Posts for category Afield in the World


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

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 »