Bonfire is an insular culture, a tight-knit family grinding away against extraordinary challenges. Each Aggie quickly learns to look only to each other and within their self for affirmation. Resilience is found in those places, not vapid, fleeting moments of spotlight.
As such, at Bonfire, "Hollywood" is still a bad word. One of the worst, in fact. "Hollywood" is me-orientation, self centrism, self importance. And a camera is the embodiment of that taboo. I steadfastly agree with and admire (and once participated in) Bonfire's "Hollywood" disdain.
Now, that might sound strange coming from the photographer who is following their every move. (It probably sounds stranger still to those that got a taste of how I felt about cameras at my fires.) But color me a hypocrite, I suppose. There are yet Aggies who do not know the sameness that exists in today's Bonfire, and I use my camera to remedy that.
I am in awe of these Aggies' work, and of each of them as people. Today, they are Bonfire-motivated young men and women - to each other, friends and family. Tomorrow, they will be mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, bosses and employees, leaders, workers, teachers, pioneers, officers, soldiers. On every path, they will draw on this singular experience for the benefit of all who will come to count on them. Years down the road, in times of certainty or of doubt, I'd like them to be able to return to this place, to recall the strength and family that they found here.
And I'd hope that those who were shaped by Bonfires past might see an experience everything like their own. Maybe they'll be reminded a bit of that youthful grit as they face grown-up challenges big and small. Maybe they'll be moved to help the current students through this experience for which they have assumed every logistical, operational, and financial responsibility.
At this point, I could share more photos. Stack is drawing to a close with Push beginning tonight and there is much from this year that hasn't been posted. Instead, I'd like to take this opportunity to invite you to see it for yourself in person. The Student Bonfire website at studentbonfire.com has a map to Stack Site right on the front page. Come out. Watch some outstanding Aggies at work.
And make plans to be there November 26 for Burn Night.
Gig 'em. Build the Hell Outta Bonfire.