Annual Report June 2019-August 2020

Watch a two minute video summary of Annual Report: Video Link here
Houston Burners will hold on-line meetings in lieu of in person Town Hall. Email board@houstonburners.org for more info, to discuss the Annual Report & answer community questions.

5-7 pm Wednesday January 13th Join 1st TOWN HALL via Zoom
Meeting ID: 850 9075 3137
Passcode: Hou2021

7-9pm Sunday January 17th Join 2nd TOWN HALL via Zoom
Meeting ID:  852 1760 5850
Passcode: Hou2021

Houston Burners publishes this report annually(ish) to give a full and transparent view of the nonprofit’s activities. It includes financial details, recent organizational duties and responsibilities, accomplishments and goals. It also endeavors to reflect recent community focus areas well beyond the platform and resource base that the nonprofit represents, to help share the diverse interests of the burner community the nonprofit supports. These activities are only possible because of the entire community’s commitments to supporting the ethos of Burning Man in our region and the world. Thank you to all community members who participated in connecting and enlivening burner culture this year, and a special thanks to the volunteers who helped document and report their projects and adventures for this report. 

In celebrating our volunteers and participants, it’s important to note that Houston Burners have lost several of its own since the last report. Their deaths have shaken everyone. There is great respect for each of their lives and contributions to this community. In memory to each: you are missed, you were loved, and we will all burn brighter for having had you in our lives. Several memorial projects and remembrances are currently in the works and will be shared with everyone. If you are interested in participating with current or a new memorial project, feel free to reach out to board@houstonburners.org to get you connected. 

The worldwide issue facing Houston Burners and all communities this year has been COVID-19. When the epidemic arrived in Houston in early March, Unbroken Spring 2020 was less than a week away and had to be postponed. The pandemic has challenged the basic economic security, physical health and mental wellbeing of burners globally, to the point that burner culture itself has changed for many. The coronavirus pandemic, with the associated shutdowns and physical distance necessities, has seriously limited community activity as individuals, project teams and camps strive to find ways to be together safely, online or in small groups without being able to gather in our beloved burns. Soul searching has ensued — is nurturing this flame a luxury, or conversely, a necessity? In this context the nonprofit’s focus has been to safely support this conversation as it evolves through the pandemic, collaborating as much as possible to offer tools to support the “new normal” that has grown despite the challenges to all past modes of creativity and productivity. This report looks forward to healthy, vibrant burns to come, and outlines some of the tools our community has begun to use as we try to get there from here.  

Aside from COVID-19, the biggest issue the non-profit dealt with during the last 12 months was the relocation of the community warehouse. The US Office of Housing and Urban Development and the City of Houston claimed the site of the old warehouse by eminent domain, and forced the decision to relocate. Much of Winston Street — where Houston Burners resided for the last 6 years — is rapidly becoming a new assisted care facility and residence for Houstonians. The new, larger location at Joanna Street in Northwest Houston has slowly grown into a space for small community meetups and projects, within the safe use practices associated with the pandemic.  With cautious vigilance this resource base can support long-term community health and vitality. Community suggestions, feedback and participation are greatly appreciated.

This report covers June 2019 – August 2020.  View past reports on the Houston Burners website:

2018 + UBS 2019 Annual Report          |             Mid-2016-2017 Annual Report 

TABLE OF CONTENTS : coming soon!

COMMUNITY: The Big View

  • Registration of 1300+ community members on HB’s website www.houstonburners.org
  • Unbroken Spring, the annual Houston-area non-official regional Burning Man-inspired event
    • 2020 sales capped at 500 tickets sold to ensure a sustainable population in relation to our volunteer base
    • Refunded 188 of 476 tickets due to event postponement
    • $2,775 funded out of $7,891 requested for art projects
  • Long-awaited move from 908 Winston St to 2016 Johanna St., with a farewell last Church Nite and two cleanout weekends, tools and stored materials move to offsite donated storage (courtesy of Corkscrew)
  • Continued support for the community endeavors, including hosting meetings, weekly community gatherings, work days, workshops and food/donation drives for Burner without Borders and Houston Burners. 
  • Supports and participates with Burners Without Borders Houston group as it works towards it’s goal of community activation through assisting with relief efforts and charitable giving.

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION OPPORTUNITIES

Are you itching to help out, step up, volunteer? Bring it! Here are some known areas that need YOU!
Beyond a more fulsome summary on the website, (https://houstonburners.wpengine.com/get-involved/) several community projects needing support include:

  • Community Archivists
    • Curating images of our community for posterity
    • Nurture a Houston Burners wiki (under development!) supporting (so far) Unbroken Spring community knowledge transfer, cultural enrichment, and burner how-to’s
  • Community Quartermaster
    • Community tools and materials
    • Liaison with Warehouse committee
  • Johanna Warehouse committee
    • Lead community activities you feel passionate about and need space to 
    • Lead and organize Joanna Drive warehouse development and space in collaboration with a liaison from the Houston Burners board
  • Community communications
    • Website updates, Facebook updates, list serve communications, allied partnerships and community outreach
  • Event Volunteers and Leads
    • Host a future Church Nite (open to public, co-hosted by Houston Burners, Virtual and/or when safe according to public health guidelines)
  • The 2020 2nd Annual Board Conference (the ABCs): postponed, like all things, by the pandemic. Consider helping to plan and lead the next one!

PROGRAM AREAS SUMMARY

Houston Burners supports activities that fall into four program areas. Three of these areas are supported financially by the Houston Burners General Fund (GF). 

  • Community Warehouse (GF)
  • Fundraisers and Events (GF)
  • Direct Financial Sponsorships (GF)
  • Self-Funded or Community Sponsored Projects: financially self-contained, may be processed through Houston Burners accounting to provide tax benefits to these not-for-profit community activities.

The Houston Burners General Fund (GF) is designated to manage donations and expenses which support the community warehouse, provides financial scholarships to community projects, and facilitates community events & fundraisers. 

FINANCIALS UPDATE

2019 – 2020 Financials: The operating costs of Houston Burners activities are funded by Houston Burners community members, memberships, donations, support for Unbroken Spring, and the many volunteer hours given to support all of our efforts. Community volunteer hours number in the thousands, and are of immeasurable value.

All expenses for the warehouse and the organization’s general and administrative costs in 2020 were covered by fundraising and contributions Note: that the annual reporting cycle starts after UBS wraps up each year; the full annualized 2020 accounting won’t be available until early next year.

CHAPS 2019 – 2020 Statement of Activity with UBS 2020
Income2019 (UBS & Warehouse) 2020 (UBS Only) TOTAL
Direct Community Support$2,511$2,511
Unbroken Spring Revenue “#Trolltown”$30,759$30,759
Unbroken Spring Revenue “To the Moon”$39,104$39,104
Gross Income$33,270$39,104$72,374
Expenses
Unbroken Spring Expenses “#Trolltown”$22,480$22,480
Unbroken Spring Expenses “To the Moon”$13,583$13,583
Unbroken Spring Refunds “To the Moon”$13,745$13,745
Warehouse Expenses$10,142$10,142
General and Administrative Expenses (utilities, insurance etc.)$3,358$3,358
Community Art Grants Awarded$1,000$1,000
Total Expenses$36,980$27,328$64,308
UBS 2020/2021 Allocated Costs
Land (balance  due at event)$2,200
Pyrotechnics (balance due at event$1,475
Portable Toilets $3,025
Total UBS Allocated Costs$6,700
Net Ordinary Income
Net Income-$3,710$5,076$8,066

COMMUNITY WAREHOUSE

The Community Warehouse has been the hub of operations for many Houston-area burners and serves as “home” when they’re away from the Playa, whether that playa is one of the many Texas regional events, or any of the over 200 regional events around the world, or even the northern Nevada regional. In the past it has hosted some of the Weekly church nite gatherings, and functions as a workspace for community-driven projects.

Thank you to everyone who has led and participated in diverse, online, remote, outdoor, transitory and ad-hoc gatherings that share burner culture and project participation opportunities! While many gatherings have been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, they will happen again when it is safe to gather. No ticketed fundraisers were held in 2020.

Church Nite background: These are free, all-ages events and open to the public, typically held on Wednesday evenings after 7 PM. Sometimes tax deductible donations are collected which are included in the Houston Burners nonprofit cash donations revenue.  Church Nite is a burner community tradition and in Houston goes back to at least the early 2000’s; burners hosted them privately/residentially and beginning in 2015 at the Winston St. warehouse until the night it closed in 2020.

Warehouse history highlights:

  • In operation since April 2015
    • Majority community supported
    • Some significant donors in the first years of operation, THANK YOU!
  • Entirely Community supported by Houston Burners since February of 2017
  • Projects supported by the warehouse during 2019-2020 include:
    • Various theme camp projects and storage
    • Various burn event preparation, load-ins and load-outs of various trucks
    • Unbroken Spring art construction
    • Volunteer and critical staff training
    • Pre-COVID Weekly church nite community gatherings 
    • During COVID & Post movein small group intros to the space and load-ins
    • Various other meetups including donation drives, theme camp builds, community activations, and skill sharing sessions
  • 2020 warehouse move:
    • After 6 years at 908G Winston, HB moved to 2016 Johanna Dr #2 77055
    • Goals for move completion:
      • Reinforce existing mezzanine storage; bring to code
      • Add staircase to mezzanine storage & relocate doorway
      • Add bathroom fan
      • Add AC units (window in office and possibly in mezzanine)
      • Determine shelf location and build units

COVID and Warehouse Precautions: As a shared community space, the warehouse follows health guidelines from local, state and national public health authorities.  The CDC’s page about Events and Gatherings has some helpful info as we consider what gatherings may be like in the coming months. 

  • Personal practices
    • Stay home when sick
    • Wear a cloth mask or covering over your mouth
    • Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently
    • Maintain a perimeter of 6 feet physical distance
  • Warehouse practices
    • Cleaning supplies provided to clean and disinfect the space before and after each use
    • Posted signage kept current with use plan and CDC and local  guidelines

Warehouse Waivers: Participants in warehouse activities are required to sign a liability waiver to be held on file by the organization. These are currently held in paper form then scanned to Google Drive in the board’s folder.  GOAL FOR 2020: Get these waivers online again (as they were in the old warehouse) to improve ease of access, management and retention of the forms.

2020 warehouse Committee and goals: The Warehouse Committee formed in 2017 with the goal of keeping the warehouse activated with projects, clean and organized, and with projects using the warehouse encouraged to help fund the space through monthly donations. The new warehouse means it is more important than ever to utilize the space in an intentional way as more projects and activities are scheduled.

The 2020 warehouse committee has begun to prepare the space in a way to foster more community art design and fabrication. One concept under discussion is to create lockable storage, thanks to a generous community donation of wooden and metal shelving. 

  • Current warehouse committee lead is Riley Jalowy. Past warehouse committee leads include Dave Tyson Moore, Greg Goodman, Elizabeth Johnson, and Eric Denton.
  • The new warehouse space stewardship during COVID19 has mainly focused around move-in of essential UBS materials (Temple, Effigy) for storage, and initial upgrades  
  • If you are interested in being a current warehouse committee lead, email board@houstonburners.org
  • Please visit the Facebook group for those interested in this effort 

Website Monthly Pledged Houston Burner Memberships and One-Time Donations to the Warehouse: Monthly Pledges through the Houston Burner’s website are recurring, tax-deductible donations dedicated to pay the monthly expenses associated with the Community Warehouse. Registration is possible with or without a pledge commitment: 

  • Registration of over 1300 community members on HB’s website www.houstonburners.org since 2016
  • In 2019 Monthly Pledges totaled $90 in income each month
  • The new Joanna Dr. warehouse space may develop to incorporate a model for paid usage covering work areas and tools, in addition to private storage. Come join the discussion with the warehouse committee about how to activate this space!

2019 OLD Community Warehouse Financials: In 2019, the warehouse costs are approximately $960 per month or $11,520 per year. In addition to the warehouse costs, monthly costs include:

  • Rent $775
  • Utilities approximately $30
  • Supplies approximately $25
  • Breaking Bread 1st church nites 1st Wednesday of the month allowance of $30*

2020 NEW Community Warehouse Financials: Although our monthly rent in the new warehouse is, as was inevitable, more expensive than the old space, HB is eligible for some reimbursement from US the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the City of Houston for being kicked out of our old space with the takeover via eminent domain of the land for a governmentally sponsored development. 

With the HUD reimbursement the July 2020-June 2022 rent is the same rate as the old warehouse space, covering 24 months. 
Estimates of other costs in light of reimbursements HB has applied for and expects from HUD: 

  • Total Rent = $1275/mo, with actual rent paid = $775/mo for the first 24 months of lease
    • July-December 2020: 1st 6 months including $450 reimbursement
    • January-June 2021: 2nd 6 months including $500 reimbursement  
  • Utilities approximately $30/mo: reimbursable increase over past costs for 24 months
  • Moving expenses: Includes moving costs, storage costs, & relocation costs, etc.
  • Re-establishment expenses: Includes authorized build-out to reestablish the nonprofits operation
  • Moving supplies: ~$25

Actual reimbursements will be reported to the community as they are reported and provided.

*Unfortunately, Breaking Bread, the monthly fund for food events at the warehouse, is not possible during the Pandemic and has temporarily redirected toward a Houston Food Bank donation until Church Nites can reconvene.

Community Warehouse Cash Flow
Income2019 2020 YTD
Membership Pledge Revenue$2,511$625
Federal Grants (Covid Relief)$1,000
HUD
Total Income$2,511$1,625

Expenses
Warehouse Rent$9,300$5,422
Warehouse Utilities$276$135
Warehouse S & E$566$1,048
G & A Expenses$2,208 $674
Total Expenses$12,350$7,279
Net Ordinary Income  
Grand Total Gross Revenue$2,511$1,625
Grand Total Expenses$12,350 $7,279
Net Income($9,839) ($5,654)

A goal for the future is to generate enough funds to cover warehouse expenses from warehouse membership pledges and fundraising events without tapping the general fund, which would free up more funds for art grants and special community projects. 

COMMUNITY EVENTS: CHURCH NITE AND SMALL GATHERINGS

Thank you to everyone who has led and participated in diverse, online, remote, outdoor, transitory and ad-hoc gatherings that share burner culture and project participation opportunities! While many gatherings have been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, they will happen again when it is safe to gather. No ticketed fundraisers were held in 2020.

Church Nite background: These are free, all-ages events and open to the public, typically held on Wednesday evenings after 7 PM. Sometimes tax deductible donations are collected which are included in the Houston Burners nonprofit cash donations revenue.  Church Nite is a burner community tradition and in Houston goes back to at least the early 2000’s; burners hosted them privately/residentially and began in 2015 at the Winston St. warehouse until the night it closed in 2020. 

Bi-weekly and Monthly Events: Starting in 2017, the first church nite of the months leading up to Unbroken Spring has been dedicated to developing and revealing UBS concepts and activities. Once a month or so, church nite goes on the road and has been hosted by many generous folks who share their homes with us all. Thank you all! In 2019, the community enjoyed first church nites each month with a focus on breaking bread together and began a $30 monthly allowance to fund the yum! Some fun themed church nites have ensued and can hopefully restart in 2021.

Diverse 2019-2020 Community events included: There are other weekly gatherings in the Houston region sponsored by other organizations on other days and nights, and Houston Burners encourage participation in all of them! There are many ways to participate and more burners active in the community equals more building, more learning, more sharing and more Art-ing. Some examples from this cycle:

JANUARY 2019

  • 1/4-6 UBS Work Weekend
  • 1/9 First Wednesday Church Night Fish Fry
  • 1/15 UBS Survival Guide & Marketing
  • 1/24 UBS Temple Design Open Meeting
  • 1/31 UBS Art Grants, Projects and Sign Ups

FEBRUARY 2019

  • 2/6 First Wednesday Church Night & Frito Pie
  • 2/13 Favorite Things Church Night Gift Wrapping
  • 2/22-24 UBS Work Weekend

MARCH 2019

  • 3/1 UBS City Planning & Ops Meeting
  • 3/6 First Wednesday Church Night Dip your own Corn Dog
  • 3/16-19 Unbroken Spring Troll Town 

APRIL 2019

  • 4/3 First Wednesday Church Night Martini Bob hosts a MoPho’n Church Night
  • 4/17 Church Night & Polycraftory Wednesday Social
  • 4/28-29 Warehouse Clean Up

MAY 2019

  • 5/1 First Wednesday Church Night: Build your own Mac n’Cheesy
  • 5/15 Church Night & Polycraftory Monthly Social Reboot

JUNE 2019

  • 6/15 Church Night & Polycraftory Social 
  • 6/26 Church Night & Sparkle Pony Banana Split Night 

JULY 2019

  • 7/17 Traveling Church Night – Clothing Swap 

AUGUST 2019

  • 8/7 First Wednesday Church Night Nacho Average
  • 8/21 Leave a Trace Expo

SEPTEMBER 2019

  • 9/4 Grilled Cheesealicious Church Night
  • 9/22 Potluck  Church Day
  • 9/25 Memorium Community Member

OCTOBER 2019

  • 10/2 First Wednesday Church Night

NOVEMBER 2019

  • 11/6 First Wednesday Church Night
  • 11/20 Polycraftamory Skill Share

DECEMBER 2019

  • 12/4 First Wednesday
  • 12/18 Polycraftamory Skill Share
  • 12/25 Christmas Whore-dervs

JANUARY 2020

  • 1/ 4- 1/ 5 First Work Weekend
  • 1/8 (not the)First Wednesday
  • 1/15 Sanctuary Training Church Night

FEBRUARY 2020

  • 2/1-2/2 Second Work Weekend
  • 2/5 First Wednesday Church Night
  • 2/9 Sunday Funday Warehouse Move Party
  • 2/12 Sanctuary Training
  • 2/14-2/15 Third Work Weekend
  • 2/23 Sunday Funday Warehouse Cleanout
  • 2/26 Radio Handling Demo Church Night
  • 2/29-3/1 Fourth Work Weekend

MARCH 2020

  • 3/4 Final Countdown First Wednesday
  • 3/8 Sunday Funday Last Warehouse Cleanout
  • 3/14 UBS Tear Down
  • 3/25 Virtual Church Night

APRIL 2020 – All virtual events

  • 4/8 Burner Bingo
  • 4/12 Burners Who Brunch
  • 4/15 Daddy’s Drive-In Theater4/22 Scattegories Virtual Church Night

MAY 2020

-Limited Warehouse Visits 

JUNE 2020

  • 6/23 Burners Who Bicycle Warehouse Visit

AUGUST 2020

  • 8/12 SkillShare & Bike Rid

UNBROKEN SPRING

Unbroken Spring (UBS) is the community’s annual Houston-area regional Burning Man-inspired event which normally takes place during the last half of Spring Break. UBS is a ticketed event that was held for the first time in March of 2016 and completed its 4th consecutive annual event in March 2019. Unfortunately, the pandemic caused the postponement of UBS 2020. With COVID-19 still gaining cases and deaths in the US, it is unclear at this time in what format UBS 2021 will be held to ensure everyone’s safety. 

UnBroken Spring Revenue and UnBroken Spring Department Expenses

RevenueExpenses
YearTicketsAttendeesGross RevenueNet RevenueDept/Year201820192020
2016182155$9,262$2,350Art$5,357$5,533$6,760
2017339298$19,775$9,317Business$5,100$5,688$2,814
2018420376$27,194$7,737Operations$6,245$4,207$808
2019400357$28,946$10,737Safety$897$2,246$1,332
20204760$39,104$5,076Volunteer$1,293$1,907$1,868

* This reflects UBS 2021 allocated costs that will roll over to the next UBS event, including property rental, port-o-potty rental and fireworks.  

UBS 2020: To the Moon

Event Organizers: Kristin Kring, Forrest Rattray, Jered Risner

Initial planning began: July 11th, 2019 at Spanish Flowers Restaurant in Houston Texas
Tickets sold:  476
Attendees: 0
Tickets refunded: 188 Total Tickets fully or partially refunded (see Refunds below)
Art Grants: 15 grants (not including Temple and Effigy) with $2,775 total awarded
Registered Volunteers: 214 (+32 from 2019)

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020, UBS: “To The Moon” was postponed until 18-21 March 2021. The decision to postpone was made 6 days prior to the start of the event, though the date was left in flux due to uncertainty & rapidly changing conditions. UBS was one of the first regional Burning Man-inspired and regional burns to postpone or cancel due to COVID-19. Harris County, Liberty County and the City of Houston issued Stay Home orders within days after the scheduled start of the event. 

In the fall of 2020, the board announced that the March 2021 date and event format would be revised after polling the community about alternative approaches in light of the pandemic (Fall 2020 Newsletter and poll).

Houston Burners would like to thank all the Unbroken Spring volunteers for their time and effort dedicated towards building UBS 2020. It was a heart-breaking decision to postpone UBS. Thank you, as well, to all the theme camps, artists, art car crews, and participants that put their blood, sweat, and tears into our effort to get To the Moon from dream to near-reality. 

UBS event postponement timeline:

  • 4 MAR T – 2 weeks   1st case of COVID-19 in Houston
  • 11 MAR   T – 8 days   Rodeo cancelled; Public Health (PH) Emergency declared
  • 12 MAR   T – 7 days   Final Move-Out from Winston St. Burner Warehouse
  • 13 MAR   T – 6 days   National PH Emergency declared
  • 13 MAR   T – 6 days   Setup weekend converted to Load-out weekend
  • 16 MAR   T – 3 days   Bars/Restaurants closed, Schools closed
  • 19 MAR   T-0 : Scheduled UBS start  TX Health Disaster declared; no gatherings over 10ppl
  • 24 MAR   T + 7 days:     Stay at Home Order issued; only essentials can go out 

With over half of the budget previously spent, including some non-refundable expenses and fees, full refunds minus fees was not possible. Ticket refunds were offered instead of ticket rollovers to 2021, in order to close the financial books on the 2020 event.

UnBroken Spring Art Grants (2020):

Project (Grantee)

Decontamination Disco (M. Michaeledes, A. Ruff et al.)
Asteroid Field (D. Schaffer)
Blanket Fort Sanctuary Sanctuary (S. Franke)
Over the Moon Swingers Club (A. Serody et al.)
Super Ethical Anarchist Queer Space Rations (S. Bee et al.)
Entertainment Bar (G. Cruey, J. Cruey)
The Universe Within (CRE8NATE / N. Wiebusch)
Glow/Flow “Moon Circus” Tent (L. Murchison)
Us and Them Lounge (M. Self)
Lines of Flight (L. Hoffman et al.)
The Galactic Passage (B. Sims, S. Lawrence)
Trampy Bitch (K. Kring; grant returned)
Automatic DB  meter (R. Moffett)
Cuddle Shuttle (J. Cruey et al.)
Asteroid Belt (R. Jalowy et al.)
Dark Side of the Door (Jam and Egg)

UnBroken Spring Temple Art Grant (2020):

Temple to the Stars (CRE8NATE / N. Wiebusch and Ryan Dibble)

UnBroken Spring Effigy Art Grant (2020):

The Moon Tower (Picasso et al.)

UnBroken Spring’s greatest asset is its volunteers. In the early months of the pandemic, volunteers and vendors were impacted in terms of personal comfort for gatherings of any size, personal health, finances, as well as government ordered shut-downs, Stay-at-Home orders & Gathering Restrictions.

At the time of this Report, there is no timeline for government authorities to approve–or even discuss approving–public gatherings the size of UBS. Houston Burners (board) will continue with regular notifications to the community about postponement based on the status of the pandemic in Texas.

SAFETYSIDE 2020

Houston burners are fortunate to be a part of a broader burner community, and particularly in Texas the burner Safety community, headed up by Austin Artistic Reconstruction, LLC (AAR). AAR helps to develop processes for running safe Burner events, as well as train volunteers from all over the state, country, and world at the annual Safetyside.  HB gives huge props to the Safetyside organizers and volunteers for providing such a valuable service to burners everywhere! Burner events are made safer by their efforts.  Several of our community members and volunteer leadership attended the 11th annual event, Safetyside 2020, which due to COVID-19 was the first one to be held entirely online. While most of the 242 people that registered were from Texas, given the online element there were safety volunteers that logged in from Missouri, Oklahoma, California, Washington, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Georgia, and as far away as Australia and South Africa.

Safetyside 2020 was held primarily on Zoom. There were 17 total Zoom events held over a 3-day weekend, and each event had between 10 and 50 attendees. Events ranged from the basic courses like “Introduction to Incident Command System” to elective courses such as “Hazmat 101″ and”Sexual Assault Response.” There were Regional Roundtable discussions, and Safety Socials. There were even training exercises, all done online, using Zello to simulate radio communications.

Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive. Although the Safetyside regulars missed the in-person camaraderie, it was good to see familiar faces online after dealing with COVID-19 for nearly month. Virtual Safetyside also gave those who had wanted to come to Safetyside for years the opportunity to attend. In addition, many of the sessions were recorded, allowing even more people to access the training. The Safetyside organizers agreed that given the success of 2020, an effort will be made to post future Safetyside events online even as the in-person event resumes.

BURNERS WITHOUT BORDERS, HOUSTON 

A Houston group of Burners Without Burners (BWB) formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey (2017), when a hardy crew of Burners slept at the Winston warehouse in lieu of Playa Pity Party to serve as a receiving and distribution center for donations and goods to help people devastated by the hurricane. Local leadership launched a group that has responded to community needs, promoting activities that support our community’s inherent capacity to thrive by encouraging innovative approaches to disaster relief and grassroots initiatives that make a positive impact. Thank you to the many supporters that have backed this program with their time, resources, donated goods & services and their dollars.

Thanks to BWB Houston lead, Lauren Jones, and team members including Anya Frolov, Aryeh Orton, Jeremy & Jillian Cruey, Mason Lobo Hill, Sarah Franke, Bob Kalmbach, and former lead Emily Bruchmiller. 
Additional thanks to the local, regional, and national organizations that have partnered with and supported the ongoing work of BWB.

In February 2020, BWB donated about 300 lbs of donated clothing and assorted toiletries to the Hope Beyond Bridges organization.  These donations were distributed to homeless folks in Houston during the late winter months.
In September 2020, BWB Houston organized community response efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura in Vinton, LA, and developed and supported a PayPal Giving Fund for this event. Community members drove to Louisiana from Houston, helped lead cleanup efforts and support for displaced residents in collaboration with local non-profits and municipal organizations.  

ADDITIONAL ORGANIZATIONAL FINANCIALS

FUNDRAISING TOOLS 

Amazon Smile has generated ~$30  since the nonprofit was set up on the program mid 2019. Amazon users have donated passively to Houston Burners through purchases when they select to support 
Houston Burners CHAPS! And you can set up Amazon Assistant to make sure you are on smile.amazon.com when using their site. If you’re already shopping, why not use this great tool to redirect a 0.5% of your eligible purchases to support our community at the same time? It’s a free program and though only a small portion of every sale is pledged…everyone’s tiny portion can help keep the lights on! 

PayPal Giving Fund 

The Giving Fund was set up in September 2020 to support Burners Without Borders Houston’s efforts in Vinton, Louisiana, and BWB

Direct Financial Sponsorships

Houston Burners uses money from the General Fund to provide Financial Sponsorships to community projects. Unbroken Spring initiated Art Tickets in 2018, and all proceeds go directly to support art for the event. These sponsorships are granted to these projects to help them cover their costs as they provide gifts and services back to the community.

Financial Sponsorships: Financials

  • In 2020, Houston Burners gave a total of $4,507 in support of:
    • 2020 Community Art Grant: Burners without Borders- Galveston County ($500)
    • UBS 2020 arts grants funding 17 project teams ($3,022)
    • 2019 Playa Pity Party ($1000) 
  • Since inception, Houston Burners has given $12,202.58 in financial sponsorships to community projects.

Community Support and Self-funded Projects:

  • Shared Houston Burners-owned safety equipment with Myschievia and Freezerburn (TX)
  • Periodic loaning of water cube (~275 gal) to support for Texas regional burn events (fire crews)

These Houston-Burner affiliated projects:

  • Utilize HB liability and tax advantages
  • Raise their own funds for all expenses with no support from the HB General Fund
  • Are reviewed annually for renewal
  • Projects may apply for, and be granted financial sponsorships (see Financial Sponsorships heading) through various HB grant programs
    • Grants are not guaranteed
    • Projects may not rely on grants to break-even

General Fund

The Houston Burners’ General Fund (GF) is used to pay for all the general and administrative expenses for Houston Burners, along with miscellaneous donations and expenses that aren’t attributed to major project areas. The GF is primarily funded by the profits from Fundraisers and Events, with funds then used to provide Financial Sponsorships and help support the Community Warehouse.

HB creates sub-accounts to give projects access to only their funds, and the independence to use them to their benefit, while ensuring no unnecessary access to the rest of the organization’s resources. Only two CHAPS officers have access to the main account. To ensure transparency, no single person ever has sole access to any of the organization’s resources.

  • Houston Burners GF housed in HB Chase Bank Business account
    • Current officers/Signatories: Kathleen and Mike
    • 2018 officers/Signatories: Andy and Kathleen
  • 2019-2020 Sub-accounts for projects where project leads have access to dedicated funds include
    • UBS
      • Signators: Heidi, UBS Co-Coordinator and Sheila, Business Lead
      • Account expected to close the books on 2019 event end of May 2019
    • Burners Without Borders (BWB)
      • Signator: Not used at this time
      • Zero transactions recorded in 2019-2020
      • Account converted to PPP in August 2018

ADDENDUM: THE BASICS

Read more about Houston Burners on the Houston Burners Wiki (wiki.houstonburners.org) 

HOUSTON BURNERS (HB) is the community of burners in the greater Houston region, the burner curious and people that are interested in participating in burner related projects and events. HB is also the “doing business as” (dba) of the nonprofit organization (see below). 

COMMUNITY is what has made it possible to fund and maintain a warehouse space to gather and collaborate on Burner-related art projects, community events, and skill-shares. It has also created a network of community members that plan and execute our  regional burn UnBroken Spring (UBS), train volunteers, fund and work on art projects for UBS and Burning Man, share meals, and socialize. Our community also participates in the local Houston group of Burners Without Borders (BWB).

CHAPS (the nonprofit) is Houston Burners’ nonprofit organization, also known as Collaborative Houston Art and Performance Society,  is a volunteer run 501(3)(c)  nonprofit organization set up in 2016 to provide financial and legal structure for the Houston Burners to create and collaborate on burner-related activities and education. It has an all volunteer board and is 100% volunteer-driven. It is sustained by community-member participation and focused on Burning Man’s Community Principles.

  • The nonprofit’s mission is to hold space to light and sustain the flame of Burning Man’s culture and Principles in the greater Houston community and to facilitate community artistic goals to that end.
  • The vision of Houston Burners is to educate and empower an inclusive and active community, guided by Burning Man’s 10 principles to explore and develop art, culture, and self-expression

ORGANIZING TEAM (aka the board)

The organization of Houston Burners is vested in its all-volunteer board of directors:
  • Current Board: Elizabeth Johnson, Forrest Rattray, Heidi Lehto (Secretary), Kathleen Keahey (treasurer), Kyle Lakloff, Mike Eros (President) and Sheila Dixon
  • 2020 directors: Elizabeth Johnson, Forrest Rattray, Heidi Lehto (Secretary), Kathleen Keahey (treasurer), Kristin Kring, Kyle Lakloff, Mike Eros (President) and Sheila Dixon
  • 2019 directors: John Garcia, Heidi Lehto (Secretary, Event Liaison), Kathleen Keahey (Treasurer), Kristin Kring, Kyle Lafkoff, Mike Eros (President), and Sheila Dixon
  • 2018 directors: Andrew Lin, Andy Brown (Secretary), Greg Goodman, Heidi Lehto, Kathleen Keahey (President), and Mike Eros
  • 2016-2017 directors: Andrew Lin, Andy Brown (Secretary), Greg Goodman, Kathleen Keahey (President), Laurette Canizares, and Mike Eros

HOUSTON BURNERS IRS FILING

As a 501(c)(3) with less than $50,000 in expected revenues, Houston Burners files form 990-N and filing of the 2019 form has been submitted. To view specifics of the financials see the section above with details.

PHOTOS

Click the links to open Google Photo albums and SUBMIT PHOTOS that you’d like to share.

UnBroken Spring 2019 | UnBroken Spring 2020

Community Warehouse | Burners without Borders Houston

QUESTIONS AND FEEDBACK

Houston Burners is happy to answer any questions the community has about the Annual Report and its contents. Questions can be submitted to board@houstonburners.org.