The 2021 AfterBurn: Illuminating The Great Unknown

The AfterBurn is our annual look back at the past year in Burning Man history — its ups, its downs, and its get-back-up-agains. Burning Man Project, the official name of the nonprofit Burning Man organization, is operated and supported by thousands of people who take responsibility for making Burning Man happen in the Black Rock Desert and around the world. The AfterBurn Report highlights what our various departments do, why they do it, what changes occur year to year, our successes and failures, and our vision for the future. Browse past years’ AfterBurns here. (We also annually publish the Dispatch about our overall vision, impact, and health as a nonprofit, including a snapshot of our finances.)

Before we dive into the joyful act of rebuilding and celebration, it’s important to understand how the heck we all got here. The impulse, perhaps, is to imagine all the things to come as we emerge and plan Waking Dreams. But to jump ahead without acknowledging our collective experience is like skipping the part of the story where all that juicy character development happens.

We do this by sharing our stories. As a global community, this is how we learn.

Welcome to the 2021 AfterBurn — the retelling of our year, as experienced by many of Burning Man Project’s teams and departments.

Explore stories, learnings, and lessons — applicable to anyone interested in creating community-led experiences in the global Burning Man community and beyond.

Last year, without our city in the desert and so many other key Regional Events, we saw the culture burst forth, propagate, and morph in so many unanticipated but perfect ways.

In 2021 Burning Man was everywhere. As always, but even more so during a year without Black Rock City, it was our mission to support the myriad expressions of the culture that emerged as a result.

You built Art No Matter What. We supported artists to create works of art that rose in multiple cities around the world.

Burners gathered in oh so many ways. You came together to build and explore wildly inventive virtual experiences. As a global community, we safely hosted community gatherings closer to home, including a handful of Regional Events.

You advanced important community projects. We advanced our internal and community work around Radical Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity. Working with the community, we ideated and prototyped ways to make our desert city radically more sustainable, and did much-needed work on our Northern Nevada properties. Burners learned together, built community, and hatched new projects in Burning Man Hive.

We shared stories and cultural conversations. Together we hosted Global Activation calls, an ArtSpeaks series, held convenings, and ran campouts at Fly Ranch. We shared stories on the Burning Man LIVE podcast, and even published a book.

And, of course, we burned the Man.

Read the full 2021 AfterBurn here to discover all of these stories, and a multitude of other ways the dedicated teams at Burning Man Project facilitated and extended Burning Man culture in 2021.

About the author: Burning Man Project

Burning Man Project

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man Project's Communications Team.

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