Posts for category Afield in the World


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

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

Welcome to the Burning Man Media Frenzy. Here’s how we win it.

Photo by Polaris

Photo by Polaris

Did the sideways attempt by an astringent horse-meat peddler to associate its tacos with Burning Man on a television commercial get your ears burning?

It did mine.

And then there was a New York Times article suggesting that Burning Man is “running on fumes” because Paris Hilton tweeted about it.

Really, New York Times?  You’re a newspaper quoting Paris Hilton’s tweets, and *we’re* the ones who are running on fumes?  I’d humbly suggest that the Principles of Burning Man are a lot more stable than the pillars of journalism just at the moment, thanks.

Then there was P. Diddy.  Then there was Stacy Kiebler (full disclosure:  I don’t know who that is) talking about Burning Man on “Live with Kelly and Michael.”  (I’m assuming that’s actually a real show, and not a clever prank.  It sounds fake).

Then there was the photo spread on The Atlantic’s site.  And the photo spread in Business Insider.  And the animated GIFFs on Buzzfeed.  And what I’m just going to assume were dozens of photo spreads on the Huffington Post, because honest-to-God do I not have time to actually check.

And then there was what’s-his-name … the internet billionaire … and then the other internet billionaire (I have a hard time telling them apart).  And the twins from the movie about the website.

And then there was the sorta-outrage that Mark Zuckerberg would helicopter in and help give away grilled cheese sandwiches.  Which is baffling, because:  is there actually a better use of his time?  Anything that keeps him from working on Facebook is a win.

And then John Stewart made a crack about Burning Man on the Daily Show …

Yep:  our ears are burning.  When titans of industry come looking for something that a guy with a tutu and a tent has been rocking for years, you know you’ve got the world’s attention. Read more »

September 5th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Participate!

The Global Village

Shattered

RSA to BRC the hard way

It doesn’t seem all that long ago when everyone at Burning Man came from California and the only language spoken was English. This year, in a single night, I overheard conversations in Russian, Japanese, Mandarin, Dutch, German, French, Portuguese, Afrikaans, and a half-dozen other tongues I couldn’t ID. I clinked glasses with a cider-maker from England, an architecture student from Russia, and an intrepid young South African named Kayden, who had ridden his bicycle all the way to Black Rock City from the RSA.

According to early census numbers, nearly a quarter of our city’s population now comes from outside the US, or roughly 17,000 people this year. And for every one who makes it to BRC, how many friends did they leave back home who would love to join us if they could? Though now written on a global canvas, it’s an old story: people come to BRC and get their lives changed, and they take that experience home to whatever part of everywhere they came from. Maybe they’ll be back next year or maybe they won’t, but they can’t stop thinking about it, talking about it, and wanting to live this way year-round.

Regional burner groups

Regional burner groups

Small wonder, then, that the Regional Network has grown so dramatically over the past few years, with hundreds of sanctioned groups now hosting scores of burnerish events around the globe. Afrikaburn alone had over 7,000 attendees this year. Whatever it is we’ve built here in the desert, demand clearly outstrips supply. The playa can only hold so many, but we’re not just the playa anymore – we’re the planet.

This global spread of our culture – organic, viral, and largely unplanned – is where all the action is. On a personal level, it’s why I chose to rejoin the Burning Man Project after a long hiatus. How do we channel and fuel that mad growth? How do we translate the Ten Principles, and stay true to their spirit as we cross cultural and linguistic boundaries? How can we continue to serve as a catalyst for positive change in the world? From the beginning, we’ve always viewed our event as an experimental community – but who could have guessed that the subjects would assimilate so completely with the observers, burn down the lab, and take the experiment to so many corners of the globe?Burning Man 2013: State of the Art

If you’re wondering what part you can play in all this, I have a few suggestions. Pick a region – any region – and get involved with your local burners. Maybe it’s just an afterburn they’re after, or maybe it’s something more ambitious, like the YES project or the Carver Garden Alliance, two great examples of how burners are working with kids in their local communities. If there isn’t a regional group yet in your area, think about starting one. And if you’re short on free time, but still want to add a little fuel to the fire, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the nonprofit Burning Man Project. Your dollars – or yen or rubles or pounds – will help keep things burning those other 51 weeks of the year.

Thanks to all of you. Danke, merci, xiexie, and gracias. Wherever you live in the default world, you are part of an amazing global community. The playa speaks, and the world is listening.

 

Stuart Mangrum coined the phrase “TTITD” and claims to have seen the Playa Chicken. He works for the Burning Man Project.

August 23rd, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

Burning Man Art Show at the Reno Airport

If you are traveling through the Reno Airport on your way to Burning Man this year we hope you will take a minute and see the Burning Man Airport Show at the DepARTure Gallery- Elizabeth Scarborough - curator, Glenda Solis - jewelry/material culture – and Maria Partridge. The show is open now, thru November 15,  2013, at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

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August 23rd, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, The CORE Project

Meet the builders of Midburn CORE: The Hand of Inspiration

Midburn CORE Team

Midburn CORE Team

There are many stories about how the regional Burning Man group in Israel started. Memory  recalls general details better than specifics, and points of view might not agree. But many feel these stories don’t collide, they coincide.

Sharon Avarham, the Artistic Director for Midburn, is happy to explain the basics of his involvement. While working at a summer camp in 2011 for Jewish children in the U.S. Midwest, he was invited to go to Burning Man at the end of the summer. Having missed the chance once before, he made every effort to rearrange his schedule and go. He and his friend Daniel joined the CRTT theme camp and found themselves at home. A random encounter with other Israelis inspired them all to keep in touch once back home.

Sharon Aravham holds a print out of their missing engineer who is back in Israel

Sharon Aravham holds a print out of their missing engineer who is back in Israel

They did more than keep in touch.  A Facebook page was created and grew as other Israeli Burners discovered it. A Burner’s night was started at a bar in Tel Aviv. Theme-based gatherings were held. At one point, Sharon says, those that had been trying for years to organize a Dead Sea burn event were in touch, but nothing manifested. The growing community was content to be part of each other’s lives and share the Burning man vibe. They were hungry for it in fact!

Then there was a birthday party. Read more »

August 20th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, The CORE Project

Meet the Builders of CORE: Preparing in Reno

24 teams of builders are converging on Nevada over the next week from around the world. Portland, Vancouver, Victoria, and Idaho are all loading up and driving south. New York, Washington D.C., Minnesota and others are lumbering down I-80, heading west. And around the world, teams are flying in their work crews and gathering locally to buy materials and pre-build their projects.

The Generator is vast and currently supports four CORE projects, four other Burning Man projects and various art cars

The Generator is vast and currently supports four CORE projects, four other Burning Man projects and various art cars

On Saturday at the The Generator in Reno/Sparks, there is a bustle of construction and chatter in foreign tongues.  Several teams are busy preparing to transport their work to the playa. The Generator is a free workspace in an industrial area that has high end tools and hammers, metal working and dance practice space. It is run by Burners and holds true to decommodification and community as part of their creed.

Currently, it is buzzing with crews from Hawai’i, Israel, Holland, France and other locations. Read more »

August 17th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World

An Eco-Burner Homecoming: AfrikaBurns to Black Rock City by Bike

Which way to Black Rock City? Choices, choices.  (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

Which way to Black Rock City? Choices, choices. (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

Next week thousands of people will be boarding planes and squeezing into cars crowded with camping gear bound for one location: Black Rock City. This attraction to one of the most inhospitable, creative and challenging places on earth baffles some and inspires others. Why spend so much time and energy on one week in the desert?

Kayden Kleinhans invested that and more in his preparation for Burning Man. Bicycling for 49 weeks, through 15 countries, Kayden’s journey started last year at AfrikaBurn, where he collected songs, remembrances and dreams from members of that community at their Temple in a leather-bound journal. His mission: deliver this precious cargo from their Temple in Tankwa Karoo, South Africa to our Temple in Black Rock City on a humble bicycle.

Yes, he is on a bicycle (its name is Little Ms. Sunshine).

Yes, there’s an ocean separating both Burns (a plane helped springboard him over the Atlantic Ocean to Buenos Aires, Argentina).

And yes, he is alive to share his story.

Special delivery from the Temple at AfrikaBurns with a stop in Furnace Creek, Death Valley (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

Special delivery for the Temple of Whollyness with a stop in Furnace Creek, Death Valley (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

As he peddled into Death Valley, California three weeks ago, he sent this update, “With less than 1000 km left to go, wild horses couldn’t stop the journal and its magical contents from making it to the playa.”

Given his dedication to cycling up the Americas solo with his gear, fighting heat, cold, injuries and loneliness to complete his mission, it’s difficult to believe that Kayden has never set foot in Black Rock City. 2013 will be Kayden’s first year at Burning Man.

AfrikaBurns 2012 in Tankwa Town, where it all began. (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

AfrikaBurn 2012 in Tankwa Town, where this all began. (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

The call of home, that commitment to principles of radical self-reliance to leaving no trace resonate whether or not he felt chalky playa dust between his fingers. As the Founder of the Global Wheeling Initiative, a South African-registered NGO highlighting climate change, he hopes to draw attention to these concerns through his journey, one of several he’s made bicycling across continents. His onboard computer and carbon calculator calculates the amount of CO2, which would have been emitted, if he was traveling in an average-sized America 2008 model car.

Kayden calls his journey, “a double edged project that was not only carrying the prized cargo but also drawing a comparison between the motor vehicle and the bicycle as a means of transport.”

49 weeks of cycling, 20,000 carbon free kilometers and 3 tons of CO2 saved with Little Ms. Sunshine later, he peddled into Reno a few days ago.

You have the opportunity to join him in this project. He invites Burner bicyclists to participate in the final leg of his journey to Burning Man. His invitation:

Reno to BRC by bicycle, 3 days and 2 nights “SELF SUPPORTED” bike ride covering 125 miles. Guided by Kayden Kleinhans on his final leg of the AfrikaBurns to Burning Man by Bicycle Project.

This will be an exercise in self-reliance and all required food and water for the 3 day expedition will have to be carried by the cyclist. Bring camping/survival equipment, a bike in good working order and a positive “Can Do” attitude.

Your Burn starts when we roll out of Reno on the morning of the 21st! You should have your ticket to Burning Man squared away ahead of time. Due to arrive at BRC on the afternoon of the 23rd. Arrangements for early access will have to be made prior to arrival through the necessary channels. Do not apply if you are not capable of completing the journey on your own accord.

Meeting point is the Anabella’s Zen Art Sanctuary, 12245 Spruce Lane, South Reno.

Contact: Kayden at globalwheeling dot org here: kayden (at) globalwheeling.org
Website: http://www.globalwheeling.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/globalwheeling

Up for the challenge? Write to Kayden and meet him in Reno with your bicycle.

[Editor's Note: Cycling on Route 447 is very difficult and dangerous, and this undertaking should not be taken lightly. There is a 20 mile stretch of 447 where the shoulders were washed away by flash floods this year, and NDOT is doing work to repair them ... in some cases, the shoulders are soft or non-existent, and the road is reduced to a single lane. Please be careful out there!]

Only one week remains until he cycles down Gate Road, finally completes his journey and enters Black Rock City to deliver the journal to the Temple.

Thousands of Burners will follow his bicycle tracks in vehicles of all sizes from all over the world. Where are you traveling from? Tell us how you’re coming home.

Snapshots from the US leg of his journey:

On his way via Cali Route 395 (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

On his way via Cali Route 395 (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

 

Sedona, Arizona (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

Sedona, Arizona is a gorgeous place to rest (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

 

Shattered (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

Shattered (Photo courtesy of Kayden Kleinhans)

 

August 8th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, The CORE Project

Meet the Builders of Portland CORE: Ludum et Refugium

People have lots of ideas about what Portland is like. Portland is weird and eclectic, some think, and the cable comedy Portlandia is partially a documentary (it’s not). I have met a lot of great people from Portland. Yes, some of them are weird. If you are familiar with the kilt-wearing, bag-pipe-playing, Darth-Vader-mask-wearing unicycle rider from the famous meme, I can assure you he has a real name and is a great guy to talk with.

But as far as Burners go we all like to think we are weird. And the team for the Portland region’s CORE project certainly self-identifies as such. They are bringing art that presents Portland’s soul to add to the circle at Burning Man.

Top row: James Dishongh, Pope Tart Second row:  deadletter, Magn0lia, Jackie, Mayem, Pi, Marklar, Catherine Third row: Lory Osterhuber, Jason Brulotte, Browse, Brend

Top row: James Dishongh, Pope Tart
Second row: deadletter, Magn0lia, Jackie, Mayem, Pi, Marklar, Catherine
Third row: Lory Osterhuber, Jason Brulotte, Browse, Brenda

Read more »