By Steve Moran
For those who have been living under a rock for the past 3 decades and may not actually know what it is, as per Wikipedia:
“Burning Man is an annual gathering that takes place at Black Rock City, a temporary community erected in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The event is described as an experiment in community and art, influenced by 10 main principles, including "radical" inclusion, self-reliance and self-expression, as well as community cooperation, gifting and decommodification, and leaving no trace.”
What this translates to is a truly wondrous celebration of the arts with a little . . . okay, okay . . . a lot of sex and drugs thrown in for fun.
Are They Nuts???
So who in the world would ever even think of something as crazy as taking a bunch of senior citizens to the wild and whacked-out world of Burning Man?
Lynne Katzmann and Cindy Longfellow, that’s who!
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Cindy about this crazy, borderline genius, idea of theirs. Lynne Katzmann, Ph.D., is the Founder and President of Juniper Communities and Cindy -- a woman who is not big on titles, as she’ll tell you herself -- is the National Director of Sales and Marketing.
As Cindy explains it, she and Lynne sort of stumbled on the idea of Burning Man . . .
“...suddenly it was like the lightning bolt struck us both simultaneously and we said, 'what if we did an anti-ageism camp at Burning Man?'”
While the very idea of such an undertaking sounds virtually impossible, Cindy is pragmatic about the realities of taking a group of senior citizens to such an event. She knows exactly what Burning Man is -- good and bad. She knows that it will present limitations -- just based on the levels of health and physical well being of the individuals who attend, let alone the rest of the logistics involved. However, Cindy is passionate about conquering the challenges that they face with such a quest and I have a feeling she just may pull this off.
An anti-ageism mission of this magnitude -- the message that it will send to the world -- is too important, too vital to ignore the opportunity that Burning Man presents. Many of the attendees -- deceptively disguised as what some would interpret as techno hippies of a new generation -- are actually well educated, highly influential people. These are people who make a difference, the visionaries of future technology. Therefore, the opportunity to connect seniors directly, one-on-one, with these type of visionaries . . .in this kind of non-pressured, totally open, completely unique setting . . . is virtually priceless. As Cindy clarifies,
“I think in my perfect vision of how our presence at Burning Man will evolve and happen, I would love to believe that those kinds of connections can be made. And I agree, we look at a lot of technology for 'seniors' designed by younger people and much of it you kind of go, ‘Hmm, where did that come from . . . from what -- maybe not accurate or even sometimes a little condescending -- view of aging did that idea come from?’ So absolutely, I would hope that not only those folks who are there, but those folks who may see elders in a specifically anti-ageism camp might come away with a very different picture.”
The entire purpose of Burning Man is the mixing of human ideas, human creativity, inspired by an open environment that promotes non-judgmental human interaction with no limitations on freedom of expression. Yet, as with any environment, without a strong -- equal -- representation from all generations, we are limiting our own perspective, our own understanding, our own ability for growth and development. Cindy makes some brilliant points throughout our conversation and she summarizes it well:
“Bottom line . . . if you read the 10 principles [of Burning Man] and look at the incredible art and the incredible sense of radical inclusion, decommodification, joining of all kinds of different people who come from all over for all kinds of different reasons, we felt we it makes sense in terms of the anti-ageism message.”
Can They Do It?
So, what do you think, can they do it? Should they do it? Maybe a better question is how tempted are you to go along for the ride, just to have the opportunity to watch history unfold before your eyes?
I know I’m curious.
Listen to the entire podcast below and tell us what you think.
If you think you would like to join this tribe here are a couple of links for you:
Juniper Communities Landing Page for Joining The Generations - Not much here yet, but this is the place for updates