Launa Eddy was just trying to get her art home to New York. As one of the 2021 Burning Man Honoraria recipients making art no matter what, she was working out of a Washington-based studio to build her art piece, Through the Mind’s Eye. It was taking longer than expected (as art is wont to do), and she decided to return home to New York to complete the artwork. She fundraised to purchase a truck and a trailer, then set out cross-country towards home.
This is where her journey may start to feel familiar to many Burners: the truck broke down basically every day.
There’s a place in Oregon called Deadman Pass, a long section of road with a steep grade to the summit and hairpin turns. The truck broke down on the way up the hill. Mechanics intervened, brought it back down the hill, fixed some issues. Up the hill again, same story, different issues. Launa finally limped the truck over the pass and into a small town, the truck belching black smoke, where it was pronounced dead on arrival by another mechanic.
Momentarily out of options, Launa returned to New York after the mechanics agreed to store the truck and trailer at the shop / scrap yard while she formulated a plan. “Everyone was nice, but I did not like the idea that my sculpture was sitting in a scrap yard,” she said. “I just told them: you cannot touch this.” She didn’t know anyone nearby, and the week of breakdowns had already been expensive.
Launa reached out to her Burning Man Art Project Manager, Peter Platzgummer, for assistance. He quickly got her in touch with the Regional Network; from there she connected with the closest local Burners.
Enter Kaden Sinclair and Morgan Sherwood, of the Idaho Burners Alliance / Xanadu Community Center. Within a day of the initial email, they formulated a plan and drove the five-hour roundtrip route to retrieve and safely store her sculpture. “It just went from an exhausting experience of not knowing what to do, to reaching out to the Burner community, and then having this flood of care and offers to help,” Launa said. “I’ve just been trying to figure out how to solve this on my own, and finally when I asked for help it was so beautiful.”
Launa also received offers of help from Burners in Portland, Oregon, in addition to the assist from the Idaho Burners.
“It feels like a blessing to be able to meet these people and learn about what they’re doing. Here are all these people that I’m now connected to who are making large-scale art, and now suddenly I know people in Portland and Idaho who are building Burning Man art and my network is now richer… I’m not saying I’m glad I broke down, but I’m saying that I’m glad that I have this community and that and something beautiful is coming out of this.”
Launa was gracious enough to share her story with us on the same day that Kaden and Morgan were rescuing her sculpture. As we’re entering a season of gratitude, and starting to spin up energy towards Black Rock City 2022, it’s lovely to remember how kind Burners can be, and how vast our network of resources can be if we only reach out to each other.
In the spirit of gratitude, please join us in sharing your stories—in the comments below—of times that you’ve helped or been helped by fellow Burners, on playa or out in the world.
Cover image of broken-down art truck (Photo by Launa Eddy)