Burners Giving Support to Syrian Refugees

Photo courtesy of Refugees Aid BCN IndieGoGo. Source: Anon Galactic News

On a recent trip to Greece with a group of European Burners, I witnessed the Syrian refugee crisis first hand. The stories about desperate families washing ashore had been splashing across the front pages for weeks before my visit and what I saw confirmed the utter enormity of the situation. Our group saw over 1,000 campers in settlements around Kos, a small beach town on the Greece shore, close to Turkey. As I walked near the camps, I never once felt threatened, only heartbroken, as the refugees waited for their relatives to come ashore and give them the assurance that they still had a family. In the midst of the chaos, I was particularly inspired by the actions of two friends and community members who showed me solid examples of love and generosity.

At the end of our Burner gathering, before we departed Kos, Nati, our Swiss Burning Man Regional Contact, offered to take up a collection of any leftover food, toiletries, medicine, and any other useful supplies from our group to give to the relief organization in Kos. Nati had done the research before our time in Greece and knew the appropriate local organizations to engage. We managed to pull together a lot of useful items, and Nati ensured that our supplies were delivered to good hands.

Nati put together a description of the experience in her own words for us to share:

“When we all got back to Kos at the end of our trip if was time to deliver all the donations. It was great to see that there were many different organizations present at the police station where many refugees were camped. There were some makeshift showers and some porta potties, but the situation was not great. It was scary to see some abandoned rubber dingies with tire inner tubing probably used as life vests, some with toys and baby blankets still in them. What I saw was like the pictures in the news. But that wasn’t where most refugees were staying.

We gave our donations to some volunteers that would take the things away to a big storage unit where everything gets sorted for redistribution. A volunteer told us that the situation was already a lot better than a few weeks ago where people had to wait up to two weeks to be processed before leaving on the ferry to Athens. They have a daily ferry now. But, they face some organizational problems like multiple relief programs distributing the same things very shorty apart and then nothing for a long time. We talked for a while and I could help out with some translations into Farsi.

It was nice to be able to help, but if felt like a drop on the hot stone. I guess every little bit helps though and there are many other sources of help. 

I take away from this trip an even larger gratefulness for my place in the world and a greater motivation to ask the question: “Who needs help where we are right now and how can we more actively have a positive impact?”

Like Nati, I left with a lingering sense that we, the Burner community, have so many resources, talents, skills, and love to offer the world and especially those in serious need. Turns out a dear friend of mine also had similar ideas.

After my time in Greece, I traveled to Spain and to my friend Sairica’s apartment in Barcelona. Sairica has hosted Burners and friends for many years in her Gracia apartment. I spoke with her briefly on the phone before I landed and she mentioned clearing out stacks of boxes from the guest room before I arrived but I didn’t know what she meant and nothing could have prepared me for the goodness I encountered upon my arrival.

When Sairica saw what was happening in Greece and Hungary and other parts of Europe with the refugees, she didn’t just contemplate helping, she actually started helping. Immediately. Her apartment became one of the first drop-off points for supplies to aid the refugees and she, along with other local residents, created an organization now called Refugees Aid Barcelona. Having collected over 20,000 boxes of warms clothes and other supplies for the Syrian men, women, and children, Sairica and her Barcelona team are raising funds via IndieGoGo to get trucks to Greece where supplies can be distributed. After the initial supplies are distributed, Sairica and the team will organize further shipments to refugee camps worldwide. I find their efforts truly inspiring.

I welcome other Burners reading this blog to list any similar efforts. If you’re so inclined, Refugees Aid Barcelona would welcome anything you can contribute to the cause. If you have a desire to start up a similar initiative, I invite you to get in contact with Burners Without Borders to start a conversation.

Refugees Aid Barcelona's boxes of supplies. Photo courtesy of Refugees Aid Barcelona.
Refugees Aid Barcelona’s boxes of supplies. Photo courtesy of Refugees Aid Barcelona.

While the refugee situation is grave (it’s said to be the biggest refugee crisis since World War II), I found some solace in seeing humanity in its purest form during my time in Greece. I saw mothers gathered in groups nursing their babies, teenage boys chasing teenage girls, and men playing chess in the middle of their camp. Somehow life goes on. Even in the worst times, we, as humans, inherently seek love, companionship, and even play.

My time in Greece will be etched into my mind forever and has significantly altered my perspective. The Syrian refugees and refugees worldwide need a tremendous amount of support. We as a community have a great deal to give. Let’s give.

Moscow, Megs, and the Red October

Cardboardia Parade, courtesy of cardboardia.info
Cardboardia Parade, courtesy of cardboardia.info

What do you get when you cross a giant, flaming duck with a chocolate factory and a smiling tyrant? A bird, a plane…and my recent visit to Russia.

A few weeks back, I traveled to Moscow to participate in an academic Urban Routines conference at Strelka Institute. The invitation was a fortunate one as it also gave me the opportunity to visit the thriving Moscow Burner community and to meet a fascinating and fun loving Black Rock Arts Foundation grant recipient.

My first day in Moscow, I wandered, sleep-deprived but excited, over a set of small bridges to find myself on an island in the Moscow River that houses the Krasny Oktyabr or “Red October,” chocolate factory, built in the 19th century.  The factory complex is now the home of art galleries, cafes, and Strelka Institute. (more…)

Global Network Spotlight: Europe is Burning!

Blog Co-Written by Andi Rubin-Schwarz

Spotlight: The European Burner Community

The Global Burning Man Network is alive and thriving in Europe. Through gatherings and participatory projects, the community is coming together in truly amazing ways and we have a few exciting initiatives to spotlight: Barcelona’s Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE) inspired project for Nowhere, Burning Night in Paris, Burning Burg in Germany, Latvia’s first annual regional burn, and Burning Man’s First Annual European Leadership Summit, which happened in February in Berlin.

Barcelona Burning Weekend site. Photo courtesy of Diana Zanelli.
Barcelona Burning Weekend site. Photo courtesy of Diana Zanelli.

Barcelona is Burning…

Barcelona is on fire! This past weekend, the Barcelona Burning Bash took place in Southern Catalonia and the Barcelona Burners and their international pals spent time making plans for an exciting community initiative. In the spirit of the CORE projects that brought together regional groups from 2011-2013 at Burning Man, the Barcelona Burner community is currently running a crowdfunding campaign to bring a large-scale, interactive art installation to this year’s Nowhere regional event in Spain, an annual happening that brings together over 1,000 Burners from across the world. The design of the art piece, called “COR Pur Trencat Bategant” (“Pure Broken Beating Hear” in Catalan), is based on the concept of deconstruction as a challenging process for traditional assumptions of certainty, identity and truth. Local artists, designers, techies and creators are teaming up to express the intersection of Burning Man culture with the spirit of Catalonia. The hope is that this year’s project at Nowhere will inspire other groups from across Europe to bring effigies to Nowhere and other regional events.The Barcelona team is now raising money to finalize their powerful vision.

Meanwhile, earlier this month in Germany…

Burning Burg Effigy Photo courtesy of Winnie Wedner
Burning Burg Effigy
Photo courtesy of Winnie Wedner

In early May, 30 beloved Burners turned the castle in Lutter, a quaint German village, into a sparkling den of happiness. “Small and beautiful” best describes the cozy annual Burning Burg event. Participants enjoyed a delightful weekend filled with creative workshops, inspirational conversations and colorful activities such as the film screening of Ulrike Peichert’s documentary You Can’t Unburn The Fire. Participants were also able to gain valuable information to help them prepare for Nowhere and Burning Man 2014. Despite the poor weather outside, the spirit within the castle was phenomenal. Castle inhabitants and people from nearby villages also joined in on the festivities on Saturday evening and made the weekend unforgettable.

And we can never forget Paris…

In April, the Burning Man community in France hosted Burning Night in Paris. Nearly 1,300 participants filled the rooms of La Machine Du Moulin Rouge with color and magic. Over 20 DJs and a wide variety of acts performed on 3 stages until the wee hours of the morning, providing the sonic backdrop to a night filled with workshops, interactive machinery, performance and joy. April’s event marked the 13th installment of a truly amazing Burning Night event series that started off with 50 attendees in 2006. Stay tuned as we will soon announce a new team of French Regional Contacts that will help nurture the Burner community across the country.

Our Latvian rock stars…

Between June 21st and 24th our dear rock stars from Latvia are hosting their first regional burn: Degošais Jānis: Uguns Rituāls (Burning John: Ritual of Fire). The event takes place on an industrial hemp farm and coincides with Latvia’s biggest national holiday, Jāņi (pronounced yah-nyee). According to the tradition, on the night of Jāņi, a bonfire must be kept burning from sunset to sunrise. The farther the light from the fire reaches, the farther the sacredness and protection of this magical night reaches too. The night involves a variety of mystic, colorful and extremely inclusive events that bring the joy and fun of a wonderful and healthy new year to all participants. The theme is TRADITIONS, where the traditions and culture of Burning Man will blend with the traditions and culture of Latvia.

Berlin heats up…

We also thought you’d enjoy seeing this fun video that Profiles in Dust crew member Jan Beddegenoodts created to celebrate Burning Man’s first annual European Leadership Summit which took place in Berlin February 7-9, 2014. The weekend-long gathering brought together over 100 Regional Contacts and community leaders from over 30 countries. The Berlin Burners hosted the myriad Summit guests in grand style and put together Burning Bar, a night-long celebration that took place in an old silent movie theater. We can’t wait to see what the Berlin Burners do next! A Burner meetup is planned for this weekend at C-Base, an amazing space station that hosted our Summit kick-off mixer. Yay, Berlin!


It’s clear that Burner culture is thriving across Europe. To get involved in your local regional community and to find out what’s happening, visit regionals.burningman.com.


The Inaugural Burning Man European Leadership Summit

Lituanica Birds, Lithuanian CORE project, 2013 (photo by Paulius Musteikis)
Lituanica Birds, Lithuanian CORE project, 2013 (photo by Paulius Musteikis)

More than 100 European regional contacts, community leaders and regional event leads gathered in Berlin with Burning Man staff Feb. 7-9 for the inaugural Burning Man European Leadership Summit.

Through three days of presentations, group discussions and networking, participants and staff gained a deeper understanding of the broad range of community initiatives and visions of the future shared by Burners from countries across the continent. Burning Man staff led seminars covering event production and the evolving role of regional contacts. Participants also shared experiences on the unique nature of leadership in a collaborative culture and across multiple languages. (more…)

Synching Up Heartbeats on the Playa

Tune into BMIR 94.5 on Thursday at 10pm to participate
Tune into BMIR 94.5 on Thursday at 10pm to participate

On Thursday, August 29th at 10pm YOU will have the opportunity to participate in the world’s largest synchronized heartbeat, which will take place in our dusty Black Rock City home. BMIR Radio (94.5FM) will broadcast a bass-laden heartbeat and art cars and camps across the playa will tune in for five minutes. By listening, your heartbeat will tune to the beat on the radio, and, by extension, the population of Black Rock City.

The goal of this experiment and playa dream of Playa Heartbeat project organizers Sonia Aggarwal and Jordan MacHardy is to get every single heart on the playa beating in sync. And, there’s a science behind it. “When a human heart is surrounded by rhythmic low frequencies of the right meter, it aligns with the beat,” says Aggarwal. Aggarwal says that the initial inspiration for the project came to the duo when they were walking around the playa in 2012 and imagining Black Rock City as a giant organism, which made them wonder what that organism’s heartbeat might sound like. (more…)

You’re Invited! TOUR de CORE – Monday 8/26/13

You’re INVITED! TOUR de CORE Monday 8/26

"The Hatchery", Dallas CORE Project, 2012 (photo by Owen Hayes)
“The Hatchery”, Dallas CORE Project, 2012 (photo by Owen Hayes)

Come one, come all to the fabulous TOUR de CORE in Black Rock City!

The 3rd Annual Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE) is comprised of wooden sculptures created by Burning Man Regional groups from around the world! This year’s configuration consists of four circles of six effigies placed around the base of the Man that will burn together on Thursday night to create the world’s largest intentional simultaneous Burn!

Kicking off the first night on playa, the TOUR de CORE will be the prime time to venture out to see the different CORE projects and to meet the creators to see what they have to share on their outstanding projects! Art cars will be on hand as hosts, to celebrate CORE, to entertain folks and to shuttle you around the circles. (more…)

Participate! Vote on Burners Without Borders’ next grant recipient!

From Hurricane Sandy relief to empowering marginalized street-living youth through the MotoMoto Circus project in Kenya, Burners Without Borders has supported innovative disaster relief programs and community initiatives that have a positive lasting impact since 2005.

Burners Without Borders

Tomorrow, Burners Without Borders invites you to join their tele-salon and select their next grant recipient! Their new Walk the Walk Grant program seeks to fund innovative community projects within the Burning Man Global Network.

Four finalists will each have 10 minutes to pitch their project during the call. How does the project embody the 10 Principles, creatively address local challenges and produce direct actions and collaboration? Join the tele-salon and find out tomorrow. (more…)

Get into the C.O.R.E.! Dispatches from Black Rock City!

The Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE) is taking form before our eyes out here in dusty Black Rock City! Now in its second year, CORE is a massive collaborative art installation comprised of 34 effigies created by Burning Man Regional groups from around the world. The majority of CORE project leads will arrive tomorrow but a few groups have already started building their art out here in our desert home. This afternoon, Squishelle, our resident CORE Cheerleader and one of our Vancouver Regional Contacts, and I hopped in her blue VW van, Peacock, to greet the groups and see how the projects were coming along.

Stella Octangula crew from Mid Atlantic hard at work! (Photo by Squishelle)

We first laid our eyes on Stella Octangula, the MiAtlantic/Philadelphia project. When we first arrived, they were staging they their second geometric shape to be connected to the first one that they’d perfectly laid into the playa. Eventually, it will form a giant star tetrahedron, which is a symbol of divine essence and beauty. The crew members were warm, friendly, and offered us a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (yum! My favorite!) and we talked Jersey and Garden State Parkway exits.  During the CORE Art Walk on Tuesday afternoon, the Stella crew will host a workshop about how to created divine geometric forms through the art of origami. They will also be having a ritual dance performance that embodies the archetypal dualities between fire and air at 5pm on Tuesday. (more…)