Dear Fellow Burner:
The vision of Burnt Oranges came long ago from our Founder, Board Member Emeritus, and current Central Florida Burning Man Regional Contact, Storm. That vision grew from the ethos of Burning Man: a temporary experiment in arts, culture, and community.
The Temple of Transition, 2011.
Her desire was to share it where she lived. Storm provided not only the direction, but moved forward with forethought and process to found Burnt Oranges, Inc. as a legal entity. Together with an initial board of directors and dozens of supporters, they patiently and diligently worked out a model for it to come into being, and shepherded it through infancy and its developmental years. Since its inception in 2008 and further acceptance as a 501(c)3 registered non-profit corporation in 2010, the organization grew to touch thousands of participants from across Florida and beyond through open calls for participation, arts funding, and the annual events, PreHeat and AfterBurn.
As the current Board of Directors examined our roles and responsibilities and started our due diligence of strategic planning, we found an organization on the brink of adulthood. We’ve each looked at our roles as that of Trustees to ensure that an adolescent organization didn’t receive a blank check “trust fund”, but had plans for what it wanted to be when it grew up. This brings us to something missing in our modern world: a ritual rite of passage to mark the occasion, as well as those on the “other side” who will welcome (her) into adulthood.
Peter Hudson’s Interactive Zoetrope “Charon” as viewed in 2011. The project returns to playa this year.
There are no books for what we need to do. Attempts to create a community around art lend themselves to established methods of cooperative projects and collective pursuits. These allow the individual to create group dynamics around support for interactive, participatory projects. Behind the idea that these events are co-created must stand an entity capable of being a fiduciary supporter and legally accountable at the same time. These experiments into temporary autonomous zones where we iterate what we’ve learned come with guidelines and responsibilities. We’re still learning how to navigate them with each step.
In 2016, the Catacomb of Veils burned at dawn.
“Temporary art serves its purpose, it goes away and mankind goes onto the next step. It’s like a shooting star, it’s really beautiful, then it goes away, but the poetry doesn’t stop. We’ve found a way to achieve collective poetry, to achieve creativity in a group. It’s no longer the age of the lone genius working in isolation, waiting for the great discovery. It’s people working together, discovering stuff together, realizing what they have, taking time to celebrate it, but wondering what’s around the next bend.” – Tom Laporte (1953-2017)
Tom Laporte (Right) facilitating a group panel discussion with Board Members, 2011.
This year the worldwide Burner Community lost a father, mentor, and amazing co-creator, Tom Laporte. Some of you may know the name as he was among many other things, the voice of the “Man Burn”. He’d narrate remote coverage of Burning Man’s Burn Night for those not in Black Rock City via webcast. Tom had a love for many things and interactive art provided him with a platform for his voice; anyone who knew him recognized this as his gift. I’m thankful to have known him, loved him and worked with him since meeting at the Electric Forest Festival in 2011. He invited me to come to Black Rock City that year with a promise that if I did, “The keys to the city will be yours.” He didn’t lie.
Marian Goodell and Larry Harvey look out over the city during a media interview from “First Camp”, 2011.
From bringing me along to meet the founders, to plugging me into something called “Burners Without Borders” he did just that. He did it for me and anyone who wanted to participate. He had a way of weaving you into a story so that you weren’t a spectator wondering how to get involved, but an active participant in the storyline. I’ve never forgotten how he showed us how to let people know that THEY were the connection to the spirit of this thing. The idea that we’re individually “keys to the city” is something I’d like to offer to you so that you may give it to others, especially those who are new in our local communities and have yet to step into the pond. Invite them to experiment with us.
The Titanium Sporkestra Plays at Burners Without Borders, 2011.
From an alchemical perspective, the next step is to re-ignite the fire here in Florida. Many methods exist by which spark becomes flame; an initial method may have been lightning. I was in a planning meeting last week and someone said, “The biggest ripple you make in the pond of a do-ocracy is when you first put your foot in the water.” That statement struck like a lighting bolt.
What I’m asking you for individually is will you join us in the pond?
As our community reflects on the past ten years of growth—a decade of learning, doing, and co-creating—we’d like to support artistic restoration and a time of reflection. Like any good narrator of the part of a hero’s journey where renewal occurs, we’d like to intentionally create the opportunity to keep the gold we’ve transmuted; lest it turn back into dust and be blown away with the smoke from our communal fires.
We’d love to know your thoughts, dreams, and ideas for how we can move into this next phase together. In turn we’ll share our visions. We’re pretty sure that if we work together, we haven’t even begun to tap the resources and creativity of the community.
The Burnt Oranges Mission and Goals
As an arts organization first and foremost, Burnt Oranges’ current mission is to cultivate interactive art through artist funding and advocacy, by creating supporting venues for interactive artists and performers, and through public education of interactive art. Our goals are:
- Increase knowledge and appreciation of interactive art
- Provide interactive artists regular opportunities to express themselves
- Provide funding for interactive art and art education
- Build a community of interactive artists that fosters civic responsibility and cooperation
William Close dedicates the Temple of Transition with The Earth Harp, 2011.
These goals are why this and future events require us as a board of directors, and as individuals in our community step into another iteration and approach. We’ve honed our skills, and spent the summer learning how to do it better. It’s important that we state, and everyone understands:
It is the artist in the community who is our customer.
Anyone who supports this is a donor, supporter, and ultimately benefactor to the mission. Burnt Oranges, Inc. exists to provide funding for art and arts education. The community exists around the idea of a co-created temporary city. How can we work together to bring the magic into the lives of others?
We hope to foster an artistic renaissance in Florida as we return to our roots as an arts organization. This week we’ll be launching our art grant programs to provide funding for event-based art, art transportation, community-based projects, and public art display. A dedicated group of people have provided input and knowledge.
Ideate the next part of the process with us.
Participate in the next iteration.
The Implantation what we learn together.
The opportunity to become involved lies in two planes. The first is in the the large-scale, living community art project, AfterBurn: Restoration. We’ve been at the drawing board for months, and have a few new ways to get involved. We have a team of dedicated volunteers to provide a foundation. The updated web site will provide further avenues of direct communication at the event level, department level, and “city” level.
Secondly, the organization needs dedicated individuals willing to work year-round on full-scale efforts to combine strategic direction with operational abilities, providing the community a constant touchpoint for a permanent effort. Not everyone can dedicate time beyond a single event, but for those who wish to assist, we’ve identified some opportunities. Are you any of the following? Use the form at the end of the letter to share an idea or take a step into the pond. We’re ready for the ripples.
This is an immediate call out to anyone in the community who self-identifies as an artist. We want to hear from fire artists and performers, welders, painters, and makers. If you’ve ever created something, this is you! We’ll soon invite you to join an advisory panel and discussion group by telling us a bit more about how you do art through a quick response process. Artists’ aims will be to ensure that the physical needs of the community have direct tools in place for the next iteration and beyond. From access to Maker and Artist cooperative spaces to teaching and learning opportunities for those with desire to do either, we’ll have programs in place for funding, and we’d hope you’ll help us with the advocacy part.
Beyond a database administrator and master communicator is a burner who loves to connect people. Past experience in this role is a plus, as is a dedication to the development of a connected community. Bring us your best. Nominate yourself or others.
Photographers, Videographers, and Content Creators
There’s never been a full-scale effort to archive our community’s art. From the spectacle of the large scale art to the intimate conversations about process with the artists, we’d like to enable the capture, editing, and sharing of this journey in our community and to other similar communities throughout the world.
Masters of Organization, Messaging and Communication
In order to grow our message needs to be on point. The goals of the organization need to be clearly communicated with the community, and the community’s feedback loop needs to be immediately categorized and routed to those with the capability of implantation. Can you take someone’s input from either direction and articulate it?
Event Planners, Organizers and Event Production Professionals
While the current community art project is AfterBurn, our goals are to produce a series of events from small-scale fundraisers to traveling art road shows. As such, we’re looking for established industry professionals in planning, production, audio, video, pyrotechnics, site ops, logistics, material handling, art handling, shipping, group travel, and those with related skillsets to join our “skunkworks”. Ideate the next phase of events, help us introduce a next iteration of Cause-supported exhibitions of our community’s best into the default world as you guide the implantation of plans with the mastery of your craft. From large-scale exhibitions at public festivals to pop-up events in rural communities, bring your 10,000 hours to the table.
Through a supportive partnership with Burners Without Borders, Burnt Oranges will act as the designated non-profit entity of a Florida Chapter, allowing BWB Chapter Members to solicit donations and donate funds to worthy causes. Leadership at this level engages not only in actual community-led endeavors, but leaves a mark. From beach cleanups to planned solutions for disaster response assistance, the BWB model provides immediate opportunities to grant funds for community projects with real impact. Leadership in BWB is a cooperative model and requires self-reliance, the ability to find support on a one-to-one level as well as with affected communities. The rewards are limitless.
Lamplighters in front of Burners Without Borders, 2015.
All of this may be a fairly large “ask”, but it’s our belief that all of this and more exists within the community. Our one-on-one conversations with many of you acknowledge that it’s not only possible, but already happening. We can’t wait to see what happens next.
In less than one week my fiancé Elizabeth and I will be making the self-funded pilgrimage to Black Rock City to participate in the next iteration. We’re arriving early to help build the Burners Without Borders Camp at 2:45 and Esplanade.
Tom Price, co-founder of Burners Without Borders speaks at the first TEDxBlackRockCity, 2011. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdAcYkJlpMM
Through the dynamic leadership of nearly 100 participants, BWB will play host to an entire array of thought-leaders, storytellers and makers while exploring different phases of The Hero’s Journey. The camp will be gifting the city a fully-operational maker space called the Mobile Response Unit, designed to be transported into disaster zones for community rebuilding efforts. Programming includes an entire week of talks, interactive programs, and entertainment including a dedication ceremony from the First Nations. BWB does this while operating live screen printing stations for people to take home a piece of co-created art, offering a permanent memory to mark each visitor’s interaction. Some of BWB’s campers operate the sun-powered “Solarbeatz” art car which doubles as a participatory vehicle in the default world visiting schools and teaching children. The camp will be hosting a panel discussion from Burning Man’s Fly Ranch team about what their intentions are into the future, which I can’t wait to share with our community here. At the end of the first Monday, again on Wednesday, and finally post-exodus the following Monday, Burners Without Borders will be burning mini-effigies in our fire cauldron as camp-coordinated art projects. This crucible has been holding flame since BWB’s inception post Hurricane Katrina and offers up a remarkable place for a series of fireside chats each night. For those of you on playa, stop by at any time and ask one of our Camp Stewards for the tour.
BWB Esplanade Camp 2016. Photo: Christopher Breedlove
Outside of camp I’ve been invited participate in the first iteration of Burning Man’s Regional Event Safety Group formed by veteran Ranger Dive Dave and supported by Burning Man’s Steven Ra$pa. The group aims to link event producers, rangers, and medical teams to share regional event safety best practices and I hope ensure that “Safety Third” is just “Burner Snark”. I’ll be participating in discussions with other regional events at the Global Network level and getting feedback on what’s working around the world during the Regional Event Committee’s “office hours” at the event. Share any “burning questions” via the link below.
It’s my intention along with all the others in our community who will be at Black Rock City this year to bring those fires back to you. Much like the ancient tribes who wrapped glowing coals inside layers of wet leaves to take fire from one point to another, our ability to bring what we’ve learned back to the community and share it is of the utmost importance.
Standby for pending announcements on available event-based Burnt Oranges Art Grant Programs, an updated AfterBurn web site, and more ways to get involved.
On behalf of our organization, we offer many thanks to our founder, Storm and her team of visionaries who set the bar high for what we may accomplish. We’d also like to thank previous board members, volunteers, and the community for your gifts, dedication, and getting us to where we are today.
Poi Spinners at Dusk, Esplanade, 2011.
For those who continue to serve and show support through that service, thank you for your gift.
I’d invite each of you to reflect this burn season on the ten principles that set our community apart from the default world.
“These principles were gifted by founder Larry Harvey in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regional Network. They were 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.”
Where you see the yourself fitting into this ongoing experiment? Reach out to Event Coordinators, Regional Coordinators, Elders, the Board of Directors and each other to create new pathways. Post an introduction thread in your Facebook groups to your fellow community and find the others. We’re here 24/7 to listen, support, engage, and provide feedback on what we can do within a corporate structure of a nonprofit, what’s better served by communal efforts, and how individuals like you can get involved.
The Man Burns in 17 Days; There are 87 Days until an effigy is burned with intention at AfterBurn: Restoration.
When the man burned, 2016. “Da Vinci’s Workshop”
One of the greatest ideas of a do-ocracy is that those who find the problems often have a solution. What’s yours?
Share an Idea or Get Involved Here: https://goo.gl/forms/2akanvNwz2aQBi532
Ben “Jamanai” Slayter
Burner, Volunteer, and Board Chair of Burnt Oranges, Inc.