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Participant posing in front of a portapotty. (Photo by Mario Covic)

Participant posing in front of a portapotty. (Photo by Mario Covic)

One of the best things about Burning Man culture is that its participants are also its creators. Burning Man is what its participants do and say and make about it — and that includes creations that reference Burning Man.

Burning Man is unique in the way it encourages participants to incorporate its logo and imagery — including the Man symbol and design, the names Burning Man and Black Rock City, and the shape of Black Rock City — into their creations and offerings to the community. We see these uses most frequently in the season leading up to the event, often as part of fundraising efforts for art projects, theme camps and products offered to Burners.

The challenge comes when those creations conflict with the 10 Principles, and it’s usually an issue related to Decommodification. We don’t support projects that turn Burning Man into a commodified product for sale. We do license the Burning Man identity for certain third-party projects, but we do so very carefully for projects that represent the best of Burning Man culture. An example of this is allowing the use of “Burning Man” in the title of a book of photographs from Black Rock City. But we don’t license Burning Man for use as a commodity. You’ll never see Burning Man Brand LED GlowyFur™ available at your local BoxStore™. When a work crosses that line, we step in to protect the culture from misrepresentation and exploitation.

A recent example is the Burning Man Board Game. The developers reached out to us a year ago, and after extensive review, the developers were told they would not receive permission to use any of Burning Man’s legally protected intellectual property, including the Burning Man and Black Rock City names, the Man logo and the signature shape of the city.

Last month the game appeared as part of a Kickstarter campaign. While our fundraising policy allows the creation of crowd-funded campaigns that directly fund art, theme camps and mutant vehicles, the board game Kickstarter was being used to fund the creation of a product, with only a portion of revenue to be donated to theme camps or playa projects.

There’s an important distinction between using Burning Man’s IP in the appreciation gift one receives for making a donation (which is fine, as long as the guidelines are followed), versus in the product that is being crowdfunded itself. If we were to allow the use of our name and symbols in the product (in this case the board game), then it would open the door for other entrepreneurs to sell Burning Man merchandise under the guise of fundraising. This could set a dangerous precedent in terms of protecting our cultural integrity.

In the case of the board game, the campaign organizer stated the fundraising effort was designed to comport with the 10 Principles in that one portion of the donation would go toward the cost of producing the game and another portion would be donated as a gift to one of several high profile theme camps. However, in keeping with the Decommodification and Gifting Principles, we allow participants to use Burning Man’s intellectual property to fundraise directly for Black Rock City-bound projects, including specific artwork, theme camps, and mutant vehicles. Any other use requires special approval and a licensing agreement from the Burning Man organization.

The Burning Man board game is just one example a project that comes in conflict with the Principles. Others have included an individual selling jewelry with the Man symbol to raise funds for his camp, a high-end concierge service using the Burning Man name and logo to market their services, and companies offering to ship large quantities of their product to Black Rock City to give away for “free on playa” in return for the right to market the experience to the world.

In the vast majority of cases, these kinds of issues are resolved with a phone call. Only very rarely have we been forced to resort to more formal action.

Here’s the thing: We are truly inspired by the creativity of Burners — the range of ideas from our community continues to expand in impressive ways. And on the surface, many of these ideas sound great. But we take the responsibility of protecting Burning Man’s long term cultural integrity seriously, and we have to examine all of the possible outcomes and unintended impacts of a project.

Participants are welcome to gift items that incorporate the Man, the Black Rock City design, etc. to their donors. But that’s different from manufacturing a product at cost and selling it, which is not allowed. For more information about Burning Man’s approach to intellectual property, check out http://burningman.org/network/about-us/press-media/trademarks-images-faq/ on our website.

Remember: It’s not a gift if there’s a price tag attached to it.

San Mateo Innovation Week: “Maker Cities: Inspiring Engagement, Dialogue, and Participation”

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 4.51.12 pmWhat: Maker Cities: Inspiring Engagement, Dialogue, and Participation
When:
Thursday, May 14, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm (PDT)
Where: Kingfish Restaurant, 201 South B Street, San Mateo, CA 94401

Social media, on-line platforms, and urban prototyping have transformed the ways citizens interact and participate within their communities. Information is more accessible, dialogue is on-going, and expectations for involvement continue to rise. Burning Man and the Davenport Institute join the City of San Mateo during San Mateo Innovation Week to explore the strategies, techniques, and philosophies that inspire citizens to get involved and contribute to making lasting solutions in communities near and far.

This panel features Burning Man co-founder and former City Manager of Black Rock City, Harley Dubois; Ashley Trim, Assistant Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University School of Public Policy; Leslie Pritchett, Public Art Instigator and board member to several arts-based and nonprofit ventures including The Crucible and American Steel Studios; and Gordon Strause, Director of Neighborhood Operations with San Francisco-based Nextdoor. Stuart Mangrum, Education Director for Burning Man will facilitate the discussion.

Refreshments will be provided. Please visit San Mateo Innovation Week 2015 for more information and reserve your space.

Desert Arts Preview 2015

Burning Man Arts hosted the 10th annual Desert Arts Preview on Sunday May 3 at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco’s Fort Mason. This sold out event, held in its largest venue to date, featured eight artists (and art teams) talking about their artworks in progress destined for Black Rock City 2015.

Speakers included Jon Sarriugarte and Kyrsten Mate (Project Empire), Rebecca Anders (Illumicanth), Scott “Skeeter” Cohen (The Life Cube), Flux Foundation (Dreamland), Capra J’neva (Axayacoatl), Chris “Kiwi” Hankins (Goddess of the Empty Sea), Marco Cochrane and Julia Whitelaw (R-Evolution), and Jazz Tigan (Temple of Promise).

We’ve recorded the event for your viewing pleasure. So grab a tasty beverage, sit back, relax, and enjoy:

Get Your Makin’ Pants On, Maker Week is June 12-18!

Youth Education Spaceship at Maker Faire 2013 (photo by Harley Dubois)
Youth Education Spaceship at Maker Faire 2013 (photo by Harley Dubois)

It should probably go without saying that we’re all about makers, and the maker movement. Our friends at Maker Faire are kicking some serious maker butt these days, with over 130 Maker Faires now happening around the world annually, inspiring thousands of people to start making, and giving makers the showcase they need and deserve to show off their creations.

The movement got an incredible boost last year when President Obama hosted the first-ever White House Maker Faire and issued a call to action that “every company, every college, every community, every citizen joins us as we lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.” And so here we are, doing just that. The White House recognizes that by “democratizing the tools and skills necessary to design and make just about anything, Maker-related events and activities can inspire more people to pursue careers in design, advanced manufacturing, and the related fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and possibly take their creations to the next level and become entrepreneurs.”

2013 Global Arts Grantee Metamorphosis at Maker Faire in 2013.
2013 Global Arts Grantee Metamorphosis at Maker Faire in 2013.

This year, the White House will celebrate a “Week of Making” from June 12-18. The week will coincide with the National Maker Faire in Washington D.C., featuring makers from across the country and participation by a number of federal agencies including the Department of Education, National Science Foundation, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Small Business Administration, Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Institute of Standards and Technology, NASA, Corporation for National and Community Service, Department of Homeland Security and the Smithsonian. Pretty cool.

President Obama with Lindsay Lawlor and Russell the Giraffe (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama with Lindsay Lawlor and Russell the Giraffe (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

At last year’s Faire, President Obama met Lindsay Lawlor, who built a 17-foot, talking robotic giraffe named Russell that you might have seen loping around Black Rock City in years past.

As the President put it, “Today’s D.I.Y is tomorrow’s Made in America.” Yeah, he gets it.

Burning Man Arts Presents: The Artists’ Symposium and Desert Arts Preview

artists_symposium_banner
The veteran artists of our community hold a wealth of knowledge and experience: possibly the most valuable resource of all to other artists, and one that has been inadequately tapped until now.

Burning Man Arts — in the spirit of facilitating collaborative connections — is pleased to invite our community’s artists to an all-day Artists’ Symposium for artists to share knowledge and connect around mutual goals and needs. If you’re an artist (or would-be artist) creating work destined for Black Rock City or anywhere else, this is a fantastic opportunity to network with other artists and arts professionals, learning best practices about creating large-scale artwork.

You’ll learn from experts in fundraising, project management, heavy equipment, fire art, structural engineering, public art and more. See all the details here.

The event will be followed by the Desert Arts Preview from 6-8pm … come see artists presenting their works-in-progress for this year’s Burning Man (note: a ticket to the Artists’ Symposium includes admission to the Desert Arts Preview. You can also purchase tickets just for the Desert Arts Preview).

What: Artists’ Symposium
When: May 3 @ 10am – 9pm
Where: Fort Mason Center
2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94123 (directions at www.fortmason.org)
Cost: $20
Tickets: Buy tickets or RSVP

Questions? Email artsymposium here: artsymposium (at) burningman.org.

Burners Without Borders to Become Program of Burning Man Project

Burners Without BordersSan Francisco, Calif., April 13, 2015 — Burning Man announced today that Burners Without Borders — a grassroots group that supports community organizing and disaster relief worldwide — will transition June 1 to become the cornerstone of Burning Man’s Civic Engagement initiatives.

“We’re very excited to bring Burners Without Borders into the Burning Man fold,” said Burning Man co-founder Harley Dubois. “This incredible group has an outstanding track record of facilitating grassroots volunteerism that truly represents what Burning Man is all about. This functional reorganization allows Burning Man culture to flourish through the civic efforts of Burners everywhere, in their local communities.”

BWB came into being after Hurricane Katrina when Burning Man participants left the event to help with the disaster cleanup effort. The organization has a 10-year history of supporting disaster relief and local grassroots volunteer initiatives around the world through its annual grants program and direct on-the-ground assistance. It’s expected this transition will have no major immediate effect on existing projects, grants or grant applications. “We want to thank the community for its unwavering support of BWB over the past decade — we are continually inspired by the impact this community makes every day,” said Carmen Mauk, Burners Without Borders’ Executive Director. “I am looking forward to the future where we can continue to grow and thrive.”

BWB’s international projects include relief efforts in Pisco, Peru after that city was hit by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake in 2007, relief efforts in the remote Tohoku Prefecture of Japan following the Fukushima disaster, delivering relief supplies to Haiti, supporting communities in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda, and providing relief to New Jersey communities not receiving adequate assistance following Hurricane Sandy.

About Burning Man
Burning Man Project is a 501(c)3 public benefit corporation whose mission is to facilitate and extend the culture that has issued from the Burning Man event into the larger world. Black Rock City is the seminal manifestation of the 10 Principles-based culture known as Burning Man. The gathering, which last year included participants from all 50 states and 40 countries around the world, happens the last week of August in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. For more information, visit www.burningman.org.

About Burners Without Borders
Burners Without Borders (BWB) was born in Biloxi, Mississippi during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort where Burning Man participants had instinctively gathered to fill in where government relief efforts were falling short. Since then, BWB has emerged as a grassroots, volunteer-driven, community leadership organization whose goal is to unlock the creativity of local communities to solve problems that bring about meaningful change. Supporting volunteers from around the world in innovative disaster relief solutions and community resiliency projects, BWB is known for the unbridled creativity they bring to every civic project they do. To get involved, visit the Burners Without Borders website.

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New Burning Man Laser Policy

Pew pew
Pew pew.

While the list of things you can do at Burning Man is about as long as your imagination, the list of things you can’t do at Burning Man is very, very short. But things on that very short list are the things that can either outright kill you (weapons, speeding vehicles, serving iffy food) or screw up the environment (burning stuff right on the playa floor, visiting the hot springs during the event).

Why is the list so short? Because radical self-reliance, that’s why. We firmly believe that people should exercise their own personal responsibility when it comes to their entertainment and personal safety. The Burning Man organization has long resisted establishing rules when we could instead establish community guidelines that would accomplish the same thing. We believe in acculturation and education over creating a rule when something needs fixing — Leave No Trace is a great example.

But sometimes you have to make a rule, because it’s the right thing to do. And this is one of those times.

At the 2014 Burn, a member of our Black Rock Rangers reported that somebody in the crowd scanned her face with a laser, and that as a result she was blinded in one eye and partially blinded in the other. We didn’t know of any other incidents like this one in the 30 years of our event, but once her story went out on the airwaves, we started hearing from other folks who’d been hit by lasers but had not reported anything to us.

Laser show over BRC, 2011 (Photo by Mark Peterson)
Laser show over BRC, 2011 (Photo by Mark Peterson)

When handheld lasers first came onto the scene, they were expensive and not very powerful. In recent years, they have become stronger and more easily accessible. Lasers are now so powerful that even the handheld ones can do permanent damage to somebody standing 10 miles away. And that, by any definition, by any standard, is a weapon. And dangerous weapons — ones that can permanently and irreparably injure somebody standing literally on the other side of Black Rock City — really have no place at Burning Man.

So this is one of those times. Starting in 2015, handheld lasers will be prohibited in Black Rock City. Mounted lasers are only permitted on art pieces, Mutant Vehicles and in theme camps if they comply with specific restrictions.

To learn more, visit our Lasers page on the Burning Man website.

Female Leadership: “There’s chicks in charge everywhere.”

[This post reprinted with permission from Burn After Reading Magazine.]

Harley K. Dubois and Rebecca Anders (Photo by Sidney Erthal)
Harley K. Dubois and Rebecca Anders (Photo by Sidney Erthal)

By

No one takes a tool out of anyone’s hands. That seems to be the golden rule that truly fosters leadership. “The more the teacher resists the urge to take the tool out of the hand of the student, the better the student learns,” attests Rebecca Anders who has been apart of large Burning Man art since 1997. She’s worked with the Flaming Lotus Girls, helped to build the Temple of Flux and currently makes within the Flux Foundation. Her cohort for the Female Leadership lecture at the Burning Man Global Leadership is equally amazing. Harley K. Dubois attended her first Burn in 1991 and it has spiraled out of control from there. Harley is responsible for creating the infrastructure of Burning Man. She was the first person to suggest theme camp placement and has served as the City Manager for fifteen years. Now she is the Chief Transition Officer and facilitated the recent transition of The Burning Man Project.

One of the main things these women have learned by being leaders in their communities – it’s about collaboration not competition. The more projects embrace the “We” instead of the “I” the more everyone involved is able to succeed. This kind of attitude leads to the doacracy culture that we all so greatly appreciate.

Thoughtful responses were plentiful from the crowd. (Photo by Sidney Erthal)
Thoughtful responses were plentiful from the crowd. (Photo by Sidney Erthal)

Rebecca has a great example of this from her Burn in 2011. While building the Temple of Flux there was no lead carpenter. The person with the clipboard was the person in charge but that individual was constantly rotating. When it was quitting time for one, another would come in, get briefed, grab the clipboard and take their place. The balance of power was never skewed because everyone had a chance to be in that leadership role. At first the professional carpenters who came to volunteer with the temple at the Burn were fairly confused. There was no main foreman only someone standing there with a clipboard and all the information. “There’s chicks in charge everywhere,” Rebecca joked that this must have been the possibly unnerving realization of all these carpenters who were used to a very different situation. This radical model was insanely successful and to this day The Temple of Flux, which was created by a crew that was 80% women, was the only temple to finish early and under budget.

This success should come as no surprise. “Women have been running Burning Man since the getgo.” Harley states with sincerity and a bit of levity. Marian Goodell, Crimson Rose and Harley were incredibly instrumental in the creation of Black Rock City. Harley built all her teams by making dinner and feeding them. One of Harley’s tricks is to be nourishing and accommodating, it gets the job done.

Throughout the entire workshop and the open discussion that began to take shape between all the participants in the room the concept of the We continuously came up. Everyone needs to feel empowered and if you give value to the volunteers there’s a sense of ownership that creates a work family not just a work crew. Our consensus was that the most powerful thing that a leader of any gender can do is to give their power to others.