The Science of Burning Man: Share Your BRC Tales with Burning Stories Project

It’s that time of the year again when dusty vibes from the playa have settled, or have they? Did you vacuum it all away or is there still something dusty in the garage? Or perhaps the sandy wind is in your memories, waiting to be shared?

We academics from Burning Stories would love to hear your story to increase our (scientific) understanding of Burning Man and how the Black Rock City event reverberates out into the world — and also to support the community!

Last year, we derived pilot data from the tens of stories we collected during and after the 2018 Burn. Burning Man Project CEO Marian Goodell used this data in her Cultural Correction piece in June this year, and the shared data continues to objectively and independently support Burning Man Project’s approaches to stewarding Burning Man culture.

Now, the growing team of multidisciplinary scholars is more interested than ever to hear your experiences from Black Rock City this year. What did you experience? How has the dust you brought home affected your daily behavior?

Please share your written story or video story here. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. Your genuine experience is what matters and your data is safe with us.

What Is Burning Stories?

Burning Stories is a research project launched in 2018 and based in Aalto University, Finland. It combines science and arts to study the transformational experiences of Black Rock City participants and their impact on society, as well as the organizational phenomena surrounding Burning Man. The project is also studying the experiences of Regional Event participants.

Our team has different approaches to the research, but we all share a burning interest to study participatory cultures. Our approaches range from individual transformation to organizational change and even to explore some people’s perceptions of Burning Man as a brand. Yes, you read it right, as a brand. We are not shy of anything!

Click on photos for details

The journey is also about to get more interesting. As we have dived further into the less studied but much-hyped phenomenon of transformation, an observation by one of our Burning Stories members strikes us deeply: “The transformation may in fact come through the work and community, rather than through any intense internal experience.”  (Although it is important to note that not all participants experience transformation, according to the preliminary data we have.)

Most importantly, you can count on Burning Stories to remain a work-in-progress project for years to come. For more information, check out our research animation, our ongoing research topics, and last year’s Burning Man Journal post.

Why Are We Collecting Your stories?

We believe that science can be an experimental and playful process, and that scientific understanding of Burning Man is rooted in narratives about your experiences in Black Rock City and beyond. And thanks to the support of scholars, artists, techies, and the Burning Man community, Burning Stories developed a platform for you to share your story.

We also use a range of other research methods, such as interviews, ethnography, online ethnography, Story Sharing Cubes and arts, along with new ways of working as a self-organised platform.

Click on photos for details

Yay Science But Why Study Burning Man?

We feel the time is ripe for geeky research adventures and new developments in our understanding of Burning Man. This is visible in explorations of Burning Man education and leadership, as well as in the Cultural Direction Setting project that aims to turn community discussions and vision into action.

What’s more, the blending of the field research with the 2020 Multiverse theme will surely make the ride even more exciting!

Research about Burning Man (and more generally participatory cultures) is also progressing rapidly. This includes: a recent study from Stanford University, a Transformational Event Culture symposium in Switzerland; the Participatory Cultures Organization & Leadership seminar at Aalto University; and scientific discourse around the hot topic of ‘do-cracy.’

Click on photos for details

What’s Next?

There will be a Participatory Cultures Organization and Leadership seminar on March 31, 2020 at Aalto University, Helsinki. Stay tuned for more info and check out the forum for discussions. We also might have something cooking up for the Burning Man global convening in Reno and 2020 Black Rock City with the Story Sharing Cubes, and some data sharing will happen soon too!

Meanwhile, we truly hope you share your story. It will mean the world to us and your story matters to the world. Share it here

Thank you.

With big thanks and love,

Burning Stories team

About the author: Burning Stories Team

Burning Stories Team

Burning Stories is a research project based at Aalto University in Finland about understanding the Burning Man community, how its participants identify as a part of it, and how a citizen of Black Rock City might influence surrounding society after the event. The team is Dr. Jukka-Pekka Heikkilä, Dr. Elina Koivisto, Dr. Frank Martela, Dr. Virva Salmivaara, Dr. Ewald Kibler, Dr. Terje Toomistu, and soon to be Dr. Emilia Lahti and Dr. Karoliina Jarenko. The techies are Peter Tapio and Hugi Asgeirsson, comms is Elien Blue Becque, and the artists are Mikko Heikinpoika, Kalle Oja, Vincent Lauenstein and Hilda Ruijs.

One comment on “The Science of Burning Man: Share Your BRC Tales with Burning Stories Project

  • Omar Hamwi says:

    I hope you dedicate a segment to explore the path that individuals take to engaging in Burning Man. The journey each person takes and the common elements can probably themes useful for expanding the culture and being more radically inclusive. In my humble opinion, making that path more clear and easier to navigate is a worthy cause. Good luck.

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