The first drink I ever legally bought myself was a $7 airplane beer on the flight to Burning Man 2008. It was my first time. The theme was The American Dream, and as far as I could tell, this was it. Happy 21st birthday to me.
Diesel, my lover and associate, was in the seat beside me. She had more than something to do with getting me into this. We shared a blood brother, Harry; he and I played in a band together, and he was coming, too. There was also Val, AKA Human, another friend of theirs, whom I was just getting to know. But Vivid was the one who brought this all together. To the extent that going to Burning Man was any one person’s idea, it was his.
Vivid hailed from Mendo, and he was in with the Phat Cat Lounge, a wild younger-brother camp to the Skinny Kitty Teahouse, which appeared to be a venerable outfit. He had the plan. Diesel and I would fly out to Oakland from Boston, where he, Val, and Harry would pick us up, and we’d strap our bags to the roof of his Subaru and take a midnight drive into the hills. The next day, we would buy supplies and try not to forget anything. Then, the day after, we’d go to Burning Man.
The spirit of generosity is in the air. Checkout lines are miles long, stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and our hearts (and our wallets) are open. While the world’s attention is so highly focused on gifting during this holiday season, Burners across the world are creating ways for their friends, family, and fellow Burners to gift back.
This weekend, Andie Grace, our Communications Manager, and her husband Tom Price held a Christmas party at their home in San Francisco. Rather than having guests bring the obligatory bottles of wine and holiday trinkets, Andie and Tom turned their gathering into a diaper drive. Their party invite read, “All we want for Christmas is to fill the bathtub with diapers to donate. Please bring a package of disposable baby diapers of any size to help Bay Area babies in need via Help a Mother Out.” When I arrived with my baby wipes in tow, the tub was already half-full. Andie happily reports that she and Tom collected four big bags full of diapers to give to Help a Mother Out.
As I talked with Burners across the country this week, I found other examples of friends coming together during this hectic month to make a meaningful contribution to their local community.
Feeding the Homeless and Hungry in Las Vegas
On Sunday, December 19, 2010, a group of twenty-five Burners, their children, and friends served over 450 meals to the homeless and hungry of North Las Vegas.
Last year, on Christmas Eve of 2009, BamBam, a ten-year Burning Man veteran and owner of the mobile hot dog stand he calls “Hot Diggity Dog,” enlisted the support of his partner Pebbles and a few other friends and took his stand down to the corner of Las Vegas Blvd and Owens in North Las Vegas. That evening, the crew served over 250 meals of jumbo hot dogs, chips and sodas to the homeless and hungry. BamBam set up a canopy and a big sign that read “HOT DOGS” and watched lines form around the stand. (more…)
Every year since 2003, Burning Man has used proceeds from ice sales at the event to make year-end donations to various charitable, art and service organizations in Northern Nevada and the San Francisco Bay Area. For 2010, we worked to increase the total dollar amount of our donations, committing a total of $159,850 for the year. On the heels of the recent news about the closure of the US Gypsum plant in Empire, we gave special consideration to those charities that benefit the people and communities of Northern Nevada.
Below is a list of charitable donation recipients for 2010:
Black Rock Arts Foundation
Black Rock Solar
Best Friend’s Animal Society (in memoriam Bill Carter)
It is once again that most merry time of year when there is a sudden chill in the air and we are rushing around, planning, contriving, concocting, conspiring and otherwise devising our grand plans. We are making lists and checking them twice all for one reason and one reason only; that being that the day has come for us to download and begin filling out the Burning Man Art Grant Form. Yes, after waiting all year, it’s finally time to apply for a Grant!
Everything you need should be on those pages, but the short of this is that the Burning Man organization gives away a lot of money from ticket sales every year to artists to help them build and get their art out to Black Rock City. There are grants for large or small projects so don’t be shy about the size of your idea. The Art Grants from Burning Man are unique in that they require nothing but that the project is on display in Black Rock City, from the very start of the event and that documentation like video and photographs are shared with Burning Man and the community so you can take your rightful place in the pantheon of Art Installations that have graced the playa.
I’m also told that on January 13th there will be an Art Grant Writing workshop in a yet to be determined location where you can work on your Grant form from 5:30 – 7:00pm then afterward the Art Lounge will be a celebration of Artists. It’ll be a great place to get pointers on putting together your Grant form and as always it will be a good time.
These Art Grants are meant to serve as seed money for a project and one common misconception is that Burning Man fully funds projects. If you’ve been around in the summer as projects are getting closer to coming into fruition on the playa, you know that just about every group that has grown up around an Art project is throwing fundraisers or setting up accounts for donations so they can get over that last final push to finish it and get it out there.
Why is that? Well there are two things the Grant process hopes to encourage. Those are Collaboration and Interactivity.
‘Tis the holiday season, and dirt-rave-goers know that Buy Nothing Christmas is the best way to spend the winter solstice — giving mutual gifts of togetherness, experience, action, pay-it-forward-ism, and all that other fuzzy stuff which lasts forever and won’t be tossed aside and end up in a landfill.
Burners Without Borders is throwing its support behind the Coastal Heritage Society of Louisiana. If you have been following the Oilpocalypse story at all, you’ll know that Kindra Arnesen is one of the most furious angels in this whole dealio, blowing lids off coverups and using every available microphone and rally to alert the American people that this thing is so far from over, it may not have even begun. Her own health issues are well-documented in the media too; the breaking news, however, is that her brother is in the hospital — after trying to tough out the Gulf Blue Plague like self-sufficient Cajuns are wont to do, he submitted to the need for IV fluids and critical care. Doctors on the Gulf Coast, see, they don’t want to treat patients who utter the words “oil spill” or “BP.” They don’t want to spend the rest of their lives testifying in court, lose their jobs, and/or end up getting Matt Simmonsed. Anyway.
Who are the Millennial Burners, those who came of age alongside Burning Man itself? Is their experience different in any fundamental way from that of the X-ers and Boomers who joined the party at the same time? Is there a distinction at all?
In some ways, Burning Man is such a radical thing that it doesn’t matter who you are while you’re there. Your story starts at chapter 1 when you ring that bell and roll in the dust for the first time.
I don’t care what year it is or how old you are; your first arrival at Burning Man was, is, or will be weird. If you have been to Burning Man, or if your buddy has, chances are you’ve heard the playa compared to the moon or Mars. The playa has been that way for about 10,000 years, since Lake Lahontan dried up, and it has been the site of Burning Man for the 20-odd years since it earned its capital B and M. The place itself is so breathtaking, you won’t recognize the planet on which you live.
The Burning Man organization is saddened at the news of the approaching closure of the USG operations in Empire, NV. The Empire gypsum mine and manufacturing plant has been an important part of the area’s economy and community for many decades. We understand the breadth of the impact even a short closure can have in a community this small, and the implications for a long term closure on the businesses and service industries supported by USG employees. In the weeks ahead, we will monitor the situation. If there are opportunities to help, we will share this information with the Burning Man community.
We have already been asked about the Burning Man event, and our organization’s presence in the area year-round. While we can’t know the future, we do know how to stage an impossible event in a remote location, and have historically risen to meet the challenges of that pursuit. Doing so has been at the very heart of the experience, and we intend to continue our commitment to the Black Rock Desert and to the Gerlach/Empire residents and businesses that help support our annual presence there.
For now, our concern is not for our event, but how these towns and families will be affected by the changes ahead. In Burning Man’s 20 years in Nevada, we’ve put down roots of our own, investing in and supporting these communities; we’ve long aimed to be good neighbors in Nevada. We’ll continue to support Gerlach and Empire in whatever way we can, and our thoughts are with the workers and their families. We hope others will join us in sending best wishes to all who will be affected. [para_end]