What’s Changed in 20 Years? (One More Perspective)

There have been some great posts about what has changed at Burning Man. For me, the big shifts over the last twenty years have been in Police Presence, Technology, and Connectivity/Immediacy.

I remember when glow sticks were the hot night time tech! Then E-L wire blew everyone’s minds. Seems so quaint now.  Watch for more.

Check out all of my Tips & Tricks videos like #12 “Artists” and #31 “Gifting”


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 HugNation.com. 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 www.PlayaPrinciples.com

31 Comments on “What’s Changed in 20 Years? (One More Perspective)

  • Sailor Doug says:

    Beautiful John! Loved every minute of it.

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  • Jayme kingsley says:

    I like you, no I have not had the pleasure of meeting you but I have seen many of your posts and like what you have to say.
    You are honest and realistic and I love those values in people. I gotta say that your photos of 2002 to 2017 of you are great, you have a youthfulness that even the desert can’t take from you. I hope to meet you one day but until then stay young my friend.

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  • Jeffrey says:

    Thank you! You’re a light, you’re brilliant, and you are illumination embodied! People like you are are the reason I love burning man with everything I’ve got! xoxo

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  • Roddy says:

    Thank you , a great talk and a super message for those who go or those who want to go and of course how we can reflect love and light wherever we go.

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  • Cakky says:

    Keep on Shining John ✨
    Brilliant ~ THANK YOU ~

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  • Erin says:

    Thank you, John, for continuously giving. I’d been nervous about going home to the playa after 16 years away but feel much easier about returning with my family now. It will be refreshing to be present with people full of so much love again, and to share the energy with the world. Onward!

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  • James says:

    We created the new technology and I am willing to bet that we will find a way to internally connect to our technology and make it work for us. Yes, at this juncture it is selectively data driven and “guides” us and does not tap into the “internal guidance” some of us have learned to use and trust.
    Don’t give up hope for the human in technology. Make it happen. Don’t sit on the sidelines while the most impressive and far sweeping changes are occurring, at radical speed – guide it, grow it and own it. Don’t let it own us.

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  • Matthew MacIntosh says:

    This is amazing! Exactly what I needed to see this morning. Thank you!!!

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  • Robin says:

    You’re fun! ❤️

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  • Lex says:

    2017 was my first burn and some of the things you just said sounded like thoughts out of my own head! I chose to turn my phone off and keep it at camp all week and I was super thankful for the release from its power! I experience difficulties so much playa magic, and last 2 minutes of this video was exactly what I needed to hear today. BM restores faith in humanity and sheds light on what’s possible I hope to meet you on playa in just 11 short months, thank you for your insights. -Lex

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  • Gary says:

    nice video john – I very much wish it had come out a week ago, before our group left colorado for our annual surf trip where we camp for a week at san elijo. i’m assuming you live in solana beach based on you’re your comments about heading out for your massage. i happen to have moved there in ’57 back in the seventh
    i’ve been going out to brc since ’07, first with toxic martini and then with the mine camp out of telluride. i’m certain you have come across at least one of our projects over the years – the large spinning steel structures full of burning wood, hand cranked and spewing a bazillion sparks out into the sky (towering inferno, palindrome, bapteme de feu, wheels of zoroaster and this year’s fire spinner).
    all that aside, i’ve enjoyed your videos over the years and have forwarded a number of them to many of my virgin friends, all of whom have found them to be very helpful. maybe next time i’m in the neighborhood I’ll try and find you and we can share more thoughts about some of these things you were talking about in the video.

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  • Vitaliy says:

    John you were the lighthouse that guided me the way at my first burn in 2010 and now continue to be a source of inspiration after 7 years. Thank you for everything.

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  • Aaron says:

    John. Thank you for this. This year was my 11 burn & I always struggle to explain the draw that keeps bringing me back to the playa to my friends & family who have never been & even some people that have been but are yet to “get it” (that was not intended to be judging). You nailed it. I had my best year to date this year because I allowed myself to connect with people (known & unknown) in ways I hadn’t done before. Already looking forward to next year. Please keep bringing the message to the masses. The people that listen & hear you are the ones that will keep our community growing & thriving & hopeful. Cheers!!

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  • Rebar King says:

    Well said John!
    This was my 19th burn. As a founding campmate, supporting, building and working at the airport. We get plenty of pushback for what we started as a general aviation camp. My response is the work isn’t done and we are reaching tho$e that need to be reached most.
    My feelings as well that phones and camera’s have changed the event the most.
    What hasn’t changed is the gifting and the daily pilgrimage I made for vegan ice-cream from Pink Heart was the best. And the best was the line and those I introduced myself to.

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  • Xenia says:

    Hi Halcyon, thank you for sharing your stories. One of your stories has had a profound effect on my life and I wanted to thank you for it. Many years ago I saw your video- oh, the places you will go- the dr Seuss one- and I firmly decided I needed to go to BM as it grabbed me and convinced me that I have to meet all these people, even if they don’t think I’m cool enough to be one of them. I’ve never seen anything like it… and so the technology did carry your message to me much farther than a walk in your hometown could. It found me across the world. I am so thankful for that. It took me a few years to make it to the burn, but I did go eventually. I moved to SF right after my first burn (you know, those decisions you are advised not to make hastily while decompressing, but I am so happy I did). Found my home, found my tribe, found my love. Now 3 times a burner, dust is a big part of me. Next year I’ll stop by Pink Heart and won’t leave until I meet you and give you the biggest hug. Your crew is awesome though. Scout bed me breakfast Much love and gratitude. ❤️

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  • kiss-o-matic says:

    How have we gotten this far down the page and nobody mentioned the amazing white coat? The inspirational words of wisdom of course were amazing. But, I mean…!

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  • John "JB" "ScrewDrop" Bianchi says:

    Hi John. Thank you, as always, for the beautiful energy you emanate through your words, your actions and your vision.
    In this video, you included the nugget of the Helen Keller quote.
    Now I have a request: You’ve touched me like this before, but I can’t recall the words: There was a video you appeared in a year or two ago wherein you told a story that involved your grandfather. I recall only the feeling, but not the words. Can you please point me to that video with a link or something.
    Thank you kindly. It was a pleasure to finally meet and hug you at the GSR post-burn.
    Best wishes,
    JB “ScrewDrop” Bianchi

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