The Dutch Burners Are on Fire

For the past several years, Burning Man has collaborated with the Dutch Burners as they’ve worked to build a thriving community in the Netherlands. This week, we are pleased to announce the launch of their affiliated organization, Burning Man Netherlands (BMNL), which will serve as a springboard for their community projects, Regional Events, and civic activation efforts.

In the early phases of the group’s development, Netherlands Regional Contact Daniel Lumkeman and Gaby Thijsse presented Burning Man co-founder and CEO Marian Goodell with plans for creating a nonprofit organization (or “stichting” in Dutch) that would, like other Regional organizations in our Global Network, be modeled after Burning Man Project and would serve to foster the ethos and values of Burning Man in Holland. Though this is the first time in our organization’s history that we’ve sanctioned the use of the name “Burning Man” to a Regional group, we’ve partnered with such groups since the mid-’90s and have close to 60 official Regional Events around the globe. Many Regional communities have created entities to facilitate their work, including groups like Utah’s Element 11, Seattle’s Ignition Northwest, and the French Burners organization.

1,000 Burners and Newbies participated in Dutch Decompression, hosted in Amsterdam in November.
1,000 Burners and Newbies participated in Dutch Decompression, hosted in Amsterdam in November.

Burning Man Netherlands (BMNL) will function similarly to those independent entities but a little more closely connected to Burning Man. For example, Burning Man Project has a seat on Burning Man Netherlands’ Board of Directors, that will be held by Marian Goodell, CEO and BMNL will work with Burning Man to map out future local initiatives. We’re committed to nurturing BMNL and all of the hard-working regional groups in the growing Regional Network. Our affiliation and more direct work with Burning Man Netherlands is just an opportunity for us to explore what’s possible when we’re more involved with a regional entity and its programs.

Moving Europe, a series of parades of Burning Man photography through city streets, was kicked off at the European Leadership Summit 2015 in Amsterdam at the Centraal train station and led by Belgian Burner Jan Beddegenoodts.
Moving Europe, a series of parades of Burning Man photography through city streets, was kicked off at the European Leadership Summit 2015 in Amsterdam at the Centraal train station and led by Belgian Burner Jan Beddegenoodts.

It’s no surprise that the Netherlands has become a hub for Burner activities. Culturally, the Netherlands enjoys a rich culture of summer festivals, a thriving performing arts scene, and a flair for pushing boundaries and living life out loud. And, there’s a longstanding relationship between Amsterdam and Black Rock City. Back in 2007, the Flaming Lotus Girls brought the Serpent Mother to Robodock, a risk and shenanigan-fueled art and technology festival of yore. More recently, when Regional groups from across the world created effigies for Burning Man in 2013 to form a great Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE) in around the Man, the Dutch Burners brought “the Dutch Windmill” project to the playa.

Gaby Thijsse and Daniel Lumkeman give an update on the Dutch community's growth and development at the European Leadership Summit in Amsterdam in February, 2015.
Gaby Thijsse and Daniel Lumkeman give an update on the Dutch community’s growth and development at the European Leadership Summit in Amsterdam in February, 2015.

As Burner culture began to really thrive in Amsterdam, we decided to host the 2nd Annual European Leadership Summit in 2015 in partnership with the Dutch community and BMNL team, who came together to host 130 Regional Contacts and Community Leaders from across Europe. At the Summit, the Dutch team presented their plans for the nonprofit and hosted a dialogue about their efforts with fellow European community members. They also celebrated the success of their first major Regional Event the previous fall, Dutch Decompression 2014, which brought together 1,000 Burners and newbies in Amsterdam.

Hosting Burning Pub nights are one of the many ways the Dutch community gathers seasoned Burners and Newbies together. Burning Pub nights are often held at Akhnaton, the group's meet up spot.
Hosting Burning Pub nights are one of the many ways the Dutch community gathers seasoned Burners and Newbies together. Burning Pub nights are often held at Akhnaton, the group’s meet up spot.

With BMNL now officially launched, the team is planning for a late July Regional Event called Burning Man Netherlands: “Where the Sheep Sleep,” which will grow slowly (starting with fewer than 1,000 participants this summer) and will take place on a plot of land in the heart of “de Veluwe,” a Dutch nature reserve connected to a [freespace] which will  also be used as a space for year-round community participation.

We’re excited for the Burning Man Netherlands team and looking forward to seeing what the future holds for our collaboration.


Lead photo: A fire performer heats things up at Dutch Decompression in November, 2014.

About the author: 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.