Help Burners Without Borders help the Gulf Coast

‘Tis the holiday season, and dirt-rave-goers know that Buy Nothing Christmas is the best way to spend the winter solstice — giving mutual gifts of togetherness, experience, action, pay-it-forward-ism, and all that other fuzzy stuff which lasts forever and won’t be tossed aside and end up in a landfill.

photo by Craig Morse / Culture Subculture

Burners Without Borders is throwing its support behind the Coastal Heritage Society of Louisiana. If you have been following the Oilpocalypse story at all, you’ll know that Kindra Arnesen is one of the most furious angels in this whole dealio, blowing lids off coverups and using every available microphone and rally to alert the American people that this thing is so far from over, it may not have even begun. Her own health issues are well-documented in the media too; the breaking news, however, is that her brother is in the hospital — after trying to tough out the Gulf Blue Plague like self-sufficient Cajuns are wont to do, he submitted to the need for IV fluids and critical care. Doctors on the Gulf Coast, see, they don’t want to treat patients who utter the words “oil spill” or “BP.” They don’t want to spend the rest of their lives testifying in court, lose their jobs, and/or end up getting Matt Simmonsed. Anyway.

watch Kindra’s first public speech (and she hasn’t slowed down):
Kindra Arnesen – speech against BP and Halliburton, Gulf Coast 2010

Kindra and her homegirls in Plaquemines Parish (more…)

Please vote – community garden education center needed in the Lower Ninth Ward, NOLA

Hi there,

Greetings from New Orleans, where it’s not quite hot yet, the French Quarter Fest is raging, and all around the Lower Ninth Ward, the idea of sustainability and locally-grown vegetables is sprouting up like a mess o’ collard green seedlings.

Please take a minute to read the repost below and vote for a friend of Burners Without Borders NOLA — Jenga Mwendo — to win the $5k necessary to restore the blighted cottage next to our neighborhood community garden and transform it into an education center (and storage). It’ll be your good deed for the day!

Thanks,
BWB NOLA

Jenga and Mama Patsy cleaning up the garden in the early days. That's the cottage in the background. Git 'r dun!

From Jenga:

Greetings! On behalf of the Backyard Gardener’s Network, the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association Garden Committee and the entire Lower Ninth Ward community, I ask for your help to win the Cox Conserves Heroes contest. Please go here and vote for me, Jenga Mwendo! Cox Conserves Heroes is a contest that awards an “environmental hero” $5000 to his/her charity of choice. If I win, the money will go towards renovating a blighted cottage next door to our community garden for use as a storage/education garden center. I am the only contestant representing a project in the Lower Ninth Ward, the community devastated most by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Vote Now! Spread the word! Vote as many times as you want!! Thanks!

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Mardi Gras recap, NOLA 2010

So we always thought that Mardi Gras equaled Girls Gone Wild. Period.

We were so, so wrong.

We would get mad, working at the Burning Man festival, when others more wet behind the ears than our dusty cranky faction would say, “Yeah, Burning Man’s great! It reminds me of Mardi Gras!”

You don’t know what you’re talking about, our subconscious would scream. Have you any idea what it takes to live in a van for 2 months out of the year, in one of the harshest environments on Earth, laboring like a hard-time prisoner and eating nothing but Pabst Blue Ribbon and bacon? … Do you have any inkling as to the effort involved in building a fantastical city out of THIN AIR for FIFTY THOUSAND PEOPLE, and that we have to TEAR IT ALL BACK DOWN TO NOTHING?

(The subconscious, you see, can become quite the Bill Hicks-level righteous aggravationist when faced with 10-hour days under the hot sun in hangovery dust storms.)

But you know what? On Friday and Saturday nights? When we’ve built the city infrastructure and every-thousand ticketholders have come and added the bells and whistles and finally put down the tools to suit up in their finery and go out on the town and look at what other people have been working on all year in their spare time? It DOES remind us of Mardi Gras. Now that we’ve been to Mardi Gras as New Orleans residents, we get it.

dear Pan, please bless the proceedings and continue scaring the little children. And thank you for wearing pants. Amen

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Mardi Gras (And Another Pre-Event Costume Frenzy)

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, like the Burning Dude, is impossible to explain during just one cafe conversation. Like the Burning Dude, too, a newcomer needs to remember EASY DOES IT: enjoy the first year, don’t be too ambitious, focus in on one or two aspects, and branch out from there. Mardi Gras is a lot to swallow, and us, we’ve only just begun to chew.

For a good history of Mardi Gras: read here. Zulu parade: Here. And Mardi Gras Indians: Here and here.

(Mardi Gras Indians = feather envy)

Someone asked yesterday what we going to wear for our first Mardi Gras as New Orleans residents. “Do we NEED a costume?” Yes!, they said. Ohhhhh crap. Another lesson learned quickly: This is the high holy holiday in New Orleans, and even if thou art just walking down the street, thou shalt style thyself accordingly.

We are not the kind of people to show up un-costumed to a costumed event. In fact, quite the opposite. A friend offered to loan us her costumes from last year … but that just didn’t … feel … right. For our kind, costumes must be hand-crafted, filled with the spirit, and wearable post-event — not store-bought, forgotten about, and donated to the community center along with the bridesmaid’s dress and the fondue set. Our threads won’t be anything fancy — but they’ll be ours. Even at this late date, we’ll get it done.

Preparation for the fete is the spell we cast; costume, the pre-battle warpaint. As we make black-and-gold streamers for the Saints Superbowl game-day party at the Village, we wish on the Saints to win. As we cobble together the effluvia found during our Year One in NOLA, in hopes of crafting a costume that doesn’t suck … our fabric, our spirit, our memories, our treasures ground-scored and laid aside for occasions just such as this, and for that one other burning dude in August … we reflect and ponder and plan for the future. Certainly, many folks in New Orleans — especially the Mardi Gras Indians — are doing the same.

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Evolver Spores: Give It Up — Thurs Jan 21st, New Orleans

Evolver.net and Burners without Borders present:

Evolver Spores: Give It Up

Thurs Jan 21st
Swan River Yoga Downtown
2130 Chartres St, in the Marigny
8:30-10:00

Debt-based currencies controlled by closed syndicates of private banks are not the only way that humans can make an economy. Many tribal cultures have organized themselves around an entirely different way of exchanging value: The gift. Where our financial system expertly moves resources from the many to the few, gift-based cultures like to share what they have – as writer Lewis Hyde noted, “The gift moves toward the empty place.” At a time when billions are enslaved by passionless work while inequity reaches new historic heights, we are seeing a postmodern revival of sharing and gifting, with examples ranging from the open source movement to the annual Burning Man festival.

In this Spore, we explore the abstract theory and practical dynamics of gifting, the challenges of implementing this innovative, yet archaic, way of getting what you want and wanting what you get. We invite fellow Evolvers to bring their precious gifts – whether it be witticisms or wood-carved totems to the Spore and spread them around. Local Spores can screen “Burn on the Bayou,” a mini-documentary chronicling Burners without Borders gifting efforts during seven months of relief work in the Katrina-battered Gulf Coast towns of Biloxi and Pearlington, MS. Since that time, BWB has grown into an international, grassroots organization whose projects are based on the principle of gifting.

We will have Summer Burkes as a presenter. She is a longtime worker for the Burning Man festival outside Reno, Nevada, moved to New Orleans on April Fool’s Day of last year. Anyone who toils in the hot sun for three months at a time — staying in a van / tent / trailer in a landscape so harsh it harbors no living things — to help build and strike a temporary city of 60,000 people … learns a peculiar skill set, to say the least. Inspired by her crowd’s “Do Stuff” philosophy, and interested in seeing how the things she learned at That Place In The Desert could translate into the real world, Summer chose to migrate back home to the South to see what was up in the Lower Ninth Ward and how she could help. Currently, she has started working with Burners Without Borders and the Lower Ninth Ward Village to initiate a program called “Where’s Your Neighbor?”… and they need volunteers!

Be there or be L-7.

all hands on deck pt.2: lowernine.org, New Orleans

Hi. I’m a DPW / Gate clowngineer who now lives with some other “derelicte” members of D.I.Y. society, building up a Katrina-bombed house in the Holy Cross neighborhood of New Orleans. The Holy Cross is the sliver-by-the-river area of the Lower 9th Ward which didn’t get crushed by a tsunami shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit landfall. All around our neighborhood, during the day, you can hear hammering and sawing and the shouts of construction workers complaining about heat and sun. It sounds like a Deadwood background reel, or Black Rock City being built.

Meanwhile, we’re living with no refrigerator for the moment. Also, zero grocery stores exist within biking distance — reasonable biking distance — so for the past we-don’t-know-how-many days in a row, when we’re not being fed at the fancy-pants restaurants at which we toil, we partake of the HOLY CROSS BREAKFAST: Fried chicken and a pickle.
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LOWERNINE.ORG: yall come down now, y’hear?

ADOPT-A-DIRTBAG: Why not send a DPW / Gate / Burning Dude desert-rat hooligan (or yourself) to New Orleans to help rebuild with Lowernine.org?

Hurricane Katrina still haunts New Orleans, and she likely always will. She is an ogre. She is an abusive ex-lover out on parole. She is the backdrop, the turning point, the literal dark cloud hanging over everyone’s past, seeping out into the present, humidifying the future. Her human survivors remain buoyant — awash with both what-can-you-do resignation and silver-lining contentment.

Katrina gave America the biggest mother-nature bitch-slapping in its history … right upside this murderous and gorgeous city’s face. 80 percent of New Orleans flooded, and 1500 people died — half as many humans as the ones who perished on September 11th, 2001. Then, while the government callously sat back and watched in catatonia — like an 8-year-old pouring gasoline on an ant-hill — the good people of the United States mobilized to help.

When the storm hit, for a blessedly large number of out-of-towners, horrified empathy morphed into positive action.

Ricks the one in the grey T-shirt
Rick's the one in the dark grey T-shirt

In 2006, Rick Prose chaperoned a church trip from Maine down to post-Katrina New Orleans with his daughter’s youth group. Working mostly in the Gentilly area, Prose shot some video of a man scavenging gutting debris on the curb. The scavenger said something like: “You think it’s bad over here … Wanna come see my house in the Lower 9th Ward?”

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Do you know what it means?

Wed. May 27, 2009
New Orleans, LA
(the backbone of middle Amerika; the soggy bottom of Old Man River)

Hi. I’m Summer Burkes. I just moved from the crispy Bay Area to the sweet warm fog of New Orleans and as a DPW/Gate desert rat, I experience a swampy deja vu on the daily. Here are the top ten similarities between Burning Man and New Orleans I’ve noticed so far.

1. You can walk down the street with booze in your hand, all the time.

2. You encounter random parades, second-line marching bands thrumming with brass and drums to hoardes of ass-shakers, and sexy “pony” girls pulling a modified shopping cart chariot with a man dressed as a flamingo.

ya heard?
ya heard?

3. Sometimes it smells. And you love it.

4. Everybody parties, including the teetotalers, because they know that death is certain – but life is not.

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