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It takes a community to build a forest

Written by Ash Blackwell

Mr wattle you will do just fine

[bra_dropcaps style=’dropcap2′]N[/bra_dropcaps]ew friendships were made, ties between the local community and Seed community were strengthened and a whole lot of good dirty fun took place at the recent Red Earth Ecology biodiversity planting in Matong.

On Saturday May 2, around 30 people from all over the east coast and the Riverina came together for a weekend to plant a forest.

There was music, dancing and a whole lot of planting and watering of native plants. Not to mention Jo’s amazing home-cooked cakes and slices.

Best of all, the weekend gave the local community a chance to interact and learn more about the kind of people that get involved in Burning Seed.

I think they’re almost convinced that we aren’t a cult, and the contribution to the local environment is starting to get around.

The Red Earth Ecology project was established as part of Burning Seed’s ‘Leave No Trace’ principle.

Burning Seed is held at the Matong State Forest, and while we can pick up our litter, we cannot completely remove our impact on the forest. The Red Earth Ecology team work to develop and implement projects that leave a net positive impact on the local ecology.

Over the last two years, the team has worked with local property owners to extend and develop tree corridors on sections of their land. One of the risk factors for small birds and animals is the fragmentation of their habitat. By helping to establish corridors of local plant species, we provide food and shelter for local insects, birds and other species.

Last year we worked with local Burning Seed participant Brian Jones to extend and enrich a tree corridor on his property adjacent to the Ganmain State Forest. Unfortunately Brian Jones fell quite ill late last year (We wish him continued progress on his journey back to good health).

This year, local plant whisperer Jo Roberts reached out to other Burners in the area, who would be happy to facilitate a planting project. Dave and Sonja Currie stepped up to help and offer their property, which is just down the road from Brian.

A big green thank you to all who came and all who contributed. And a very big thanks to Jo, Maddock, Dave and Sonja who made it all possible.

                       diggin them in it takes a team to build a forrest

                       Nikki the kookaburra whisperer plants and peace

Red Earth Ecology strikes again: (clockwise from top left) diggin’ this project, the gang’s all here, Nikki the Kookaburra whisperer, peace and plants. Pics: Madeline Fountain

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Thinking Theme Camp? Top tips from your camp compatriots

[bra_dropcaps style=’dropcap2′]s[/bra_dropcaps]o you’re planning your first Burning Seed adventure  — or your next one — and you’re looking at the July 1 deadline for Theme Camp application, and thinking: Theme Camps are cool. I’ll start one. How hard can it be? But if you have the juice and want to set it loose, consider all the options first — there are alternatives to setting up a new Theme Camp.

Theme Camps truly are the (soya) meat and potatoes of a Burn. They create the landscape for our city, they are the 10 Principles of a Burn brought to life, and without them Seed would be less… well, just less.

In the words of the great ObiBob of Ashram Galactica (Burning Man)*:

“The best theme camps aren’t born fully fledged, but evolve towards optimum by learning from interactions and challenges. Do something that grabs people off the street and starts some interaction; not just a one-way service (from you) or a challenge (to them).”

He’s right. It’s all about a shared, participatory, consensual, creative experience. And Burning Seed has seen an exponential explosion in Theme Camps over a relatively short time, from around 10 in 2010 to around 50 in 2014. It’s testament to the creative confidence we have in our community, but here’s a controversial question — do we need so many, or any more?

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Unicorn wrangler and Theme Camp Team co-lead, Jayman

Our very own Theme Camp Co-Lead and part-time unicorn wrangler Jayman says collaboration and/or participation with existing camps is a great way for people, particularly first-timers and/or those looking to dip a toe in the Theme Camp waters, to make the best use of resources.

Running a theme camp for a week is harder work than it seems,” he says. “Why not join forces to create one awesome camp, rather than have lots of small camps operating infrequently with few people?

Daryl, Chairman and President of the Mint Country Club (MCC) agrees. Set realistic goals and know what you’re capable of — if you overstretch yourself and your resources you’ll just end up with a really stressful week, not a joyous one,” he says.

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Mint Country Club’s very own mo man, Daryl Paulger. Gin gin!

MCC is a great example of how to do it right. It’s up there jostling for position among the Seed Theme Camp Titans like Trash Mansion and Bean Bag Babylon (BBB). MCC was first seen on the Paddock in 2012 and has seen steady growth over the last few years. The Camp is literally powered by Gin, mint (the herb), mint (the colour), some solar panels, the infinite energy of Daryl and Di Paulger and their crew of Minty marvels. 

Daryl says it’s literally ALL ABOUT THE 10 PRINCIPLES PEOPLE. “For instance, make sure anyone coming to help you with the camp is firstable to take care of themselves (ie radical self-reliance)… like it’s great to get help but if that person needs pegs to put their tent up or gaffer tape for their shade structure, it’s just going to drain your resources.”

You don’t have to get it right first time, says Jayman: “Subject to our sound guidelines, you don’t need to be an official theme camp the first time around. But whether you’re official or unofficial, make sure you list your events and happenings in the What Where When (WWW).”[bra_border_divider top=’10’ bottom=’10’]

So here’s some tips for would-be Theme Campers whether you’re official, unofficial or just plain off the grid:

  1. The What Where When (WWW) is Seed’s sixth sense. If you build it, they won’t come — unless they can see, smell, hear, taste or touch you. Or read about you in the WWW.

  2. Lighting, lighting, lighting – and more lighting. Help make your city beautiful and sparkly and colourful and flashy. And it’s also good for keeping people safe.

  3. You don’t have to have a massively loud sound-system that literally makes people’s internal (maybe external) organs vibrate. Theme Camps come in all shapes and sizes.

  4. Avoid MOOP – we leave no trace. Make sure you have systems in place to make that happen and to educate your camp and participants.

  5. You don’t need to start from scratch – Check out Adopt a Burgin to join an existing camp. Look at ways of helping out. Run events in Theme Camp spaces or at Centre Camp.

  6. If you have an idea and you really must run with it, throw the idea out there – there’s bound to be others inspired by your idea and keen to get involved. The Theme Camp Facebook page is a good forum for throwing around your ideas with camp compatriots while the state groups will be full of other keen beans.

  7. Think about innovative use of our space at Red Earth City.  Sunset Island literally happened like that – a eureka moment in 2013 for a Burner watching the sun go down over an empty space.

  8. Avoid unicorns. At all costs.

Want to learn more about Theme Camps? Check the Burning Seed website or visit the Theme Camps Facebook page. If you’re planning to organise a Theme Camp this year check our helpful set-up guide. We’d love to hear your thoughts about Theme Camps at Seed — share your comments!

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Burning question: what the bloody hell are ya?

[bra_dropcaps style=’dropcap2′]S[/bra_dropcaps]eedmania has hit, and amongst those newbies aquiver with the agony and ecstasy of losing their Burn virginity, the take-home prize for most-asked questions are: What is Burning Seed? What’s the line up? Can I get a free ticket if I volunteer? And if it’s not a music festival, what do you do there?

Why these questions? Well, the reality is that most people’s default is set to standard festival world. But we are not a festival; we’re a BurnAnd at a Burn – whether it’s Burning Seed, Burning Man or any other regional – the question is not what do I get for my ticket, but who can I be, how can I give, what can I create, how can I take part and what the fuck will happen to me this time?

A Burn is…

…your neighbours dropping by to feed you icecream and hugs for breakfast

…an afternoon spent in a wild west saloon, dancing in a bar-top chorus line with glowing, happy people

…a solitary explore that turns into an all-night social safari

…turning around at a Theme Camp bar and catching the eye of a woman whose man is going down on her – right there and then

…a big, burly, bearded man rocking a wedding dress and a crash helmet

…drawing your own lines in the sand, and then finding yourself on the other side of them

…a bacchanalian feast where Caesar lives to die another day and everyone chows down on roast pig

…careening round a brightly lit paddock on a pimped-out mower and brandishing a parasol

…the pied-piper call of a mobile pizza oven sharing cheesy joy wherever it goes

…the constant kindness of no longer strangers

…weeks of working till dawn to bring a giant temple to life in the desert

…watching that temple burn a week later, inscribed with people’s dreams and pain, and surrounded by thousands watching the release

…a last supper in a forest nook: a Sri Lankan feast shared by almost the entire event who now feel like family

…moments so raw and connected you feel that you might burst from the intensity

…longing to finish the event pack down but not wanting to go home either

…D) all of the above and much much more…

The Ten Principles, Theme Camps and art might maketh the Seed, but ultimately you will find the magic and spice of a Burn in the spaces between – in that inexplicable synergy between you and whatever person, group, event or experience is happening at that moment. 

And ultimately a Burn is yours. 

This is a taste of my Burns. For the crusties amongst us, how ‘bout yours? And for those about to dive into their first, what will yours bring?

Pic thanks to Onur Ka

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Burners on a mission? No WAY!!!!??

[bra_dropcaps style=’dropcap2′]Y[/bra_dropcaps]es way. Meet the Beneficent Burners. You don’t even have to be able to pronounce it to be a part of it. This beautiful crew of like-minded and inspired Sydney Burners not only have the passion, love, intelligence and creativity to bring burner culture into the wider world but they have the looks to go with it. They are all so pretty!

Energy and love — Yeah!

Tristen Tan, a founder member of the Beneficent Burners based in a secret location somewhere in Sydney says the ultimate goal is to cultivate the energy, love, compassion and fun that we get from the Burning Man community and do some freakin’ good with it.

“Since we set the group up in January we’ve run three workshops and grown to about 60 members,” says Tristen. “Last year’s Seed was my first ever Burn event – I found my people and knew instantly there was more I could do to bring the vibe of burner culture out into the world.

“The incredible mix of talent and passion of those who turned up to our first meet-up in January proved me right – there was something very beautiful sprouting here and I couldn’t possibly be more proud to be a part of it.

“We have our next meet-up mid April in Sydney – it’s an organic and really social thing, not super formal or process driven – but we do wanna get things done.”

2015 projects

The Beneficent Burners are looking to complete two major projects in 2015, potentially one focused on community and one on the environment. Smaller beneficent side-adventures are encouraged via the new network that you can find AND JOIN on Facebook.

If you are keen to get something going then post on the group or get in touch with any of the Beneficent Burners you have met to make it happen.

Can you feel that? It’s your love bone wanting to find out more. Visit Beneficent Burners at https://www.facebook.com/groups/beneficentburnerssydney/

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Burner Bios — linking ticket sales to Seed know-how

[bra_dropcaps style=’dropcap2′]T[/bra_dropcaps]his year we’re looking at integrating Burner Bios into the ticketing process. This means that everyone who buys a ticket would need to trip their merry way through a series of fun FAQ questions and then share some very basic details to set up a Bio. And we want to talk to you about it. 

Why create Burner Bios?

We had a large number of newbies rock up to our fast-growing patch of paddock of Paradise last year. Of course, we love us a newb and we love watching them blow their minds (and hearts) at their first Burn. But with participation our paradisical fuel, we need to make sure that everybody is aboard the self-reliance, leave-no-trace, all-the-ten-principles train.

And despite the large amount of info available last year, there were many reports of first-timers not knowing their fun from their FAQS –  MOOPing, issues with consent, Participation and self-reliance? Never heard of it, to name but a few. “We need more education!” many of you also cried in the 2014 census.

So, we’ve been talking to other regionals about this wee problem that many of us are facing: Burns growing up very fast under the spotlight and cache of the Burning Man name, and at a time when the mothership is turning away tens of thousands of people from its dusty, pearly gates. It’s a time when the I’ve-alway-wanted-to-go-to-Burning Man newbie is king — or at least a large part of the coterie.

For regionals like AfrikaBurn, which now numbers around 10,000 this year and faces its own delicate balancing act of Burn vs desert rave (insert Doof for us), Burner profiles have proven a useful way to ensure that people actually engage with relevant Burner information.

How would Bios make a difference?

Everybody will have to pass through this Bio-making point to get their ticket, and that means everyone will need to engage with a certain level of information needed to create, maintain and take part in our Burnerverse. 

For example, to set up your Bio you will need to answer a range of fun FAQ multiple-choice questions covering all the Burning Seed 101s: Did you know you gotta bring your own shit, owright? Yes, that means water too. And what does P stand for? Nooooo… it doesn’t mean just parrrrrrrrty. It stands for participate – and it stands for YOU.

Once your Bio is set up, you will also be required to download the Survival Guide as part of the process and be redirected to options for participating.

It won’t be a perfect system – ‘cause if you want to just tick, tick, tick to get through, there’s not much we can do about it. But we can ensure that many, many more people are made aware of the fact that a Burn is all up to YOU – and that means them too!

What information would Bios retain?

We will collect as little as possible and not much more than what you already share with the ticket company. We will ask your name – real or playa/paddock – your email address, your number of previous Burns, and the way you might want to participate. (This last question is less about info retention than redirection (aka gentle nudge) towards options for getting involved).

Privacy

We take your privacy seriously, and are committed to keeping your information private and confidential. We will not share it with any third party.[bra_border_divider top=’20’ bottom=’20’]

So talk to us. We’d like to hear your thoughts too. Click here to write your own ideas or support the ones that other people have shared.

 Banner pic thanks to Onur Ka

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From whale to wish list — dream a little Seed with me


Our info requests often involve the help-line banalities of the obvious: “Where do I buy tickets?” (on the website you just visited, under tickets*), or “Tell me about Burning Seed” (have you met our website? The one you just visited to send the info request?*).

But sometimes we receive messages that not only make my day but remind me why I Burn. They also remind me to retain the faith in the specialness of what we are creating together at Burning Seed — despite the sometimes bumpy ride of growth, community and this radically participatory experiment.

Our most recent message also underlines the fact that other people are getting wind of our special little something too.

Meet Christine, a 50-year-old disabled military veteran from New Mexico, USA, who wrote to us via the Seed website. Her dream? To save up and make it to Burning Seed next year. After asking her if I could share her story with all of you, this is what she wrote back:

“Yes, my story is kind of funny and sad too…

I was a typical conservative Christian-type American. I served in the army during Desert Storm in the early ’90s,
and 
came from a strict Catholic background. One day I just “woke up” and felt it was all wrong and ridiculous:
none of this working hard and doing the right thing was making my life better, and the Christian male god isn’t
nice to females.

So, I left it all, turned to paganism and Wicca, left the conservative world behind…at age 48 mind you. I felt my
life had been wasted in religious and conservative hate and fear, like my parents, who it did nothing for
(American conservativism).

I was watching YouTube one winter night and came across a Burning Man video. A group built a giant whale art
car… and I got angry! It is not fair! I work hard every day, and these hippies can go out to a desert and build a whale
for no reason. Why can’t I do stuff like that??…why can’t I? Why can’t I? What is stopping me? Me…duh! Go find
your whale, Christine…

So, I found some Burners. They didn’t know what to think of this old conservative broad (I still looked and acted
conservative, not knowing any other way), but they let me hang around, and I got to attend a gay Burner wedding
(I was so glad for the invite, I felt like I had a new family), a regional burn, then the big burn in Nevada. And I got
to perform; someone started the first Burning Man classical orchestra and I play violin.

I cannot say enough how much it has changed my life! I regret that I am not young anymore and, as a disabled vet,
burning was physically tough, but I love it, love my new family, and look forward to more Burns — with Australia
on my dream list!”

Christine’s message is a reminder that Burning Seed brings together people from disparate tribes, all walks of life and far-flung countries too. It is this diversity — along with the inclusion and acceptance of it  — that makes our event so special.

Welcome to our little patch of Paddock paradise, Christine.[bra_border_divider top=’20’ bottom=’20’]

*No newbie was harmed in the making of this blog