The Global Network of Burning Man community leaders and events has come a long way since 1997 when Burners in Austin, the North Bay, and Canada were set up as the first Regional Contacts. There is now a thriving network comprised of over 250 Regional Contacts, more than 60 official events, and innumerable community leaders and participants across the world.
This network plays a key role in the year-round extension of the Burning Man experience, supporting it as a global cultural movement. Regional Contacts help local Burners and those curious about our culture connect with one another, while bringing Burning Man principles and culture into daily life through meaningful social interaction, public programs, events, and activities that inspire participation and fuel creativity.
In 2015, the Portal Burn in Upstate New York debuted as the newest official Regional Event. These gatherings are igniting the imagination and offering spaces for Burners and the “Burn-curious” to connect and play. Also in 2015, new Regional Contacts stepped up in communities from Alberta to Singapore.
Midburn in Israel has quickly become the second largest Regional Event by population (following AfrikaBurn), with 6,500 people attending in 2015. And it almost didn’t happen at all; last-minute concerns from authorities and various agencies over permits and regulations threatened to shut Midburn 2015 down at the last minute. But these Burners stepped up their Civic Responsibility skills, smoothed over all the relationships, and burned on. This is a story of overcoming obstacles that inspired many Burners and communities across the network.
Elsewhere on the planet, other Regional groups burned brightly and creatively through events and community initiatives:
- Burning Japan inspired familiar feelings in a natural setting that’s utterly unlike Black Rock City.
- Burners in Europe sailed the Aegean Sea and hosted a beach Burn in September, 2015. And, when they came across refugees from Syria, were compelled to offer support.
- Burners in Berlin hosted 40 events throughout the year: BaR meetings, Burner pasta potlucks, Orphan Regional Burn picnics, Crafternoons, trips to art exhibitions and to the sauna.
- Burners from Hawaii’s Big Island and Oahu came together to launch a Burners Without Borders initiative to feed the homeless in the Summer of 2015.
- The Lithuanian community hosted an art bike parade called “Who Did That to My Bike?” and invited participants to a bike decorating workshop, followed by a bike parade through the streets of Vilnius.
Burning Man is reaching the far corners of the globe. But what does that mean? To whose benefit and why does it matter? Burning Man is networking people, creating community and adding to the international dialogue on a reimagined approach to the future where the 10 Principles and our experiences have meaning and resonance. Burning Man-inspired events and communities are disrupting paradigms and testing new ways of relating to one another. This is just the beginning. We have only just started exploring what is possible in terms of the positive impact we can have on the greater world around us.