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Report Back: BWB Spring Summit 2023

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The 2023 BWB Spring Summit was our 7th iteration of the event and our second time on the Hualapai Flat, the home of Black Rock City 1997, at Fly Ranch. This year’s theme, “Listening to the Land”, prompted the questions: how do we deepen our relationship with the land to become better stewards? What rituals or practices allow us to expand our capacity to listen to the landscape?

For three days, we listened, shared stories, and practiced being in an off-grid community together. We invited indigenous community members to join the convening and were honored to learn & share with members of the Pyramid Lake Paiute, Big Pine Paiute, Yerington Paiute, and Diné (Navajo) tribes. These events are grounded in three core elements that guide our programming and time together: Serve, Learn, and Celebrate.

The **‘Serve’** element focuses on giving back to the land, ecosystem, and greater community. Some of our work projects included:

  • Prototyping the ‘Cube’ solar system with the Solar and Off Fossil Fuel (OFF) teams from Nevada Operations (NVO)
  • Supporting the Ripple Project team to build a ‘Haba’  (traditional Paiute shade structure) with picnic tables at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Museum & Cultural Center. Supported by a 2022 BWB Micro-Grant.
  • An earthen-building workshop for an ‘horno’ (earthen oven)- created with materials from the land and inspired by the 2020 BWB Pedacito de la Tierra project. Supported by a 2022 BWB Micro-Grant.

The **‘Learn’** element focuses on peer-to-peer learning and sharing. Some of our sessions included:

  • Collaborative Arts and Learning Skills (Lorine Estelle Bay)
  • Indigenous Water Wisdom (Carmen Gonzales)
  • A Regeneration Roundtable (Laura Day)
  • Earth Immersion- Nurturing the Land-Body Connection (Felix de Rosen)
  • Natural Building Techniques (Nicholas Salmons)
  • Collaborative Effigy-Building Workshop (Nick Palmer)

The **‘Celebrate’** element focuses on meaningful rituals and celebrations which included:

  • A community sunrise effigy burn followed by a silent trip to the Fly Geyser
  • A solar-powered nighttime dance party
  • Nightly community meals 
  • A Sunday Labyrinth walk

The effigy, designed and built by artist Nick Palmer, was titled ‘Emergence’, inspired by the hand of the 1997 man reaching out from the playa to connect us with our past. Originally scheduled to burn on Saturday night, rain and high winds made it unsafe to proceed. Our FAST team decided to reschedule for 5 am on Sunday. The sunrise burn was a meaningful way to greet the day, it also unexpectedly dovetailed with a silent trip to the Geyer soaking pools which held a sacred space for a large group to reflect upon their weekend.

Gathering off-grid (generator free) allows us to immerse ourselves in conversations and experiences without distraction. Being able to share ideas, passions, projects, and perspectives is part of what makes this experience so special. Many new connections were formed and we look forward to inviting more people to explore Fly Ranch with us in 2024.

The BWB Summits are small group gatherings of less than 100 people, and the weekends have a participant-driven, unconference style of programming with a focus on connecting with the land, each other, and ourselves. If you are interested in attending an upcoming Summit you are invited to express interest (bwbsummit@burningman.org). To learn about upcoming Summits and other events, subscribe to our newsletter.

Want to learn more about the event from the perspective of a participant? Check out this article written by Summit guest Joseph Miller, Indigenous Community Relations Coordinator

*Special thanks to Annie Coleman (producer), Neha Sharma (producer), the team at Fly Ranch, Nevada Properties, and Burning Man Project staff, who are critical collaborators in this series. These events are volunteer and participant-driven, and while we can’t include everyone we’d like to thank…. Arian Brackett (Medical), Ashley Bertling & Adam Wilmont (FAST-Fire Arts Safety Team), Beverly and Autumn Harry (Indigenous Activists/Waterkeepers), Carmen Gonzales (Speaker), Charles Michel (Kitchen), David Satore (Effigy burn/sunrise set), Felix de Rosen (Speaker), Jacob Mast, Izzy & Ripple Crew (Haba Build), Jaya Shingal (Ranger) Jedi C.S. (Kitchen), Joni Leetun (Kitchen), Laura Day (Facilitator), Lina Plioplyte, Nick Salmons & crew (Horno Build), Lorine Estelle Bay (Programming), Michael Bridges & crew (Solar Powered Sound System), Nick Palmer (Effigy), Raj (Kitchen), Shade Shifters (Shade), Wild Wes (Site-ops), Yasmine Belgarri (Moroccan Tea Ceremony), PlayAlchemist and Square One Camp.

See all of the beautiful visual notes taken during the summit here.
Our 2023 Slide Deck is also available for viewing.

Past Report-outs from Summits:
2022 Spring Summit Report
2021 Spring Summit Report
2020 Green Theme Camp Summit (virtual) Report
2020 Virtual Spring Summit Report
2019 Fall Summit ‘Sustainability & Regenerative Culture’ Report
2019 Spring Summit Report


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