Rumble Pie | Deep Ecology Blog

Rumble Pie #18
Happy New Year!

TODAY MARKS THE OFFICIAL end of the summer recess and the beginning of back to class and the start of the school year. You may have celebrated the Labour Day weekend with a cookout at the cottage, to squeeze those last little bits of vacation out of the summer. Or maybe you spent it running around and getting the young ones all stocked up on binders and notebooks, pens and pencils. The Gregorian New Year, celebrated on January 1, so soon after the winter solstice, is an important marker, when the sun reaches its lowest point on the horizon in the northern hemisphere, and is reborn. But the Hindu, Ethiopian, and Jewish New Years are celebrated around the Fall Equinox, at the evening twilight between summer and winter, as the mood shifts from ecstatic celebration to getting serious and buckling down to business.

TWO SUMMERS AGO, Peter, Danielle, Eduardo, & Kathy flew out to the deserts of Nevada in the southeastern United States to celebrate New Year of Autumn at the Burning Man Festival. There's no way that a few sentences, paragraphs, or pages could adequately explain the phenomenon that is Burning Man, but in brief: it is 40,000 people coming together for one week to express themselves artistically and spiritually in infinitely diverse ways; to survive and thrive in one of the harshest environments on the planet; and to create the ecstatic experience cooperatively and voluntarily, without any money being exchanged. It is the biggest party on the planet, and the Mecca of the Left Coast. I managed to make it out there myself back in 2004, and it was without doubt one of the best weeks of my life, hand down.

YOU MIGHT ASK WHAT any of this has to do with going green. Well, it's true, it takes a whole lot of fossil fuels to haul all of these art projects and temporary tents and trailers out to the middle of the desert, and that can't be good for the ozone layer. But the festival functions like a sort of ex-temporaneous urban laboratory for testing out new ecological technologies. If the San Francisco Bay Area, where Burning Man began, is the permanent capital of culture-change, then the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, where Burning Man has been held for the last twenty years, is a psychedelic circus tent of all of the possible world-to-come. And at the end of the week-long devotion to Dionysis, participants stay behind to pick up every last bit of trash and leave the desert exactly as they found it.

NOW, IF ONLY WE COULD take the lessons of Burning Man and bring them back to the cities we live in all year round! We all certainly learned a lot about how precious life is, and how much abundance we can co-create when we work together. And now we know in our hearts that being green and living life to the fullest is no contradiction. It's slanderous to say that an ecologically conscious life has to be dull and lacklustre, all suffering and sacrifice. As you can see from these photographs that Peter shot on the playa, it can be a rapturous celebration of the best that this world has to offer. So as the sun starts to dim in the sky, we celebrate the changing of seasons with the promise of a radically different landscape that delights the senses and nourishes the earth. Happy New Year to one and all!