This came across our radar, and we’d be hard-pressed to imagine a faster/easier/better way to bring Burning Man principles into your local community — and if the folks who came up with this aren’t Burners, we’d be utterly shocked (albeit pleasantly surprised).
It’s called NOW! festival. Here’s how it works: they pick two weeks a year and encourage people to come up with free and nearly free awesome experiences that serve to “co-create the best possible version of our community for one extraordinary week.” Sound familiar? Thought it might.
So people list their ideas on the website, and the listings are as much an advertisement as an inspiration to others to get off their duffs and create something as well (we’re digging the “Me Too” button).
The list of events reads like Black Rock City’s What Where When guide, only less completely insane. Somebody’s offering a concierge service outside the DMV, another’s hosting a ukelele jam. There’s a tetherball competition, a conversation about healthy eating, and a mobile bike repair station. And of course there’s a “Psychic Friends Pop-Up Healing Station” and a “Midnight Pajama Silent Disco”. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Basically, it’s great stuff that makes any neighborhood a better place to be, pulled together by people who want their neighborhood to be a better place.
It’s happening in San Francisco’s Panhandle neighborhood this week, so check it out if you’re in the area.
And for God’s sake people, please create one of these in your home town!! They’ve got a handy How To guide and a FAQ for all your questionings.
We tip our hat to these fine folks making great things happen.
“Aye, about 30 of us sat through a presentation about Temple. Most said they would participate. One other guy and myself showed up to the next meeting, and only I ended up actually working on the project. But see here, a thing I’ve learned is some steps you have to take on your own.”
Cookie is from the Top of the Hill neighborhood in Derry, the same neighborhood where the Temple stands overlooking the river Foyle and the city of Derry-Londonderry. He first heard about Temple the same way many people did, in a community meeting. Artichoke Trust engaged and worked with over 40 local community groups in an effort to ensure everyone knew that Temple was for everyone, not just one community, but for all of Derry and beyond. The Top of the Hill is part of the greater Waterside neighborhood, a Protestant area, which sits on the opposite side of the river Foyle from the City Side, a Catholic area, but Top of the Hill is traditionally Catholic. Confused yet?
These are the types of divides that go back a long long way in Northern Ireland, and were fuel for the fire of violence and division during the Troubles; a time when sectarianism was aligned with political and national allegiances. Soldiers in the street, bombings, and paramilitary groups were the norm. The peace accords in 1998 brought an official end to the Troubles, and it left Northern Ireland to try to pick up the pieces and get on after nearly 40 years of civil conflict.
With the Troubles still fresh in the minds of the older generations in Ireland and around the world, it has been easy for the press to focus on Temple as a project about, and in response to the Troubles. It’s true, reconciliation and community healing related to the conflict is still desperately needed. Over 3,500 people lost their lives to the Troubles, so everywhere you look in Temple echoes of the Troubles can be seen. Not only does the community carry scars of the Troubles, but so does the City of Derry-Londonderry. The name has a hyphen to avoid conflict. Sectarian murals dot the city and Peace Walls — 25 foot iron, brick, and steel walls built to separate Catholic and Protestant communities — still stand in the city center. Even Temple’s location brings up thoughts of the sectarian bonfires, because in the very spot the Temple stands was the normal location of a very large annual sectarian bonfire that’s usually followed by violent marches and rioting.
At 18, Cookie never knew the Troubles. He was just about 1 when the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ was signed. He and his friends have grown up in a town and a community desperate to move on, but still divided by religion, by violence, by walls, and even by a river. The Troubles may be over on paper, but his generation has grown up hearing the stories, seeing the bonfires, and having to deal with the economic and social damage left in the wake. Derry boasts a very high unemployment rate and one of the highest suicide rates in Ireland. Suicide since the end of the conflict has risen over 67% and the number of victims of suicide since the peace agreements will soon surpass those of the Troubles. It is so prevalent in Derry there is a special volunteer only rescue crew that specializes in suicides. The night of the burn, a local friend working on the project told me that someone he knew had committed suicide the night before. This is what the media did not focus on; everyone in Derry and around knows loss and hardship, and Temple was for them too.
It was no wonder to me when Cookie said he had considered joining the military. It wasn’t because he was looking for adventure, he was looking for a strong community. “I don’t have to think about doing that anymore though,” he said — he found that community in the Temple Crew. He didn’t know what Temple would bring, but he took that small step on his own to see what Temple could be for him. In that step he found a community, and as it turns out, a job after the project is over. He had been looking for a job for over two years. He also now has his sights on making his way to Black Rock City too, working on a large project of course.
Cookie’s comment “some steps you have to take on your own” stuck with me over the week. Spending time at Temple, I watched people arrive by the thousands. There were many concerns voiced about the project and its chosen location. “No one will come” were words of worry voiced many times to organizers. But they did, over 60,000 in a week, and each one took that step on their own. Perhaps they didn’t even realize they were taking a step.
Temple was a joyous meeting place for entire families. It was routinely packed so full you could not get inside. An entire elementary school came to visit Temple one day. Song and dance broke out frequently. On the last day Temple was open, over 28,000 people came to see it, to spend time inside it, to leave what they sometimes didn’t know they came to leave. As a volunteer Temple Guardian I handed out dozens of pens to people who, once there, realized that Temple was for them too and they had a contribution to make.
Temple burned in front of over 20,000 people from all over Ireland, the UK, and Europe. A member of the security team told me it was not only the largest gathering he had ever known of in Derry, but most amazingly it was totally peaceful. Temple has redefined what art born in the desert can mean for the world. Before I left Derry I heard calls for other Temples in Derry, in Belfast, and in other cities across the world, because Temple changed Derry. It has shown that art can unite communities after times of deep divide, that fire can be a source of healing instead of intimidation, and amazingly what can happen when so many take a small step in the same direction.
San Francisco, Calif., April 13, 2015 — Burning Man announced today that Burners Without Borders — a grassroots group that supports community organizing and disaster relief worldwide — will transition June 1 to become the cornerstone of Burning Man’s Civic Engagement initiatives.
“We’re very excited to bring Burners Without Borders into the Burning Man fold,” said Burning Man co-founder Harley Dubois. “This incredible group has an outstanding track record of facilitating grassroots volunteerism that truly represents what Burning Man is all about. This functional reorganization allows Burning Man culture to flourish through the civic efforts of Burners everywhere, in their local communities.”
BWB came into being after Hurricane Katrina when Burning Man participants left the event to help with the disaster cleanup effort. The organization has a 10-year history of supporting disaster relief and local grassroots volunteer initiatives around the world through its annual grants program and direct on-the-ground assistance. It’s expected this transition will have no major immediate effect on existing projects, grants or grant applications. “We want to thank the community for its unwavering support of BWB over the past decade — we are continually inspired by the impact this community makes every day,” said Carmen Mauk, Burners Without Borders’ Executive Director. “I am looking forward to the future where we can continue to grow and thrive.”
BWB’s international projects include relief efforts in Pisco, Peru after that city was hit by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake in 2007, relief efforts in the remote Tohoku Prefecture of Japan following the Fukushima disaster, delivering relief supplies to Haiti, supporting communities in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda, and providing relief to New Jersey communities not receiving adequate assistance following Hurricane Sandy.
About Burning Man Burning Man Project is a 501(c)3 public benefit corporation whose mission is to facilitate and extend the culture that has issued from the Burning Man event into the larger world. Black Rock City is the seminal manifestation of the 10 Principles-based culture known as Burning Man. The gathering, which last year included participants from all 50 states and 40 countries around the world, happens the last week of August in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. For more information, visit www.burningman.org.
About Burners Without Borders Burners Without Borders (BWB) was born in Biloxi, Mississippi during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort where Burning Man participants had instinctively gathered to fill in where government relief efforts were falling short. Since then, BWB has emerged as a grassroots, volunteer-driven, community leadership organization whose goal is to unlock the creativity of local communities to solve problems that bring about meaningful change. Supporting volunteers from around the world in innovative disaster relief solutions and community resiliency projects, BWB is known for the unbridled creativity they bring to every civic project they do. To get involved, visit the Burners Without Borders website.
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.
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.
[Nicole Brydson is an artist and journalist from New York City. She can be found at nb.interchang.es.]
The burning question of the 2015 Burning Man Global Leadership Conference has finally been answered. How exactly did two-time presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich get to Burning Man?
“I drove,” he said.
“I’ll tell you what happened, I was in London and somebody tells me – I’m in London meeting with, um, uh, what’s his name? Julian Assange. And so he’s telling me about Almedalen Sweden and … so I go to this event in Sweden on an island, it’s called Almedalen.
“It’s like a celebration,” he continued, “it’s an elm festival, but beyond that, it’s where people merge with all sorts of political thinking and disciplines and they have this very civil discussion – so foreign to where I’m from – so I met Gustav Josefsson at Almedalen and Gustav told me about Burning Man” – the crowd roars – “so thank you! Here I am.”
A few hundred Burners from around the world cheered for Gustav, a community leader from Sweden, seated in the center of the Imperial Room of Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco’s Japantown neighborhood.
The presentation by the former congressman and mayor of Cleveland followed one by Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell on the strategy and goals of the organization as it strives to scale the culture of Burning Man in service of the next creative renaissance. Goodell shared that she will soon travel to Washington, DC to negotiate with Bureau of Land Management representatives and is positively hopeful about increasing the size of the population of Black Rock City beginning with the 2016 event.
Kucinich followed to discuss the theme of humanity as an interconnected and interdependent organism, the physics of which can be changed and progressively propelled through personal education, leadership and transformation, or alternatively set back in the face of a culture and climate of fear.
Most people are probably wondering if Kucinich really “got” Burning Man. So when he stepped across the line into Black Rock City for the first time in 2014, what exactly did he see?
“I saw the colors the textures the forms, that imaginarium that all of us hold within us, but don’t always get a chance to see a physical representation of the images and the fantasies that stream through our head about the world that could be – and suddenly I stood there and I saw a representation of it and I thought how miraculous how beautiful and how true.
“If you remember Keats, ‘beauty is truth, truth is beauty’ – the interchangeability of those principles – I saw it represented, and truth as equates to light. When you stand, when you move through the playa at night, you see how the darkness is illuminated in so many different ways, you start to think about how each person has the ability to bring their own awareness into the world, their own consciousness and to let that light of awareness penetrate the darkness in what is so beautiful, and I saw the potential of that physically represented. We all have this yearning for transformation; we all have this yearning for transcendence. I think that each one of us lives if only for a moment to experience that.”
During his half hour on the stage, Kucinich shared personal stories, including his eight principles of making change happen locally as he relayed an excerpt from his forthcoming book about challenges he faced as a politician.
“Envision the alternative outcome,” he advised. “If we are to be architects of a new world, you better have the plans in your back pocket.”
Kucinich’s must do list for organizing change, in his own words:
Know your subject, research, research, research
Envision the alternative outcome
Create a concrete plan, your roadmap
Enlist the help of people who are like-minded
Work your plan
Be relentless, cheerfully.
“All the world loves a cheerful relentlessness,” he added.
As he wrapped up his question and answer session, a moved Kucinich shared that, “I sure am interested in working with all of you because I think that what you’re involved in is really creating a world that is not just worth living in, but that everyone loves to live in, and that really is what it’s about, its about connecting with a deeper sense of joy.”
As Kucinich’s stage time was winding down the most burning and obvious question of the morning was finally shouted out by Burning Man co-founder Crimson Rose – when would he be running for president? After all, a pile of Kucinich campaign pins and bumper stickers had been sitting at the registration table.
“Check please,” he quipped.
“I’m involved,” Kucinich continued delicately, “as we all are. It’s about being involved in our community in our country, in the world, and I would advise all of you who are looking for candidates: our first obligation is be as presidents of our own lives, and to show people that empire of self can become something that can merge with others who achieve a kind of self sufficiency and an ability to be able to function without a state,” he paused, seemingly in awe of his own statement. “Wow.”
“So rather than being accused of not answering that question, no comment.”
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.
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.
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.
“My burn name is Parsec,” Patrick Brown of Corpus Christi, Texas told me. “I am previously of Arcattack, still fart around with them but doing chemistry full time at the moment. Been doing BWB events since right after Katrina. Brought 300 pounds of meat to feed the town of Pearlington at the one-year anniversary of the Katrina effort.”
This is exactly the (gender-neutral) cowboy way Burners talk about their adventures, and it was music to my ears. But Parsec isn’t talking about the town-sized bacon party in the Black Rock Desert. He’s talking about disaster relief efforts with Burners Without Borders, which is increasingly part of the Burner job description these days. (more…)