Cover of Common Ground magazine, August 2016 issue, featuring a silhouette of a large statue at sunset with text about the Burning Man event and other articles.

July / August 2016

The Summer Issue

The Burning Man festival is a quirky, San Francisco-founded phenomenon that began on a whim when Larry Harvey and some carpenter buddies cobbled together an effigy with scrap wood and decided to burn it on Baker Beach 30 years ago. Who could have imagined this random act would spark an international phenomenon? Now with 4-to-1 demand for tickets, 70,000 coalesce from around the world to a vast prehistoric lakebed in northern Nevada to form Black Rock City. Even President Obama made reference to Burning Man in a recent speech.

In a rare and candid interview, I spent a few hours with Larry learning what was on his mind. We spoke about the Florentine Renaissance and how that society better managed the 1%/99% divide than we do to day. Bottom line: Larry grew up in the shadow of the dustbowls of the Great Depression and sees life from the perspective of the underclass. He does not want Black Rock City to devolve into a place where wealthy consumers buy their way in for “glamping”—glamorous camping. We also spoke about his recent trip to India and Nepal, which segued into reflections about spirit, soul, the supernatural, and religion. We laughed a lot. I hope you enjoy the interview. He’s wonderfully interesting and articulate.

Along with the Burning Man preview, we have a terrific pictorial high lighting the fire arts—everything from fire dancing to blacksmithing to glassblowing to fire breathing and more. This trend has prospered in the Bay Area particularly, in part because of the Burning Man phenomenon. I want to thank the folks at The Crucible in Oakland for all they’ve done to teach these ancient traditions.

Thank you, Parker Palmer, for your terrific reminder in “The Gift of Presence.” Stephanie Gailing contributed the sweet essay “Letting Your Dreams Blossom: Flower Essences for Enhancing Dreamwork,” and Jonathan Robinson teaches us about yogic devices in “Joy Hacking and the Future of Happiness.” You will enjoy Nick Inman’s essay, “Visitor to Other Dimensions: The Attraction of Mystical Travel.” Thank you, Tafline Laylin, for instructing us on how to grow indoor edibles in small places, and to Ellen Goldberg and Dorian Bergen for their wisdom about palmistry and the hand-mind connection.

The world is topsy-turvy. What happened in Orlando and Istanbul never ceases to shock. Let’s pray for this senseless violence to stop.

We look forward to seeing you on the road at some of the exciting festivals coming up. California WorldFest in Grass Valley is laidback and family friendly. Wanderlust in Squaw Valley is always informative. Enchanted Forest in Laytonville is a groovy boutique festival. We hope to make a pleasant trek to Tidewater in Oregon for Beloved. Then at summer’s end, we anticipate seeing you at Burning Man and then for our annual pilgrimage to Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree.

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Many prayers and blessings,


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