Bringing Burning Man to Berkeley

There is a free event tomorrow in Berkeley, to promote Burning Man culture. The CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association, John Caner, teamed up with some independent Burners who wanted to see more Burner art in the East Bay. They decided to throw a community-building event in the spirit of the festival.

The second annual Berkeley Spark will happen in Civic Center Park (Martin Luther King Jr. Way between Center Street and Allston Way) this Saturday, July 19. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

From East Bay Express:

If you ask someone who has been to Burning Man to explain it, they’ll often say that you can’t fully understand the magnificence of the experience until you go. But for those who aren’t up for the trek (or the dust), there’s now a way to grasp the event without leaving the safety of the Berkeley bubble: Berkeley Spark.

John Caner, CEO, Downtown Berkeley Association

John Caner

The idea for Berkeley Spark came about partly through the organizing efforts of Downtown Berkeley Association CEO John Caner, who hadn’t attended Burning Man until last year. In October 2012, Caner was walking past Revival Bar + Kitchen after Berkeley’s Sunday Streets festival when owner — and burner — Amy Murray asked him to meet some fellow burners who were discussing how to bring Burning Man art downtown. Eventually, the group realized that instead of merely bringing the art of Burning Man to Berkeley, they could go a step further and create a community-building event in the spirit of the festival.

spark festival berkeleyKat Parkin, who has been attending Burning Man for six years, had recently moved back to the East Bay after 25 years away and decided to take the lead on organizing the event as a way to re-immerse herself in her surroundings. “I’ve been gone a long time, and what better way to get to know my community than by throwing a party?” she said.

berekely mapDescribed as a “community-driven art, innovation, science, and technology festival,” the second annual Berkeley Spark will happen in Civic Center Park (Martin Luther King Jr. Way between Center Street and Allston Way) this Saturday. It will feature a market with items that those going to Burning Man may need on the playa, interactive art sculptures, Burning Man theme camps, workshops, food, a beer and wine garden, and a hip-hop open mic, a musical performance by Laura Inserra from the multidisciplinary performing art and music organization Samavesha.


While the festival does offer resources for those preparing for a trip to the playa in August, organizers emphasized that the event is intended for the whole community. “It’s really a fun festival that isn’t just about Burning Man,” said Caner. “It’s about igniting creativity.”

Michael Caplan, City of Berkeley

Michael Caplan

The organizers also hope that the event draws more people to the downtown Berkeley area and highlights its cultural and commercial revitalization. To that end, the City of Berkeley sponsored the event last year and is doing so again this year. “We’re the first city to put money into a Burning-Man-related project,” said Michael Caplan, Berkeley’s economic development manager. Caplan’s hope is that the tech innovation corridor — a new feature of the festival where attendees can meet with local designers, hackers, and innovators — will help generate enthusiasm for Berkeley’s emerging start-up and maker scene. “Bringing several thousand people who are interested in Burning Man to come and experience downtown — that’s a good thing,” he said.

Despite the City of Oakland putting money into the event – the first city to do so with a Burning Man related project – BMOrg have been uncharacteristically quiet on this. It seems to perfectly fit the mission of the Burning Man Project to facilitate and extend Burner culture, so what gives, BMOrg? No keynote panel opportunities for your directors? Or still feeling “burned” from when the East Bay community didn’t like you claiming all the credit for the Peralta Junction project?

 

Share your thoughts with us

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s