Temple of Promise:
Communication & Fundraising Lead
- Each year since 2001, the Burning Man organization has incorporated a piece that is called “the Temple” which is placed in a prominent location at the event. This structure is often referred to as the spiritual touchstone for Burning Man, although it does not include any religious dogma. Originally created by artist David Best, this structure was eventually created by different art groups who would compete for the honor each year. Temple creators provide markers for people to write on the structure’s walls, expressing whatever it is they need to leave or receive in their hearts.
Many participants also work on projects prior to the event that memorialize a loved one that has been lost, including many companion animals, as well as other expressions of trauma or grief. They bring projects to the temple which remain on display within the structure for the week. The last night of the event, the temple is respectfully lit on fire as thousands of people gather around it in quiet reverence until it falls.
In 2015, I was part of a 5 person leadership that was chosen to create the Temple of Promise. Our team was embarking on the most expensive Temple build to date and as one of the volunteer leaders, I found the organizational business process to be very interesting. I pitched the story idea to Daniel Terdiman, a reporter I knew at Fast Company, of our process being similar to a start up, except we would only be in existence for one year and we would destroy our product at the end. He loved the idea and visited our build site in Alameda several times during the manufacturing process, then interviewed our crew later during the construction process in Nevada. You can read the article here.
The fundraising platform Indiegogo picks one project per year that they will sponsor and that project doesn't have to pay fees. They also give that project extra promotional opportunities on their platform. I created a presentation about the Temple of Promise and arranged to meet with Indiegogo at their San Francisco office and made the pitch for us to be their sponsored project that year. We were honored when we were ultimately chosen and they were a fantastic fundraising partner.
Additional press coverage of the Temple of Promise:
Fundraising and promotional videos with direction from April and filmed by videographer Mark Day:
Videographer Mark Day has become a YouTube star for creating his informative and entertaining annual videos called 24 Hours at Burning Man. Mark was part of our communications and fundraising team for the Temple and had been a dear friend of mine prior to working on this project. After everything was complete and we had lovingly released the temple into ash, Mark created his annual video with a big focus on the temple. It was longer than he usually makes but in my opinion, it is a fantastic view of what Burning Man is like and his interviews with artists are my absolute favorite. Take the time to check it out: 24 Hours at Burning Man 2015...in 2016. If you skip to the end, you'll see me close out the video with a heart full of gratitude for the experience as I am all dirty and dusty from having slept in the ashes of the temple the night before. My farewell starts at 1:35:10.