Bringin’ It to Bonnaroo: Stuff is Happening

Notable quotes from the morning meeting:

  • Carmen to Smoke Blower: “Do you have a shirt that is not nudist related sir?”
  • Marian to the group regarding the fruity moonshine in jars from the back of Cowboy Bill’s truck: “I had a church sip yesterday and got buzzed.”
  • Ray Posado to the group: “No one wins with shirt-cocking.”
  • Bumper sticker advice to shirt-cockers: “If shirt, then pants.”
  • How we should behave at Bonnaroo whilst on duty: “Wedding rules apply.
  • Regarding the schedule for today: “If we don’t move the shade structures at least two more times I’ll be really disappointed.”
Beautiful Meghan
Beautiful Meghan

It was a busy day at the Bring It! camp. We got up at dawn and went to breakfast, then met as a group at 7:30. I love the morning meetings when witty repartee is flying around like bullets ricocheting inside a metal building. We made it through with hardly a scratch and volunteered for work crews as the camp layout was finally finalized.


A New York Minute

What better spot to stop off after a visit to Playa del Fuego than Manhattan and the Five Burroughs for a few days? This was an action-packed, blink-of-the-eye visit to NY.

Have you heard of Governors Island? It’s a little isle on the Hudson that used to belong to the military and government. It boasts two different forts from the war of 1812 as well as military quarters for the officers stationed there. After 9/11, President Bush sold the island to NY for $1. It now hosts a slew of cultural and temporary events and things are currently ramping up there for Summer 2008. (more…)

Playa del Fuego!

Perhaps you recall an entry made last July that paid a visit to Assateague Island, the birthplace of Playa del Fuego. Welcome back dear readers to a visit to the actual PDF event.

PDF occurs twice a year, once in the spring and again in October. It’s held outside of Odessa, DE on land owned and operated by the DE chapter of the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club. It’s a special treat to be granted the use of their space on Memorial Day Weekend. (more…)

Bringin’ It to Bonnaroo: Gittin’ Ready

Tennessee is definitely different than Nevada.  Cases in point:
• It’s humid.
• All y’all have an accent.
• The landscape is lush and green and flat and far.
• People make the distinction between Wal-Mart and Super Wal-Mart.
• You can get wine and other alcohol but not beer at the liquor stores, and beer but not wine or other alcohol at the grocery stores.

Playground hanging the Bring It! banner

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival takes place in Manchester, Tennessee on a vast grassy flatland near corn crops and ranch houses.  Vendors and infrastructure are everywhere with ENORMOUS stages punctuating the site like scattered skyscrapers in a village of parks and tents.  It’s early in the week, so work crews and volunteers are wildly busy getting ready and golf carts are zipping around like blurry flashes out of the corner of your eye.  You can feel the energy building toward the opening of the gates Thursday morning. (more…)

Burning in Taiwan!

I want to tell you a little story. For the past few years I have hosted flame effects classes here in SF and several other cities including New York and now as far as Taiwan. One of the most amazing things that I have seen after these classes is the reinterpretation of the things that I showed and the practices that I have promoted. It is often the case that the following year after these classes that I see my students on the playa with flame effects that they have made. Sometimes there effects cross into areas that I had never even thought of and I can’t help but to be impressed at their use of the practices and principles that I taught and the new and exiting directions that their pieces have taken.

Here at Burning Man we have had these kinds of moments as well with such things as the regionals, Burners Without Borders and now Black Rock Solar. Well I would like to tell you about one more that I have just stumbled across. I was invited to go to Taiwan to a place called the Dream Community through the Flaming Lotus Girls to help them incorporate flame effects into some parade floats that they were crating. As I prepared to go I assumed that this “Dream Community” was perhaps a warehouse or collective with a few artists like other communities I have visited before. When I arrived I met a gentleman named Gordon Tsai.

Gordon and Dave X
Gordon and Dave X

Apparently Gordon traveled to Seattle to the Fremont artists community 8 years ago as well as Burning Man 4 years ago and reinterpreted the concept of “radical participation” to fit his own dream. When I arrived I found a community that covered over 6 square city blocks including workshop’s residential apartment blocks, a café, small factories a theater, offices etc. There are over 400 residential units on site with an average cost of $250,000 US and an average of 4 tenants per unit. The requirements of the sale or lease of these requires that the families must participate in the arts in such ways as helping to craft parade floats or learning Samba or Brazilian dance. Gordon has told me that the units are selling like hot cakes even though they are over the average cost of similar units in the area. Gordon also predicts the entire community will be paid off in full within 2 years. The income from these properties is used to fund a number of great programs; among them are some that really stuck out for me.


Bonnaroo, Baby!

Burning Man is headed to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee next week to participate in the 7-year old event as Bring It! an amalgamation of Burners Without Borders, Burning Man Regional Network, Black Rock Solar, Burning Man Earth Guardians, and the Black Rock Arts Foundation. The rock-star fusion of outreach organizations and non-profits is aimed at urging Bonnaroo attendees to get involved by bringing their talent, ideas, and resources to the world at large and especially to their own communities.

Our group is 23 strong and we’ll be on site for the duration of the festival talking to people about things like building community, advancing the arts, gifting alternative energy, aiding disaster relief, and greening the planet.  We’ll be asking about their ideas as well and finding out what makes them tick.  There will be 80,000 to 90,000 people at Bonnaroo, and most of them will never make it to Black Rock City, so we’re going to bring Burning Man culture to them.

One of our goals is to expose Bonnaroo attendees to new ideas about radical self-reliance, uncompromising self-expression, immediate participation, and unlimited inclusion.  Whether it’s conservation, adaptation, experimentation, or transformation, individuals have what it takes to Bring It! and we want to inspire them at Bonnaroo to be their badass selves like we’ve all been inspired at Burning Man.

*** June 21st and 22nd 2008 is the worldwide Bring It! Weekend.  Regional groups and individuals around the world will be working in their communities for a day of giving back to an organization or area that could use some TLC. Take the initiative here:

– Marnee Benson

Bringin’ It: Bonnaroo 2008

Bringin’ it to Tennessee
Grass-Roots Activism and Interactive Art at Bonnaroo

San Francisco, CA – June 3, 2008 – Like the Bat Signal flashing across the night sky of Gotham, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee (June 12-15, 2008) will be lit up with the call of Bring It! Conceived and developed to support and promote community and social activism, Bring It! will leverage the dedication and creativity of Burners Without Borders (BWB), the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF), Earth Guardians/Leave No Trace (LNT), Black Rock Solar (BRS) and the Burning Man Regional Network. Setting up an interactive “theme camp” at the 90,000 person Bonnaroo event will engage and inform festival participants about the potential of grass-roots activism to improve their communities. By supporting these connections with nationwide, regional Bring It! events over the weekend of the summer solstice (June 21-22, 2008), participants, as well as friends, family and colleagues outside the existing Burning Man community will be engaged and empowered to bring change home.

Russ Bennett, Creative Director of the Bonnaroo event, visited Burning Man in 2004. Following the event he sought out members of BRAF in an effort to bring some of the flavor of Burning Man to the next Bonnaroo festival. They changed the name of their event to include the “Music and Arts Festival” moniker and worked to instill some of the artistic and environmentally conscious elements from Black Rock City and other inspirational events around the world. Part of that transformation (as it often does) involved fire, in this case personified by Burning Man fire and performing artist Charlie Smith. Charlie, a veteran Burner, agreed to bring some of his fire art and cabaret performers to the Bonnaroo event for the first time in 2005. For 2008, Charlie will be organizing the Art of Such N Such Theme Camp at Bonnaroo.

The Bring It! theme camp will be adjacent to the Art of Such N Such and the two camps will share art and support each other as an example of the spirit of cooperation and self-reliance that defines Burning Man participants. Additionally the Bring It! camp will engage Bonnaroo spectators with an eye towards turning them into participants. An abridged version of Putt-Putt Playa’s mini-golf course, a “Hug Deli,” solar activated games, a video screening area and other interactive elements will provide a platform for Bring It! staff to promote the solstice weekend events around the country and inform participants about the whens, wheres and hows of getting involved in their local community event. As with all Burning Man-inspired events, Bring It! organizers in the Burning Man Regional Network will be practicing the principle of Radical Inclusion and engaging anyone with skills to help create a successful event.

Visit and get yourself to your local solstice event with a talent to teach, an idea to improve, a petition to sign, paint to enliven, art to beautify, food to sustain, a joke to bring levity, whatever it is…Bring It!…And if you can’t make it that weekend (or you’re so inspired you want to do it again!) we encourage you to create your own local event; volunteer for an organization, clean up a park, teach people a new skill…just Bring It! Afterwards come back to the BWB site and witness the change you saw…tell us what you did, what you’d like to do and how the event and ideas inspired you!  [para_end]