at the CORE

The wheat from Saskatchewan

There’s an amazing amount of new art on the Playa this year, and one of the biggest reasons is the presence of 24 effigies set up by the CORE project, the association of Burning Man Regional groups from around the world.

For the first time, the Regionals will stage their own burn, on Thursday night, when all 24 of the projects will go up in flames in a giant ring around the Man.

It’s a sign of the growing significance of the Regionals. As the main Burning Man event continues to push the size limits of the playa, the importance of having Regional events climbs.

“There are many people in the Regionals who’ve never even been to Burning Man,” Action Girl was saying at a gathering in the Center Cafe on Tuesday. “But they still feel a part of the community now.”

The Regional organizations began 13 years ago,  so you could say that their big burn project this year  could be called their Burn Mitzvah, it was noted at the gathering.

Among the many effigies on the playa this year are Lucky Lady Lucy, the creation of the Las Vegas group. The funding for the project was grass-roots, as evidenced by the garage sale held by Dr. Gooey to help raise money. The effigy from the South Bay group  is made up of a crossed stairway of laptops rising out of an orchard. Very fitting for the Silicon Valley.

One of the largest and most ornate effigies is OuroBouros, from the very large and very active Austin group.

“There’s no reason the fire hose of creativity has to be aimed at the desert,” Action Girl said at the meeting. “And the purpose is not just to throw big parties. It’s about civic engagement.”

The effigy from Austin.

About the author: John Curley

John Curley has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 he spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. John is a longtime newspaper person and spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was a deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since leaving the Chronicle in 2007, he was a contributing editor on Blue Planet Run, a book about the world's water crisis, and for the past two years has been a lecturer at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He has also started an event and editorial photography business, and is also working on a book about the "Ten Dollar Doc" from Arco, Idaho, which will make a lovely film someday.

2 thoughts on “at the CORE

  • I worked on the SOAK CORE Thunderbridge from Portland, OR.

    I had a super shitty 2010: my father died in January and my boyfriend died last fall. I came very close to committing suicide in December. One day, I saw a room advertized for rent in Portland on Facebook, and something in me woke up. I realized I had more options than to be or not to be. I moved from the SF Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest and focused on getting to Burning Man. It was eight months away when I thought that if I kept myself alive long enough to see the playa, I’d be ok.

    The move was tough. I was lonely and antisocial for a few months, but in April, I decided I’d better meet locals so I could get a ride to Black Rock City. I poked my head up on our regional list, asked if anyone needed help with a project, and was directed to the CORE build.

    What serendipity–my life exploded wide open because of that bridge. I didn’t just find a build, I found a new chosen family. And I’m not the only person on our build who needed something special to move forward in life.

    Building early on the playa was incredible. For months, most of our team worked in isolation, but we became part of the CORE family when we arrived. I loved talking to other Regionals about their projects. I spoke to someone from The Other Portland in Maine who said making something tangible injected energy into their Regional. I had an incredible conversation with a guy who was working alone on his build in the middle of the night. I learned about a newspaper article that inspired another CORE piece.

    Plus, they all looked damn cool burning together on Thursday night.

    I had an amazing experience and sincerely hope the CORE becomes a regular fixture in the Burnerverse.

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  • The Core Project was an outstanding and endearing acknowledgement of how everything we do on (and off) the playa ripples outward into the world. I hope it continues to grow and encircle the Man every year.

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