Review of the 1st Annual Burning Leaves Event at PSHS
Guest Blog by: Bill Nesc
On October 7th and 8th I went down to the 1st annual Burning Leaves event at Penn Sylvan Health Society (PSHS) near Reading, Pennsylvania. Burning Leaves is based on the values, vision, and mission of the original big Burning Man event that has taken place in the northern Nevada desert around Labor Day every year since 1986. Burning Leaves is one of many “mini burns” — regional Burning Man events that take place around the country.
Burning Man is like an experimental art and 60’s counter culture event. It’s focused on community and operates based on 10 main principles. This event listed them as: radical inclusion (everyone can take part), gifting, decommodification (no money, sales or branding), radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, immediacy (“Do it now!”), communal effort, participation, civic responsibility, leave no trace and (unofficially) consent.
This philosophy was seen at Burning Leaves. There was a community soup dinner offered at no charge one night where attendees would bring various food items to put in a big pot of soup (like a Hobo Stew). There was also a bar set up at the campgrounds where attendees brought in different adult beverages to share with others.
There was various musical entertainment as well for the weekend. However, the one downside was that there were no quiet hours even after 2 AM. There were all-night parties and music playing until sunrise!
The big celebration each night culminated in the burning of wooden structures and effigies that were built during the weeks before the event and had different meanings and themes. The “Temple of Eternal Flames” was supposed to be burned on Sunday, but was postponed to the following Sunday due to high winds.
The fall weather was nice enough that people could sleep in tents. Most of those who attended were between 20 and 45. Some were naturists, some were not. How and if you dress depended on individual expression, though nudity was required in the pool, hot tub and sauna.
There’s also a summer regional burn that takes place at PSHS called “Sunburn.” It started a few years ago and became an annual event. This will happen again next July.
There are mini-burns throughout the country. Many are clothing optional even if they are not at naturist campgrounds. Each individual burn has its own rules so check ahead of time.
To find a mini-Burning Man event near you, check out the regional page of BuringMan.org at http://burningman.org/network. You also can find specific events at http://regionals.burningman.org/events.
A video of the finale burning structure can be seen below.