The 2020 Trunk

The Catharsis Trunk determines and upholds how the whole Catharsis Tree aligns to our mission and growth. The Trunk provides nourishment, support and lines of communication for the disparate Catharsis Branches (or committees). 

Volunteers, contributors and department leads exist in symbiotic relationship with The Trunk for life giving energy
like the role of xylem and phloem*.  Imagine the Trunk as the energy highway of our organism.

Read more about the Vision and Responsibilities of the Trunk.

Mikayla Hellwich (Orca)

Catharsis is a protest in disguise. Our relentless pursuit of fun is a gravity, pulling people in to learn about social change through art and community in ways traditional protests often fail to do. I want to bring the communication and organizational skills from my advocacy career to the Trunk to build on this concept, create broader coalitions, and carve additional avenues for participants to take direct political action. This would involve improving political engagement with people during the event with the goal of inspiring and creating engaged activists and creators who will ensure the longevity and impact of Catharsis. DC has been my home for almost ten years, and I’m ready to give more to Catharsis and our city.

Jessica Lawson

For Catharsis 2019, I supported curation as a theme camp coordinator—ensuring all theme camps were set up for success. In doing so, I developed a love for Catharsis and the gifts we bring! As a Trunk member, I hope to lead theme camp curation and focus on inclusive outreach and community building.

  • Expand theme camp outreach to represent all: To increase inclusivity, I’d love to collaborate with the Catharsis community and build upon our existing participants by identifying missing groups. By reaching out and articulating our mission, we can create a welcoming experience and show all how they can participate.
  • Build community through year-round participation: My goal is for everyone to truly co-create Catharsis by creating opportunities for all to engage throughout the year. If a theme camp or artist needs help building their projects from the start, let’s find ways to get those interested in helping involved!


Catharsis on the Mall has always provided me powerful opportunities for personal growth over the last four years. This most recent Catharsis experience for myself was one of stepping up and following through in certain lead and many supportive roles throughout the whole happening as I was committed to being a radical participant of the Vigil and connecting with the collective experience as it blossomed into the glorious gathering it was this year.

I am deeply grateful to every soul who has ever played a part in this creation of Catharsis we have been dreaming into reality these past years and desire to make good use of my skills to help the upcoming success of the Vigil next year, and this is why I am self nominating to become a part of the trunk.

Ary Mondragon

I’m an activist in Dc, and community engagement, unity and knowledge are our focus. Bringing knowledge through the arts and connecting all around us.

Jessica Snow

With a dedication to bearing sweet and beautiful fruits from a catharsis plant made of strong root and stem, Jessica is running for a second year in service as Trunk member for the Catharsis community. Bringing a background in business and the healing arts, Jessica is eager to support Catharsis in integrating the local DC community into their artsphere and creating opportunities for more families to bring their creativity to the Mall through the grant process. In Catharsis, we create healing for the District and beyond!

Syma Qatanani

I have worked as a film and a studio director for over 15 years. That included manages large crews on large locations. Taking care of operations and logistics in addition to inspiring and motivating both talents and technical personalities.
I hope to bring more inclusion to catharsis. As non American I felt safe within my catharsis community to participate. And I would like to help other non Americans do so. We live in the beautiful diverse and cosmopolitan city and I feel now more than ever we need to bring back the melting pot principles more than ever.

Ricardo Amaya

I’m the Webmaster. I think that being in Trunk would make communication lot easier to help the development of the Catharsis website, and I’d like to be part of the conversation about decisions that affect how participants submit their data and how we organize this data because I have a ton of ideas that can make the process a lot smoother, cleaner, and simpler.

Finally, why do I personally do this? Ever since I came to this country 16 years ago I’ve been labeled a criminal for the crime of not wanting to be an orphan and following my mom into a better life. My American Dream has been denied by black suits in temples of concrete because I do not have a piece of paper that says I belong in this Our Mothership with all of you. This is my way of fighting back.

Chuck "Tugboat" Moran

In my engagement with this project thus far, I’ve learned so much about myself and others, and I feel very passionately about the event & organization’s ability to create space for empathy, healing, and self-exploration. I’m interested in continuing to push in the direction of a healthy organizing culture, while working to make the event more reflective of our community in an equitable way. Further, I hope to elevate and empower others to take on more leadership in the event’s production, cementing its longevity. It would be a privilege to continue working on & with Catharsis on the Mall.

Scott Cecil

I have had the pleasure of serving on the trunk for the past year-plus helping to make the past two Catharsis events happen. I have learned a lot about what is required to make this event possible and it is my hope that with another year of service I will be able to contribute even more than I did during the past two. I have over a decade of experience as a grassroots organizer and event planner. I would love nothing more than to have the opportunity to contribute another piece of my heart to this event which I love so dearly. Thanks for your consideration! 😀

Shanna “Banana” Fricklas

I have been a burner in the DC community for 9 years, having attended 5 tours to the desert, and more than 40 regional events. Now returning to area for a third time, I am looking to become more involved in what I feel is the most inspirational of our events as it’s placement practically on the White House lawn makes our message that much more profound. The accessibility and sharing nature of the event with passerby’s also addresses a key issue with the burn that I have noticed as well, in that we can control the narrative in growing the awareness of our deep dedication to creating, healing, interactivity and “radical inclusion.” In my career, I facilitate communication between Democrats and Republicans and would like to be part of the “trunk” in order to lend my skills in enabling good communication, collaboration and negotiation. I look forward to growing the event, as well as supporting the work of the various branches through making the overall organizing more seamless than in years past. Thank you for your consideration!


My name is Nexus, my pronouns are he, him, and his, and I was born & raised in the traditional territory of the Pamunkey and the Piscataway, in an area that is now the city many of us call Washington, DC. I am a black and Filipino-American, queer cisgender man, in several ethically non-monogamous relationships, and I believe representation matters. I have been involved in the local arts community my whole professional life, and the Burning Man community since I went to my first Burn in 2013 and have been every year since. Locally my involvement has included producing a DC Burners storytelling show at Capital Fringe, being involved with our local Consent Working Group, having presented storytelling and consent workshops at regional conference and events, including Catharsis on the Mall, as well as most recently being selected as one of two new Regional Contacts for the DC Burning Man Community.


I have been an attendee of Catharsis since the first year when I stumbled onto this wonderful event in full swing. From the moment I saw Abraxas with the Washington Monument as a backdrop, I realized this was an event like no other. Ever since then, I have been returning spending more and more time each year, until last November when working with my friends we decided to take a leap and setup our own Sound Camp (Hearts Collective). It was a massive undertaking for us but with support from Catharsis, our friends and the DC community we pulled it off and managed to get no sleep.

As a trunk member, I am looking to engage with Catharsis to continue to enhance decentralization efforts that are supporting more and more groups/collectives to join and produce amazing experiences on the Mall. In the same spirit, I would like to see these groups/collectives in turn lift up other submissions and community members without access to the same resources and networks, thus continuing to build on the balance between decentralization and larger community engagement. I would also look into continuously building engagement and generating interest year-round, so that Catharsis can work to have a much greater support base for the months leading into the May burn.

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