The FIGMENT Update

When our group got together to start FIGMENT in 2007, we never had any idea that it could ever grow this much, this fast. In 2010, our three-day NYC event had nearly 25,000 participants, and our Boston event, just in its first year, had something like 10,000 participants. It’s really amazing to see how quickly the community around FIGMENT has grown, and it’s exciting to see where it can go next.

Welcome to FIGMENT! (Image (c) 2010 NY_Man)

FIGMENT began in New York in 2007 as a way to bring three important resources together: first, Governors Island, a former Army and then Coast Guard base in New York Harbor that had just been turned over to New York City; second, the creative energy of artists in New York, often creating work without ample resources, often desperately in need of space; and third, the ethos that many of the founders of FIGMENT had learned from Burning Man, expressed in the ten principles—basically, teaching us how to work collaboratively together to make great things happen in a way that is participatory, generous, and free from commoditization.

The idea took off immediately, and, while we expected 500 people or so at our first one-day event, we had over 2,600 people, with thousands more turned away at the ferries. We haven’t stopped since. The New York event has grown exponentially each year, increasing how much art we cram onto the island’s 172 acres, growing in participation as art projects become more ambitious, growing in duration as we add increasingly successful summer-long projects every year, and growing in stability as we build a team that believes in this event and can keep it going.

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While You Were Burning…

Welcome back! It was very strange not being there with you, and watching the event, vicariously and compulsively, on the streaming feed on the web over the course of a week. For me, Burning Man has been a learning experience from the beginning, and I have learned so much this year, only this time I’ve learned it by not being there.

It has been incredibly painful going through the motions here, maintaining a typical existence, going to work, doing what I normally do. Except it’s been anything but normal, because I wasn’t there, I was here. And I should not have been going to work. I should have been building a dome, contributing to life in our temporary city, hanging out with all of you.

So what did I learn by NOT going to Burning Man this year?

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