In 2018, for my 50th birthday, my wife and I took a leap of faith — acting on a recommendation from one of my closest childhood friends — and attended that year’s Burning Man festival outside of Gerlach in Nevada. We joined a wonderful camp there and seeds were planted for me to begin to pursue what has become my passion — baking, specifically bread. I bake several times a week, sharing it with people I meet during my day. In the default world, I run a real estate development and commercial general contracting business in Boca Raton. I live in Deerfield Beach with my wife of 28 years.
A common misconception about Burning Man is that it is simply a big party, a music festival, a hedonistic self-serving event. While that may be true for some, to others like us, it is much more than that. It’s music, art and experiences celebrating the best that humanity has to offer through the mutual, voluntary application of 10 inspiring principles. It’s an unreplicable experience — a unifying force of love, community and belonging in a harsh and challenging physical environment.
The sense of benevolence and comradery that I found at our camp at Burning Man was something I’d longed for since I grew too old to continue to attend the place I loved the most — my adolescent summer camp, Camp Comet. In Burning Man, I found a new camp — the Lovin’ Oven — an international group of fun-loving, compassionate, involved and charitable people. It’s a place where 50 of us create community, take responsibility and work together toward a common, worthy cause…the baking of bread to gift to many of the 70,000 participants of the event.
Lovin’ Oven camp bakes bread for hundreds each day, giving the gift of freshly baked flatbread to complete strangers, without the expectation of receiving anything in return. As I have learned from Burning Man and my friends at camp Lovin’ Oven, “Gifting — the second principle…is devoted to acts of gift giving. The…gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.” I learned that the experience of giving, not as an act of charity, thankfulness or reciprocity, but just for the sake of giving, is an enriching life event and leads to other positive, fulfilling life events for gifters, receivers, and those they interact with.
I wish to bring this principle of Burning Man to my hometown for the other 50 weeks of the year, allowing others to experience unconditional giving and receiving in its truest form.