Board Election- Evin Fritschle
As a first-time nominee to the Gateway Burners Board of Directors, I want to enthusiastically share with members of our community traits and qualifications I think I possess that would make me a good addition to the board. Whether I’m chosen or not, however, I plan to continue to put time, energy, effort and emotion into making our community (and events) something that embrace the 10 Principles of Burning Man and improve the day-to-day life of the community at large.
In this community, I am relatively new, having attended my first Burn in 2017. Since that time, I’ve thrown myself in head first, and I look forward to continuing to be a part of the weird, crazy, beautiful thing we have here.
This community has encouraged me to strive to be a better version of myself, every time I interact with any of its members. That means being open and honest; encouraging people to get involved to help make our community (and the communities we all live in) better places to be for everyone; and unifying friends, coworkers and neighbors into a collective force for good that is to be reckoned with.
As outlined in our bylaws, board members are expected to be able to communicate with fellow board members, ECs and the community at large; all the while doing so with decorum.
I feel that my background as a reporter, combined with an extroverted personality and a genuine interest in understanding this whole human condition that we’re all experiencing, means I’ll be able to excel at doing exactly that. At the very least, hopefully this statement serves as proof that I certainly am not Hemingway-esk in my use of words.
Humor (or failed attempt at humor) aside, the bylaws also say that board members should have at least three of the following skills: Event planning and/or fundraising experience; experience in administrative aspects of grant processes; a relationship with the local arts community; a relationship with the local burner community; a personal understanding of the 10 Principles; and experience with governance or upper level management, preferably with a volunteer organization.
I submit to the community that I am adept in all of those areas, and certainly strive to continue to improve in each of them. I’d like to outline my experience with each as follows:
Event Planning/Fund Raising Experience
Professionally I work in project management, predominantly in the IT/software development realms. As such, planning and coordinating events has been something I’ve been involved with for a number of years. I’ve found that my abilities to multi-task and be hyper organized have allowed me to exceed in a profession that I don’t yet have a life time of experience in.
I also have experience in helping organize GWB-related events, having been an Infrastructure volunteer for the Gateway Burn in 2017, an Infrastructure co-lead in 2018 and a theme camp lead in 2018. I also have helped out in other ways, including as a Sandman volunteer at Interfuse in 2018, and Gateway in 2018, and as a green dot ranger at Interfuse in 2018. I also volunteered at a number of related events including Fire & Ice, Compression, Decompression and Artica in 2017.
With regards to fundraising, I’ve helped out in a variety of ways over the years. Besides GWB, I also am active with another nonprofit, a local animal shelter, Gateway Pet Guardians. In addition to other duties detailed below, I help with event marketing and the creation of promotional materials (typically copywriting). In my personal life, I have a number of acquaintances either employed by or on the boards of local nonprofit organizations. This has given me indirect exposure to both fundraising efforts as well as events.
Grant Administrative Experience
As a Gateway Pet Guardians volunteer, I have worked as a grant writer and performed research for grant applications in the past. I can proudly say that as a part of that organization; and in part because of funding I was able to help the organization secure; we were able to help further reduce the stray and wandering animal counts in the Metro East St. Louis region.
I also submitted a grant of my own to Gateway Burners for art project for the 2018 Burn which was accepted and funded by the art grant committee.
Relationship with the Local Arts Community
Prior to working in IT project management, I was a professional newspaper reporter and photographer for almost a decade. Approximately half of that time was spent in the St. Louis metro area. I am a writer by trade, but no longer by profession.
Having spent my early childhood here, I also had the privilege to perform in local community theater. The pinnacle of my stage performing years (which ended in my childhood as well) involved being part of the children’s choir for the 1990 Muny performances of Jesus Christ Superstar. I went on to be active in choir throughout high school and college (which I attended out of state), and music is a huge part of my life. For fun, I minored in vocal performance in college as well.
I have personal connections and relationships with artists and musicians from around the region, and am no stranger to the various local venues and galleries. Art exists in our community, and I for one am glad I get to experience it, no matter where it might be; from Blank Space to the Shelton to SLAM; from Off Broadway to The Pageant to what will forever in my mind be called Riverport; and from a back porch in Fox Park to a small community garden in Dutchtown to Laumeier Sculpture Park.
Being a burner, we’re all artists in our own way. I didn’t see it in the same light, but someone noted that the approximately 30 colored “firefly” jar lanterns I constructed for the 2018 Gateway Burn could be considered art. That was meaningful and powerful to me, as I’ve never considered myself much of the kind of artist who created.
Relationship with the Local Burner Community
Compared to anyone else on this year’s ballot, I’m probably the newest and least experienced burner. But, since my first Burn in 2017, as I mentioned previously, I’ve thrown myself in to this community. With regards to official events or meetings (or those closely tied with the Burn community), I’ve attended: Gateway Burn 2017, Gateway Burn 2018, Interfuse 2018, Heartland Regional Safety Training 2018, Artica 2017, Decompression 2017, Compression 2018, and Fire & Ice 2018. I regularly attend weekly Meet & Greet events, and have done so for over a year. I also have been regularly attending monthly planning meetings since summer of last year.
I would say I can call several members of our current board friends, and the rest I can call acquaintances. But then again, labels are all arbitrary, and we welcome strangers Home each year and call them our family (and mean it). As I have gotten more involved with the community, however, I have come to know the event leads and coordinators for our Burn and other events, department leads for every department for Gateway Burn, and probably over a hundred other community members who give back by being inclusive, radically expressing themselves, participating, and contributing to the communal effort.
I consider myself thankful for having gotten to know each and every one of these people, because they’ve all helped me grow as a person.
As we all know, our community intersects and includes people from numerous other communities as well. Some of those communities which I consider myself to be a part of include the art and music community, the local roller hockey community, the acro-yoga community, the local kink community, the sex positive community, the polyamory community and more.
Personal Understanding of the 10 Principles
I remember before attending my first Burn, my partner at the time told me to look at the Principles and really try to view my first Burn experience as if these things guided most of what I might be witnessing. It was good advice.
Some of the Principles, to me, are no-brainers. As a kid, I was a cub scout. Leave no trace was something they taught us as we were still figuring out how to tie a square knot. The same goes with civic responsibility. There may be some issues with organizations like the scouts, but there are some good values they teach as well, and they have transitioned well into the rest of my life.
When I come to Burns (and in my default world life), I admittedly have some Principles that I tend to champion more than others. Radical inclusion, self-reliance and self-expression all top that list. I try to always welcome and respect new people, while still being myself. And for me, being myself means utilizing my own resources (mental, physical, emotional or otherwise). Immediacy also belongs up there, and if you know me and have seen me at any type of event, you know that I’m always in a “go” mode. I want to do that thing, I want to meet that person (if they’re up for it), and I want to figure out that emotional block that is somehow holding me back as a person.
Through volunteering my time with several organizations, I think I have learned to see communal effort as a way to create a better world, and the type of world I want to live in. I think the same applies to gifting, and it is something I typically do not with physical items but with acts of service. To help myself (and be self-reliant) feels good. To help a friend feels great. To help a stranger with no expectation of them somehow becoming a friend feels selfless and wonderful.
There are Principles I struggle with, however.
I live in a world where everything has a value and is transactional. I look at Burns themselves as a way to escape that. In the rest of my life, however, it is a hard concept for me to shake and it is something I continue to work on.
If anything, perhaps the most ironic part of this entire nomination process is that, of all the principles, the one I feel like I have the hardest time with is participation. And yet, here I am wanting to participate EVEN MORE in our community. Maybe what I’m hoping for is that you, as a community, will help enable me to further experience that sort of transformative change that I’m looking for.
Experience with Governance/Management
As a newspaper reporter, I worked with and reported on governmental agencies, boards, commissions, committees, chambers; you name it. I became way more familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order than I ever wanted to be. With that said, the rules and processes these groups use to conduct business exist for a reason, and I see advantages to them all, even if I know there are parts I’d do differently.
Prior to becoming a newspaper reporter, I also worked as an operations manager for a movie theater chain. In that role, I oversaw projection booth operations at 4 St. Louis area theaters. I was responsible for managing over 50 employees and coordinating schedules as well.
As an IT Project Manager, I sometimes directly oversee teams of software developers, business analysts and quality assurance testers. Other times in my career, I’ve simply helped coordinate things for those people, and clear hurdles so that they can do their jobs more efficiently.
On the volunteer side, my work as a co-lead means I’ve worked with the board directly to get things done. And, as a reporter, I reported on volunteer organizations (and their board meetings). This gave me a rich background in how these groups are organized and come together to get things done.