Courtesy of JenkStars

Funky Junk: Shenanigans and Sustainable Living with the JenkStars


JenkStars recycle everything, but one of their signatures is the pallet wall, which they use along with car doors, metal car hoods and more to construct several of the festival’s main stages. Local individuals and companies have started to recognize JenkStars’ upcycling and will contact them frequently. Recently, JenkStars made a big score with some surplus from a company that makes plexiglass for stores, restaurants and bars. The company was going to incinerate thousands of pounds of the material due to lack of storage. After four semi-trucks and five days, JenkStars was able to store the plexiglass in four different locations—expect to see a lot more plexiglass installations from them.

As for music at Building Man, you can expect a myriad of styles: funk, bluegrass, hip-hop, techno, swing hop, and early-morning sunrise music. The festival lineup will span genres and they also try to find things that are easily accessible for those who want to discover something new. For all those preferring the electronic sounds, JenkStars have teamed up with popular local groups like Dubwise and Smoke Siignals.

No event is complete without performance artists, and Building Man has just about covered everything you could imagine. There will be performances by Salt Lake Exotic Dance, Phenomenal Fire, Embers Fire Art, hoopologists, Duo Lila acro yoga and burlesque artists. While there are always professional lineups, there will also be impressive impromptu performances by attendees throughout the festival (including “shenanigans” by the JenkStars). There will be a bevy of visual art on the premises as well, thanks to graffiti artists as well as painters. As with any festival, participation is always encouraged.

In addition to art and music, Building Man emphasizes education. Prepare yourself to become enlightened on solar arrays, mycology vermicomposting and how to build an off-grid system for your off-grid home, as well as building and gardening—you can even learn about beekeeping. Many of us who attend events like Building Man do so to search for answers: The JenkStars have organized healing and arts workshops that cover topics like qi gong meditation, plant medicines and flower essences, and will also create an impermanent Earth teepee mandala. In addition, there will be a political communication guide provided by a therapist, as well as classes on how to become more engaged in activism. For those of us in touch with our sexual chakra, JenkStars will host an in-depth discussion about the energetics of sex and clitoral anatomy. They will be doing clay talisman sculpturing of the clitoris and yoni—now that is something that I would like to hone. There may even be a little bit of phalanx—you just never know. A lot of those leading Building Man’s education programming are people from our community, many of which participate in JenkStars’ monthly SLAM (Sustainable Living, Art and Music) events—local people inspiring local people.

Besides recycling for art and better humanity, the JenkStars like to get down and dirty with their problem solving. Affectionately referred to as Compoosters (and once illegal), Composting Toilets are a new innovation that the JenkStars are proud to use, thanks to the involvement of Chris Lynstrom’s father, who pioneered this invention at a Boom Festival overseas. It only took 90 days to prove to the county that it Composting Toilets are completely E. coli free and create a byproduct of organic compost. You can now legally use one of these innovational outhouses. The waste will help fertilize the soil at JenkStar Ranch, grow some trees and provide shade in the harsh desert climate. Through an art grant, JenkStars built some composters at Element 11’s Center Camp, and it was a great success. The peat moss and IBC totes prevented overflow at the regional Burning Man, and they have gotten so much traction that the Symbiosis Gathering (an Oregon-based sustainability festival) reached out to discover JenkStars’ methods of madness for creating a better planet. Through studying a variety of advanced techniques, JenkStars have taking the Burning Man principle of “leave no trace” one step further: “Create no waste.”

Regarding Burning Man, some of the JenkStars consider themselves “Burning Man expatriates,” while others attend Burning Man every year. They often collaborate with Burning Man and help give voice to some of the issues a festival faces as it grows. While they note that Burning Man’s massive growth has made it “a large, bloated, unsustainable festival,” the JenkStars recognize the gathering’s value, as well as the ways the Burning Man has personally impacted several of them, and some of them even work for the festival. Although Burning Man does not meet all of JenkStars’ tenets, the group is trying to find ways to incorporate more of their methods into the festival, to take the excess and make it more sustainable.

The JenkStars will accept anyone who is passionate about preserving the Earth. In their words, “Instead of burning everything, we build everything.” To me, both are extremely relevant, and it is inspiring to see how the JenkStars collaborate with other communities, organizations and festivals.

For those who want to attend, the JenkStars’ Building Man experience runs May 4–7 at The JenkStar Ranch, and more information is available at Be sure to bring an open mind and prepare for great enlightenment on many levels. We all need to make the world we live in a better place, and this festival is dedicated to that mission.

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