A Burning Man Farewell: Will Chase Moves On

Photo by Sidney Erthal

After 13 productive years working on Burning Man’s technology, art, and communications teams, Will Chase — who has always preferred the job title Minister of Propaganda — has accepted an offer to join Maker Faire as their inaugural Director of Content and Community. Though Will is moving on in his career (to an organization with deep community and philosophical ties with Burning Man, I might add), we know his influence on who we are and what we do will continue to be felt. For a start, he’ll continue to be a part of the External Relations Team and will be a guest blogger on the Burning Man Journal from time to time.

I first met Will in 2003 when he was known as “Playaquest” or “PQ”. When he began volunteering for the organization, I noted Will’s passion for language and storytelling, which struck me as just the qualities I wanted to work beside. Not only did he enjoy the internet as a tool for communication, but he liked to maintain order in the midst of chaos. I knew there was more than enough chaos to keep Will entertained with us. Over the years he’s certainly put his degree in Rhetorical Theory to work in many amusing and sometimes provocative ways.

Photo by John Curley (Will thinks)

Will joined the staff as Web Team Project Manager in 2004, the same year he tattooed the Man on his back. You could say he was, well, committed. Will volunteered as Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art HQ), served on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008, and was the Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004 until 2009, when he found his next home on the Communications Team.

It was when Will joined Andie Grace and me that the era of storytelling in the organization really took off. He also applied his passion, and irreverence outside the organization and helped build, curate and MC the very successful Fireside Storytelling project.

Photo by Julia Ohst

Internally, as the Editor in Chief of the Jackrabbit Speaks, Will has fostered storytelling, knowledge sharing, and through communications nurtured a sense of belonging amongst a community of Burners that spans the globe. Will has written, edited and compiled many of Burning Man’s public facing documents, such as the AfterBurn Reports (which he drove from their inception). Will has steered the ship on the upkeep and occasional iconic redesigns of many Burning Man websites and channels, including the ePlaya, Jackrabbit Speaks, Burningman.org, and the Burning Man Journal. He has led the development of the team that personifies Burning Man on Facebook and Twitter. And, of course, he has written nearly 200 posts on this very blog.


Will has also served for the last seven years as the lead guide for the External Relations Team, which works to establish and deepen relationships with elected officials and community leaders in Nevada by introducing them to Black Rock City and the Ten Principles that form the backbone of Burning Man culture. He plans to continue his engagement with this team.

Those of us on the playa early for staff build also applaud Will for being one of the best cross dressers for the annual “ladies night” festivities. I can say he startled me on more than one occasion with his clever, demure and stylish outfits.

While we’re sad to see him depart from his role at the Burning Man Project headquarters, I’m happy that he’s still going to support the organization as his busy schedule allows. Will’s mark on building Burning Man has been significant, and we’re certain he’ll continue to tell stories, open minds and change the world for the better in his new role at Maker Faire.

Thank you, Will Chase! You have helped Burning Man grow to what it is today. We wish you and the “Pants Family” much warmth in your new endeavor!

and the Burning Man Founders: Larry, Harley, Crimson, Will & Michael


In Will’s own words:

This week, I’ll be sending my final Jackrabbit Speaks, after which you’ll notice the name Will Chase has moved from “Editor” to “Emeritus” in the credits. This simple copy and paste operation belies the complexity of emotions behind “graduating” from Burning Man.

After 13 years with the Burning Man Project, the time has come for me to move on to the next big opportunity to facilitate change in the world. Next week, I’m excited to start work as the first Director of Content and Community for Maker Faire, where I’ll bring the skills I’ve learned at Burning Man to another global community of passionately creative people poised to change the world: the Maker Movement.

I want to take this opportunity to thank YOU, my Burner friends, for being who you are, doing what you do, and staying engaged and active in this incredible community.

Through all of Burning Man’s communications channels (Burningman.org, The Burning Man Journal, the Jackrabbit Speaks, Facebook, Twitter and the ePlaya), my goal has to been to hold a mirror up to this community, sharing the amazing things you do, in hopes of inspiring more people to be their fully-expressed selves — in ways large or small — and to connect with others who’ll fan the flames of their inspiration. And if we manage to light up just one person, I consider it a victory.

It’s been an incredible honor and privilege to serve this community, and to be a part of it. Keep the fires burning, people. I’ll see you on playa.

About the author: Marian Goodell

Marian Goodell

Marian serves as Burning Man Project’s first Chief Executive Officer. She first attended Burning Man in 1995, met Larry and the other organizers in the fall of 1996, and in 1997 helped found the contemporary Burning Man organization. In previous roles, she was the Director of Business and Communications, briefly oversaw the Black Rock City Department of Public Works, and steered the development of the Burning Man Regional Network, which is now on six continents, with more than 300 representatives in 37 countries. Marian is currently leading the organization’s efforts to facilitate and extend the Burning Man ethos globally.

39 Comments on “A Burning Man Farewell: Will Chase Moves On

  • john curley says:

    omg, what a huge loss, and what a huge gain for the Makers.

    Best of luck to a great editor and friend.
    I’m saddened and thrilled.

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  • Brody says:

    You are rad, Will Chase. It’s been an honor working with you.

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  • Jon Mitchell says:

    Thank you for everything.

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  • Trilo Byte says:

    Thanks for everything, Will. As a participant and long-time volunteer, as well as working with you directly these last few years… I’ve learned a lot and had an awful lot of fun along the way.

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  • Bobzilla says:

    You will be missed Will!

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  • Retro says:

    One of the richest complements I ever got, was when Will Chase told me I write well.

    Best wishes in your new endeavor!

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  • silvia says:

    I couldn’t be more proud of ALL. THE. THINGS. we have been able to create together over these years.

    We’ve had such a time! It’s been an honor.

    Here’s to new adventures!

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  • Juno says:

    “Thank you” barely begins to cover it. You welcomed me into the fold with big open arms. You taught me the wild and wonderful ways of BMHQ. You laughed at my stupid jokes — like, all of them. You dedicated 13+ years to helping Burning Man culture thrive. Thank you for all the Things n’Stuff (just this once for you because you’re that special). Biggest love to a fantastic colleague and friend, you’re the one and only.

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  • Kennita Watson says:

    Will –Thanks for everything, happy trails, and big hugs!

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  • Best of luck in your latest incarnation! See you in the dust.

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  • Louder says:

    Mr Chase – so good to see you prosper and to see you jump into a bigger and bolder role that will see you grow into another fantastic community.

    Amazing human….. :o)

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  • Joshua Coffy says:

    Hey Will,

    Congratulations on the new gig! Go forth in the world and make this place even better. I came to one of your workshops one year and learned a heck of a lot. Thank you for making the face of the man be what it is. Good luck on all things. Love to you and the family.

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  • Marnee says:

    Will Chase – It’s just not enough to say: It’s a pleasure to work with you. It’s actually a pleasure to even work NEAR you. Your way with words and your humor are such a treasure! All the best in your new endeavor, looking forward to seeing what you all do together over there at Maker.

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  • Nickster says:

    Thanks so much for your wisdom, wit, humor, perspective and overall soul – you’ve brought it all and been a freakin awesome ambassador for BM. It’s never felt that you’ve been a voice just there to promote the org’s point of view – it’s always felt that you’ve been speaking common sense to all, and you’ve made Burning Man a better place for that.

    Happy Trails!

    oh, and dig your playlists!

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  • Renee says:

    You will be missed. I wish you the best in your future endeavors!

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  • Trace A. LaMont, Black Rock City Power Co op says:

    Our loss is the Maker community’s gain… The inevitable cross pollination of the B M Community with the world of Makers will serve to make both better… Your superb communication skills serve to inspire and motivate… Thanks for all you have done to raise the bar for Burners… All the best down the road!!!

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  • Moze says:

    Congratulations Will and thank you for all you’ve done for Burning Man. I remember meeting you that first time in 2003 and I’m so grateful to have you as a friend. You absolutely rock man, and Burning Man was so fortunate to have you for so long helping them grow and stay true to their roots. I’m so happy for you. Cheers to your new life chapter!

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  • Nai`a NEWLIGHT says:

    Always looking forward to the next JRS; happy, happy trails!

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  • Michelle says:

    Congratulations Will! I’ve never met you, but I feel like I know you after all these years reading Jackrabbit Speaks. What a coup for the Makers Faire, you’ll be a fantastic asset to their org. Best of luck and I look forward to your guest blogs/

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  • Jason1969 says:

    Thanks Will, you rock!
    Best of everything in your new endeavors.

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  • Bloooo says:

    Well done Will. You’re a talented communicator with commitment and stamina to burn. (Heh). I’m a longtime fan and will remain so. Good luck with what’s next.

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  • Soooooo sad!! You’ve done such amazing work through the years. I remember a funny conversation w/you and Caveat on the Man spaceship years ago.

    You will be missed…

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  • Vertumnus says:

    A pleasure…

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  • Clarity says:

    Best wishes to you Will! Enjoyed your craft and word play.

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  • Make-Out Queen says:

    Wow. I can’t believe I met you when we were both volunteers and not NEARLY the snappy dressers we are today.


    Godspeed PQ.

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  • Miranda says:

    Thanks for all the creative energy you put into everything you do. The Maker’s really scored getting you, but I think they know that! ;)

    All the best!

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  • Lara Hopwood says:

    Such bittersweet news. But what an excellent new adventure awaits you! How exciting to be able to look back someday and know you could be a voice for both Burning Man and Maker Faire. Congratulations. I wish you all the best, Will.

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  • Jen Winter says:

    I oft reflect on our chat atop my boat that gorgeous, sunny afternoon following another successful Burn. Change was afoot then too, and you navigated those seas with style and grace, and love. I salute your ability to know when to luff your sails and when to sheet in and fly. Maker Faire folk are a lucky tribe indeed.

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  • Sunny D says:

    Will Chase, I remember when I met you, I was surprised that you actually exist! I always thought “Will Chase” was a made up character used to disseminate information- brilliant I thought. But no, you are alive and awake, funny and smart, irreverent and novel. I’m so glad to know you. Best, on all the new things headed your way!
    Does this mean my “I am Will Chase” button is even more valuable than it was?

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  • TBone Tod says:

    To me and I’m sure most of my fellow artists, you, Will, have been that reachable mainstay between the Artist community and the BMan org. That interface will need 3-4 folks to fill your shoes. Best to your new venture and moving on life journey. We will see you at Maker Faire!

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  • debbie sutz says:


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  • Answergirl says:

    Will, you are a star among humans. Thank you for shining your light on us. Thank you for putting words to our jumbled thoughts and big feelings. Thank you for being so cool while you stood so close to the fire. May you burn bright wherever you are. All the best.

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  • Misa says:

    Will, enjoy every step on this new journey!
    Thank you for your smart humour, and the magic you do with words. Thank you for all the tips and kind words. Your answer to me “Great work!” meant world to me.

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  • Stuart Mangrum says:

    Thank you Marian for putting into words what so many of us are feeling.
    Will Chase, you’re a great colleague and friend. Glad to think we can still work together on playa and around the old Fireside.

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  • bridgette says:

    Welcome to the Maker Faire team! It will be great to have you help share the stories the Makers have to tell.

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  • Will Chase says:

    Hey, thank you all for the kind words. It really does mean a lot, especially coming from you all, who I hold in such high esteem. Truly, it’s been an honor to work with you, and to serve this community. See you around the corner.

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  • Rebar says:

    We had that 2 minute relationship thing over the last 13 years. I enjoyed and was inspired on how you rolled right into the JRS so eloquently. I’m happy you found a place in the “other” Burner community.
    I always thought I’d return your water bottle you left in the plane after securing that ride home for you while your gal was on her way to birthday for your child years ago.
    Best of luck Will

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  • Stoner (Penny Stone-ESD Fire) says:

    Thanks for all the hark work, humor, and professionalism over the years. Thanks for keeping us informed!!!
    You will be missed and Great Luck to you in your new endeavor!!!

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