Burning Man’s former Social Alchemist Bear Kittay shares his memories of Larry Harvey, as well as some insight into how Larry’s crowning achievement of a permanent, year-round Philosophy Center came together.
It seems that the idea of “using The Ten Principles of Burning Man to make the world a better place” is not yet embraced by everyone else in the world.
Some of the headlines:
Yes, the demonstrators have a new thing to protest about: Burners. The colonial subjects do not want to have a transformational experience from the colonists, they are quite happy with the culture that they already have – an ancient one sacred to them, principles that their people have risked their lives for centuries to defend.
This is particularly amusing because BMorg have been boasting about how they have teams on the scene, including [former] Social Alchemist/House Bard Bear Kittay. If “playing guitars around campfires” was a middle name, it would be his…
As a rule we don’t share personal Facebook posts here, but in this case Bear was happy for his take on Standing Rock to be published on Medium, who bring us Bear Kittay From The Bismarck Airport Leaving Standing Rock (on a private plane, perhaps?):
“Real, immediate dialogue. That is what we need. How can we create an environment where an indigenous person, gypsetter, and rust belter will be imbued with a sense of peership?
My experience of the microcosm of a cauldron that Standing Rock, in my brief visit there, has left me with much to ponder and digest. So many layers simultaneously coexisting.
Deep ancestral distrust, how can we begin to address the underlying fears and victimization?
On my journey to North Dakota I read “Quiet Thunder: The Wisdom of Crazy Horse” (thanks Michael Costuros) and was astounded to revisit, in chilling detail, the magnitude of the atrocities committed by the United States upon the Lakota Nation.
For all the focus we put on the inequities of the wider world, it struck me so deeply to look here into the history of our own land, and demystify the historical injustices, that were not from some far off historic time. For indeed, there is a through line that, very immediately connects the vile, systemic campaign against the Native Americans to the current moment of Standing Rock today.
I have tried to balance and remain agnostic from the many conspiracy theories that are in sprinkled around the Internet and spoken as if they are high truth. I believe this world is complex and that oversimplification can lead to the worst in human behavior.
So, can someone please give me an explanation as to why all of the major media companies are refusing to cover standing rock in earnest? It has all the telltale signs of conspiratorial activity, with huge corporate interests conspiring to suppress public outrage through misinformation and, even, fake news. If any of you that are reading this are deeply connected in the mainstream media, please use your influence to send field reporters.
Thank you to Seth Bunting, Elana Meta Jaroff and the many others who are on the front lines of this conflict vigilantly documenting and broadcasting the scene. Your work is making real impact, your courage is real.
This isn’t going to be one of those Facebook posts where I prescribe eloquent solutions or pruned emotional reflections — I’m sleep deprived, exasperated and very much in process.
If you’re reading this, I implore you to create conversation with those who may challenge you, trigger you, who you may easily judge, and subconsciously look down upon… get off of the Internet and receive the incredible gift of human connection outside of our affinity bubbles.
This is what the world needs. This is what our hearts need. This is but one facet in the many layers of Standing Rock as a metaphor for the front lines of our nation and indeed our world, in transition.
In love, and to the ongoing ceremony and prayer in our Greater Circle. Aho
And PS — it’s COLD AS HELL out there. Please consider the comfort of your warm home when making a donation to support the Water Protectors: http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/”
I wondered if this “camp ocetisakowin” had anything to do with the Dakota Pipeline, or if it was some plug-n-play that BMorg had set up so they could fly execs in via their new airline. At first glance it looked like an anagram of “white ocean“…Turns out it’s the traditional name of the Sioux People and one of the largest camps up there. Among other things they’re seeking:
The sacred fire must be kept burning until it is guaranteed the water is protected for future generations. One of our greatest needs for the winter will be wood. It warms our lodges, cooks our food, heats the stones for our sweats.
Tipis, winter liners, and poles
Yurts or other winter worthy structures
Ask for yurts and help to keep the sacred fire burning and don’t be surprised if Burners show up! Perhaps they should’ve asked for ShiftPods…they could blast the pipeline away with that stadium-grade Funktion1 system.
Actually, the Daily Mail features “Burning Man-style” aerial photos…I see multiple Shift Pods. Where’s the DJ booth?
To be fair to Bear, the Standing Rock protestors were complaining about people treating it like Burning Man before he showed up:
Tracing this story to its roots, it seems like the complaints about Burners started two weeks earlier, on November 14.
Standing Rock has reportedly been overrun with white demonstrators trying to soak up the ‘cultural experience’
Demonstrators at North Dakota’s Pipeline protest have spoken out about the amount of white people who have turned up to “colonise” the camp.
The concerns have been raised by protestors in a series of tweets and Facebook posts. According to them, people have turned up to the Standing Rock demonstration to soak up the “cultural experience”, and are treating the camp like it is “Burning Man” festival or “The Rainbow Gathering”.
“They are coming in, taking food, clothing… and occupying space without any desire to participate in camp maintenance and without respect of tribal protocols,” said protestor Alicia Smith on Facebook. “I even witnessed several wandering in and out of camps comparing it to festivals. Waiting with big smiles expectantly for us to give them a necklace or an ‘indian’ name while our camp leader was speaking.”
[Update 5/12/16 7:27am]
“Take a moment to drop in, and imagine the world that you want to co-create.”
That’s the Burning Man 2.0 message, sent to me today by Social Alchemist Bear Kittay. He’s just given a talk – combined with escalating soothing live backing rhythms of digiridu and Ableton to emphasize his Esalen workshop-honed points – to the techno-hipster elite of Berlin at the 2016 Tech Open Air Inter-disciplinary Technology Festival
No offense to Bear, but the backing music reminds me of the Wayans Brothers movie I’m Gonna Git You Sucka
Creating physical spaces to prototype the design of our new civilization…That’s what we’re doing at these conferences and these festivals. We experience these immersive ways of life and we re-imagine who we are, what’s most important to us, how we should be reallocating our resources – through experience, through art, through participatory culture
Hmmm…so we’re not just tripping out and trying to find Dancetronauts?
BMOrg told us they’d bought Fly Ranch on June 10 2016.
6 weeks later, on July 21, they revealed some of the donor names:
The individuals that contributed funding for the purchase have one thing in common: they have been deeply moved and changed by their involvement in Burning Man, and they are invested in the future of this culture. One of our early supporters and driving forces behind this project is Burning Man Project Board Member Chip Conley (AirBnB), who has shared his motivations for contributing to this project on Fest300. Another is Ping Fu (3D Systems), who, like so many of you, is a dreamer and a maker. Her reasons for giving inspire all of us, and we have been working with Ping, Chip and others to share the reasons they felt called to contribute to this project.
Other donors you may hear from in the coming weeks and months include: Joe Gebbia (AirBnB Chief Product Officer), Bill Linton (ProMega – therapeutic magic mushrooms), Rob and Kristin Goldman (Facebook VP Product), Guy Laliberté (Cirque du Soleil), Farhad Mohit (Flipagram) and Nushin Sabet, Alex Moradi (ICO Group – Real Estate), Graham Schneider (Real Estate) and Jonathan Teo (Binary Capital: Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat). A handful of donors have asked to remain anonymous, and we absolutely respect that choice. Just like in Black Rock City, we also celebrate and honor anonymous giving.
Thanks to everyone who donated. 12 names. Did they all give half a mil each, leaving 1 slot unaccounted for? Or did they all kick in $100k, and some Anonymous group wrote a check for the remaining $5.3 million?
Who pays the utilities and operating expenses? What’s the business model…or is it all just donation-supported, like public access television and radio? We’re coming up on two months since the big announcement – with Burning Man looming, and now opening earlier than ever – and this is the first we’ve heard of what they actually plan to do with the joint. We’ll probably have to wait til 2017 now for further details.
Bear described the vision:
The overall valley is roughly the size of Manhattan – 20 square miles. Our property is 3800 acres, it includes beautiful hot springs, hot lakes that hundreds can swim in, and geysers, and a very very large Playa, this open tabula rasa, this context for re-imagining our civilization.
So now we own this property year round in the non profit organization. It’s really a gift for the community by the community. It’s been funded completely philanthropically by a group of Patrons who believe that the process of us coming together as a community and experimenting with what could happen there isn’t just something that’ll happen at this site at Fly Ranch, but ultimately that having these semi-permanent locations that are owned by community groups so that year round iterations in the same template much as we develop these technology tools that we can get one step closer, bringing more and more people into the experience of co-creating and manifesting what will work as we re-imagine and re-invent our civilization. Welcome to Fly Ranch. This is a new era for Burning Man. This is a gift from the Burning Man community as a social experiment for humankind in the 21st century.
I have to say I’m not really enlightened much further about what exactly will be going on out there in one of the most remote parts of the United States. OK, some rich people bought the pitch and ponied up the $6.5 million. Now what? Will there be art cars? DJs?
As fun as Burning Man is, I am still waiting for them to explain how living in the desert with porta-potties but no showers or clean drinking water on tap, no money and no trashcans is the new model for humanity. There are already billions on the planet living in those conditions, and I think we would be better served directing our energies towards helping them rise out of it, instead of turning our civilization backwards so we can join them!
What are the gifts that the Burning Man Project will bestow upon humankind from their desert base? Neo-feudalism? Blowjob Workshops? Group masturbation to childrens cartoons? Black Lives Matter?
I mean, I’m sure this is fun and all…but is this really the next evolutionary step for civilization? Humanity depends on this? The future of Burning Man is to have all this sort of thing going on year round?
Today I was also lucky enough today to attend – if only for a short time – WIlliam Binzen’s exhibition at the Smith Andersen gallery in San Anselmo.
Marin County is old timers like me (43). The Mission and 666 Alabama is where the young hipsters like Bear and the BMOrg 2.0 coterie
hang out network. Tonight’s crowd skewed more towards hip replacement than:
…but having said that, we were among the last to arrive and first to leave. Anyway, I managed to catch an equivalent segment of the talks in length to Bear’s presentation. It felt like the guts of it, if anyone who was there has a better video or recording please share. [Aside: As always at these things, like with my shaky phone recording of Eric Schmidt at Further Future 2016, there are dozens of professional looking cameras filming it but nobody ever shares, even on commercial videos. So who are all these people? And why are they recording?]
I couldn’t see the stage but I believe this is William Binzen talking and then John Law. They mention Chris Radcliff “imposing fellow with an SKS”…a name that has been erased from the official Burning Man history. You will hear about Cris(tina) in a future Shadow History episode. Part 4 is being edited now, Part 5 is coming soon, here’s Parts One, Two, and Three and my debunking of the first challenge to my research.
It is interesting to hear the similar words and themes between the Burning Man 2016 future vision and what was going on at the Playa before Black Rock City LLC and The Burning Man Project ™ showed up. One of the many tributary streams that flowed into the city that was created for BMOrg to take over and steer toward the future. A future of ever increasing ticket prices, vehicle permits and monetizable transactions. It’s not just the future of Burning Man…it’s the future of civilization itself. That’s what these people are going to be designing at Flysalen. No votes. No transparency. No details. No plans. No vision. Anonymous donors giving untold millions. Unknown names making the list of items to check off. Details and vision not made up as we go, but “coming soon” once they’ve been cleared by the suits…
I wish I could have stayed longer tonight and mingled with what looked to be an amazing crowd. The real people who built Burning Man. I wish it was that crowd that was steering our culture towards the future, not a bunch of starry eyed Millenials with 3 Burns under their belt. Maybe I’m just getting old…
Burning Man’s Social Alchemist Bear Kittay is on a mission to attend as many regional Burns as he can. Seeing them all in a year is about as likely as seeing everything there is at Burning Man in a week. He has made it to Afrika Burn this year, and he reports that it blew his mind:
Afrikaburn this year was unlike any “regional” I’ve been to, or even like Afrikaburn was last year, to me. This year saw a city of 10k people gather in the Tankwa, much more racial and societal diversity, magical art all around, a powerful sense of purpose and unity. I’m still reeling in the experience, this was as powerful as any Playa experience I’ve ever had. Hit me by surprise, kicked my ass, made me cry, I’m full of a new wind of purpose — this Burning Man culture is working… FAST, in places that are working hard to right injustice and move into a better future. The “jaded” burner and “apathetic” burner seem to not really exist here, there is an immediacy to this culture here in South Africa that spreads from the 1% to the townships. Can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow during the elections (20th anniversary of the end of apartheid). Inspired by all the stories…
We look forward to hearing more of Bear’s adventures when he gets back home, if they’re not on the official blog or Afrikaburn site, we’re happy to write about them here.