Posts for category Participate!


October 10th, 2013  |  Filed under Participate!

Why does Burning Man seem so much like a political movement?

This is not Burning Man.  Not even close.

This is not Burning Man. Not even close.

As America convulses and political gridlock is on everyone’s mind, it seems as good a time as any to look closely at the facile relationship between Burning Man and politics.

I caught heat, back in 2011, for saying that Burning Man and Occupy Wall Street actually have very little in common.  I think time has vindicated me, but that heat shows that a lot of people see Burning Man as a kind of political movement … or something close to it.  They see Burning Man not just as something capable of influencing society, but as a movement capable of taking power – though they might not use that exact phrase.

And sure, watching people work on their art cars, build their structures, prep their costumes … and especially coming and going from Burning Man, it’s hard to shake the idea that Burning Man is a force that will change the world.

But is it a political force?  Is Burning Man a political movement?

The answer is:  No.  Obviously.  Fuck you.

But … if you disagree with me about this, you’re in good company.  A lot of people do.

Read more »

September 9th, 2013  |  Filed under Participate!, Tales From The Playa, The Ten Principles

Get Radical: Self-Reliance, Inclusion And The Shared Experience

photo by Candace Locklear

Would you lie down next to a clown in the White Forest? photo credit: Candace Locklear

Holy wow, what a week! Let it be known: 2013 was one of the greats. I am in awe of the energy and ideas that swirl and pollinate to create Burning Man. I hopped on art cars, I danced at sunrise, I did an afternoon bike tour — all in full clown-face. I was surrounded by friends and new hires for epic days and nights. I even managed to get some sleep. The weather was belissimo and the dust was mild. What. A. Playa.

Some of the best conversations of my life have taken place on the playa. These conversations can be as brief as a call-and-response to honking the horn on my bike (“Dirty clowns make great dust fellows!”) or as long as a sunrise session out at The Office. One topic kept popping up: Have you had many interactions with newbies?

We can all agree that Black Rock City is huge. First-timers are gobsmacked by the scale of it and old-timers are too. The 2013 Burning Man event population was 69,613 (editor’s note: this figure was updated Sept. 14).

It seems like a lot of you were there for the first time. Welcome.

The redux: I first attended Burning Man in 1998 (population: 15,000). I’ve felt like a new-comer and an old broad. I’ve lived on both sides of the curtain –blissed-out in ruby slippers at sunset or setting an alarm clock so I could work the all-day Media Mecca shift. My friends are a mix of old-timers, volunteers, artists, occasional attendees and newer burners. One friend asked, “Are we all in this together?” Another wondered “Who are all these people and why aren’t they talking? Is it because I’m old?” Our greatest concern: Are first-timers having the same random magic playa moments that we are? I’m curious about the answers to these questions. I had a few people run away from my attempts at conversation in the porta-potty line (usually a source of great stranger entertainment).

Join the adventure, don’t just create your own.

The mega-camp is one way Burning Man has evolved with the growing population. This is a different way to attend Burning Man than when many of us started coming. There have always been camps that provide food and shade. But it wasn’t until I started reading blogs and news stories after this year’s event that I understood how prevalent it is to have meals and water and showers and bikes and sleeping arrangements provided. $1000 for a Burning Man experience? It sounds like making a reservation at a resort. I read about someone organizing a camp that almost ran out of water mid-week for 150 people. My first thought was, 150 people came to Burning Man without their own water? The Black Rock Desert is a harsh and sometimes unsafe environment. What about Radical Self-Reliance? The pamphlet that comes with your ticket is called the Survival Guide for a reason. These “turnkey” camps are housing part of the newer population yet they have created a subculture that relies on someone else for survival and fun.

Say Hello

Another Burning Man tenant is Radical Inclusion. Basically: We are all in this together and we respect each others creativity. I may not like your shiny hot pants unicorn costume and you may not be down with my kazoo or beige granny panties, but we can dance side by side and maybe I’ll randomly cruise through your camp with a tray of bacon and we can share a laugh. That is radical inclusion: a laissez faire attitude that is friendly and open and neighborly. If your tent is blowing over, I am going to run over and help. If you’re making margaritas, let me grab my cup. I wonder if the newer burners know the joy of passing out chilled avocado slices to strangers on a hot afternoon. Radical Inclusion is not exclusive dinners or cocktail parties. The artists who build those big, amazing wood-burning bulls or spinning coyotes want you to interact with their art. They didn’t build art for people to gawk; the art is part of a larger community.

I had a weird interaction that made me question how we are acculturating newer burners regarding Radical Inclusion. Is Radical Inclusion being misconstrued as anything-goes behavior? Let me say: If someone doesn’t want to hug you, that is their choice. Being at Burning Man doesn’t mean you get to do what you want. Not everyone wants a hug. You have to take “no” for an answer. What transpired Friday night was a super-bummer and my friends helped me rally, but still: we could have done without that scene. Burning Man is about creating your ideal self and opening up to further possibility and sharing it with the people around you. It isn’t about anarchy or secret clubs or us versus them.

During our eight-hour exodus to the gate, my BFF & I put costumes back on. “We are still at Burning Man!” was our rally cry. People gave us frozen popsicles, food and shade. Candace, also known as Evil Pippi, says she feels like her most authentic self on the playa. If she had her way, we’d still be at Burning Man. As we worked our way through the parking-lot line we asked people about their experience. Most of the people were first- or second- time burners. Some people were friendly, others seemed uncomfortable when we approached. Was that their Burning Man, staying in an RV and not interacting?

In the years I worked for The Man we talked about not hand-holding people through the burn and leading by example. Do it yourself, it’s more fun that way! But 10 years ago we weren’t thinking about a population this large and turnkey camps on this scale. The Jack Rabbit Speaks newsletter, the Survival Guide and the official website are wonderful resources but they aren’t reaching people who don’t even bring their own water. How do we bridge this divide? One friend suggested all turnkey camps register and get a BM101 lesson on arrival. Another suggested we let these burners drive the event into the ground until we’re selling condo plots. Another suggested an acculturation committee. UGH! I love Burning Man and want it to thrive. That’s why I’m reaching out to you, the community.

Dear readers, these are the questions I’m pondering after being off the desert for almost a week. Black Rock City is going through a boom phase. We aren’t a normal city and we need to treat our social experiment with care. I’m hoping to tap into the city’s consciousness for some ideas.

How do we acculturate people who are having such disparate experiences? How do new burners feel about their experience? How do repeat burners feel about this year’s event? Can we get new blood to start volunteering during the event?

Comments are open. Be nice, no spitting.
Love,
Mama Golightly

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 21st, 2013  |  Filed under News, Participate!

Black Rock City Census 2013 – Moving Online!

census_logoThis comes from our intrepid Black Rock City Census team.

The only thing constant is change …

Over time, the data gathering methods of the Census have progressed from an exclusively paper survey that was distributed on playa and required manual input of responses to the combination of a paper survey, a random sampling of Burners and online surveys. In 2013, the Census team will be gathering data via a random sampling at the Gate during ingress and exodus and a post-event online survey.

The Census is online …

The Census will be available online on Tuesday after the Burn (September 3, 2013) at http://census.burningman.com. We would love to receive your responses and welcome your input. The online Census fosters the immediacy principle of Burning Man and enables BRC citizens to access the Census independently of their preferences in terms of Burning Man experiences. It also allows the Census to be more eco-conscious by reducing the need for printed forms. Further, eliminating the paper form means removing the need for data entry and drastically reducing the data errors due to manual entry. Read more »

August 19th, 2013  |  Filed under Dematerialize, Environment, Participate!

Volunteer for the Burn Garden wood donation team

burngardens

From DA, Playa Restoration Manager:

We need YOU to join the BURN GARDEN WOOD DONATION TEAM!

Located at 3, 6, and 9, near Promenade and Esplanade, the Burn Gardens are a cluster of Burn Platforms used for burning wood during the Burning Man Event. As the event draws to a close, the burning of wood at the Burn Gardens increases dramatically due to participants eager to burn their excess wood. The main challenge is dealing with participants who try to overstack the burn platforms, as well as burn inappropriate materials such as trash, compost, and recycling.

Starting Sunday morning 9/1/13 at 9am The Burn Garden Wood Donation Team will make sure that participants do not overstack the burn platforms or burn inappropriate materials. Burning Man is proud to be the largest practicing Leave No Trace Event in the world and participants need to take their trash, recycling, and compost with them.

Additionally, the team will facilitate the collection of Wood Donations where participants can donate good quality, useable lumber. The donors will be doing most of the heavy lifting, you just need to direct them. 

3-person team per Burn Garden
2-hour shifts
Simple:)

burngardens2

For More Info: BURN GARDEN INFO AND SHIFT SIGN UP HERE

Thank you! See you in the dust!
For any issues with Shiftboard Sign Ups contact: emerald here: emerald (at) burningman.com

August 6th, 2013  |  Filed under Events/Happenings, Participate!, The CORE Project

Synching Up Heartbeats on the Playa

Tune into BMIR 94.5 on Thursday at 10pm to participate

Tune into BMIR 94.5 on Thursday at 10pm to participate

On Thursday, August 29th at 10pm YOU will have the opportunity to participate in the world’s largest synchronized heartbeat, which will take place in our dusty Black Rock City home. BMIR Radio (94.5FM) will broadcast a bass-laden heartbeat and art cars and camps across the playa will tune in for five minutes. By listening, your heartbeat will tune to the beat on the radio, and, by extension, the population of Black Rock City.

The goal of this experiment and playa dream of Playa Heartbeat project organizers Sonia Aggarwal and Jordan MacHardy is to get every single heart on the playa beating in sync. And, there’s a science behind it. “When a human heart is surrounded by rhythmic low frequencies of the right meter, it aligns with the beat,” says Aggarwal. Aggarwal says that the initial inspiration for the project came to the duo when they were walking around the playa in 2012 and imagining Black Rock City as a giant organism, which made them wonder what that organism’s heartbeat might sound like. Read more »

August 6th, 2013  |  Filed under Participate!

Theme Camp Dues & Don’ts

The concept of a Theme Camp can be bewildering to someone who has never been to Burning Man. Deciding if you want to join a camp, start a camp, or go solo can be a tough decision. Some camps are open to anyone, others are close-knit families. Some are based on sacred service, others pour drinks, others blow minds. All give gifts to Black Rock City… and the requirements to be a part of each camp are unique.

My camp is not an open camp. Everyone has connected either online or on previous adventures. We have strict participation requirements that include: sharing a “who I really am” essay, attending meetings in person or via webcam, Leave No Trace shifts, Water Bar shifts, set-up & break down commitments, & financial contribution in the form of dues.

Occasionally I have people ask, “If I pay dues, what do I get?”

*cringe*

I spent a few minutes discussing the topic of “Theme Camp Dues.”

August 5th, 2013  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Participate!

Spencer Tunick Nude Art Installation at Burning Man 2013

Spencer Tunick group shot at Burning Man 2000 (photo by Richard Denat)

Spencer Tunick group shot at Burning Man 2000 (photo by Richard Denat)

World renowned photographer and 2013 honorarium art grant recipient Spencer Tunick (check out his awesome (NSFW) website) is doing a photo shoot of one of his amazing art installations on playa this year. Spencer tells us how to be part of this epic experience:

“Desert Spirits by Spencer Tunick
Date/Time(s): Friday, August 30th, 2013 5 a.m. – 7 a.m.
Contact Email: projects here: projects (at) spencertunick.com

We would like to invite you to POSE NUDE in a group photographic installation by artist Spencer Tunick. Spencer will choose men, women and any gender identity to be part of this unique installation. In order to be chosen we ask that you please send in a low resolution photograph of yourself. Participants will be selected based on photographs submitted to the email: projects here: projects (at) spencertunick.com

Please send the image sooner rather than later. Most installations by Spencer do not have limits to the number of people participating, nor do they require the submission of a photograph. However, for this art work for Burning Man, there is a cap on the number of people participating due to the specific concept of the work.

Mexico City 4 (Zócalo, MUCA/UNAM) 2007, by Spencer Tunick

Mexico City 4 (Zócalo, MUCA/UNAM) 2007, by Spencer Tunick

We are asking for a photograph because we want to have a wide range of body types and skin tonalities represented in the final work. Although everyone is unique, If you are not chosen, it is simply because we may have reached the amount of people with similar specific characteristics. We apologize in advance if you are not chosen for this particular idea but please do not let it deter you from posing in future works by Spencer where there are no number limits.

Chosen participants will be contacted by email prior to August 24th with: location and further instructions. Please only sign up if you are committed to participating and able to wake up before sunrise (or stay up all night). The work will take place before sunrise in order to utilize the pre-dawn light. You will be in position when the sun rises. You only will be nude for a short period of time. …we know it’s chilly…so you will not be nude until right before the sun rises over the horizon and as the sun hits your body. 5am is just the call time to get you registered. We need everyone to be on time. In exchange for taking part, you will receive by mail, a limited edition print of the art work. PARTICIPANTS ONLY.

Thank you!”