Like our annual event in Black Rock City, Nowhere 2012 is truly a global gathering. Now in its 9th year, Nowhere is one of the largest Burning Man Regional events and drew over 1,100 participants this past week to the desert plains outside of Zaragoza, Spain. Over the past nine years, Nowhere has served as a nexus for the Regional groups throughout the world who keep the ethos of Burning Man alive year-round. For these international Burners, making the trip aboard to the U.S. for Burning Man is a major undertaking and it can often be quite challenging to gather the supplies and materials needed to build a theme camp or a large-scale art project. Most of the participants do make the annual journey to BRC but often join up with other U.S.-based camps and artists. Nowhere is their chance to go BIG in their creation of their theme camp homes at Nowhere and to do so in their own unique cultural style. Read more »
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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 »
I wrote this post from Nowhere last week and, being that I was in the Middle of Nowhere, you’re receiving it NOW. Enjoy! More coming!
Megs here. I’m writing you from the land of wind, dust and mountains outside of Zaragoza, Spain. After spending an unforgettable weekend at Lithuania’s Degantis Jonas (and, yes!, I promise to write a detailed account of my experiences there), I’m at Nowhere (http://www.goingnowhere.org/), a Burning Man Regional event where Burners are gathering from all over the world to build a beautiful city. Nowhere started nine years ago as a gathering in the desert in Spain (at that time, the moniker “Nowhere” was yet to be born) and has, over the years, grown into a thriving event with a highly developed infrastructure, twenty-four registered theme camps, and art and performance artists from across the globe.
We arrived at dusk last night after our San Francisco crew and our Lithuanian friends, Goku and Lleva, traveled in true Burning Man fashion with a van packed full of food, tent, water jugs, playa finery and all of the supplies we’d need to survive for ten days in the desert. The event officially opens on Tuesday but Nowhere crewmembers have been working out here for weeks getting the desert site ready to absorb the impact of the estimated 1,000 participants that will venture through the rocky canyons, down twisty and seemingly abandoned roads to make their way through Nowhere’s gleaming red gates. We’re here to help build the city. Read more »
It’s amazing what people don’t know about Burning Man.
Exhibit A: this past weekend I was visiting some friends of mine, and when one of them found out I’m involved with Burning Man she asked “Are there any women there?”
Exhibit B: This week Yahoo listed Burning Man as an “essential” music festival. We’re number 3, after Bonnaroo and Bumbershoot (making me suspicious that they just listed them in alphabetical order), but ahead of Lollapalooza … which is apparently still a thing … and Orion.
Granted, the piece does acknowledge that Burning Man is “more like a makeshift city than a festival.” But it’s also pretty clear that the author hasn’t been there. Also, is it just me, or do music festivals all sound like they’re named after obscure Gilbert & Sullivan characters?
Exhibit C: Every year Media Mecca gets dozens of requests from publications asking “who’s playing” at Burning Man this year. Nothing we ever do seems to persuade them that we wouldn’t know. Honestly, I think we ought to start telling them “Your mother” and demanding they print it. Read more »
The other week Burning Man’s San Francisco office held a goodbye party for Andie Grace – Action Girl! – who is leaving us because eventually all the good ones do. (That’s actually the 3rd noble truth of Buddhism.) It was a good party: there were heavy cocktails, helium balloons, hors d’oeuvres, and speeches.
A lot of people, it turns out, have been inspired in life changing ways by the gifts of Grace.
At the time I didn’t say anything. As regular readers of this blog know, I only attend Burning Man functions for the open bar. Andie gets that about me. Still, in hindsight my silence that day was a mistake.
Andie Grace is entirely responsible for my taking up the volunteer work I have performed for Burning Man for the past five years – and the story of how that happened, while not entirely flattering, seems worth sharing in order to thank her properly.
This story also might be enlightening for those who think Burning Man’s organization works like a well oiled machine, and who think that the Org is always plotting five steps ahead. It’s not. From the very first experience I had volunteering for Burning Man, it’s been clear that rather than leading from the front the Org spends much of its time desperately trying to keep up with all the things the rest of us do.
The story goes like this:
It’s strangely easy to be judgmental about the way other people raise their kids. The idea that a young person is being raised badly brings the knives out.
Perhaps it’s because kids are innocent and helpless, so that defending them is one of the few truly noble deeds we can perform in this life. Perhaps it’s because everybody’s got parents and everybody was raised somehow – so parenting is one of the few standards we have in common. Or maybe we’re all just judgmental fucks looking for an excuse. It would explain so much.
Whatever the cause: Complaining about what other people’s parents are doing wrong is perhaps the most popular human pastime after making kids in the first place.
That’s probably why every subculture I’m familiar with has, at some point, had an existential crisis about their kids.
People in the Society for Creative Anachronism worried about how their kids will develop if they feel a little too comfortable with feudalism; parents into BDSM have worried how much to disclose and how much to keep secret. Is it okay to insist that your 10-year old son be a flag bearer who died at Antietam for three weekends a year? Can you bring your kids to a Star Trek convention if you want them to grow up and enjoy a healthy sex life?
God, people are weird.
All of them are worried – and yet only the children of the rich are famous for consistently turning into horrible, horrible, human beings. Makes you think.
These same tensions bubble up periodically among Burners. Read more »
A close friend of mine was asking me about Burning Man. She’s a black woman from Brooklyn. “Nope,” she said eventually, with some frustration. “I don’t think I’ll be going to Burning Man!”
“Why not?” I asked. She should. She’s magnificent.
“It’s a white people thing!”
Whoa. I asked her to tell me more about that.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard that phrase applied to Burning Man. My very first burn I was astonished to realize that an event that draws so heavily from the diverse San Francisco Bay would produce a population so colorless. From camp to camp, end to end, it was a long block of white as far as the eye could see, with only occasional dots of diversity … rare enough to raise comment. Where were the Asians? Where were the Hispanics? Where were the black people?
Shortly after I first asked myself that question I met a black man tending bar at a camp with a slip-n-slide. I sat down, he gave me a drink, and I said “can I ask you a potentially difficult question?” He said sure. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure he was expecting me to hit on him.
“I notice there are almost no minorities here,” I told him. “You’re the first black person I’ve seen. Any idea why that is?”
The term “white people thing” came up in his answer. Read more »
Something about the bright lights of the Christmas season always pushes Burning Man right out of my head. In a bad way.
Something about the way America celebrates Christmas and Thanksgiving – as holidays in which we are told to be thankful for what we have and then commanded to but more stuff – has always contradicted Burning Man’s spirit of non-commodification. Even the act of “giving presents” for the Christman/Hannukah season, at least in my life, has nothing in common with the kind of “gifting” done at Burning Man.
Most years, it’s like the existence of one pushes the other right out of my head. My brain isn’t big enough for both of them.
Not this year, though.
This season Burning Man is very much on all of our minds, and we wonder what Santa and his little elves are turning it into. There’s a new non-profit organization, a new ticketing system, and an as-yet-undisclosed mystery theme. Where in years past it seemed safe to put Burning Man out of our minds for a little while, confident that it would still be there when we got back, this year many of us are refusing to let it out of our sights … constantly checking in to make sure nothing else has changed. Read more »