ONE SKY, ONE WORLD, and at least ONE KITE
How invited kite fliers can support kite event organisers better than we have been.
But first, just so as we don’t start taking ourselves too seriously; single line kite flying, like art, is an activity for those who are too useless, or too self indulging, to be able to contribute something more worthwhile to humankind and the planet- like myself.
But whatever our rationalisation, (providing enjoyment for others is a pretty common one), kite flying is what we do, and that it is trivial in the wider scheme of things is not a reason for doing it badly (there’s no doubt an apposite biblical quote about this, probably called the parable of the toilet attendant).
Kite festivals are the window through which the world sees us, and kite festival organisers (along with those who run kite making workshops), are the heroes; not us show-off kite fliers. But unfortunately, as for so many human activities, there seem to be more shirkers than workers amongst the kite fliers at kite events.
Something needs to be done about this.
At the Pasir Gudang event in Malaysia a few weeks ago, Robert Trepannier (definitely not a shirker) remarked that at around 2pm on Sunday (the main day) with 50,000- 100,000 eager spectators, there were just 8 kites flying (though under interrogation he confessed to two of these being trains). There were ( I recall) 136 international kite fliers there and wind -not pleasant mid-range steady wind, but not none, and not too much either. And it wasn’t during a tropical downpour like there had been the year before about this time of the day.
The excuses I heard were all the usual:
“I was taking a break for a bit.”
” Big kites upwind of us were making the wind too turbulent” (bull- the wind was cross-field).
” I’d broken my light wind kite and there wasn’t enough wind for the others”.
“There wasn’t any space to fly in” (like that 8 kites could completely occupy 5 hectares !)
The reality: Shirkers outnumbered workers there by more than 10/1.
And then at Satun (Thailand) a week later, when it was 40degrees and there was absolutely NO wind for an hour or so, I counted 43 kite fliers out on the field trying to get kites up; a reasonable effort, but still a 5/1 majority for the shirkers.
What’s the reason for this?
Are the shirkers incompetent kite fliers or just terminally lazy?- or have they come to believe that scoring invitations to international events is a reward for something (like telling lies about how many kites they will fly maybe)? Well, if this is how you think it works, I have news for you; it’s actually an employment contract.
This is what everybody should agree to before accepting a kite festival invitation:
To keep at least one kite flying at all times during the hours of the event.
Even if it’s too hot or too cold, or if there’s too much wind or not enough,
Or if it’s too sunny or raining, or if someone else is flying in the space I want:
And when I don’t have any kites up, I’ll be trying to get one launched,
and won’t sit on my backside, go for lunch, or cruise around gossiping until I have.
In fact it’s especially when conditions are not ideal that real effort is needed; kite events do not need fair weather fliers (those who bring their kites out only when conditions are perfect -and then complain loudly that the fliers who have endured through all the bad patches are now hogging the sky).
It’s not a lot to ask; but if every invited kite flier could just manage to keep one kite up, at most events there’d be at least twice as many kites in the sky as what we usually now see.
There’s plenty of time for eating, resting, and socialising while kites are flying- or after hours if the wind is particularly uncooperative.
Personally, the only exemption I’d allow would be for those doing kite making workshops.
But of course, there might be kitefliers who would game this pledge by flying something small, boring, and invisibly high (I’m specifically NOT referring to Phil Broder here) – but there are people who will abuse hospitality in every field of human endeavour- and if event organisers would show a little more fortitude, they wouldn’t get a second chance, and our trivial, irrelevant, but wonderful world of kites would be a noticeably better place.
Ashburton New Zealand
April 1 ’13.
Comments from the author:
With “The Pledge” I’ve been pretty much the mouthpiece for various event organisers. Their privately expressed views all have a common line: “The more we do for these people (kite fliers) by way of travel, accomodation and entertainment, the less kites there seem to be in the air. What do we have to do to get them to do their job?” Some of them are close to giving up- and historically there are some event organisers who have pulled out for precisely this reason.
The tragedy, to my view, is that these same event organisers appear to be unable to set standards that must be met as a minimum condition for invitations.
When challenged on this, they say that they don’t want to get a reputation for being unwelcoming or difficult. They see themselves as being in some sort of host/guest relationship I think- which is admittedly a rather core human program. But so is abusing hospitality.
And it is indeed an issue that needs to be rammed home to kite fliers who go to public events.
Without these windows to the world, kite flying will have much less influence, which I would regard as regrettable because kiteflying is one of the very few shared and binding experiences that easily crosses age, gender, language, cultural and relative wealth barriers.
Nor do I buy the argument (that I’ve received many versions of in the last week), ‘If I pay my own way I can fly, or not, when I like”. When an attorney is working pro bono, are they then justified in doing less than their best? In your sport’s team’s area finals, is it OK to slack because you’re not being paid?
I’m a slacker sometimes, no exemplar (can I use long Italian lunches as an excuse?) , but one distinction I never make is money. At local events when there’s zero support, I fly just as hard- and just keeping one kite up?- this is a laughably inadequate minimim for anyone claiming to be a kite flier.
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