Posts by Affinity

August 23rd, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

The Shrouded Man

man seidney erthalThis is my first little post from the Playa. It is a beautiful day, the temperature is in the mid 80s, there is a mild breeze, the theme camps are arriving and the city is getting populated. I have spent the day meeting new people in my camp, the pretty newbie from Georgia, and ever smiling photographer Fonzi, and hanging with 20 year veterans like Eggchairsteve. New family and old family. And then I ran into Sidney Erthal, my friend and a fabulous photographer, and we decided you might like to see a different view of the Man. Whether you are already on the Playa, on your way here, or staying home this year, this is the new Man, bigger and better than ever, topping off at over 100 feet. More later…

Photo: Sidney Erthal Photography 

August 15th, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Have You Ever Slid Down Into a Volcano?

photo: Aleks Stirajs

Truth is Beauty 2013 photo: Aleks Stirajs

I have been writing about Bliss Dance Studios for several years. They are my friends and I am a BIG fan. My favorite blog post was when they were assembling Bliss Dance before Burning Man 2010. There were some pretty scary moments and from where I was sitting, it was a miracle when it all fit together.  It was their first try at art of this size, you can see that post HERE.

So I believe art begets art. For example, one of the Bliss Dance crew, last year she was the operations manager for Truth is Beauty, Katy Boynton, created Heartfullness with her crew in 2012 and brought it out again in 2011, you can read about that HERE.

But it was a huge surprise to me when one of the Truth is Beauty crew announced a few months ago that she wanted to create a volcano, Paha’oha’o, about 30′ tall, and bring it to the Playa this year. So then it started, the vision, what it should look like, what it should be made of, would there be fire? Then there were structural drawings and discussions of materials. I found it all very exciting. Although I am not on the crew, we have a potluck on Tuesdays so I got to see materials testing, the structural engineer stopping by, the stairs getting built and tested, and oh yes, the slide, or as the artist Kahai Sumida Tate says:

The only way down will be to take a leap of faith into the belly of the volcano via a 22’ drop slide or lava tube that is made with an organic linoleum.

Building the last few weeks has been at a furious pace and I have had the chance to see the pieces come together, the sides of the volcano being built, the drums being created, and then this happened:

And just to bring it back to art begets art, Katy Boynton is the Project Manager of this project and Marco Cochrane has sculpted a eight foot high hula dance, who is making an offering to Pele, the fire goddess, to live in the belly of Paha’oha’o.

I wanted to know a little more about the volcano and what it meant to Kahai, this is what she has to say about it:

In Hawaii, eruptions are viewed as beneficial, as acts of creation, and Hawaiians often see their lives mirrored in the level of volcanic activity.
On those islands, an eruption usually begins with lava gushing from a long crack in the earth. The hot, highly fluid material leaves a smooth, skin like texture along the eruptive fissure. Because the structure is reminiscent of a huge vagina, native Hawaiians traditionally regarded an eruption as the menstruation of the goddess Pele, with the red lava always flowing toward the sea, the same path taken in ancient times by women to cleanse themselves. Participants will be able to sacrifice themselves into the volcano burning away their outer shell to start a new beginning.

The volcano will stand 30’ tall by 60’ in diameter layered in burlap which will look like molten lava. The lava will be illuminated wall washer led volcanolights that will be programmed to look like flowing lava. There will be a ladder to allow to people to climb to the top of the caldera and sacrifice themselves into mouth of the volcano. Inside the volcano will be an enclosed room with a 12’ ceiling, Marco Cochrane’s sculpture, and Hawaiian pahu drums.

If you would like to see Paha’oha’o burn at Burning Man this year, read about the burn HERE.

And did I hear you say you would like to volunteer to help Paha’oha’o? They are looking for volunteers at Burning Man this year to help participants at the the top and bottom of the slide. Participants will sacrifice themselves into the volcano burning away their outer shell to start a new beginning! 3 hours of fiery fun! Sign up for a shift using the link on the event page HERE. Mahalo!

August 5th, 2014  |  Filed under Afield in the World, The Ten Principles

Burners Without Borders Helps Clean Padre Island Shooting Range

bwb corpus christiBurners Without Borders (BWB) is a community led, grassroots group that encourages innovative civic participation that creates positive change locally.

In Corpus Christi, Texas, Burners Without Borders Corpus Christi — made up of Patrick Brown and his friends — recently stepped up efforts to clean a stretch of Padre Island after having started the initiative about a year ago. Partick was quoted on KRISTV as saying:

There were places in this area where you could actually like, literally wade through shotgun shells.

They heard about the makeshift shotgun range from the folks at National Sea Shore. He then got permission from the General Land Office to clean the area up. The group had their first clean up in February.

During those first cleanups we removed about 600 pounds of shotgun shells, said Brown.

At the time Brown only had eight people helping him, and they were able to clear out most of the area. But now, five months later, it’s all trashed up again. Brown says his group will meet in a few weeks to plan another cleanup of the area. The alternative to a community-based solution was to have police patrol the area to prevent people from littering the place with shells, at the cost of taxpayer money and law enforcement distracted from more important issues.

It is very exciting to see this local BWB group bring one of the Burning Man’s Ten Principles, Leave No Trace, to their local community and making an impact.

Would you like to get involved? Burners Without Borders was founded and continues to grow because of people just like you.

About Burners Without Borders

Burners Without Borders was born in Biloxi, Mississippi during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort. When the hurricane struck during the Burning Man event that year, several groups of volunteers traveled directly from Black Rock City to the ravaged area, employing the Burning Man principles of civic responsibility, communal effort, participation, radical self-reliance and gifting, in a coordinated effort to fill in where government relief efforts were falling short.

Since then, Burners Without Borders has grown to facilitate volunteerism all over the world for anyone interested in gifting their time and talents to a variety of causes, from disaster relief to community building to beach clean-ups. BWB volunteers have provided assistance in places such as Peru, Haiti, Japan, Alabama, and now in Corpus Christi, Texas, while their annual grant program helps would-be volunteers to realize their vision of making a difference in their communities.

If you would like to get involved, please contact BWB through the Burners Without Borders website.

August 1st, 2014  |  Filed under Participate!

Exodus Traffic Pulsing = One-Hour Neighborhoods!

Gate road, 2008

Gate road, 2008

During Exodus (when oh so many of you depart Black Rock City for your other home), wait times can run from anywhere to 3-9 hours to get from camp to the highway. And to state it simply, we cannot get vehicles off of the playa any faster than we already do.

To make the inevitable Exodus wait more sane, we’ll be implementing Pulsing on Sunday and Monday this year, 24 hours a day (or until the need dissipates).

Pulsing is a system of moving vehicles at regular intervals toward the highway on Gate Road to avoid the long slow creep that challenges the sanity of even the most patient among us. With Pulsing, vehicles stop and turn off their engines. Then, every hour, vehicles are “pulsed” a mile forward all at once. (Tune your car radio to BMIR 94.5 FM or the Gate Advisory Radio Station 91.5 FM for Exodus info.)

Pulsing does NOT get you out of the city more quickly, it just lets you take a break from driving.

Pulsing is the perfect time to create One-Hour Neighborhoods. Pack water, snacks, instruments and anything else to make the wait more fun. Have a one hour dance party and meet your neighbors in line. Jonathan did … here’s what happened:

My friend and I had such an amazing Exodus the night of the Temple burn I feel compelled to share.

It all happened accidentally. It was my first Burn. I knew about the Pulse system, but wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. After the first pulse, I started my watch to see how long we would stop. It was an hour, to the minute.  During that time, I talked with a couple strangers enthusiastically about my Burn experience.

After the next pulse, I started thinking about all that I could do in the next hour, if it really was an hour in-between pulses and not random. I could go for a run in the desert straight out from my car. I could go talk to more strangers. I ended up putting 3 lighted candles on my car so I wouldn’t lose the car if I wandered too far.

I met another Burner named Taryn. She had the brilliant idea that ended up being the spark for the “after-burn” as we so fondly called it later. She asked, “Why aren’t there tents out there [pointing to the open playa next to the 16 lanes of cars leaving BM] hosting parties, food, etc?” I replied, “you are absolutely right! There could be art cars hosting dance parties to keep people awake. Small camps giving out coffee for safety.” But then, it hit me. We could do that. We could actually do that after the very next pulse.  s long as the break was predictable, we could do this and a lot more. We waited. Like clockwork, the next pulse started 1 hour after stopping.

Taryn was up for helping me unpack and pack the van to get our stove and other supplies out. So, we spent 10 minutes getting stuff out. Then we fired up the stove and made dinner – from scratch! It was delicious. Spaghetti with sausages and a bit of sauce. We then started planning the next phase (we still don’t have a good name for those hour long stretches — micro-burns?). We wanted dessert and coffee. After 50 min, we knew it was time to pack up and get ready. We did it with no problem and were ready to go when the pulse started again.

Dessert was fried macaroons with Nutella. Simply amazing! French press Peets coffee. Perfect combination. It was this break when we really knew we were on to something. We were flat-out loving the Exodus from Burning Man! We started talking about how cool it was — to have these breaks to look forward to, to meet someone new, to have deep conversation on the way out of the playa instead of bemoaning how long it was taking. The “Burn” vibe was very much with us.

We did this 4 different times. I had been calculating our distance to the road by the marker that said 4 miles to the highway. We had potentially one more break. It was going to be our best break – a dance break. We were going to wake up Taryn’s RV and get them outside dancing to our Jambox speaker. However, we hugged good-bye in case there were no more breaks.

As it tuned out, we did exceed our .4 mile average pulse and made it all the way to the road. My friend Rico and I looked at each other. We saw it in each other’s eyes — we were disappointed. We did not have 1 more hour together to enjoy our dance break. Then, we thought — this is crazy! It is 3 AM and we want to stop for another hour?! But we did and it was magical.

The Generator, A Community Art and Builder’s Space

The Generator with LOVE by Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton being moved

The Generator with LOVE by Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton being moved

Gene kids2

Youngsters making things

There is a new art kid on the block! The Generator is a non-profit, inclusive, community art and builder’s space in greater Reno, Nevada (actually in Sparks). It’s open to anyone who wants to make art and be part of a creative community, and they run on their version of Burning Man’s Ten Principles.

I went for a tour a few weeks ago, and I was amazed. There is every sort of tool, and many different kinds of artists: painters, sculptors, woodworkers, Burning Man Honorarium artists, brand new artists of every sort, and children learning art. And the best part is there is no cost to anyone who wants to participate in making any kind of art.

Read more »

July 7th, 2014  |  Filed under Events/Happenings

Precompression at NIMBY in Oakland, CA

The first comment we heard on Sunday morning after Precompression was:

That was the best party I have ever been to. It was gorgeous, there was lots of room and everybody was friendly and having a great time.

Art Cars: Air Pusher, Beezus Christ Super Car, BAAHS

Art Cars: Air Pusher, Beezus Christ Super Car, BAAHS

This year we did something a little different. This event was held at one of our community’s best-loved art making spaces, NIMBY, to support local arts and artists! It was a multi-environment, indoor-outdoor, grease-monkey-to-glam, big art, downhome throwdown of artistically epic proportions! Burning Man and Burners—from old school to new—congregated at NIMBY.

There were Mutant Vehicles and art being created for

precom night group resizedBurning Man 2014 like The Alien Siege Machine and The Kraken. There was live glassworking by NIMBY artists, Maria Del Camino, Opulent Temple, Sugar Cubes, Alex Nolan’s Throw Bot, Grahmahs House, and about a gazillion more Bay Area artist groups showcasing their work and joining forces in support of this memorable night. There were places to gather, various dance floors, multiple live performance stages, and a great diversity of attendees.

precom facepainting resizedIn addition to all of that art and music and community, there was even a place to have your face painted. Gotta love all of that.

You can see more of Michael Fox’s photos of Precompression HERE.

 

 

 

 

And then this happened!

photos: Michael Fox
Video: Tex Allen

June 10th, 2014  |  Filed under Afield in the World

Charlie Dolman Keynote Speaker at the Project Management Institute Conference

Charlie speaking at the conferenceCharlie Dolman, Burning Man’s Event Operations Director, was recently invited by the Project Management Institute to be the Opening Keynote Speaker at their conference in San Diego. The Project Management Institute provides project management practitioners and organizations with standards that describe good practices and provides globally recognized credentials in their field.

Of course, the first question that comes to mind is what can attendees at a project management conference learn from Burning Man, and how could it make them better project managers? Well, Charlie asked the audience … what does it take to build a city in the desert? A lot of spreadsheets! overview

Organizing Burning Man requires monumental schedule, budget, legal, safety, and risk considerations. As Burning Man’s Event Operations Director, Charlie wanted to share his unique perspective and insights, from project management essentials to lessons learned in the dust.

The conference attendees wanted to hear about the Burning Man event itself and what it looks like from a project management point of view. So Charlie told them about the pre-event build process, including the Golden Spike ritual, surveying the city, and how building the 9.2-mile long trash fence is a cooperative effort, completed by a hardy crew in less than one day.

moop mapHe described the elements that go into creating Black Rock City, including the street grid with signs and addresses, port-o-potties, an airport, big art, a Department of Mutant Vehicles. He discussed the nuances of working with a volunteer workforce, the challenges of our mandate to Leave No Trace of Black Rock City after the event has concluded, and the prolific growth of Burning Man culture through the Regional Network.

What did Charlie think about this chance to share his experience with project management professionals?

“It was great to have the opportunity to speak to professional project managers about Burning Man. Sharing the thing you love with other interested and professional folks is brilliant fun. There were some great questions and some surprise curve balls too! Overall the experience was great!”

Burning Man Project At Earth Day SF

On April 19, 2014, the Burning Man Project and ArtIsMobilUs collaborated to create the first ever AnyKidCanPaint “Our Earth”, and first three sided ARTwall at Earth Day SF. In addition ArtIsMobilUs provided an Earth Wall for everyone to paint or write what they love about about the earth.

The first ever AnyKidCanPaint collaborative Artwall

The first ever AnyKidCanPaint collaborative Artwall

The process for this collaboration started a couple of weeks earlier at a Burning Man Project Volunteer Appreciation Party. During the party the scissors came out and along with celebratory toasts to the volunteers there was much clipping to be done to make animal prints for the kids. Read more »