The Inaugural Burning Man European Leadership Summit

Lituanica Birds, Lithuanian CORE project, 2013 (photo by Paulius Musteikis)
Lituanica Birds, Lithuanian CORE project, 2013 (photo by Paulius Musteikis)

More than 100 European regional contacts, community leaders and regional event leads gathered in Berlin with Burning Man staff Feb. 7-9 for the inaugural Burning Man European Leadership Summit.

Through three days of presentations, group discussions and networking, participants and staff gained a deeper understanding of the broad range of community initiatives and visions of the future shared by Burners from countries across the continent. Burning Man staff led seminars covering event production and the evolving role of regional contacts. Participants also shared experiences on the unique nature of leadership in a collaborative culture and across multiple languages.

Dario Battini, one of the Italian Regional Contacts delivered a presentation on translations at Nowhere (link) and how “Flapping Tongues” (the aptly named translation team) keeps participant information updated in German, French, English, Spanish, and Italian. German Regional Contacts Axel Vetter and Stefan Schoffberger spoke about producing a Burning Man Film Festival in Germany and how to secure venues, liaise with filmmakers, and bring community together around the silver screen.

Our Lithuanian Regional Contact Goku Kavaliauskas showcased a bike parade that he and his fellow Burners put together in Vilnius called “Who did that to my Bike?” And, Misa Rygrova, our Czech Regional Contact, spoke about her experience as a Black Rock Arts Foundation Grantee and her Suitcase Project, an effort aimed at bringing mini art pieces across borders.

Berlin proved to be an ideal location because it’s centrally located, vibrant, full of artistic minds. The local Burner community hosted a celebration on Saturday evening in a 1920s silent film theater with art installations, a cabaret show, and lots of playa-inspired interactions. Europe-based performance troupe Grotest Maru provided shows throughout the weekend and participants loved exploring Berlin’s mural alleys, historic sites, and music spaces.

It’s been exciting to see the momentum generated by the European Leadership Summit and we’re exploring the idea of hosting the gathering again next year. Our largest leadership event, the Global Leadership Conference, now in its eighth year, will be held in San Francisco in our new Mission Creek neighborhood in early April. We expect 280 participants from across the globe and look forward to the conversations, ideas, and inspiration that are sure to flourish there.

Here’s a great video made about the Summit:

About the author: Megs Rutigliano

Megs Rutigliano

Meghan "Megs" Rutigliano is Burning Man's Associate Director of the Regional Network. She oversees Burning Man's annual Global Leadership Conference and European Leadership Summit. Meghan explores the art, events and culture of various regional Burning Man communities in her blog posts.