Here is a link to Burning Man’s Ten Principles, which are the philosophical basis for the Transformus & Ignite event and community.
So how does one build a temporary city? We do it with temporary structures, hard work and lots of imagination. A basic design layout for the city is done based on the land and our needs while leave plenty of flexibility for individuals and groups. They can be built from scratch and constructed of various materials or prefab temporary structures. Most burns are also nice enough to have someone install bathrooms in the form of good ole’ port-a-johns, but don’t abuse them by filling them with stuff that shouldn’t go in there or you’ll end having to bring your own bucket next time. The rest of the city is built by the citizens, and just like a real city has public and private components.
A common thing you will see and hear is the “Theme Camp”, which is basically the temporary residence or project of a group of people sharing or creating a common theme. Several provide services, activities, a nice place to hang out for a while, an amazing experience, some cool art, radical performance art or just about anything. From camps offering a free massage, a good cup of coffee or a lesson in poi spinning, there are few limits and creativity and originality is welcomed. Some camps are mind-boggling presentations and experiences while others can be simply a group of friends who wish to live together temporarily or a group who share common ideas. Seriously, just about anything goes. Most theme camps will also have private or semi-private spaces for household activities like cooking, eating dinner, sleeping, etc. Members of a theme camp will often keep their private individual tents in camp or nearby but not necessarily. With the right mix of people it can be very fun, but it is a lot of hard work too. If you participate in a theme camp, be prepared to help build it, donate materials or food, cook a meal, wash dishes, manage a shift doing something or otherwise help out.
There’s No Place Like Home
But you don’t have to be in a theme camp. You can camp on your own or with a few friends and still have a great time. Camping on your own means you’ll be on your own with no shared resources, but it can also mean the complete autonomy to do what you want and when, and be responsible for only yourself and those with you. Open camping space is available for individuals, couples, families, groups, etc. Your will erect your own temporary home however you choose. Most people utilize a standard camping tent and maybe some shade element like a canopy, while others might build a dome, a teepee, yurt, you name it. You can even sleep on the ground if you really choose to. However you build your home, just remember to keep it safe and read up on how to prevent injury to others by doing things like safety capping your tent stakes.
OK, so we have city streets and places to call home and places to go. What next? Well that would be things to do, things to be and not just see. Remember it’s all about participation. You don’t come all the way to the mountain just to sit around your temporary home, get out and go do stuff. You can offer to help your neighbor finish building his home or go ask someone who looks like they know what’s going on how you can volunteer and help out. You can go for a walk-a-bout and explore the city which is usually a good start for virgin adventures. Say hello and meet your fellow citizens, check our their theme camps, participate in some activities, have some engaging conversations, gift something, whatever comes to mind. Just remember interaction is good for you, so loosen up, try something and maybe just maybe you’ll secretly learn a few things about yourself or do something you’ve always wanted to. At Transformus we will also have two stages, you can sign up to play or perform on them, or just stop by and appreciate what other artists are doing. There are also a few ponds for a wet dip or a nice stroll around. There are plenty of activities going on just about everywhere, although sometimes you have to discover them yourself. Seriously, you never know where a simple hello will end up taking you. It’s a magickal city after all.
Ok, most burns will center around burning something, usually a very artistic symbolic something. It serves as a focal point in the festivities and means different things to people. For some it has deep personal meaning, whatever one wishes to attribute to it, and for others its just a damn nice thing to do, build something creative and then burn it down. Like the city and lots of other things, the burnable effigy, sculpture, whatnot, lives a temporary existence. At Transformus we have the bamboozler, which is built fresh from bamboo and artistic blood, sweat and tears every year. It serves as the main burn, and will be burned in a righteous bonfire with lots of fanfare. If you’re a burner at heart you’ll probably enjoy this.
Leave No Trace
After all is said and done, this temporary existence comes to an end. You’ll break down your temporary home, and pack up the things you brought and things you got gifted, and probably wonder where that blinky thing came from.
Everything and we mean everything has to go, from the empty beer cans and other trash to stray string and cigarette butts. Before you leave, you shouldn’t be able to tell you were ever there save for a few matted blades of grass and a smile on your face. Pack your vehicle and say a few goodbyes, then have a few looks around for stray items. We call this MOOP, or Matter Out of Place, it means something that shouldn’t be there. It doesn’t matter if its not your trash, just pick it up anyways, it’s our city and our trash and we’re (including you) responsible. As you drive away you will probably smile, and then after a while you might wish you were back in Mysteria. You might even see the world in a different light and have some emotional after-effects. Usually this is called “decompression”, like a diver coming up too fast from the bottom of the sea, it’s feeling down or off or sick of your regular routine as you try to adjust from one reality back to your previous one. But don’t worry, there are things you can do or smaller events and decompression events to tide you over until your next burn or you decide to change your lifestyle to better suite yourself.