I’m sitting in Warsaw airport in Poland, waiting for my long-anticipated flight to Vilnius, Lithuania. I’m on my way to Degantis Jonas, the first Burning Man Regional event to take place in the Baltic States. A few years ago, when Goku, our Lithuanian Regional Contact, first reached out to us at BMHQ to tell us about the burgeoning Burner scene in Lithuania, I remember being completely fascinated that a Burner community had sprung up in what felt like so foreign and far-flung a place. Lithuania? And, where is that, exactly? Not only did the community’s existence seem exotic, but it was also clear right away that the Lithuanian Burners were an impressively ambitious lot. During our first Skype call, Goku told me about the LT Burners’ plans for a large-scale theme camp at Burning Man 2011. Camp “Blukis,” made to look like the Blukis tree stump, a symbol in Lithuanian folklore, the space would house a bike-powered cinema (the “Velocinema”), potato pancake pow-wows and drum circles. Goku was also in the midst of planning the first Burning Man Film Festival in a Box in Kaunas, and seeing to it that films were translated into his native tongue. Though we’ve only met once on the playa, Goku and I have become close comrades through countless email exchanges, Skype calls, and Facebook posts. I’m now picturing him greeting Playground, my traveling companion, and me at the Vilnius airport in a few hours. I’ve been practicing my greeting: “Labas, kaip sekasi?” (Hi! How are you?) and, though sleep deprived and delirious from 21 hours of travel, I couldn’t be more excited.
I anticipate that we’ll spend some time this afternoon getting caught up on what’s been going on in Lithuania. The group is planning its first CORE project for Burning Man 2012 as a joint project between the LT and Czech Burners and has made several weekend trips out to the camping site to prepare the land Degantis Jonas. The event will be held on private land in the countryside near Ukmergė that belongs to one of the local Burners’ fathers – Jonas Vaitkus. The group intends to grow their Regional event slowly and Goku anticipates that there will be 150-200 attendees. Playground and I will help with set up later this week and I’m looking forward to getting to know the crew through what seems to bind most of us Burners together—hard work! I’m also looking forward to exploring the culture, the language, and to seeing how the 10 Principles that are guiding Degantis Jonas will be manifest in what I imagine to be a very different culture.
I’m getting ready to board my plane now. I will chime in soon with more updates. See you later! Pasimatysime vėliau!
In the meanwhile, check out the video that Goku and the LT Burners sent to us this Spring to show at the Regional Leadership Summit. You’ll start to love this group as much as I do!