Multicultural POC Neighborhood at Black Rock City

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The Multicultural POC (People Of Color) Neighborhood is a self-organizing community committed to co-creating a safe and inspiring neighborhood at Black Rock City in 2022 to showcase and celebrate a global POC culture.

What's been decided?

BIPOC ticket access

The Multicultural POC Neighborhood community is confident they can secure access (that's access, not free) to Direct Group Sales types of tickets for BIPOC participants in the Multicultural POC Neighborhood at Black Rock City 2022. It is up to this community to define what qualifies as BIPOC for ticket access. BIPOC ticket access is not limited to participants of the Multicultural POC Neighborhood, but that is beyond the scope of this initiative.

Resources

Communications

References

Interested camps for BRC 2022

Camps indicating interest previously

  • Kosmic Kamels, Middle East (Moose Tafa)
  • Que Viva, California (Favianna Rodriguez)
  • Gauchos Del Fuego, Argentina (Watermelon)
  • Camp POC, New York (Kristina Leath-Malin)
  • Chinese Beyond Borders, Asia (Tina Liu)
  • Comfort & Joy (Joshua Smith)

Founding vision

The original founding message posted on September 19, 2019 in the Multicultural POC [Neighborhood] at BRC 2020 Messenger thread:

  • What if…
  • There was a multicultural people of color neighborhood at Black Rock City in 2020…
  • What if it had multiple healing ceremonies held by indigenous people from around the world…
  • What if it had Zendo harm reduction support for people of color...
  • What if it had music from around the world, with an art car connection to bring it to deep playa…
  • What if this was co-created where it emerged from the ground up vs top down…
  • What if there was a collective effort to assist those who feel there is a high barrier to entry…
  • What if it were a safe place to profoundly experience the cultures of the world, with radical self expression…

History

  • 2014: Project Radical Inclusion (PRI) cofounded by Laura Diamond and Neil Takemoto. Laura and I connected through the Playa City Facebook Group (applying the 10 principles to our neighborhoods) I created after my first Burning Man in 2013.
  • 2015: Laura and Neil submit PRI proposal to Burning Man to support underprivileged artists of color: http://bit.ly/pri-burningman-proposal-2015. PRI gathering at Burning Man, with three sponsored artists represented by three camp leads supporting PRI: Que Viva (Laura Diamond), Camp POC (Kristina Leath-Malin), IAMU (Roman Haferd). Laura was killed in a scooter accident a month later.
  • 2016: DC community previews ‘Burning Man: A White People Thing?’ documentary at Burning Man Global Leadership Conference (GLC).
  • 2017: ‘Burning Man: A White People Thing?’ is posted on Burning Man YouTube page: https://youtu.be/Z434B18Mdgw with 13K views. Project Radical Inclusion Panel at GLC.
  • 2018: Burning Man Global Leadership Conference discontinued, in part to be reinvented to be more inclusive than its invite-only model. Racial inclusion session held at annual Burning Man Convening at Esalen, though largely devoid of people of color.
  • 2019: Announcement of Kindling in Reno 2020. Racial inclusion petition and march at BRC. Multicultural POC Village Facebook Group and Messenger thread created in September. Heavy discussion on race at Burning Man Convening at Esalen in October where Multicultural POC Village idea is formally presented and supported by attendees and Burning Man Project. Trippi Longstocking promises dedicated track on radical inclusion and session on POC Village.
  • 2020: Black Rock City 2020 canceled. First Burning Man Diversity Forum held on April 9, Multicultural POC Village idea is re-introduced and supported by Burning Man Project staff and executives, and changed to ‘Neighborhood’. Global Multicultural POC Neighborhood pilot group created on Burning Man Hive in November.
  • 2021: Burning Man creates R.I.D.E. (Radical Inclusion Diversity Equity) Stewardship Group with a mission to profoundly address the lack of diversity at Burning Man. Nicholas Power introduces Melanin Cures Covid as a pilot camp for the Multicultural POC Neighborhood. First group call on Nov 16.

Personal stories

Why/how am I involved in this? What’s my story?

Stewards

Stewards are simply people looking to contribute a minimum of 1 to 2 hours a week to this initiative

  • Wabi-Sabi / Ranger Wobbly Flips: Wabi-Sabi, Wabi for short, first attended Burning Man in 2012 where as a virgin, she led her pod of Kostume Kulters not knowing what to expect but ready to participate. In 2013, she brought her college mentor and together, they did build week and burn week together. She also created Jobs for Burners and the Jobs for Burners Career and Job forum that year. In 2014, she joined up with the Black Rock Observatory and the Desert Wizards of Mars and helped bring a giant telescope to the playa. She helped produce the Solar Telescope project at Figment that year and coordinated volunteer scientists on playa who lectured on all things spacey throughout the week. In 2016, she drove cross-country with Balloon Chain and in 2017 became a Black Rock City Ranger. Off playa, she lives in Bushwick, NY where she tries to figure out how to bring the magic of BRC to her everyday life. Born on the upper east side of Manhattan to Honduran and Puerto Rican parents, opening up opportunities to BIPOC folks and ensuring the safety, happiness and mutual understanding of all humans sets fires in her soul and she hopes to create more opportunities for BIPOC artists and creatives to explore everything the world has to offer.
  • Neil Takemoto: I have always had a passion for living in the kind of community where there is a steady, reliable access to a flow state of bliss, joy, meaning and deep connection - a kinship among neighbors. Car-free. Local businesses. Truly affordable housing downtown. Green building. Co-ops and community ownership. Heart connection and conscious dance events in the center piazza, which I catalyze here in DC on a regular basis. How do I/we get there? I live by this principle: Projects are primarily designed, governed, and where feasible owned by communities. My day job is developing a cooperative, Be The Change Cooperative, to enable communities to design, govern and own their own community development, including a BIPOC community center in Washington DC called Temple of Mother Earth. In 2013, Laura Diamond of Que Viva (see History) reached out to me through a Facebook Group I created after my first burn (2013), Playa City, applying the ten principles to our own neighborhoods. I was in awe of the diversity of Que Viva, and their kinship approach to providing access to underprivileged artists of color to BRC. The role I really prefer in all this is also my burner name, catalyst.
  • Lion: Lion got involved volunteering with Burning Man Project during the last in-person Symposium in 2019, designing and hosting a panel titled “Stand the Test of Time: Structures of Camp Leadership, Succession Planning & Burnout Prevention”. In the fall of 2020 Lion assisted the Org in facilitating a series of focus groups leading up to the launch of Buring Man Hive and was invited to be Lead Moderator for the Radical Inclusion, Diversity, and Equality topic and now serves as Volunteer Coordinator for the platform. Lion acquired his cooking skills and passion for social justice from his mother via her father William Maupins. A man abandoned as a baby, Maupins enlisted in WWII at the age of 17, became an Admiral’s Chef in the Navy, and raised four children as a single father while also serving as the head of the NAACP for Northern Minnesota during the 1950s and 60s. It was in this man’s memory that Lion worked as a Field Organizer and Regional Field Director for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Lion currently resides in the Mission with his pup Pitney Spears.

Camp Leads

  • JD: Yes! IPOW (Indigenous Peoples of the World) would like to be there! We are an Indigenous group welcoming a mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to a majority Indigenous family-friendly camp. We will be having story telling, cultural exchanges, appropriate ceremony, and learning opportunities for the BRC community.
  • Nicholas Powers: I am a professor, novelist, reporter, and poet. My books “The Ground Below Zero: 9/11 to Burning Man, New Orleans to Darfur, Haiti to Occupy Wall Street” and the vampire novel “Thirst” were published by Upset Press. Currently, I am writing a book on race and psychedelics for North Atlantic Books. I am starting a stop gap, one year camp called Melanin Cures Covid, and have ten people who are interested. I will ask placement if we can be placed in case the Burn is going forward. If so, which is a lot of "ifs" then it can be one of the seeds of the POC Neighborhood.
  • Tina Liu: My story… I have always been passionate about my heritage being Chinese. After discovering my other passion virgin burn 2013, I founded camp turned artist collective Chinese Beyond Borders (CBB), with the mission of contributing to diversity through the sharing of Chinese culture on Playa and off. The experiences in my homeworld of Taiwan that year, lead me to repatriate back Stateside and dedicate the last 6 years of my life, exclusively to our mission. More on this back story is here page 10-12: https://issuu.com/istech24/docs/precis_07_2014_issue_2. In 2017, I was one of the recipients of a gifted ticket from the PRI program, thanks initially to the introduction from Laura Diamond’s husband, who by playadipity answered my call, seeking photography help for my wedding at the temple in 2016, despite him sending Laura off there, that same year. From then on, I learned more about PRI, through Neil and Favianna (Que ViviaCamp’s co-founder). Over the years, Chinese presence in BRC grew from individuals scattered in different camps, to identifiably 4-5 camps from the Greater China region. In 2016, I camped for the first time with folks from my region of origin at Mazu Camp from Taiwan. The experience allowed me to see my vision of a major Chinese theme camp partially realized, where the Chinese from different parts of the world and background, Sinophiles and allies, came together and helped celebrate our culture for 2 weeks at the event. With these encouragements, in 2018 for my 7th burn the following year, I attempted to organize a Chinese theme village again on Esplanade a second time, and learned of a different set of challenges. I ended up helping a 2nd year Chinese burner as co-lead, to resuscitate her camp within the Black Rock French Quarter village. Previous years, I camped with other large Esplanade villages and camps, such as another oldest, Dust Fish Village, Decadent Oasis and first-timer Ice Pyrates. CBB’s’ costuming work, The Lantern Girls, has become the poster child of diversity in BRC and beyond, currently radically including ourselves, especially in light of this happening in Oakland right now, where we’re based since 2014: https://www.kqed.org/arts/13868108/burning-man-no-spectators-oakland-museum Here’s more on CBB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bm.ccbb
  • Mostafa Ismail: Everything in my life has led me to find you. The butterfly effect is real. At the age of 16, I attended a summer camp program called seeds of peace, which brings teens from across conflict regions, specifically, USA, UK, India, Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Israel & Palestine, to a summer camp in Maine, to learn how to transform conflict through dialogue and community. 6 years later, at the age of 21 I started working at that summer camp, and worked there for 7 years, and for the last 5 years I’ve been managing the project in Cairo. The camp is not just a camp, its a virtual community that holds follow up programs that help the youth find their voice and discover their inner selves more and more. Last year a group of friends and I, some of which who are involved in SOP, decided to start a BM camp that brings people from across spaces of limitations within the middle east to the playa, but we extended, as our first year on the Playa, Kosmic Kamels, we were able to bring 40 humans, from the middle east, some of which are based in the MENA region, some in the US, some in Europe to the playa to create our diverse middle eastern camp. BM was a life changing experience for me. I met Neil shortly after and now I am here.

Contributors

  • Milagros Phillips: My story… I have been doing Healing Racism work for more than thirty years. What I’ve learned from the process of creation and transformation could fill volumes. I’m also an artist, a painter and writer. Neil Takemoto attended one of my seminars years ago and has been a supporter of my work ever since. My deepest desire is to live in a world where we are conscious that we are one human family, that we are deeply precious and that we all count. I desire to live in a world where everyone has the opportunity to bring forth their greatest gifts and to pour into the soul of the world their greatest treasure! milagrosphillips.com
  • Uncle Vern, aka Vern Andrews: I’ve been burning since 2009, so that makes 11 straight years, if you forget Covid/2020. I’ve been deeply involved in many communities at Black Rock City. Black folks have been talking about a Village/Neighborhood since the Burn right after Michael Brown was killed. I’ve helped spread the “idea,” but now to see it near fruition is wonderful. I’ve been a member of POC camp before and also Que Viva. Laura Diamond was a friend. The kind of friend you make bloody mary cocktails for on the Playa. Time I gave something back and gained something in return: New family and friends. I’ve spoken at the GLC and get interviewed here and there, but progress has been slow. And steady. I volunteer with Census and write with Census in the Burning Man Journal. And here we are -- staring at our future. For me the Burn represents play and the possibility that we can lead the nation forward towards a more perfect union. I think that future begins in the dust.
  • KLM aka Kristina Leath-Malin: Kristina Leath-Malin (aka KLM) has been a member of the New York City RC team since 2012. She is a national co-lead for an employee resource group that tackles Equity for Women in Technology and is a member of NAACP (Brooklyn chapter). Kristina first experienced Black Rock City in 2008 and was later a co-founder of the People of Color (POC) camp, consultant and team member of Project Radical Inclusion (PRI) and is a Black Rock Explorers family camp lead. At the end of April 2021 She will be moderating a RIDE conversation for the Regional Contact Network. She’s also a member of Media Mecca, has volunteered with Everywhere and advocates often for POC, Families and ALL fringe members of the BM community to have a seat at the table. Kristina expresses herself creatively as a feminist horror fiction screenwriter & scholar. Personally she and her Jewish partner co-lead the Brooklyn Leath-Malin family of one child, two cats, and two red-eared slider turtles.

Glossary

A glossary of Burning Man terms