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The Life Cube Will Burn Again

<p>The Life Cube in 2014.</p>
Tracy Out West/Flickr

The Life Cube in 2014.

The Life Cube is back.

But if you never heard of the Cube, that’s understandable.

The first was two years ago. Thousands of people came to downtown Las Vegas to watch it burn. Unless you made the trip from the 'burbs, you probably didn’t know about it.

And yes, we said, “it burn.”

The Life Cube is kind of like a mandala—a big piece of beautiful art that, once it’s done, is destroyed.

In this case, it’s a three-story wooden structure.

And it’s the brainchild of Scott Cohen.

He’s a New Yorker retired from the businessworld who started the Cube years ago at Nevada’s Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert.


On what the cube looks like and is made of:

It is 24 feet and that is really about as big as I can go for a whole bunch of reasons from insurance to the fact that my wife doesn’t want it bigger to the fact that the city doesn’t want it bigger.

It is all wood and it is covered on one side with canvas. Actually, individual canvases that have been melded together into a tapestry wall and those canvases came predominately from school kids throughout the community.

On who is supporting this project:

We have been very fortunate over the years to keep this as a project that has been privately supported. So there has been no formal sponsors. There’s been no names, no brands, no commercialism. There is nothing sold on the site. We have made this a completely free event for the public.

On the smaller cubes around downtown:

The first time I believe we had about 50 of them that we gave out to schools and community groups. This time we have over 200 satellite cubes… And we’ve delivered them to schools. I’ve spoken to over 40 schools and over 15,000 kids in this community this month.  

On what a wish stick is:

The whole project was started based on a belief that I have that if you write down your goals, your dreams, wishes and aspirations the chance of it happening increases.

On how the project moved from the Burning Man Festival to Las Vegas:

I was at a conference and I heard Tony Hsieh talking about the change that he envisioned for downtown. He was talking about how he wanted to bring art and culture. How he was going to be renovating certain parts of downtown Las Vegas.

The thing is my last wish in the Life Cube the year before was to take this project from Burning Man, from the playa, to the real world.

On where to go to write on a wish stick:

Any time between now and April 2. They can come to the Life Cube Project on Fremont Street. There is a huge wooden structure right in the middle it is the Life Cube… They can paint. They can draw. They can write. They can watch artists paint and there are mailboxes full of blank wish sticks and they take one of them out and they write down their goals and dreams and then they can put them in the slots in the big cube… and they will all go up in flames on April 2.

On why the cube is burned:

The answer to the question about the burn is three things. Number one: As long as the cube is here, I’m drawn to it. And I want to be there and I want to share it with the community and I want to talk about it… Once we burned it down, it gives me a chance to leave because there is no more cube.

Second reason: I believe that seeing all those goals, dreams, wishes and aspirations go up into the universe is a very powerful thing. It is spiritual to me, but it is something magical. If you look at some of the pictures that were taking two years ago. You will see all those sparks going up into the universe and it’s magic.

And the third reason is it is really fun.

On the reactions he gets to the Life Cube:

I get emails every day. Every day I get an email, a text, a Facebook post from somebody telling me about how the cube has impacted their life. I’ve got stacks of letters from kids, sharing with me how this project has inspired them.

Scott Cohen, founder, Life Cube project

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.