Zak Schwartz

Zak Schwartz

A half century of training BUMS in security

He heard of Eugene in 1973 through the informational app of the time (person-to-person conversation) and decided on a hitchhiking adventure from Santa Cruz, California, to find out more.

Forty-six years later, the 67-year-old Zak Schwartz is still a practicing psychologist with an office in Eugene, and he is still preaching the art of building and integrating intervention skills to the BUMs at Oregon Country Fair, and to all who will listen.

He is not slowing down and retiring anytime soon, either.

“I’m in the work-till-I-die program,” he says cheerfully.

Schwartz is lively when discussing all things OCF, but more so when the topic is merging security measures at the Fair with healthy relationship language. It is an ongoing process that includes training the Back Up Managers (BUMs) and working with the Lane County Sheriff’s department, and it has had increasing success in defusing potential flash points during the Fair’s annual three-day run.

“Insight is easy,” Schwartz likes to say. “Integrating is hard.”

Yet Schwartz hears his work paying off each year with the OCF staff speaking the language he has drilled into them. From one of three books Schwartz has authored on the subject (Changing Anger: A Respectful and Caring Approach to Reshaping Behavior), this includes four types of communication: information sharing and validation seeking; problem solving and help/advice seeking; negotiation; and boundary setting.

Schwartz also is the author of An Archangel Training Manual and Effective Humanistic Intervention. He touts all of this and more every Thursday on the radio with his program “The Art of Relating” (KEPW, 97.3 FM). 

He speaks fondly of the early years of the Fair, when OCF did not own land, when there was no amplification or electricity. “I enjoy my memory of that time,” says Schwartz, but he is not consumed by it. Always, there is the present and the layers of concern regarding security. Also, he’s having fun.

No, Schwartz is not slowing down.