Brian and I have attended Burning Man 5 times now and not once have I even attempted to write about it. Every year as I leave I think man, ...

How Art Could Change The World

Brian and I have attended Burning Man 5 times now and not once have I even attempted to write about it. Every year as I leave I think man, I should really try to write down some of this. But when seriously thinking about putting words to the experience, I always fall short. But after yet another amazing burn, and a month of thinking about it, I decided, fuck it, a few inadequate words are better than none at all.

You'll never see as much creativity in your life as when you attend Burning Man. The level of effort and ingenuity that goes into the art, theme camps, and costumes is incredible. These people spend there lives on these projects, many of which are burned to the ground by the end of the week. Art for the sake of art. Each year, I can't help but think...what if we all applied this same level of effort at solving the world's problems? That's a rabbit hole from which there is little happy escape though. There's a lot of wrong things in the world that are hard to understand why they happen and how we haven't fixed them by now. I don't really think it's from lack of effort or caring, on some people's part anyway, but instead lack of resources. It's hard for your average citizen to fight against the powers of the world who have seemingly unlimited money and power. 

So instead of depressing myself with thoughts of why don't we fix the damn planet, I instead like to look at the art and realize how it's helping the world. Thousands of people are seeing this every year. Many of them leave inspired and addicted to the pursuit of the next great work of art, and many of them pull it off, as is evident by the incredible influx of new art we see every time we attend. Since our first year attending in 2008, I'd estimate the amount of amazing quality art installations has easily tripled. We were blown away with how much the event had grown, especially in our 3 year absence. Not just people, which by itself is impressive (population 2008: 49,600, 2012: 56,150, 2015: 70,000). But the percent of people actively participating is what impressed and inspired me most. In the plethora of conversations I had with random people, I was amazed at how many seemed to really "get it." That is, get the point of Burning Man.

What is the point, you may be asking? Well that's the part that's not easy to explain if you've never been. All of the people, camps, and free services taking place is part of the art. Seriously if you read the event book, there is a camp providing pretty much every service you could imagine, for free, you just have to be at their camp at the right time. Everything from getting a manicure, pedicure, massage, boob painting, freaky sexual experience, yoga, TedTalks, a lesson on how to give a proper spanking (yep), music, poetry, free food of all kinds, tons of bars, paint blasting, aerial performances, fire dancers, the list is endless. To me, it's all part of the art that is Burning Man. It's an insane work of art that we all build every year, and the point? The point is because we can. Because we see other possibilities for society. Endless possibilities. And the more people go and experience it, the more the world will change for the better. Why better? Because it will help you open your mind to new ideas, things you never even thought about before. Things you didn't think were possible or necessary.

I've never been anywhere with so many amazing people either. When you introduce yourself to someone, there's no awkward hand-shake and ice breaker conversation. There's a good hug and conversation as if you already know each other. There's no subject off-limits, nothing you could say would be crazy out there. Mostly everyone is treating each other the way you wish the default world did everyday. I've never been anywhere with so many people and so little violent crime. Seriously in 5 burns, I've never even seen a fist fight break out. Never more than a yelling match. Considering the percent of people that are drunk too, I think that says something. You see more violence at a football game, no joke. And contrary to popular belief by non-burners, not EVERY one is high the whole time ok? Seriously there are a ton of sober people, a ton of people bring their kids even (which we plan to do someday).

Bring your kids, you say?! Are you kidding? Are you crazy? Nope, not crazy and not kidding. You're worried their going to see some drunk or stoned people? Or some, gasp, NAKED people?! OMG heaven forbid they see a human body. No we are not concerned about them seeing naked, drunk people. The amount of child-geared activities and camps has also exploded to the point where we kept talking about wanting to bring the kids, something I honestly didn't think I'd do until they were much older, simply because of the harsh environment. But after this year I'm instead thinking, how soon can I pull this off? There's so much to see and do there (beats the hell out of Disney Land). And so many awesome people they need to know exist. I want my children to grow up knowing that while the world may suck sometimes, there's a whole lot of people out there who want it to be better, and are trying their hardest to make it that way.


  1. Great write. So glad you guys had a great time this year. I would love to go one year. Sometime, someday.