The Places We’ll Go

We’ve gone viral!
Teddy Saunder’s beautiful Dr. Seuss video is the first Burning Man media to truly catch fire. With 800,000 views in just over 3 days, it has been on BoingBoing, The Huffington Post, and the front page of Reddit.
It is gorgeous, well done, and makes Burning Man look AWESOME.
So…are we screwed?
With ticket fears rampant, will our community be able to handle the flood of virgins drawn in by a dust-free depiction of whimsy, smiles and sunshine?
I was asked directly in my podcast this week and share my rambling answer (plus my plan to sell tickets for $1,000,000) here:

**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **

What did you think about “Oh the Places They’ll Go?”
What do you think this surge of awareness means for the future of Burning Man?

A line in the sand

Photo by Howard Banwell (Creative Commons License)

This is a slightly fictionalized account of true events

The naked man jumped up and down below us.  “This is undemocratic!” he shouted, spittle flying, “and unfair! And not participatory!  And not communal!”  He pointed.  He was electric, jerky, energy coursing through him, high and tweaking and just getting higher.

From the roof of the station, Christa called down:  “If you don’t let us alone, I’m going to have to make you suffer like you’ve never suffered before in your life.”

She was doing it to protect me.  Something dark had been chasing me all week:  I’d come to Burning Man and couldn’t quite figure out why.  No matter how nice people were,  I just wasn’t fitting.  Less than an hour after my arrival I was being driven around on an art boat at sunset to look at sculpture installations while topless girls danced and I opened bottles of champagne … and I was a square peg in the roundest of holes.

It got worse every day.  I smiled, I laughed, and festered.  I was lonely no matter what the size of the crowd.  Intimate conversations were like eating the flesh of my friends.  My limbs turned into dead skin and I dragged them from party to party.  I told a few people about it, old comrades.  “We’re so glad you’re here,” they said.  “It’ll get better.”  It got worse.

Finally, one day, after the desert and my volunteer position had chewed me up and spit me out, I told just a few friends that I needed them.  I was taking my best booze (I only bring the best) and my finest cigars (why smoke any other kind?) and bringing them to the roof of the BMIR studios.  And I wanted them to come, and be with me, and share what I had, and close in around me because without that circle I could not go on.  (more…)

Public Relations Manager Position Available

WHAT: Public Relations Manager position available

WHERE: Burning Man office/San Francisco

BY WHEN: Submit resume and cover letter by Sunday, January 22nd, through this link.

Are you a veteran of the world of public relations and a proud citizen of Black Rock City? Have you longed for a PR role that lets you apply your communications chops and management expertise to something you’re passionate about – something just like Burning Man?

Your dream could be a reality! Due to internal evolution and growth on our existing team, we are seeking an experienced Public Relations Manager to join the leadership of Burning Man’s Communications Department.

This is a strategic, year-round, San Francisco-based role that will serve as the glue amongst the other communications staffers for the organization.

The candidate will oversee the execution of Burning Man’s external communications strategies and provide budgetary, staff, and administrative oversight for Communications-related teams and programs, including:
* Print Production
* Public Relations/Media Operations/Social Media
* Intellectual Property Enforcement
* Print Press, Online Press, Film/Video, and Academic Archives
* Burning Man Information Radio
* The Black Rock City Census

The PR Manager will also collaborate with the Government Relations leadership team to support activities engaging with community organizations, governmental collaborators, and other key entities in Nevada.

The PR Manager role will have support from the vast volunteer team as well as existing communications team members within the organization.

Other duties include management of the Media Mecca process and other volunteer teams leading up to, during and after the Burning Man event. Candidates must be prepared to perform full-time, active daily duties in the desert during the Burning Man event. This includes camping with and providing supervisory support for the Media Mecca leadership team as well as other relevant staff and volunteers.

During the rest of the year, the PR Manager maintains relevant media, press, and academic relationships, and creates and advances Public Relations content and campaigns using tools such as the Jack Rabbit Speaks, Burning Blog, Facebook/Twitter/other social networks,, and print materials, and other public-facing communications channels.

* 5-7yrs of experience in Communications, Public Relations, and/or Media industries, ideally including aspects of intellectual property law, contract law, the media/entertainment industries, festival/event production, and/or any combination thereof.
* 3-5yrs of experience in management, including knowledge of reading financials, developing budgets, and human resources/personnel management.
* Excellent communication chops, including strong writing, copy editing, and interpersonal communications skills.
* High level of exposure to and comprehension of the Internet and related technologies.
* Understanding and support of core Burning Man philosophies, in order to effectively uphold policies related to the maintenance of these philosophies.
* At least 3-5yrs participating in Burning Man, preferably at some volunteer level or other exposure to its organizational infrastructure.
* Ability to multitask, and be flexible and adaptable about numerous and frequently dynamic sets of priorities. Self-motivated. Able to effectively delegate responsibilities and negotiate effectively.
* Dedication to organizational, legal, and interpersonal confidentiality in all applicable matters.

* BA or equivalent in fields relating to Communications, Writing/Journalism, Media/Public Relations, or related fields.
* Experience speaking as a liaison to the Press.
* Experience supporting at a managerial level within a business organization.

If you’re ready to put your hard-won skills and expertise to work for your community, we want to meet you! Submit resume and cover letter by Sunday, January 22nd, using this link.

This is a full-time, regular position eligible for benefits in our San Francisco office.

Is Burning Man a “White People Thing?”

Is this what Burning Man’s like? Maybe on Wednesday?

A close friend of mine was asking me about Burning Man.  She’s a black woman from Brooklyn.  “Nope,” she said eventually, with some frustration.  “I don’t think I’ll be going to Burning Man!”

“Why not?” I asked.  She should.  She’s magnificent.

“It’s a white people thing!”

Whoa.  I asked her to tell me more about that.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard that phrase applied to Burning Man.  My very first burn I was astonished to realize that an event that draws so heavily from the diverse San Francisco Bay would produce a population so colorless.  From camp to camp, end to end, it was a long block of white as far as the eye could see, with only occasional dots of diversity … rare enough to raise comment.  Where were the Asians?  Where were the Hispanics?  Where were the black people?

Shortly after I first asked myself that question I met a black man tending bar at a camp with a slip-n-slide.  I sat down, he gave me a drink, and I said “can I ask you a potentially difficult question?” He said sure.  In hindsight, I’m pretty sure he was expecting me to hit on him.

“I notice there are almost no minorities here,” I told him.  “You’re the first black person I’ve seen.  Any idea why that is?”

The term “white people thing” came up in his answer. (more…)

Fundraising for Art Projects Workshop (Audio)

Yowza! Money tree.

On December 13, 2011, the Burning Man Special Events Team hosted a free workshop about fundraising for art projects, conducted by yours truly, wearing my art curator / maker / facilitator / supporter hat for the evening.  We’re happy to say that it was well-attended, both in house at Burning Man HQ and online via live webcast.

We recorded the audio from the workshop and uploaded the accompanying PowerPoint presentation so those of you who couldn’t attend can still benefit from the information presented. Feel free to share this around, of course … the more people learning how to raise funds for art projects the better.  Here’s the workshop description:

Want to create something awe inspiring — on playa or off — and wondering how to cover the costs? If so, this workshop on fundraising might be just for you! If you want to create a medium- or large-scale art project, you’re likely going to need money to realize your vision … and unless you’re independently wealthy, this will require fundraising of some kind. This workshop will cover fundraising strategies, tips and techniques to help maximize your effort whether you’re looking for help from your immediate community or a broader audience of donors. (Note: this workshop will NOT cover grants or grantwriting. It will instead focus more on on-line crowd-sourcing options and similar direct fundraising efforts.)

If you’re interested in learning specifically about applying for Burning Man Art Grants, there’s a workshop coming up soon on that topic … stay tuned for more information.