Posts during April, 2014


April 29th, 2014  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

Research tip for Burning 365 days a year

"If you had three wishes that could be expressed in bacon form, what would they be?"

“If you had three wishes that could be expressed in bacon form, what would they be?”

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man's 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

Those of us wondering how we can live the playa in our daily lives might want to review some research profiled in last week’s New York Times.

Many of us – especially those from low-touch, high privacy cultures (like, ahem, me) – assume that most of us are happiest when people are left alone in their zone of privacy:  don’t disturb people you don’t have a reason to talk to.  It’s a gesture of politeness and respect.  We’ve internalized that.

It usually makes people like me uncomfortable when others breach these rules, but the research conducted in Chicago by behavioral scientists Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder suggests that our momentary discomfort might make us happier in the long run.

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April 25th, 2014  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

Why Doesn’t Burning Man Take a Stand?

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man's 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

Now and again somebody tries to tempt (or badger) the Burning Man organization into taking stand on a political issue – most recently the dust-up at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada.

Why doesn’t Burning Man take a stand? The answer is simple: our principle of Radical Inclusion. “Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.”

Patriotic Man Pin, 2009 (Photo by Steven Fritz)

Patriotic Man Pin, 2009 (Photo by Steven Fritz)

While many of our staff are politically active (across the entire political spectrum, actually), we pride ourselves on facilitating and cultivating a community that welcomes all political stripes. And religious stripes. And genders. And races. And creeds. And sexual preferences. And … you get the idea.

We believe the best way for people to develop and evolve their political positions toward a better future is through interpersonal connection, sharing ideas, and engaging in informed dialog with people representing a diversity of perspectives.

Face-to-face interaction is key in this equation … which reflects another of our 10 Principles: Immediacy. “Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers standing between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.”

One of those barriers is the anonymity of the Internet. (Have you seen the quality of political dialog on the Internet lately? Right … we rest our case.)

Whether you’re in Black Rock City, involved with one of our Regionals, or just quietly living a life based on Burner values, Burning Man provides the opportunity for you to discover your authentic self, and realize the potential of your true passions. We don’t deign to tell you what to do with that potential, or where to direct your activism, or your interests, or your anger, if that’s the way you want to roll. We provide a crucible in which you — any of you— can figure that out.

We want to better the world. We ALL want to better the world — and people have vastly different visions of what that actually looks like. We’re not going to tell you what that looks like, but we can provide the space to find out for yourself.

And perhaps that is what a better world looks like.

April 25th, 2014  |  Filed under Photos/Videos/Media

The Burning Man Minute for April 25, 2014

Burning Man is happening around the world, at the speed of fire, with the strength of a hundred DJs!  Here at the Burning Blog we want to keep you up-to-date every minute, on the hour, weekly, across time zones, in perpetuity!

Hence I am proud to introduce The Burning Man Minute, which will disrupt your mobile app and change everything you thought you knew about watching people talk about Burning Man!  The future is already late for its appointment with technology!

 

 

Caveat is the Volunteer Coordinator for Media Mecca at Burning Man is the author (under a clever pseudonym) of “A Guide to Bars and Nightlife in the Sacred City,” which has nothing to do with Burning Man. Contact him at Caveat (at) Burningman.com

April 23rd, 2014  |  Filed under Afield in the World

Burning Land

dustdevils

Photo by Kate Shay

Alberta is a vast cold pine forest in central Canada. The largest city, Calgary, is so perfectly snow-covered that it once hosted the Winter Olympics, and the regional Burn there is held on an elk farm in the summer. The elk wander around, gazing at the otherworldly lights from the darkness of the forest and probably wondering what’s going on. The regional is called Freezerburn, and it is so far north that the sun comes up at 4 a.m.

I met a sound engineer from Alberta at the Global Leadership Conference this year. He belongs to a camp called Space Gnomes, and is asked by fellow campers to “fix the sound,” meaning to redirect sound waves.

Most of the time, flat speakers broadcast, sending sound waves in all 180 degrees; he focused the waves on certain areas, on a dancefloor, in one direction. That works for high frequencies, but “bass is more omnidirectional,” he said.

“So bass waves spill more,” I said.
“Basically,” he said. Read more »

April 23rd, 2014  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

My Hero’s Journey

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.


by Jordan Nguyen

My first Burning Man experience was the single most transformative event of my life. But I was at a lost when trying to convey just how profound it was to me without sounding crazy. Suddenly I was no longer an atheist? Suddenly I believed in love and magic? And what’s this about a giant rubber duck?

I realized that I needed to tell the whole story. Who I was, how I came to Burning Man, and how that’s made all the difference — essentially, the story of my life. It’s become rather important to me, something I plan to rewrite and recite for the rest of my days. Below is an audio recording of it. Enjoy, and please share if you like it.

April 21st, 2014  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

Radical Inclusion: From Jesus to Jedi’s to Juggalos.

Happy Easter, Spring, Lunar Eclipse, 4/20, Passover, whathaveyou.

Writing on the Temple

Writing on the Temple

Easter time makes me think of Burning Man.

I was not always accepting of Christianity. In fact, I had a bitter life chapter where I woke up to the Lies of Institutional Religion(TM) with deep anger and judgment towards Christians and Christianity.

Then two things happened:

1) I went to Burning Man and learned how Radical Inclusion gives a framework to support others, even as you disagree with them.

2) I started co-hosting a podcast with my Grandfather, Rev. Caleb Shikles. And He showed me that Burning Man was my church.

Don’t get me wrong: I agree that countless atrocities have been done in the name of religion. And that blind acceptance of any teachings paves the way for horrible things.

But I would argue that the main difference between a student of the teachings of Jesus and a follower of the 10 Principles is the amount of dusty faux fur in their closet.

Grandpa on Halloween(NOTE: Near the end of his life, my grandpa actually called himself a “Jesus Man” or “Baptist Buddhist” because he felt that the word “Christian” had come to mean so many things in contrast with the teachings of Jesus.)

While I appreciate the teachings of Jesus, I am not a Christian, by any means. I don’t mean to defend or promote Christianity – only to point out that Radical Inclusion gives us a model for loving our neighbors – be they Jiffy Lubers, Death Guilders, Pink Hearters, or Human Caracas Carwashers.

This applies to “neighbors” on the default world, as well.

The beautiful thing about a religion or tribe is that it gives us a congregation. It gives us a non-biological family to reflect and affirm us. When we are “Welcomed Home” we come to understand that “who we really are” is okay. Not just okay, but amazing. This community acceptance allows us to recognize and cultivate our true selves.

It was Burning Man that showed me the power of this type of community – and the powerful impact on personal growth. But as I grow in the world, I see people blossom in all types of loving congregations. I have seen magical communities grow around Comic-con, Knitting, flow arts, and even the Insane Clown Posse. Yes, god bless the Juggalos.

Grandpa at Temple

Putting up a Grandpa memorial at the temple

As we congratulate ourselves for casting off the chains of our socialization, it can be tempting to judge others who have attached themselves to belief systems or communities that differ from our own. But the whole point of Radical Inclusion means accepting those who have taken different paths and express themselves differently. We must remember that in today’s world “being different” can mean clown face paint, but it can also mean being devoted to an ancient tradition or long dead prophet.

It is easy to throw out baby Jesus with the bongwater – but the path of Radical Inclusion means we need to practice accepting everyone.

During today’s HugNation broadcast, I went deeper into these ideas:

April 19th, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Participate!, Technology

Fluffy

This time of year, every year, as the sun returns and days grow longer, I am perpetually surprised and overwhelmed by the indubitable flourish of life that rises from a thawing long winter existence that held us cold and gray transfixed in darkness for what seems like so long. All around us rises the essence of resurrection as plants pop, bulbs shoot with flowers blooming, bees buzzing and every living thing is struggling upward towards the sun and suddenly where there was nothing but defeated pulverized grass, crawls extant these growing tendrils of life breaking through everywhere; climbing, exploding with color, painting the earth green and blasting fast across our part of the planet that is once again tilting towards our sun.

With spring sprung and flowers a poppin, whilst sugar demon peeps are peepin all seeping into your Easter EGGstatic consciousness and the vestige of winter sog slop slogging is stopping, I felt our newborn sun creeping warm across my whiskered face and my thoughts turned to reveries of my most resplendent time with some bunnies.

Those Bunnies are the Bunnies of Bunny Jam, and same Bunnies of the Billion Bunny March; a most happy hopping, seriously protesting, floppy eared kind of kindest fuzzy kin.

Fluffy I’ve written about my love of Santas for I have been a Santa, drunk and boisterous, and of Clowns with whom I have marginally experimented, and I’ve mentioned my encounter with an aught two unholy alliance those unkempt ruffians formed against the Bunnies at Santa’s Black Market.  My friend Mr. Evans with his fellow conspirators in thought crime, duly and most wonderfully documented the exploits of a motherload of culture jamming that manifested in the SF Bay Area  in their “Tales of the Cacophony Society”, however, one group, the Santas, like all good things after one too many bottles of Pine Sol, began their inevitable slouch  towards becoming a tad more of an interloper social menace party and less a group of spontaneous subversives.  As the Santa stroll bar hop was hitting its stride a silly hopping kind of phenomenon rose from another holiday and rooted in carrot love, populated by gentle spring time sprung , furry familiars – raised its floppy eared head.

Read more »

April 18th, 2014  |  Filed under Afield in the World

It’s a new era. The Future of Burning Man belongs to …

Photo: Bobby Pin

Photo: Bobby Pin

If I tell you that “Western Culture” is dying, will I seem alarmist?

If I say that it is our responsibility, as citizens and Burners, to pick the gauntlet of culture up, will that seem absurdly triumphalist?

It does to me.  But, over the next thousand words, that’s pretty much where I’m going to go.

Dammit.  I hate it when I get like this.

A sense of mission looks bad on Burners, we’re much more appealing when we’re just having fun, but ignoring the evident is worse.

***

I missed this year’s Global Leadership Conference, but I am told that a moment came when a mass of people finally acknowledged that the idea of the “default world,” a real world from which Burning Man is an escape, no longer holds water.  There are too many leaks.  There are hundreds of thousands of self-identified Burners engaging in hundreds of regional events around the world.

That’s what makes this era of Burning Man different from what came before.  We can no longer even pretend there is a “default world.”  To quote the 1980s:  we are the world.  Only a small part of it, but inseparable from.

Read more »