Here is the latest installment of our behind-the-scenes series on Kiwiburn volunteers, and it is our pleasure to introduce you to Jo, who heads up the Conduct Committee and Site Management.
The Conduct Committee was set up in late 2017 to provide a safe and robust process for dealing with incidents and misconduct within the community, and to provide support, resources and mediation where appropriate. Site Management oversees the running of the festival, and handles incidents and any “people-related” situations that arise during the festival period.
Jo has been to five Kiwiburns and has done a bit of a lot; she’s been on build crews for Temple, Effigy and another large art piece, the Helping Hand. She’s volunteered with Paddock Relief (now Rangers), helped out at Gate, and devoted an unreasonable amount of the last Kiwiburn to Site Management. Jo is also one of the team that brought the Changing Womb, a fancy-dress-gifting art installation to the Paddock.
Here’s a little more about Jo and what she gets up to:
Firstly, what do your roles involve?
The Conduct Committee had to be built from scratch, starting with the long process of writing policy and processes, and I feel like we’re finally there now. As the lead, I handle the bulk of the admin and communications with ExCom, of which there is plenty. The job’s definitely made harder by the fact that there are currently only two of us on the CC, though we have recently received applications from some excellent candidates so we are looking forward to welcoming a couple more people onto the team. Andy, my fellow CC member, is an amazing support, and we decide between us who will take on what. We catch up, debrief, and make all decisions together. For more information about the CC, go to the Kiwiburn website.
Site Management is a very demanding and stressful role, but I do love it. It requires a calm head, strong boundaries and excellent de-escalation skills. Incidents large and small happen constantly throughout the event, so you’re always kept busy. I’ve found Site Management and the Conduct Committee to be highly complementary roles, as it gives me first-hand knowledge of incidents I’ll be later following up on, and I’ve developed a system for documenting incidents to ensure that all the crucial information is recorded.
How do you spend your time when you are not doing things related to Kiwiburn?
I’m a Counsellor by profession (which serves me very well in both my Kiwiburn roles), and at the moment it feels like everything I do when I’m not working is done in the name of self-care. I love to create; to build, upcycle, make costumes, art on things. I love going to gigs and dancing. I love beach and nature walks, keeping fit, and also just being really lazy and reading in bed.
Being involved with Kiwiburn can take a lot of energy. How do you re-energise?
As above, it’s all about the self-care. It’s also really important to know when I need to just put my Kiwiburn work aside and just do the bare minimum for a while. Also I get a lot of strength and motivation from connecting with the other amazing humans who also put in so much time and energy to Kiwiburn.
Do you have a favourite burn outfit?
Fancy dress is like my reason for being at festivals! Not really, but kinda. Each year there’s a new favourite.
What skills have you learned by being involved with Kiwiburn?
My roles have definitely been tremendous in terms of my personal and professional development, and they are a really solid addition to my CV. I’ve gained so much insight and breadth of experience and confidence in my abilities. It also feels really amazing to be able to contribute my skills to the community in such a meaningful way.
What has been your favourite moment at a Burn?
There are so many, but I’ll give two; one was being on the Effigy build crew, doing the actual build. We just had so much raucous fun while also smashing out awesome work. The second was the following year when my wifies and I had a three-way wifey wedding; that such was a joyfully obnoxious day!
What are you most excited about for Kiwiburn 2020?
We’ve got a really solid team of support service crews this year, and we had such a productive summit recently. It feels so good knowing that we’re all on the same page and there’s a lot of mutual trust and respect. I think it’s going to make a huge difference to the safety of our participants and the vibe of the festival as a whole.