Where Burners go the rest of the year
A hotel celebrates the Burning Man lifestyle year-round.
If you’re staying at a particular artsy hotel in Reno and you complain about a dirty bathroom, the manager will point you to the cleaning supply closet.
The Morris Burner Hotel in Nevada is something of an odd business in today’s corporate culture. But that’s the point: it’s trying to reconsider the idea of business as we know it, in all its sterility, and replace it with community.
To understand the hotel, you need to know a little about burner culture. Burning Man is a festival that goes on every summer in Nevada, and its participants are called “burners.” It’s associated with an artsy, alternative subculture based in principles such as inclusion, communal effort and self-expression.
Normally, participants come to the Nevada desert once a year to celebrate these principles with eccentric art installations, all-night partying, deep conversations and other things that probably make for good stories later.
One burner decided that once a year wasn’t enough inclusion and self-expression for his taste. So he asked his friends, mysteriously named Vision and Logic, if they’d help him transform an old Reno building into a Burning Man-inspired hotel.
Vision and Logic
Israeli-native Vision wasn’t born with his name, nor did he choose it. In typical Burning Man fashion, another burner called Superman gave it to him.
“When you introduce yourself to someone, and your name is Vision, it opens many doors,” says Vision. “People trust you. They want to help you make your visions happen.”
And his visions do seem to come true: Two years ago, Vision helped organize the first Midburn, the Israeli Burning Man.
Love is in the air at this year's Midburn, Israel's Burning Man. (Photo: MENAHEM KAHANA/Shutterstock)
“I can be rational, sometimes to a fault,” he says. “I prefer truth over what I want to be true.”
If you build it, they will come
For two committed burners, the decision to help with the hotel was easy. The execution … not so much.
“We didn’t know what we were getting into,” remembers Logic.
The old building was as dirty as a first apartment after college; so dirty that they had to wear respirators as they worked. Right off the bat, the two got going on their most important task: they got rid of the televisions. Vision and Logic wanted guests to hang out together in the backyard, not in their own rooms.
The hotel is now up and running. Thirteen rooms are open to short-term guests, and 18 are for permanent members, making the place half hotel, half commune. Everyone takes part in morning meetings, workshops and art projects. Showers and kitchens are communal.
“It’s pretty much Burning Man here all the time,” says Logic.
This room is "a reminder of your presence on this pale blue dot in the immense vastness of our universe, the nebula-laden walls develop into distinct geometry and back, while mirrors converge towards you, allowing you to view the progress of your own metamorphosis."
The Morris hotel is a remarkably active place. It’s home to weddings, fashion shows, 300-person parties, costume making and flow arts workshops and of course, art exhibitions. As far as self-expression goes, the hotel passes with literally flying colors: a different artist designed each room.
Caring for others is a big part of the idea, so its members collect coats for homeless people every Sunday, collaborate with charities, volunteer to clean up downtown Reno and serve dinner for 200 people in need every Monday through Thursday. They try and develop social service plans that burners can replicate in other cities.
Since Vision and Logic live the burner lifestyle year-round, they don’t feel much of a need to go crazy at the Burning Man festival itself. Rather, they give their camp more of a desert oasis feel, where people come to relax.
“Of course, it’s in a desert, so that part’s easy,” says Vision. For the oasis bit, they bring in a geodesic dome, hammocks and a swing, all enveloped in shade.
Their camp is made up of people from all around the world; Vision’s family flies in from Israel. The caring, international atmosphere at their camp is something of a model for their ideal world.
Ultimately, Vision and Logic would like to use the hotel as a jumping-off point to expand burner culture. Businesses are a good start, but they hope to bring the lifestyle to whole towns and cities. It seems like a massive undertaking, but they’re confident.
“Reach your hand out," Vision's mother likes to say, "And someone will catch you and take you along."
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