The night before the big burn, I made a 360 degree panorama that I hoped would capture the sheer bigness of this particular iteration of the Man. There’s an interactive version on my site or click on the image below. Would love to hear your feedback!
Posts in Regional Network
Charlie Dolman, Burning Man’s Event Operations Director, was recently invited by the Project Management Institute to be the Opening Keynote Speaker at their conference in San Diego. The Project Management Institute provides project management practitioners and organizations with standards that describe good practices and provides globally recognized credentials in their field.
Of course, the first question that comes to mind is what can attendees at a project management conference learn from Burning Man, and how could it make them better project managers? Well, Charlie asked the audience … what does it take to build a city in the desert? A lot of spreadsheets!
Organizing Burning Man requires monumental schedule, budget, legal, safety, and risk considerations. As Burning Man’s Event Operations Director, Charlie wanted to share his unique perspective and insights, from project management essentials to lessons learned in the dust.
The conference attendees wanted to hear about the Burning Man event itself and what it looks like from a project management point of view. So Charlie told them about the pre-event build process, including the Golden Spike ritual, surveying the city, and how building the 9.2-mile long trash fence is a cooperative effort, completed by a hardy crew in less than one day.
He described the elements that go into creating Black Rock City, including the street grid with signs and addresses, port-o-potties, an airport, big art, a Department of Mutant Vehicles. He discussed the nuances of working with a volunteer workforce, the challenges of our mandate to Leave No Trace of Black Rock City after the event has concluded, and the prolific growth of Burning Man culture through the Regional Network.
What did Charlie think about this chance to share his experience with project management professionals?
“It was great to have the opportunity to speak to professional project managers about Burning Man. Sharing the thing you love with other interested and professional folks is brilliant fun. There were some great questions and some surprise curve balls too! Overall the experience was great!”
Alberta is a vast cold pine forest in central Canada. The largest city, Calgary, is so perfectly snow-covered that it once hosted the Winter Olympics, and the regional Burn there is held on an elk farm in the summer. The elk wander around, gazing at the otherworldly lights from the darkness of the forest and probably wondering what’s going on. The regional is called Freezerburn, and it is so far north that the sun comes up at 4 a.m.
I met a sound engineer from Alberta at the Global Leadership Conference this year. He belongs to a camp called Space Gnomes, and is asked by fellow campers to “fix the sound,” meaning to redirect sound waves.
Most of the time, flat speakers broadcast, sending sound waves in all 180 degrees; he focused the waves on certain areas, on a dancefloor, in one direction. That works for high frequencies, but “bass is more omnidirectional,” he said.
“So bass waves spill more,” I said.
“Basically,” he said. Read more »
People have lots of ideas about what Portland is like. Portland is weird and eclectic, some think, and the cable comedy Portlandia is partially a documentary (it’s not). I have met a lot of great people from Portland. Yes, some of them are weird. If you are familiar with the kilt-wearing, bag-pipe-playing, Darth-Vader-mask-wearing unicycle rider from the famous meme, I can assure you he has a real name and is a great guy to talk with.
But as far as Burners go we all like to think we are weird. And the team for the Portland region’s CORE project certainly self-identifies as such. They are bringing art that presents Portland’s soul to add to the circle at Burning Man.
All across France, team members are enthusiastically committing to support, fund and build the French Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE) project Stairway to Heaven (“Un escalier vers le ciel” in French), one of 24 wooden sculptures created by Burning Man regional groups from across the world. Two leads, an architect, and a tight circle of talented people are investing their time and creativity in the production of an art project for Burning Man 2013.
Near Dijon, there’s Dubail “dub” Sylvain, an athletic trainer and member of the 2011 Temple Crew who organizes events around Europe while he prepares for CORE. In Toulouse, construction project manager Stephanie Pecoste prepares to work with a team of builders on site in the U.S. to realize this project. And in Paris, “Ludale” (he prefers to just use his Burner name) who made the leap from designing buildings to creating large scale art projects (such as Stairway’s spiraling tower), is arranging financing and support for the project.
I met Dub at his home, in the little village of Ouges, five minutes from Dijon. He explained that there are a lot of excited volunteers. More than were initially expected. Now there are too many to have meetings on Skype, and the mailing list is expanding weekly. But meeting all of these people has been a lot of fun, Dub says. Read more »
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the Burning Man regional event. By working with authorities to override a long-term population cap, Burning Flipside organizers have successfully rewritten the rules!
In order to increase the event’s capacity, State regulations required Flipside organizers to provide potable water, daily trash service, trash receptacles, cups, napkins, lighting and other services. But Flipside is a Leave No Trace event based on personal accountability; participants are expected to bring in everything they need and pack it out when they leave (sound familiar?).
The vast majority of large-scale events and festivals do provide trash cans, based on the assumption that attendees are not interested in picking up after themselves. Leave No Trace events like Burning Man and Burning Flipside have a different ethos. The latter trust that community members are not only perfectly capable of cleaning up after their own wild rumpuses, but that they feel satisfied and self-reliant as a result of doing so.
We come together, build something amazing, burn it to the ground and then pick up every last cinder. It’s an achievement we’re proud of, and it’s part of what defines us as a community rather than merely an event. We do it because we respect the land and the right of others to enjoy the land once we depart.
Incorporating trash services would change the very nature of what Flipside is about and Austin Artistic Reconstruction (AAR), the organization running Flipside, wasn’t willing to subvert the community’s values just to sell more tickets.
Faced with a choice of either going against our community’s values by providing trash cans, or limiting the population, AAR did what they had to do:
They changed the rules.
No need to wait three months to dive into the art of Burning Man! Burning Man Regional Groups in more than 120 regions spanning over 20 countries are developing ways to engage local communities around the creative spirit, year-round.
Earlier this month, Firefly Arts Collective – who organize the official New England Burning Man regional event Firefly – took part in Somerville Open Studios, one of the largest weekend-long open studio events in the United States.
Home to many Firefly artists and a growing arts community, Somerville is located just north of Boston. Read more »
AfrikaBurn 2013 — Burning Man’s official African regional Burn — is underway in Tankwa, South Africa. Now in its seventh year, AfrikaBurn is rightfully touted as “the spectacular result of the creative expression of a community of volunteers who, once a year, gather in the Tankwa Karoo to create a temporary city of art, theme camps, costume, music and performance!”
The event takes place May 1-6 on an expanse of remote desert in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa akin to the Black Rock Desert of Nevada (albeit a little more rocky), and its population has steadily grown since its inception … they’re expecting 8,000 participants this year. Read more »