Right now a Bay Area group consisting of a number of past and present Burners is putting together an event so ambitious that I am thrilled to be part of it.
I can’t tell you anything about it. Not what it is, or where, or who else is involved. I can tell you when, but that’s only mostly true. We’re revealing so little, in fact, that we actually sent out a press release announcing that we’ve created the least informative Kickstarter in history.
But what I can tell you … and what makes this an interesting experiment with Burning Man principles … is that there’s only one way to get a ticket. And that’s to be given one by somebody else.
You can’t buy a ticket for yourself.
It might be possible to engage in round-robins where a group of people buy tickets for each other, but we’ll be watching out for that. (I can’t tell you how.) Because the hope, the ideal, is that it will make the experience of going to an arts event more like getting a surprise gift: you have no idea it’s coming, it’s a gesture of thoughtfulness and goodwill because somebody cared enough to think of you, and you honestly don’t know what’s going to be there when you open it up.
Will it have that affect? Will it be possible to actually fund a high-infrastructure event this way?
We’ll find out.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I was against the whole idea. (more…)
In Derry, a city historically split by religious and political divisions, there is a long-standing tradition of burning and building extreme bonfires. UK-based charity Artichoke, who specializes in large-scale interactive public art installations, wants to bring David and his crew to build a temple with the local community that will turn the notion of bonfires and burning in Northern Ireland on their head. The temple will serve as a source of healing, uniting people as they come together for the epic build. Four people from Derry came to Burning Man this year and studied with David as he worked on the Temple of Grace.
The Burning Man Project is thrilled to support this collaboration with its first official grant from the new Burning Man Arts program. Burning Man Arts has also awarded a grant to support longtime Burner and documentary filmmaker Laurent LeGall, who is working on a full-length film about David Best’s life and work. He will shoot the temple project in Northern Ireland for the film, which is expected to be released sometime in 2015.
As founder of Burning Man’s Community Services Department, she knows a thing or two about how festivals run, and how communities and culture develop through well-considered infrastructure, guidelines and support. Here’s her report on Boom, and the panel:
What a treat to be invited to Boom to sit on a panel with founders from other festivals. The grounds for their music event were idyllic, situated on the bank of a beautiful lake in the rural farm region of Portugal. The property was 30 minutes from the closest village, where attendees camp on tree-filled rolling hillsides for an entire week. They walk a short distance to the multiple stages playing all sorts of techno music, thoughtfully placed to avoid sound bleed from one stage to the next. Food and other vending were tastefully placed at the edges of the property, so that art and music took center stage.
The 42,000 people were remarkably polite and engaged. There were a lot of families present and children were fully integrated into the scene. The staff was chill and helpful and the founders I spoke with were buoyant and fun! Overall it was hard to tell that there were that many participants present because it was so calm and tranquil. And although there were major DJs present there was little cult-of-the-celebrity to be noticed. People were very engaged with the music, their friends and the lecture series that was held at their Liminal Village stage.
Our panel (Leading the Way of Global Transformation through the Arts) was on the final day of the festival, near the end of the day. It garnered the largest attendance that week, and people listened and asked questions of us all. Present were Diogo Ruivo of Boom, a lovely, humble and committed man; Eule, Fusion Festival director of production and Kulturkosmos Co-founder, full of passion about their edgy (bordering on anarchistic) festival; and myself representing Burning Man. All of us had spent years creating the processes and infrastructure to build our events. Boom and Fusion began in 1997, so Burning Man was the oldest and most developed event of the three, but the similarities in trajectory and growth were striking.
Burning Man was also the only event that creates the space for the participants to bring the content, where Fusion and Boom both provide the music that people come to hear, but the concerns with culture, future vision, and a need to create a solid foundation to build off of where very closely aligned.
Many questions were asked and most focused on community and growth toward a sustainable future. It was clear that Burning Man, with 10 years on the other events was a source of inspiration and learning for these festivals. The attention we have put on naming, describing and developing our philosophy and intentions globally was very evident. Our vision for outreach and sharing our learnings was greatly appreciated by the crowd. Diogo Ruivo of Boom described us as the parent they come to learn from which I took as a great compliment, but we all know that parents learn from their offspring as well. I look forward to pursuing the development of these relationships.
Sidney Erthal, co-photographer with Scott London, and author Jennifer Raiser of Burning Man Art on Fire, which is topping the charts at Amazon, was packing to leave Burning Man last week and noticed he had several calls from his good friend Claude-Alix Bertrand, the Captain of the Haitian Polo Team. When he got Claude-Alix on the phone, he wanted to know if Sidney could “Please come with me to Haiti?” Claude-Alix explained that he was about to be awarded the honor of being an Ambassabor of Goodwill for Haiti, and could Sidney please come, and take photos of the event. The Haitian Polo Team had just won their first Championship Trophy.
So Sidney traveled home to San Francisco, packed a few things and off he went on the red-eye to New York City and then a jump to Haiti, and at that point, Sidney had not even been off Playa 48 hours. As Sidney said,
That moment when you thought you were going to have a very slow decompression and life surprises you big time… A life changing experience after a life changing burn. Embracing the mission.
He was in Haiti for just less than a week, and what an adventure it was.
But without a doubt, the highlight of the trip for Sidney, was meeting the President of Haiti, Michel Martelly, when he presented the Ambassadorship to Claude-Alix. Sidney had the opportunity to give President Martelly a copy of his book, and chat a little about Burning Man, which Martelly had heard of and was excited to know more about, and the President’s vision of Haiti’s future, to perhaps be a destination point for polo, to create more jobs in Haiti and improve the country’s economy. Sidney and President Martelly also had a moment to talk about the work that Burners Without Borders has been doing in Haiti to support Haiti’s recovery from the 2010 earthquake and help artists with their job skills; to read more that program, click HERE.
After meeting with the President, Sidney and Claude-Alix were taken on a tour of Haiti by Haitian Minister of Tourism, Stephanie Villedrouin. They saw a broad cross section of Haiti in their travels. They also attended a lot of meetings, or as Sidney said,
Meetings, meetings and meetings. I always knew my degree in Tourism would be very useful at some point! YEAY!!!
Every year hundreds of Burners-0n-the-internet are shocked to discover that someone they don’t like might come to Burning Man.
2014 was a big year for this, as many of the very same people who excoriate the rich for trying to turn Burning Man into a private club demanded that only people who think like they do should be allowed through the gates, because this isn’t a party for people with multiple opinions.
It’s all so much bullshit – but the internet amplifies bullshit and so we have to have this debate over and over again. So once more with feeling: the fact that Burning Man can attract people from all walks of life is a virtue. It is a strength. It is part of why our community works.
Grover Norquist has made this point perfectly. He published his recollections of Burning Man on the website of the London Guardian, and while you may disagree with him about aspects of Burning Man, and while his experiences of 2014’s Burning Man may not be your experiences, there’s absolutely no doubt that he did, in fact, experience Burning Man: that he got out of it what the rest of us get out of it, and that he wants more the same way we all do. (more…)
We’ve compiled some video, articles and photo galleries from Midburn, Israel’s first official Burning Man regional event. Produced by the Israeli Burning Man community, Midburn took place June 3-7 2014 in Israel’s Negev desert, where over 3000 participants gathered to celebrate creativity, art, self-expression and community.
Is Burning Man just a big party in the desert? Is the World Economic Forum detached from reality? Or is there an opportunity brewing for our burgeoning global community to change the world for the better? Here are some interesting thoughts from Burning Blog guest contributor Taro Gold:
You can stop war.
As you read this, more than 40 wars and armed conflicts are underway around the globe. Right now. This moment.
Whatever justification people claim for these wars, the suffering they cause is universal and devastating. The war in Israel and Gaza and the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 are only the most recent examples.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. “I am only one person,” you might be thinking. “I can’t make the fighting stop by myself.”
But you can. The key is our human network.
That brings me to Burning Man and a surprising connection I made earlier this year with another event half a world away, the World Economic Forum (popularly known as “Davos,” for the Swiss town in which its annual congress is held).
I’m sure many of us have heard some colorful yet dismissive descriptions of Black Rock City (usually by those who’ve never joined us there) as “self-indulgent,” “insular,” even “frivolous.”
So I was fascinated this year to hear the same sort of disparaging descriptions applied to Davos. I wondered how this could be, since the two events are normally viewed as polar opposites.
When I serendipitously met up with other Burners at Davos earlier this year, it highlighted for me the commonalities of focus and activities in both movements.
Burners, sometimes described as dancing hippies in the desert, and Davos attendees, viewed as the world’s elite, have both been criticized as detached from reality, with Burning Man as a utopian fantasy lacking solutions for real-world problems, and Davos brushed off as ignoring the plight of the common man. Neither could be further from the truth.
My deepest impressions after participating in both Burning Man and Davos activities over the past few years are the open-mindedness of the people whom I befriended, the striking similarity of humanistic discussions I’ve held in both communities—on inequality issues, gender and LGBTQ rights, water issues, the climate change crisis, veganism, and Buddhism—and shared intentions to contribute our individual talents and influence for the betterment of humanity.
While it’s true that the origins of Burning Man and Davos are as different as the scorching summer sand of Black Rock City and the icy winter snow of Davos, there is a definite yin-and-yang quality between the two. As many of us are aware, Burning Man began in 1986 as a grassroots, organic movement, a tiny local neighborhood celebration of the solstice, which gradually grew to the event we know today with some 60,000 participants. On the other side of the world, Davos started in 1971 Europe with key leaders in government, academia, and industry.
What is most important today, however, is that both movements have grown into global networks, and in the process created community groups in which people can focus on specific issues, all aiming to improve the condition of human life on Earth.
Our beloved Burning Man movement officially aims to “lift the human spirit, address social problems, and inspire a sense of culture, community and engagement.” Similarly, the World Economic Forum focuses on its official conviction that “all issues are solvable if the relevant decision-makers are able to interact with each other.” Although their original activities started from opposite directions (bottom up/top down), the current state of both movements is cross-pollination, bringing together those who share the founding spirit of each community across all sectors of society.
Both global communities are collections of smaller communities: Burning Man is a network of like-minded groups whose missions align, branching out to Black Rock Arts Foundation, Black Rock Solar, and Burners Without Borders. The World Economic Forum comprises 38 communities based on a stakeholder concept, including the forum of Young Global Leaders, the Gender Parity Programme, Women’s Communities, and Global Faith Leaders.
My experiences with Burning Man and Davos have convinced me that the members of both carry essentially the same spirit to foster peace, culture, and education in our respective nations and local communities.
In other words, I witnessed an active and engaged force for peace, a humanistic movement that will spread around the globe, one person at a time.
Are you “just one person”? Then you are exactly the person this movement needs now.
As we look forward to another successful Burning Man celebration, I hope we’ll consider the default world with continually wider hearts and minds, transcending all superficial differences and preconceived notions with ever-growing confidence that our intentions are shared by countless others around the world who may never have heard of Black Rock City. Even Davos is Burning.
I imagine that refrain must be annoying to people who have no interest in going. And it might be frightening to someone who is going for the first time. Maybe that change is exactly why you are going (or continue to go) to that wacky gathering in the desert.
I admit that I am one of the ones guilty of making that grand claim. After 16 years attending, I can barely remember who I was before I went to Burning Man.
I’ve had pink hair (year-round) for over 10 years. I help run a charity based on Gifting. I do a weekly podcast to recalibrate to my Highest Playa Self. Even my corporate job is linked to Burning Man: My CEO recruited me after watching some of my Playa Tips & Tricks Videos.
I’m not saying it will affect you the same way. But it might. Be open to it.
In fact, be open to the possibility that ANY experience in your life could dramatically change the way you see the world. A setback on the road. An interaction at a truck stop. A massive dust storm. A conflict with a campmate. These “obstacles” can be the very treasures that give your life meaning.
These “obstacles” can be the very treasures that give your life meaning.
Here is a short video answering the question of how Burning Man has changed me.
Side note: To everyone working their butts off to finish and pack up their creations: THANK YOU! I hope to be able to hug you, look you in the eyes and say it to you face…but please know I am GRATEFUL for your artistic spirit and your heroic efforts. I love you.
I hope you can join me on my Pink Ride on Thursday or enjoy some of the refreshing treats at my camp.