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Out of AfriKa(Burn)

By Helena Sheridan

I got infatuated by the concept of Burning Man in 2012. At the time I had no idea it would lead me to experience Burns on three different continents.

I didn’t realize it would suck me so deep into a culture of people so diverse, yet so similar, that I would eventually draw a (small) salary from it and get to be involved all year round in creating spectacular events and experimental communities.

DPW in Tankwa Town.... (Photo credit: Adriaan V Zyl)

DPW in Tankwa Town…. (Photo credit: Adriaan V Zyl)

In 2015 my involvement as the Coordinator of AfrikaBurn’s Department of Public Works gave me an opportunity to travel to Australia and work with Red Earth City’s Department of Planning and Infrastructure.

The setting, the faces and the accents may change, but at its core the spirit of the people, who give so much of their time to put on an event of this nature, remains the same. This is my tribe.

Same / Same, but Same, but Different

To date I’ve been lucky enough to work at Nowhere, the European regional Burn in Spain (2012 and 2013) with around 1000-1200 participants and at AfrikaBurn, the world’s biggest regional, in the Tankwa Karoo of South Africa (2013 to 2015) with numbers in the range 8000 to 11,000.

Burning Seed 2015 was a fantastic middle ground in terms of participants (3,400 or so) and I really enjoyed the sense of community I found at Red Earth City.

....meet DPI at Red Earth City

….meet DPI at Red Earth City. What is it with this crew and containers??? (photo credit: Andy Flint)

Interestingly the concerns and issues that plague the membership and the Operations Team at AfrikaBurn HQ in Cape Town also resonate with the Burning Seed team in Australia.

The rapid growth of the events, the constant need to reinforce the message of consent, conflicts between the Ten Principles, keeping everyone happy in a radically expressive environment and burn-out amongst key team members seems to be all too evident both sides of the pond.

Meeting the Challenges of Event Growth

How does a decommodified event start to pay key crew-members? To what extend do we rely on volunteerism and how does involvement not become exclusive if only certain people can afford the time to work on the event? How do we keep growing our events while making sure the culture and Principles of the movement are not lost in the influx of virgins? And at what time can we expect big sound systems to shut up for a while so we can hear the sounds of the beautiful environments in which we find ourselves?

I certainly got new insight on some of these questions during my time at Seed 2015 and I hope I provided the crew on that side with some new perspectives too.

For one thing, I was really inspired by the amount of time, money and effort the citizens of Red Earth City put into theme camps (at AfrikaBurn there are no theme camp grants and there’s a lot more focus on mutant vehicles and big artwork).

With the rascals at the Grong Grong

Helena (centre) hanging out with the Red Earth rascals at the Matong local

It did me good also to see how the communities in Sydney and Melbourne hang out, get creative and take Burner culture back to the cities where they live. Seeing how involved people get in their camps or artworks allowed me valuable perspective as someone who has always just seen the practical, infrastructure side of such creative events.

Come say Aweh

I hope more of the core crew and participants from Seed can come visit us in South Africa to see how much we do with so little. The third world (and our location 3hrs from ANYthing) certainly makes us think outside a lot of boxes and a lot more ‘McGuyvering’ is implemented.

I think our two events can learn a lot from each other and together we can all take big bold steps into the future.

I want to thank everyone who hosted me, offered me a couch, a tent, a sleeping bag, a meal, a drink, a puff, a pill, a good time. I have much admiration for the crew putting on this spectacular event without a cent to compensate the time they put in and I have made a whole lot of fantastic new friends.

Come to Tankwa Town, I will look after you!
Yours in dust and deet…. Helena

AfrikaBurn takes place between 25 April and 1 May 2016 – at the time of writing, tickets are pretty close to selling out, so get in quick.

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Summit – all questions great and small

Summit 2015

Team Leads and 2ics in action during the Summit.

Teams Leads, 2ICs and leads-to-be gathered at the Summit in Sydney on November 27-28 to chew the fat over this year’s event and tackle some of the big questions for next year and beyond.

It was also an opportunity for a changing of the guard (sob) and the introduction of a new council that will be the vanguard of Burning Seed’s future.

To read these stories, hitch a ride over here to say hooroo and check out the new council here.

But back to that meeting….

Over two (very) full days at St Peter’s Tortuga Studios, 32 people gathered to hear each Team Lead give a brief presentation on the highs, the lows and the so-sos of their area this year.

Another year’s Summit put to bed – and now we dance.

It was also an opportunity for everyone to ask questions about each Team’s AfterBurn report, a more detailed overview that is prepared before the Summit and which every organiser is expected (ahem) to pore over.

But the big questions were a family affair, with the group throwing around a few hot agenda potatoes together. These included:

      • 2016 Burning Seed dates (soon, my lovelies, soon!)
      • Ticket sales: Now that Seed is selling out, the dynamic of how we sell and price tickets will need to change. Much discussion has led to the formation of a ticketing subcommittee to investigate and propose solutions and direction.
      • Community Crew numbers: Recruitment was an issue across all the teams, with only 8 per cent of Burning Seed participants signed up as Community Crew.
      • Event capacity & ticket caps: Issues with recruitment and infrastructure limit our rate of growth.
      • Paid positions: With the event growing rapidly and many key people gifting the equivalent of full-time or part-time jobs, the question of pay is raising its head. 
      • Proposed new teams or initiatives: These include a Civic Services Department, which will help organise our new teams – Indigenous Affairs, Fun Police, Temple Guardians and Sanctuary (harm-reduction chill space).  Other initiatives include a Ceremony Coordinator and a Burning Seed Archivist. 
      • Effigy design: While the community can still contribute conceptual ideas, the design of the Effigy has come back in house.

Wanna be more than a fly on the Summit wall? A Burning Seed AfterBurn report will be available online in the new year, giving you an overview of each team area.

For those who nerd out with numbers, details and facts, the Summit minutes will soon be available along with each team’s AfterBurn report. These give a more detailed account (aka long) of what worked, what didn’t work and recommendations for each team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Burning Seed 2015: the wrap, the good rap and the year ahead

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DPI doing it in style. Pic by Andy Flint

On Monday, 12 October, the last of the Burning Seed crew left the Paddock and closed the gate on this year’s EPIC event.

The DPI crew had slogged through a week of packdown after the frenzy of dancing, dreaming and doing had dry humped the Paddock goodbye.

There were marquees to be dismantled; community spaces to be cleared of art and furniture; tools to be ticked off; inventories to be created; radios to be logged; shipping containers to be packed; MOOP sweeps to be done; and five weeks’ worth of support infrastructure to be dismantled.

For some it was the end of a loooooooong stint on the Paddock. So when they finally closed the Paddock gate, there was a collective sigh of relief as they turned their vehicles for Melbourne.

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The magic of Sunset Island. Pic by Noma Kim

But there’s no closing the gate on the incredible energy, inspiration, excitement, love and ideas that this year’s event has generated (despite finding ourselves back in the bearpit of Facebook and its poor facsimile of Paddock togetherness. One more round of the cultural appropriation debate, anyone?)

You felt it. The Team Leads felt it. We all felt. Burning Seed jumped to a whole new level.

Why?

Well, we could talk nerd and spout numbers about tickets, people, art and stuff. Or we could flash theme camps a thumbs-up for the game they brought and the next levels they jumped too. We could point to the increased flame effects and spontaneous combustions of creativity around the paddock. Or did the Effigy and Temple tip it over the edge for you, too?

But the wherefore-art-thou of Seed’s success was found in the spaces between. It was felt in the synaptic energy that lept from person to person and across the circuitry of our community, emerging in stories like these. 

It continues to pulse through a plethora of post-Seed events great and small, from the micro-community love-ins of theme camps and camp mates to organised picnics, beach parties, bar nights and Decompressions in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide. 

Soooooo long and thanks for all the fish

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Awh, we love you too, Rangers. Pic by Andy Flint

For the Team Leads, it has been an epic year too. We have all pushed ourselves as organisers and people, expanding our reserves, resolve and comfort zones to meet team, community and personal challenges; to weather and learn from community criticism; and to give more of ourselves than we ever thought possible.

For those of us who have been involved from the beginning of Seed, we’ve experienced a particular blend of pleasure, pain and pride in witnessing the evolution of this year’s Revolution. It has been a long birth of collective and accumulative efforts to create and hold a space where our Seedling event and community can grow.

It’s a collective effort that includes you too, with many of us bound together on a six-year journey for this thing we share, care and squabble over; that we opine and obsess over; fight for and can’t wait for.

And so we say thank you.

Thank you to every single person who has built, brought, created, cleaned, cared, designed, dreamed, filmed, gifted, greeted, performed, played, photographed, posted, published, rangered, shared, talked, worked, wrangled, written and more. Whether it was this year or last year or the year before that. Thank you.

Next Seed steps

So now the lovefest is over, what does the rest of the year hold for Burning Seed?

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Info, info, info. Pic by Nigel Dobson-Keeffee

Next on the agenda: MOOP map. Our crack team of MOOP troupers spent days scouring the Paddock after the event finished, recording information about where and how much MOOP (Matter Out of Place) was left behind and who was responsible. All this information goes on to a colour-coded MOOP map, which will be released soon.

This year, the map will be an interactive web-based Google map. You will be able to zoom in and out; expand speech bubbles to read more detailed info about theme camps, art works, public camping, and infrastructure areas; and look at related photos and videos.

Meanwhile, all the Team Leads are slaving over their own AfterBurn reports in time for the Summit at the end of this month. You can find out more about AfterBurns and the summit here

You also have your own homework to do, with the census running until November 14 and voting for next year’s theme ready to rock next week – keep your eyes peeled on the website.

And by the time Summit is done and dusted, it’ll be time to launch the next Seed season all over again with the release of next year’s theme and dates, and the launch of Community Design Labs

Numbers numbers numbers

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We love a self-reliant newbie. Pic by Andy Flint

Still want to talk nerd? Here are some figures for this year:

  • Adult tickets sold: 3342
  • Kids tickets sold: 232
  • Theme camps: 47
  • Artworks: 42
  • Days on site: 38
  • People who signed up as Community Crew: 298

And, finally, a confession, of sorts.

The ticketing quiz

There has been much talk about newbie numbers following the ticketing quiz we introduced this year, with a 75% figure floating around social media.

Unfortunately, we missed the opportunity to really understand how many fresh-flesh Burgins we had this year. In the quiz we asked whether people had previously been to Burning Seed, rather than asking whether they had been to a Burn – a much better question to ask.

According to the quiz, 1667 had never been to Burning Seed, while 754 had been to Burning Seed. People buy multiple tickets and only the purchaser takes the quiz, so there are 921 people for whom we just don’t know… *scratches head*.

With a large number of people having been to other Burns but enjoying their first Burning Seed, the Burner to Burgin ratio is likely to be closer to 1.5 to 1 or 1 to 1.

Next year, folks: bigger, brighter and more Burgin than ever before. And better stats. In the meantime, get amongst it. Burning Seed is not just a once-a-year event but a year-round community.

 

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Message from your Gate crew

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Nick, our illustrious Gate Team Lead.

Written by Nick Westcott, Gate Team Lead.

The last few days have been tough. It has made us sit back and take a long hard look at a number of procedures we have in place for running gate at Seed this year. It has made us get on many phone calls, answer many emails, monitor Facebook and Gumtree, and drink many bottles of wine. It has made us have too many serious conversations with other teams about what this all means. It has made us sad.

Most of all it has stopped us doing the important things we need to do to get ready for Burning Seed 2015.

We’re not going to get into a discussion about the pros and cons of ticket limits. About the impacts on crewing, permits, insurance and the quality of event we deliver. All we on gate want to say is that once you get to the site PLEASE do what you can to make our lives easy.

Have your ticket ready. Have your ID ready. If you’ve bought a ticket from someone, else have a copy of their ID ready. Let us search your car. Listen to the crew and give them the respect they deserve.

We are people like you. We are doing our absolute best to get everyone into the event as quickly and as safely as we can.

We cannot wait to see you.

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Parenting on the Paddock

kidscamp1We love our baby burners at Seed, and at last count we’re expecting more than 100 kids on the Paddock this year. Whether it’s one or 100, kids’ safety is paramount and we’re building on previous Seed lessons by strengthening our protocols this year, which includes mandatory registration for kids at the Gate.

Gate registration means your kid’s name, your name, a phone number and your expected camping location will be matched with your kiddie’s wristband number and accessible only by our Ranger crew for use in case of an incident. Please let us know if you change your camping location!

Registration also means we we can quickly reunite your little one with you if they appear to be lost. And if you report them lost, we have protocols in place to lock down the site, including closing the gate to EVERYONE except emergency services vehicles. 

Activities for kids

This year, the Kids Camp crew have some new things on offer like the Kids’ Cafe — run by the kids — serving breakfast everyday. There is also a great new Junior Burners program running Ten Principle-based activities at Kids Camp and around the Paddock.

To help them run things smoothly, let them know whether you are rocking up by registering — even if you are not staying at Kids’ Camp and just intend to bring your little sparks down for a visit or some activities.

Boundaries at Kids Camp

While Kids Camp acknowledges and encourages radical self-expression, it has also put some boundaries in place to allow families with different ‘comfort’ levels to be included at Seed. There is no nudity, drugs or smoking around the children at Kids Camp.

This may not work for everyone, so Kids Camp invites you to register and bring your kids along for activities, but perhaps camp nearby in the general camping area. But whenever you are at Kids Camp, you will need to respect the boundaries they have put in place. It’s important to remember that some parents have co-parenting arrangements that would prevent them coming at all if these boundaries weren’t in place.

More info

There’s heaps more info for parents and kids alike on the Burning Seed website  and if you have questions or want to connect with Kids Camp and other Paddock Parents, visit the Facebook Page

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Art and times of Burning Seed 2015

ARTery has its finger on Burning Seed’s art pulse, and this year they’ve been working hard with all you amazingly talented, creative and crazy people to paint our Red Earth City… well… red. So expect to wrap your senses around some fantastic art on the Paddock this year. There’s also an Art Parade in store, an art/media centre to explore and the chance to register more art.

Written by Stephanie Selig

Art Grants
Art on the Paddock

Art on the Paddock

We’re pleased to announce that we have funded a total of 24 projects this year in addition to the Effigy and the Temple! We had some amazing submissions this year and wish we could have supported more, but we’re working with limited funds.

What we clearly do have in abundance is a community with unlimited talent, energy and creativity. Right now there is a lot of building going on in backyards, supplies being ordered and other general arty awesomeness.

Please join our NEW Facebook Page  because we’ll be posting details about some of the projects over the few weeks to get you excited about what’s coming to the Paddock.

Bringing Art?

If you’re bringing art and planning to put up an installation at Burning Seed, we want to hear about it! It doesn’t matter if your piece is big or small — if it’s on the open paddock and not in a Theme Camp please make sure you register with the ARTery to get your spot on the map.

You only have a few days to do this — 31 August is the deadline. You can register here.  All art pieces must have a Leave No Trace plan, be well lit at night (even if it’s small please light it for safety so things don’t go bump) and if fire is involved you absolutely need approval from the Fire Art Response Team (fart@burningseed.com). If you have any questions, please email us at artery@burningseed.com.

Artedia Space & Art Parade
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Get your wriggle on for the Artery Parade on Friday

This year the ARTery will share a new space with the Media team: we’re calling Artedia (get it?). ARTery crew will be at Artedia from 11am to 3pm Wed to Sat during the event to answer any questions and to register your project. Drop by anytime (even after hours) to see our new large art map and read up on the installations around the Paddock.

On Friday night we’re hosting an Art Parade from 4-5pm. Join us for a walking art tour and learn about many of the pieces that have been created for your delight — costumes are highly encouraged!

You can find full details here . While you’re at it please like our new NEW Facebook Page and stay in touch with all things ART at Seed.

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Community design labs: theme & logo

Like everything we do at Burning Seed, what you see is what we make – together. And in honour of this collaborative spirit, we’ve banished the word competition from our lexicon and developed Community Design Labs instead.

These labs will be opportunities throughout the year to bring your dreams and designs to life by helping to create  — and choose — the design for a range of Burning Seed projects. Anyone can submit a design and wherever possible we will involve the community in shortlisting them with the help of online voting tools.

And this year we need your help not only with the theme — Revolution — but a new logo for Burning Seed. We’ll also be looking at you  — yes, YOU — to design our Effigy and Temple for 2015. There’s also a rumble in the radio jungle, we hear, with Red Earth Radio also looking for a logo. Stay tuned!

Check out our new participation portal for these Community Design Labs. Here you’ll find details on submissions and a place to upload your designs.

 

 

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Burning Seed 2015 theme and dates announced

You guys threw your theme ideas into the fire and out of the flames rose… Revolution! Yup. The theme for Burning Seed 2015 will be Revolution, so get those creative juices flowing over the chrissy break because we’ve got dates for you too. Drum roll please…

Burning Seed 2015 will take place again at Matong State Forest from Wednesday 30 September to Monday 5 October.

You might have noticed that we’re finishing a day earlier than the 2014 event, and pack-down is the main reason for this change. With the bulk of participants leaving the event on Sunday or Monday, and the pack-down process not able to start until Tuesday, we have struggled to retain enough community crew to help with this last big heave-ho task.

But never fear: we won’t be hustling you off the site as soon as Monday hits. We will start packing down community services such as rangers, info centre, ice and toilets from midday, and you will still have 24 hours to leave Red Earth City. 

Thanks to everyone who submitted a theme idea and used our new Town Hall Social voting tool to create the shortlist. Stay tuned for the chance to create next year’s theme design.

Revolution

Revolution – a word so often charged with the bloody, ideological fury of a group seeking to overturn the prevailing
powers or structures as fast as their critical mass will allow.

But the power of Burning Seed’s revolution is not in rapid overthrow or raised fist. Its power is in the depth of motion
and change, and drawn from the love and evolution that live within the word itself.

Revolution is the constant, circular return to the beginning, the omega of the old and the alpha of the new. It is the
panorama of new vistas and experiences emerging on the horizon of each new rotation of our world.

And as Burning Seed takes its sixth spin around the sun, the event and its ten principles continue to provide a pivotal
point for those seeking a (r)evolution in how we all live, love, work and play together.

Our revolution is both an act of humanity and one of fire. It scorches the earth and tears itself open for the sapling of change,
from the deeply personal to the greater social fabric of our growing community. It awakens the heart and flies the spirit like an ensign. Revolution15 is our incendiary phoenix.

 

What does Revolution mean to you? How do you associate it with Burning Seed? Share your (brief) thoughts with us and we’ll turn them into a crowdcloud of your words and phrases, as well as signage for the 2015 event site. Share your ideas here.[bra_border_divider top=’20’ bottom=’20’]

Pic by Randy Brophy