Be the Dust You Wish to See

Catharsis On The Mall
Catharsis On The Mall pre-build. Photo by Vladimir Herrera

So, yeah there was an election in the U.S. and there has been some tension in its wake.

And while Burning Man is generally above the realm of base politics, it still plays a role in the greater default world.  Look at Burners without Borders and the recent mobilization of Burners going From Black Rock to Standing Rock 

Or check out Red Lightning’s inspiring plans-in-progress to bring Playa-inspired shelter and more to North Dakota.

BWB Program Director, Christopher Breedlove, explained the high level of Burner activism, “While many people credit Burning Man with putting them in touch with their inner-artist, many also credit Black Rock City with putting them in touch with their inner-citizen.  On the streets of BRC any citizen is immediately empowered to get involved, look for solutions, and propose community action to fix perceived problems– these lessons flow out into everyday life.”

And just like a stranger handing you a cold mojito as you stumble in from a dust storm, there are a number of Burners working to add loving refreshment to the parched political landscape.

  1. Tex Allen has become known for his clown noses. But as soon as the election was over, he and tons of others hit
    the streets with “FREE HUGS” signs and a message to “Make America Kind Again!”
  2. Burner, Paul E. Amori, is going from long time mayor of Lightning In A Bottle to mayoral candidate of Los Angeles. Frustrated with the level of hate in local and national politics, he has been throwing love rallies and yes, really is running for mayor.
    Times like these require that we do more than sit on the sidelines and escape into our beautiful festival bubbles where we have already created the world we want to live in. We need to help shepherd that world into reality and the only way we do that is by getting involved!”
  3. A number of groups including the Abraxas Art car just set up “Catharsis on the Mall”  in the shadow of the Washington Monument in Washington DC.  (Facebook Photo Gallery) Their request for a 30 foot temple burn was turned down, but they did have a smaller real-life burn just blocks from the White House! (Washington Post Article)
    Participant, Vladimir Herrera, glowed, “It was packed with lectures, discussions, workshops, community art, and amazing music, all seeking to facilitate healing for each other and our society at large.”


P.S. This is not a post about politics – so please don’t use these comments as a venue for your views. These “Do-ocracy”  efforts by fellow Burners simply inspired me (and my 10-year-old nephew). But if you’ve got a better idea, DO IT!  And if you’re already doing something, SHARE IT!


About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn


Halcyon is a 21-year Burning Man participant and co-founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site & his "Love On Demand" video podcast Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and coaches people how to be radically self expressed in the default world. You can find his full Playa Tips & Tricks series at

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