Helping with Art Projects: A Great Way to Contribute

I’d never worked on an art project for Burning Man until this past weekend when Judie and I helped in the construction of the Sacramento core project.  The 35 selected core projects will go around the man this year and were chosen from among a multitude of regional proposals from all over the world.

Our project — called “Aboria” — is a wooden “tree house” that sits under a canopy of leaves.  It’s a remarkable bit of engineering by some truly talented volunteers.  We were mere “grunt” workers, mainly painting and drilling.  But Judie and I got to try our hands at creating cut-outs of designs on wooden boards with a jigsaw.  It was my first time with a jigsaw, so that was a new adventure for me.

Aboria under construction in Sacramento

The best part of the day was simply knowing that we’d had a hand in the construction of this amazing project, which will be seen by thousands of people this year on the playa (and burned on Thursday night along with the other regional projects).  But it also reminded me of how integral to Burning Man’s success is the concept of contributing to the community.  Being even a minor part of the Sacramento core project has made me feel more involved in the burn.  I’m now more excited than ever about getting back to the playa this year so I can see our finished project in all its glory.

There are myriad opportunities to make contributions to Black Rock City and the Burning Man community.  Every theme camp adds to the mix, so whatever work you do for your theme camp is contributing to the city.  Many of us bring gifts that we like to share with others on the playa.  Every attendee adds to the richness and diversity of the Burning Man population by their presence.

You don’t have to take on immense responsibilities to contribute – just help out a little here or there.  Volunteer at one of the many places needing help such as our own Lamplighters group.  It takes volunteers to light the city every night and it’s easy to participate.  Just show up at 5 p.m. at the Lamplighters cathedral near Center Camp to take on one of the jobs.  Volunteering for Lamplighters is an unforgettable experience, and you’ll be rewarded with a charm especially made for this year’s burn.

And Lamplighters is just one opportunity to contribute to the wonder of Burning Man.  Look around and you’ll find plenty of ways to get involved.  Take a shift at the café, see if help is needed in the medical tents, volunteer as a greeter or a Temple Guardian; or just lend a hand when you see someone struggling to get a project off the ground.

What I learned this past weekend in Sacramento is that you’re never too old to help.  In fact, it makes you feel young to pitch in.

See you on the playa.

Why Go to Burning Man at My Age?

As we get closer to the Burn, I thought it would be a good idea to reiterate some of the benefits of attending for people 50 and over.  These are, of course, subjective views, but they’ve survived the test of time and seem pretty solid as they affect my life.

The first of these is a lesson I learned as a Virgin Burner – going to Burning Man makes you feel younger.  When I came back from my first Burn I felt like I had shed at least 10 years off my age.  I not only felt younger, but I also felt sharper and more alive.

Second, I felt happier, more optimistic and less constrained by my life.  Burning Man had opened new doors for me, including a receptivity to all kinds of people whom I might have ignored or rejected in the past.  I took the “radical inclusion” policy to heart and found plenty of room in my life for everyone I met.

Third, I began to see and appreciate the whimsy of Burning Man in all aspects of life.  There was fun all around me that I hadn’t even noticed before – not just on the Playa, but back home as well.

Sex: it's all around you at Burning Man

Fourth, I felt sexier – more erotically attuned to my wife and myself.  Burning Man is like a honeymoon for us every year, and the effect lasts far beyond the playa.  That’s because there’s an undeniably erotic atmosphere that surrounds Burning Man.  Sex is out front and positive at Burning Man, as opposed to buried deep within our psyches and under society’s shadows in the default world.

Fifth, I felt creative.  Observing all the creative works (not to mention the creatively attired people), gives me a new sense of creative possibilities for myself and the world I inhabit.  I come back inspired to add more creativity to the world and my life.

All in all, Burning Man turns out to be my own private Fountain of Youth (despite the lack of water), and I think it will be the same for anyone in our age group who has even the inkling of an adventurous spirit.

Enjoy your time on the Playa and see how much younger you grow.