One of the best aspects of Lightning in a Bottle: you never know who you’re going to bump into next. The executive producer of the festival is sitting right there, you say? A perfect opportunity to get to the bottom of all this madness. Jesse Fleming is one of the many co-creators of The Do LaB and one of the primary figures in the LIB family, and there’s no better person to answer the big questions.
Let’s start with your name. Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Jesse Fleming. I’m one of the executive producers of Lightning in a Bottle.
What does it mean to be the executive producer?
Well, I founded it with my brothers a long time ago, and really the three of us, with of course some other people, we create every aspect of the event. So we come up with a lot of the ideas and we make connections with a lot of the different groups and participants, and tie a whole lot together to create what this experience is.
What guides your hand as you start making decisions around this stuff? Is it inspiration? Is it planning toward a specific end?
There’s a lot of factors. There’s definitely a lot of inspiration and planning toward a certain goal, but I think at first it really started with supporting our community. Like you mentioned earlier, this whole thing kind of grew out of the Burning Man community, which has gotten extremely large over the years.
There’s a lot of really talented people – music, art, performance, all kinds of different aspects of that community – people are really focusing on that to create their careers and are starting to thrive. One of our main goals has always been to support those people and help the community grow so people can do what they love to do and create. So a lot of what we do, first and foremost, we try to bring elements of our community together that we feel are ready to be showcased to a larger audience.
And that’s what The Do LaB is all about, right? Creating interactive environments where it’s more than just the music and the art, it’s an interactive experience.
At The Do Lab, we really care about creating experiences that inspire people and help them to create change in their lives, or inspire them to follow their dreams and do things that society doesn’t encourage them to do.
What is one of your favorite features of the festival this year?
Personally one of my favorite features is the yoga and meditation aspects that we have. The more we do this, and the longer we’ve been throwing events, we’ve wanted to get a little further from the “party” aspect of it and a little more focused on the intention and the spiritual side of things, and fostering community and bringing people together to have meaningful connections and experiences.
And the Temple really accomplishes that, too. I didn’t make it up until Saturday, but man, the difference between the vibe of the main campgrounds and the people who were up there. They’re groups who I understand are interchangeable, it’s not like “we’re up here and you’re down there.” But that place is what has made this a really special weekend for me. Going up there and feeling positive vibes is a saturating experience, and it’s not created through crazy music and awesome lights. It’s showing there are substantive things you can do with your time at a festival, I guess.
The Temple is an amazing place. It’s the creation of one of our partners, Dream Rockwell, who really brought that aspect of the festival to life several years ago. It really is special. Up there is where most of the workshops and the speakers take place, and there’s a massive amount of intention and a lot of education and knowledge being passed on from community members to other community members. It really helps to bring people together.
Do you think you have an idea of how to plant that seed? What is the foundation of getting all of these different people to share good vibes?
I know that’s not an easy question to answer.
It’s not an easy question, no. But when I think of the foundation for us to be able to bring these people together and have all this good energy is the fact that we truly have good intentions ourselves. Our goal is to actually inspire people and create positive change; so I think that really shines through in our entire staff and our crew and everybody’s feeling that, and I think the audience feels that as well. It’s pretty much straight across the board. Everybody has really good energy and a positive attitude.
Do you have any favorite moments from the last couple of days that really blew you away?
I think my favorite moment was yesterday, around noon we had a mass meditation on the main stage. We worked with a nonprofit called 1 Giant Mind, it’s a pretty amazing project. They’re trying to get millions of people around the world to meditate in silence simultaneously and measure the effects scientifically. We had over 1,500 yesterday sitting on the main field meditating for about twenty minutes. It was definitely a powerful experience, and you could really feel the energy, so that for me was my favorite moment.
And that was the whole idea, right? People outside of that stage were going to be able to feel what was going on. You can somewhat transmit that stuff.
Yeah, absolutely. It starts with everyone focusing on their heart and their insides, and then they guide us into sending that energy out to the rest of the festival, then to Los Angeles, then to California, then to the entire country and the rest of the world. You really could feel everybody focusing on that, and it was pretty powerful.
To tie this back into what we said before the interview with the overflow of burner culture, that’s basically that in action, wouldn’t you agree?
Yeah, in some ways for sure. The Burning Man culture is spreading like… I don’t want to say a virus, but it’s spreading and it has been for years. It’s been amazing to see what has grown out of it: smaller communities all over the world, some of which are growing pretty large, like the Do LaB and the Lightning in a Bottle communities. We were doing what we were doing before Burning Man, but Burning Man definitely set us on a new path and showed us how to live creatively and how to focus our attention on art and the things we want to do. So we’re really trying to influence people to go to Burning Man.
Well, I’ll tell you one thing, I’m really not looking forward to the acclimation to the real world tomorrow. Do you have any tips about how to transition successfully back into real life?
Wow, I dunno. It’s a tough one for us too. We crash pretty hard after this. We focus on this for six months, and when it’s over we’re like “What do we do withourselves now?” I dunno, I guess keep in communication with the people that you meet here and remember the experiences, and try to sustain the positive energy throughout your life. See if you can carry it through to the next year!