I was at Burning Man last year for the very first time and one of my most surreal memories was hearing about the floods caused by hurricane Katrina. I was in a city constructed of art in the middle of the desert where constant hydration is absolutely key for your wellbeing, while across the country thousands of people were losing their homes to floods. As we were leaving the playa on the last day of the gathering, everyone was collecting as many useful things as they could to bring to the flood victims. A group called ‘Burners without Borders’ was formed and spent the following 8 months helping to rebuild what was lost to the hurricane.

Please check out this week’s episode of The Viking Youth Power Hour:

Burners Without Borders

This week the Viking Youth Power Hour is joined by water department spokesman, and architect of Burning Man Information Radio’s on-line presence, Tom LaPorte.

Tom recently made a trip down to Pearlington, Mississippi where he spent a week with the victims of Hurricane Katrina and a group of Burning Man participants who, after the burn this year, picked up and moved their playa-based operation to Pearlington in order to help provide food, fire, demolition services and the unique burner sense of community service and dedication to work. Calling themselves Burners Without Borders, this group has dedicated the better part of the last 8 months to sharing the skills they have honed on the playa with the people of first Biloxi – rebuilding a Buddhist Temple – and now Pearlington.

We discuss the heartbreaking loss Tom witnessed while he was down there, but also the inspiring perspectives of people who were forced to rebuild their lives from amongst the rubble of what was once their beloved town.

We are offered a rare opportunity as Tom gives us the first chance to hear some of the interviews he collected while in Pearlington and that he will be using for his hour long radio documentary which will be published at burningman.com later this month.

It’s incredible to see the ethos’ and the elbow grease so many of us experience on the playa validating itself and coalescing in a kind of service that may become increasingly necessary in the coming years. This is perhaps the Viking Youth episode I am most proud of all our work to date. Our hearts and our hope go out to all the victim’s of Hurricane Katrina and all the wonderful people helping these people to put their lives together again stronger than it was before.

Link to mp3