2012 Elemental Stars


(in alphabetical order)

Aimee Gypsy took our pre-burn Fire Conclave show to a new level this year and coordinated dozens of different performers throughout the spring to achieve it. Many hours of planning and rehearsal are required for the tough job of Conclave Director, including a lot of extra work to help individual fire performers get to the festival. In addition, Gypsy was deeply involved in our ticket sales effort, both for the large conclave group, but also supporting in person ticket sales. She worked shifts at the gate during the festival and after the festival did a lot of extra work to get volunteer rebates to the right volunteer. Her active support for the festival and the fire community stretched over six months.

Allen Hovey (Ranger Poundcake) is competent, consistent, persistent, and incredibly generous with his knowledge in many support service areas, including nursing, Black Rock Rangers, and emergency communications. Allen established our Emergency Communications function this year, and provided E11 with critical communication support in the form of hand radios (and bacon) used by the EMS teams. He also worked shifts to support the MedTent and as a Ranger. With his wicked funny and strange sense of humor, he’s one of the best examples of why it is always far better to be competent and skillful, but NOT “normal.”

Bobby Gittins is the mastermind behind our epic main effigy burns each year, and this year was no different. He’s organized a crew of solid and talented structural artists that make our effigies interactive as well as beautiful. In addition, Bobby volunteers as one of our Burning Man Regional Contacts and is involved in most every major project we had in 2012, including the Burning Man CORE project. He was actively involved in the process to form the Board of Directors and continues to volunteer regularly for whatever needs to happen.

Brandon Petersen was a first-time E11 participant when he showed up at the first Board meeting last winter. But since then, Brandon has been volunteering all over the place, working continually from the early spring on through the festival and then with Core. In addition to always having a smile and some sort of encouragement, he accepted huge amounts of responsibility. Through his drive, vision, charm, and motivation he was able to contribute and achieve surprising things. For example, only a week after seeing initial plans for the lamp posts, Brandon had collected (funded) the materials and built the first of this year’s new lamp posts. And then, when it became apparent that there were no funds to make 11 of them, Brandon suggested an impromptu fundraising plan and made it happen. The addition of the Lampposts was noticed, and literally would not have happened without Brandon. And there are other stories like this about Brandon—from early planning to clean up. In fact, EPW literally could not have done it without him.

Breeze Hannaford played several important roles in supporting our festival. She dedicated many hours working with the Conclave to ensure our fire show as amazing, including the hours of pre-work for the music and sound recordings. As a certified social worker, Breeze also volunteered as an on call counselor for the Med Tent EMS team, and was called in during the festival to help with difficult situations. She stayed an extra day after the festival to help with clean-up and pose as a Burning Angel, personally delivering cold drinks and watermelon to hot and weary cleanup volunteers.

Cathi Kennedy was one of the key coordinators in making the What Where When Guide so beautiful this year. After volunteering at Playa Info in BRC she decided that our festival needed its own Playa Info in Center Camp. Overcoming initial reticence about coordinating volunteers and heading a department, she took to the role like a fish to water. She and her husband John designed and built the Playa Info boards (sturdy enough to withstand Friday’s storm). Furthermore, her dedication was exemplified by not allowing a broken foot to slow her down leading up to the festival. Despite having to leave E11 early because she couldn’t walk around in the mud, she and John returned on Sunday to help with clean up. Her diverse contributions, participation throughout the whole process, willingness to push her own boundaries and overcome obstacles make her deserving of this recognition. Brava!

Flam Ingo Pink is another newcomer to our Utah community, but arrived from L.A. burn scene ready to get involved. His metalworking skills were applied to our new Lampposts; he cut out nearly 100 metal pieces and then welded them to create the flame effects that top them. He also worked out the logistics on the project and did the final assembly the lampposts on site prior to the festival. But his willingness to lend a hand wasn’t limited to that, and he was seen all over the festival building, cleaning, lifting, or in other words contributing… He has a beautiful compassion and charm and has already been identified as a passionate man of his word. This was not his first burn event, but he definitely a contender for E11 Rookie of the Year!

Hillary Lynne stepped up and took leadership of the Gate and ingress. Always happy to take on tasks and follow through, she practically moved out to Seabase a couple days before the festival to oversee early entry at the Gate. Her involvement continued during the festival as well by working numerous back-to-back Gate shifts, coordinating and training Gate volunteers, warmly welcoming participants while courteously searching vehicles, and acting as a point of contact with George and Linda. Her tireless efforts before, during, and after the festival make her an excellent example of participation in this community.

John Mendenhall is the reason we had our largest and most organized Ranger group ever in 2012! And due to our increased numbers of festival participants, the Rangers were busy. John was committed to developing and organizing the E11 Rangers, and his gentle mannered leadership is inspiring. Maybe one of the best indications of what a great job he did was how many of the rangers want to come back next year, and bring their friends with them (even Rangers from outside Utah). His combination of years of situational experience and protocol, even-keeled demeanor, and astounding ability to “ride the edge of chaos” gave our festival the gift of calm and safety amid the mayhem.

Joseph Russo is a legacy member of our Effigy build crew, returning for his sixth year. His skill in construction has been the reason we are able to have amazing, interactive (i.e. structurally sound) effigies. He’s also a core contributor to the Juggalo Bar, which opened its bottles to support our volunteer Appreciation party this year.

JP Bernier (Ranger 8-Ball) exemplifies the ideal of seeing something that needs to be done and jumping in to do it instead of expecting others to. For example, he thought that it would be good to have some sort of first aid station available for events such as the Volunteer Vitalization Event and the Burners in the Park, so he just did it—and the “MedTent” became a much-appreciated fixture at those events. His First Aid workshop at the Volunteer Vitalization Event won the day for effective use of (gory) hands-on demo’s and helped set the vision for 2013 training potential. Throughout the year he was constantly two steps ahead in figuring out what the EMS department should be doing, and how (i.e. real world best practices) we should do it, and he worked well with the BoD to ensure the important things actually happened. In 2012 the MedTent saw more incidents and visits than in any previous years and we were able to respond effectively, calmly, and professionally, thanks in huge part to JP’s efforts.

Kari Larson stepped forward and asked to lead our communication department. With her leadership, the Department of Elemental Awareness (DEA) not only produced the most amazing festival brochure ever, they are also deep in the process of redesigning our website and greatly upgrading our communication potential. She’s an excellent example of a visionary, as well as a team and community builder.

Lala West is the reason we have Burning Angels. Her big heart and angelic service supporting volunteers through cooking meals, bringing relief and treats to the weary, and making our volunteers feel appreciated is helping to change the volunteer culture of our E11 community, one pink Angel wagon stop at a time. Lala isn’t only making being a Volunteer look cool, she’s making our volunteers want to come back because they feel so valued and pampered.

Marwan Nahlé shows up ready to help, despite only being a part-time member of our community. He was involved in the Vitalization early in the year, and showed up to the E11 Festival with an offer to help. He worked the Gate during the first two days of the festival, where he not only checked your trunk with a warm smile, but also trained new volunteers coming on shift to ensure the process went smoothly. He often stopped by to ensure things were going well even though he wasn’t on shift. He also helped with the Lamppost project as one of the artists who decorated it and played a DJ set on the main stage. His willingness to jump in wherever the help and take on responsibility is exemplary.

Matt Hogue has been a critical part of the Effigy build team, providing essential transportation and hands on help whenever asked. He went above and beyond for the Effigy and CORE projects, donating materials, time, and cash to the projects. Even when he wasn’t there working (perhaps because he was rehearsing for the Fire Conclave), he often left his truck and or trailer behind to do the heavy lifting. He has contributed to E11 fundraising efforts and is a prime example of generous, hands-on support of our community.

Natalie Waite was one of the very first people to get involved and get her hands dirty and one of the last to leave after the festival. She didn’t just settle for one job, but pitched in to many of our departments, committees, and events! And she gave some serious blood, sweat, and tears to make this festival happen, especially with Greeters and volunteer support through the Burning Angels. But even when totally exhausted, she’s still got a huge smile and a positive vibe. Oh! And did we mention E11 Ascension 2012 was her very first burn festival?

Nicholas Poselli has been essential to the Effigy build for years and this year was no exception. He is an amazing timber framer and through his employment enabled access to the crane that lifted Center Camp and placed the man and DNA spiral a top the Main Effigy. When Bobby was injured in an auto accident, Nicholas stepped in to ensure the project stayed on schedule without needing a lot of coaching or explanation. This year’s amazing effigy came to life in big part because of Nicholas.

Phil Oleson is there for everything, every time! No exaggeration! He’s down to help with everything and does—from the website to our major build projects. Phil was the critical link in enabling online ticket sales and moving our website to a new web server. Helped with labor on all our major projects. He’s actively involved in several departments. And on top of that, he’s often the first to answer when there is a call for a volunteer. As an example, just hours into the festival and just getting off duty from a shift, Phil volunteered to leave the festival on Thursday evening for 8 hours to ensure the Center Camp had lights. Phil is usually chilling behind the scenes (little do we know that tickets@element11.org goes to his inbox, and so does our Web Admin mail), but his contribution to this year’s Element 11 Festival was epic! Phil exemplifies the Element 11 Volunteer—perhaps even nearing Volunteer Poster Child celebrity status!

Scott Jensen provided important support both in Placement and with Center Camp and has been an essential part of the first year of the EPW Committee. He provides necessary hard labor to build and clean up Center Camp and city layout and theme camp placement. In addition, he’s been a critical back-up on many fronts to EPW Director Chris Cline, supporting her huge responsibility over the EPW, including committee meetings and projects, idea sessions, and finding workable solutions to problems. Scott’s contributions to EPW this year are a huge reason we were able to step it up to such an amazing degree.

Trent Toler was part of the “early-early” crew that mapped the festival layout at Seabase in April, which allowed us to produce this year’s layout, street design, and map. But he didn’t stop there, volunteering to do the even more challenging part of actually placing the camp markers on the ground and then getting arriving people to the right spots. Once the festival opened, Trent reported to the Box Office and Gate and helped out there every day. Trent may just deserve a double star, one for Placement and one for Box Office.

Tyler Gittins is a legacy member of our Effigy build crew, returning for his sixth year. Tyler has earned the award for Absolutely Priceless Consistency. When dealing with volunteers, people like Tyler, who show on time, every time really stand out. And to sweeten the pot, Tyler builds and donates to the now famous Juggalo bar, which supported our volunteer after party this year.