This Post contributed by Ranger Carousel
Black Rock City’s all-volunteer Rangers sometimes head to incidents based on calls they get on the radio, but in my years as a Ranger, I’ve heard about far more participants who have expressed a need from shout-outs of this type.
Rangers are Burners, volunteer community members who give their spare time and energy at Burning Man (and many, many regionals) to help keep the citizens of Black Rock City safe. The skill involved in properly “rangering” is astounding. With little more than the right words said at the right time, most tense situations that Rangers encounter get de-escalated and the burners involved end up taking a breath and then going back out to have fun in the city.
Rangers have many tools at their disposal. Every Ranger is trained in de-escalation and mediation techniques, as well as how to tell when they need to call for back-up if they are out of their depth. Green Dot Rangers have special training to deal with mental health issues in the field and to sit with participants in need of longer-term care in the quiet area that Rangers call Sanctuary. Intercept is a group of specially trained Rangers who help stop and educate people who are driving on the playa in ways that could be dangerous to other participants.
There are Rangers who have special training and skills in dealing with dangerous art and large fires, Rangers who specialize in helping get the right tools and assistance to other Rangers in the field, Rangers who help the police to understand the community standards and perspectives of burners. All of these skills and many more, including medical, fire, and emergency mental health services are just a radio call away for a Ranger in the field.
In a sea of chaos, Rangers are there at the very crest of the wave, letting participants have whatever experience they seek, but being there in case someone is needed to help pick up the pieces. They are not police, not security, but they are part of the very heart of the Burning Man community, as they are just burners who are committed to helping other burners have a great time.
(Editor’s note: This story was prepared by Ranger Carousel, who happens to be my oldest son. I’m extremely proud of the work he does as a Black Rock Ranger and would encourage everyone reading this post to give all the Rangers due appreciation for their volunteer effort. You might also consider volunteering your services as a Ranger. You can never tell how the value of your experience can be put into service at Burning Man.)