As the countercultural Burning Man event enters its third decade, author Katherine K. Chen joins us to share lessons in her book learned from the organization behind Burning Man’s transformation from a small beach bonfire with 20 friends and family into a week-long city of almost 50,000 “Burners” in the Nevada Black Rock Desert. Enabling Creative Chaos: The Organization Behind the Burning Man Event examines how a small group transformed themselves into an unconventional corporation with a ten-million-dollar budget and two thousand volunteers.
Join local burners and those in town for the weekend’s Decompression event, for a presentation about how Burning Man really works, in the words of the people doing the work, from senior staff to spontaneous volunteers. Be part of the conversation and share your experiences
Doors at 7:30, presentation at 8:15, conversation by 8:45, wrapping up around 9:30-10. Special thanks to PariSoma, for hosting and making refreshments available. A donation of $5 for PariSoMa at the door would be greatly appreciated. Note: venue is not wheelchair accessible.
About the author and the book
Chen, a Harvard-trained organizational researcher who participated in organizing activities during four years, shows how organizers experimented with different management models; learned how to recruit, motivate, and retain volunteers; and developed strategies to handle regulatory agencies and the media. Burning Man’s development offers important lessons for the management of organizations, particularly during uncertain times.
After realizing that much research has documented that organizations tend to ignore or even suppress their members’ interests, but few studies showed how to evade such problems while pursuing organizational survival, Chen sought a counter-example of how organizations could survive, produce, and still support members’ interests. She interviewed 81 past and present organizers and volunteers, and she both observed and participated in the organization during its transition from ad hoc organizing into a more formal organization. In sharing lessons drawn from the day-to-day efforts of an organization devoted to expression and community, Chen hopes that others will be inspired to start or refashion organizations more to their liking and interests.
Other books and writings have documented the history, artwork, and spiritual significance of Burning Man. However, Chen is the first to extensively reveal the inner workings of Burning Man, including internal clashes over the event’s direction and organizing practices, as well as often challenging relations with other organizations. Her research identifies implications for other organizations, including non-profit and for-profit organizations and voluntary associations, and demonstrates the powerful potential of organizations to influence society in small and large ways.
Added by parisoma on October 1, 2009