Burning Man Culture in a Time of Plague

I haven’t seen them in over two weeks, but I now have a close friend who has been tested for COVID-19.  

The other day a good friend, a different friend, came to visit me at night, traveling to my apartment across a city shutting itself down in the hope that a plague will pass over it. Instead of hugging when she arrived, we washed our hands.  

“When I was riding my bike over here, all the streets were so quiet, and I had this overwhelming sense that I was at Burning Man, only everyone had to stay in their theme camps for a few weeks,” she said.  

A number of Burning Man events have now been canceled — most notably, and devastatingly (so far) AfrikaBurn, the second largest Burning Man event in the world. Even as Burning Man Project announces its Black Rock City arts grants for 2020, people are asking one another: can Black Rock City even happen this year? Will Burning Man have to be canceled?

I don’t know anything more than you do about that. I no longer work for Burning Man, and even when I did I was never invited to those kinds of meetings. Nothing I say in this post should be taken as insight or clues into that question.

But I would like to talk about the even bigger, more threatening, question now looming over the culture we have built together. One that we believed might very well take over the world someday.  

Given that the act of “Burning” is something we do together … how do we Burn in a time of quarantine and isolation, when we cannot come together?

The Answer You Seek is Already Happening

I’m hardly the only person asking this question. Already people from across the world have started trying to figure out how we can use technology to come together in ways that “feel like Burning Man.” Many of the best examples I’ve seen so far have nothing to do with “Burning Man” in particular, but are simply expressions of the same deeply human need to participate in meaningful communities, which Burning Man creates for so many.

As shows across the San Francisco Bay Area theater scene fell like dominos to the plague, a local director and writer took to one of their informal Facebook groups with a proposition: at 8 o’clock tonight, everyone who has had a show canceled — the actors, the directors, the designers — should post something here that shared a part of what now would not be seen. If you’re an actor, post a video of one of your monologues. If you’re a director, post your notes. If you’re a designer, sketches of your designs … if you’re a member of the crew, share your favorite cues. Share photos, share stories…but share…share what might have been with all your peers in this new kingdom of broken possibilities.

I thought that was quite beautiful.

A few states over, someone I met at a party last month invited me to join a video call in which she would do tarot readings with the group — a way of stimulating conversation among shut-ins, a way of trying to capture that experience of everyone sitting around a table, leaning in to look at the cards and listening to what was being said.

Not so far away from both of us, an event producer now in self-quarantine sent out invitations to a conference call to discuss ways to bring community together when they can’t come together — thus creating the thing they’re coming together to try to create.

But the most amazing moment happened an ocean away — I’m sure you’ve seen this — when neighbors on a city block in Siena, Tuscany, leaned out their windows and sang together in harmony.  

“There is no virus that can beat us,” they sang.  

That gives me shivers.  

How Do You Make Your Quarantine Into a Theme Camp You Can Share? 

In many ways, I think the metaphor of us all being confined to our theme camps for a while is both beautiful and helpful — and that this is a challenge to bring out the best elements of theme camp design, rather than the most obvious.  

The most obvious, of course, the lowest hanging fruit, is to throw up some decorations and stock a bar and say, “Hey, guys, come over! We’re a theme camp!”  

Which… there’s nothing wrong with that, but…even on the playa there’s a point past which low hanging fruit ferments into cliche. It frequently leads people to say, “But what’s the interactivity? Where’s the participation?” And in response someone shrugs and points at a beer.  

Not bad. But not exactly rising to an occasion, either.

What we’re in now is an occasion that must be risen to, and you cannot simply invite friends over for drinks, or go out to a bar, or build a crazy facade and hope people notice. These things do not answer the foundational question: how do we be with each other now? Another way of asking that is: how do we interact?

Technology provides opportunities, but relying on technology as a substitute for being present with each other is a terrible idea. If it worked, we wouldn’t need Burning Man. Technology alone doesn’t create presence with one another in the way we desire, even need. It’s not a question of building a better tool, it’s an issue of using the tools we have to actually connect. The more it becomes about the tool, the less you’re actually interacting with people and the more you’re interacting with technology instead.  

We have a tendency to do that, I suspect, in part because the leaders in adopting technologies like videoconferencing have been businesses, especially global corporations. Because they have been the center of gravity for these technologies, every video conference and remote interaction has bended towards being a business meeting, and we all know how good for the soul those are. It is entirely possible that they have done for these technologies what they have done to language, turning them into the telepresence equivalent of business jargon and marketing speak. In which case, of course they are dehumanizing.

The best, most amazing, theme camps — by contrast — are built out of little more than rebar, canvas, and imagination. What if we were to take that same attitude towards these technologies? What if we were to replace the business culture they now come wrapped in, with the culture of art or therapy?  

Which is to say, the best ways of connecting in a time of plague may utilize technology, but will not be about it.

Anybody Got 10 Principles We Can Use?

Burning Man (and in particular Burning Man Project) tend to talk a lot more about the need to be participatory and interactive than they talk about how to do it. That’s because we don’t want to be prescriptive — we want people to explore and engage their own creativity, rather than imitating us. But there are times when it’s helpful to offer a little more advice. I suspect now is one of those times.

Especially because, if anyone has any good advice on how to do this, I could really use it. Seriously: I may be in trouble here. “Social distancing” is already driving me crazy. I’m kinda freaking out. I need somebody to solve this.  

But…here’s what I’ve got.  

As always, when trying to create experiences that “feel like Burning Man” — when trying to “Burn” — the 10 Principles are our most potent guide. I think Immediacy is a particularly important place to start.  

I think we begin by not pretending that we’re happy about this, but admitting how much this sucks: acknowledging our need for connection, and the scope of that need, and making this the ground on which we build our “connection at a distance.” Don’t, for God sake, don’t, put on a happy face and share photos of all the cool things you’re cooking or building on your own and plead for likes. That social media “EVERYTHING’S FINE, GIVE ME ATTENTION!” vibe will only further splinter us and drive us apart.  

No, we want our approaches to being present with one another to start with our being honest with one another. We’re not okay. We’re certainly not “replacing” any of the events we’ve lost and the people we can’t reach out and touch, let alone “replacing” Afrikaburn.  

But we are reaching out. That starts with Immediacy. Don’t just leave room for that honesty, start with it.  What are you really feeling in this moment? What are you asking of people?  Can you say it out loud?

The next most useful Principle — I think — is Radical Self-expression. Not just how you can share your own expression with them, but how can you entice them to share their expression with you? This is perhaps the single most essential question for what I would consider truly stellar theme camp design: how do you get people to play? How do you bring their impulse to express themselves out, and hone it, and engage with it?   

This, I think, is the creative push/pull tension between these two principles as a design element: you want to share your own Immediacy the truth and play of your moment in a way that encourages others to offer up their own Radical Self-expression. How does the play and reality of your moment invite the play of theirs?

For myself, I’ve been considering trying to create conference call talk shows, in which I’ll host, someone else will be the sidekick, and everyone else on the call will be both the audience and the guests. By logging in to the call, you agree that you might be pulled up “on stage” and either share your own art and experience or be asked difficult and personal questions in front of everyone else in this community.  You’ll never know if it’s coming, and even if you’re not randomly picked, you may get to learn a lot of details about your friends and acquaintances.  

Is it a good idea? I dunno. But it’s something I’m thinking about. A possible attempt to thread this needle. And if it’s a series of truly honest conversations with people on the spot, if it speaks to who we actually are, then it might do the trick. Be fun and fulfilling not as a substitute for being with people, but as a way to actually be with people in a meaningful sense.

One question I’d have to face if I were to try to do something like that is: how many people could realistically make up the audience? How many people could attend? Radical Inclusion in these new formats will experience both opportunities and challenges. It may be that we’ll need to have smaller gatherings, but more of them. I don’t think “but you can watch a video of it” or “you can listen to the audio” is terribly inclusive — but I could be wrong. We’ll just have to see.  

Challenges Can Be Fun, Even As We Weep

We need ideas. We need experiments. I hope yours are better than mine. And that you’ll share them.

We don’t need to despair. Burning Man started as a two-family picnic. It doesn’t have to happen in a desert, let alone this particular desert, at this particular time. Our culture has gone global precisely because it can adapt to the conditions it finds. The fundamental human needs it addresses are not going anywhere, and may be even greater in times like this.  

We can handle this. We’ve learned how.

Which means not that we can “save Burning Man,” but that we can support one another. That’s the point. We need each other, even when we can’t be with each other. There is always creative tension in the heart of Burning Man culture. Being with each other when we are forced to be “socially distant” is just one more example.


Top photo by Leo Horthy

About the author: Caveat Magister

Caveat Magister

A member of Burning Man Project's Philosophical Center, Caveat served as the Volunteer Coordinator for Media Mecca from 2008 - 2013, and the lead writer/researcher for Burning Man's education program from 2016 - 2018. Caveat is the author of the The Scene That Became Cities: what Burning Man philosophy can teach us about building better communities. He has also written several books which have nothing to do with Burning Man. He has finally got his email address caveat (at) burningman (dot) org working again. He tweets, occasionally, as @BenjaminWachs

66 Comments on “Burning Man Culture in a Time of Plague

  • MMV says:

    Thanks for this. Start the talk show. Join in others’ gatherings and efforts. The culture is strong, we know how to weather storms. It’s time.

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  • Tex Allen says:

    On point brother, thank you!

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  • Tiara says:

    Bravo!

    Gigsville has started nightly video gatherings. I wasn’t on last night, but I heard rumors of haircuts with craft scissors.

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  • Halcyon says:

    I needed this, Caveat. Thank you.
    I started doing a daily “Gratitude Circle” in Zoom at noon PST to share the Pink Heart Playa vibe while isolated.
    But with your inspiration, now I am going to add a daily 6pm gathering for more creative and artistic PARTICIPATION.
    http://zoom.hugnation.com or https://zoom.us/j/397075043

    THANK YOU.

    p.s. I’d love attend & be on your show, btw!

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  • The Prophet says:

    Thank you for your awsome words :)

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  • Hector says:

    The panic buying is so stupid. The plague is nothing to panic about. You don’t need all that toilet paper. My cat sneezed and I had to throw her off the Golden Gate Bridge, but she lived. She swam away. She will infect others. She’s orange. Answers to ‘Frankenstein’ (from that Cat Stevens song). Approach with caution. Likes Dreamies (the yellow bag, not the orange or blue).

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  • Julie Bergmans says:

    Thank you for this. I have been struggling with disillusionment about how seriously this community takes Communal Effort and Civic Responsibility, as threats to “go anyway” should be it cancelled run rampant, and anyone recommending caution is dismissed as missing the spirit and origins of the burn.

    Surely we can do better, and these suggestions for creating interactive communities from the responsible quarantine of our own homes are really excellent. I deeply value and appreciate your contribution.

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  • Carol Lynne Conrad-Forrest says:

    Thanks for the deep thoughts which reminds me of Stuart on SNL with his self affirmation skits….we are over 65 and have 2 houseguests who cannot get over the pass back to Reno so we are sheltering not in total isolation…we did a 5 rhythm dance meditation outside this morning (look up body joy on youtube ‘shifting bedrock’ for the playlist…art is more intriguing than the chores around the house but a little of both is a good mix..thanks and virtual hugs to all.

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  • Jenni with an i says:

    Beautifully put Caveat,
    I’m in pretty rough shape right now but I do look forward to seeing all the ways this challenges us as a community to connect, be creative and grow. Please do start up a talk show. That Thing On the Interwebs

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  • Kelli says:

    I don’t see much of anything coming from BMORG.
    A few posts about cancelling events but that’s it.
    From the way they treat their volunteers they as an organization fall far short from the principles they say guide them. As a 10+ year volunteer there has been nothing from BM to offer help or support to the people who are affected by the loss of income and social connection that we get from these events, we set time aside to volunteer for free and the few who get paid. Lack of communication and support is such a huge problem.

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  • Papa Penguin says:

    “how do we Burn in a time of quarantine and isolation”? That is such a simple answer — we burn the same way we always do. The only difference is that the rest of us are just a tad bit further apart than we were yesterday. Transformation, love and the spirit of a burner all come from inside and radiate outward.

    Tonight everyone should light a candle and know that the flames are all connected by our shared experiences, even in isolation a burner is never alone.

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  • Nora says:

    This is so important. It is interesting to me that my first and only time at Burning Man was the summer of 1999. So many years ago but I still tell people the experience changed my life. This community is the first I wanted to reconnect to over these last few weeks. Stay safe.

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  • Lady Frog says:

    Thank you for writing this Caveat. So needed today.
    It’s so hard for many of us to stay home , missing regionals, events, and each other. Yes, we are burners and can handle this. Needed this reminder to stay focused.

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  • Honey Bee says:

    Thank you, Caveat.

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  • Freia says:

    Many burners do not know that there is an official Burning Man Regional in the virtual world Second Life. Our group of burners is able to be together despite the health crisis- and offer both support and burning love to each other. It’s the perfect antidote to the isolation most of us are experiencing. At the moment our spring event, Burnal Equinox, is being planned and due to the fact that it is virtual, the chances of it being cancelled are pretty slim. Come on in and join us- all you need to do is go to Second Life, create an avatar and once inworld, look up the group Burn2.

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  • How can we burn in this time of a plague? We can burn without borders, that’s how! The BWB SF “working group” has a virtual meeting planned on Tuesday 3/24 to discuss new homeless project opportunities in the entire bay area. Right now we are trying to allocate resources were they need to be and we need your help.

    What do we do when we can’t any longer play and party and turn a blind eye? Let’s USE those resources to HELP. We know how to get shit done!

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  • splat says:

    Thanks, Caveat, for articulating the fears and longing and the sense of future loss if corona things hold through summer. Nobody ever thought this would happen in their lifetime, that’s for sure. So now we adapt, evolve, and figure it out. You’re the spark.

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  • BurnerDoc7 says:

    Caveat Magister,

    Your arrogance and self-infatuation is beyond compare. The fact that you are speaking – too often – for Borg, is a measure of your profound, but unjustified, self-importance. Borg is beyond corrupt, and totally in violation of the “10 Principles”. I think: beyond repair.

    I am a faculty member in medicine and emergency medicine, a 12-year burner since 2005, at a very highly respected university in your state. I worked at Rampart for 7 years as a doctor. I will tell you this, right now: Burning Man, on the playa, will be cancelled. There is NO way Nevada will allow this event, under the circumstances. Deal with it, (pretentious) fool. And stop haranguing us with your ridiculously self-important diatribes, please.

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    • Milton Foust says:

      Roger that, Burner Doc. I confess I agree with (most of) what you have to say. That being said, I hope you can chill out a little. (As one physician to another, with like, a gazillion too many years to count. Most of them in the obsolete century.) Best wishes, and see you in the dust (2021 dust, most likely).

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    • Barbarella says:

      agree with you, although it could have been written in little bit milder manner. Oh well, I wish we could stop fooling ourselves that Cyber is going to be enough, or as much effective, as Real.
      In fact, if it was, there would be no incentive to actually go to BRC- we could build and share remotely.
      Bummer (for some) it doesn’t work that way. We need human2human interactions more, than the C. Magister wants to admit. These anecdotal “creative ideas” to congregate and share are lame

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    • Simon Greer says:

      Makes more sense to hear this.. Someone knows the score…thanks for NOT being delusional. See you later, hopefully!

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    • Jane Maru says:

      What’s up, doc. Your remark is completely useless information. You couldn’t have picked a worse time to tear down. At least Caveat Magister is solution-based, asking thoughtful questions, putting inquiry to the community at large. You’ve solved nothing. But thanks for sharing your credentials.

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    • Sparkle Yeti says:

      Disagreement is of course fine. But I’m honestly not seeing the reason for such vitriol and insult to OP in your response. In fact it comes off as arrogant as you accuse OP of being.

      OP is trying to help. If you have other ideas to help, maybe it would be good for you to share those other ideas.

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  • Sebastian Riano says:

    Thank you Caveat. I would like to participate in your call talk show, that would be an amazing experience.

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  • Milton Foust says:

    Thank you, Caveat. I appreciate your contributions. I also can understand how frustrated you must be. Even natural hermits (like me) are having a tough time. Hang in there, Amigo. Sooner or later (August 2020? August 2021?) we’ll meet again in the dust. Best wishes.

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  • Nathan Junior says:

    I’m emotionally compromised by life and am fully dependent on others for emotional support. If I’m not surrounded by people I start to feel like I’m disappearing. I’ve been ostracized by every community I’ve been apart of since junior high school, but I found acceptance within the Burner community because almost everyone is exactly like me.

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  • Gemster says:

    I hate to be a wet blanket but the government will have the last say on whether the Burn is to happen because it is on Federal land.

    There are a lot of cool ideas here but nothing can replace the intense playa experience.

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  • Quest says:

    In this modern would we must use these new age walkie talkies to stay connected. Many of us creatives know the power of isolation. This in sense could be the way for each of us to tune in to ourselves and the world around us. Yes we are locked down but our minds are free. Dream, dance, sing, podcast, hug remotely just know I’m here for you and all the fam. Use your isolation to intentionally reach out and strengthen our community.

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  • NA says:

    LED Talks –
    https://www.facebook.com/events/3378654138822596/
    Lonely from quarantine? Sad about Saguaro Man? Tell coronavirus to fuck its burn by attending LED Talks.

    LED Talks are like TED talks … only brighter! They are not an open mic. They are pre-planned 8-minute presentations of well-formed ideas and personal experiences related to the 10 Principles.

    – How can we radically-include children at Burns?
    – What’s it like to see your art piece go up in flame?
    – How do we bring the 10 principles into the default world?

    Prepare to be inspired and entertained … or to just pass some time until the food and booze runs out.

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  • Naomi Most says:

    Benjamin, sometimes you’re too smart for your own good.

    As Your Friend On a Bike, I feel compelled to inform you that these are the earliest moments of the crisis, and 99% of people are still discovering the delights of virtually joining each other’s virtual theme camps for a beer. This is still novel and fun!

    I agree that creativity will become more and more necessary, but don’t knock the “actually it’s just a bar” theme camp just yet. Low-hanging fruit is what Burning Man an attractive creative outlet in the first place.

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  • Unsu says:

    I’ve been wondering myself how Burn culture, which is so high touch, can adapt to a time of isolation. What new forms of art will evolve from this? What new principles? I don’t think we know the answers yet. But something will emerge. The original Burn culture evolved as a challenge to mainstream culture. When everyone else was consuming, Burners were co-creating. When others were sucked into media, Burners were choosing immediacy. I think where Burn culture goes from here depends on what the rest of the world is doing. I like what Burners Without Borders is doing. Maybe there is some crucial role that Burners can play in building the systems that we will need when the default world systems around us are brought to their knees. Or at the very least, Burners are pretty good at bringing some fun to the revolution.

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  • Matt says:

    I’m a Progressive and that means I don’t mind if she dates other men, I will still raise their children.

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  • Scott Williams says:

    Great words Caveat! Thanks. I bought your book and have been having fun reading it. At this point I think Burning Man 2020 will be canceled and that’s okay given the serious worldwide threat to humanity the coronavirus pandemic is causing. I imagine the Burning Man Project has enough funds in reserve and will be used to keep the organization going until it is safe to hold another Black Rock City event. In the meantime I also would like to see the community come together virtually to brainstorm about what Burning Man will mean after the pandemic is brought under control. Sadly, we know that several million people may die from the virus worldwide if radical action is not taken in time. For everyone who survives how will they be changed and what will the Burning Man community do to respond to this human tragedy and still be relevant? I think everyone should read the March 16, 2020, Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team Report.

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  • Burn2 is an official regional in Second Life, we’re year-round, with extra regions added to their virtual space during its annual event nicknamed “Octoburn”.
    Burn2 is run by a group of dedicated volunteers that include people directly involved with Burning Man, digital artists with a genuine interest in Burning Man, along with seasoned Second Life® programmers. The Burn2 regional is open year-round to WELCOME HOME BURNERS.
    This digital playa is unique in that it provides a home to Burners who may not be able to travel to their local regional.
    Participation is from Burners from all over the world! Burn2 offers classes for those interested in building in a digital world, offers mentors for newbies, and throws some fantastic parties!
    The core Ten Principles of Burning Man are celebrated, demonstrated and encouraged. Burn2 has many of the elements of the Burning Man Event, including being set in a desert playa virtual environment.
    At Burn2, you will experience many of the same organized groups as Burning Man; such as Greeters- who are the first people you meet at the entrance to events; Lamplighters- guardians of the Ten Principles and bringers of the flame to the virtual playa and the Temple; Fire Dancers- the Lamplighters who give special performances at selected events, Rangers- specially trained mediators always ready to help Burners to do their best to practice the Ten Principles of Burning Man, a Department of Mutant Vehicles- those crazy art cars you see rolling around in the dust, and Fashionistas- who loudly celebrate their Radical Self Expression in wild costumes as they strut their stuff in fashion shows on the playa!
    Many talented artists generously build and gift their art to this community which is open year-round with events every quarter.
    While our events are quarterly, are ALWAYS open.
    <3
    Joining Second Life (nicknamed SL) can be a little overwhelming at first and we're here to help you with that too.
    https://www.burn2.org/who-is-burn2/come-to-burn2/

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  • labronjames says:

    My friend got this from a toilet seat and now she does TedX talks on how now not to get it. Bet she wouldn’t give it back!

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  • Still TBD says:

    Thank you for your article. Isolation is tough no matter what. And yes at this time for me having social media, on line access, phone calls etc is helping me feel connected like I’m not alone. Sometimes its too much information but I have a choice to participate when I need or want too and It’s all I have right now. Being positive Being realistic

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  • Richard says:

    Burning Man seems to be the only large event that has not cancelled yet……

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  • t-bob says:

    Burners and society alike should think how these Burning man principles apply to this public health crisis at hand in the US today. To bring this public health crisis to an end, WE must work together. BM higher ups should consider what could be dire circumstances we face in the desert in August, and make a responsible choice to cancel today before BLM decides to – let’s be the responsible party and not let the federal government say how this should go.

    I hope the

    Communal Effort

    Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

    Civic Responsibility

    We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

    Participation

    Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.

    Immediacy

    Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.

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  • Westin says:

    How about we fucking do it anyway since this was suposed to be an event of radical self expression not radical conformity? When did we become a bunch of scared sheep?

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    • Dr Bungee says:

      Maybe we have become a herd of sheep. Holding the event under current circumstances, with 80,000 people from all over the world , living, eating, drinking and hugging in close proximinity, would surely result in a culling of this herd. All of the ski areas in Tahoe, as well as most of the country, have shut down. Mt. Rose was planning on staying open, but the Forest Service forced them to close. There is no way the feds are going to allow BM to happen this year. The BORG should realize this and call off the main sale, saving thousands of people the agony of this process, not to mention the financial stress.

      The man burns in 534 days )”(

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      • Douglas Taylor says:

        I think cancelling sooner rather than later is a good idea. Not only do I agree that BLM will likely force a cancel soon, but the financial hardship for normal life for so many burners is starting. If unemployment goes as high as many are expecting, then only the luckiest and richest will have access to the Burn.

        I’ve already had a friend cancel. She was going to be a camp chef, but now she has to focus on keeping her restaurant going through this and cant afford to go. It’s only going to get worse before it begins to improve.

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  • Jayne says:

    I’m here! Doing what I can in my corner – radical self reliance …. sippin (shelter in placing) pretty. Now lets get to work! Our medical teams need front runners – to look ahead and prepare to pick up the pieces and react quickly to failures – only burners move that fast…..jus sayin…. I think first we need to connect “locally” even if it’s for “clean” drop offs with no contact. Locally on the multiverse too – there are many channels we connect on – shore up our connections – get everyones positions – I’m all in for a cool talk radio “story time” – spooky, sexy, and collaborative – I used to do this with my son – one person starts the story and …. off it goes…. I feel like the burner community is the best suited for this job – c’mon I see nicely thoughtful break areas – they have to be isolated from their families for the duration! We could make some kick ass break rooms – maybe even circuit in some entertainment…. omg they so need “us”… why isn’t anyone listening…. STAY HOME! I’m here – thinking about making masks – I’ve seen people doing it – we’re builders doers – they don’t have the safety equip – we could make some – keep in touch and move “manufacturing” where the need is – it is a moving target – and there is going to be a big bang factor when things all catch up in about four weeks guys….. prepare for it – lets do what we can for the medical teams – – I don’t see people locally addressing this issue – anywhere….

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  • Thank you, Caveat, for all you do for the burner community. I enjoy your reads immensely and think a lot about what we are creating all together.

    I agree that there is no equal, virtual substitute for a good regional burn in the flesh. Just like each regional is very different from one another (and yet, so familiar), the alternatives are going to be different experiences as well.

    That said, come on out to BURN2 in Second Life for our May 1-3 Burnal Equinox event. Grab a free avatar and use your computer to download a viewer to interact in-world with a virtual community of burners. Artists, performers, builders, burners, greeters, rangers, lamplighters, DJ’s, art cars, simulated Playa and even a little Gerlach. Wear whatever you want in your living room while your avatar is anything (almost) you want to be. Check it out and if you like it , subscribe to Burning Man 2.0 in -world group for updates, ways to participate and event notices.

    Also, checkout online burner podcasts with conversations with burners about burner culture. Make your own, even!

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  • Andrew says:

    As a Burner, as an LCSW mental health therapist, I agree with your thoughts, ideas, and new ways to reinvent us as a community and us as a society, where we don’t lose the very thing that makes a community a community, SOCIALIZATION! We are a social species, we all work, play, love, can be benevolent or malevolent to each other and ourselves. As a therapist, I’ve had to move most of my therapy practice to online, and I notice the difference just by not being within physical proximity of my client. Most of my clients want to burn now and don’t know how. I literally have had to switch from a session model to one where not only can my client express themselves verbally, but to more of a “life coach” model where if a client wants to take all their clothes off and do anything (not sekf-harming or hurting others) I’m there to just not judge, let them REALLY FUCKING EXPRESS how they feel right now. So I see the initial “put on a happy face” so reading about each of us feel what we feel, express it out however, artistically, swearing, beaking shit that doesn’t matter, such as ripping up an old shirt that is anchored to say a past lover, playing games, facing fears, letting it out, celebrating what’s good, (and there is a lot of things good and to be thankful for even in our worst moments), it’s okay. I personally think it’s time to be brave and venture out to the desert this summer and make this the greatest Burning Man yet, make it EPIC, LEGENDARY, I hope it’s not cancelled as that is contrary to everything it stands for, nobody should go in blind into risks, by living there are risks, far more people will die of something over CV-19 than CV-19 by the time the event starts and ends. If there is a light in the darkness the world can look to for hope, it’s the fire of a man, burning so bright that all fear is lost, acceptance of death is to begin living, and be free. I say not make burning man this year minimal, this year above every past year is far more important, the most defining, and perhaps greatest ever.

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    • Buena Chica says:

      Hey Andrew nice to read your comments and ecouraging pele to be ducking real and SAY just how they feel… otherwise therapy does nto work!
      I do suicide prevention just about everywhere I go. Live in Paris where we haev a foreigners phone line in English. On Playa I often answer the Call God Phone as tener are ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWYAS people contemplativo suicide on our beautiful Playa. Let us continue to do good work!

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    • Night Train says:

      YES! Pass this on… DO NOT DONATE YOUR M95 MASKS!

      Bandannas do not work well keeping out that talc-like dust!

      WE NEED COME TOGETHER TO PARTY IN A LOVING SELFLESS WAY!

      WE BURNERS ARE ALL SELFLESS!

      IDEA!! Let’s spend the next 4 months building a Zombie Hospital, then burn it! The energy from that will help everyone feel better!

      We Burners need to show the World that community comes first! We burners can do it!

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  • Thanks for all you do for BM.
    I never realized just how social I was until I couldn’t be.
    Luckily I have my art and photography to keep me busy.

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  • Buena Chica says:

    THANK YOU coveat as always with such wonderful insight… was waitign for headquarters to respond but who needs those fuckers when we have you! HA!

    Just want to let you know that Creme Brulee in France was the first Reginal Burn to cancel. And it did break our heart!

    Regionals vary so much in size and scope….. as I call Paris home, I know that each of our French Burners and all Europeans and Burners from the Américas that come were very evry affected!

    In a way I wish that our Gerlach Regional would be cancelled this year so Burners aroudn the world can focus all our energy in participating locally on all CoVid19 efforst……… and then we can say “Remember when the Feds didn’t get any money from us?”

    BE well, be safe Coveat. We Got This!

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  • Night Train says:

    But what about Walmart and Home Depot?! Or those huge Reno Casinos?! These struggling companies need our support now more than ever! And don’t forget about those Chinese manufacturing companies that make of all those LED lights?! Or what about those dear children in that garment factory in Bolivia?! Or Uhaul?! Poor Uhaul! Or private jet rentals?! And oh God! Things are bad enough for Arco already! Unless we all commit to driving our 7mpg RV’s, what will Arco do?! What will they do?!
    We burners must forge on so we can save this world! We proved that people can coexist with only love! (so long as we have a tremendous excess of food, alcohol and drugs) So why can’t the rest of the world understand that?! I don’t get it!

    I think it’s a terrible idea to donate all of our N95 masks! Bandannas just don’t cut it with that talc-like dust!

    We burners don’t care about fashion or people’s appearance! We all dress differently, we all talk differently! We burners are the most diverse, accepting group of people ever! Racially! Socioeconomically! And politically! And no, half of Burner’s don’t come from the Bay Area! All 50 states are equally represented!

    It’s exactly in times like this, that the World looks to us for guidance! So, I say we must Burn! Come April, tickets should be easier to get, ya-know with those ‘default world people’ dealing with their thing! But I know where my extra $420 is going! I mean, Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross don’t know how to party!

    What about a theme camp that looks like a temporary hospital! Let’s spend the next 4 months building a mock hospital that we can burn down in tribute! Fun! Fun!
    We all need to the temple this year so much! Let’s make a postcard for every Covid-19 victim, so their soul can be free in the desert!

    The World needs us! Corporate America needs us! The gaming industry needs us! The BLM needs us! This is bigger than just US! This is for USA! USA! USA!

    Man Burns in 163 days!

    Ps. I’ve ‘burned’ 9 times, I’m just over it!

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    • ShotgunSteve says:

      Fucking brilliant Night Train. Veteran burners have had some magic but we’ve recognized a lot of bullshit. We try our best to project on to Burning Man the ideals we hope hold true despite it all. If the BORG does not come forward and put people first by postponing the April sale, then in 2021 let’s just bring in the food trucks and coffee stands. There will be no need to keep pretending this festival is any different than the others.

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  • Goo says:

    If they closing down casinos , there will be be no Burn . There’s more serious shit going on than a virus , too much stuff . Be happy your only worried about a virus .

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  • Kera Willis says:

    I came on here looking for BM’s April fools joke, and found this instead. It’s so much better. Thank you. I feel like this year we got our big fat joke a little early, hey?

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  • Jude Meow says:

    Do you really need someone to hold your hand in order to celebrate a certain time of year?
    Who’s man are you burning anyway?
    Weather one decides to honour the age old tradition of burning an effigy on midsummer is personal wherever you may find yourself.
    To the wind!
    Has anyone tried planting their feet on the earth lately?

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