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AFTERBURN REPORT 2005

FUTURE VISION

The Future Vision report for 2004 described the rigorous post-event evaluation process that we undertake each year. Comments from the public are solicited; reports by all key managers within the Burning Man Project are written in the form of Ember Reports. Then a series of retreats are held. First, the six-member Board of Black Rock City LLC meets for seven days. Then the Project's Senior Staff convenes over a week's time. Finally, our extended staff assembles to evaluate the year behind us and our prospects for the future.

In 2005, the Board, as a part of its retreat, devoted more time than ever to contemplating the future. This produced the following outline of a 4-year program. This was then elaborated with the help of Senior Staff.

Burning Man Project
4-year Vision

Year-Round Operations: Our goal is to maintain a fun and stable working environment where employees are operating from common ethics, have a robust performance review process, are accountable, and have opportunities for growth and related compensation. This would lead to strong management that would allow the Board to operate at a higher steering level. There would also be a consistent budget process, annual available discretionary funds, and opportunities to explore new revenue and community-building endeavors.

Black Rock City: We have stable operations and relationships with legal and political entities that will allow us to provide an on-playa event that inspires individuals and supports community while allowing time, energy, and resources to be devoted to the other goals of Burning Man.

Regional Network: Burning Man is partnered with BRAF to integrate the Burning Man ethos into the world by collaborating with our regional communities, nurturing interactive arts (including fire) events, projects, and community building in cities throughout the world. We will develop new models of civic and economic engagement and establish a learning center.

Nevada Land Development: Nevada properties are developed in an economically sound way to support Project activities year-round.

Two related arcs of change can be discerned in these four goals. 'Stable', for example, is a word that's used two times. It's said that we're maintaining a stable working environment within our organization and that we've developed stable relationships with many entities outside of it. This is the fruit of many years of effort. By degrees, we have transformed the Burning Man Project from a reactive endeavor, rushing always to secure survival, to a proactive organization - at least, a project that can undertake a formal 4-year plan.

About this photo...
About this photo...
Stability, however, shouldn't be mistaken for inertia. It can support dynamic change. Under Year-Round Operations, our plan refers to "strong management that would allow the Board to operate at a higher steering levels". This means that we are delegating more executive responsibility for running the event to experienced staff members. Under Black Rock City, our plan speaks of, "allowing time, energy, and resources to be devoted to the other goals of Burning Man". These other goals are set forth under Regional Network. In other words, we're redeploying our resources. Through our Regional Network and with the help of the Black Rock Arts Foundation, we intend to focus more attention on the needs of Burning Man's expanding culture. This culture is now growing at the same accelerated pace as Black Rock City since its founding in the desert.

Our internal plan of change will be a delicate balancing act. And, like everything regarding Burning Man, it will necessitate a leap of faith. We believe our future lies outside the plastic fencing that encloses Black Rock City. Our city, in this scheme of things, is like a heart. Steadily beating, it annually pumps activists and energy back into what is called the default world. Having changed ourselves and having helped to change the lives of others, we now think that it's time to change the world that we must live in every day. The Burning Man Project has learned to survive while helping to create an ever-enlarging community. The permutations of its culture are appearing everywhere. As we've look forward to the next 4 years, we've asked ourselves: just what is stability for? We believe it represents a momentary resting place - a single step that leads to many more.

Submitted by,

Larry Harvey