Posts in civics

November 12th, 2013  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

How The West Was Won: Anarchy Vs. Civic Responsibility

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man's 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

Legends of America, by James Cole, 2008 (photo by Stewart Harvey)

“Legends of America” by James Cole, 2008 (photo by Stewart Harvey)

During our early history in the desert, in the mid-90s, there was a lot of infighting about what the event was for—that struggle culminated in 1996. It concerned what our city was for, and who the entire event belonged to. We started out on the beach in 1986 as a small group of people that I came to call the Latte Carpenters. These were carpenters with a liberal arts education. I was friends with a builder named Dan Richman, who was an artist, though he didn’t pursue it, a talented painter who played flamenco. He convened a little salon of sorts at his house. He’d play the guitar; we’d drink and joke and talk about philosophy and art. It was a little bohemian scene, and that’s how I met Jerry James, with whom I built and burned the early versions of the Man.

Around 1989, members of the Cacophony Society turned up at our beach burns. Cacophony was somewhat amorphous; a “randomly gathered” network of eccentrics united by a publicly distributed newsletter that always stated, “You may already be a member.” Anyone could do events; these were often pranks, or might appropriate a feature of the urban landscape as a venue for guerrilla theater. For some, this was inspired by Dada, and for others it eventually came to be defined by the writings of Hakim Bey, chiefly a book entitled TAZ [Temporary Autonomous Zone]. In the early 90’s, this was widely adopted as an intellectual framework throughout the San Francisco art underground. It seemed to partially explain what was occurring, and that is why this particular book is so frequently referenced in regard to Burning Man. Read more »

June 21st, 2011  |  Filed under Afield in the World

Ghana ThinkTank – Developing the First World

The Ghana ThinkTank is one of [BRAF]‘s 2011 grant recipients, and is developing the First World. Ghana Thinktank is a worldwide network of think tanks creating strategies to resolve local problems in the “developed” world. The network is composed of people from all walks of life and levels of expertise and began with groups in Ghana, Cuba and El Salvador. It has since expanded to include Serbia, Mexico, Ethiopia, Iran, and a group of incarcerated girls in the U.S. prison system.

These think tanks analyze First World problems and propose solutions, which are enacted in the community where the problems originated – whether those solutions seem impractical or brilliant. The success or failure of the solutions is documented and sent back to the think tanks, initiating another round of dialogue and action. For exhibitions, The Ghana Thinktank manifests as elaborate installations that document the entire process and involve audience participants in each step.

The Ghana ThinkTank in Corona involves a custom-built teardrop trailer designed to journey into different locales in the “First” world, collecting community and personal issues, and sending them to think tanks in Ghana, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Serbia, Iran, Afghanistan, and others…

Once we receive the solutions, our trailer rolls back into the communities, this time as a mobile workstation, so that we can work with community members to apply the solutions we have received from our global network of think tanks.

The Ghana Think Tank operates in Corona May 21 – Aug 14.

El Ghana ThinkTank en Corona utiliza un remolque hecho a la medida para viajar entre los diferentes niveles del “Primer mundo.” El remolque sirve de punto de recogida para problemas de la comunidad y asuntos personales. Despues de la fase de collección las problemas serán eviadas a nuestra red de gabinetes estrategicos en Ghana, Cuba, El Salvador, México, Serbia, Irán, y Afganistán para ser resueltas.

Una vez que recibamos las soluciones, nuestro remolque volverá a las comunidades de Corona, esta vez como una estación de trabajo móvil para aplicar las soluciones que hemos recibido.

El Ghana ThinkTank opera en Corona desde mayo 21 hasta agosto 14.

The Ghana ThinkTank in Corona is supported by the Queens Museum of Art, Creative Time, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, and The Greenwall Foundation. Additional funding provided by New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts.