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Larry Harvey, Burning Man co-founder, passes aged 70

Harvey, who co-founded the Nevada 'anti-festival' in 1986, was a "great leader and an inspiring mind", says Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell

By IQ on 30 Apr 2018

Larry Harvey, Burning Man, Tony Deifell

image © Tony Deifell

Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell has paid tribute to Larry Harvey – the festival’s co-founder, as well as a “landscape gardener, a philosopher, a visionary, a wit, a writer, an inspiration, an instigator [and] a mentor” – who passed away on Saturday aged 70.

Harvey co-founded the festival – a countercultural gathering in the Black Rock desert, Nevada – in 1986 with his friend, Jerry James. The event has since grown from a three-day, 80-person ‘zone trip’ to an eight-day event attended by around 70,000 people, including Silicon Valley CEOs and other business leaders.

He was also the architect of Burning Man’s ‘ten principles’, which outline the inclusive, community minded, anti-corporate ethos of what is often described as an “anti-festival” (there are no booked acts or entertainment, nor any sponsorship – what happens at Burning Man, according to its first-timer’s guide, “is up to you”.)

Harvey suffered a stroke on 4 April, and died “peacefully” in San Francisco at 8.24 on 24 April, says Goodell.

She describes Harvey (pictured) as a “passionate advocate for our culture and principles that emanate from the Burning Man experience in the Black Rock Desert.

“As he told one of us recently, Larry liked to create ‘scenes’ that made people consider the world in a new way. He was extraordinarily successful at doing just that.

“Larry would be the first to say this isn’t an ending, but the start of a new chapter”

“Burning Man culture has lost a great leader and an inspiring mind. He adeptly interpreted the manifestation of what became a movement. I have lost a dear friend who I’ve known, loved and worked beside for nearly 22 years. The loss of his presence in our daily lives will be felt for years, but because of the spirit of who he is, we will never truly be without him.

“Larry would be the first to say this isn’t an ending, but the start of a new chapter, and we all have a hand in where we go from here.”

Friend Stuart Mangrum adds that the late Harvey saw Burning Man “as one of the only viable alternatives to the consumerist mainstream”.

“For Larry, building a framework where people could create and experience authentic culture, rather than simply buying it off the shelf, was the wellspring of Burning Man’s success, and the key to its future,” he writes.

“A humanist at heart, Larry did not believe in any sort of existence after death. Now that he’s gone, let’s take the liberty of contradicting him, and keep his memory alive in our hearts, our thoughts and our actions. As he would have wished it, let us always Burn the Man.”

Burning Man 2018 takes place from 25 August to 3 September.


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