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)

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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.

Burners Without Borders 2015 Walk the Talk Grantees Announced

Burners Without BordersBurners Without Borders — soon to become a program of the Burning Man Project — has been awarding Walk the Talk Grants for three years, through a partnership with the Burning Man Regional Network. Walk the Talk is a program aimed at funding innovative community projects within the Burning Man Global Network, particularly programs that create collaborations, produce direct actions, utilize Burning Man’s Ten Principles, are reproducible, and creatively tackle local problems.

We are excited to announce the Walk the Talk grantees for 2015. Congratulations to all of these grantees and thank you for the good work you’re doing in the world!

Veggie Gifting Cart for the Angier Ave. Neighborhood Farm – Triangle, NC – $400
These folks are collaboratively fabricating a bike-powered veggie cart. This cart will allow them better outreach to the surrounding community in East Durham (a food desert) where the Angier Ave Neighborhood Farm is located. They will use the cart to gift their overstock of vegetables to community members in need, whom are physically disabled, sick, or for other reasons unable to be mobile.

Christmas Isn't Over crew (Photo by Vert Umnus)
Christmas Isn’t Over crew (Photo by Vert Umnus)

Art Lots Metal Support – St. Louis, MS – $400
Art Lots is a coalition of artists who work to combat blight and make St. Louis neighborhoods more livable. Providing art workshops and access to tools, they take the refuse and discarded items found in St. Louis and turn it into public art.

Christmas Isn’t Over – Vancouver, BC, Canada –  $200
Christmas Isn’t Over is a group of compassionate independents made up of Burners and non-Burners who organize and gather to be of service in our community. They bring stews, soup, baked goods, salads and grill 300 grilled ham and cheese sandwiches all to be gifted to those in need at Oppenheimer Park in the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver, BC Canada, one Vancouver’s most at-risk and in-need areas.

If you’d like to apply for a grant, learn more on the Burners Without Borders website.

Larry Harvey in a Worm Suit: 2015 Global Leadership Conference Kicks Off

The 9th annual Burning Man Global Leadership Conference is officially underway! From humble beginnings in 2007, where 70 regional contacts joined us at Burning Man HQ, the GLC has since grown to include over 400 participants from around the world.

$teven Ra$pa addresses GLC attendees (Photo by Sidney Erthal)
$teven Ra$pa addresses GLC attendees (Photo by Sidney Erthal)

These highly-energized folks are Burning Man’s global representatives and community leaders, ambassadors of Burning Man culture in their regions who throw any of 65 regional events in 20 countries. They participate in the GLC to share ideas, best practices and inspiration, and to make the invaluable face-to-face connections that may just lead to the next big thing.

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Danger Ranger and Stuart Mangrum (Photo by Sidney Erthal)

This morning, Rachel Klegon, Matthew Naimi and Ryan Doyle kicked off the proceedings with an inspiring talk about creative placemaking and “The Next Creative Renaissance”. They should know a thing or two about that topic, as they hail from Detroit, Michigan, where one of the most fascinating urban renaissances is happening.

And what better topic, since Burning Man is all about supporting contexts where connections, creative inspiration and collective action can thrive. These folks have done incredible work using art, community and sheer determination to foster recycling programs, engage the youth of Detroit to take control of their futures, and energize rejuvenation of this economically devastated region. Here’s their presentation:

Their talk was followed by (literally) goosebump-inducing updates from around the Regional Network, including report-outs of goings-on in Lithuania, Asia and Brazil. Want to see how Burning Man is translating around the world? Check it out:

The international report included this video recap of the second Burning Man European Leadership Conference in Amsterdam:

Burning Man co-founder Crimson Rose gave an update on Burning Man Art, and spoke passionately about the emotional experience of building and burning of David Best’s Temple in Derry~Londonderry. Watch:

The next few days are going to be long and exhausting, challenging GLC participants to pack as much information and ideas and conversation into their brains as possible before heading back to their region to bring the seed home. One thing’s for sure, they’ll leave as tired as they are inspired.

Oh and here’s Larry Harvey in a worm costume:

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Larry “Bookworm” Harvey is judging you (Photo by Sidney Erthal)

Burning Man Global Leadership Conference is Comin’ Up!

GLC (Global Leadership Conference)The Burning Man Global Leadership Conference (GLC) is an annual conference of Burning Man community leadership that happens each spring in San Francisco, and it starts April 9. The conference is for organizers and community leaders in the Burning Man Regional Network, and space is limited, so attendance isn’t open to the public, BUT …

We’re going to be covering key sessions that are of interest to the larger Burning Man community here on the Voices of Burning Man, as well as on Twitter (for a full-throated coverage, follow @burningmanglc; for more select coverage, follow @burningman and/or watch the #bmglc15 hashtag).

If live video is more your thing, we’ll be livestreaming our plenary sessions, including keynotes on Friday and Saturday mornings. If you’re not an early riser, no problem, the videos will be available afterwards. Here’s the livestream schedule:

Friday, April 10
9:00-10:30am PDT
Plenary Session 1: The Next Creative Renaissance, Busting it Out, Building it Up, Bringing it Home!

10:30am-12:00pm PDT
Plenary Session 2: Updates — From the Desert to the World

Saturday, April 11
9:00-10:15am PDT
Plenary Session: Keynote Talks with Marian Goodell and Dennis Kucinich

Speaking of which …

We are excited to welcome a special guest keynote speaker to this year’s GLC! Former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich will join us in person on Saturday, April 11 to address why Burning Man culture matters to humanity at this time of great global change.

Dennis is a statesman and philosopher who believes the fundamental truth of our existence is human unity — that we are all one, and that we are interconnected and interdependent. This belief has guided him through public life and he shares it with audiences everywhere. An internationally known environmentalist, Dennis is passionate about the great evolutionary potential which comes from repairing our relationship to the natural world and to each other.

He has had a long and distinguished career in public service, including serving as a Cleveland City Councilman, Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio State Senator, and U.S. Congressman. He was a two-time Presidential candidate.

Dennis participated in Black Rock City for the first time in 2014. Through the creativity and human connection of Black Rock City and the Burning Man Regional Network, he sees that “Burning Man represents an incandescent vision of a world within our grasp.”

Burning Man Represents at SXSW 2015

SXSW — maybe you've heard of it?
SXSW — maybe you’ve heard of it?

Ever since SXSW was a small gathering of creative types back in the day, we’ve sent folks from BMHQ down to Austin to participate. Over the years, we’ve hosted (or were on) a number of panels, held some workshops, and did a heck of a lot of connecting with like-minded people. And it’s funny … one of the most common questions we get is why we’re there. Why would Burning Man do SXSW?

Well, during our 25+ years of producing Burning Man, we’ve learned a thing or two about collaborative creation, participation-driven cities, inspiring creativity, creating crucibles for innovation, alternative socioeconomic models — things that we’re as eager to share with the broader creative community as they are to hear it. So for us, it’s as much about skill sharing as learning and community engagement.

So … that said, we’re happy to once again be sending a small contingent from Burning Man HQ to participate in SXSWi this year.

Rosie von Lila has put together a pretty impressive group of panelists to discuss participatory cities on March 14, and Burning Man Founder and CEO Marian Goodell will be on a panel about creating a space for social good on March 15.

We’ve also coordinated a couple Burner meet-ups, one for Austin Burners on March 14, and another for SXSW badge-holders on March 15. Details below … and if you’re in Austin during SXSW, we hope to see you!

Panel: Participatory Cities: Inspiring Access and Action
Austin Convention Center, Room 10AB, 500 E Cesar Chavez St.
Sat, Mar 14, 12:30-1:30pm

Panel: Sandbox Stories, Creating a Space for Social Good
Burning Man Founder & CEO Marian Goodell, panelist
Sun, Mar 15, 9:30-10:30am
Austin City Hall, Council Chambers, 301 W 2nd St

Badge Holder Meetup: SXSW Burning Man Meetup
Sun, Mar 15, 5-6pm
JW Marriott, Room 508, 110 E 2nd St (SXSW badge required)

Public Meetup for Austin Burners and Wannabe Burners (please spread widely!)
Friends in Austin! Please join folks from Burning Man HQ for an informal Austin Burners (and wannabe Burners) meet-up — come say hi and shoot the breeze. We’ll be in the back yard of Justine’s, just far enough away from the SXSW craziness. We’d love to see you!
Saturday, March 14, 5:30 pm
Justine’s Brasserie
4710 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78702
(512) 385-2900

Call-Out for Burning Man Sticker Designs!

2007 Burning Man sticker by Eggchair Steve
2007 Burning Man sticker by Eggchair Steve

This is the official call for designs for the 2015 Burning Man stickers! Your design could be the one passed out with the materials you receive as you pass through the Greeters Station upon entering Black Rock City. Other designs will be official sticker schwag distributed throughout the year. Help us remember our wonderful home in the desert even when we’re away!

So, don’t hesitate. Participate! Thank you and good luck!

The Details:

Size:

Your designs must use one of the three die sizes:
2. 5″ x 5.75” with a 0.125” corner radius
3″x 3″ square with a 0.062” corner radius
3” Diameter Circle

Design:

Whichever type of sticker tickles your fancy (or maybe you’re very ticklish and want to enter several designs), remember there IS a theme, and we like stickers that attempt to use the theme. Read up on the Carnival of Mirrors theme!

Must include: both the name Burning Man and the year 2015 in your design.

Colors:

If using 1-3 colors, set up the file to print as PMS
If using 4 or more colors, set up the file to print as CMYK

Priority:

Round stickers are given priority for winning the coveted “Gate Sticker” spot, going out to ALL Black Rock Citizens. Other sticker sizes are printed out and handed out to volunteers throughout the year.

Submitting your Art:

Send either a PDF file OR (preferably) the original Adobe Illustrator (.ai) file to stickers here: stickers (at) burningman.com. You must OUTLINE all fonts. Whether sending your design or questions, please put your first and last name in the subject header as well as the phrase “2015 Sticker Submission”.

Deadline:

Monday, May 18. No art is accepted after this date.

Thank you!

BWB Winter Ball Fundraiser for the Chicago Community Grant Program!

[This post reprinted from Burners Without Borders.]

Photo by ‘Great Eye Films’
Photo by ‘Great Eye Films’

Chicago’s annual Burners Without Borders fundraiser, ‘The BWB Winter Ball’, was a night to remember for all of the organizers, artists, volunteers, and participants who made it such a huge success. It was a night filled with art, food & performances; an evening exploring how artists can contribute their gifts in meaningful ways to their local communities.

Photo by Jenka Pechenka
Photo by Jenka Pechenka

The fundraiser was held to support the ‘Chicago Community Grant Program’: a collaboration between the local BWB chapter and Chicago’s burner-run arts & culture 501c3 Bold Urban Renaissance Network (BURN) that started in 2012.  Based loosely on ‘The Sunday Soup’ model, the program is an experiment in opening up the grant selection process by allowing community members to vote for the grant winners themselves.  Twice a year, a salon event is held where four civic projects are invited to come and give a ten minute pitch explaining their ideas and the audience follows up with a five minute Q&A session.  After the pitch session everyone is served a delicious meal and has the chance to cast one vote that decides that evenings winners.  After three years and six cycles, the program continues to exist as an enriching community event and vital funding model for grassroots initiative.

(Read more about the program here.)

Orielle Anaïs Caldwell, aerialist (Photo by Jenka Pechenka)
Orielle Anaïs Caldwell, aerialist (Photo by Jenka Pechenka)

The BWB Winter Ball was conceptualized to be the main fundraiser for this program, and such a successful event shows that the local community believes in what’s been happening.  This year’s fundraiser brought a 338% increase in earnings compared to the year prior.  Another way to put this success into context is to consider that BWB Chicago raised more money on this single night than they’ve been able to give away over the past three years of the entire grant program’s existence. After expenses just under eight thousand dollars was raised!

So what does this mean for BWB Chicago and the Chicago Community Grant Program? The ability to have more impact!  The program is looking at expanding in size, awarded grant amount, and number of grants given.  Implementing a completely new microloan program for business focused projects is also under consideration.

Curious where the funding goes? Take a look at our 2015 Honored Projects:

Jakmel Ekpresyon – (www.facebook.com/JakmelEkspresyon)
Slow + Roll Chicago – (www.facebook.com/SlowRollChicago)
Free write Jail Arts – (www.facebook.com/freewritejailarts)
Share Your Soles – (www.facebook.com/ShareYourSoles)
Consensus Chicago – (www.facebook.com/consensuschicago)
Why Not Here? – (www.facebook.com/quinncommunitycenter)
Follow the Alphabet Road – (http://marylyonschool.com/)
Kedzie Carroll Garden –  (www.facebook.com/TheKedzieStop)

Keep in Touch with Burners-without-Borders Chicago:
www.facebook.com/bwbchicago    /   Civicgrants here: Civicgrants (at) boldurban.org