The Great Scavenger Hunt of No Spectators Day

Future’s Past by Kate Raudenbush (the starting point), photo by George Post

What: Burning Man Project Presents….THE GREAT SCAVENGER HUNT!
When: Saturday July 28, noon – 4 PM
Where: Hayes Green near “Futures Past” sculpture by Kate Raudenbush

Hayes Street and Octavia , San Francisco, CA

NO SPECTATORS DAY! is JULY 31st …as officially recognized in San Francisco by Mayoral Proclamation. Yep, true story.

The Burning Man Project has decided to celebrate the weekend before with the second annual GREAT SAN FRANCISCO SCAVENGER HUNT on Saturday, July 28th.

Step up! Participate! Have fun! Learn more here.

Here’s a blog written by Tovah King, who organized last year’s Scavenger Hunt and recalls what it was like:

Remember when you were a kid and had no apprehension about approaching other children

on the playground to join in the fun? While watching my niece one afternoon in Dolores Park I took special notice of her casual demeanor as she joined a group of children in the sandbox. With no more than a few words of hello, she was instantly part of their game and everyone was playing blissfully together. I turned to my older brother at that moment and explained, “that’s what Burning Man is like.” My brother has asked on various occassions to explain what Burning Man is like and it’s no easy task. One struggles for words. However, I added, “the limits and blinders of mainstream society are removed and there is a freedom from fear and judgment.” It becomes natural to approach new and interesting people and experiences with the same ease that my niece entered that sandbox. You can simply walk, hop, skip, or do a cartwheel and say hello to someone you have never met before! The scavenger hunt on No Spectators Day in San Francisco last July 31st had much of that same remarkable spirit.

I recently learned that in 1998 Mayor Willie Brown proclaimed July 31st “No Spectators Day” to recognize the significance of the Burning Man community in San Francisco. Last year Mayor Ed Lee and Board of Supervisor President, David Chiu, joined the founders and staff of Burning Man at UN Plaza–which some renamed “UN Playa”–for the official launch of The Burning Man Project. Events like these show the way San Francisco and Burning Man shape one another. When you walk along the Embarcadero and Market Street or lunch at Patricia’s Green in Hayes Valley, the proof is in the art installations and how people relate to them. Since the launch of The Burning Man Project, we have seen even deeper positive influences and opportunities to directly participate in shaping our daily lives and the cities we live in. That’s also where No Spectators Day comes in; it offers us a moment to stop just thinking about doing something and do it! I love the action of No Spectators Day and the radical inclusion because for me THAT’S what Burning Man is all about.

In the spirit of participation, I offered to initiate a Scavenger Hunt to celebrate No Spectators Day in San Francisco last year. I had been volunteering on the Burning Man Special Events Team since January 2011 and this was the first time I led an event on the team. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity and had excellent support from peers. Since this was the first run and it happened the same day as the SF Marathon, word was not easy to spread but nonetheless the people came. Such wonderful people, too! There was the family team–“Oodles of Momo”; there was a lovely trio of young ladies dressed colorfully for the occasion; the mobile team of super-friendly guys on bikes; the woman from Germany who knew no one and other adventurous individuals who arrived by themselves and left end of day with new friends. We made introductions, formed 8 teams and then sent them off with a list of experiences to create (e.g., create an interactive piece of art using 5 different kinds of MOOP you find along your travels); challenges to collaborate on (multi-team human pyramid, anyone?); and art to find around the city and on Treasure Island. The list was carefully crafted to be fun, encourage exploration of the city, and reflect Burner culture and values. And a fun time was definitely had by all! The feedback we got was overwhelmingly positive, so mark your calendars now for the upcoming Scavenger Hunt this July 28th, which will especially focus on San Francisco’s Mid-Market area. I live out of town now, but I am thrilled The Burning Man Project is carrying this torch forward. It was an honor to serve as an organizing force in my community and I know this year will be even better.

We would love to see the most Burnerific teams expressively dressed to hunt the streets for cleverly riddled, experiential and collaborative treasure tasks. In the meantime make everyday a no spectators day and remember that the world is your sandbox to play in!

PS. I hope no one is still searching for Paul DaPlumber’s Compost Contraption—um…we missed that the artist moved it to another location that day, but thanks to everyone who helped out at the Hayes Community Garden, anyway. Way to go, team!

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase first attended Burning Man 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art headquarters) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004-2009, then transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009 to become Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He's the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Voices of Burning Man blog, and content manager for Burning Man’s websites. He also manages the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social networking efforts.

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