What Is Right With Burning Man? Part 2: A Shaman’s Perspective

Part II of a guest post by Ayahuasca. Read Part 1 here. Happy New Year, Burners!


 

The flame that Burns the man is lit in a magickal cauldron named El Diabla. Image: Dust to Ashes/Flickr

The flame that Burns the man is lit in a magickal cauldron named El Diabla. Image: Dust to Ashes/Flickr

This mirror, designed by Ember, lights the flame in El Diabla that eventually burns The Man from the sun's rays

This lens, designed by Ember, lights the flame in El Diabla that eventually burns The Man from the sun’s rays

Burning Man begins with one of the founders using the power of the sun shining through a crystal to light the first flame that stays lit all week until the burning of the temple. If that doesn’t tell you there’s something special about Burning Man nothing will. Shamanism has been around for thousands of years and is deeply rooted and revered in many cultures. Most of the time the Shaman (man or woman) acts as the priest, doctor, therapist, lawyer, peacemaker, and more for communities. They are healers in the community and have learned to connect to spiritual worlds within themselves of which we all have access. I have heard it said before that a Shaman is a person who can teach you to view the world from a totally new perspective; a healer that can see to your true nature, that wants to heal you, that wants you to remove the masks you build up within yourself to cope with a dark and painful world.

I was born with a curiosity to know myself deeply. I have been referred to as an empath, indigo child, healer, shaman, wanderer, intuitive, and a few others. To put it simply I have always been drawn to self-reflection and understanding myself. I feel things extremely deeply; pain and suffering is difficult to witness for people like me. This natural journey has produced many so called ‘spiritual’ experiences. From experiencing satori ‘a moment of clarity’ or deep epiphanies, to witnessing a satori in another human, to becoming one with all things many times in deep meditation and feeling a deep connection with spirit, god, and the universe. To put it even simpler, I constantly look within for the answer. I look for trust and guidance from spirit and my inner knowing rather than what my mind or society thinks I should do. To be honest, it’s not easy. It can be a very lonely path to walk but being among my brothers and sisters at Burning Man knowing I am not the only one, creates deep healing within me as well. There are powerful healers all across the world and a high concentration of them at the Burn doing amazing work. When I walk through the gates and the first person says, “welcome home” I couldn’t be more grateful. This is home and this is where we are all going.

There was a time in our societies where the Shaman or Spiritual Worker was common. Every culture in history had them and they were an integral part of the society. Today, modern science has pushed aside generations of spiritual wisdom. Science and healthcare are extremely important and should be utilized, however we have completely forgotten the other side of the spectrum and have turned pharmaceuticals into a dangerous for profit entity rather than merging the two worlds together. Thankfully the knowledge is still here and holistic practitioners, energy workers, yogis and even Shamans are keeping the teachings alive. These people have mastered their minds and bodies through different disciplines such as yoga, meditation, earnest seeking, energy work, and more. Many of us are able to clear our minds and tune into the vortex deeply at any moment. As I allow the energy to pulse through me I can easily drop into powerful altered states instantly. The depth of this state happens infrequently in the default world and instantaneously on the playa. I’m absolutely using ‘the force’. To someone who has never practiced the art of looking within and clearing their mind, this may seem a little fantastic and I can assure you it is nothing special, although sometimes it is righteously special! I could go into stories about supernatural experiences but I don’t want you to think that is the purpose of the practice. The purpose of the practice is to connect with yourself, to trust yourself, to have a deep connection that no one can take away from you.

The most telling and profound proof of the vortex discussed in part one http://www.mattbelair.com/burningman1/ is the witnessing of transformations all over the playa. It is extremely common for people to have deep healings of past trauma, crying, a deeper connection to source or spirit, awakenings or satori, spiritual experiences and an evaluation of ones life. We begin to realize and understand the truth that we are all one and mask after mask, layer after layer falls away as we are open to experience and witness our true selves. Participants have the option to go to countless workshops on self-development, yoga, meditation, consciousness, and more. Not to mention the powerful healers who work tirelessly to give healings all day. These are the places I call home at Burning Man; Shaman Dome, Sacred Spaces, Red Lightning, Camp Contact, Honeysuckle Hood, Anahasana Village and many more. These places dedicate their time, love, energy, and healing all week and is a huge part of what makes Burning Man so special.

Understanding Burning Man Phenomena and Expressions

Have you ever considered that you create your reality? Have you ever considered you have the ability to create any reality you want? Have you ever considered that you are infinitely powerful? Any Burner you meet will talk about and fully embrace the concept of ‘Playa Magic’ but what is playa magic? The short version is:

Playa Magic = The Law of Attraction

You will find countless stories of Burners who will SWEAR that playa magic is real . .  . because it is! Whether it was the time that you were hungry and a hot dog vendor appeared out of nowhere or you needed some comfort and a cuddle puddle and kind soul offered a hug, or you were thinking, ‘man I need a ride and some great music’ and a few minutes later the perfect art car rolls by and you jump in! It is the human condition and limited perception that consistently brushes this off as coincidence. However, another powerful by-product of the BMV (burning man vortex) is that these lessons run deep, you cannot continue to look away from the majesty and intelligence of the universe and brush it off as coincidence. The playa provides! Since I am a Law of Attraction coach, taught by the great Michael J. Losier, and have studied countless metaphysical fields, the laws of the universe are easy to witness on the Playa. The reality is that participants are sending a request into the universe for what they need BUT because the playa vibrates at a much higher frequency your request comes at a faster rate. That coupled with the fact that your doubt (the thing that prevents your desires) is very low causes you to be much more open to receive. This is exactly how the law of attraction works in the default world except there is a longer delay and more faith is required. With the longer delay we have much more time to sabotage our desires with our doubts, unconscious and observed signals being sent out by our minds, bodies and hearts at every second. The law of attraction has one job and one job only and that is to match vibration. Most of us are good at asking but very few are good at receiving. For example how often are you present? How often do you sit in silence? How much mental energy is wasted on stress, going places, fear, anxiety? How much of your mental power is focused on presence, wonder, excitement, gratitude, joy, curiosity? This is a deep lesson with a simple answer; focus your thoughts, feelings, and actions toward that which feels good to YOU and so it shall BE. Obviously the universe is going to throw you curve balls – you were never in control in the first place.

Zen Lessons

If offered the chance would you jump at the opportunity to learn from one of greatest Zen masters of all time? The universe is the greatest teacher of all and we have been conditioned to ignore its constant communication with us. The incredibly powerful art is also a massive healer on the playa that most people miss. It is also another big piece of the healing energy. Participants are getting deep timeless Zen and spiritual teachings without even knowing it. One of the biggest lessons is on impermanence. In some Zen or Buddhism sects they will spend weeks creating elaborate and extraordinary art only to allow it be complete for 24 hours before racking their art and starting again. This is to demonstrate impermanence and offer a deep lesson in attachment.

I witnessed as some people broke down with the burning of the Lotus temple. The fact that it was a lotus alone has huge meaning. The lotus is a very sacred symbol in Zen teachings and is often referred to in order to teach about the layers of the mind and unfolding of the self to ones true nature. Not only did the artist build a breathtaking sculpture with deep spiritual roots, about 15,000 of us watched it burn to the ground. The amount of hours, love, and commitment to build such a structure must have been extraordinary, nonetheless all the time and effort gone in a matter of minutes. We all learned a deep lesson on impermanence. These lessons are burrowing deep into the participants subconscious without them being aware of it. Think of it this way, if a child is learning that an element is hot and slightly burns their hand by touching it they will probably learn that lesson. However if the element is on high and the child touches it and suffers severe burns they’ll learn the lesson even deeper and have even more respect for the power it produces. The same applies for spiritual teachings and the reason why in Zen they often refer to layers or levels of understanding. The spiritual symbol of the lotus, coupled with the magnitude and beauty of the piece of art allowed for a deep lesson in impermanence.

The flower of life is the most sacred symbol in the universe. It is the pattern in which all life is created and is another example of how the art and environment is affecting everyone at Burning Man. The flower of life is all over the world and has been around for centuries including being etched into the main pillar of the temple of Osiris in Egypt. Here is a brief summary from an ancient civilizations website;

flower-of-life-egupt1

“The temple was a subterranean complex dedicated to Osiris, the god of the Afterlife, symbolizing death and regeneration. The northern wall of the Seti Temple was decorated with scenes from the ‘Book of Gates’. The afterlife and resurrection. The once-underground chambers are the most ancient of all the ancient Egyptian ruins. The Flower of Life symbol is carved with laser-like accuracy on huge granite blocks in the temple walls and we are not able to replicate this today.”

 Usually it is drawn in two dimensions and this year Swiss engineers fabricated a brilliant and mathematically perfect reconstruction of a 3D version of the flower of life, or as most people referred to it as, “are you talking about the ball?” The flower of life is a mathematical masterpiece and the foundation of all Sacred Geometry. Not only was the ball amazing in 3D they were able to use a light show to create and express the infinite dimensions of the pattern with a light show, which broke down the flower of life into more and more dimensions vividly showing the power, magic, beauty and awe of the pattern. Most people missed the significance. Nevertheless, this timeless knowledge was affecting them.

Enlightenment Is Nothing Special

In a few moments time you’ll know what enlightenment is. After that you’ll be disappointed. There is an old Zen saying that goes, “Enlightenment is nothing special.” And another that says, “Before enlightenment chop wood carry water, after enlightenment chop wood carry water.” I can recall reading books on enlightenment and Zen teachings at the age of 16 and looking at it like static on a television. Why all these riddles? What the hell are you saying? I have experienced and understood enlightenment deeply through mediation and for prolonged periods in Ayahuasca ceremonies. It is something that is so painfully simple it hurts. Enlightenment is the simple realization that YOU are the creator. The world is not happening to YOU, YOU are happening to IT. Unsatisfied? I thought so but spend time chewing on that nugget and I promise you’ll grow, YOU ARE THE CREATOR! In order to wake up you must want to, you must earnestly seek. I had the honour and privilege to witness my first Satori ever on the playa with a beautiful soul. As we conversed about the meaning of life and the universe, all of a sudden I witnessed him have a deep moment of clarity, a powerful insight! We both began to laugh hysterically because we both knew what had happened. Over the coming days we spoke again and he confirmed he had woken up, things were different and it’s nothing special. With awakening you must still walk the human path, still confused, still searching except you have a deep knowing that no one can take away from you unless you let them. You are the creator. You are infinitely powerful. The world is not happening to you, you are happening to it. When you master your mind you can master your reality and state of being! Enlightenment is not a change into something better or more it is the realization of who you already ARE. Enlightenment is the process of letting go of everything that you think you are, that drives you mindlessly so you can act from your true nature and be FREE as you were intended.

“Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself”

Zen Master Dogen

Re-entry: A Transition From Love to Fear

When you arrive at Burning Man they say welcome home. You quickly feel the love and acceptance from everyone. You witness genuine kindness, receive a thick book of workshops from spirituality, sexuality, art and everything in between. You are free to express who you truly ARE. After an experience of what I see as a 7 day Ayahuasca ceremony you must leave the Playa and re-enter the ‘default’ world. There is genuine concern from almost all participants because for most the default world is painful, dark, stressful, and makes no darn sense. A society where you’re taught to fear and protect yourself. You are literally stepping down in vibrational frequency from LOVE into FEAR, and it’s a real challenge.

Although I am blessed in the default world the transition is a strong challenge. I am able to raise my energy to astronomical heights on the playa on command and the feeling of joy, acceptance, love and my connection to spirit lessened because I do not have the BMV to tap into. Hence my communication and connection with source is greatly heightened and it’s a long way down back into the 3rd density. It is our job as humans, Burners, and people of this planet to carry and hold the light. To lead by example and as Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That no matter what happens externally you will choose to show LOVE. Life is not perfect and when you learn to master your perspective, mind, and emotions, your reality will transform. Change always starts from within. Learn to master your mind and body, become an alchemist, and find peace and harmony within. Do not depend on the external to bring you happiness, rather radiate peace and joy and harmony within and like a ball of ferocious light let it be seen; in a smile, in forgiveness, in compassion. Trust the creator/universe/spirit/nature to bring you what you need. Ask for awakening, learning, growth, kindness and compassion. This is what a soul needs; don’t be fooled by false gold. Find infinity within.

There is only one choice that you need to make now and from every moment forward. There is no trying. You are going to choose between the two most powerful frequencies in the universe, which are FEAR and LOVE. They are polar opposites and also the most powerful. Society does everything in its power to force fear down your throat. Pay attention to where you look because you will always find what you are looking for. If we as individuals can begin to choose love for ourselves and love for our fellow man we can shift this planet. Burning Man is an example of what is possible. This world will never be perfect, however if you can find harmony within yourself, you will find harmony in your environment and that love will radiate from you and affect others. Einstein believed this so it must be true! Keep it simple, follow your heart, connect with yourself deeply and try not be an a-hole 😉

If you enjoyed these articles please share on your Facebook and Twitter, spread some love :)

All my love!

-Ayahuasca

 

Where Did The SHIFTPOD Come From?

A guest post from Christian, leader of SHIFT Camp, and inventor of the SHIFT Pod. There were three hundred of these on the Playa this year, and so far reports back from Burners have been overwhelmingly favorable.

Screenshot 2015-10-11 16.20.24 Screenshot 2015-10-11 16.20.10 Screenshot 2015-10-11 16.19.24

I think it is great that Burners are innovating to make their camps better, and sharing their innovations with the rest of the community.

Here’s what SHIFT Camp (a registered non-profit) is about:

SHIFT is based on the following ideals

Walk in peace and with grace.
Do good unto others, without judgment, or expectation.
Love thy neighbor, and love thyself.
Practice forgiveness.
Leave places and people better than you found them.
Be proactive and participate in life.

The ethos at SHIFT it to provide the ‘set and setting’ for people to have a shift experience; a shift in paradigm.  How can you contribute to this effort? How can you create this for others and how can you engage and create this space for yourself? We ask you do things you would not normally do. Get dirty, get involved, participate, pick up trash, fill your own RV and wipe your own ass.

This is not just another weekend at the disco.

SHIFT brings together art and artists from all over the world, sound and stage, hosts talks, and provides fun experiences for to help foster those SHIFTs or “Ahhhh haaa” moments. SHIFT is also active in the local community and is collecting, cleaning and donating bikes to send to kids in Cuba in 2015!

SHIFT supports art and outreach projects all over the world.

How can you make your own SHIFT experience?


by C W:

Where did the SHIFTPOD come from?

I run a camp out at Burning Man called SHIFT and have been burning since 1992. 23 years if my math is right. Prior to this I threw parties in LA and the first rave parties in Seattle. I love the EDM and BM culture and am proud to have been there from the very beginning.

Last year at our camp I found myself in a friends foam yurt, on a couch, looking around it was all decked out, with A/C, refer and a bed. I stomped my feet on the ground and said “it feels really good to be on the ground”.

My first burn I slept in the van, on the van and under the van, I had only a tee shirt and shorts, some water, bread, peanut butter and jelly and a couple of bottles of Jack Daniels. Tickets were $60 at the gate, and the population was less than 5000. Things were much different then, rough and raw, I had a massive SHIFT experience. Over the years I ended up in RVs which are high off the ground, disconnected and wiggly under every step. Being back on the ground felt very good. It felt solid and I felt reconnected with where my journey started.

I thought “I want to be in a yurt next year!” I then learned of the time required to build it, to put it up every year and to store it. Not to mention the $200 in tape required every year.

There has to be a better way. I run a huge camp, I don’t have time, I don’t have space, and all that waste every year doesn’t feel right. Tents suck and let all the dust in. They don’t hold up in the wind. They take too much time to set up and most are too small. There has to be another way.

After the burn, a few months later I started working on a ideas, sketches, and prototypes, re-engineering, testing and patent work. The SHIFTPOD was born. They really do set up in less than one minute, twenty eight seconds and strike in less than 3 minutes. They are large roomy, insulated against the heat of sun, easy to store and move.

We set SHIFTPODs up as a fundraising project for camp and began the process of producing them. We distributed our first 300 SHIFTPODs to eager donors and delivered them just before and at the 2015 burn. We were supported by Millennials, Boomers, Hippies and Hipsters, Rich getting out of RVs and Poor upgrading out of dusty tents.

Because of the demand (and exposure in Burners.Me) we were also able to send 5 SHIFTPODS ($4000+shipping) to Nepal to help earthquake victims (and 5 more to be sent as we can place them), and we were able to bring back 15 of the used PODs to offer the victims of the Lake County fires. We were also able to support our camp and our bikes to Cuba project.

One of the huge bummers of Burning Man 2015 was the wind and the dust. For us it was the best possible test for the SHIFTPODs. Yahoo reported 30-40MPH sustained winds with gusts to 90MPH, other more official reports on the playa said 50MPH. In the words of one of our new SHIFTPOD owners, “My SHIFTPOD shed the wind like it was nothing”. The response has been overwhelming and positive. The size, the set up time, the durability and mobility… all confirmed.

Now, we are poised to do more for those in need. We are setting up a program to ship SHIFTPODS to refugee camps and people in need. For every 20 SHIFTPODs sold we will ship one to a family in need. Over time we hope to get this down to every 10 SHIFTPODs sold but we have to start somewhere, right?

Live your life, party in a POD and help give someone in need a home at the same time. That’s a Win/Win in my book.

If you want to help let us know! We are looking for positive, proactive people to work with as we take the project forward. If you are into getting it done and making big things happen, please get in touch.

Lasting, a big shout out and THANK YOU all in caps to BURNERS.ME for getting the story out and being directly responsible for more than 80 SHIFTPOD donations. Also, thank you to all of our supporters and people who took the risk with us. We appreciate you.

Please send photos of you and your SHIFTPODs! Post them on Instagram! #shiftpods And please like us on Facebook! Help spread the word!

Lets have fun and make a difference!

Christian
#SHIFTPODS


Burners.Me:

Well done Christian – I get what you’re saying about the feeling of being on the Playa, instead of isolated in an RV. Sometimes I just bite the bullet and just give myself Playa foot, it’s a way of remembering…

Glad we could help and I am most happy about 20 people getting relief homes in Nepal and Lake County. This is Burners making a difference in the world, I hope BMOrg applauds and promotes it too.

Other innovations have come from the Burn already like Google, Solar City, Google Maps, Google Earth, Firechat, The Simpsons…it’s great to see some non-profit ones emerging now too. Because that’s what Burning Man is all about, right? Let’s hope some Burners.Me readers step up to assist SHIFT with this vision, there is a lot of talent and passion in this community that I’m sure would love to get behind something that is now proven and Burner-endorsed, rather than an idea written on a hipster whiteboard in the Mission.


shift pod mommy

Burning Man Critics Miss The Point

Image: Peter Ruprecht

Image: Peter Ruprecht

A guest post from Daniel Souweine. What do you think, Burners?


 

It’s been a week since Labor Day, so if you live in the Bay Area, that means your Burner friends are still giving extra long hugs, there are still dusty cars on the streets, and you just watched your colleagues give four days of wide-eyed looks like they don’t totally understand this world you’re co-inhabiting.

It also means that we’ve just gotten another round of pronouncements that Burning Man has, indeed, jumped the shark, ruined by too much money, too many celebrities, or just too many of “these people.” Whatever the cause, it’s just not the same as it was [fill in the year when the writer started going to the playa]. Even Quiznos has gotten in on the act, which is funny until you taste their sandwiches.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But for me, the problem with these jeremiads is not that they are wrong about the gestalt of the festival — which I think they are. It’s that they are missing the interesting story about Burning Man’s evolution, which is how much the community has maintained its core principles while being buffeted by the totally predictable and completely unavoidable influx of money, people, and attention.

Before I make my case, a brief admission. I didn’t go this year, not because I think Burning Man is “over,” but because I went last year and I usually don’t go two years in a row because it takes so much time and money. Also my camp kind of fell apart. But I went last year and I sincerely doubt that has much has changed since 2014. I have also gone four other times, starting in 2004. I’m not obsessed with Burning Man, I don’t spend my whole year planning for it, I don’t have a playa name, and I don’t think of it as my “home.” But I do think the culture it has created is amazing and impressive, and I’m bothered by how much people are missing the forest of values preservation for the trees of commercial intrusion.

The principal evidence for how and why Burning Man has sold its soul are the so-called “turnkey” camps where rich people drop thousands of dollars for a hosted and catered Burning Man “experience.” Here’s a particularly unhinged account of how the plug and play camps show that Burning Man’s principle of radical self-expression is really a right-wing Ayn Randian ideal, indistinguishable from the mottos of Silicon Valley social media giants. *Deep exhale*

There are certainly more of these camps than before. But they are hardly a new creation. People have been paying other people to set up their camps for year. They are just paying them more now, the camps are snazzier, and they have gotten a ton of media attention. I know some of the people who run one of these camps, and I hung out there for a few hours last year. The design was amazing but the vibe was off, as you would expect. Not much soul.

Now, I personally think these camps are wack, and they obviously run afoul of Burning Man’s 10 principles, particularly radical self-reliance and radical inclusion. Which is why Burning Man is taking some actions to try to minimize their impact.

But even before this crackdown, I don’t think these camps had much of an effect on the average person’s experience at the festival. They are relatively closed off and so most people won’t interact with them. Which leaves people to visit, oh, 98 percent of the rest of the camps that are building their own structures, making their own art, cooking their own food, fixing their own art cars, inviting in friends and neighbors, and generally creating community. The people in the plug and play camps may not “get” it, and I sincerely believe they are missing out, but I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument about how their marginal existence fundamentally detracts from the overall vibe of the city. If anything, it serves as a useful counterpoint for newbies to see what it looks like to depart from the 10 principles.

Another, perhaps deeper critique is that Burning Man is out of step with our political moment, a world on the verge of ecological collapse. I am sympathetic to this viewpoint, but the thing is, Burning Man, in my experience, has never been particularly political. It has always been a fossil fuel powered orgy of creative expression that doesn’t have much to say about politics or political engagement.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s far from ideal. Burning Man should think much harder about how to promote ecological sustainability, and I can imagine a future in which everyone turns their art cars electric and figures out how to do fire art with bio-gas. But the truth is, the festival has always been more escapist and utopian than it is serious about overturning the dominant political and economic paradigm. Indeed, Burning Man seems only possible in a late capitalist society where technologically-adept elites have leisure time and excess capital available to throw the most amazing, creative, and difficult-to-organize party in the world.

And the creativity continues to be off the charts. It’s not worth wasting words here describing the unimaginable creations that dot every inch of the playa. If you have any doubts, just check out the pictures.

But if Burning Man was just about cool sculptures, impressive art cars, and amazing outfits, then it wouldn’t be that interesting to me. It’s also about building a city with a different set of norms, where giving is the currency, creativity the common bond, and openness the expectation. I’m sorry, but if people who have been in the last few years think that is no longer the case, I don’t know what city they were hanging out in. For my money, the Playa still provides.

Here’s one small story about what that looked like last year. On the day of the burn, I headed out on my bike to give a message to a friend. Coated with a week of dust, my creaky bike started to give out half way, the chain had fallen off and I couldn’t fix it. But I would not be deterred! So I found a random camp of people I didn’t know and asked if I could borrow one of their bikes. They said sure, and off I went. I came back 30 minutes later, message delivered. In the time I was gone, someone in the camp had taken the time to fix my bike. And I wasn’t even surprised. Because that is the culture of Black Rock City.

Here’s another story from last year. That same day, while I was biking cross playa, my camp mate spent the afternoon baking dozens of chocolate chip cookies (yes, we had a solar-powered oven). When I came back to camp and saw them, I thought to myself — that is way too many cookies, we don’t need all of those. Fast forward 10 hours. The sun is rising. We are at the far edge of the festival in our art car. A girl from our camp is playing piano and singing a haunting cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” through our huge speakers with a voice that would make you melt even if you hadn’t been up all night. My camp mate saw her moment. She grabbed the cookies, walked off the car, and started handing them out to the dozens of people listening to this impromptu concert. I don’t know if she planned it or not, but it sure felt right. That is the culture of Black Rock City.

Because I can’t resist, here’s one last one. Friday afternoon last year. I head out in a dust storm with two camp mates because one of them thinks that would be a fun time (it’s not). We seek shelter behind a small sculpture where I find a girl with a knapsack. In it is a plastic ukelele and melodica. We get to talking and she explains that she carries these instruments around because they are cheap and hard to break, and pretty much everyone can play one or the other. It becomes clear that what she wants is to have a little jam and that this is basically what she does at Burning Man. I ask her to remind me of a few chords on the ukelele, I begin to strum, and she plays a haunting little melodica melody along. We play for a few minutes, she thanks me, and heads on her way. I will almost certainly never see that girl again. But I will never forget our little duet. Because that is the culture of Black Rock City.

I could assail you with dozens of other stories like this, and so could other attendees. Each of them on their own is a thread of goodness. But together they form a tapestry that is unmistakable, it depicts a city that continues to live by a different set of rules, where giving is the currency, creativity the common bond, and openness the expectation.

It may be that this whole argument comes down to a question of viewpoint, and where you fall says more about who you are and your history than what’s actually going on. But I think the right way to think about this is the martian test (h/t to Dan Carlin, my favorite podcast host, for this one). If you took a martian, dropped them in Black Rock City, and asked them for a report back, what would they recount. Would they tell you about how Turnkey camps have robbed the spirit of the place, or how there are too many frat bros, or how the celebrities have turned the place into Times Square? Or would they tell you stories like mine?

People have been writing Burning Man’s obituary since it began. A friend who has never been told me he was offered tickets in 2001, but had heard that it was “so over” by then, so he didn’t go. He’s still never been, and every year I tell him, it’s not too late. The city may have changed, but its core stays the same.

 

The Ten Year Anniversary of Burners Without Borders

BWB_logo

Thanks to Jex from BMIR for writing this guest post. It adds to earlier stories we have published regarding Burners Without Borders:

Burners Storm The Jersey Shore

Superstorm Sandy Vs The Burners

Seeding The Future

3 months ago, Burners Without Borders got assimilated by the Borg. We hope this will lead to an expansion in the amount of good they do in the world.

 


 

The Ten Year Anniversary of Burners Without Borders

by Jex

During a recent online conversation on Burners.Me, I, as many do, found myself in what grew to be a heated discussion. Some of my final words included something of ‘why not focus on the positive in our community, showcasing volunteers and such?’. With these words, Zos offered me a voice via his publication to showcase said volunteers. A lovely opportunity to share my words on what may possibly be my biggest inspiration, as well as what I believe is a huge part of the pulse within the burner community. Thank you, Zos for sharing this piece and thank you in advance for reading…Burn Bright – Jexime, Production Director of BMIR – 94.5 Burning Man Information Radio.

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Peru_BWB website

Ten years ago, on August 29th, 2005, the third largest hurricane ever recorded to make landfall on the United States showed its wrath on Louisiana and Mississippi. Hurricane Katrina, the namesake of this monster storm, peaked at a category 5 with over 175 mph winds. It left New Orleans 80% underwater, with a death toll of 1,577 people in the state of Louisiana, and another 238 fatalities in neighboring Mississippi. Katrina caused over 15 million people to evacuate their homes and left what may exceed an estimated 150 billion dollars in economic damage, with hundreds of thousands of citizens left unemployed, displaced, and homeless.

Hurricane Sandy Relief_BWB website

BWB Grant Program_BWB websiteTen years ago, on August 28th, 2005, Burning Man presented us with ‘Psyche’ – exploring psychology: self-expression, self-reflection and the unconscious power of dreams. Who are you? Who are we? What is this ‘we’, this ‘I’, we speak of so commonly on a daily basis? As burners pondered the very existence of their symbiotic relationships between I, we, and the power of dreams, a plethora of self-expressing art filled the clockworked city streets, giving unique avenues for self-discovery.

 

During this journey of self-reflection, as Hurricane Katrina simultaneously destroyed the lives of millions of people, one of the most important and phenomenal representations of Civic Responsibility was born. When word made its way through the dust of the devastation of Katrina, a group of burners discovered a profound sense of self and reflection of those in need. They headed straight to ground zero of the disaster area to help rebuild the destroyed communities.

 

Bayou_BWB website“As the volunteer numbers grew, they focused their initial efforts on rebuilding a destroyed Vietnamese temple in Biloxi, Mississippi. After several months, that job done, they moved to another needy Mississippi community, Pearlington, to continue to work hard – gifting their time – to help those in need. Over the course of eight months, BWB volunteers gifted over $1 million dollars worth of reconstruction and debris removal to the residents of Mississippi.”

-BurnersWithoutBorders.org

 

This solitary event opened the doors to one of the greatest grassroots, volunteer driven, organizations to emerge from our ever growing community – Burners Without Borders. With a goal to empower local communities, BWB supports their volunteers from all around the world in finding creative solutions through community efforts to aid in disaster relief. They believe in the power of collaboration and community driven leadership to make solid and effective change. The BWB mission statement reads:

 

“BWB promotes activities around the globe that support a community’s inherent capacity to thrive by encouraging innovative approaches to disaster relief and grassroots initiatives that make a positive impact.”

-BurnersWithoutBorders.org

 

Haiti_BWB websiteSince Hurricane Katrina, BWB has supported major global projects including; Will Ruddick’s project of Kenya’s alternative currency, Green Peace’s Water Patrol with several members of Buklod Ng Kabataan, the communities affected by the Colorado Floods, participation in a one month artist residency at Jakmel Ekspresyon in Haiti (a program set up and run by Su Frame, a Chicago based art educator and activist) as a response to the horrific earthquake to hit Haiti in 2010, relief for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, and a multi-year earthquake disaster relief project in Peru. BWB sets up programming for volunteers to contribute to ongoing efforts such as these, as well as offering $100-$1000 dollars in grant money every April for civic projects that make a positive impact.

 

Project Hope Art_BWB websiteAs the ever growing nucleus of Burning Man and its diaspora continues its shift, feeding upon the current state of our populous, us burners find ourselves at the target of hyper criticism and challenges to our foundation’s ethics. Drama saturated rants infest social media – shrieking cries of billionaire plug and play camps echo far and wide as if they were the Mordor of Burning Man, while playa famed EDM DJs curse the dust over power discrepancies. We shockingly discover our beloved Ten Principles are mere reflections of our own ideals, held so tight they started to fall, vowels and consonants shattering into shards of morals and attachments, leaving us holding our knees, shaking in deep Playa, desperately asking ‘whatever shall we do?’. We look to the creators to change what is quite possibly in OUR hands to change. Perhaps, Burning Man is our true mirror and the evolution of our precious world and the fate of our community is our responsibility? Our Civic Responsibility. Let’s say the Borg are not our metaphorical parents, but are the gatekeepers who give us the blank canvas to create what we desire to reflect. Rules are inevitable – we are a society of rules, whether we’d like to admit it or not. However, are these rules a reflection of the chaos we are impassioned by? Are we subconsciously choosing entropy as our community religion? Are we the destructors of our own world while struggling through cloudy vision, unable to see we have the ability to come together to create change?

 

A mindful and ever so humble suggestion: Look to the example of those who have come before you. BWB is a pure example of the power we have to create something fantastic, something mind-blowing, something truly capable of changing the world.   They are not just an organization working toward aid of physical disaster relief, they are a symbol of how community, solid leadership, and how the true sense of Civic Responsibility can create massive waves. Be the change you want to see, in whichever community you dance in. Start with your passion, connect with those like minds who share it, rid yourself of mental clutter, and watch what can unfold. You can add to the poetry of those who have come before you and contribute to building a better world.

Haiti_2_BWB websiteProject Hope Art 2_BWB website

“When we connect our passion to the community purpose, anything is possible.”

-Carmen Maulk, BWB

 

BWB_Infiinte PossibilitiesThis 2015 burn, we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Burners Without Borders. May you continue to succeed exponentially, for many years to come. Thank you for the inspiration.

 

Visit http://www.BurnersWithoutBorders.org to find out more and get involved!!

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Image: Burning Man

Video

Rockefeller Rocked By Nose Bombs

one joy logo

A new video from Tex Allen and Mark Day. These clowns took 5000 Noses to NBC’s Red Nose Day 2015 and gave them away for free over a 48 hour period.

Tex says: “in the name of oldskool cacophony, we managed to get escorted out of their Rockefeller Center Store AND the Today Show external set…but not before making sure their opening shots on TV were covered in Burner love :)”

Tex Allen says this type of love bombing is the duty of members of his #onejoy love cult:

Good morning America!

With great humility and honor and JOY!, may I present Project #LoveBomb NYC?

Wherein myself, Mark Day and Andy Devlin (with help via Stefanie Clouse) and the extended-family love and support of Judy Preston Hirsch and Steve Hirsch dropped 5000 WhyTheNose? Noses on New York City during NBC’s Red Nose Day…

This is also a #lovegift to the single source of my unending devotion, the #lovesource that I wake up to daily and the reason I’ve learned to open my heart to the magical NOW, Ms. Cat DuBois heart emoticon

PS: I strongly suggest that you put on some headphones and/or turn this up for maximum butt-shakin’ YEAH!

PLEASE SHARE THIS TO THE WORLD!
…it’s your duty as a #onejoy cult member

Where is the love? Right here, it seems.

red noze camp tex allen

Why The Nose is going to be on the Playa in full strength this year, handing out clown noses to go with the Carnival theme. They really help when it’s Portapotty time!