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WHAT IS BURNING MAN?
It started with a few hundred people on Baker Beach in the 1980s. Three decades later, it attracts upwards of 80,000 people to a remote patch of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. You’ve probably heard about the gathering — about the harsh conditions, the drugs and sex, the tech titans, the lack of diversity, the deaths. And maybe you’ve heard that “Burning Man is so over.” But, unless you’ve been, you are probably less familiar with the mobility camp for people with disabilities, the kids village, the DMV (the Department of Mutant Vehicles), fully functioning (and temporary) airport, the Temple, and the thousands of people who volunteer.
They guide Burners through challenging psychedelic experiences and fix bicycles for whoever shows up. They deliver mail, support the on-site emergency room, fetch keys from locked cars, gift elaborate meals and experiences to strangers. On and on.
Yes, there’s been plenty of media dedicated to the Burning Man, but most journalists have stuck to flashy/controversial topics or produced one-off pieces that can’t capture the scale of the event nor its history. KALW and Murrow Award winning producer David Boyer will take you where no documentary — audio or visual — has gone before.
Boyer has been attending since 1996, and with the support of KALW, a team of reporters and Burning Man’s media infrastructure, we are producing a 10-episode series that goes beyond the Burning Man stereotypes and celebrity sightings, and captures the more personal, unique, soulful, quiet side of the cultural phenomenon. We’ll talk to locals whose town has been transformed by the event, a group of Portuguese artists (somehow) bringing a massive sculpture to the desert, the people in charge of cleanup, others leading conversations around consent, a group of kids attending for the first time, and folks we meet along the way.
The series will air on KALW’s daily newsmagazine CROSSCURRENTS, beginning this fall. And it will be distributed through THE INTERSECTION, our award-winning podcast about change in the Bay Area.