in France

° Creative People make Creative Cities

Few weeks ago we – Ivo Naries, Elo Nirgi and I attended at Burning Man ELS (European Leadership Summit), representing the Estonian Burners. The event took place in incredible Les Machines de L’île, Nantes, France.

I thought my mind has been blown to pieces during 9 times/years of seeing unbelievable art on playa at Burning Man, but now looking back, I see that the biggest explosion had been waiting for my presence in Nantes. Robotic animals, birds and trees intertwined with a daily life patterns of local people! Context really makes a difference! I’m in awe – La Machine.

Sharing now some of the impressions of the event.


For the first night of the Summit Marian Goodell had put together wonderful movie program about the evolution of Burning Man. One of the highlights was “Temple: A Radical Arts Project in Derry~Londonderry”. The next day Temple master David Best also held a meet-up where both Elo and Ivo attended. 

While Elo and Ivo were learning how to consciously build a temple, I attended the Grant Giving roundtable, where a group of regionals and Katie Hazard – the Program Manager of Burning Man Arts, had a chance to connect and share valuable tips about grant giving process. During the Summit me and Elo also took part of being in a jury for the Civic Ignition Grant, created by Burners Without Borders. The knowledge and experience from these two grant workshops came in hand and were put effectively into action after returning from France – we had Estonian Bling Festival Art Grant application deadline and a jury meeting right after. 
Also, the idea of a temple is here and will take a form at the right moment in a perfect way.  


During one of the lunch breaks I sat next to Charles Landry – had a chance to get inspired by his work and share a heart (a connecting game with playing cards at ELS). Looking forward to taking time to read. Ivo and Elo were attending the breakout session, where he, Kim Cook and Maud Le Floc’h shared ideas on topic “Creative Cities, Making Places & Burners”.

At that time, I was taking part of a session “Beyond the Trash Fence: Engaging & Building Communities of Non-Burners”, where David Koren (FIGMENT) curated a talk between other fascinating leaders – Troy Swanson (AlphaBet Club), Peter Smith (Klean Foundation) & Sergey Korsakov (Cardboardia).

After the session I had a conversation with Peter Smith to learn about the technique that he uses to do the Plastic Madonna – how to make plastic trash look aesthetical and form into a sculpture. In a way a solution to collect and use the materials we have to create beauty and share the message. During our talk he mentioned of being in contact with Estonian Teeme Ära (Let’s Do It). World is small. Power of One.
Peter Smith’s story in TEDxAmsterdam – HERE

It was a fun surprise to meet again my serendipity brother Troy Swanson. Last time we met I drew him as a Genie at Bubbles and Bass during Sunday morning dancing on playa. Add to (or with?) his Genie magic powers, he is building schools in India + Nepal and opening people’s hearts around the globe. Looking forward to visiting one of the schools and its students this month in Gaya, India.
Truly inspiring interview with Troy at Burner Podcast: “Breakfast at Troyfanny’s

Had a chance to meet a brilliant and bright mind – $teven Ra$pa – a Life Artist and as Jurgis Did from Lithuania would sing – love warrior. In the presentation at ELS, Ra$pa shared ideas behind the city planning of Black Rock City. After Nantes, we had a chance to meet again in Paris. While having a brunch with princesses, superheroes and magicians on a boat on the Seine River and later walking in the Tuileries Garden, Ra$pa shared good tips how to celebrate Life and make great parties. Inspired by the story of the coffin cake – for Ivo’s Birthday I made a brownie cake in a shape of an anatomical heart. Using the Vegan Fudgy Beet Brownie recipe from Natalia’s blog “The Magic Little Kitchen”.


Last day in France I spent with my dear friend and mentor – the Man of Flowers – Aligna Sadakhom at Monet’s Garden. I felt so touched by the calmness and beauty of this place and in tune with myself, that I forgot time. That made me miss my flight with a feeling of “supposed to happen” and Aligna’s reminder of Dalai Lama’s quote:

“If there is no solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it.”


ELS in Nantes and Spring in Paris opened the heart for following Life and seeing the full potential in us all. Learning how to use it for the shared values.   

Keeping connected & connecting.


Thank you Larry! Rest in Beauty




// All the Stories in Drawings from the ELS – HERE

// Thank you French Burners for being such a great hosts for the ELS 2018!

// Thank you Flo for the powerful performance of humans and robots and for hosting and doing a midnight bicycle tour through Paris.

// Elsa Snellman’s ELS summary and an interview with Estonian Burners in the Burning Man Journal: HERE 

// The magnificent Herons’ Tree. When you can, please support this wonder of our World: HERE

// Artists and Robots – inspiring exhibition at Grand Palais, Paris


Music from the ELS (if I missed any, please contact me and send a link – I will add it here for us all):



Moon GoGo – HERE

Martin Marquez – HERE

Dodley – HERE 

Iurii – HERE

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