Title

Burning Man: Exploration of an Occupation-Focused Intentional Community

Presenter Information

Robin L. Stadnyk

Start Time

24-10-2008 3:20 PM

End Time

24-10-2008 3:50 PM

Abstract

Intentional communities are communities deliberately designed to provide shelter and social opportunities for groups of people with common values or beliefs. Voluntary simplicity, self-reliance and shared decision-making are typical of such communities. Intentional communities are occupationally rich. They include occupations that primarily address community-building and maintenance, as well as occupations that create community focus or purpose. Eco-communities, co-housing, communes, and religious communities are examples of intentional communities. Burning Man festival is an intentional artistic community whose stated purpose is to enable its members‚ participation in artistic and creative activity. The time-limited community of approximately 50,000 people is created and then dismantled over a month each year, leaving no trace of its existence on the Nevada desert where it takes place. Community members create themed camps as well as large, participatory art installations. Burning Man is founded on the values of participation, radical self-reliance, communal effort, and decommodification. Most journalistic, autobiographical and scholarly analyses of Burning Man focus on its radical, counter-culture ethos, its art production, or its economic (decommodified) structure. Yet accounts of this festival demonstrate that occupation is at the core of three essential elements of the festival: the extensive planning, the day-to-day participation in artistic and social events, and the community (infrastructure) maintenance aspects of this event. An occupational analysis of this event would contribute to understanding the person-environment interactions that are so central to this community. This paper will describe my evolving research about the occupational nature of Burning Man. Data will come from three sources: written accounts of participation in this event found in popular literature, photographs of event activities (in the public domain), and my own participant-observation of this event in 2008. I will examine the three occupational elements of planning, participation, and maintenance. I will also explore participants‚ meaning-making as they engage in these elements. Possible occupational analyses might be framed by using Ann Wilcock’s ideas on doing-being-becoming, or by using Strauss and Howe’s work to examine generational differences in occupational and value priorities. In the discussion period I invite participants to contribute their occupational interpretations of my research on this intentional community.

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Oct 24th, 3:20 PM Oct 24th, 3:50 PM

Burning Man: Exploration of an Occupation-Focused Intentional Community

Intentional communities are communities deliberately designed to provide shelter and social opportunities for groups of people with common values or beliefs. Voluntary simplicity, self-reliance and shared decision-making are typical of such communities. Intentional communities are occupationally rich. They include occupations that primarily address community-building and maintenance, as well as occupations that create community focus or purpose. Eco-communities, co-housing, communes, and religious communities are examples of intentional communities. Burning Man festival is an intentional artistic community whose stated purpose is to enable its members‚ participation in artistic and creative activity. The time-limited community of approximately 50,000 people is created and then dismantled over a month each year, leaving no trace of its existence on the Nevada desert where it takes place. Community members create themed camps as well as large, participatory art installations. Burning Man is founded on the values of participation, radical self-reliance, communal effort, and decommodification. Most journalistic, autobiographical and scholarly analyses of Burning Man focus on its radical, counter-culture ethos, its art production, or its economic (decommodified) structure. Yet accounts of this festival demonstrate that occupation is at the core of three essential elements of the festival: the extensive planning, the day-to-day participation in artistic and social events, and the community (infrastructure) maintenance aspects of this event. An occupational analysis of this event would contribute to understanding the person-environment interactions that are so central to this community. This paper will describe my evolving research about the occupational nature of Burning Man. Data will come from three sources: written accounts of participation in this event found in popular literature, photographs of event activities (in the public domain), and my own participant-observation of this event in 2008. I will examine the three occupational elements of planning, participation, and maintenance. I will also explore participants‚ meaning-making as they engage in these elements. Possible occupational analyses might be framed by using Ann Wilcock’s ideas on doing-being-becoming, or by using Strauss and Howe’s work to examine generational differences in occupational and value priorities. In the discussion period I invite participants to contribute their occupational interpretations of my research on this intentional community.