Posts for category Participate!


January 3rd, 2013  |  Filed under Building BRC, Culture (Art & Music), Participate!, Spirituality

Spirituality and Community: The Process and Intention of bringing a Temple to Black Rock City

photo by Portaplaya

Since the year 2000, there has been a Temple at Burning Man, and when we talk about the Temple, most people think of what started that year with David Best and Jack Haye, and became a long line of temples that have graced the playa. The Temple has evolved from what became a memorial to their friend into an “emotional nexus” of our community, where thousands make pilgrimage each year to remember those they have lost, to celebrate and affirm life, to heal and to forgive.

In 2012 I was fortunate to meet many of the people who are involved with building the Temple each year and to research what I came to believe are some of the essentials of understanding what the Temple at Burning Man has become. It is a place where our community goes to unburden itself and it is a representation of our maturity as a community as well as a natural manifestation of something sacred in the City of Black Rock.

photo by Portaplaya

Proposing to be the one who builds the Temple at Burning Man is serious stuff involving quite a bit of work within an existing structure of volunteers and other Temple minded folks to create something for the community.  One question that was raised over and over again as I spoke with people who have done this before was that you should not ask yourself  “WHAT am I doing this for?” but rather “WHO am I doing this for?”

For many Burners, the Temple is a vital place where those who build it possess a solemnity and a respect for that process. It is also a place for those who attend the event to use for grieving or celebration of life in an environment that is in contrast to a lot of the rollicking and outrageous things happening elsewhere on the playa that week in late summer.

photo by d’andre

Walking around the Temple at the middle of the week, I personally get overwhelmed by the amount of emotion that is focused like a beam in there. It is as if, from its inception each year, to all the planning and all the hands that build it, then when the event begins and it becomes “the largest collaborative art project” on the playa; that the energy of so many caring people turns whatever sublime Temple structure is built that year into something far greater than any art project.

Stopping to read the remembrances of so many loved friends, family and pets who have passed on, seeing the pictures of so many of them, pausing at the altars and shrines where people have lovingly placed tokens of their lost one’s lives, well, that can really get you right in your plexus where you feel that big sorrowful empathy wave. The Temple is a profound space where some of us who have lost loved ones can let them know that they are still loved and missed, but that it is all ok, they can pass and we can move on.

I’m a large, somewhat dim and oafish fellow, and I can only stay in there for so long before I have to walk away from it out onto the blankness of the playa with the Temple behind me, and breathe deeply so as to not betray the tough guy façade I live behind.

It is a heavy place.  If you’ve been there, you know what I mean.

photo by Steven Fritz

Regardless of who builds the Temple, it is always something spectacular and special. There are bona fides and expertise that are a prerequisite to building the Temple at Burning Man and I was privy to finding out what some of those were this year.

I’ve written an article about what I discovered after being on playa (and attending the Temple construction before leaving for Black Rock City) for the building of this year’s Temple of Juno. I was able to research and read some of the intellectuals who’ve written about the concept of the Temple, including Lee Gilmore, Sarah Pike and Larry Harvey; and I had the pleasure of speaking with some of the folks involved with building Temples through the years including David Best, Jessica Hobbs and Jack Haye. The article is on the Burning Man website and is titled, Spirituality and Community: The Process and Intention of bringing a Temple to Black Rock City.

Burning Man would like to have a conversation that explores what you feel about the Temple and to get your insights on it since it is really your Temple. Please read the article as it is meant as a starting point to stimulate discussion. Our community loves discussions and the Temple is something many of us have very strong feelings about. Feel free to read the article and post your thoughts here.

November 19th, 2012  |  Filed under Participate!

How many theme camps can dance on the head of a Burning Man ticket?

They all want tickets

Have you come up with a theory about how Burning Man should handle ticket sales yet?

If not, congratulations:  you’re the only one.

My blogging colleague Jon Mitchell wrote about a pre-Halloween brain-eating session to discuss how Burning Man should handle ticket sales to groups – if it does that at all.  I attended that meeting because there was an open bar, and am pleased to report that their signature cocktail was a combination of black vodka, blue Curacao, and Sprite.  It was delicious.  Especially when you really stirred it around so the layers mixed.

The other thing I noticed was that of the 30-some people in attendance, there were 40-some theories about how Burning Man could best handle ticket sales – it was as though “radical incompatibility” were the 11th principle.

My impression is that discussions were equally convoluted at the Burning Man staff retreat.  I wasn’t there (I’m a volunteer), so I can only confirm that while the Org staff were out talking about the future of Burning Man I opened a bottle of 25 year tawny port which had a taste of leather and chocolate on the back palate.

There are no questions in this world as inflammatory and divisive as questions of identity – which is why what should be the bland and technocratic discussion of how to sell tickets gets so many people so worked up so fast.  How we handle ticket demand is widely seen as an indicator of who we are.  Burning Man is the participants – and the participants are the people with tickets.  Aren’t they? Read more »

October 2nd, 2012  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Participate!

You’ve Been to Burning Man, now what?

By now you have hopefully done your laundry (check), cleaned your tent (check), cleaned your other gear (not yet) and settled back into life at home.  If this was your first year in Black Rock City and you are reading this blog, then you were probably deeply affected by your experience.  Did you learn about yourself, your friends, your community, and creativity?  Many of you are experiencing a post Burning Man malaise as you try to figure out how to integrate your experience with your life at home.  Decompressing can be tough and most of us go through it in some form or another no matter how many years we have been going.  Fortunately, you do not have to go through this alone if you know where to look.

Read more »

September 26th, 2012  |  Filed under Environment, Participate!

MOOP Map Live 2012: Where are the MOOP-conscious mutant vehicles?

Photo by James Addison. Click to enlarge.

Hello out there, MOOP maniacs! Today, we’re giving the intrepid Playa Restoration team a little respite from their work restoring the Black Rock Desert. Instead, let’s turn our attention to another group that goes above and beyond the call of duty to make Burning Man an amazing experience: mutant vehicle owners.

Read more »

September 14th, 2012  |  Filed under Participate!, Tales From The Playa

Hey, First-Timers! How was your Burn?

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

Photo by Spencer Jones

Burning Man 2012 is a wrap! And now we’re curious … what did you think? We specifically want to hear from first-time Burners about your experience.

What were your impressions going in? How did the reality differ from your expectations? What did you get out of your time on playa? What did you learn? What are you taking home with you?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Oh and also: welcome! We’re glad to have you with us!

And if you’d like to give specific feedback about the event (good or bad), please email it to feedback here: feedback (at) burningman.com before November 1st … that’s our official Feedback Loop channel.

August 22nd, 2012  |  Filed under Building BRC, Environment, Participate!, Playa Tips, Preparation

Collexodus wants YOU

Exodus photo by Danger Ranger

You know how every year when you leave Burning Man after partying your butt off, interacting with amazing art, seeing your friends and making new ones, and wandering around an amazing city unlike any you’ve ever encountered that magically rises up out of a prehistoric lakebed; you go home and take a shower and maybe have a beer and think about how great that was? Well, there are people still out in those dust storms and that searing heat making sure everything is torn down, stowed and shipped and any little bits of trash you possibly, accidentally were inconsiderate about not taking home with you are being all picked up so we can throw this little event again next year.

DA and crew, photo by fling93

I was talking with DA who runs the Playa Restoration (or Resto) Crew and he told me how when the event is over they spend weeks tearing down Black Rock City’s structures and then walking miles each day in the sun over grids, making sure to pick up every last bit of trash that may have made it to the playa floor. The goal is to leave the playa as clean as it was before the event and it is hard, grueling work. They start early in the morning and DA tells me that around 3:15 in the afternoon someone will invariably yell “Morale!” and the crew will stop, go to the shade and drink a couple cold beers and eat some snacks. This makes the remaining two hours go by faster.

That beer and snacks are donated by you, kind citizen of Black Rock City.

Read more »

August 22nd, 2012  |  Filed under News, Participate!

Pink Card Experiment

As you come through the gate at this year’s Burning Man event, along with the What Where When, Tip Sheet and map, you’ll get something new from the Greeters – a little pink postcard that’s part of an interactive, social-digital-anthropological experiment we’re about to embark upon.

There is space on the card for you to fill out your name, email, Twitter account, whether you’re male or female, and your zip code or country. That’s it.
You can drop it off at several locations around the playa.

Pretty easy, right?

But why? And what’s up? Simply put, there has never been much of a reason or motivation to attempt to identify who attended the event until now. We all know what a strong and dynamic community of artists, performers, makers, and Burners has grown up on the playa. Until now, the social connectivity that’s accompanied that growth has been completely organic. Read more »

August 15th, 2012  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Participate!

Intellectual Pursuits at Burning Man 2012

Burning Man on the Brain, button by Editrix Abby

While Burning Man has gained a well-earned reputation for being one of the greatest parties in the world, it’s a somewhat lesser known fact that it’s also a crucible for creativity, innovation and intellectual discourse. We’ve done a round-up of all the workshops, talks, conferences (yes, conferences) and other intellectual pursuits happening in Black Rock City this year — turns out there’s a lot of ‘em! Read on, then get out there and get your cerebellum stimulated! You’ll also find a list of academic events on the back of the What Where When guide, which you’ll get at the Greeters Station.

(Please note that as with any “scheduled” event in Black Rock City, your mileage may vary. Camps move, times shift, weather blows things away, and people aren’t 100% reliable … so take this schedule with a grain of salt, and check in with the organizers directly if you want to make sure things are happening when and where you expect them to.) Read more »