the same or to feel heard and find resolution. A Regional Contact will often be called upon to use active listening skills, and must be able to make everyone feel heard.
As a community leader, we specifically look for individuals who can speak about Burning Man culture and values, and do so in a way that inspires people towards shared vision. A good Regional Contact should be able to help a community consider a local regional mission. This always helps in moving and motivating a community towards projects beyond celebrations.
Being active in a local community and civic minded is another quality we appreciate. It’s great to want to produce the next big Regional event, but there is so much more that can be done to help bring people together and share the Burning Man spirit and ethos in the world. We seek to work with Regional Contacts who have an interest in bringing local burners together to engage in social or civic projects that benefit the local community, for example – the sort of interaction that reaches far beyond parties or events. Indeed, a regional does not need to attend every party or event in their area, but he or she should maintain an active awareness of the local social climate, nonetheless.
Being open to new ideas and concepts is another important quality. RC’s need to be able to listen to and hear information from various sources and to be open to working with the people or concepts present. Let’s not forget that Radical Inclusion is one of the Ten Principles, at the forefront of being a Regional Contact. Sometimes one will need to put personal preferences or opinions aside and help to do the right thing for the community. Remember, being an RC isn’t about you, it’s about community.
Other skills that are important to this role include good written and communications skills, an enthusiasm for working with people; an ability to articulate the values of Burning Man, and to offer insight and interpretation of how the Ten Principles and other Burning Man ethics can apply to the local community and the world around us.
This is not an all inclusive list of qualities we look for in Regional Contacts but hopefully this does the job of giving you a bit more info and understanding of the role. If you have other questions, feel free to get in touch with us via Regional Network Email