Evolving from Burning Man to Permanent Villages


On one hand this is a perfect week for posting a response to this article …if I want to avoid ruffling any egos. Or perhaps it’s the perfect week to inspire those who stayed at home. Either way I have a mob of friends at the Burn and I bet they’re having an awesome time. Of course I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t have a *little* FOMO, especially as the week builds towards what will no doubt be an explosive climax in the dust 🙂 I love Burning Man, and it has played a huge role in throwing open the doorway of my soul over a decade ago. And while Burning Man continues to be a mind-blowing, ever-evolving experience that has the power to open the hearts and minds of of its attendees, I continue to be niggled by a nagging question: “OK, so what do we do once we ‘get it’? What comes next?” It’s a question that I know is in the hearts of many and now that Burning Man org bought nearby land it seems like they are asking the same thing.

While most of humanity currently remains quite content with what I like to call “experiential masturbation”, I never really have been able to. Sure masturbation is fun, but after years of doing the same thing you kind of know what you’re going to get. As an experientialist, I am a hunter and gatherer of new experience. I am driven by an innate force that steers me away from repetition to explore what else is out there. And like any experience, even Burning Man can begin to feel repetitive. Sure, each year there will be bigger art projects and mutant vehicles, crazier drugs and mind-bending installations, wild outfits and all sorts of memorable stories that get told for weeks afterward, but like any peak experience, it’s really hard to sustain that original high. Besides, with so much of our world in crisis mode, I just don’t feel as comfortable celebrating as I used to unless it’s a party with a purpose. To clarify: at least a purpose that is relevant to me at my current level of conscious development. Everything else just begins to feel like a distraction from what’s really important.
Don’t get me wrong, as long as Burning Man takes place it will continue to play a huge part in breaking people open, especially those who are ripe (even if not quite ready sometimes!) for transformation. And there’s CERTAINLY many people who go to the Burn who are actively being ‘part of the solution’ both on and off the Playa and super kudos to them, although I have a feeling that they are in the minority. Of course on the other side of the spectrum there are plenty who are satisfied by their yearly cycle or experiential masturbation. But what about the throngs of us in the middle who are beginning to wake up, evolving from spectators of life to active participants in it? The dismissive concept that Burners once called the 51-week “default world” is dead. This is ALL our world and it’s time to acknowledge that fact. How can we fully embody the principles of acceptance, generosity, expression, self-reliance and other Burner values in our day-to-day lives? Well we have a choice to make. We can continue to return each year, pouring our limited resources of time, energy and capital into an ephemeral event like so much water over the cracked desert sand OR we can begin to divert our resources into avenues and activities that are more sustainable. It’s time that we begin using our well-honed community building skills and resourcefulness to create some real, lasting change in ourselves, in our communities and in our world.
I can’t wait to return to the Burn. But when I do it will be to share what I have found on the fascinating fringe of community’s future. So far this year I have dedicated to deep discussion surrounding the legalities, financial and decision-making frameworks related to co-owned community property. If all goes well we will be announcing the Trillium project soon after the Burn. Being part of a regenerative, sustainable community that embodies many of the principles of Burning Man year-round? Now THAT’S a cause for celebration 🙂

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