Our Story & Philosophy

Why support Burning Stories by sharing your stories? Our project is intended to 1) generate scientific knowledge about the participatory culture communities, in which individuals do not act as consumers only, but also as co-creators, and 2) help the communities further flourish by collecting stories that will be shared back to the communities via our platform and arts. During 2020 the scope widened to study diverse set of communities and project became an association, which aims to bridge science and arts for the benefit of everyone.

Burning Stories has its roots in Aalto University, Finland and the Burning Man community. The story began 2015 when the first Finnish Burning Man project, Aalto on Fire was done. It was a pike with Finnish traditional instrument kantele inside it. The support from Aalto Design Factory brought the community ways of working and thematics of Teal-leadership in the projects. The project in 2016 was Koulu The School, a low infrastructure peer-learning platform. After piloting the concept in Black Rock City, Finn Church aid adopted the initiative and currently the platform has been piloted in Nepal and Jordan. During 2017, the community-driven project was called Space on Fire. The project group from Finland traveled to Black Rock City and built a 120m2 parametrically designed pavilion with the support of Nordic Borderland community. Installation had a satellite ground station installed on it, which picked up data from space and projected it inside the installation via sounds and landscape. Visitors could also send their messages to space. Yes, we like far out pilots. What has the scientific community already gained from the projects? The multidisciplinary projects have been inclusive to Aalto university´s ecosystem, combining insights from multiple scientific communities and disciplines including architecture, space engineering, music and management sciences.

Burning Stories project was launched early 2018 and since then it has evolved as an independent initiative with various research streams. Project is not funded, therefore it is connected to any funding bodies, which makes us an agile and flexible team.

If you are interested more on science and especially Burning Man in the US that is one of the case communities we study - check out this

Egg at night - Tommi Mäntysalo
[Space on Fire project / Cosmic Egg installation 2017, by Tommi Mäntysalo]


Belonging to participatory culture community often brings about life-changing experiences and stories. These stories are important not only for personal or community development but also for science and our understanding of the world.

The aim of Burning Stories is to study these communities, that range from festival in Nevada to a tech activist summits in Germany. We seek to explain the processes through which community membership evolves across time and space, and how this, in turn, affects their experience of the collective identity. There is a very limited understanding of how these immersive experiences transform individuals, let alone society. That is precisely what we aim to find out with this project.

Why should you contribute to our research?

By sharing your story or participating to survey or online discussion, anonymously or eponymously, you are helping bring the community wisdom into ongoing scientific discussions, making the values of the communities accessible to a wider audience, and increasing our understanding of why belonging to the communities might be important and in what ways it might influence society.

Data will be shared back via Burning Stories Forum, to enable storytelling and flourishing within the communities. Ideas or questions? Feel free to reach out to contact(at)burning-stories.org

Governance of a new type of science-art platform

The project that applies a new form of organizing a science project. Work with organizational philosophers has enabled that this project as a self-organized modeled project, allowing less burden on administration and bringing more creativity.

Science and arts

We love art at Burning Stories. Instead of publishing only scientific articles to fellow academics, we want to apply artistic touch as a way to communicate our results much wider. Just as art installations foster creativity in festivals, visual art can be an integral part of pioneering scientific projects. In a project like Burning Stories, art can support the communication of our work’s content. In the future, bringing more artistic expertise to the project can assist us to disseminate the results of this project in a new and exciting way.

Example of this is in the end of this podcast. Its a song made from data, by Burning Stories collective artist Mikko Heikinpoika.

Another example is artistic science communication is an animation about Burning Stories, served without the scientific jargon. Hope you enjoy it.