PRWeb reports that the Burning Man Project has announced something they are doing to show how Burning Man culture can transform a community. It highlights a difference between Burner thinking, and Burning Man thinking. Burning Man thinking is temporary: “we’ll build it and get rid of it a few months later. In that short time, it will transform everyone’s lives”. Burner thinking is practical: “we’ll build it with whatever resources and tools we have at hand, we’ll re-use it in the future, and over time we’ll add to it and fix it and improve it. We don’t care so much if it changes others’ lives, as long as we think it’s cool we hope some others appreciate it too”. We will get to see the effectiveness of Burning Man thinking in transforming part of West Oakland into a flourishing, creative community space. Can Burning Man turn the Ghetto into the Place to Be?
For three months this fall, a 24,000 square-foot vacant lot at the intersection of Mandela Parkway, West Grand Avenue and Peralta Street in West Oakland will be transformed into a creative community space filled with art and commerce. Each weekend from October 4 to December 15, the Peralta Junction Project will harness the strong local presence of the industrial arts and artists to create rich social and economic opportunities for an often-challenged neighborhood.
With the help of scores of participating artists, expertise from resources sites like Toolerant and volunteers, the project team has begun to clean up and rejuvenate the space, which until recently was full of weeds. Talented local mural artists have transformed the long fence facing Mandela Parkway into a vibrant, interactive perimeter. Soon tents will rise, art projects will be installed, carnival lights will be illuminated and the space will come alive with art installations, creative workshops, performances, micro-retail shops featuring local artisans, Oakland-based food trucks, a tented gathering place, and pumpkins.
“We hope to create an economically sustainable, communal creative space for people who live and work in our neighborhood,” said Leslie Pritchett of Commonplace Productions, one of the project’s organizers. “We invite anyone and everyone to help shape and share in this evolving social project.”
Key features of the project will include:
- A series of three highly-interactive, large-scale art installations, beginning with M.T. Pocket’s Traveling Midway of Curiosities and Delights
- A Pumpkin Patch, with artist-led pumpkin carving programs
- Food Trucks, featuring some of Oakland’s finest mobile purveyors
- A Pop-Up Market, featuring the wares of local artisans
- D.I.Y. workshops and demonstrations with local arts organizations such as The Crucible
- Community Movie Night on Thursdays
- An artist-built stage featuring local performing artists
Marcus Guillard, a founder of the One Hat One Hand design-build collective and Leslie Pritchett, Director of Commonplace Productions will lend their experience as artists, administrators, and change agents in leading this group effort. A strong list of key collaborators includes The Crucible, American Steel Studios, Stageworks Productions and The Burning Man Project.
The project team is busily preparing for the Grand Opening Weekend, October 6 and 7, when Peralta Junction will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will feature performances, pumpkins and pumpkin carving, workshops, live painting demonstrations, face painting, clowns, carnies, food trucks, vendors and more!
If this pilot project is demonstrated to be viable, the project team hopes to move forward with a longer-term, five-year program at the site that includes arts-based programming, community space, and micro-retail shops and restaurants housed in artist-designed and converted shipping containers.
We will be watching with interest to see the effects this project has on West Oakland. Will 3 months of a pumpkin patch, be enough to gentrify a ghetto? It’s much easier to park a few taco trucks in Oakland and paint a fence, than it is to do something truly useful like addressing sexual assault in our community. So we hope the Burning Man Project delivers something positive and tangible, and shows us all the potential that Burning Man has to make a difference in Meatspace.