Posts for category Afield in the World


March 24th, 2014  |  Filed under Afield in the World

Life Cube Burns in Downtown Las Vegas

Last Friday, the Life Cube burned in the middle of Las Vegas. The flames carried 35,000 wishes written by the public up into the heavens.

Artist Scott Cohen has built and destroyed The Life Cube Project on the playa for a few years running, and now he’s brought its message into the default world. Anyone who passed by the structure before the burn was able to write down their wishes, and Cohen also brought cards to local elementary schools. DaveX (Burning Man’s Fire Art Safety Team manager) said his favorite of the kids’ wishes was “I want a gold monster truck.” He and a few other veteran Burners were on hand to make sure the Life Cube burned safely — including the inimitable Flash Hopkins, who emceed the proceedings.

There’s a beautiful photo gallery in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and here’s a great piece about the burn on the local news:

FOX5 Vegas – KVVU

March 1st, 2014  |  Filed under Afield in the World

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. Read more »

February 28th, 2014  |  Filed under Afield in the World

Researching the Burning Man Diaspora

[This guest post is from Dr. Graham St John, who is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, where he is working in collaboration with Prof Dr. Francois Gauthier in the Department of Social Science researching the global Burning Man movement as a religion beyond religion. His website is www.edgecentral.net.]

Lithuanian Burner Jurgita Vanagaite, 2013 (photo by Paulius Musteikis)

Lithuanian Burner Jurgita Vanagaite on playa, 2013 (photo by Paulius Musteikis)

After my first encounter with Burning Man in 2003, I grew enthused by its global reach over the subsequent decade. This trend is reflected in the 2012 Black Rock City Census results (BRC Census 2012) in which we learn that 24% of the population of Black Rock City are reported to be non-US residents (about 10% European). There is no reason to believe that this global gravitation to the quintessential do-ocracy in the desert will abate any time soon. While this trend is fascinating in itself, of corollary interest is the stimulus that descending upon the Man is having back in the world. By 2014, pilgrimage to the world’s largest temporary city has triggered a global diaspora, with regional developments worldwide, stoked and nurtured by the Burning Man Project. Across the planet, official Regional Events (adopting the Ten Principles), as well as other event-communities, art initiatives and “transformational festivals” are being influenced, if not directly inspired, by Burning Man and its ethos. Read more »

November 12th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

Peikwen Cheng Exhibits Burning Man Photos at Paris Photo 2013

Five-Star Ride (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

Five-Star Ride (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

Photographer Peikwen Cheng writes:

“I want to share some good news. Burning Man and its community has been a huge source of inspiration. And now I’ll be exhibiting photos taken on the playa from my series Lost and Found at Europe’s most important photography fair Paris Photo. If you think the Burning Man community in Europe would appreciate visiting, please feel free to share the details for the exhibition:

Paris Photo 2013
Vernissage: November 13
Exhibition: November 14-17
Location: Grand Palais, Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris – Galerie Magda Danysz, Booth B03″

 

November 11th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

“Like 4 Real”: DADARA Speaks at TEDx Amsterdam

"Like 4 Real" at Burning Man 2013 (photo by Yomi Ayeni)

“Like 4 Real” at Burning Man 2013 (photo by Yomi Ayeni)

Did you see the “Like 4 Real” art piece at Burning Man 2013? Did you hate it? Did you discount it as a publicity (or some such) stunt by Facebook, or a group of overly-enthusiastic Burners from Silicon Valley? You’re not alone. Turns out that was a common misconception.

DADARA (aka Daniel Rozenberg), the Amsterdam-based artist who has created over a half-dozen thought-provoking art pieces for Burning Man over the years, recently spoke in front of 1,200 people at the Royal Concert Hall for TEDx Amsterdam about Like 4 Real, his most recent offering.

It’s a wonderful talk (not to mention an interactive and participatory experience) about the principle of Immediacy, wherein DADARA provides insight into this provocative piece, including the socio-technical conditions that inspired it, the Likefesto, and the experience of displaying the sculpture at Burning Man.

Enjoy … and we encourage you to participate in the Like meditation at the end. Of course, if you’re so inclined, you’re welcome to “like” the Like 4 Real Facebook page. For real.

October 15th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, News

Black Rock Solar Honored for Selflessness

Black Rock Solar

Black Rock Solar

Well now … Burning Man’s spin-off non-profit Black Rock Solar is being recognized for their great work and good deeds over the years!

Solar Power World Newsletter has announced that Black Rock Solar has been awarded the Brian D. Robertson Solar Schools Memorial Fund Award — honoring BRS’s selflessness in solar advocacy, installations and education work. BRS Executive Director Paddy McCully will accept the award at the Solar Power World Top 250 Gala in Chicago, during the Solar Power International conference.

Here’s the story from SPWN:

By popular acclamation, Black Rock Solar, a Reno, Nev.-based solar non-profit installer, will be awarded the Brian D. Robertson Solar Schools Memorial Fund Award.

The Brian D. Robertson Solar Schools Memorial Fund will recognize the non-profit at the Solar Power World Top Contractors Gala on Oct. 21 at The Drake Hotel in Chicago for its selfless solar advocacy, installations and education work.

Black Rock Solar began as a volunteer crew installing a 30-kW solar photovoltaic (PV) array at the Burning Man festival in 2007. That fall, the array was donated to the nearby town of Gerlach, Nev., and Black Rock Solar began its mission of building low-cost solar for organizations and communities who can use it the most.

Since 2007, Black Rock Solar has installed more than three megawatts of solar power for tribes, non-profits and schools in Nevada. Many of its systems have been built at zero cost to its clients.

The BDR Fund is a project of The Solar Foundation, a national non-profit dedicated to expanding access to solar energy and broadening solar energy education in our nation’s K-12 schools. Named for Brian Robertson, a young entrepreneur and solar pioneer who died in a plane crash in December 2011, the award was created to honor Brian’s legacy and recognize the often overlooked work of community-oriented organizations and companies in the world of solar.

“Black Rock and others who have demonstrated their dedication to solar philanthropy make us proud to be part of this industry, and it is important that their generosity be publicly acknowledged,” said BDR Fund Board Member Jigar Shah.

Grid Alternatives and Solar Liberty also competed for the award.

The Top Solar Contractors Gala, taking place during Solar Power International 2013, is the culminating ceremony celebrating the publication’s 2013 Top 250 Solar Contractors rankings. The event will bring together more than 80 companies and 300 installation professionals.

UPDATE: Here’s a nice recap of the gala.

October 14th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Events/Happenings

SF Gets Decompressed

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We went to San Francisco’s version of Decompression on Sunday, and the cool grey city of love was looking anything but cool and grey: sunshine and late-summer warmth carried the day.

Esprit Park was jammed, the drinks were cool and the outfits were fantastic. No, we weren’t in the desert, and no, Burning Man wasn’t still happening, but wherever and whenever you get to the people and things that make you happy, that’s a good thing. And Decompression is that good thing.

There were art cars and info booths, Black Rock Solar and BMIR, flames and glowies, and plenty of happy people. It’s funny: during the event you might tend to stick with your own kind; ravers are with ravers, artists are with artists, builders are with builders. But at Decompression we all kind of get thrown together along four long blocks in the Dogpatch, and you see all the disparate sides of Burning Man in a comparatively small space.

There was Larry his own self behind the yellow tape at the Friends of DPW area (and thank you Caitlin and Pinkie and Abbey and all the rest who gave their time and money and energy to create a safe landing place for the slightly shell-shocked folks who only last week got back from the desert after finishing up Playa Restoration).

There were sound stages all along the event area, and there were DJs and live music, and interestingly enough there were also spoken-word performances, which leads you to believe that the entertainment and scope of what happens at Decom continues to expand and evolve. Late in the night a young guy was telling the story of a recent breakup, and there was a good 60 people or so, sitting and listening and feeling a little more connected to the experiences we all share.

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There was Marian and Lady Bee and Will Chase and Lightning and other BM luminaries, and there was Plex and Deborah and dozens if not hundreds of other volunteers who make all this possible. It never ceases to amaze us how much is accomplished because of the kindness and generosity of and open-heartedness of the volunteers. None of this could happen without them, and we thank them sincerely, if inadequately, every chance we get. Thank you for getting up early, thank you for staying up late, thank you for working the whole time. Thank you.

We naturally gravitated around the DPW enclave, because it felt like home. We could watch the parade of people strolling by, the stilt-walkers and the sparkle ponies, the makers and artists, the veterans and the newbies.

You probably remember how challenging it was to readjust to the default world when you got back from the desert. But imagine if you had been out there since the beginning of August and just now returned to your other life. The desert cleanup is finished, but the BLM inspection hasn’t taken place yet because the government is at least partially shut down. And it’s unclear when that inspection will happen. But if history is any guide, and of course it is, there won’t be anything to worry about; the Resto crew went over the playa inch by inch so that we can truly say that Burning Man is a leave-no-trace event.

There were signs yesterday, though, that environmental mindfulness can get left behind in the desert. At the end of the night, as we walked out to Mariposa street, we couldn’t help but notice how much litter was on the ground. Sigh. And that’s why there was another team of volunteers on duty very early Monday morning, making sure that we could justifiably claim that Decompression, like Burning Man, is a leave-no-trace event. It just needs a little help.

Read more »

September 10th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, The Ten Principles

To Our Coy Mistress

Truth is Beauty, by Marco Cochrane

Truth is Beauty, by Marco Cochrane

But at my back I always hear

Time’s winged chariots hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie

Deserts of vast eternity.

– Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress,” 1650

San Francisco, early September, 2013. I awake before dawn to the sound of the garbage truck lurching and braking a staccato samba up my steep street. The clearest confirmation of returning from the land of Leave No Trace is being roused by a heaving, clattering garbage truck, dragging my recyclables of melancholy to the curb. Inside the bin lies the low, slow ache of having to wait another forty-nine trash pick-ups to reconstitute that other awakening experience from which I’ve recently returned. It’s never perfect out there, to be fair; each year it gets harder to inhale the dun-colored dust,  to tolerate the all-night electronica at twentysomething volumes, to flaunt the corsetry of a coy matron.  But it is more perfect than many places on earth, perhaps because it exists in suspended time. The days flow longer and shorter out there, so crammed with dazzle and depth that the sacrifice of sleep feels noble and necessary, and being awakened presents an opportunity to discover new wonders. Adrenaline and cooler-chilled cans of coffee fuel marathon days and nights, punctuated by protein bars and ambrosial encounters with soft-scrambled eggs and maple bacon ice cream. Despite its hardships, it is still the place that rouses my psyche year-round, the week that slowly brakes and lurches up the calendar until it mysteriously crests and suddenly barrels down the hill with unstoppable momentum. Which happened a few weeks ago. Now I am making the jerking, awkward journey up the hill once more.

Black Rock City has a curious relationship with time.  It is unsurprising that navigation in Black Rock City is marked by the face of a clock; in a place where time is so fluid and compressed, the rhythmic cycle of twelve hours is appropriated for other uses. A man base that takes four months and four days to build is dispatched in less than an hour. A relationship that has taken five years to coalesce is witnessed and sanctified in a brief ceremony. An art installation that has been imagined for a decade is auditioned, funded and accomplished in eight months, and evaporated in a flamethrowing fifteen minutes. We wait all year for our seven days in the desert, our touchstone of timelessness. We are willing to abandon most commitments and comforts to spend evanescent hours with dear soulmates, remarkable art, transcendent music, even our imperfect selves.

We want time to speed up so that Burning Man will come again, but once we are in the desert, we want time to slow down to appreciate every moment. Marvell tells his coy mistress, “Though we cannot make our sun/Stand still, yet we will make him run.” Once there, we don’t want the Man to Burn because that means we have to begin counting the days until the Man Burns again.

Once there, we wait at the gate, in line for gifted chai, on the queue for our turn on the teeter-totter of death. But we wait in Black Rock City with an enthusiasm that should be bottled and gifted to every parent of a tired toddler at the grocery store, every arid airport bar, every applicant at the Department of Motor, not Mutant, Vehicles. In our temporary city, time passes with speed and delight because we handle the experience of waiting as an opportunity. We engage with our tutu-bearing comrades, we appreciate our surroundings, we challenge ourselves to celebrate the principle of immediacy. Time becomes an opportunity rather than a penance or a means.

Coyote, artist Brian Tedrick

Coyote, artist Brian Tedrick

Being generous with the time span of the early years, the actual Burning Man event has occurred for around 150 chronological days.  “Had we but world enough, and time,” Andrew Marvell pleads with his love interest, we would be able to be patient for the thing we desire, but our life span does not afford us that luxury. For all of the miscommunications and buzzing generators, the funky smells and rebel yells, Black Rock City is our coy mistress, flirting with the moment. Had we but world enough and time…we could actually make it to all of the things we circled in the What/Where/When. We could encounter every single piece of art in deep playa. We could catch the early early show at the Bijou. We could learn to make kombucha, join a drum circle, and volunteer with the Lamplighters.

We dally with this inamorata for seven, or five, or three days, and impossibly try to cram in a year’s worth of imaginary encounters into that time. We ride from the three to six to nine o’clock plaza on our wheeled chariots, but we never manage to make our sun stand still. It beats down too hard and sets too swiftly, and hurtles us back into the rest of our lives with an abrupt and noisy awakening.

Temple of Whollyness, artist Gregg Fleishman, Syn Barron, and Lightning Clearwater

Temple of Whollyness, artist Gregg Fleishman, Syn Barron, and Lightning Clearwater

So we must bring the light of that sun back to break through the fog of everyday life. The desert has taught us how to radically include, express, and rely. Now is the time to apply the alchemy we have tested in our desert crucible. Now is the time to treat  Starbucks like Center Camp Café, to acknowledge our fellow caffeinators with enthusiasm. Now is the time to rediscover the local newspaper as our resource for a workshop. Now is the time to become a Greeter at the bus stop, the hardware store, the office lunchroom. We cannot wait another year for this ravishing mistress to enrapture us with a mere seven nights of her delights; we must incorporate what we love about her into our lives, to adopt her characteristics, to make her run and not stand still.  We must ride time’s winged bicycle, or its garbage truck, into every rising of the sun, so that our awakening in the desert does not make this year a vast eternity.

Photos: Sidney Erthal