tv [untitled] March 9, 2013 9:00am-9:30am PST
and it seems to work best when you are doing something visionary, that no one has found a reason for, can even justified. let's build this ridiculous thing. [laughter] art tends to be like that, anyway. television shows, as it comes, you look for the unknown, you will not find it. but art, yes. art is about the unknown, what we can discover in the us. art is a wonderful breeder of that because they are doing something where they are on the front here sometimes.
nobody did this. they go well beyond any industry standard. there is something about the culture that is radically cross- disciplinary. we do those things institutions always say they want to do. we want to get crazy and cross- disciplinary around the shop. let's sit on the floor. let's play foosball. but if you let people loose in an environment -- people will always give to a greater gift. it is just a principle. if a group get together to give
a gift to an entire city, it is easy to find people who will give to that. and the consequence is, you can learn a lot. talk about a networking opportunity. but nobody ever went there to network. they went out there to give their energy, imagination, their heart to something. >> there is that collaboration, the cross-disciplinary thing that happens out there, but i also feel like there is a bit of a sense of competition. people are trying to outdo each other, try to outdo each other trt impressive thing. >> that is human nature.
i read a few years ago somebody complaining, i remember the good old days. you could put up a pink flamingo in front of your tent and it was cool. now with all of these big projects, i feel few tile -- futile. well, they learned the wrong lesson. the interesting thing is, people say that they are connected, but in an environment like that, it is easy to get connected. it is easy to get help. unless you insist on being the leader, you will find something to join.
that is what my whole career has been, basically. >> speaking of your career, how did it all start? there are several different versions of the story. some people said it was a sled that was lost that inspired the whole thing. >> it was rosebud. [laughter] it is true -- you look for the seeds of things.
as a causal explanation, i do not know. i told this story to this news guy -- then i got tired of hearing from that. i started the rumor that i was actually a lawyer. there was something in it. everyone likes a romantic tale. in all humility, if you look at the history of this thing, there are so many tributaries pouring into the course of the greater river.
the idea was simply to go to the beach and burn a man. that was the initial impulse. it seemed like a good idea at the time. >> what year was that? >> 1986. >> that is one thing that comes up, especially for people who have not been. at this stage, it has to be played out, it has to be over, commercialized, sold out. as far as i can tell, it has not. it seems to be in pretty decent shape. is there a conscious strategy for that? for longevity?
and we stayed true to that sort of thing. it would be too much to expect, we are going to make it not commercial. that is how people are going to bond to our brand. not even rupert murdoch would come up with that. we just did that because it is what made us feel good. now we are thinking, with the burning man project -- it is interesting. my partners and i are thinking beyond our lifetimes. it is a bit of a legacy project. which is really interesting, an interesting exercise.
that makes you feel differently about the present. so what would make something that durable? what would keep it alive that long? we have been alive and have grown for a quarter-century. it may not be hard to imagine an entire century at all. now we are found in an institution that will house and generate culture, and function as a community. wondering how we can be sure that it is not perverted, subject to internal divisions, will not perish. and that is a really good exercise, too.
think about doing something that will last 100 years. >> thinking about the next couple of minutes, we should have questions from audience members. who ever has a question, start lining up. i'm going to ask one more and then we can start going into the audience. you talked about the fact that you did not happen -- have a branding scheme in place. burning man has expanded from san francisco and nevada, starting to spread throughout the world. one thing that is interesting is burners without borders.
whei guess you guys had a libray built in new orleans? >> that was on our website. it was very spontaneous. the groups who knew what they needed, because they are doing building -- they do not have any resources. they just went down there to mississippi and started doing things. they ended up rebuilding housing, a buddhist temple that was a block away.
joan baez was there that year saying -- she was singing one of her anthems. amazing grace. people started day fund, they started to collect money out there. that was just the beginning. we got a call from somebody asking, is dpw doing this? we said yes. i have $50,000, i will support it. we are a private group. this is not tax deductible. we do not care.
and they rebuilt some houses. the problem with most people is they could not even teardown their homes. but this is the burning man twist. i love telling this story. being who they were, the culture, at the end of each day, the landscape was strewn with debris. you have to seeing the pictures. they gather up the debris, at night, they turn it into a bonfire. that is part of our culture.
then locals started to come around and one woman said, i have never seen anything like this. i have never seen anything like this, but i like it. pretty soon, they were making art. fema is not going to do that for you. and that was just a spontaneous effort. now it has expanded around the world. this came out of burning man, this wild, crazy party. >> let us start over here with a question.
>> i would like to ask a question about dpw. the people that build infrastructure. i want to know why they do not get workers' comp when they are injured. >> of course they do. who told you they did not? >> my friends who work for dpw. they did not have insurance. >> we have workers' comp. i assure you, they are wrong. once in awhile, an employer will claim workers, for something that did not happen on the job. there have been a couple of incidents like that. there could have been discontent over that. of course we have workers caught. ask them again.
when did they work for dpw? >> one of them just tweeted me the question. >> my name is anne marie. i represent in north of market community benefit district, the tenderloin. we are very excited to have your company coming in. just talking about the burning man twist, that is an interesting phrase. this may be premature. any ideas in place to affect our immediate neighbors? especially the children in the tenderloin. there are more children per capita than anywhere else in san francisco. i see it as a fantastic opportunity to collaborate. >> the we moved in and everyone is talking about going up, but
when we came in, we did a press conference. we said, we are immigrants here. we want to learn, we want to meet the people that live here. and we are getting to know people better. i will give you an example of something that could be done. i had an idea, based on an installation that i saw in europe. i am struck by the fact that there are more children in the tenderloin than anywhere in san francisco. people are amazed by this. it is a wonderful opportunity down here. by law, it will be impossible to dislodge all of these folks
and replace it with real estate, condos, dentists, not that there is anything wrong with them. but you know. they are not going to be dislodged, they live here. >> we expect development, we like that. the tender line is approach development. -- tenderloin is pro- development. >> this is just a kind of thing. this is just an idea rattling in my head. we may not do this. we like to do things radically. we like to go to the root of things. what if he went to the families
and kids, and with great respect for all the institutions that exist, -- you see, i saw this thing in holland. little glass canisters, and they would talk to all of the young people at this festival. they said, pick one sound that is really important to you. and that is a radical notion. who is the best expert on what sound matters most to a child? they are. nobody else. what i would like to do, doing cross-disciplinary -- going to our friend with all of the digital devices.
they could record that sound and then say what it was. then we could put it into a votive container, and then put a light in there. then you could create a shrine filled with the voices of children, talking about what is valuable to them. and why not use that device to publicize the fact that these kids are out there, by letting them do it? let them walk into an environment where they can create -- a brilliant artist. we are pretty good out in the desert. we know how to sacrifice space. we are pretty good. and then get all of the people
-- people of means, take them to that. then the whole neighborhood comes in. maybe bring in glass blowers and show them how to make things, work with the people. i have not talked to anybody, so i do not want to get ahead of myself. but you see the strategy i am talking about that goes right to the root of community. that engages everyone as a participant. and i do not just mean, here you go, susie. cut this, and we will slap it on. you participated. in the new year, we are going to be ready with things you want to do. we want them to be expressive,
interactive, collaborative. i do not know if everyone is an artist, but they can express themselves. >> i look forward to that. some credi>> what is burning a's relationship right now with empire, nixon, burlap? how has that evolved over time, do you have twitter set up with them? >> we have been out there for 20 years. we know the folks out there. we have a ranch there where we used to stage our event. we brought it -- we bought
property in the community. derleth, nevada is a tiny place. the empire you mentioned, that is a neighboring town which does not exist anymore. it was a classic company town. usgs cut their losses in sheet rock and closed down. it is gone. the houses are there but the people are gone. it is the real wild west, the way it was. it takes a lot of the romance out of it. so we have done several things. black rock solor, which came out
of burning man in gerlach. the school is closing down because they do not have any kids. the economy has been based on mining. there are some tourists that come through. hunters. some of our people come through and leave money in their wake. a little town like that does not know how to make money. but they have learned in certain ways. we have made significant charitable contributions. i do not want to great -- take much credit for this, but we are helping to keep them alive. the thing about our event, we do not do commercial things at the
event. it spreads out the economic development to our neighbors. the piutes down the road are now doing in the in taco stands now and we know them. there was the day when we were considered scary, coming from san francisco, you know. it is much easier to break into a big city. but we are well accepted and respected because we talk straight with everyone and we have benefited everyone. >> one more question and then one final question for you.
>> something my friends have talked about is this kind of bipolar attitude of what it takes to look like a burner. it is expensive, what it takes to go out there. you said that we find high levels of satisfaction in consumption. what do you think of this industry is growing around what it takes to fit in out there? >> everyone lives in their own world. this is pretty much how i look out there. the hat, shirt. >> this is what i wear. >> this is not expensive apparel. i would not wear these shoes. they are too nice.
there will always be that attitude. i can see by your office that we are -- outift that you are a burner. if people go out there and too expensive things, that is great. if they pay money for these things, fine. we are not against commerce. in essence, when they do that, we see that as a gift to others. they are giving that to other people. they are dressing up the landscape. they are certainly not staying in their tent. but there is that notion. there have been fashion spreads
in some magazines about that burner look. and but you will not see me in fluffy leggings. [laughter] that is fine for anyone that prefers them. i do not know. there are just a lot of people that do pay a lot of attention. i am one of them. i suppose, if you wanted to have that special, that look, you could spend a lot of money on it. >> i was going to ask you this, final question, but he may have answered it. what is your 60-second the idea to change the world? it sounds like it is get to the right gear. >> yeah. if you can just get the right gear, you can -- change the
world? >> not change it in 60 seconds. >> i don't know. >> say how to change it. >> i don't know. >> for the better. >> just connect. just connect. >> all right. you have 54 seconds left. >> fluffy leggings. >> all right. let's have a big round of applause for larry. [applause] and this meeting of the commonwealth club is officially adjourned. [applause]
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