Archive for the ‘Forging Community’ Category

Get Your Snack On!

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Our fifth installment of Forging Community comes from Dawn Stott who writes about that lightly refreshing center of the Balsa Man Community the Itty-Bitty Balsa Cafe!

It's all smiles at the Balsa Man Cafe, photo by Miikka Skaffari

It's all smiles at the Balsa Man Cafe, photo by Miikka Skaffari

Here, at The Itty Bitty Balsa Cafe, we are just a little excited about our humble facility. There will be tiny taste treats and delicious nibbles, along with sips of this-and-that to savor during a quick break from your truncated journey through this veritable village of forged dreams.

Our small mission is to craft an environment wherein brief encounters of light-hearted social interplay may create the minutest amount of drama so-as to stimulated co-creativity without the need for a drama-free zone. But. Just in case. There will be a wee dunce cap in the corner for those wishing to be placed on personal alert to self-moderate any larger expressions of dynamic character. We want everyone to have an equally wholesome good time.

As such, we keep our menu limited for the purpose of maintaining the main focus of short, interconnected, collaborative moments. The cafe is a place where you can pause to reflect upon the tidbits of talent that adorn Tiny Art Main Street. Perhaps you will meet a tiny artist? Share a tiny treat? Crack a quick smile? Then move along

When you do return to the clement environment of our fair shores, kindly refrain from tromping upon the art.

Close enough is perfect

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

In our fourth installment of the Forging Community blog series, Benjy briefly expounds upon the FAZ, a philosophy which is in many ways core to Balsa Man.

This morning our beloved Smallest, Colin Fahrion, said something to me that I found truly inspiring. In the tradition of Zen koans like “Does a dog have Buddha nature?” he offered me insight in the form of a question: “Where’s the fucking blog entry you said you were going to write two weeks ago?”

This question snapped me out of an unproductive mindset—namely, that it’s hard to be creative—and replaced it with a far more useful approach: turn the goddamn braincrank until your monkey mind poops out some art, then go get lunch.

Easter Island moai

They're all dead now. Fuck big art.

I am reminded of this brief essay: The Cult of Done Manifesto

The whole thing is brilliant, not only because it was written in 15 minutes, but because it’s a razor-sharp X-acto blade you can plunge into the cardboard excuses that keep you from being awesome. Foremost among these, for me, is this:

Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.

Balsa Man is a standout example of what the philosopher Rakim Yay termed the Fleeting Autonomous Zonelet—the FAZ.

Rakim’s essay comes to us from a single surviving manuscript hastily scribbled in a taxi in South Passaic on the back of a coupon good for one order of Krab Rangoon at the Jin Glatt Kosher Chinese Restaurant. The essay reads, in full:

Between now and soon, there is a wall; pee on it.

1 beef chow mein / rice for 2 / free Krab

Fortunately for posterity, the coupon had expired, and the manuscript was published in 1993 in the now-defunct “Dress Warm”, the official samizdat of the Balsa Man underground community.

In conclusion, don’t worry about finishing anything. Just start, and the rest will

First Year on La Playa

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

In our third installment of Forging Community, Colin Fahrion shares an old photo from 1990 illuminating a brief glimpse on Balsa Man’s early years.

Balsa Man 1990, aka Zonelet Jaunt #4 (photo #2b030 by Mike Mike)

Balsa Man 1990, aka Zonelet Jaunt #4 (photo #2b030 by Mike Mike)

Yep that’s us—bone-tired with “what the fuck are we doing here?” looks on our faces. It was 1990 and the first time we took Balsa Man to the place Mike Mike and the Susurrus Coterie called the Zonelet, a little beach still inside San Francisco city limits yet completely removed from the Big Wide World.

Mike Mike took the photo if I remember. He was happy as a clam that day, gallivanting across the sand, but the rest of us were exhausted from trudging the Balsa Man across 1800′ of shifting sand from the parking lot to the north side of la playa. Of course, the Balsa Man was quite a bit bigger back then, which is why we needed the Ryder truck.

Over the years, we’ve continuously shrunk the scale and the Balsa Man has become much easier to carry. Back then in 1990 the scale was 1/5th, making the Balsa Man a whopping 8 foot tall!

Still we did it. Mike Mike draw a line in the sand, and then we all held hands, stepped across the line, and lumbered down the beach. The rest is history. The Zonelet turned out to be the perfect place for Balsa Man—much better than my backyard ever was.

See you all at Balsa Man 2010!

It takes a child to raze this village

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

In our second installment of our Forging Community blog series, Benjy Feen, discusses the ever controversial topic of the Balsa Man Theme…

You’re probably aware that there’s been some grumbling about the Balsa Man 2010 theme. There are those who feel that “The Forged Village” reflects a trend away from Balsa Man’s original spirit; they point to Wikipedia, citing as much of the Wikipedia entry on “Village” as will fit into 140 characters:

A village is a clustered human settlement/community, lrgr thn a hamlet w/the pop. ranging from a few 100 to a few 1000s (sometimes 10000s)

“Tens of thousands!”, folks say, somewhat louder than necessary. “Balsa Man has finally jumped the juvenile nurse shark!!1!11!!!!”

I can hear the shrill whine of the jaded now, claiming how no year can top the year the theme was “Fishies!!!” or tirelessly repeating how Balsa Man was better before it had themes. In answer to all this, we’d like to give you a small glimpse into how this year’s theme was decided upon…

The Balsa Man theme selection process is not random; the theme committee doesn’t just dream up next year’s theme while in the shower. A countless number of minutes of discussion and debate went into deciding the theme for this year. Several ideas came out of the meeting, but ultimately most of the ideas put forward were deemed either not in keeping with the diminutive spirit of Balsa Man or so esoteric, kooky, and trite at the same time that they were evocative of nothing.

Here are some examples of themes we discarded:

  • Aspiration and Anxiety: The Future
  • The Big Wheel of Time and Space
  • Amorphous Substance
  • Seven Ages of Man

Ultimately, the decision was to go with “The Forged Village” for a number of reasons. Colin Fahrion, the Chief Tiny Officer of Balsa Man—who’d like everyone to know he is in no way the tyrannical autocratic leader the rumors have him to be—has this to say about why he thinks “The Forged Village” is the perfect focus for the 2010 event:

“Balsa Man is rapidly becoming a victim of its own modest success, and with attendance promising to set new records, we are headed for an identity crisis. The Forged Village theme was selected in order to inspire attendees to think about the Balsa Man community’s role in both the minuscule event’s future and how the small community of Balsa Man can change the world at large. We’re glad to see that inspiration in action.

In addition, we knew that people were going to freak out no matter what theme we chose, so we decided to just go with whatever was the least retarded.”

We look forward to seeing the mild irreverence we so prize in the Balsa Man community!

Welcome to the “Forging Community” Blog Series

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Welcome to Forging Community, an ongoing Balsa blog series that peers through the unique microscopic lens of Balsa Man to explore the nature of small communities, how they form, their design and their impact on the larger metropolis. You are encouraged to join the discussion by adding your own thoughts and ideas as post comments.

We start this series with a look back in time an artifact from the early days of Balsa Man. This was from first year the event was on the beach instead of some guy’s backyard. It moved there after he almost caught his house on fire. It’s hard to believe Balsa Man has such a rich and long history for such a small little guy—it’s even harder to believe they only asked for 15¢!

First Balsa Man Flyer

Stay tuned to the Balsa Blog Forging Communities series for more artifacts of Balsa Man past and a look at how small creative communities form, grow, and support each other amongst the chaos and alienation of a large metropolis.