Burners Without Borders to Become Program of Burning Man Project

Burners Without BordersSan Francisco, Calif., April 13, 2015 — Burning Man announced today that Burners Without Borders — a grassroots group that supports community organizing and disaster relief worldwide — will transition June 1 to become the cornerstone of Burning Man’s Civic Engagement initiatives.

“We’re very excited to bring Burners Without Borders into the Burning Man fold,” said Burning Man co-founder Harley Dubois. “This incredible group has an outstanding track record of facilitating grassroots volunteerism that truly represents what Burning Man is all about. This functional reorganization allows Burning Man culture to flourish through the civic efforts of Burners everywhere, in their local communities.”

BWB came into being after Hurricane Katrina when Burning Man participants left the event to help with the disaster cleanup effort. The organization has a 10-year history of supporting disaster relief and local grassroots volunteer initiatives around the world through its annual grants program and direct on-the-ground assistance. It’s expected this transition will have no major immediate effect on existing projects, grants or grant applications. “We want to thank the community for its unwavering support of BWB over the past decade — we are continually inspired by the impact this community makes every day,” said Carmen Mauk, Burners Without Borders’ Executive Director. “I am looking forward to the future where we can continue to grow and thrive.”

BWB’s international projects include relief efforts in Pisco, Peru after that city was hit by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake in 2007, relief efforts in the remote Tohoku Prefecture of Japan following the Fukushima disaster, delivering relief supplies to Haiti, supporting communities in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda, and providing relief to New Jersey communities not receiving adequate assistance following Hurricane Sandy.

About Burning Man
Burning Man Project is a 501(c)3 public benefit corporation whose mission is to facilitate and extend the culture that has issued from the Burning Man event into the larger world. Black Rock City is the seminal manifestation of the 10 Principles-based culture known as Burning Man. The gathering, which last year included participants from all 50 states and 40 countries around the world, happens the last week of August in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. For more information, visit www.burningman.org.

About Burners Without Borders
Burners Without Borders (BWB) was born in Biloxi, Mississippi during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort where Burning Man participants had instinctively gathered to fill in where government relief efforts were falling short. Since then, BWB has emerged as a grassroots, volunteer-driven, community leadership organization whose goal is to unlock the creativity of local communities to solve problems that bring about meaningful change. Supporting volunteers from around the world in innovative disaster relief solutions and community resiliency projects, BWB is known for the unbridled creativity they bring to every civic project they do. To get involved, visit the Burners Without Borders website.


BWB Winter Ball Fundraiser for the Chicago Community Grant Program!

[This post reprinted from Burners Without Borders.]

Photo by ‘Great Eye Films’
Photo by ‘Great Eye Films’

Chicago’s annual Burners Without Borders fundraiser, ‘The BWB Winter Ball’, was a night to remember for all of the organizers, artists, volunteers, and participants who made it such a huge success. It was a night filled with art, food & performances; an evening exploring how artists can contribute their gifts in meaningful ways to their local communities.

Photo by Jenka Pechenka
Photo by Jenka Pechenka

The fundraiser was held to support the ‘Chicago Community Grant Program’: a collaboration between the local BWB chapter and Chicago’s burner-run arts & culture 501c3 Bold Urban Renaissance Network (BURN) that started in 2012.  Based loosely on ‘The Sunday Soup’ model, the program is an experiment in opening up the grant selection process by allowing community members to vote for the grant winners themselves.  Twice a year, a salon event is held where four civic projects are invited to come and give a ten minute pitch explaining their ideas and the audience follows up with a five minute Q&A session.  After the pitch session everyone is served a delicious meal and has the chance to cast one vote that decides that evenings winners.  After three years and six cycles, the program continues to exist as an enriching community event and vital funding model for grassroots initiative.

(Read more about the program here.)

Orielle Anaïs Caldwell, aerialist (Photo by Jenka Pechenka)
Orielle Anaïs Caldwell, aerialist (Photo by Jenka Pechenka)

The BWB Winter Ball was conceptualized to be the main fundraiser for this program, and such a successful event shows that the local community believes in what’s been happening.  This year’s fundraiser brought a 338% increase in earnings compared to the year prior.  Another way to put this success into context is to consider that BWB Chicago raised more money on this single night than they’ve been able to give away over the past three years of the entire grant program’s existence. After expenses just under eight thousand dollars was raised!

So what does this mean for BWB Chicago and the Chicago Community Grant Program? The ability to have more impact!  The program is looking at expanding in size, awarded grant amount, and number of grants given.  Implementing a completely new microloan program for business focused projects is also under consideration.

Curious where the funding goes? Take a look at our 2015 Honored Projects:

Jakmel Ekpresyon – (www.facebook.com/JakmelEkspresyon)
Slow + Roll Chicago – (www.facebook.com/SlowRollChicago)
Free write Jail Arts – (www.facebook.com/freewritejailarts)
Share Your Soles – (www.facebook.com/ShareYourSoles)
Consensus Chicago – (www.facebook.com/consensuschicago)
Why Not Here? – (www.facebook.com/quinncommunitycenter)
Follow the Alphabet Road – (http://marylyonschool.com/)
Kedzie Carroll Garden –  (www.facebook.com/TheKedzieStop)

Keep in Touch with Burners-without-Borders Chicago:
www.facebook.com/bwbchicago    /   Civicgrants@boldurban.org

Burners Without Borders Helps Clean Padre Island Shooting Range

bwb corpus christiBurners Without Borders (BWB) is a community led, grassroots group that encourages innovative civic participation that creates positive change locally.

In Corpus Christi, Texas, Burners Without Borders Corpus Christi — made up of Patrick Brown and his friends — recently stepped up efforts to clean a stretch of Padre Island after having started the initiative about a year ago. Partick was quoted on KRISTV as saying:

There were places in this area where you could actually like, literally wade through shotgun shells.

They heard about the makeshift shotgun range from the folks at National Sea Shore. He then got permission from the General Land Office to clean the area up. The group had their first clean up in February.

During those first cleanups we removed about 600 pounds of shotgun shells, said Brown.

At the time Brown only had eight people helping him, and they were able to clear out most of the area. But now, five months later, it’s all trashed up again. Brown says his group will meet in a few weeks to plan another cleanup of the area. The alternative to a community-based solution was to have police patrol the area to prevent people from littering the place with shells, at the cost of taxpayer money and law enforcement distracted from more important issues.

It is very exciting to see this local BWB group bring one of the Burning Man’s Ten Principles, Leave No Trace, to their local community and making an impact.

Would you like to get involved? Burners Without Borders was founded and continues to grow because of people just like you.

About Burners Without Borders

Burners Without Borders was born in Biloxi, Mississippi during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort. When the hurricane struck during the Burning Man event that year, several groups of volunteers traveled directly from Black Rock City to the ravaged area, employing the Burning Man principles of civic responsibility, communal effort, participation, radical self-reliance and gifting, in a coordinated effort to fill in where government relief efforts were falling short.

Since then, Burners Without Borders has grown to facilitate volunteerism all over the world for anyone interested in gifting their time and talents to a variety of causes, from disaster relief to community building to beach clean-ups. BWB volunteers have provided assistance in places such as Peru, Haiti, Japan, Alabama, and now in Corpus Christi, Texas, while their annual grant program helps would-be volunteers to realize their vision of making a difference in their communities.

If you would like to get involved, please contact BWB through the Burners Without Borders website.

Participate! Vote on Burners Without Borders’ next grant recipient!

From Hurricane Sandy relief to empowering marginalized street-living youth through the MotoMoto Circus project in Kenya, Burners Without Borders has supported innovative disaster relief programs and community initiatives that have a positive lasting impact since 2005.

Burners Without Borders

Tomorrow, Burners Without Borders invites you to join their tele-salon and select their next grant recipient! Their new Walk the Walk Grant program seeks to fund innovative community projects within the Burning Man Global Network.

Four finalists will each have 10 minutes to pitch their project during the call. How does the project embody the 10 Principles, creatively address local challenges and produce direct actions and collaboration? Join the tele-salon and find out tomorrow. (more…)

Art as Catalyst for Change in Haiti

Earthquake damage in Jacmel, Haiti, Jan 17, 2010. (AP Photo/Peter Prengaman)

When the devastating 2010 earthquake struck Jacmel, Haiti, Sue Frame was sitting in a restaurant with her best friend, Flo McGarrell. Flo was an incredible artist who had worked tirelessly in Jacmel for marginalized artists including women, the physically challenged as well as those who identify as gay or transgender.

As the earth began to shake beneath their feet, Flo and Sue made a run for the nearest exit, but tragically, only Sue was able to make it out alive before the restaurant collapsed. Sue vowed to continue Flo’s work in Jacmel through the creation of Jakmel Ekspresyon, a non-profit arts organization whose goal is to provide a place for artists to learn and express themselves in a non-discriminating environment. BWB has partnered with this one of a kind organization in Haiti to create a program that will train and create employment for these artists for years to come through the creation of a screen printing studio and business.

Jacmel is known as the arts capital of Haiti-famous for its vibrant arts culture. However, it is very difficult for artists to benefit financially from their work due to persistent political and economic challenges that have plagued the country for centuries. It can also be extremely difficult for these marginalized individuals to be accepted by the community and have the ability to make a living.

Jacmel Ekspresyon art classes

But, with the support from the Burning Man community, we can make a real and lasting difference in transforming this paradigm. This screen printing project will be the first of its kind in Haiti. BWB will send ten artists to Jacmel to teach skills in design, screen printing and professional development. There are currently no screen printing services available in Jacmel to create post-cards for the tourism industry or for the various international organizations who work there. This project is sure to be a success and we need your participation to make it happen.

If you would like to apply for the artist in residency program, you can read all about it here.

We are asking for your financial support in making this unique project happen. We have just launched an Indiegogo campaign that will fund the residency program and the construction of a screen printing studio.

This is an incredible opportunity to support the arts and a unique program that will make a significant impact in the lives of these artists and for the Jacmel community.

Thank you for your support.

Burners Without Borders’ Sandy Relief Efforts

Burners Without Borders volunteers have been closely watching the relief efforts on the East Coast following the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Our hearts go out to those who are suffering in the aftermath of the storm. With millions of people affected by Sandy and with so many people without flood insurance, the recovery effort will be challenging and lengthy.

BWB has deployed an assessment team to New Jersey, led by BWB Co-founder and Director of Operations for Katrina, Richard Scott. During the 8 months BWB was deployed on the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina, Richard’s incredible heavy machinery skills enabled BWB to gift over $1million worth of debris removal to the region. When Hurricane Ike struck three years later, Richard was there to remove destroyed houses, so that those affected could quickly recover and move forward with their lives.

This week, Richard will be meeting with our local contacts in New Jersey to tour affected areas that are not receiving relief assistance. BWB’s mission is to fill in the gaps of the major recovery effort, and we will be looking for the most effective way to accomplish this goal.

Richard is currently in contact with heavy machinery companies who have donated machines to BWB in the past. We are also looking into possibly creating a base of operations in New Jersey for a larger volunteer deployment.

We will be providing updates to this list as they become available.

You can also keep up with updates on the BWB Facebook Page.

How can you help?

1. BWB is currently seeking introductions to equipment rental companies that would like to support our efforts.
2. We are seeking a community center or public space in New Jersey to set up a base of operations for a potential volunteer deployment.
3. Do you have information about communities that are hard hit but receiving little help? We want to know about them.

E-mail sandyrelief@burnerswithoutborders.org with any information you have that can support the relief effort.

You can donate to the BWB relief effort by clicking clicking here.

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.


New Pearlington Library Opens

Back in 2005, Burners flocked to Mississippi to help with the disaster relief effort following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  After rebuilding a Buddhist temple and helping with demolitions in Biloxi, MS, this crew moved on to help another hard-hit town: Pearlington, MS — through which the eye of the storm traveled.  From this effort, Burners Without Borders was born.

The Pearlington Library

Today, Pearlington continues to rebuild, and the town and its wonderful people still hold a warm place in our hearts. We got word earlier this year about the reopening of the new Pearlington Library, and we thought we’d share an email we got from Patty Furr, Executive Director of the Hancock County Library System:

New Book Shelves

“Hi Andie,
Thanks so much for replying to my email.  We are so proud of the wonderful progress in Pearlington. I think some of your wonderful volunteers might have trouble recognizing the place. The dual library/gym renovation project costing 2.1 million dollars has not only allowed us to rebuild the library in the four rooms left over from the school, but in addition the money has paid for a complete and amazing renovation of the old “Pearlmart” gym into a modern sports facility with professional flooring for basketball, showers, lockers, offices and even an arcade for the teens to use.  A further project will also soon be funded by the county which will provide an outdoor pavilion with a full-scale concession stand and covered picnic table area as well.  All of the plywood “shacks” used by volunteers are gone to be replaced by an open green field for organized outdoor sports. (more…)