Thursday, February 23, 2006

By popular demand and without paragraph markers because I can't get the code to copy right, here's the Burning Man story.
(FYI, last I heard they'd gone to Pearlington, Miss., to set up shop.)
The following appears courtesy of the Sun Herald.

BILOXI - The Burning Man group spends one week every year building aplace called Black Rock City for 35,000 people in the middle of theNevada desert. They then spend a week enjoying their city as an artfestival and another three weeks burning it up and tearing it down. While the public perception of the group is sometimes less thanpositive, it actually takes a host of construction and demolition skillsto do what they do, in addition to organizational capabilities andinitiative. "The people who say it's just a bunch of people running around thedesert taking controlled substances haven't been, don't know whatthey're talking about," said Tom Price, a Burning Man member. "Peopleare super-self-motivated." That self-motivation and a bit of dumb luck led members of the group toSouth Mississippi shortly after their annual event ended in August, andthey put their skills to work helping locals in Point Cadet andelsewhere to recover and rebuild from Hurricane Katrina. Almost every piece of art created for the Burning Man festival getsburned at the end of the event, and one of the centerpieces is a woodentemple, Price said. One of the men who regularly constructs the temple,Matt Linsday, heard about the hurricane during the August festival anddecided upon return to Oregon that he had to help out, Price said. Linsday then hopped in his construction crane and drove it for fivedays with two friends before ending up in front of the destroyed Van DucBuddhist Temple in Biloxi, Price said. Linsday felt it to be too much ofa temple-to-temple coincidence, so he parked his crane and set up campin the Biloxi temple's parking lot. Word spread quickly via the group's Web site and word of mouth, andLinsday's father and friends and fellow Burning Man participants beganarriving in droves with funds and supplies, Price said. A name was eventually given to the spontaneous group of do-gooders,Burners Without Borders. Though there is no leader or president ofBurners Without Borders, the group gets the job done. In the last fivemonths, hordes of members have come and gone, handing out mountains ofsupplies, moving tons of debris, completely repairing the Van Duc Templeand cleaning up dozens of homes along the way. Help for the Burners has come from far and wide. Jeff Wolfe, who worksfor the Atlanta-based company that makes Daewoo construction equipment,showed up one day and handed Price the keys to several pieces of heavyconstruction equipment on a year-long free rental program. ActressPatricia Arquette sent a truckload of tools. Those who come to work represent a broad spectrum of interests andskills. Some members, like 20-year-old Eli Lyon of Seattle, had been driftingsince the festival and decided helping out after the storm was the rightthing to do for a time. Others, like 41-year-old carpenter Philip Leizgold of Houston, had beenlooking for the right time and place to put their skills to use.Leizgold said he did not want to do cleanup work, which is why he waiteduntil last week when debris cleanup was well under way to show up andlend his carpentry expertise. He has built everything from cabinets forhomeowners to ramps for FEMA trailers. The group largely survives financially on the kindness of friends andstrangers to pay for rent back home and food and fuel here, because theydo not have official status as a charity. This and their ability to work around federal and state regulations hasperhaps been the cause of some grumbling from local officials, Pricesaid. Locals also have taken to the group slowly, Price said. One member wholeft recently had long dreadlocks and a bone through his nose; he madesome locals uncomfortable, Price said. "If that funny-looking person is the one cleaning your house or givingyou food, you get over it," Price said. Today is the last day for Burners Without Borders in Biloxi. They willbe moving their base to Pearlington but continue to work in all threecoastal counties until April, Price said.< The group ardently maintainsits free-spirited roots, even in the midst of the tattered lives it ishelping to rebuild. There was a fireworks-filled trip aboard a raft made of storm debris toDeer Island recently, Price said.< And at the end of almost every longday, Price said the group does what it does best: "We burn things."<


Blogger Sarabeth said...

Thank you.

7:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home