I want to tell you a little story. For the past few years I have hosted flame effects classes here in SF and several other cities including New York and now as far as Taiwan. One of the most amazing things that I have seen after these classes is the reinterpretation of the things that I showed and the practices that I have promoted. It is often the case that the following year after these classes that I see my students on the playa with flame effects that they have made. Sometimes there effects cross into areas that I had never even thought of and I can’t help but to be impressed at their use of the practices and principles that I taught and the new and exiting directions that their pieces have taken.
Here at Burning Man we have had these kinds of moments as well with such things as the regionals, Burners Without Borders and now Black Rock Solar. Well I would like to tell you about one more that I have just stumbled across. I was invited to go to Taiwan to a place called the Dream Community through the Flaming Lotus Girls to help them incorporate flame effects into some parade floats that they were crating. As I prepared to go I assumed that this “Dream Community” was perhaps a warehouse or collective with a few artists like other communities I have visited before. When I arrived I met a gentleman named Gordon Tsai.
Apparently Gordon traveled to Seattle to the Fremont artists community 8 years ago as well as Burning Man 4 years ago and reinterpreted the concept of “radical participation” to fit his own dream. When I arrived I found a community that covered over 6 square city blocks including workshop’s residential apartment blocks, a café, small factories a theater, offices etc. There are over 400 residential units on site with an average cost of $250,000 US and an average of 4 tenants per unit. The requirements of the sale or lease of these requires that the families must participate in the arts in such ways as helping to craft parade floats or learning Samba or Brazilian dance. Gordon has told me that the units are selling like hot cakes even though they are over the average cost of similar units in the area. Gordon also predicts the entire community will be paid off in full within 2 years. The income from these properties is used to fund a number of great programs; among them are some that really stuck out for me.