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.
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.
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.