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Mobile Resource Unit, 2016

Burners Without Borders
(A Burning Man Project)

Christopher Breedlove, documentary photographs and illustrations

The Burning Man event may stress “immediacy,” but it is also about the future. At Burning Man 2016, Burners Without Borders prototyped their first mobile makerspace, called the Mobile Resource Unit (MRU). The MRU is a seven-meter-long refurbished shipping container filled with tools, advanced manufacturing equipment, and supplies for making prototypes and art that can be easily shipped into areas of need, such as disaster relief zones, impoverished neighborhoods, or refugee camps.  


The MRU provides the following support to communities in need: 1. It acts as a tool-lending library and a place to repair machinery parts in order to build infrastructures or art; 2. It provides opportunities for skill-sharing and learning; 3. It creates a makerspace for engaging in self-expression, art, and other “cultural relief” activities. In many cases, the populations that the MRU was planned to service have skills but lack the tools for improving their own communities. The MRU’s lending library and accessibility to tools, resources, and educational materials addresses this issue.


The MRU can be shipped anywhere in time of need, producing critical items without the delays of supply-chain logistics. It is a center of gravity for people who can teach and assist each other. Technology and generosity combine to help people reimagine their worlds and then create them.

Burners Without Borders is a grassroots, volunteer-driven, community leadership program, and part of the Burning Man Project. Its goal is to unlock the creativity of local communities and solve problems that bring about meaningful change. BWB promotes activities around the globe that support a community's inherent capacity to thrive by encouraging innovative relief solutions and community resiliency projects that make a positive impact. BWB believes that people have the inherent capacity to solve their own problems and that social transformation is within reach of all communities. Founded by Burning Man participants who instinctively gathered in the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster zone, BWB has grown into a dynamic, international, community-activation endeavor. Since its inception, BWB has participated in over 123 projects in 29 countries – from fostering entrepreneurship in Haiti with marginalized artists, to an award-winning alternative currency system for Kenya’s poorest. There are 26 active BWB chapters across the US, Canada, and Australia, which are known for the unbridled creativity its members bring to every civic project they initiate. You need not participate in Burning Man to be Burner without Borders. Burning Man Project brings experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring and joyful ways that lift the human spirit, address social problems, and inspire a sense of culture, community and personal engagement.

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