Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SpReAd The Love INTO THE STORM Challenge: Burners Without Borders -- Leave No Trace But The Glitter In The Air

This post is part of the SpReAd The Love blogger challenge honoring the opening of Into the Storm. An Anonymous Co-Conspirator will donate $1 for each post from August 7 through August 22 about disaster relief organizations (in addition to other kindnesses that we collect) to charities supported by Richard Armitage via Just Giving, and the disaster relief organizations chosen by you, up to a maximum of $200. If you would like to participate in this challenge please email me at funkybluedelphinium (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject line DISASTER RELIEF so that we can link to your post. If you would like to participate but don't have a blog of your own, contact me or Obscura via her blog Ancient Armitage and we'll find a host for you. You can find other posts in this series by Obscura at Ancient Armitage and by Servetus at Me+Richard.

The annual, spectacular party that is Burning Man will be happening at the end of this month in Black Rock City, NV and the annual, wet blanket smack talk about Burners will be happening more or less simultaneously. "Hippies and slackers," critics sniff at the nerve of anyone who might prioritize cutting loose in the desert over, uh, sniffing critically at the nerve of anyone cutting loose in the desert. There's more to Burners than that, sniffy critics.

While it's definitely a party it's also an experiment in community building. Burning Man founder Larry Harvey wrote out the Ten Principles in 2004, "crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community's ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event's inception."  These principles include things like gifting (the basis of BRC's economy), communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace behind (unless you can make the place better), participation and immediacy and embracing them isn't limited to the playa.

In 2005, moved by the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, a team of Burners headed directly from Black Rock City to Biloxi and Pearlington, Mississippi, to do whatever they could to help those affected in the region. According to Burners Without Borders, "Over the course of eight months, BWB volunteers gifted over $1M worth of reconstruction and debris removal to the residents of Mississippi." Since then Burners have gifted demolition and clean-up to Union Beach, NJ after Hurricane Sandy; coordinated a communication and resources hub in Tacloban, Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan; and are currently providing demolition and clean up assistance to flood victims in Milliken, CO.

They also support civic initiatives both in the US and internationally through grants and volunteer coordination. I particularly love the winner of the Walk The Talk Grant from this year but all of their projects are important and aimed at creating lasting change. Not bad for a bunch of slacking hippies and proof that if you have a group of friends and a desire to change your world you can move mountains, even if you have to use your own hands.


  1. Wow, did not know about this at all!

    1. They're tiny but mighty. And the demolition and debris clearing after disasters is critical because of FEMA's rules about releasing funds.


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