Posts in building

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.

June 15th, 2011  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), Events/Happenings, Participate!

Temple of Transition: It’s Big and It’s Happening

This is Chris “Kiwi” Hankins, leader of the 2011 Temple crew, with a scale model of the Temple of Transition. Those of you who visited the Megatropolis installation in 2010 will recognize its colorful silhouette, which should give you a point of reference. Yes, that’s to scale.

Another point of reference: three times the height of Marco Cochrane's "Bliss Dance".

This year, a largely international Temple crew will construct a circle of six structures: five 58-foot-high outer temples, and a 120-foot-high inner temple. The temples will be connected with 60-foot-long walkways. The entire installation will have a diameter of 200 feet, and will be taller than the Man.

To build something on this scale, as Burners well know, you need an impassioned leader. Enter Kiwi, an experienced builder who’s been constructing the Man at Kiwiburn (New Zealand’s regional burn) for several years, and who has also lent a hand to build Black Rock City as part of the Department of Public Works.

Kiwi’s latest achievement is Megatropolis, which he and the International Arts Megacrew built last year.

“Before we were even finished building Megatropolis, I was already thinking ‘what are we gonna build next?’” Kiwi says. Later, as Megatropolis burned, a friend turned to him and asked, “What do you think?”

“I think I want to do the Temple,” Kiwi replied.

Read more »

April 26th, 2011  |  Filed under Playa Tips, Preparation

DIY Your Burn: Shelter, Shade & Cool Cool Comfort

I recently met a Reno local who is preparing for her first burn. “Do I really need to get an RV?” she asked me. “My friend told me you can’t do Burning Man without an RV. I just want to bring a tent.”

This hurts me on the inside. I haven’t been around that long — my first burn was 2003 — but I’ve spent many burns in a tent, and a couple of two-month work seasons besides. One of the things I hate to see is the rapidly increasing number of rental RVs on playa. They have their place, sure. If you’ve got small kids or a physical need for top-notch shelter, you might want to spend thousands renting an RV, plus hundreds in gas to drive it to Black Rock City and keep the A/C running. But that is a LOT of money (and a fair amount of pollution), and it’s not necessary to spend that much. You can be smarter about it, and I’m about to tell you how.

It is completely possible, and pretty easy, to build your own shelter and cooling system. You can have an airtight, windproof, shaded and cool place to sleep away the day, and you can build it yourself for a fraction of the cost of an RV rental.

THE INCREDIBLE HEXAYURT – $300

Holy wow! In 2007, Treehugger and Current TV hosted a contest for the best “eco-ideas” for Burning Man. The winner was a DIY shelter that costs under $300 to build, packs up flat into your truck, and can be reused year after year. Vinay Gupta’s Hexayurt is now being tested as disaster relief and refugee shelter. Why? Because it WORKS. This is far and away the best shelter idea I’ve heard of. Read more »

April 21st, 2011  |  Filed under Playa Tips

A Warm Welcome

Photo: Chance

Certainly, Burning Man is a society that deviates from The Norm. But it would be silly to suggest that Burning Man is a place without norms. One of the truest conceits of Burner culture, in my opinion, is the distinction between “home,” the playa, and the “default world,” which gives our annual gathering a sense of deviation, but also one of return. We leave behind our default values and behaviors, and we return to something more natural and fundamental to us.

 

But clearly, “home” is not an arrangement without order, tradition, or hierarchy. I doubt humans can help themselves. We may not like to think of Burning Man as a stratified place, but it is.

Nothing wrong with that, though. Not inherently. The fact is, some people have been burning for 20 years, some for 10, some one, some none. Those are remarkable differences in experience of something so extreme and dynamic as Burning Man. It’s only natural that those who’ve been before will set the tone for those still bewildered by the blinky lights. Read more »

August 24th, 2008  |  Filed under Building BRC

poppy field

Gary Miller of Philadelphia has installed Papover Rubrum Gigaxiticum (the big red poppy) field. Those are solar-powered garden lights in the center, surrounded by cut and riveted aluminum, on PVC pipes that sway in the wind. Can’t wait to see it glowing in the darkness.

August 19th, 2008  |  Filed under Building BRC

If you see a fork in the road, take it

If you've made it this far, you're almost Home.

If you've made it this far, you're almost Home.

August 19th, 2008  |  Filed under Building BRC

out and about


Monday, Aug. 18.

The wind arrived last night, and it didn’t stop all night, or all the next day. And with it came the dust.

It’s been curious to be so relatively windstorm-free for what, 11 days? (counting the off-playa hiatus). Every other time I’ve come out here, there’s always been a whiteout as I was arriving. The first time, I’ve got to tell you, it was pretty unsettling. But it was also one of those moments you don’t ever forget; you don’t forget who you were with, or what you were wearing, or what music was playing, or exactly how you felt.

So coming in and out of Gate road now that the wind is here puts the community imperative on you. Yes, you want to get where you’re going. And you probably want to get there faster than 5 miles an hour. But if you do, you kick up the dust. And the wind carries the dust across the whole camp. So you don’t go faster than 5 miles an hour, and if you DO see someone going faster, you give them the palms up sign out the window, or you hear them get scolded on the radio.

(A little word about the radio. The radio is the only way of communicating out here, other than talking face to face. There are no phones; don’t be silly. So there’s no texting, either, can you imagine? And no IM. But there are radios. Quite a few of them. And there are trunks and channels to route all the conversations. I’ve been on DPW Site channel 4 until today. It’s a great channel. Busy. Important. Vital to the building of the city. But I switched over to Media Mecca today, because that’s more where I belong, really. So goodbye to HazMatt and Playground and Reyposado and Sleep Dep and Big Stick and dozens and dozens of other voices, and hello to Meow Meow and Action Girl and Kid Hack and all the new crew. Nice to be here!)

Every day things happen and you can’t keep up. They put the triangular top of the obelisk up on the Man base today, and I wasn’t there. Last night, they dropped the spiral staircase in the middle of the Temple, and I wasn’t there. Crap. … It’s just like the event week, really. You check out the What Where When booklet and mark it all up with the great things you’re going to do — oh yeah, I DO want frozen eclairs and champagne at 3:30 on Wednesday. Elk dinner? Yes please. Oh, and I really want to go down to that camp where they’re making the cool necklaces.

Read more »

August 17th, 2008  |  Filed under Building BRC

last night’s moonrise

Just when you thought it couldn't get more beautiful in the desert, it gets more beautiful ...

Just when you thought it couldn't get more beautiful in the desert, it gets more beautiful ...