BM16 – The Tree Of Light

A Giant Tree Made Of Tree Where Trees Don’t Grow – Why Not?!!


Sunshine says: “In Default, trees must grow in order to be climbed. But Playatech’s special tree in BRC had to be climbed in order to grow. Here is how the Tree of Light at Red Lightning was climbed and grown, at least according to me since I am bad at being anyone else:

About three months pre-playa in 2016, I was pulled into a convo about a Tree of Light for the Lightning Dome at Red Lightning. An indoor tree in a place outdoor trees can’t grow? Perfect! Now what?

About two months pre-playa, I received a rendering of the artist Lorayne’s vision, and was asked if Playatech’s slotted plywood technique would work structurally. I’d never resurrected a tree from 100% processed tree before, so I said “sure”!

A couple days later during a team call, the Playa Gods shared the seed of how to engineer the Tree, and it looked like a 3×3 matrix so I sketched it. Then Lorayne made the curves pretty, while her friend Jerry ordered lights, found a friend to put the design in CAD, and lined up someone in Reno who prepared to CNC cut over a half-ton of plywood sheets. The Tree was planted.

A month pre-playa, the Tree got axed for lack of funds, and the Tree People were sad because the Tree really wanted to be. Two weeks pre-playa, enough fruit shook from the financial trees to water this Tree, so we started CNC cutting – before I had met a single other Tree Team member in-person!

All of the molecules of the Tree arrived on playa just in time for gate opening – missing a couple parts, and with a couple extra other parts! On Monday of event week, the dome was ready so we spent a few hours growing the Tree while modifying parts to fit as needed. This was a very special adventure in forestry because we learned this particular tree must be climbed in order to grow it, adding height piece by piece for the top half. And climbed to light it. And climbed to disassemble it. At least if you are inside a 60′ dome without a cherry picker! Who knew we’d like climbing trees so much at Burning Man? And with a giant circular bench as a root base, it needs no guy wires, at least inside a dome…

That’s the story of how we grew a very special tree in BRC by climbing it – energetically, creatively, financially, and physically. At playa speed! At least a dozen people helped plan, transport, assemble, disassemble, fund, advise, and otherwise grow this tree, and I do not even know who they all are so feel free to request credits. And please send us any pictures of the tree if you have them…

The Tree People deeply appreciate everyone who pARTicipated in the Tree of Light adventure from climbers to funders. Thank you for making a little fantasy real. We hope everyone enjoyed sleeping in the un-shade of theTree of Light:)

That’s the story of the Tree of Light and I am sticking to it…and if you ever want to make a playa tree or a forest of them, get in touch!


Playatech – Who Says Slots Don’t Grow On Trees?