I'm Jenni Legend, your newly minted Lady of the Diatribe, Mistress of Fancy Words, and burning Dispatcher. Arash and I have been brainstorming for weeks on what to call me. We still haven't come up with an entirely satisfactory title, but I like where this whole Mistress thing is going.
I am very pleased to be here, and to be a part of something as creatively driven and community centered as Burner Podcast. Creative Community is a passion of mine. For me, there's nothing better than a tribe of funky geniuses doing cool shit together.
While Burning Man as an event happens only once a year, Burning man as a collective is an ongoing global phenomenon with as many faces and facets as there are Burners. As the Burner Podcast so regularly and beautifully demonstrates, Burners do not spend their year idle, waiting for that thing in the desert to return. Rather, they are involved throughout the year in every kind of shenanigan imaginable.
A few weeks back, I had the privilege of checking out one manifestation of Our collective when I was invited to a meetup for the Boulder Burners. I'm new to Colorado, and in the wake of a pandemic, it had been a minute since I'd actually met anyone new in person. This meant I was nervous as we pulled up into a snowy parking space outside the aptly named Dark Horse Tavern. If I had had any doubt that we were in the right place, the two freaks standing under the halogen light of the front door in their fur and fishnet left no doubt. I felt a surge of unexpected glee at the sight. It has been too many moons since I have seen any of us in our traditional cultural attire. I waved at them furiously, like an idiot, and the one with the dreads and the eyeliner grinned back and tipped his hat at me. By the time I had gotten out of the truck and properly donned my playa coat, the two outliers had disappeared back inside. We followed them into the bar.
The Dark Horse Is an exquisite destination for a Burner Meetup. It is filled with old wooden staircases, surreal stained glass, tiny dusty hallways that lead mazelike into various rooms on various levels, many of them hosting their own unique little bar. There are remnants of what was once an indoor racetrack that I was told hosted Big Wheel tricycle races. It has an end of the world steampunk saloon aesthetic, if the saloon had been picked up by a tornado and dropped upside down in Oz. The ceiling is barely visible through the detritus of antiques and oddities nailed to it. I thought I saw a person up there. Upon closer inspection I discovered a naked pregnant mannequin smiling vacantly back at me next to a full sized authentic horseless carriage. As words will not do it justice, I have posted a few photos for the family viewing pleasure.
The bar alone would have made my night, but what I was there for showed up around an upstairs corner on a balcony beneath a moose head. HUGS! Just as I had known I was in the right place upon seeing fishnet and fur, they knew me by the coat that I wore. I had never met anyone there before, but the moment they spotted me, fifteen people wanted to offer their names and their embraces. It was as sweet a homecoming as any on playa. The Boulder Burners have been hosting meetups for some time, and most of the twenty to thirty people there were clearly well acquainted. After some casual conversations and the ordering of drinks and food, one of the organizers herded us into a loose circle and introduced herself as Shine. I have missed hearing our names. She asked us to each share our names and our passions. “Large scale art installations” was mentioned, along with “Deep Beats”, “Community Building”, “Well Dressed Mischief” and “Psychedelics for Psychotherapy” were all listed. Shine then offered a chance for people to discuss some of the projects that Boulder Burners are up to at present. There were several awesome things occurring within the community, but the one that really blew my mind is the Temple Build that’s in progress in Boulder.
The Boulder Burners are building a Temple in their hometown. It isn’t meant to be a playa installation; it will be built in Boulder and is specifically designed to help the community there process the grief and loss of the last few years. Here’s the description from their web site.
“The Temple of Tranquility project is a community-driven response to the collective traumas and grief experienced throughout the Boulder community following the tragic King Soopers shooting, the Covid-19 pandemic, the Marshall Fire, and associated challenges of the last two years. The Temple serves as a non-denominational space for contemplation and reverence. This setting for participatory experience is designed to foster community healing, personal expression, catharsis, and new beginnings.”
The idea of a temple for Boulder came into being when one of the Boulder Burners attended a Leadership Summit in San Francisco and watched a presentation from Catharsis on the Mall. In her words, “I thought it was super inspiring to see how our traditions actually translated to the default world and provided healing.” She began to discuss the idea of a temple with her team as a response to Covid and the divisive political environment we have all been living in. Then, in March of 2021, the King Soopers shooting happened, and it was the catalyst for turning the conversation into action.
Currently, the Project has secured a place for installation in one of the Boulder parks. For those of you, like me, who immediately want to get involved, the Project is looking for leadership help with grant opportunity research, volunteer coordination, local corporate outreach, crowdsourcing campaigns, temple guardians, and opening and closing event production. In addition, the Project is looking for creative ideas on how to translate the cathartic release of the temple into something other than fire, due to the community trauma from the recent Marshall Fire.
That last point; Creative Ideas on How to release the Temple without using fire, has been in my brain ever since. I've wondered about using water, or having people do the demolishing... nothing seems even close to what it is to watch the Temple burn. If you all have any thoughts on this, I'd love to read about it in the comments below.
It's a funny thing, how much a few hours with kindred souls can feed a person. I spent much of the rest of the night at the Dark Horse in deep conversation with new friends, and marveling at how hungry I had been for the kind of contact that lets me remember my favorite parts of myself and of my tribe. It was my first Boulder Burners meetup, but it won't be my last.
This is my first burner podcast blog... It won't be my last.