What Is A Festival?

I’m sure we’ve all cringed when a friend or co-worker says, “Burning Man? …that’s like Coachella, right?”

But it is hardly their fault. There are now TONS of events that are called “Festivals” and it is hard to understand how they differ.

In this video I talk about the different kinds of Music Festivals, Conferences, Transformational Festivals, and Participatory Gatherings.

NOTE: While I make the case that the participatory nature of Burning Man and sanctioned regionals have a special kind of magic, I did not mean to imply that the others do not have participation.  There is just something incredibly mind-blowing about looking out at the Playa and trying to grok, “So, none of these artists were paid? They created all of this as a gift for US?!”   It shifts something inside us and shatters our models of “audience,” “performer” and “participant.”

Did I miss any categories or important events? Share your thoughts below.

(For a great discussion by some organizers of other Transformational Festivals and how Burning Man influenced them, click here.)

San Mateo Innovation Week: “Maker Cities: Inspiring Engagement, Dialogue, and Participation”

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 4.51.12 pmWhat: Maker Cities: Inspiring Engagement, Dialogue, and Participation
When:
Thursday, May 14, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm (PDT)
Where: Kingfish Restaurant, 201 South B Street, San Mateo, CA 94401

Social media, on-line platforms, and urban prototyping have transformed the ways citizens interact and participate within their communities. Information is more accessible, dialogue is on-going, and expectations for involvement continue to rise. Burning Man and the Davenport Institute join the City of San Mateo during San Mateo Innovation Week to explore the strategies, techniques, and philosophies that inspire citizens to get involved and contribute to making lasting solutions in communities near and far.

This panel features Burning Man co-founder and former City Manager of Black Rock City, Harley Dubois; Ashley Trim, Assistant Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University School of Public Policy; Leslie Pritchett, Public Art Instigator and board member to several arts-based and nonprofit ventures including The Crucible and American Steel Studios; and Gordon Strause, Director of Neighborhood Operations with San Francisco-based Nextdoor. Stuart Mangrum, Education Director for Burning Man will facilitate the discussion.

Refreshments will be provided. Please visit San Mateo Innovation Week 2015 for more information and reserve your space.

Burning Man Represents at SXSW 2015

SXSW — maybe you've heard of it?
SXSW — maybe you’ve heard of it?

Ever since SXSW was a small gathering of creative types back in the day, we’ve sent folks from BMHQ down to Austin to participate. Over the years, we’ve hosted (or were on) a number of panels, held some workshops, and did a heck of a lot of connecting with like-minded people. And it’s funny … one of the most common questions we get is why we’re there. Why would Burning Man do SXSW?

Well, during our 25+ years of producing Burning Man, we’ve learned a thing or two about collaborative creation, participation-driven cities, inspiring creativity, creating crucibles for innovation, alternative socioeconomic models — things that we’re as eager to share with the broader creative community as they are to hear it. So for us, it’s as much about skill sharing as learning and community engagement.

So … that said, we’re happy to once again be sending a small contingent from Burning Man HQ to participate in SXSWi this year.

Rosie von Lila has put together a pretty impressive group of panelists to discuss participatory cities on March 14, and Burning Man Founder and CEO Marian Goodell will be on a panel about creating a space for social good on March 15.

We’ve also coordinated a couple Burner meet-ups, one for Austin Burners on March 14, and another for SXSW badge-holders on March 15. Details below … and if you’re in Austin during SXSW, we hope to see you!

Panel: Participatory Cities: Inspiring Access and Action
Austin Convention Center, Room 10AB, 500 E Cesar Chavez St.
Sat, Mar 14, 12:30-1:30pm

Panel: Sandbox Stories, Creating a Space for Social Good
Burning Man Founder & CEO Marian Goodell, panelist
Sun, Mar 15, 9:30-10:30am
Austin City Hall, Council Chambers, 301 W 2nd St

Badge Holder Meetup: SXSW Burning Man Meetup
Sun, Mar 15, 5-6pm
JW Marriott, Room 508, 110 E 2nd St (SXSW badge required)

Public Meetup for Austin Burners and Wannabe Burners (please spread widely!)
Friends in Austin! Please join folks from Burning Man HQ for an informal Austin Burners (and wannabe Burners) meet-up — come say hi and shoot the breeze. We’ll be in the back yard of Justine’s, just far enough away from the SXSW craziness. We’d love to see you!
Saturday, March 14, 5:30 pm
Justine’s Brasserie
4710 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78702
(512) 385-2900

Panel Discussion on Pop-up Urbanism

Burning Man recently hosted a panel discussion on innovative uses of urban space, from temporary parklets and community gardens to maker spaces and pop-up art. If you’re interested in activating your own city in radical ways that don’t necessarily rely on city bureaucracy and established processes, there’s a lot to learn from these folks.

Moderated by Blaine Merker of Gehl Studio and REBAR, with panelists Marc Roth of Learning Shelter and TechShop, Jake Levitas of the Urban Prototyping Festival, Jessica Hobbs of Flux Foundation, and Jay Rosenberg of 49 Farms and Hayes Valley Farm, this event was recorded at Burning Man headquarters in San Francisco in December 2014.

European Leadership Summit Rocks Amsterdam

Over 100 community leaders from twenty-five nations converged on Amsterdam for the second annual Burning Man European Leadership Summit, February 6-8 in Amsterdam’s historic Beurs van Berlage. Burning Man Regional Contacts, Meta-regionals, event organizers, and headquarters staff joined forces for a fast-paced weekend of teaching, learning, and creative collaboration.

2015-02-07_BM-ELS-day1_022_∏photo-company.nlAfter kicking off the event with a celebratory parade through the streets of Amsterdam (the latest installment in Jan Beddegenoodts’s “Moving Europe” project), participants enjoyed two busy days of panels, workshops, group discussions, and networking.

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A highlight of the program was a series of talks on art, technology, and culture. Philosopher Alexander Bard introduced the group to syntheism, a model of how atheists can achieve the same feelings of community and awe experienced in theistic religions. Author Yuri van Geest discussed the attributes of what he calls exponential organizations, agile groups that can survive and thrive in periods of rapid change. And the artist Dadara hosted a showcase of his work, which includes celebrated and sometimes controversial on-playa projects such as the Exchanghibition Bank and Like4Real.

2015-02-07_BM-ELS-day1_138_∏photo-company.nlAnother popular offering was a half-day seminar in collaborative creativity hosted by the THNK School of Creative Leadership. Participants were guided through an accelerated cycle of small-group ideation, prototyping, and refinement at the THNK campus, generating a number of actionable projects that people were buzzing about for the rest of the weekend. Back at the Beurs van Berlage, breakout sessions offered in-depth discussion of topics including BWB-style civic projects, leaving no trace, community event production, volunteerism, and conflict resolution, which spilled over into many after-hours discussions of art, culture, collaboration, and the challenges of translating the Burning Man ethos to new languages, cultures, and physical environments.

2015-02-08_BM-ELS-day2_123_∏photo-company.nlThanks to all the conference participants for an amazing weekend, and especially to the Dutch Burners for their gracious welcome and hard work in helping to make this summit a success.

“Moving Europe” brings Burning Man art to Amsterdam

moving2Belgian filmmaker, photographer, and art-activist Jan Beddegenoodts brought his Moving Europe project to Amsterdam last week with a spectacular mobile gallery and interactive parade. Participants took to the streets of the old city carrying oversized prints of Burning Man art photos taken by Jan and fellow photographers Thomas Dorn, Sidney Erthal, Scott London, and Gaby Thijsse, accompanied by a brass band, dancers, fire spinners, and no small number of delighted Amsterdammers caught up in the spontaneous celebration.

moving6The event was an apt kickoff for the second annual Burning Man European Leadership Summit, a two-day event bringing together community leaders from twenty-five countries for an intensive weekend of knowledge-sharing, alliance-building, and cultural collaboration.

In the months ahead, Jan and his team will bring the Moving Europe experience to more cities including Riga, Athens, Lisbon, Berlin, and Reikjavic, 2015-02-06_Moving-Europe_136_∏photo-company.nl_-1024x582working with local artists and burners in each country to imbue the event with local flavor and make each parade a unique street party. The Moving Europe team is also compiling video footage for a documentary project, interviewing people of all ages but particularly children and the elderly about their impressions of the show and their dreams for the future.

Midburn 2015: Seeking Transcendence at the Israel Regional Burn

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This spring, in a desert halfway around the world from Black Rock, another Man will burn. The second Midburn, the official Israel regional event, is May 20–24, 2015. The theme is Transcendence. There is now a beacon of Burning Man culture in the Middle East, and may it be a force for peace.

Ha’ish (the Man) burns on the night of Shavuot. It’s the holiday of the gathering at Mount Sinai, the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses, the bonding together of a holy community through an earth-shaking mass revelation in the desert. This Biblical event underlies all the faiths — Islam, Christianity and Judaism alike — that call these flowering deserts the Holy Land. People of all those faiths — and plenty of people from non-faiths — Israelis, Palestinians, and international travelers will share the burn that night. (more…)

Larry Harvey Speaks at Long Now Foundation

Larry Harvey (photo by Jim Urquhart, c/o Reuters)
Larry Harvey (photo by Jim Urquhart, c/o Reuters)

Burning Man co-Founder and Chief Philosophical Officer (we love saying that, it just sounds so cool) Larry Harvey was invited to speak at the Long Now Foundation on October 20, 2014. Long Now, in case you didn’t know, focuses on long-term thinking and ideas, and hosts a wonderful seminar series on a wide range of topics.

Larry spoke on “Why the Man Keeps Burning”, and his talk was very germane to current events in the Burning Man community. Listen to Larry’s talk on the Long Now site.