Burning Man is a weeklong festival held in the Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada. This year, around 60,000 participants will bring their own food, water, and shelter to live for 7 days at this desert festival dedicated to radical self-reliance, self-expression, and art. At Burning Man, both a statue of a man and a temple are built, and at the end of the week both are burned to the ground. There is no currency, commercialism, or cars to drive around (except for the art cars!) During the festival, people give gifts (this is called a “gift economy,”) and ride bikes. The gift economy teaches us that we don’t always have to receive something in return for what we do. It also breaks the cycle of consumerism and makes us think about being practical and only buying what we need. For many people, Burning Man is not just a party festival, but also an opportunity to reflect and change habits.
The temple provides a place for people to let their sadness, anger, and a whole range of emotions go. They bring photographs, pictures, artifacts, and notes to the temple, and when it burns, so does their sadness.
David Best is the man behind the temple. He built the first one in 2000 as a way to honor a friend who died. The idea resonated with many other participants, who made their own tributes and placed them inside the temple to burn. Best continued on until 2007, and then he took a break until this year. His idea for the 2012 temple was exquisite: the Temple of Juno, focused on honoring the femininity in all of us. The building crew used lasers to cut out beautiful, intricate designs from the wood to decorate the exterior walls of the temple.