I'm sitting here at Dumont on Tuesday after the Halloween weekend thinking about the events of this last weekend. It was crazy and crowded. I survived. I had to temper my dune runs and be extra vigilant for others as I felt they weren't looking out for me. Many line changes were made out of caution. I found areas not as crowded to spend a little extra time at. I had fun. Saw friends I haven't seen in a long time. Like many others, things went on I didn't like and did my best to mitigate them somewhat but such is life when a barren wasteland turns into a city of 50,000 overnight. I can't control things so I don't. What I can do is speak out.
Online, people are upset. Many are outright angered by their experiences last weekend. So bad, that they start to "eat their young" as we say in the military. One example of this was some posts by members of Friends of Dumont Dunes which instead of maintaining a professional and constructive environment, lost control and allowed the primal instinct of angry people to be irrational and de-evolve into name calling and accusations of racism. I'm trying to be tame in my language describing this. All this was bad but not what made me desire to write this. The thing that stuck out was how fast they want to use the power of the government to enable change to fit what their perception of what Dumont should be like.
What I read was a threat and promise that changes are on the way. What? What change? How will this effect us the public? Have you tried anything else to effect change before going to the one entity that politically hates you? Yes, the Biden government. You may not like that opinion but its mine. Change the channel if your triggered. Why on earth ask the government to assist? I'm mind blown by this. The sad thing is I know some of these people. I risk friendships here but hopefully this is a wakeup call. Use your voice and get the community to help!
In one post they ask for ideas. This was the moment I realized all may not be lost. The one thing positive about the whole thing. I take that as a genuine call for help and our community needs to respond. With that said, I'm going to fire off a few thoughts and ideas. I welcome constructive ideas, innovation and community involvement. We need some.
There is much anger out there. I propose volunteers setup a concert in the dunes. Perhaps a few diverse music styles and food from the people that love to dune. Self policing family friendly. I'm not talking a giant event but maybe over by the ranger station. Folks bring a table, chair, some food. Giant potluck and provide an atmosphere were people can talk and get to know each other. FoDD (Friends of Dumont Dunes) can use this as an opportunity to speak on changes, ask for advice and generally talk to issues and ask for solutions offline, face to face. This provides familiarity and opportunity for friendship within our community. Obviously online isn't working. This can be 100% done by enthusiastic duners committed to their community. Just one thread on Dumontduneriders.com and gofundme.com can start the ball rolling.
Give thought to establishing volunteer Dumont goodwill Ambassadors. People that provide assistance to those broke down, a dependable cadre of help when needed armed with some basic first aid knowledge, kit, tow strap, cell phone or radios. Real first responders. Also with knowledge of the ecosystem and ability to educate duners not familiar with the area. Provide these volunteers with the latest news from FoDD to inform the public. Give them Tshirts, a hat and maybe a sticker for their ride so they can be identified. Most importantly, no power what so ever over others. They are not law enforcement or agents of an organization.
Every Sunday afternoon after a big weekend or a random off weekend, FoDD can provide perhaps a token gift to whoever carries out the most dune trash from the weekend. Or those that meet a certain amount of extra trash. Something as simple as a free cheeseburger from McDonalds. Maybe just recognition to those who do go the extra mile for their beloved dunes. People will respond, they love a challenge.
So there are three ideas to start with. Modify them, add to them, toss them. Your call. My only goal is to make you think. Also, you will hear all the negative types say none of these things will work. Ignore them. Read some posts from Elon Musk. Weather you love or hate him, he gets things done. We need innovative thinkers that can say " I like were you are going but what about this?"
Over the years as a Photographer for Sand Sports and other magazines, I met many people of all different backgrounds and races. I'm proud of that and the friendships made. I'm tired of online hatred. It's too easy to go negative when your not looking at the other guy. And please, government is never the answer. We can take care of ourselves, you don't need their permission. Just do what needs to be done. Get to know your fellow duners and above all, a little respect and civility goes a long way. We need to own our dunes. Think what the alternative would look like.