Burning (Nowhere) Stories of Community Outreach

Hi there, as suggested by Hugi Ásgeirsson on a FB thread, here I copy & paste & share my Burning Story about the community outreach efforts run in the Monegros desert (Spain) in support of a better interaction between the community of burners participating to Nowhere and the local Monegros residents.

My contribution started as Leo Sauermann posted:
" I remember someone talking about the relationship between Nowhere and the Spaniards around, about 4 years ago at ELS. The gist was, that the Spaniards understood that there are whacky Hippies who buy old farmhouses on the land and act weird and there are Nowhere-branded Hippies who have their shit together. The summary of a Spaniard was “you, you are the Hippies with the money. We like you.”. That said, it never occurred to me that Nowhere actually has many rich people going - there are a few but you don’t notice because they are also Hippies. (Massimo Burgio, was this you?)"

And here is my full reply. Enjoy the reading.

Wow, Leo… you pulled me into a huge thread that took me more than one hour to read - but thank you, it was a very educative and inspiring read. Yes, it was me sharing a presentation at ELS Berlin about the outreach efforts to make Nowhere more understandable and accessible to locals.

Please notice that all those effort were offered autonomously by me through the Growing Nowhere project I have been personally running for years, a project that has never been supported by Nowhere and that in some cases has also had some initiatives banned in the past, such as the No Farmer Market proposed back in 2014… =(

The No Farmer Market project aimed at creating a groceries purchasing group for freecampers, with a daily fresh produce delivery from local sustainable food business, with the multiple goal of reducing the in-and-outs from Nowhere so that peeps could have experience Nowhere in full, also avoiding the commercial experience of handling money and going to supermarkets during the event, as the project was designed in a way that allowed participants to pre-order and pre-pay for their groceries and suppliers to be pre-paid in advance, so that there was no money circulation at all involved during the event. As a plus, with the group purchasing option and pre-orders prices would have been smaller for participants, not mentioning the money saved on gas to move in and out of site.

The daily fresh groceries delivery also comported a reduction in the practice of food conservation, hence less money spent on ice and less generators at Nowhere, and no food rotting into coolers with melting ice, with the further advantage of healthy eating and less food waste. But anyway - that project was banned, while today many camps (including Norg / Werkhaus) still gets groceries delivered on site by supermarkets, while the majority of other camps still waste at least two half days of Nowhere experience to go to the city to indulge in the commercial activity of buying stuff, and freecampers (specially those on foot) still struggle on how they can get a ride to the city, and how they can safely store their food for days. But whatever. Chapter No Farmer Market closed.

Growing Nowhere is still very active in creating an healthy interaction among our Nowhere community and the Monegros community, and I thing the Growing Nowhere project really helped - also thanks to the many workshops and initiatives we pulled over the years, including planting trees and cleaning riversides. But I have to say that the pivotal point was when I decided to move to Sarinena in 2015, where I lived as a resident for more than 2 years. Locals loved it, local relationship where tightly forged, and it has definitely been the best way to interact with locals and educate them to our burners culture on daily basis. How well our community is now welcomed by the local Monegros community is portrayed in this mini-documentary I created in 2016 about the (positive) impact of Nowhere on the Monegros http://www.burningmax.com/growingnowhere/impact-of-nowhere-festival-on-the-monegros/ (in Spanish, with English subtitles).

The Growing Nowhere efforts are not over. Over the last years Growing Nowhere has also offered artist residencies in Sarinena to artists and collectives bringing art to Nowhere, with the full support of local institutions who gave us an amazing industrial location that is perfect for pre-Build, in the style of our friends of The Reno Generator in Nevada. MARS - Monegros Artists Residency Sessions has just secured the permits also for this year, so stay tuned for a 2020 call for artists coming up soon!

Final PS: Kudos to Hugi for pulling off this amazing initiative with the Aalto University, and for starting this very interesting thread. And thank you Leo for remembering my ELS presentation.

1 Like

Welcome @Burningmax

Could you say more about why? Was it something to do with decommodification?

I would love to understand more about this. How connected would you say Growing Nowhere is to the principles of Nowhere/BM? Does it help engagement with this sort of work that people have developed a particular ethos and/or trust at Nowhere?

Pulling that off is thanks to the mighty @JukkaPekka, and also the rest of the team!

Welcome @Burningmax!
I second hugi’s questions. Which were the reasons it was banned? I can see people invoking decommodification and self-reliance principles. It feels like there is something delicate about establishing a “trade route” between Nowhere and the external world, although its obvious that no matter how things are done all resources come from the outside anyways.