Posts for category Participate!

August 11th, 2012  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Participate!, The CORE Project

East Bay to the CORE

Burners sometime muse, “What if Burning Man were year round” but would you *really* want to be living in Black Rock City year round? There’s tons of dust and you form an uncomfortable intimate bond with our blue friends the Porta Potties. There’s Exodus (assuming you ever left the playa to resupply) and there’s the heat in the summer and frozen bone chilling wind in the winter I am told.

No Pilgrim, when the event is over, it’s probably best to go home to return again someday.

Ouroboros, the Austin CORE project photo by Alvaro Barrios

Ouroboros, the Austin CORE project photo by Alvaro Barrios

And once home, all cheeky and clean in your post Burn warm fuzzy stupor, you can always hang at regional events. The Regionals have grown in leaps and bounds and starting last year we even celebrated them specifically in our Circle of Regional Effigies, or the CORE that are wooden sculptures representing the identities of each Regional that participates.

This year the Circle of Regional Effigies consists of 24 effigies in a 600 foot ring around the Man with an additional two circles of five effigies each. Last year’s Burn had 23 Regionals representing.

From what I’ve heard, the idea of putting Effigies around the Man to represent regional communities was first discussed in advance of the 25th anniversary of Burning Man. A perfect storm of the community growing larger and Regionals becoming more and more defined, hit at the same time Mr. L. Harvey was working on the Rites of Passage theme. With the anniversary and the Rites theme, a sense of forward movement, where the event is the epicenter of our culture but the Regionals really carry forth the flame out into the world congealed. This all dovetailed nicely with this year’s Fertility 2.0 theme. I suspect there is some kind of method to this madness.

Read more »

August 7th, 2012  |  Filed under Participate!

Who Works the Gate? Great People! Maybe You?

The folks working the Gate are great people … and you might not realize this but they’re ALL volunteers. And they work HARD. Take a moment to learn more about this amazing crew, and you might just find that volunteering for the Gate is right for you!

This great video (thanks to the LOVE project) highlights the work of some of the volunteers who make the gate run. We’ve also got the transcript of a nice interview with Shimmer, an Exodus Pulsing volunteer working the job. Finally, you can learn the nuts and bolts of how the Gate works in our Gate FAQ. If you’re interested in volunteering with this hardy crew, visit our Gate participation page or visit the V-Spot on playa, in Center Camp next to Playa Info.

(WARNING: Volunteering may lead to meeting really incredible people and developing an amazing sense of accomplishment and belonging by helping to make BRC possible. You have been warned!)

Our LOVE crew showed up Monday of Labor Day, 2011, and talked to Shimmer at the last Pulsing spot. Here is what she said made her volunteer experience tick: Read more »

August 1st, 2012  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Participate!

Why The Nose?

We came across Tex Allen and his awesome calling-cum-project through the magic of the interwebs, and we tracked him down to give us the inside scoop on the nose. Cuz we love the nose. Here’s Tex:


It’s hard to explain exactly WHY the Nose and I’m not saying that as an artistic redirect, you know, to add MYSTERY. The truth is, the Nose just happened one day. Overnight, I just started wearing it out in public and three days later, it HAD me. My YES, the one thing that was SO easy to do and not only made ME happy, but transformed people around me with joy. Real joy. Let me say that when you’re presented with your YES, it’s not an easy handshake. The best analogy I can think of right now is having a floodlight flipped on, just above your head, in a dark room, while you were sleeping and someone pulled the covers off you. Then 5 seconds later, you find yourself sitting in a chair across from Morpheus, in the Matrix, chatting about Why? you wear a clown nose in public. 90% of the time. Yeah, that’s kinda how it felt then AND now. Read more »

July 10th, 2012  |  Filed under News, Participate!

Count Me! Count Me!

Don’t be surprised if a group of lab coat-clad scientists descends upon your vehicle as you approach the Greeters station this year. You might just be one of the lucky ones selected by the Census Samplers! These eager burning nerds are keen to include you in a scientific probability sample of Black Rock City’s population. They’re gathering data to get a more accurate picture of who is attending Burning Man this year. Aren’t you curious to know?

Last year 42% of the people who participated in the Black Rock City Census considered themselves artists, and an additional 35% considered themselves artists sometimes (read prior stats from the Census). Do these numbers seem high to you? Low? We don’t know if the people who voluntarily filled out the Census were truly representative of the citizens of BRC. Read more »

July 10th, 2012  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Events/Happenings, News, Participate!

Regional Networking at Nowhere!

Playground (DPW Lead, San Francisco), Robert Atkins (Singapore Regional Contact), Yours truly (Megs, Regional Network Manager) and Snowstorm (UK Regional Contact)

Over 200 Regional Contacts worldwide and an extensive network of Community Leaders host Meet n Greets, art events, Burner Town Halls, hands-on community projects, CORE (Circle of Regional Effigy) builds and put forth a host of other efforts and events to keep our global community tight knit and Burners’ social calendars filled to the brim. After having transformational experiences at Burning Man and Regional events like Nowhere 2012, Burners throughout the world return home to the default world longing for ways to stay connected in between their sojourns to Burner events. Burning Man’s maintenance and nurturing of the Burning Man Regional Network is our answer to this widespread community need. I was drawn to Nowhere this year, a dynamic and creative gathering of over 1,100 Burners outside of Zaragoza, Spain because I knew it would be a rallying point for Burning Man’s European Regional Contacts and Nowhere’s own leadership network of what they term Cultural Attaches. I wanted to have a chance to chat with our Regional leaders face to face and also to create opportunities for them to meet one another. To this end, I hosted two meet ups—a Celebration at our camp, No Rules, and a more formal meeting of the minds at Nowhere’s No Info Center. Read more »

June 27th, 2012  |  Filed under Participate!, Playa Tips

What do you do at Burning Man, anyway?

Why yes, there is a gospel choir. Why do you ask?

The most common question I get from people who are never going to go to Burning Man is “So … what do you DO at Burning Man?”

Which is funny, because the question I’m most frequently asked by first-timers about to go to Burning Man is “What will I do there?”

Huh.  Well … it’s kinda tough to explain.  You see … oh geez … how to say this … Okay:  Burning Man presents you with the same number of existential choices you have in real life.  Maybe more.

Does that not make sense?  Maybe not.  Okay, let me try explaining this the long way.

Most of us, long before we ever ended up dusty and sunburned, had heard a story about something that happened on the playa, or a tale about Burning Man’s exodus from San Francisco to the desert, or expressed a wish out loud only to be told … right or wrong … “oh yeah, Burning Man’s like that.”

These stories, whatever they are, are what keep thousands of people walking through the gates each year, and many coming back.  We all know why.  In the absence of traditional commerce at Burning Man, experiences … what Chicken John has called “units of interesting” … are the coin of the realm.  We may be absentmindedly jealous of the guy with the biggest RV and the camp with the fresh seafood kept in a refrigeration unit that costs more than a house in Miami – but that’s something you can find anywhere.  The stories of Burning Man experiences, built on 100% pure units of interesting, are what we go out into the desert to find and bring back. Read more »

June 7th, 2012  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Events/Happenings, Participate!

Join the Circus! South Florida Burners Kickin’ It Carny Style!

For the few hundred Burning Man participants from South Florida, Black Rock City can feel like it’s a world away. Not only are the Burners there separated from the playa by great distance (it takes five days of driving to get to Burning Man), but, as Jack Trash from Ft. Lauderdale jokes, “we have such a high water table but no ‘underground.’” Longing for opportunities to express their inner creativity in a place where the status quo reigns supreme, Jack and a tight-knit crew of doers and art-makers decided to bring the spirit of Black Rock City to their hometown.

And, what? What did these crazy Burners do? They built a zany, colorful, and interactive CIRCUS!

Photo by Bruce Almberg

Last weekend, as part of Ft. Lauderdale’s FAT Village Artwalk, the “Circus Basura” came to life! When Ft. Lauderdale residents came upon the circus, they were greeted with a “Step right up!” and were invited to participate in costumed photo shoots, games, and the quirky experiences of circus life! The suite of boardwalk games the “Circus Basura” barkers offer runs the gamut from silly to satirical. As part of the game “1% Pachinko,” one could put on a top hat and monocle, drop a gold coin down the slot and see where it landed. The gag is that the gold coin never makes it to the bottom but gets stuck along the way on banks, yachts, and fat cat bellies. The gag prizes included the highly coveted collection of Olivia Newton John workout DVDs and a host of other completely ridiculous and trash “basura” prizes. “The Circus Basura,” Jack explains, “is whatever you make it.” The game, costumes, and the antics of the circus crew combine to create a grand sense of play. The circus is an umbrella under which anyone can be whatever they want to be. It’s especially exciting that a circus of freaks is flourishing in South Florida because it’s something new for people to experience, it pushes boundaries and creates room for more radical acts of expression.

Photo by Bruce Almberg

The talented crew behind the “Circus Basura” has a history working together. Many of the South Florida Burners came together when Burners Without Borders mobilized to provide relief to Haitians in the wake of the earthquake. Several of the local Burners are airplane mechanics and they made daily runs to the airfields to repair planes that were taking food and supplies to survivors of the disaster. And, back in 2009, the crew transformed an old bus into a double decker art mobile fit for the playa. The South Floridians drove the “Nautibus” 3,800 miles to the Black Rock desert and gave rides to participants around the desert. “Building the bus was a really unifying experience for the Florida crew,” Jack says. With the costs of operating the bus and transporting it to the desert rising each year, the crew decided to skip bringing the bus to the desert this year. Instead, they’ve loaned it to their Burner brethren in Tennessee for the Summer and the TN Burners are working on restoring the bus and will take it to their first local Tennessee burn, Serendipity.
With the Nautibus project on a bit of a hiatus, the crew quickly rallied behind the “Circus Basura.” The circus has given the local Burners an outlet for their energy and creativity and, as Jack explains, “[They] all just like working together and being around each other.” The crew has been sewing costumes, building sets, and coming up with ideas for the circus for months. It seems that this past weekend’s successful presence at the FAT Village Art Walk is just the beginning. In early November, the “Circus Basura” will participate in Ft. Lauderdale’s annual Day of the Dead processional. They’ll be working in collaboration with Jim Hammond, a local puppeteer and set designer, to create giant skull masks and parade floats. There’s also been talk of a Day of the Dead costume ball. “There’s just nothing like this in South Florida! We’re excited we are taking the circus to the streets and that the folks here get to experience what we’re all about, what keeps us going to Burning Man year after year,” Jack muses. There are also plans for a few guerilla circus experiences in the area. For Jack, providing these circus experiences, “opens the door for anybody to try anything and enables people to do things they don’t normally do.” We can’t wait to see what the “Circus Basura” crew tries next!

Photo by Bruce Almberg

Want to run off and join the circus?

For more information on “Circus Basura,” you can feel free to contact southflorida here: southflorida (at) with CIRCUS BASURA in the subject line and to check out their Facebook page

Want to build a circus in your own town?

Do it, you crazy Burner! Bring the big top, bring the noise, bring the red noses, and then tell us all about it!

Jack Trash’s advice to all of us: “Don’t dream little dreams. Dream big ones!”

Thank you, we’ll see you on the HIGH WIRE!

May 30th, 2012  |  Filed under Participate!

Bee Here Now!

Rendering by Andrew Johnstone

Every year since 2001, the Man has stood atop an elaborate base designed to reflect the spirit of that year’s art theme — and each one has included some kind of interactive element.  This year, the art theme is Fertility 2.0, contemplating the tendency of any being or living system to create abundant life.

As such, the Man will be perched atop a dramatic pavilion reminiscent of the Pantheon of ancient Rome, under which will stand an intricate 38′-tall sculpture representing a flower’s pistil. In case your memory of high school biology has eroded as much as ours, pistil (from the Latin pistillum meaning pestle) describes each discrete unit of the gynoecium, a collective term for the reproductive organs of a flower. (Phew … thanks Wikipedia!) Read more »