The Burning Man Cultural Network

Network Growth in 2012

2012 was another expansive year for the Burning Man Regional Network with over 30 new Regional Contacts joining our ranks from locations across the world including Singapore, Spain, and South Africa. Interest from international groups continues to grow as Burners from Russia, Austria, the Yucatan, Brazil, Columbia, Chile, South Korea, Israel, Malaysia, and Vietnam have reached out to us to express their interest in representing Burning Man in their home countries.

In response to the growing interest in Burning Man culture across the world, we continued in 2012 to nurture and develop our Meta-Regional Committee, a leadership team comprised of 13 exemplary Regional leaders from across the Network. We also expanded our Regionals Support Team to include a new Volunteer Coordinator and two new Ambassadors—one in the Czech Republic and one in Dubai. These new Ambassadors, our Volunteer Coordinator, and our Meta Regionals Committee members have been helping us respond to inquiries from around the world and conduct interviews with potential Regional Contacts. Our addition of these new teammates and our increased engagement with our Meta-Regional Committee are part of our concerted effort to decentralize our intake process of new Regional Contacts and to provide a broader base of support and mentorship for Burner groups worldwide.

As our Network of Regional Contacts continues to grow by leaps and bounds, so too does our Burner social calendar! In 2012, we saw a great increase in official regional events and fundraisers, with Burning Man Decompressions springing up in new places like Shanghai, Japan, Melbourne, Sacramento and Oahu. Week and weekend-long regional campouts continue to thrive across the United States and Canada, South Africa, and in many countries in Europe. And, with such a continuing increase in interest from South America, the Middle East, and Asia, we know we’ll see a wealth of exciting art projects, events and CORE effigies crop up in communities across the world!

Meta-Regional Committee

Since its formation in 2010, our Meta-Regional Committee has been increasingly involved in helping to shape the development of the Burning Man Project and the Regionals Network. Through monthly phone meetings, in -person sessions, and a Retreat in early 2013, the Meta Team has worked together to advise Burning Man on best practices for the Regional Network, to work with the Burning Man Project on plans for sustainable collaborations between the organization and the larger network of related groups, and to provide mentorship and conflict resolution support for Regional groups.

The founding Purpose of the Meta Committee is as follows:

  • Serve as a source of support and development for the entire Burning Man Regional Network.
  • Uphold and review individual issues/complaints regarding Regional Contacts and activities.
  • Make recommendations for the Regional Contact Intake Process.
  • Contribute to the mentorship of new Regional Contacts.
  • Inspire leadership within the greater Burning Man community.
  • Provide feedback to HQ on Regional Network needs and representation.
  • Manage the voting process for Meta-Regional Committee seats.

Currently, the Meta Team is engaged in shaping the content for the 7th Annual Burning Man Global Leadership Conference to take place in Oakland, CA from April 4th-April 7th. CIt is comprised of four learning tracks in the areas of Civic Participation, Events Production, Foundation Leadership Skills, and Culture and the 10 Principles.

Looking ahead to 2013 and beyond, the Meta Team is focused primarily on inspiring leadership, helping to build and develop Burning Man Culture in the world, making themselves available to Regional Contacts and Regional groups in need of advice and guidance, and creating a succession plan to ensure that the Meta-Regional Committee thrives for years to come.

2012 Circle of Regional Effigies

The CORE Project has served for the past two years as a strong galvanizing force within the Regional Network. We’ve seen wonderful collaborations between groups who’ve decided to pool resources, expertise and manpower to see their projects through to completion. We’ve also seen groups gain momentum and notoriety on a local level through the experience of working together, fundraising, and learning how to tell the story of their projects and their journey to Black Rock City.The 2012 Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE) was made up of 34 wooden effigies created by Burning Man Regional groups from around the world and placed around the Man in Black Rock City. Guided by the Ten Principles, CORE teams worked together throughout the Spring and Summer to create art pieces that celebrated their Regional identities and showcased the collaborative artistic efforts of their community members. Participating groups included Denmark/Sweden, Lithuania/Czech, South Africa, the UK, Nebraska, Maine, Portland, Utah, Los Angeles, Idaho and the North and South Bay of San Francisco.

The Regionals Team hosted the first ever CORE Art Walk on Tuesday of the event from 2-5pm. Effigy teams were on hand to greet participants, answer questions about their projects, serve up tasty snacks, and showcase their local performers.

The CORE Project culminated in a coordinated burn event on Thursday night, which was a fitting celebration of our culture’s fertile evolution far beyond the bounds of Black Rock City.

We are excited to work with the Art Team on our third year of CORE in 2013 with an estimated 24 groups participating in the circle!

Annual Regional Leadership Summit

In 2012, we welcomed over 180 Regional Contacts and invited Burning Man community leaders to San Francisco for the 6th Annual Regional Network Leadership Summit for a weekend of training, collaboration, and shared practice. The official schedule included workshops on Volunteerism, C.O.R.E. project development, public relations, social networking, fundraising, transformative leadership, civic engagement, meeting facilitation, event production, conflict resolution, and more.

Founding Board Member Marian Goodell delivered an inspiring keynote address about the future of Burning Man and the Regional Network’s role in bringing the ethos of Burning Man out into the world. Matt Crompton aka Snowstorm from the UK gave a multimedia overview of the development of regional communities in Europe and Utah’s Element 11 Board of Directors led a conversation about Board structure and the interesting dynamics that come into play for them as they nurture a community of Burners against the backdrop of conservative Mormonism.

The Summit would not have been possible without our dedicated Bay Area Burning Man Staff and volunteers, who ensured that our visiting Summit attendees felt welcomed and engaged. Local Burners opened up their homes to our visitors, Staff members contributed valuable content, and our volunteers helped with production of the weekend from start to finish.

In April 2013, we will host our annual Global Leadership Conference in Oakland, CA and welcome over 200 visitors from across the world.

On Playa

At Burning Man 2012, the Regional Network joined forces with Burners Without Borders, Black Rock Arts Foundation, Black Rock Solar and the Burning Man Project at “Everywhere”. Located on the Esplanade near Center Camp, District Everywhere is a place where participants can learn about Burning Man’s affiliated outreach groups and find ways to connect with Burners in their hometowns. Throughout the week, we hosted many networking events at “Everywhere”, including the annual Regional Network Mixer.

This year, “Everywhere” cropped up in new places. Post-playa, our Georgia Regional Contacts reached out to us about creating a mini “Everywhere” at their local Fall event, Alchemy. They printed up information posters from “Everywhere” about the outreach groups to display prominently for passersby. Regional Contacts from Kentucky, Ohio, Chicago, and Georgia pitched in to help answer questions and to educate Alchemy participants on the good work that Burners are doing out in the world.

Following suit, our local Bay Area “Everywhere” team came together to create an “Everywhere” presence at San Francisco Decompression. We educated the community on volunteer opportunities and various projects and served up some lovely tea under a welcoming shade structure. A good time was had by all.

Film Fest in a Box

The Film Fest in a Box (FFIAB) program is a film festival created for Regional Contacts to bring local Burners together and share the experience of Burning Man on the big screen. Burning Man hand -selects and pre-licenses the films that appear in the festival, so that local groups can use them as a pre-packaged, plug-and-play body of work – just add a theater!

Regional groups from Germany to Lithuania to San Diego held these Burning Man Film Festivals as part of the FFIAB program. Many groups have chosen to combine the film festival with other activities such as fire spinning, clothing drives, art shows, workshops, or clothing swaps. We are inspired to see Regional groups utilizing the FFIAB as a way to fundraise for their local community, to gather people together, and to showcase the work of Burning Man filmmakers that might otherwise never be seen in the theater.

There are now more than 210 Regional Contacts in the Burning Man Regional Network, serving communities that span 23 countries and five continents. We look forward to continuing to nurture year-round community and participation in 2013 by connecting Regional Contacts and community leaders with the resources, tools, and expertise they need as well as do our most important work – connecting Regional groups with one another.

Submitted by,
Meghan Rutigliano