To our Apogaea family,
Over the past months, several threads in Apogaea’s Facebook group have catalyzed renewed conversations around racism, Radical Inclusion, diversity and consent within Colorado’s Burning Man community. Some of their contents were alarming, triggering, and threw into sharp relief our community’s need to bring these topics to the forefront of our identity as an event. Apogaea leadership, along with a group of devoted volunteer educators and activists, have collectively begun a deep dive into the ways we must improve Apogaea for our BIPOC burn community. Goals to better include, facilitate safer spaces for, truly represent and amplify BIPOC burner voices and bodies have too frequently been in the background when conceptualizing burner spaces in Colorado. Apogaea is a Burning Man regional event and supports the BM principles, especially Radical Inclusion. Yet as a global Burning Man family and here in Colorado, we have much to learn about privilege, Radical Inclusion, and how to change and grow our spaces to be truly inviting, inclusive, representative and safe for all participants. Our strongest efforts need to be, and will be, focused on nurturing anti-racism, consent and respect of all communities, both inside and outside the event. We commit to listening, learning, and leading by better example in the future. We hope the promises below, to you our family across the country, may be the first steps in a process of accountability, apology, growth, and repair. We stand in solidarity with communities marginalized by racism and unjust bias across all of Colorado, as participants and as event leadership. Our goal is to proceed with full accountability and transparency, by beginning this process with the following steps—
- We have created a new department within Ignition, specifically focused on issues of social equity, anti-racism and consent education at Apogaea. This includes a member of the existing Board of Directors to act as liaison to support this new department.
- Apogaea will now host quarterly Anti-Racism Public Forums, geared directly towards listening to and amplifying the experiences and platforms of BIPOC participants within the Colorado Burning Man Community. We have long-lacked a space for concerns and growth opportunities to be voiced, ideas to be shared, and accountability to be public. We are committed to changing this immediately. Apogaea will also host a new, collaborative space for educators and activists from the anti-racism/consent/mental health/accessibility sectors, who may be interested in joining these conversations at the city planning and policy development levels.
- The backbone of Apogaea is our volunteers! With this in mind, we have catalyzed internal audit conversations and surveying initiatives with all Ignition leads and core volunteers. We believe each department is unique, and want to hear their individual and diverse ideas for growth and improvement, both inside the city and in the default world.
- The Apogaea Board of Directors are formally committed to annual Implicit Bias Training, necessitated with appointment/reappointment to our positions. We will also continue monthly board meetings, with specific focus on DIE initiatives, and collaboration with Ignition’s new department and social equity educators.
- We know that art is a powerful way to bring people together. Apogaea is working to refocus our Placement and Art Grant outreaches and application processes, to advantage and amplify a more diverse and truly representative pool of Colorado artist voices. We are also reenvisioning our online spaces to amplify the ideas of all-too-often underrepresented communities, specifically: BIPOC, LGBTQIA, Neurodivergent and Burners with disabilities.
- The Board of Directors is committed to revisions of the Apogaea Code of Conduct, with specific focuses on removing any potential ambiguous language and tolerances for racist behaviors, common symbols and art. Radical Expression at Apogaea does not include features that trigger or exclude members of our community, and we are taking swift action to make these changes.
We know these commitments are just a first step, and we’d love to hear from you going forward. We encourage anyone with questions or interests in involvement to please contact our board liaison at [email protected], and keep a lookout for opportunities to participate in these upcoming community events.