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Burning Man Project’s inspiration comes from many sources. One of our most enthusiastic supporters, David Darst, recently sent along this encouragement. Darst is an avid Burner and author, and head of Morgan Stanley’s Investment Strategy division. He advises:
• Be kind to everybody you meet.
• You can’t live a perfect day until you do something for someone who will not be able to repay you.
• Listen if you want to be heard.
We love how simple and profound these admonitions are. And they are completely relevant to our mission of sharing Burning Man culture in the world. Here are some of the ways we are taking Darst’s ideas to heart.
Our mission is enormous, but our budget is not. As a start-up nonprofit organization, our resources are limited to what we can raise with charitable donations. So we are making hard choices about what we can reasonably accomplish. We are focusing our attention on three areas where experience has shown have the biggest impact with our volunteers and funds: Civic Involvement, Education, and the Arts. As a nonprofit, these efforts are not designed to be repaid, but refined and multiplied.
We are teaming up with the Black Rock Arts Foundation in Fernley, Nevada and the Downtown Project in Las Vegas. Locally, we are paying close attention to our neighborhood at Sixth and Market, working with like-minded nonprofits on a children’s art initiative, volunteering to serve meals to the homeless on Valentine’s Day, and collaborating with One King’s Lane, a local tech startup with shared values.
And we are eager to listen. Wherever Burners and idea-makers are gathering, we are firing up the tea kettle and asking for a chat. Right now, we are collecting ideas at KiwiBurn in New Zealand and connecting with friends Down Under. We are trading ideas with enlightened businesses, checking in with thought leaders in London and New York and Istanbul, soliciting best practices from nonprofits and foundations. If you have some inspiration or ideas for us, we’re more than ready to hear them, learn from them, and share them, too.
The Burners Without Borders Sandy Relief Crew has been hard at work clearing homes in Union Beach, NJ that were destroyed by the storm last October. To date, the crew has gifted over $1 million worth of home and debris removal to these residents-saving them over $800K in hauling and tipping fees. Homeowners are not allowed to access FEMA resources until their home is demolished and cleared, and BWB is enabling these homeowners to quickly obtain the federal money available to rebuild their homes.
BWB’s good work has quickly won the support of various foundations working in the region. With the recent congressional approval of $60 billion dollars for the Sandy Relief effort, BWB was able to secure a grant from the Robin Hood Foundation that will enable BWB’s heavy equipment operations to continue in New Jersey through March 2013.
BWB’s work in Union Beach was recently mentioned by the President of the Princeton Area Community Foundation in a report that stated, “This is some of the best leverage of donated dollars that I’ve ever seen. It’s an example of philanthropy working quickly and in creative ways to help out where other forms of aid are unavailable or slow to arrive.”
Thank you to everyone who has donated to this project to make it a success. A special website has been created to help you follow the progress of the BWB relief effort- complete with maps, photos, and blog posts from volunteers on the ground. http://bwb-sandy.org/
Imagine young students repurposing the red glass from broken traffic lights into something of their dreams – a spaceship – a vessel for creative exploration. This is Dana Albany’s vision. To develop a collaborative art program for youth that gives them the time and space to create, build and then exhibit their work at leading art and science venues in the Bay Area and beyond.
This is Y.E.S. The Youth Education Spaceship program. Designed by Dana from years of experience building mosaic art and working with children, this project is a collaboration with the Boys and Girls Clubs in the Tenderloin and Bayview neighborhoods of San Francisco, and the recycling plant Recology. It is sponsored by a splendid array of civic organizations like Black Rock Arts Foundation, The Crucible, the Exploratorium, Maker Faire and Burning Man Project.
Here’s how it will work. Children from the ages of 7 to 15 will be given the opportunity to engage in everything from metal and mosaic work, mold-making, glass fusion and glass blowing, photography, videography, sound-scape creation, robotics, environmentalism, education on ancient civilizations to outer space, space travel and astronomy. Professional welders will fabricate the necessary sections of the spaceship, and after their winter’s work, these young artists will then experience the satisfaction of having their spaceship exhibited in public at The Crucible, Maker Faire, Exploratorium and Burning Man.
Burning Man Project is proud to be one of the many sponsors of this project. Dana exudes the Burning Man ethos and culture by fostering collaboration and participation as the foundation of art production. Stay tuned for updates on Y.E.S. and the future of these budding artists.
Many opportunities are being created to engage Burning Man Project volunteers in events that will have a positive community impact. We heard from many this past year that they are interested in participating in meaningful work. As part of the volunteer strategy we have developed a Volunteer Engagement Series that will encourage partnerships with like-minded community organizations that focus on areas of civic engagement, the arts, and education.
Share the Love, the first engagement event of 2013, is a collaborative effort between Burning Man Project and the Glide Foundation, and will take place on Thursday, February 14th. Project volunteers will participate in Glide’s meal service program by helping to serve a nourishing Valentine’s dinner to Glide’s guests. Leading up to the event, volunteers will gather their creative energies to craft 750 valentine cards to distribute to diners.
Project volunteers are excited to participate in Share the Love and the response has been incredible! Within one day of announcing the event, nearly all of the volunteer spots for the meal service had been filled while volunteers from throughout the Bay Area and all over the world – as far away as Idaho, Canada and Turkey have joined in to craft Valentine cards to share with the Glide guests. We love the regional, national and international support that has formed around this event and some people have even offered to organize crafting parties with their local burner community to create valentine cards.
Giving volunteers multiple ways to participate and partnering with a community organization has created a multi-faceted event that many want to be a part of. Burning Man Project is looking forward to the launch of the Volunteer Engagement Series and plans to make more of these opportunities available to volunteers throughout the year.
One of our missions at Burning Man Project is to catalyze community around art and civic engagement. Our recent partnership with Downtown Project in Las Vegas, is a true collaboration in this spirit. Former NYC Regional Contact Cory Mervis, now a proud resident of the Nevada city, is leading the charge as the Cultural Attache between our organization and Downtown Project.
Cory and her family were drawn to glittering Las Vegas because they saw a vibrant and growing arts community. Cory had been creating community events and organizing ideas into action since 2000. After she moved to downtown Vegas, she immediately attended a monthly coffeeshop meeting and shared the idea of a Halloween Parade with the Mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman. He loved the concept, and since then, she has been producing this massive event, with much support from the city government. The parade has grown by leaps and bounds to 12,000 attendees, and each year it unites people of all types to create art together and ultimately participate in claiming their culture and community.
Beginning Nov. 1, 2012, Cory has brought the same excitement and enthusiasm for community-building to the collaboration between Downtown Project and Burning Man Project. Cory’s role is to serve as a consultant and project manager around areas of interest for Downtown Project.
In September 2011, First Friday LLC (allied with the Downtown Project) acquired the First Friday event, which is produced monthly by a very talented team of artists, producers and extraordinary organizers. Today, Cory is working with the team to help as needed with programs like manifesting a Leave No Trace ethos for the event.
Downtown Project is rocking downtown Las Vegas by building community via arts, participation, and radical self-expression. Burning Man Project is thrilled to be a part of this with Cory at the helm!