An Artichoke Project

Live it, Love it!

  • 10 September 2014

Caroline from the Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership, reflects on her experiences at Burning Man 2014. She was one of four Derry~Londonderry residents who travelled to Nevada, to work on Temple of Grace alongside David Best's crew.

Imagine this... I get a call from Jennifer at Artichoke saying pack your bag because we want advocates from Derry to experience The Burning Man festival in the Nevada Desert. Are you game?!

Needless to say (thanks to Waterside Neighborhood Partnership!), with zebra tent, water bottles and hippy clothes in hand, I agreed. Less than a week later I met my new best friends Delia, Darran and Maggie en route to the airport, eventually landing on the desert planet that is Burning Man festival, Black Rock City! 

Upon our arrival we met the shiny, happy (but slightly, and needlessly, anxious) faces of Jen, Josh and Steph eager to guide us through the experience.

What followed was an epic tour of lights and dreams, art, vastness, stars, characters and sheer joy! 

The next morning we hitched a ride to the 'Temple' to meet David and the Temple Crew 2014 who greeted us with warmth, excitement, amazing meals, cold water and long hugs (my favourite!). The welcome and the structure took our breath away. It was VIP treatment all the way as news of the Temple project in Northern Ireland spread fast!

Straight in, the team introduced us to our duties - "Ever used a nail gun before? ... “Well you’re gonna!" The Derry crew put blood, sweat and tears (of joy!) into DBS: "Decorative Bull Shit" (- said with a Texan twang.) Over the next three days we began to live the principles of Burning Man and became increasing aware of the influence, power and importance of the festival and 'Temple' journey we were now a part off.

So...Up to 66,000 people enter the desert (making it the third largest population in Nevada, I believe). 66,000 people bring EVERYTHING they need and more to share, 66,000 people create Black Rock City, and a beautiful community ethos with 10 principles at it's heart - promoting self reliance, radical self expression, inclusion, communal effort, civic responsibility, participation, art, music, and a currency of gifting then leave a week later with no trace! Not one cigarette butt, scrap of paper, burn mark or even sparkle of glitter; I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it!

The Burning Man Foundation brings a 107ft wooden man who stands dominant and proud at the centre of the city. They also host Centre Cafe, who stage fantastic art, workshops and performances. Everything else, EVERYTHING is brought into the desert by the people. Nothing is for sale. The endless art, food, music, performances, bars, workshops, costumes, lights (you name it!), are a gift. Embrace every second, everything we encounter will last only that one moment in time!

The 'Temple' has been handed over as our gift to the people. They enter with thanks: express pain, joy, sorrow, love and hope.

Individuals leave stories and memories, reflect upon loves lost, peace gained, personal experience, and lessons learned as they write letters and messages, offer trinkets, gifts, memories, photos, leave their individual messages of love, life, hurt and hopes with a little piece of themselves at the alter, up the walls and around the perimeter; filling every possible inch of space. The 'Temple' is built for one person.

'Temple' camp is created at our new Playa address 4:15 Esplanade. Our new family continue to share beers, life stories, endless craic and laughs around the campfire! It's funny how, with good people and quirky characters, 'Temple' camp quickly became home and the madness, costumes, nudity, and 10 principles, bicycles, barren landscape and mad max inspired world become normality! It's hard to explain, you really have to be there! But remember: safety third and there will be dust!

Saturday night and Burners gather to create a party atmosphere and see the man burn in epic proportions of lights, fireworks, techno music and celebration!

Sunday Night, the 'Temple' Burn is met with an entirely different mood. Silence falls over the playa as individuals reflect and the 'Temple' goes up in flames. It falls with an epic twist of the tower and the weight of the world is lifted off the shoulders of all those who embraced it's Grace. It was special. 

I have left Burning Man with a little bit of the desert in my heart... and a lot in my lungs and all over everything I own! And now, with my new Burner friends I have the absolute privilege, honour and joy of re-living the 'Temple' journey in our city, with our friends, family neighbours and all who care to join us! It is being built for you! Be a part of it! Caroline, Burner 2014. Live it, Love it!

Pictured: (from left to right) Delia Millan, Caroline Temple, Darran McGlynn and Maggie McKeever in the Temple of Grace, David Best, Burning Man 2014