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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!
In the past decade, our world has been struck with an incredible series of natural disasters – including record-breaking hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Each of these events wreaks havoc on the lives of thousands, if not millions of people, and recovery can take years. Even the most organized and motivated communities could use a little bit of help – which is exactly what Burners Without Borders (BWB) sets out to do. Right now BWB is busy with two major initiatives, the Jakmel Ekspresyon project in Jacmel, Haiti, and some heavy-duty cleanup in New Jersey, following in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Jakmel Ekspresyon: Rebuilding Economy through Art
After it was hit with magnitude 7.0 earthquake in 2010, the town of Jacmel was left in shambles – along with its vibrant artisan community. To meet the needs of many artists seeking a place to work and grow, the Jakmel Ekspresyon Community Arts Center was founded later that year. Since then, it has become a vital community resource for the city – run by one paid employee and a hardy staff of volunteers.
Jakmel Ekspresyon’s (JE’s) leadership believes that they can help community members develop their personal voices and economic stability by providing resources, training, and equipment, all without discrimination. Discrimination is unfortunately a problem in Haiti, and has escalated during this time of prolonged stress and hardship.
BWB supports JE in their mission and, as a result, is helping to launch the Screenprinting Project Residency, which will be in motion beginning Spring 2013. Screenprinting will bring a new form of artistic expression to Jacmel, as well as offer a new resource of revenue to the town and its resident artists. Jacmel does not currently have a local screenprinting shop for publicity materials, so businesses have to travel two hours to Port au Prince. Screenprinting would allow those businesses to spend their money locally and provide the local artists with income and business training. This project also brings with it an artist-in-residency program as well as many opportunities to get involved as a volunteer.
If you’re interested in helping make this project a reality, check out the Indiegogo campaign and share it with your network! Also stay tuned for more volunteer opportunity announcements.
Sandy Turns Lives Upside Down; BWB Helps Community Get Back on Its Feet
Much farther north, back in the US, BWB has mobilized in New Jersey to help clean up the mess of decimated houses and buildings that megastorm Sandy left behind. Upon first arriving in the town of Manasquan, NJ, in early November, BWB’s Richard Scott was invited to build a fire sculpture for the local Thanksgiving celebration. The event brought out the entire town, signifying the beginning of the healing process BWB and the community would be embarking on together.
Since then, BWB and multitudes of volunteers have been firing up the bulldozers and getting their hands dirty on the ground, clearing houses that were destroyed or had floated (literally) off their original property and onto another. As posted on their blog on Dec. 8:
After weeks of meetings, creating documents and shaking hands, we’re doing what we set out to do. In the last two days, Richard Scott and Michael Craddock cleared seven storm-decimated properties using a donated John Deere 200c track excavator, “with a thumb” Richard said, “It’s the beginning of the end.” He paused, then elaborated, “of the clean up phase, and the beginning of the beginning of the rebuilding phase.”
Restoring a community anywhere is no easy task, and will likely take years – even with all of the support possible. If you are interested in getting involved with BWB, sign up to volunteer or make a donation. And again, please tell your friends and help amplify this story far and wide.
Burners Without Borders is mobilizing bulldozers and volunteers to help with some of the hardest-hit areas from Hurricane Sandy. First stop, Massaquan, New Jersey, where BWB-directed teams are pitching in to help clear debris and enable residents to rebuild. Burning Man Project is now BWB’s fiscal sponsor, and gratefully accepting donations of funds on their behalf.
Please follow this link to donate:
Burning Man Project
Ever wondered what might happen if artists joined forces with their community to turn an abandoned lot into something amazing? That question is at the forefront of the Peralta Junction Project, an experimental, carny-themed activation space based in West Oakland, CA, which seeks to take a grassroots approach to artful engagement and neighborhood transformation.
Since the event opening on Oct. 4, which featured an outdoor film screening, Peralta has transformed the previously abandoned 24,000 square-foot lot at the intersection of Mandela Parkway and Peralta Street into an active community space filled with art installations, creative workshops, performances, micro-retail shops occupied by local artisans, Oakland-based food trucks, a tented gathering place, a pumpkin patch, and more. Produced by Commonplace Productions , One Hat One Hand, and a swell of volunteers, each week also featured additional programming – including the installation of Life Size Mousetrap on Saturday, Nov. 10 – creating a unique experience for event-goers week after week, through its closing on November 30.
In addition to pure awesomeness and alignments with our guiding principles – Participation and Communal Effort being big ones – what makes this project so special is its ability to be replicated and customized for different neighborhoods in the future. Urban spaces all over the world have their share of abandoned corners like this one in Oakland, just waiting for people to turn them into something wonderful. One of our many goals in sponsoring this project, in addition to assisting in workshop curation, is to create documentation that will help people pull off similar projects in their neighborhood in their own unique way.
The project continued to revolutionize weekends in this historically challenged neighborhood through its closing celebrations Friday, Nov. 30, 7-11pm. We are very proud of our support of Peralta in making magic happen!
More photos at our flickr.
October was a big month for arts engagement in San Francisco’s challenged Central Market district, with multiple events at the heart of them – 24 Days of Central Market Arts Festival, 2 Blocks of Art, and the Urban Prototyping Festival, to name a few. Of course, we can’t help but get involved – we love art and participation, both of which are much needed just outside of our front door! We worked with these events to make it all happen – thanks to many efforts from our team of incredible volunteers and volunteer performers. We look forward to many more.
Our activities began in September 2012, with performances from Gamelan X – who captivated passers-by and filled the streets and alleys with rhythm and dance. Just outside of HQ, at the corner of 6th and Market, community members painted a map of their ideal city on the side of portable mural ArtisMobilus. Across the street, the City of Awesome project, run by artist Todd Berman, gathered people together to create a community painting featuring participatory portraits created by kids and adults alike. Finally, ArtRobics got people moving in the street in a fun participatory combination of art, aerobics and disco.
On October 19, we participated in the second art walk, with performances from the Loyd Family Players, and the mobile mural was also completed.
The next day was the San Francisco Urban Prototyping (UP) Festival, produced by the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA). Like 24 Days of Art/2 Blocks of Art, UP also activated the space in Central Market, with particular focus on the 5M district – a collection of blocks at the intersection of 5th St. and Mission. The event showcased a series of digital, physical, replicable, open source, documented, replicable, and affordable projects, all designed with the intent of improving San Francisco and cities with similar problems. We provided entertainment for festival-goers in Hallidie Plaza, featuring Gamelan X and Bad Unkl Sista.
The feedback on these engagements from our community has been phenomenal. We hope to keep working together to bring this kind of energy to Central Market. More fun work and play is on the horizon.
For more information on these events, visit: