Las Vegas Sun: Why This Giant, Burning Cube Can Change Your Life

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 8.49.16 AMNovember 23, 2013
Joe Downtown, Reporter

Life Cube, a Burning Man art piece, is burned at the 2013 festival.

Life Cube, a Burning Man art piece, is burned at the 2013 festival.

By Joe Schoenmann
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 | 6 p.m.

It worked like some preternatural magic trick.  As a kid, when Scott Cohen had a dream, a wish or simply a goal, he’d write it down on a piece of paper and tape it up to a mirror.

He’d do that, and the wishes or dreams or goal would happen.   Now he wants to burn all those wishes in a giant wooden cube in a downtown parking lot.


First, back to Cohen’s sense of why it works. The act of writing creates a mental imprint and a constant reminder, working as a persistent nudge toward that endpoint.

“If you write down what you want to accomplish, the probability of it happening increases significantly,” says Cohen, a 56-year-old with the infectious happiness of a child who will hug a complete stranger with the zeal of an old friend.

“A lot of people don’t write, in this digital age,” he goes on. “They text or talk among friends, but few take the time to write out what they want to accomplish. But once we write it down, then you start thinking what it’s going to take to accomplish it.”

Cohen grew up and went to business school in upstate New York, where he was raised. For 35 years, he was involved in business. His LinkedIn profile shows a lengthy background in media, from founder/CEO of Dimestore Media and president of Game Trust Inc. to marketing executive for New World Television.

Then, as the kids in the app-world say, he pivoted.

“I didn’t get burned out, I just got to a point in my life where I’m madly in love with my wife, I have a great kid and I’d been working since I was a teenager,” he says, sitting in The Beat coffeehouse downtown. “I said it’s enough. Let’s refocus my priorities. I’m in good health and I have a desire to get into an artistic endeavor.”

So he sat down and wrote a play and started The Life Cube Project.

The first Life Cube, an 8-foot-by-8-foot box, was burned at Northern Nevada’s Burning Man celebration in 2011. The next year, it was 16-by-16. This year, it was 24-by-24 feet, three stories tall.

It will be that size, too, when it burns in a parking lot on Fremont Street, between 9th and 10th streets, in March. Inside the cube will hopefully be several smaller 4-by-4 “satellite” cubes. Those cubes will have come from businesses and any school that wants one; they’ll be filled with the “wish sticks” of men, women and children who wrote down a goal, dream or wish.

Then on March 21 — pending city approvals, of course — they will all go up in flames. At Burning Man in September, some 10,000 people put their wishes into The Life Cube.

“People would take pictures of the moment they were dropping the wish in, just to make sure that moment in life was captured,” Cohen says, beaming that infectious smile.

Burning the wishes is important, he adds, because it adds an almost “sacred aspect to it.”

“The burning is a ceremony almost and that speaks to a lot of people.”

To some, there’s something magic, real magic, going on. Cohen tells the story of two “burners” who put their wishes into the 2011 Burning Man Life Cube.

“Then I get this call months later: ‘Skeeter (his nickname), the Cube works! Things happened that are major in our life.There are super powers here!’” Cohen recalls.

So powerful was the experience, the two were engaged at The Life Cube at the next Burning Man; then they were married at The Life Cube this year.

Cohen says he isn’t making money with The Life Cube — you won’t see a banner touting “Life Cube by Coca-Cola” or some other multinational corporation at the event. He said he will have to do some fundraising and will need hundreds of volunteers for painting, creating murals, carpentry work, to organize volunteers and more.

You won’t even see a Zappos or Downtown Project banner around the thing, even though the parking lot where the event is to take place is owned by Downtown Project.

“This isn’t a money-making thing,” Cohen says. “It’s about the fact that I want to convince people that they can accomplish things in their life to make their lives better.

“So I have two missions. One, to get people to write down what they want to accomplish in their life. And two, to involve as many people in the community as possible. The more people, the more successful it will be.”

Anyone who wants to get involved can send an email to

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

About The Life Cube Project

The Life Cube creates electrifying public installations emphasizing interactive and collaborative art. Its dual mission connects art with community, and inspires participants to articulate and share their goals and dreams. This project encourages participants to look at their past, engage in the present, and set goals for the future. It is based on the artist’s belief that if you write down what you want to accomplish in life, the chances of attaining it is much, much higher! Tens of thousands of "Cube-ists" have already been positively impacted by their experience with the Life Cube Project, at Burning Man, in downtown Las Vegas and beyond. We're in the planning stages to bring the Life Cube Project to cities and arts festivals across the country and around the world! At each installation, local volunteers, teachers and school children, artists, builders, performers and other visionaries interact with the Cube every hour of every day. Its exterior, which incorporates many writeable and climbable surfaces, is a constantly changing swirl of painted murals, drawings, and handwritten messages contributed by the community. The Cube is brilliantly illuminated at night, attracting nocturnal artists and celebrants attracted by the colorful light show, with spots and lasers serving as a beacon in the evening skies. The Life Cube encourages the expression of goals, wishes, dreams, and aspirations in mural art, on wish-stick postcards, and with personal inscriptions on message boards. On selected evenings and weekends, area musicians and entertainers perform, culminating in a special closing event that gathers thousands of residents and visitors in a magical community celebration. At the end of the installation, in a spectacular fiery ceremony, the Cube and all of the gathered wishes are burned together and sent up into the Universe in a sacred shower of sparks and flame. Since 2010, the Life Cube Project has inspired over a thousand donors to contribute funds supporting the project, and even more have given of their time, talent and spirit. We're grateful for your support, as we hope to bring the Life Cube Project to more communities of artists and dreamers in days to come!
This entry was posted in Downtown Las Vegas, ENVISION: The Life Cube, Pictures & Videos, Press, The Life Cube Project and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Las Vegas Sun: Why This Giant, Burning Cube Can Change Your Life

  1. First article on The Life Cube Project coming to Las Vegas! Joe Downtown, reporter for the Las Vegas Sun wrote this a few days ago. So happy with the community support and encouragement to create this installation in Downtown Las Vegas!

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