Larry Harvey, founder of Burning Man, was deliberately cryptic and brief about one topic in the Black Rock City press conference this year. Your local Black Rock Beacon hacks sniffed and by the end of the conference pounced, as no one in the international media present had touched it.
Harvey had stated that, “We may have the opportunity in the future to create another venue. It would be something that would be rather wonderful that lasts … unlike Black Rock City.”
The Beacon asked, “Were you talking about buying a piece of property and land so it can live somewhere? You’re skirting around something, a permanent structure?”
“I don’t want to talk about real estate negotiations while we’re in the process,” Harvey answered, smiling.
“People say, ‘wouldn’t it be great to live Burning Man all year long’—literally?! I don’t advise it!” he joked. “I think it can live all year long as the place is internalized by people and then applied to daily situations—but not manic states of celebration.”
Harvey said that “we could find venues for producing the kind of immersive experience over longer periods of time, and that we’re looking at, to enlarge the ‘center’…we’re centralizing as fast as we can. We’re also decentralizing as fast as we can. We’re doing everything we can to promote the growth of regional events.”
“Is the site you’re talking about located in Pershing County, Nevada?” the Beacon asked.
“Not quite. I’m not at liberty to say…” he hedged, grinning. “If we ever do it I’ll be delighted. We’d love, love to have it,” Harvey replied. [Ed: We’ve been hearing inklings of a year-round cultural center for years—a place that could have workshops, artist residencies, classes, and such.]
Also present on the panel were Burning Man Project treasurer Jennifer Raiser —who provided updates on the Project’s artistic, civic, and educational activities locally and around the globe —and founder Harley Dubois.
“When are the founders going to move on?” asked Dubois. “Well, it’s happening,” she stated, noting smooth transitioning among team leaders as the LLC board prepares to turn the City over to new leadership.
Having learned event lessons the hard way, Harvey wants to offer paid consultancy to regionals and help with their growth. A central resource, in a federation of sorts, would channel resources, information, and experience among kindred events and communities.
Harvey championed the participants, the creators, the radical self-expression. “The content is supplied by everyone who comes here.”
Waxing philosophical about Burner ethos, Harvey said, “People who experience community and the interactive nature make big changes in their lives.
“Culture is not being generated by a world of consumers,” Harvey said. “We need to reinvent ways of communing, interacting with one another that will give rise to creative acts, inspire people, ultimately fill people with the reality of their own being, the being of those around them. Connection perhaps is something transcendent that’s greater than all of us,” he said.
Dubois mentioned one of the largest issues Bmorg is dsealing with are turnkey camps and their impact on burner culture. “Lots of CEOs are coming now, and these are people who can make an impact when they return. But if they come in a cushioned environment, that may prevent them from getting the authentic experience.”
How big can the event grow and still work? What about long waits at Gate? “No one ever said Burning Man was convenient,” Harvey said. Access to traffic engineers sped it up this year, he said. In any case, Bmorg gets to tweak the City each time: “We have the ability to do something urban planners would kill for,” said Harvey, “We get to reinvent the City every year.”
Showing no signs of letting up on his mission, Harvey said, “Our purpose does sounds grandiose— we want to bend the arc of the 21st century. And the only way to do that is get help from your friends.”