The creator and founder of the world famous Burning Man festival, Larry Harvey, has passed away over the weekend in San Francisco at the age of seventy. The festival’s main pioneer had been recently struggling with poor health, the unfortunate after effects from a stroke he had suffered earlier in April. Harvey began working on the festival back in the late eighties where it started off as a relatively small event in San Francisco’s Baker Beach, where the first of many “Man” was built. Since then the “Burners,” as patrons tend to call themselves, have relocated to Black Rock City, a temporary community out in the remote desert of northwest Nevada that is built each year specifically for the event. This makeshift settlement is also taken down once the festival has ended. So far the event has been held annually for the past thirty two years and typically takes place between the months of August and September. The festival has become associated with cannabis consumption and the movement for marijuana legalization.
It is a sad time for Burners everywhere and “the Man in the Hat” will most certainly be missed by all.
Known to fellow Burners as “the Man in the Hat” for his iconic white Stetson hat, Harvey set an international movement in motion in the summer of 1986 when he and friend Jerry James organized the burning of a wooden effigy on San Francisco’s Baker Beach. After San Francisco officials forced the event to relocate in 1990, Larry Harvey teamed up with the city’s Cacophony Society (i.e. “a randomly gathered network of free spirits…”) to bring the effigy to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The festival has since grown into an annual gathering of more than 70,000 people and inspires year-round regional events organized by the Burner community across six continents.
Each year Black Rock City is built, burned and disappears into the dust as though thousands of people had never set foot there before. The original reason for the inaugural burn has never been confirmed. Though many theories have been put forward, those who knew Harvey best say that he preferred Burners find their own meaning in the experience.
The Burning Man community is best described by Larry Harvey’s Ten Principles, a guiding philosophy rooted in radical inclusion, gifting, and communal effort, among other values.