European Leadership Summit Rocks Amsterdam

Over 100 community leaders from twenty-five nations converged on Amsterdam for the second annual Burning Man European Leadership Summit, February 6-8 in Amsterdam’s historic Beurs van Berlage. Burning Man Regional Contacts, Meta-regionals, event organizers, and headquarters staff joined forces for a fast-paced weekend of teaching, learning, and creative collaboration.

2015-02-07_BM-ELS-day1_022_∏photo-company.nlAfter kicking off the event with a celebratory parade through the streets of Amsterdam (the latest installment in Jan Beddegenoodts’s “Moving Europe” project), participants enjoyed two busy days of panels, workshops, group discussions, and networking.

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A highlight of the program was a series of talks on art, technology, and culture. Philosopher Alexander Bard introduced the group to syntheism, a model of how atheists can achieve the same feelings of community and awe experienced in theistic religions. Author Yuri van Geest discussed the attributes of what he calls exponential organizations, agile groups that can survive and thrive in periods of rapid change. And the artist Dadara hosted a showcase of his work, which includes celebrated and sometimes controversial on-playa projects such as the Exchanghibition Bank and Like4Real.

2015-02-07_BM-ELS-day1_138_∏photo-company.nlAnother popular offering was a half-day seminar in collaborative creativity hosted by the THNK School of Creative Leadership. Participants were guided through an accelerated cycle of small-group ideation, prototyping, and refinement at the THNK campus, generating a number of actionable projects that people were buzzing about for the rest of the weekend. Back at the Beurs van Berlage, breakout sessions offered in-depth discussion of topics including BWB-style civic projects, leaving no trace, community event production, volunteerism, and conflict resolution, which spilled over into many after-hours discussions of art, culture, collaboration, and the challenges of translating the Burning Man ethos to new languages, cultures, and physical environments.

2015-02-08_BM-ELS-day2_123_∏photo-company.nlThanks to all the conference participants for an amazing weekend, and especially to the Dutch Burners for their gracious welcome and hard work in helping to make this summit a success.

About the author: Stuart Mangrum

Stuart Mangrum

A member of the community since 1993, Stuart manages the development of Burning Man educational programs, co-authors the annual BRC event theme, and has one toe in the Philosophical Center. He claims to have coined the phrase "that thing in the desert" and is due a royalty payment of US$1.00 for every use of the phrase or its derivatives, including "TTITD" or "That Thing."

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