I wrote this post from Nowhere last week and, being that I was in the Middle of Nowhere, you’re receiving it NOW. Enjoy! More coming!
Megs here. I’m writing you from the land of wind, dust and mountains outside of Zaragoza, Spain. After spending an unforgettable weekend at Lithuania’s Degantis Jonas (and, yes!, I promise to write a detailed account of my experiences there), I’m at Nowhere (http://www.goingnowhere.org/), a Burning Man Regional event where Burners are gathering from all over the world to build a beautiful city. Nowhere started nine years ago as a gathering in the desert in Spain (at that time, the moniker “Nowhere” was yet to be born) and has, over the years, grown into a thriving event with a highly developed infrastructure, twenty-four registered theme camps, and art and performance artists from across the globe.
We arrived at dusk last night after our San Francisco crew and our Lithuanian friends, Goku and Lleva, traveled in true Burning Man fashion with a van packed full of food, tent, water jugs, playa finery and all of the supplies we’d need to survive for ten days in the desert. The event officially opens on Tuesday but Nowhere crewmembers have been working out here for weeks getting the desert site ready to absorb the impact of the estimated 1,000 participants that will venture through the rocky canyons, down twisty and seemingly abandoned roads to make their way through Nowhere’s gleaming red gates. We’re here to help build the city.
Like Burning Man, Nowhere is truly an exercise in Radical Self Reliance and Communal effort. Ladies and Gents, I thought Black Rock City was remote! The road to Nowhere is so complicated that the Nowhere Survival Guide even includes colorful snapshots of the key directions, making the journey to the event feel like a scavenger hunt. The Survival Guide, by the way, comes in five languages—Spanish, English, German, French and Italian.
I knew I was home when I saw gate road signs with colorful and playful cartoon characters tell us to “Be free!,” “Be safe!” and “Express ourselves” and when we were greeting by “Nurse,” a key member of Nowhere’s planning team and a long-time Burning Man DPW crewmember. He directed us to the Werkhaus, where the set up crew gathers throughout the event to work, eat, and rest. Once inside, we were greeted by the smiling and delightfully sassy Kitchen and “Fluffer” staff who were prepping for the communal meals and looking after the care and feeding of Nowhere’s hard working volunteers.
Under darkness, we set up our camp in the howling winds and, though I was beside myself with exhaustion from the long journey, I couldn’t resist a wander around the site to meet the Nowhere crew. Members of the “Garden of Joy,” one of Nowhere’s international theme camps, were finishing up a large dinner and there I ran into a long-time Media Mecca volunteer and friend from Australia and I met new people from Italy, Spain, and Sweden.
Everyone’s very hard at work today and it’s definitely been a full and very productive day. It’s been cooler than I’d imagined it would be but the sun is blazing.
This afternoon, in a large green desert tent, I attended the Malfare Training, a volunteer briefing for staffers of Nowhere’s Malfare Team (Nowhere’s own version of the Black Rock Rangers). Ranger Tiara (a rock star Ranger leader whose attended over 20 Burning Man regionals events) and Ammanjah (an super solid and articulate Dutch born, American-bred Malfare Team lead) led an in-depth seminar on Communication, Conflict Resolution, Emergency plans and protocols, and safety for about sixty Malfare volunteers. I was impressed by the scope of the two-hour training and by the care and attention that the volunteers were putting in to making sure they know what to do so that things will run smoothly throughout the week. Tomorrow, I’ll take on a Nomad shift where I’ll be helping to make the rounds and see to it that the crew on site is taken care of, safe, and comfortable.
It’s been a long day but fun. I can smell the pasta cooking across the way and am excited to rejoin the crew for tonight’s communal dinner.
I’ll also see if Tamsin, Nowhere’s “Sign Maven,” needs my help. During the high heat of the day, I spent time at the Werkhaus with her painting signs that tell people what they need to know so that they don’t fall into the giant toilet trenches. And, as this is an international event, we took care to paint “Danger! Watch out for POOP!” in several different languages so that, hopefully, no one misses such key messages! ;)
Megs signing off for the evening.