Wed 5 Jun 2019

What should the role of fluffers be (and perhaps not be) during build and strike?

Lozmatron Public Seen by 250

This thread is carried over from a Facebook discussion, and I’ve tried my best to capture the main points (but I'm only human).

There is a second thread about feeding build, strike and fluffing crew - please make your comments on the relevant thread (I had high hopes of putting together the second thread this evening but this took me ages so will come back to it tomorrow/friday if someone else doesn't)

Best hopes

(taken from facebook thread - feel free to add your hopes)

  • That fluffers/fnuggers efforts are recognised as equal to other build and strike crew members.
  • That fluffers/fnuggers support strike team to achieve the goal of packing up site within the timeframe set by the site owner.
  • All crew members' wellbeing is considered and people aren't left totally burnt out at the end of build and/or strike.

Roles of fluffers

1. Offering supportive conversations / interactions

Alison commented on the wellbeing of the build and strike teams:
“Unfortunately strike is probably the most stressful part of the burn”

Claire has shared that her role in fluffing / fnugging has been:
"cheering you on, hugging you and listening to your stress." Jamie affirmed that she has found Claire's conversations "therapeutic af"

Anna De Buiscuit shared that she has participated in strike by:
“spen[ding] the day counselling numerous members who were struggling emotionally and psychologically with various issues they were struggling with.” And that she feels this is an “invisible service”.
She also share that she “spent the night before strike looking after a Burner who was so drunk he was not safe to be left alone.”

Alison and Claire agree that offering supportive interactions can lead to better decision making and is supportive to the wellbeing of build and strike crew.

Alison also shared that “while a gulp of water, a snack and a 5minute shoulder rub are much appreciated by the strike team at appropriate moments, this is different from taking hours off to have deep and meaningful conversations. Strike leaders aren't despots, and you'll find they are great at making sure their crew is looked after, but there is a job to be done. Fluffing is there to help make it happen. It's a matter of judgement and two-way communication (as much the responsibility of fluffing lead as strike lead!)”

Alison suggests that “sit-down heart to heart conversations should be done outside working time where reasonably possible.”

Claire says:
I think most people are sensible enough to realise that when people are halfway up a tree it's not productive to entice them down with Apple pie and the promise of a free hour of counselling.

Alison says
“Sometimes the best thing a fluffer can do is to remove themselves and as much MOOP as possible, and transfer themselves back to London to help with getting things into storage. There's always time to provide the shoulder to cry on when the job is done."

Claire asked / commented:
“Who is having all these hour long conversations? 😂 Honestly, I'm just wondering?

I walked around for hours both days bringing food and hugs and listening to what was needed so I could ask other people and make sure it happened. But that took five or ten minutes at the most other wise I would have been knackered and never gotten around.

Claire explained that longer conversations happened more in the evenings:
In the evening around the fire there were longer conversations sure, people talking about things that hadn't arrived, things that had arrived but weren't working.

2. Rehydrating and feeding people who are building and striking [note this is separate to conversation around feeding fluffing team which is in a separate thread]

Gulps of water and a snack (Alison)

3. Aligning with strike team aims
Alison says:
“we only have access to the glade for a very short period of time, we have very high standards when it comes to Leave No Trace, and we need to make sure the owner is happy. The logistics challenge of getting everything off site back to storage in proper order is huge. The strikers who organise all this do an amazing job of dealing with the stress after building for weeks and burning their hearts out, but strike is a matter of getting the job done in the immediacy.”

Alison also said:
“Fluffing must be incorporated into the same goals as strike - ie to get everything done ASAP. And if someone is about to pack up the kitchen, of course they get a meal. It's always good for fluffers to check in with strike lead as to what they think the fluffing requirements will be for the day. “

4. Generally offering a helping hand when needed

Holding a flashlight, helping to put up tents, helping Desanka to prep food / wash up, organise food donations, moop sweeping, helping to get other people on site to help with build/strike tasks.

How the role is perceived compared to other build/strike team members

Claire explained that not everyone can do the lifting and carrying etc. - "The amount of effort put in is not just determined by how much you give, but by how much of what you had available in the first place was given."

Loz said:
"Absolutely not everyone is starting from the same baseline of personal reserves - or has the same length of tether."

Hilda said: "At Nowhere, fluffers are an integral part of the build team, and therefore part of build and fed. I'm guessing this was the intention at Nest too, but got lost in translation perhaps." [note build/strike food related comments in another thread]

Alison shared her reflections:
"As a former fluffing lead (and still a regular fluffer) I'm with you on the importance of fluffing and the vital part they play during build and strike.

Paul shared:
“ As for cantina food and 'workers' at Nowhere it ultimately doesn't matter what work you're doing, as long as you are doing something for the event (Fried and want to be alone? Here do inventory checks. Don't know anybody? Go fluff, you'll meet EVERYONE and they'll be glad to see you. Have a hankering to get hot and dirty? Here's a rebar pounder, fix the fence.)”

Other reflections on what has happened in the past:

Alison shared –
“I know that, in the past, there was a communication breakdown where some of the Strike team decided to relax at the beach when the short-handed crew were frantically taking everything down - including the beach-goers tents - to meet the owner's deadline, and that really wasn't fair.”

"the point is, does the fluffing that's being provided effectively contribute to the quick completion of strike? If someone is giving food and moral support to someone else, is it happening while chilling for hours or are people talking while also eg packing up the kitchen or doing an inventory? Or after people have stopped for the night?

But if the strike lead feels the fluffing is preventing them from doing their job effectively, then they are perfectly entitled to let fluffers know how much on-site support they can expect. Including meals, and, let's face it, Exeter services are only 20 minutes drive away.
Yes, it's important to manage stress, and fluffers are brilliant for this.

[Other reflections shared regarding feeding fluffing crew will be in separate thread to keep discussions focused]

Suggestions for ways forward:

  1. Claire and Anna suggest having badges or something similar to identify fluffers.

  2. Will Rogers shared: Nowhere is/was making an attempt to re name 'build' to 'setup' because there was a misconception that only people physically building are participating in setting up of the event, which is 100% not true. (suggestion agreed with by Amanda, Lauren, Nathan and Lexy). Although Lachlan shared that he feels the issue is also much more complicated than this suggestion alone.

  3. Awareness for the need for emotional wellbeing support during strike (raised by Anna, Clare, Bess) - but maybe this should be disentangled from efficiency maximising fluffing and taken on by those who are called to do so in communication with other relevant orgs (strike co-ordination, welfare, fluffing)


Alison Forrester Wed 5 Jun 2019

I agree with both suggestions above. I also suggest that strike lead and fluffing lead meet up regularly so that priorities are understood and any particular support needed is communicated. Especially at what point the kitchen will be struck.


Gemma Smith Thu 6 Jun 2019

Quick question first.. Is everyone falling into old habits using the term "Fluffing" or is there a general unawareness that fluffing was rebranded to "Fnugging"?


J Thu 6 Jun 2019

I'm wondering if certain people are not aware of this distinction because they're doing self-appointed 'fluffing' rather than acting with the fnugging team in a co-ordinated way?


[deactivated account] Thu 6 Jun 2019

i think thats a great point J and am gonna catch up with Gemma early next week to see how her vols numbers worked out, my initial chat with her was they weren't great, so will be really interesting to see who was fnugging cos they were lovely and who was part of the Fnugging Team.


Bess Fri 7 Jun 2019

see my essay below, and also happy to chat about how strike went, fluffing etc wise


[deactivated account] Thu 6 Jun 2019

Its great to see so many people are engaged on improving our fnugging function. Gemma had a tough gig, coming into the role within just 2 months of the event starting. If we start looking at how we can improve what we do this far in advance, we are gonna rock in 2020! I really hope folks step up to the role (fnugging really was a tricky one to recruit for this year) and its great to have ideas, actually its fantastic to see these ideas... it's you that makes it happen.


Bess Fri 7 Jun 2019

Hey all!

First, apologies for my role in flaking out on fluffing. I was keen to take on this role and do it properly, and so stepped up to it in December. In April I needed to take stock of my finances, after a bunch of stuff had gone on, and it didn't look like I could afford the time off in May to attend Nest, particularly not build. I then got 9 days straight of 15hr days that I wasn't expecting at the start of may, so I was able to come after all, and attended fri-mon of build, went home for 3 days work, returned for thursday of event until the last people off site on strike. The 9 days straight of work meant I wasn't able to support hand-over to Gemma as I'd liked to have done either. I appreciate that my unpredictability left a lack of clarity in the fluffing team, and a big up to Gemma and Stephen for stepping in, and particularly to @mandcathearder for recruiting at short notice.

my mission statement for fluffing was
MISSION STATEMENT: to provide for the welfare of people working during build and strike in addition to meals at mealtimes, and folks on shift during event (on a DIY basis: providing a facility for shift leads to care for volunteers). keeping people hydrated, fed, and happy. perscribing a nap or a break if/as necessary. a looked after build is a happy build, a happy build is not a grumpy build, and no one wants to volunteer to help a grumpy build.

Fluffing is supporting people to be in a good physical state to work, but I think it's possible to also have an action oriented check in which is - do you know what you're doing? do you have the resources you need to do what you are doing (eg information, tools, direction)? do you have a plan that keeps you busy and useful until the next mealtime or meeting? do your plan and your energy levels match up?

During build I supported Stephen, but was deployed in a ladder & lighting team for nearly all the three and a half days I was there, I checked in with Gemma when she got to site.

During strike I took on fluffing from Monday morning. This looked like having a 5 litre container of refreshing delicious juice, a prosecco bottle of water, coca cola and b12 pills in a backpack, and going around giving people encouragement, asking when they were leaving, and encouraging them to do some communal strike work before they went, assuring them that if they did so then we would feed them after before they had to drive, answering queries about packing rubbish out etc - and also having a few quick chats and check ins giving appreciation for contributions during the event, and enthusiasm for next year. Having a positive feeling that strike is a great part of the event that sets us apart from commercial festivals, and is a moment when our community pulls together and steps up will get people back and volunteering in future events, rather than leaving feeling frustration and blame towards the community.

One useful bit of fluffing on tuesday morning involved when I had got up at 6:30 supporting someone who had been ill the previous day to go to bed for four hours sleep before contributing to strike. After they had slept they did a really useful days' work. This involved having a 15minute emotionally engaged, supportive conversation.
Another thing was making pans of hot lemon and ginger every evening of strike (a few people did this) to ward of tickling dry throats, and also provide an appealing low/no alcohol evening drink. Caring for others well-being doesn't only happen during duty hours.

Another useful bit of fluffing involved taking someone who was burnt out from projects during the event to have coffee and walk away from other people to diffuse their anger before it had a worse ripple effect on everyone's time and energy.

I do think there are issues with the current build culture. I do not think this should all be handled through the role of fluffing, I think that a culture of scheduled meetings after each meal (maybe before dinner rather than after) for everyone in build to check in with the whole group, would massively improve communication and thus emotional welllbeing and efficiency. Nowhere build (speaking from 2010) has a strict schedule because of the heat, but honestly, people having to start at a set time rather than being able to lie in if they chose to party outside of event time would be great for the group dynamics.

I do think that fluffing is undervalued by some people at the heart of nest. I was told during strike that my talents would be wasted on fluffing. I was asked before the event 'it's just fluffing, we don't really need it when we're not in the desert, do we?' (both by members of core team). The truth in this is that good burners don't need much fluffing, they do it to each other - a work team checks in with each other, carries water and snacks, monitors each others' wellbeing. So fluffing is needed to support everyone on build and strike to self-fluff - including a bit of teaching by example.

On a final note, I got a few hypomanic symptoms from Monday to Weds. I was able to ask for and recieve some really great support from a few trusted people during those days, and since the event. However, supporting people to do what is needed for their potentially fragile end of event mental health, is really incredibly important. It's possible that end of event emotional support and welfare should be acknowledged separately from fluffing, and that the conflation of this very important work with fluffing that is focussed on pack down and site restoration needs to be unpicked.

Glad to see this conversation happening.


Alice Sat 8 Jun 2019

I would really like Welfare to be present during Build and Strike as these can be quite emotionally testing and draining times. It would really help to have a dedicated quiet space to take some time out, as well as for receiving emotional support if needed. If Welfare leads are unable to spend the full 3 weeks on site (quite an ask) perhaps there could be separate leads for build/strike. This is a really important part of volunteer support but in my opinion shouldn't be conflated with fluffing which is more about the other (really good) approaches/ideas you mentioned - making sure people are feeling useful/know whats going on and what they can do/stay hydrated/fed etc


Alice Sat 8 Jun 2019

Also would provide the opportunity for people who want to offer emotional support during this time a set place to be, rather than doing this unnoticed or possibly too much, which can also lead to burnout


xavier dubruille Sat 8 Jun 2019

i quite like this idea actually, withoit speaking all the build and strike, having welfare present like 2-3 days before and open until tuesday afternoon would make sense for the argument cited; also in strike point of view, most of the welfare are going back to london anyway so instead of piling it under a tarp, having the tent taken care of almost last makes senses too.


xavier dubruille Fri 7 Jun 2019

just my two pence for the discussion : for the people who know me, i am a terible victim/target for the fluffing team (yeah i said it i prefer the term fluffing, it s more fun in the mouth!!) i refuse good food/sun cream/other delicacy, i m able to steal all the cookies in the meantime but i am a person focused on work,work,work; i can also have some issue when i see people slacking when a lot are overburned but i usually keep them to myself because i also understand soem people are not crazy enough to do what i can do or skillful but everybody got their own asset.
I had quite a good talk with someone on strike who explain to me the talk on the backstage about improving the well being of some volunteer which to be clearly honest i was blind, but like i say, strike is my shit to make sure it happens on time, some other people were really keen on it too (the kig, jackie, paul and me were overseeing all the process and it goes quite smoothly this year).
I concur also that strike is hard, you don treally have the reward of the event after but you have even more pressure to do it on time (because one day more on site can have repercussion on all the event) we got some bad apple in the last years and some miscomprehension /quiproquo but the idea of uniform would be a plus to understand that if some are not here lifting or wandering around, i s because they do stuff on the background which should sometimes stay in the background BUT as a striker, i would encourage to extend the fluffers role when Fluff is not a primordial emrgency as flying volunteer for simple tasks like grabbing some tools, or be a +1 when people are struggling in their limit of their ability of course and responsability.
there is a saying in the bar world "if you have nothing to do, you re doing a terrible job" it is also true in strike especially the first two days


Claire McAllen Fri 7 Jun 2019

Lauren this is an amazing consolidation, written in a clear and logical way reflecting everyone's points equally.

Thank you so much and well done for all the effort you put in.


Claire McAllen Fri 7 Jun 2019

I refer to helping out as fluffing. I do not like the word fnugging. Does it make any difference which word we use? Does it mark us out as who is really fluffing and who isn't?

Similarly writing 'self appointed' what connotations are being meant by that please.

All volunteers are self appointed, unless we have started giving out roles.

Chris and I both spoke to Jemma many times at the burn and she was well aware that we came to fluff.

She was also aware of the reasons we came late in the day to it.

It has been pointed out to me on Facebook that as a less able person I could choose to do roles in the background, computer based roles.

I would like to put it to you that I am frankly sick of being stuck in some role that able bodied people think is more suitable for me, not to mention the fact that no one actually asked me if I had the skills to do them.

At 50 years old i never learned computing at school and I have never had a job that required learning the skills so I am currently doing my best to learn them as quickly as possible.

However that said, I don't want to be stuck in a corner doing a job determined by others to be within my limitations and out of able bodied people's way.

If it was that I wanted to be a manual worker and I clearly didn't have the ability, or I was holding people back or causing a safety issue then I would understand the point that as I am with my disabilities this may not seem the best choice for me but I believe I do have a vital role that is with in my capabilities as a person with a disability.

Most roles at burns are self appointed, the whole ethos is 'see a need and fix it' .

With there being no welfare before or after strike there is a need.

Working within the roles of others to be of most use is also clearly important.


[deactivated account] Sun 9 Jun 2019

Org appointed roles (the roles themselves. Not the people), mean those roles can then have budget allocated to them from ticket sales so they can do their thing.

Self appointed roles, won't get budget.

E.g., due to budget, there's often no sense in 50 people doing a role that requires only 2. Budget is also both monetary and a cost on organisational management time.


Adrian Godwin Sat 8 Jun 2019

I've seen this word fnugging.

I have no idea what it means, or even how it's derived. Etymology seems to be about 25% fnarr and 75% hugging which would make it some sort of lecherous grabbing, but that doesn't seem to fit the context.

Could someone explain ?


[deactivated account] Sat 8 Jun 2019

Fnugging is Danish for Fluffing. The lead fnugger at the time Ali, liked it, I liked that it was different to fluffing (as is the practical offering). Thats pretty much how we started to use it.


[deactivated account] Sun 9 Jun 2019

Fluffing got removed as a term from Burning Man Org teams a few years ago, partly due to the word being linked to sexual connotations in the porn industry. To make it more inclusive.

Gate, perimeter and exodus use the term "Life support". Rangers use "Echelon". No idea what other departments use, as those are the two I volunteer with.


Adrian Godwin Mon 10 Jun 2019

That's terribly sad. Especially as it probably DOES derive from the porn, or at least the film industry. I thought the whole disgusting process of revising names to euphemisms in case someone took offence had died a well-deserved death outside of the mire of false virtue signalling

However, if it's still something people do, and despite being off-topic, I'd like to raise a strong objection to the term 'accessible' on the grounds that :

  1. It's a euphemism. Just another way to say ghetto. Offensive.
  2. It's a mind-numbingly stupid choice of word implying that everything else is inaccessible, which is far from true, even if you qualify it as disabled-accessible.
  3. It doesn't solve anything, just creates new communication problems. See 1.
  4. Just because it's in common use in the world doesn't make it good.

Note that I'm in no way objecting to the provision of services to help people with disabilities to be included in events. I made use of them myself this year and appreciated them hugely. It's just the illogical and unhelpful word that I hate. If you're a person that thinks using it is somehow a positive step for everyone, you're factually wrong. If you're using it because it's today's default description without thinking why, you're part of the problem.


Graeme McGregor Tue 18 Jun 2019

I understood that "accessible" is not only used in reference to disabled people, but also to accessibility for a range of other groups of people: people on low-incomes, people on the autistic spectrum, people with mental health problems, people of colour, and so on. It's a recognition that there are barriers to entry for different people and that those make the event less accessible to some people.

Out of interest, though, what term or terms would you prefer were used?


Adrian Godwin Wed 19 Jun 2019

Tricky question. I prefer a term that isn't a keyword or euphemism but is descriptive and understandable without knowing the secret.

So when someone asks me where I'm camping, I don't want to say 'in the accessible camping area'. Because, duh, it's all accessible to some degree or there wouldn't be anyone there.

I'm perfectly happy calling it the disabled camping area. Even though that's wrong too, because it's not the camping area that's disabled. At least it's meaningful and descriptive. If some people find that offensive, I'd like to hear why before trying to think put a new name , but all too often these alternatives are proposed by people who aren't actually affected and have no right to an opinion. I understand it's called 'virtue signalling' these days instead of 'politically correct' but that doesn't make it acceptable.

I would love to hear from other affected campers.


Adrian Godwin Wed 19 Jun 2019

I guess if the word is used for a range of groups, that makes the use of it as a description even more dangerous. Perhaps it needs qualifying : we could have a low-income accessible area, a poor-mobility area and a coloured accessible area to be sure we get the right one. Or maybe a venn-diagram-like area to get the right combination.

No, not serious., I thank you for your comment that, I think, allowed me to clarify my point with a reductio ad absurbam example.


Adrian Godwin Wed 19 Jun 2019

I guess the low-mobility area makes some sense, since I think that was the primary purpose of this year's site. Another way to handle it would be to set up a virtual camp with an arbitrary name. Wheelchair Warriors appeals to me.


Claire McAllen Sun 23 Jun 2019

Adrian, could you point me in the direction of information that explains how accessible is a derogatory term. I have done Internet searches and I can't find anything.


Adrian Godwin Mon 24 Jun 2019

I don't think it's generally derogatory yet. But for the people who like to be derogatory, any euphemism ends up that way.


Claire McAllen Tue 25 Jun 2019

I'm not sure we can limit a word because it might become derogatory or because people will use it in a derogatory way, otherwise we will be limiting all words.

I also don't see it as a euphemism, it is essentially exactly what it says it is, accessible.

Also you seem to claim knowledge that it means ghetto and that if people use it they are part of the problem.

I think constantly changing words because one person doesn't like the word is a problem.

If you don't like the word don't use it and don't label anything you own with it.

However, to make it seem as though there is an actual problem and then not back that up is not helping or giving better understanding.


Claire McAllen Sun 23 Jun 2019

I am confused about the issue of calling the camping area accessible. I thought the area was called accessible because it was flatter, close to many amenities such as the disability toilet and the theme camps.

The area was more accessible due to these features.

However much of the festival was not accessible to people with physical limitations, there were many hills that meant art and the temple were difficult to reach.

I would say these made them inaccessible.

Naming the camp 'wheelchair warriors' makes it sound firstly that it is for wheelchair users and secondly that people with disabilities are warriors which is itself a euphemism. . People with disabilities are people, they are no more or less warriors than any other person.

Some may self identity as a warrior and I have respect for their choice, some may say that are not warriors they face challenges just like everyone else and in that they are essentially just like anyone else.

Those who are blind, deaf, those with ambulatory disabilities could feel excluded by the name wheel chair warriors.

I was referring to the area as inclusion during the festival as I thought it was making it easier to be included, but to makes different areas for different inclusions would drawn attention to those people in a way that could feel very negative.

Also, people of colour and those on a low income don't necessarily want or need to be in a separate space from their friends and family.

The need for a space that makes facilities easier to access is important for people who struggle with hills and long distances to the toilets.

For instance free camping down to the theme camps was extremely difficult both ways. Even on the road.

There was only one toilet big enough for a wheel chair and that was in the accessibility area.


Adrian Godwin Mon 24 Jun 2019

All those things are true, no question.
I do think the camp was marked 'Accessible Camping Area' with the currently common meaning of 'accessible', rather than in just a general way.
Obviously any alternative name needs to be acceptable to all concerned. That was just my suggestion.
The comment about people of colour and low income was very tongue-in-cheek - meant to illustrate the unacceptability of such segregation rather than the slightest whiff of a serious suggestion.


Claire McAllen Tue 25 Jun 2019

So, I guess the other issue I want to address is the danger of a person with a disability talking on behalf of all people with disabilities and shutting down conversation by using 'buzz' phrases like 'you are part of the problem' or 'you don't get to speak on behalf of people with disabilities'.

This sets the dangerous possibility of a person using the platform to address their personal peavences and make it look as though this is for the benefit, or spoken on behalf of everyone else when that is not the case.

Also, many people can know a lot about disability or creating solutions for those who need better accessibility without being disabled and have the right to be heard even if they do not make the decisions such as carers, disability activists, disability solicitors, families supporting people with disabilities,people who design or sell mobility adaptations, engineers and allies.

Will such a small pool of people with disabilities if we ignore expert advice it could create greater hardship and would greatly limit what can be accomplished to make our burn accessible.

I will keep using the word accessible, because it isn't a euphemism and I get you don't like it and strangely decided to create facts to support that and then used buzz words to shut down conversation but to create another word would effectively be creating another euphemism.

This is everything I hate about so called 'empowerment' none of us are living in a vacuum and people abuse the power it gives them.

Good ideas can come from anywhere, let's not limit our pool of information to only the people with disabilities that come to the burn.


Claire McAllen Tue 25 Jun 2019

When it comes to using humour on a platform such as this tongue in cheek doesn't work unless everyone knows you and how you speak as there is no tone or facial expressions.

If you want to make a point then make it clearly.


Adrian Godwin Wed 26 Jun 2019

I still think it's a euphemism. Because the opposite, inaccessible, would naturally be taken to mean inaccessible to everyone, not to certain specific people.
Everywhere's inaccessible to SOMEONE. Even disabled toilets that need a RADAR key :)

But I'm very happy to read a strong and well-argued opposing opinion. This place is for debate and you're quite right to say that no one person should have their opinions go unchallenged.

respect :)


Claire McAllen Wed 26 Jun 2019



Mands Connolly Tue 2 Jul 2019

Hi All, after meeting with Gemma, who was leading fnugging this year and receiving some feedback from the build/event/strike team, I'd like to make a few points. Gemma stepped into the role with only 8 weeks til event and I'm very grateful she did a great job it pulling something together. Gemma recruited Stephen, who together received some amazing feedback from the folks creating and doing. Stephen was on site for build and strike. He was very helpful to the team and worked closely with Desanka around the food. Nathan was very clear to folks before and during that food was for those doing "event" tasks rather than "camp tasks" would be fed. None of the organisers were aware of anyone being turned down for food at any time. (That's just not the Desanka way of doing things fortunately.) If anyone did experience that, in the future the best thing would be for that person to let one of Desanka or the build leads know and we will ensure that who ever thought that, was set straight. Gemma organised Fnugging and Stephen got stuck in. We did have a few (5% of shifts) sign up for event fnugging during the event, unfortuntely due to the low numbers of take up in fnugging, we couldn't 'offer it during event. We did have one German fella ask if he could join fnugging during the event, but as I mentioned, we didn't have anywhere near the numbers to run it. That also means we didn't have the manpower to set up a "fnugging both" to create a break out space for vols. Fnugging is a support function for the team, providing snacks and drinks to those not near suppliers, helping move stuff, going on collection trips and generally trying to be useful and not get in anyone's way. (Basically what Alison said). We aren't therapists or a listening service. I would like to have a chat with Welfare Enough to see if they may be up for staying a few days for strike and if they think it's needed, but ultimately we are a volunteer run event and radical self reliance is perhaps a little more required than at other burns, as we just don't have the numbers. It's great that Clare and Anna did provide some emotional support to others, but they weren't in the fnugging team, fnuggers were visible by their red tabards. (Maybe next year we'll put a big F on it so its a bit more obvious, that may even help us get the vols up, ohh a uniform ;o). There has been some good suggestions on this thread and I have no doubt that next years fnugging link will review this, but I can't say this loudly enough; be the change you want. If you have ideas, join the team and make them happen, cos they won't happen if like this year, no one steps up to help. Its very likely we will do something with the teams this year to make each area less hiearchical, so I'm hoping that will make a difference in folks volunteering. Well my fingers are crossed. And thank you once again to Gemma and Stephen. All my digits are crossed for you to return next year to the role Gemma. (Stephen I love your idea of moving into another area and know you will be missed in fnugging!) Thanks all, Mands (Chief Cat Wrangler signing off, over and out.). @gemmasmith @stephenbrannigan


Claire McAllen Thu 4 Jul 2019

I have to be honest I'm a little confused. Chris and I turned up and spoke to Gemma, she stood in front of our tent and we told her we were there to help with fnugging.We explained why we had waited till the last minute to come and she seemed happy with that. .

We did much more than listening. We helped people find things they needed, got tools, stood holding things while they were being built, we carried messages from camp to camp and did shifts in Desanka kitchen.

You say this is about self reliance and volunteering and we took time off from work and got stuck in

However, even after offering our services we apparently weren't part of the team.

And to say we did 'some' emotional work is dismissive of the time and effort we put in .

The discussion I started on nest was about whether people who are helping with build, but who are not building, should be told they are not welcome to food and became something else entirely.

Burning ethos is about seeing a need and filling that need and dismissing other people efforts doesn't seem to fit well with that.

Next year we will be choosing to do something different with our time.


Claire McAllen Sun 7 Jul 2019

On the Nest page we are told to come to loomio to discuss how we feel, but what is the point of this if statements are made by org but issues related to those statements are not addressed.

I would also like to ask why it is that when I do welfare shifts (which I am trained to do from my degree in psychology and my experience working with people with mental health issues, not to mention welfare work at five different burns and the training I attended at each) the work I do has value, but when I do welfare outside of the time welfare is available the work I do is deemed to have no value.

This seems to follow the attitudes in the world that those who build something or create something have value (generally seen as more masculine traits although I don't agree with that), but those who do the emotional work (often seen as more feminine traits) have less value.

As we have always had welfare I felt that burns were more progressive, but now I'm left feeling that this isn't the case.

Brad pointed out that roles decided upon by the organisation have budgets allotted and require time management.

We took up neither money nor time management. No one at Nest was required to take care of us during the weekend of build and as we are part of Desanka, brought food for the kitchen which you all ate and did shifts in the kitchen, no one was required to take feed of us.

My post on the Nest page was to point out that we had witnessed discrimination happening and I had spoken to Desanka about what I had seen.

But instead we were attacked for our part in co creating, and yes I did say co creating, a burn doesn't just exist on the physical structures built, or the artwork displayed but the community and what each individual is prepared to bring to create cohesion and safety.

Why, when I ask about discrimination, am I attacked for the role I offered instead of being taken seriously on the issue I highlighted.

As far as I am aware all org are volunteers and everyone is encouraged to participate and teach using the skills they have.

Is the issue that unless we are under org control we are not part of the creation of the burn?

As I am receiving no answers from org and no feedback from Gemma as to why we were deemed to not be part of fnugging we are becoming more and more disallusioned with how Nest is behaving in comparison to the principles of burning


Gemma Smith Sun 7 Jul 2019

@mandsconnolly Thank you for the summary, I'd say that's a pretty neat round up of my Fnugging experience.

@clairemcallen We did speak, on many occasions, but unfortunately I don't at any point remember hearing you say that the emotional support you were offering was intended under the organised Fnugging function. This certainly didn't register with me at the burn. I'm sorry that I missed the opportunity, and that it's caused confusion throughout this discussion.


Claire McAllen Sun 7 Jul 2019

Jemma, I'm sorry as well. We spoke on many occasions, you were around our tent a lot. Our first conversation with you was to tell you we had come to help with fluffing.

You told us about how you had taken on the role and weren't really sure what you were doing. You also said no one had put down to help on the rota and we made it clear that we hadn't put our names on the rota because I wasnt sure that we were going to be able to come.

What did you think we meant when we said we didn't put our names on the rota but had turned up to help with fluffing?

I'm struggling to understand how this was misunderstood.

Chris and I offered to help you more than once. Asking you if you needed help with anything and you told us that you had put supplies on a table at the point and that you had told people to grab stuff from there.

We saw you coming back with supplies and asked if you needed help you said you didn't.

My recollection was that you didn't come across as too clear on what the role you were doing was.

It's very hard to support someone that isn't clear on what needs doing. Which is fine, the first time of doing anything is difficult.

However, even if you didn't use us you had our support, and we listened to you when you talked about that.

What else are we expected to do?

That is when we decided to help out with what ever needed doing.

The emotional support we offered was not instead of fluffing, it was a well as.

The only thing I refused to do in everything that was asked of me was to lift pallets. Other than that I did all the tasks that were asked of me.

When this issue first came about I asked Chris if he thought this might be a misunderstanding but he was very clear about all the times he offered you help.

You saw me clearly say many times on Facebook and on here for over a month that we had come for fluffing and offered our help, what I don't understand is if you disagreed or were unclear about this why didn't you say anything?

This confusion you talk about could have been cleared up a month ago.

Also, don't you think that if I have been saying this emphatically for a month you yourself might have misunderstood?

Again something that could have been cleared up with a conversation.


Mands Connolly Mon 8 Jul 2019

Can I ask we tie this thread up please. I don't think its helpful or productive. I think both myself and Gemma tried to respond unemotionally to what we felt where some challenges and also some concerning points. I don't want to talk about individuals on this thread. I am stepping back from Cat Wrangling this year, so please contact Vols@burningnest.co.uk to discuss volunteer rated issues and we can have a verbal conversation before I step down, if I have the mental capacity, which at the moment I don't have. thanks


Lozmatron Mon 8 Jul 2019

I’d really value someone re-summarising the context in relation to the question proposed.

So much of this is now off track... etymology and personal naming and blaming just doesnt need to come into it and isn’t really related to the question or (I don’t think) really leading us to constructive conversation.

I just don’t have time to offer this right now, but have set out a pretty banging framework for someone to use to help summarise this thread.

Are there any takers??


Adrian Godwin Mon 8 Jul 2019

I'm pretty sure most people know this already but IMHO supporting builders with tea, snacks and emotional support is essential to getting the best from them. And the best is needed : it's stressful and exhausting building stuff and solving the problems as you go. I've tended to do 'private' builds where the fluffing comes from the less technical members of our own team, but the requirements are just the same.

I absolutely believe fnuggers should be treated every bit as supportively as the builders they're supporting, or you won't get the builds done.

Who fnugs the fnuggers ?


Claire McAllen Mon 8 Jul 2019

Lauren brought this to loomio because this is the place where we are supposed to discuss issues relating to nest.

I agree this isn't productive, but it should be.

I also agree it went off topic, this is what I was trying to say.

You say that naming people is wrong yet this thread was opened with people being named. Me specifically .

Also, nest is divided into different roles and those roles play their part.

But you want to shut down the conversation on the very place we are meant to deal with issues..

And this is what I am seeing happening to other people who are saying the re are issues that need to be talked about at nest.

I hear people saying that nest org is run by volunteers and I respect that but that doesn't mean those volunteers are not responsible for their actions because they were not paid.

We are all responsible for our choices every day.


Amandasm Mon 8 Jul 2019

I don't see anyone wanting to shut down the conversation, but rather that it needs to be focused on solutions. What solutions do you suggest for making sure these miscommunications don't happen again? Some suggestions have already been put forward such as clarifying what tasks can be included in the role of fnugging, making sure others know who they are through bracelets or badges, better communication about which volunteers are part of the build kitchen service and why, having multiple types of fnugging roles (welfare type shifts as well as direct assistance to builders, etc). Do you have any other ideas to suggest a way forward?

It sucks that there was clearly misunderstanding between you and the fnugging lead, but can we focus on what could have been done differently to avoid that? So we can put it in place for next year?


Lozmatron Mon 8 Jul 2019

Honestly Claire if you’re interpreting me as trying to shut down the conversation - I give up.

You seem absolutely determined to misunderstand people.


Claire McAllen Mon 8 Jul 2019

My reply wasn't too you Lozmatron, it was to Mands. Connolly.

And saying that I am deliberately misunderstanding peoples points of view is a personal attack on me, which is partly what I am trying to express has happened.


Claire McAllen Mon 8 Jul 2019

Amandasm I have been contributing solutions all the way through this debate. Expressing the need to create space for the role Anna and I played through out the burn.

I am a solution based type of person so that when I see a need I fill it.

But I am asking here for respect for the effort people have made which is being dismissed.

My solution is that every ones efforts be respected and that co creating be seen as much more than the limited view it has right now