Birds aren’t Real.


I attended my third Annual Regional Leadership Summit (hosted by the Burning Man Project) in April 2012. I attended as Victoria’s Regional Contact in the previous two years; however this was the first I have attended as a Director for KindleArts (in addition to my role as Regional Contact). There were minimal differences to how the change in responsibilities effected my experience, but I did find myself spending more attention on legal issues – in particular, how to legalize fire performance.

Overall it was a good experience and it taught me some important information, despite the fact that there are relatively few courses that I have not yet attended at the conference.

Presentations & Activities Attended:

  1. Regionals 101
  2. Kick-Off, Orientation to BMHQ, Brief Introductions
  3. Special Events 101
  4. Fundraising 101
  5. Alchemy Board-Atlanta
  6. Regionals Site WordPress Training
  7. CORE Information Session
  8. Keynote Address
  9. Meta Regionals Committee Update
  10. Second CORE Session (Circle of Regional Effigies)
  11. European Regional Network Update
  12. Participate! Video Project (Xina Ocasio, Film Director)
  13. PR 102: Community Relations with a Smile
  14. White Paper Presentation: Utah Community Leaders
  15. Acculturation Discussion
  16. World Café: Group topic discussion
  17. Business 202: Investing in the 10 Principles
  18. Events 103: Legalizing Fire Performance
  19. Wrap Up and Plus/Delta Exercise


  1. Special Events 101
    $teven Ra$pa is Burning Man events coordinator (he runs SF Decomp, among other things) and a personal inspiration to me. I wanna be $teven Ra$pa when I grow up! His event production handbook is an amazing resource. The KindleArts board will be making a simplified version for use by our event managers.
  2. Fundraising 101
    A basic introduction to fundraising, particularly social-fundraising. Nothing amazingly ground breaking here, but a good introduction and clarification for people who aren’t familiar. As I work in social media, I was familiar with most of the ideas and approaches, but it was good to have those reaffirmed in case Victoria needs to use these approaches in the future.
  3. Alchemy Board-Atlanta
    Alchemy is the official Burning Man Regional Event of Atlanta. They have a unique art granting procedure: they host an event where artists and makers bring plans and models of their projects. Event attendees receive “chips” which represent cash, which they give to the artists of the particular project they want to support. In this way, the community selects the art they want to support, rather than an art grants committee. Myself and the other conference attendees were excited about the democratization of art granting and are interested in bringing this approach to Victoria.
  4. European Regional Network Update
    When I became Victoria’s Regional Contact, there were only a couple of Regional Contacts in Europe. This presentation showed  the amazing growth of the network in Europe in the past several year!
  5. PR 102: Community Relations with a Smile
    Tom LaPorte is another of my heroes in the Regional Network. He expanded on topics he had shared with us at previous summits, largely around effective ways of dealing with local government and authorities so that everyone benefits.
  6. White Paper Presentation: Utah Community Leaders
    The Utah community leaders described the difficulties of being Burners in a Mormon state, leading into the formation of their not-for profit. They had a professional consultant help them through the process and it is highly structured. It was interesting to see, but for now Victoria sees benefit in having a less structured and more ad hoc growth as we maintain flexibility and minimize organizational bloat.
  7. Acculturation Discussion
    An interesting discussion on how to teach Burning Man culture and the 10 principles to new participants to maintain our culture and help our movement grow.
  8. Events 103: Legalizing Fire Performance
    A case study of how the Milwaukee community developed a process to legalize fire performance in their community. Many of these methods are being investigated by KindleArts’ new Fire Safety Liaison.

As I have soaked up the majority of information that is presented at the conference, I probably will not attend in 2013 unless I am attending as a speaker.

One of the biggest reasons to go to this conference is to refresh, re-energize, and reconnect with that “Burning Man” feeling. Working as the regional contact and a board member can be emotionally exhausting. The conference is a great time to connect with people who truly understand how much effort this type of volunteering can take, and an amazing opportunity to be re-inspired by their efforts!

Ashes’ Report on the 2012 Leadership Summit
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