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Burning Man 2019 Theme Metamorphoses and “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

August 19, 2019

“Oh the places you’ll go!” — the walking man in 2011

“Omnia mutantur, nihil interit”
(Everything changes, nothing perishes)
― Ovid, Metamorphoses

Here in the northern hemisphere, summer has one more month, but when school starts, like it is today at Ventura College, it feels like fall. Days are getting shorter, nights longer, and we’re back from our summer adventures. The season is changing.

“Energy can be transformed from one form to another,
but can be neither created nor destroyed.”

― 1st Law of Thermodynamics

My summer travel included skiing and hiking trips to Big Bear and Mammoth, plus two days exploring Amsterdam and two weeks in Tanzania with several days trekking to and climbing up Mt Kilimanjaro, which at 19,340′ is the tallest free standing mountain in the world and is known as “The Roof of Africa.”  More on that here. 

in climbing Kilimanjaro I achieved a lifelong dream

Even before one trip is over, my imagination is already planning future trips, and while I am not sure yet if I’m going to Burning Man this year, many of my friends are– and they are busy “packing all the things” including fabulous art projects built by a group of artists from Art City, Ventura as well as projects by Deniz Nicole of Ventura and Valerie Mallory of Oakland.

the Mutant Vehicle known as the Mighty Zenith

And I can’t forget the Mighty Zenith– the giant TV mutant vehicle that will be prowling the playa days and night and is the creation of sTeVe Knauff and Rosel Weedn. Plus the gifts! Check out these starfish by Maria Lucila:

pendants for gifting at 2019 Burning Man by Ventura area artist Maria Lucila

The theme this year at Burning Man is “Metamorphoses” — from the Burning Man Journal:

We look at ourselves and think: I want to change. My surroundings, my community, my company, my city, my country. Innovation, modification, diversification. Evolution and revolution. But how much of this is will, and how much destiny? Do our true selves lie within, like the form inside the sculptor’s marble, waiting to emerge? Or must we find some north star, set a course, and lash ourselves to the wheel? In a world of manufactured desire and alluring spectacle, can we trust our own instincts?

As much as the personal journey of change may consume us, it takes place in a broader context, a tapestry of interrelated transformations of which ours is but one thread. Looking beyond the horizon of the self, we are surrounded by and inseparable from a world in constant transition. The political landscape and the physical landscape, our planet, in a cascade of tipping points. Do we have the power to influence these changes rather than just lament them, to bend the arc of history? And if we don’t have that power, does anyone?

This year’s theme is a celebration of change, and an exploration of uncertainty…

our dreams matter, and that together and as individuals we have the power to shape our own stories and transform ourselves in positive ways.


I am taking on this theme for my personal life, and I will be bringing this theme into my college classrooms at Ventura College where I teach college composition and the research paper which requires students to name a problem, reflect on solutions and take action — to be empowered to influence change. We will also read Seth Godin’s manifesto on education, Stop Stealing Dreams. In section 19. Dreams are difficult to build and easy to destroy, Godin writes: “The dreams we need are self-reliant dreams. We need dreams based not on what is but on what might be. We need students who can learn how to learn, who can discover how to push themselves and are generous enough and honest enough to engage with the outside world to make those dreams happen.”

Education should be transformative, not transmissive. As we learn and grow, we experience metamorphosis — and we seek to make the world a better place in the process.

A butterfly can travel more places than a caterpillar.

Burning Man inspires the imagination of many to change — and to create art both on and off the playa, both in Black Rock City and at home.  It’s place where people learn how to follow their dreams.

One of my favorite projects is “Oh the Places You’ll Go” is based on the book by Dr Seuss but uses sights, sounds and people of Black Rock City to illustrate it:


What change to you want to see in yourself– and in the world?

Where are the places you’ll go — both literal and metaphorical?

Where are you coming from — both literal and metaphorical?

Where is home for you? What does home mean to you?



For many people who attend Burning Man, that’s home — the place where they feel safe to BE their most authentic self.  And many of us are working to bring CHANGE — to bring the creative culture of Burning Man to the default world — to our home away from “home” — to the places where we live the other 50 some weeks out of the year.

One of the key elements of the Burning Man culture is the “10 Principles” developed by Burning Man founder Larry Harvey. In 2017, these coloring books about the 10 Principles were created to help people understand the culture. Here’s the pdf for the coloring books. This semester my students and I will discuss these Principles and see whether they can serve as a code of conduct on our classroom.

Inspired to experience METAMORPHOSES?

Curious about Burning Man? Looking for some tips? Can’t go this year but still want to Burn? There’s lot about Burning Man here on this site as I’ve been attending since 1992 — not every year but many of them!

Read more about the

Read more about Gifting in “Blazing Grace: The Gifted Culture of Burning Man” by Graham St John

gifts for 2019 Metamorphoses by Maria Lucila

Check the weather here.

Check out the 2019 art installations.

Find your friends on the Burner Map.

Re/create the Burning Man experience in the default world by checking out the radio station BMIR, watching a live feed and more.

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