Sometimes it can seem like Mother Nature has it in for us at Burning Flipside—floods, falling trees, and fire ants. There’s only so much we can do about that. But when it comes to problematic interpersonal interactions, we have some options.
What kind of incidents are we talking about?
The Catalyst Collective board (CatCol or board) will hear and respond to incidents occurring at official CatCol-sponsored events as well as incidents at any other time or place that are a concern to community members.
What can I do about an incident?
In general, CatCol encourages community members to work things out on their own to each person’s satisfaction. If there’s a sound camp you think is too loud, ask them to turn it down. If there’s a boundary dispute with a neighboring theme camp, cooperate to resolve it and share space.
But there are some problems people can’t just work out on their own. And an outcome where one community member backs away from the community out of fear that a certain person may be there is not acceptable.
If you are having a disagreement or conflict during Flipside that you aren’t able to work out on your own or don’t feel comfortable addressing on your own, find a Ranger. Rangers circulate through Flipside for the duration of the event, and there’s almost always one at Safety HQ.
If you are the victim of a crime during the event and you feel that your safety is at risk or has already been violated, find a Ranger or other person with a 2-way radio and tell them “I need to talk to a Catalyst Collective board member now.” Safety HQ is always staffed with volunteers who can reach a CatCol member and you can wait there for them.
If you are the victim of a crime during the event, you also have the option of going directly to law enforcement, although the event organizers would appreciate a heads-up, and a CatCol member may be able to get law enforcement on the scene more quickly if you go through them.
You can, of course, avail yourself of whatever other resources are at your disposal, including friends, campmates, Sanctuary volunteers, etc.
If you are the victim of a crime outside the event and you are concerned that the perpetrator will be present at Flipside or other CatCol-sponsored events, contact the CatCol board.
And then there are actions by individuals or groups that are offensive to the community, or parts of the community, but are not criminal and do not target an individual. In cases like these, the community at large acting to solve the problem may be more effective.
How should I report an incident?
During Flipside, most interpersonal incidents should be reported to Rangers, who roam the event 24 hours a day and are stationed at Safety HQ. Serious incidents where personal safety is at risk or has been violated should be immediately reported to a CatCol member via anyone with a 2-way radio. A board member (usually the one on shift) will meet with you at the earliest opportunity to take your report orally. CatCol encourages people to report these incidents right away, but recognizes that doing so when traumatized can be difficult. Trained Rangers and Sanctuary volunteers can help.
Outside of Flipside, report directly to CatCol by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide an account of the incident with as much information as possible, along with whatever supporting documentation you might have (photographs, police reports, protective orders, statements from any witnesses, etc).
How will CatCol handle my report?
For serious incidents that happen during Flipside and that are reported during Flipside, the members of CatCol will typically meet to discuss the case and decide on a course of action by consensus. They will locate the subject of the report and will carry out that course of action. If something happens at Flipside, try to report it during Flipside if at all possible, in order to take advantage of the available organizational resources (Rangers, Sanctuary, PETs, CatCol members).
CatCol will sometimes have additional questions for the reporter. CatCol will often invite the reporter to meet in person or talk on the phone to talk through the details of the incident, and will stay in regular contact, typically with one CatCol member serving as the primary point of contact on the case.
CatCol will then get in touch with the subject of the report, and attempt to meet in person or talk on the phone with that person to hear their story. There have been situations where finding the subject of the report or setting up an appointment to talk to them has taken a long time.
CatCol will then deliberate and decide on a course of action.
What kind of actions will CatCol take?
CatCol will ask the reporter what outcome they hope for, and will use those wishes to guide the final decision.
CatCol does not have a lot of tools at its disposal for dealing with people who pose a threat to the community. The one people think of most often is “banning,” or as CatCol calls it, denial of entry. Denial of entry applies to Burning Flipside and all other CatCol-sponsored events, including Church Night, Town Hall, Safetyside, and Lloyd the Warehouse at all times, as this is private property.
Denial of entry can be for a fixed length of time (for example, three event-years), or indefinite (no fixed length of time) or permanent. Indefinite denial of entry will involve a minimum length of time, after which the subject of the report can seek re-entry after demonstrating an effort to make good.
CatCol can refuse to allow someone to volunteer in certain roles, or in any role, without denying them entry.
CatCol can have a serious talk with the subject of the report about how their behavior affected others and the community as a whole.
What should I do if I witness an incident?
If you directly witness an interpersonal incident that you think warrants reporting, encourage the individual involved to report it, or remind them that this is an option. But it is up them to decide if and when to report it. In the meantime, you can report it yourself.
If an interaction has left a community member in distress or injured, and they’re not being attended to or supported by others, we recommend that you:
- Ask if they are OK and offer to help,
- Encourage them to go / offer to escort them to 1) their camp and fellow campmates 2) Safety HQ where trained volunteers can assist.
- Basically, don’t leave someone alone and in distress unless that’s what they want. Sometimes, we just need some alone time to process things.
- If they are clearly physically injured and are refusing assistance, notify someone with a radio so that Safety volunteers can make an assessment.
If you witness what you believe is a crime against a community member—theft, assault, destruction of property, or trespassing by a gatecrasher (this puts the entire event at risk)—immediately report it directly to anyone with a radio.
You say that during the event, I should report incidents to Rangers. What if I need to make a report about a Ranger?
If you do not feel comfortable making a report about one Ranger to another Ranger, talk to a Sanctuary volunteer instead. They are located at Safety HQ, and are often circulating through the event as well. Alternatively, you can make a report to CatCol: locate any volunteer with a two-way radio and ask them to contact a CatCol board member for you.
You say that outside the event, I should report incidents to CatCol. What if I need to make a report about a CatCol board member?
Contact a different CatCol member directly; you can see a list of CatCol members and send any one of them a message individually via this page. If you do not feel comfortable approaching any CatCol member directly, have someone contact CatCol on your behalf.
What will CatCol not do?
CatCol will not act on secondhand reports alone: it needs a firsthand report to take action.
CatCol will not provide “ban lists” to other burn events or to the public.
CatCol will not regard posts or comments on social media as reports. If you hear or read of an incident on social media, please encourage the affected parties to contact us directly if they want CatCol involved in a resolution.
CatCol will not publicly discuss the actions that it took in a case, or that there was a case at all. The one exception is that if a party in the case discusses it publicly, CatCol may offer public clarifications.
CatCol does not have the power to exclude a person from the burner community at large, public spaces where the community gathers or private, non-sponsored community events (parties, private fundraisers, etc.).
CatCol does not intend for this process to be an alternative forum for justice. It does not have the power to make things right, repair damage or reverse trauma. CatCol’s goals for this process are to foster a safer environment for community members at sponsored events and Lloyd the Warehouse, limit CatCol’s liability and ensure the sustainability of Burning Flipside.
This is a living document and is likely to change over time. If you have any questions it didn’t answer, contact CatCol.
Last update: 9/21/2023