Here’s a word that’s been on our minds a lot lately – “Burner.”
No, that’s not sarcasm…lately, we wonder a lot about this nomenclature and how it’s applied all throughout the Burning Man community in different ways. In fact, there was a tiny flap a few weeks ago when the JRS referred to folks attending regional burns as “Burners (and wanna-be Burners)…” We meant to refer to people who hadn’t yet had the opportunity to attend a burn (either BRC, or a Regional event), but alas – it ruffled the feathers of a small group of our “I’m-happy-at-my-regional-and-I-ain’t-ever-goin’-to-Nevada” friends who took it to mean, “People who hadn’t been to Burning Man, but want to, and won’t be ‘Burners’ until they have. ” And in retrospect we could see why they’d read it that way, really. It just wasn’t what we meant.
But it got us to thinkin’…who “really” is a Burner?
I think if you asked a dozen people who care, you’d get a dozen different answers. Is it someone who has been to Black Rock City, or is it anyone who’s been to an official Regional, or even an unofficial-but-not-dissimilar burn/campout event? What about all those folks out there who haven’t and may never make it to either, but are bringin’ it in their own way in their everyday lives, so much so that if you ran into them at the grocery store you’d swear they’d smell like playa dust if you leaned in close?
We’re not sure either. Personally, I tend to have a pretty broad definition, but it’s so hard to tease apart my own sense of the word that I’ve generally just avoided using the term (unless addressing a group of people who are definitely, absolutely, beyond a doubt known to identify themselves thusly, and even then, approach with caution). The discussion out there on Ye Olde Interwebz would certainly seem to point to a broader definition for most of us, but there are definitely die-hard literalists who seem to think you can’t truly be a Burner until you burn in BRC.
Still, the majority consensus appears to be something more broadly defined; it seems like maybe being a Burner is not about where you’ve been, or what you’ve attended, but what you do, and how you live.
So, readers, you tell us: What, precisely, is a Burner? How do you become one? Do you think of yourself as one?
(Worth noting, while we have you: there’s an event coming up that might convert a few “would-be Burners” [sorry] into Burners, whether they take the title on, or not…the “Bring It!” event is an invitation to anyone, anywhere, to get together on June 21 wherever you are and do…something. Anything. As long as it brings that feeling of contribution and gifting…and Burner (gasp!)-style élan, it’s going to be the right thing. We want you to BRING IT!. Sound interesting? Check it out and get involved…and call yourself whatever you want while you do it.)