Seed Campout Weekend 2009
I wish to contribute this historical writing of the beginings of the first Seed gathering campout in June 2009.
Its an extract from my Key Note Address to the 'The 4th Annual Burning Man Regional Leadership Summit' on Saturday 6th March 2010.
'King' Richard Martin
The Beginnings of Burning Seed 2009
Excerpt from Key Note Address
On the Seed weekend, about 35 people camped over and gathered around a circle each morning on a community established in the 1970s called Homeland located outside the township of Bellingen which is just inland from the Northern 'Central Coast' township of Coffs Harbour. This coastal area area is about half way between two eastern capital cities of Sydney and Brisbane, which might be better known to people familiar with Australia.
The daily discussions around the circle became a feature of the weekend and while we were poor on documenting the range of decisions made at the time, there was still the early beginnings of group meeting processes occurring.
I've been to gatherings where this type of daily meeting is called a 'Morning Sharing'. Now, while no name was attributed to this circle discussion, at the Seed, at around 10am each day, on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday, a circle formed to talk about the possibility of developing a Regional Burn.
Homeland kindly provided an area for camping and gathering on their property for the weekend. The spot which was provided was located on a River Bend flowing through a Valley, in a district that is very beautiful country.
The primary instigator of the Seed gathering was Phil Smart, who has recently been appointed as the Newcastle/Sydney regional representative, who for many years has been pushing to start a Regional Burn. Phil is a veteran of many Burns post 2000 and negotiated arrangements to hold this gathering at Homeland. However, standing behind him, with full support, was Australia's Regional Co-ordinator Robin Macpherson and myself.
Robin and I had been discussing, for many years the potential of a Regional Burn. These discussion have always included the pragmatic realisation that it would occur when the time is right and when the energy is coming up through the Region.
Robin also gave me the following view, which he shared with me, just before I left to come here, where he believed that part of the trick is knowing the right wave to pick. Using this surfing analogy, in the last ten years he has seen certain moments and energies rise or present themselves but instinctively knew due to the nature of the undertaking that they weren't the right waves to ride at the time.
However, Robin finally felt the right wave was coming and he got the ball rolling with a web site and domain. Also, at the opening of the first of these circles at the Seed, Robin introduced himself outlining his position as Australia's Regional Co-ordinator and lead the discussion, explaining his role and providing some background as to why we were here.
Some people sitting around the circle had been to Burning Man here in the States, others were new to the whole experience and simply inquisitive, while some were members from the Homeland Community. There were also a few other locals from the district who sat in on discussions.
Along with the daily discussions there was a fire that burned for the duration of the gathering in an open camping area up one end of the site. Also, on the Sunday night there was a much bigger 'Bon Fire' in between Bamboo Rob's Large overhead Bamboo Sculpture, which was positioned on one side and on the other a small open area facing out from a relic stage, most likely constructed for a past Rock festival event, probably in the Seventies, when the Homeland community was developing out of the spirit which flowed out of the seminal Aquarius festival gathering in May 1973.
The Aquarius Festival was a flowering moment in Australia's Alternative Counter Culture Lifestyle movement, which happened a little further North up the coast and was an era that birthed the town of Nimbin and some of the very first 'Multiple Occupancy' communities of the day, which included places like Homeland, where our first Seed gathering was being held.
On the Sunday night of the Seed a Bamboo Sculpture was placed on top of the 'Bon Fire' which took the form of a 'Seed Pod' and was created by a group of people who decided to make this as a symbolic icon to place on top to burn. This all arose out of earlier discussions around the circle. It was a great display of group 'Participation' which occurred in a very natural way out of discussions over the weekend.
The Sunday night burn was not planned and just happened over the weekend. On that night the actual attendance on site grew. Locals from up and down the Valley and in the Bellingen township caught wind of what was happening. On a rough count there were well over 100 people who that had gathered for this impromptu burn.
Areial view of the site for the first Seed Campout Weekend in June 2009
and the first Burning Seed official event in June 2010
As the official regional burn for Australia, it follows in the footsteps of the Burning Man festival, which has been taking place in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA, since 1991. Every year tens of thousands of people create a temporary city that rises from an ancient dry lake bed over a week of intense creativity and sharing, before disappearing without a trace.
In recent years, the Burning Man cultural phenomenon has spread around the world, as burners share the spirit with their home communities and organise regional burns. These now include numerous events across the United States as well as AfrikaBurn in South Africa, Kiwiburn in New Zealand and Nowhere in Spain.
Australia's regional Burning Man event, like the other regional burns, incorporates the 10 principles that guide the main Burning Man event. These principles include radical self-expression, radical self-reliance, participation, communal effort, civic responsibility, radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, leaving no trace and immediacy.
Burning Seed is a temporary community that comes together over 6 days, where you must bring everything that you need to survive for the time you are there, where nothing can be bought or sold, and where you must take everything with you when you leave. There are no stalls, sponsors or advertisers, and the only transactions are those of a gift economy.
If our regional burn sounds like your thing, be sure to check out our website for more information www.burningmanaustralia.com. Also have a look at www.burningman.com to see what happens at the main burn in the Nevada desert.
Our theme is SYNERGY - when the sum of the whole is greater than its parts! When we work together the effect we create is greater than what we can achieve on our own. And more fun! Synergy is like a symphony, where each musical part combines with the others to create something magical and mystical that is so much more exquisite than the individual parts played on their own.
Synergy is a free flow of expression, where merriment and play, laughter, song, dance, ideas, discussion and environment merge to create a unique and spontaneous experience that is shared among people.
Applications are now open on http://www.burningmanaustralia.com/ for grants for Art Projects, Artists, Theme Camps.
We need you to think about and plan your contribution because the burn is what burners make it. What do you dream? What will you do? What will you try? What will you create? Who do you want to be there? Who will you work with? Who will you invite? Get on board!
What will you bring to Burning Seed? Can you clean, cook, provide a health or well-being service, sing, dance, play, build structures, dig toilets, tell jokes, make cocktails, tell stories, organise things, share information, teach a workshop, share your technical skills, or can you provide another type of service? Do you have tools, costumes, equipment, structures, art/decor, toys, food or beverages you can share?&
We also need people to work in Department of Public Works (DPW), which creates the site infrastructure; First Aid; Rangers, who are dedicated volunteers who patrol the burn after having completed training to help with safety, security and the well being of fellow burners; the Man Build Team; and many other roles. There are tasks now that you can help with too.&
The Burn runs on a Gift Economy - no one is paid for their efforts, we provide them to each other as a gift. Once you enter the event zone there is no exchange involving money or barter. Each of us chooses to provide and accept gifts. Gifts can be anything you choose to share with others. For a great explanation of gifting watch Halcyon Pink's video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naqEr2-7b7E
Let your imagination and your heart guide you, set your intentions, make a plan and get going! Get on the forum at&http://www.burningmanaustralia.com/ and tell everyone what your idea is so we can help!
If you want some inspiration search Burning Man or Nowhere or Africa Burn or Kiwiburn or Burning Seed 2010 to see what other crazy, mind-blowing and heart warming times have been had.&
We can hardly wait to get back, where everyone is welcomed home!&
The Burning Man Principles which the event is founded on are:
Leave No Trace (think about being sustainable, synergistic, and symbiotic)
Imagination is the wellspring of our creativilisation, with tributaries reaching far beyond the cradle of playa or paddock. It is a birthplace of who we are, not where you find us. Though unbounded by the territory of nation, we are the aggregation of shared dreams and desires, customs and common descent; we share the power to imagine forth the today of tomorrow. Our boundaries are as fluid as the tributaries that feed us. They flow, grow and reach in an ever-widening delta of others, pooling together in the great ocean of our shared imagination and a world of connection, creation and community.
Revolution – a word so often charged with the bloody, ideological fury of a group seeking to overturn the prevailing
powers or structures as fast as their critical mass will allow.
But the power of Burning Seed’s revolution is not in rapid overthrow or raised fist. Its power is in the depth of motion
and change, and drawn from the love and evolution that live within the word itself.
Revolution is the constant, circular return to the beginning, the omega of the old and the alpha of the new. It is the
panorama of new vistas and experiences emerging on the horizon of each new rotation of our world.
And as Burning Seed takes its sixth spin around the sun, the event and its ten principles continue to provide a pivotal
point for those seeking a (r)evolution in how we all live, love, work and play together.
Our revolution is both an act of humanity and one of fire. It scorches the earth and tears itself open for the sapling of change,
from the deeply personal to the greater social fabric of our growing community. It awakens the heart and flies the spirit like an ensign. is our incendiary phoenix.
Burning Seed 2015 took place at Matong State Forest from Wednesday 30 September to Monday 5 October.