A Rich Man Dreams of Paradise

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man’s 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

“Somewhere past these gravel roads and high on castle’s tower, a rich man dreams of paradise and sees a life like ours.”
Antsy McClain of the Trailer Park Troubadours

Rosie Lila deftly stated “We were all newbies once” just recently in a post titled “Radical Self Reliance and Rich People at Burning Man”. Burning Man is an event that takes years of practice. One can actually tell a five-year Burner from a ten-year Burner. You never stop learning as the “social experiment in the desert” is ever changing.  It seems that our grand tree of evolution has sprouted a new branch. It’s the much discussed topic of “turnkey camps” or “plug and plays” that seem to fly directly into the face of our principle of radical self-reliance. It’s even sarcastically been nicknamed “radical self entitlement” in rising grumblings.

Black Rock City, 2012 (photo credit unknown)
Black Rock City, 2012 (photo credit unknown)

It was about four years ago when I saw my first “plug and play” camp. From my perspective my initial impression of a camp of all brand new trailers in a horseshoe with no real social area, nothing but a giant generator and a trailer loaded with brand new bikes in the middle, and the “campmates” barely knowing each other seemed like aggressive cancer to me. The only social interaction I witnessed at the time was a worker in a pickup truck knocking on one of the trailer doors and an arm briefly jabbing out to hand him a bag of garbage. The door slammed shut and the shades were drawn. My Burner blood dropped several degrees – I immediately wanted to form a lively group of welcoming troubadours to welcome the shit out of them!

Easy now – baby steps – we were all newbies once.

Nineteen seasons ago, I was a newbie. My entrance into Black Rock City was decidedly different from someone landing in a chartered flight with ground support to the fully stocked trailer and gassed up art car waiting. It was just me with a duffel bag. Over these last nineteen Burns, I’ve built my camp into many rotating friends and family, a wife, two children, and two nannies. It has also swelled into a rich and welcome home to a village’s worth of friends bringing music and art with a plentiful horn of loving foods and grand cheer. This hearty hearth of endearment could only have been built from several seasons of embracing the gift giving, sharing and inclusive principles of Black Rock City. It’s a constant study of participating in the moment in a community that wants to cooperate instead of compete. There’s no way an entrepreneur would be able to include this level of communal love into the line items offered in his turnkey camp. It must be worked for.

But the game has been upped considerably because inherent in the mindset of a turnkey camp is one of entitlement from the start. The troll of greed lies just under the bridge. He is a patient fisherman. A client shows up expecting to get his money’s worth with little concern for what happens to the camp after they have left the playa. In the events when the mighty playa huffs and puffs and foils the plans of all Burners, those who sold the “desert vacation of a lifetime” find themselves having to abandon Burner principles – no matter how planned for – in order to cater to the “bought and paid for” entitlements of the “clients”. It’s a mindset that seems doomed from the start.

You Are the Key by Ralitsa Ivanova, 2013 (Photo by Setareh Vatan)
You Are the Key by Ralitsa Ivanova, 2013 (Photo by Setareh Vatan)

But there’s hope – they can also learn and acculturate their camps – one rosebud at a time if need be. We must help them. It’s our civic responsibility to do so. Tempers may flare and money fingers may get pointed with contempt when things don’t go according to plan, but somewhere in that camp, someone went to Burning Man. Someone got onto one of the waiting bikes and ventured into Black Rock City. That person is ready to learn and we veterans must reach out and bring them in. Rosie Lila mentions the lifestyles of the wealthy as they live behind walls of gated exclusive communities, insulated and static. Imagine the departure from the world they are used to when they enter the intimidating but enchanting embrace of BRC for the first time – when they venture into the power of our community. A rich person spends much of his life beating back the jackals. It might take em a few to make that leap of faith into a world where folk can give without expecting return.

The camps of the wealthy are here to stay and we can’t exclude them any more than they should exclude us from the greeting areas of their camps. The walls that they build breach from the gated worlds that the wealthy tend to live in, their foundations seated in fear. Who better than us to find a way to hack into their hard drives and install the software of the vibrant principles of our hard fought community?  They must learn that to be a part of us, they must hold themselves accountable to the same standards that make our camps and villages flourish. Through this, they may find that getting their hands dirty ain’t so bad after all. It just well may be the point.

My wife Mel had said this about the DPW years ago, as many wished to join our team. She said, “Hard work is sexy!” It’s got a lot more pheromones than a stack of cash.

The newborn wealthy camps of BRC must bring more than their money and they will find that given half the chance, the power of community can blow the crap out of capital gain, every time!

Coyote Nose

About the author: Tony "Coyote" Perez-Banuet

Tony

Tony “Coyote” Perez-Banuet has been coming to the desert to build and strike Black Rock City since 1996. A professional musician for over twenty years, Burning Man culture was an easy shift for him. He co-founded the Department of Public Works of BRC in 1998 and has been the City Superintendent ever since. Known as the "Bard of the Desert", telling stories around the campfire is among the things he does best. He has been blogging under the moniker of “Coyote Nose” for many years, and he is Burning Man's first Storytelling Fellow.

67 Comments on “A Rich Man Dreams of Paradise

  • simon of the playa says:

    well said.

    we must Teach Them, to wear the reeeeeebon…

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  • Moonfly9 says:

    Beautifully put, let’s just hope that the “rich” actually joined the BMC to learn and give rather than take or chase the latest fad.

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  • Moonfly9 says:

    that was suppose to be BRC lol darn phone

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  • Merry McMullen says:

    I have heard a lot of complaints, a lot of ‘oh we must be nice’ and a lot of – nothing. I would like to hear from one person who is a plug and play participant.
    So far – nothing.
    IF we don’t matter enough to them to motivate them to talk to us – I am all for banning them.
    IF they are only using us – and WE aren’t making money off them – I am all for banning them. Should the money they pay go towards the basic set up, or into Art or into something other than someone’s pocket, I might be able to accept them (while ignoring them)
    I would also like to know, as it is not so easy to get a ticket, how the person making money from them gets all these tickets?? I did not get a ticket last year :( What do they know that I do not?
    Merry

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  • mollygolightly says:

    Rich people have been coming to Burning Man since forever. The issue here is that “radical self reliance” and “radical self expression” are set aside for people who pay thousands of dollars for someone to set up their camp, serve all their needs and clean up for them. The strong anti-commercial stance is a joke at this point.

    I first attended in 1998 and stuck with the event through its growing pains. 2014 was the first year I saw camps with signs marked “Service Entrance Only” and “Employees Only.”

    These are the resorts of Black Rock City.

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  • Momentum says:

    A little story: I had a greeter shift on Tuesday afternoon, the day after the gate re-opened following the storm. About midway through my shift, just before the sun touched the tops of the mountains, a late model Beetle with California plates rolled up to my station. Inside was a solitary man, dressed in a button down and slacks, like a consultant arriving to a networking event. Besides a road map sitting on the passenger seat, the interior of the Beetle was rental car clean and empty.

    Being Tuesday and all, I was dressed in a cowboy hat, a silk vest, and a pink tutu. The man — sixty-something, with white hair, and a pursed, amused grin — looked me over, cracking his window slightly. When I motioned for him to roll his window down, he reached for his ticket stub, which was sitting in the console.

    “No,” I said, entering into my standard Greeter’s assessment. “Where’re you coming from today?”

    “Washington,” he said.

    “Do you want to get out of your car and get a hug?,” I said.

    “No,” he said, still smirking.

    “Do you want to come over to this bell so I can do our standard intro to Black Rock City?,” I said.

    “No,” he said.

    OK. We chatted or another minute or two as I looked for anything I *could* give to him. When he mentioned he was destined for First Camp, I unfurled the map and pointed out the directions. He relaxed visibly as our conversation continued, telling me about a talk he had come to present, though he didn’t get out of the car. Only later, when I was reading articles about what had happened in BRC while I was Burning did I put two and two together and realize this was Dennis Kucinich.

    At the time, though, as he drove past the Greeter’s Station, when I still didn’t know who he was, I was overwhelmed by a sense of sadness, and it’s that same sense that I carry whenever I read or discuss this turnkey debate. The aspiration inherent in both power and wealth is the achievement of entitlements, and that piece of conditioning goes back a long, long way — at least to the time of Hans Christian Andersen and the Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s not just that this attitude is here to stay; it’s that it’s an ugly thing that requires us (the proles) to be complicit, because without our consent — without *valuing* what they won’t share , the entitlements lose their importance.

    Frankly, my favourite experiences about BRC — feeling the bass beneath my sleeping mat, embracing a stranger with dosed eyes, sitting in the center of the temple in total silence — are the ones that the billionaires seem afraid of the most. Perhaps they’d laugh at my compassion for their abject luxuries, considering me holier than thou. Maybe I am. I still think Dennis would have felt much better if he’d taken a hug.

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  • XaOs says:

    It seems that what I believe to be the core issue is repeatedly being side-stepped: do these camps that offer nothing to the general community get the same privileges as the theme camps that do give? If they don’t get those privileges, then the ongoing conversations about acculturation / entitlement etc. may continue ad nausea. But if they do get those privileges, some hard decisions must follow, and soon.

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  • Freshied says:

    Great point of view here. I remember our neighbors back in 2006, Camp LL, they seemed to be turnkey. The only people I met from the camp was ‘the crew’ of locals which included strippers.

    It is sad since many of the pnp participants do not get the full perspective of the event when everything is laid out for them. Nothing is a better feeling than building something and when finished kicking back and enjoying ones creation. Those who get that will come back again bigger and better, those who don’t go to hawaii. There are a number of pnpers who do shell out mad $$$$$ for art, why not another $15k to not worry about the rest. Honestly it is a drop in the bucket, and they are use to this life in the default world, so why change on-playa. How they get tix is another story. I too would like to hear from said folk, ‘a sherpas tale’ needs some sort of response.

    Its a slippery slope. All camps have those who work work work and the sparkle ponies. When it becomes an employee/customer type relationship then I question their principles.

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  • Andrew says:

    By the simple act of joining a Pay to Play camp they are setting themselves apart from us.

    Rich people are welcome, but when you put up a wall around your camp, have members only everything, 0 participation in the city (outside of driving around in members only art cars), then you are not part of us. They are on Safari, watching us burners from the safety that their walls provide them. They’ve paid for their “reliance” they’ve paid for their communal effort, the’ve left plenty a trace, and their experience is anything but immediate.

    Their minions (sherpas/slaves/maidens of merriment) are paid to do their bidding, fix their toilets, and any number of other things that are almost too difficult to believe.

    And someone made a profit off of it all. They sold Burning Man. But unlike the Krug fiasco from a few years back, people are OK with these wealthy fortress camps. The ORG is OK with it, hell, one of the organizers is on the board. They have commidified Burning Man, and many long time burners are suggesting we should all just turn the other cheek.

    These people are no more burners than the locals that used to be bussed in to see what the event is all about. They are on safari and we are the wild natives that they want to cross off in their adventure guide.

    If they venture into the wild, I’m sure we would all invite them in… but why would they? they can watch us from the top deck of their rented art car as we run and ride along waving like peasants hoping for a donation as the royalty passes by. And when they’re done observing the common folk they can return to their air conditioned rooms and bars with top shelf drinks and private bar tenders.

    The members of these camps are not us.

    “we can’t exclude them any more than they should exclude us from the greeting areas of their camps.”

    But they did exclude us. From their camps, their art cars, their private art, their bars, their everything… I’m alright with excluding them. I don’t want to be box ticked on some moguls burner bingo sheet.

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  • Brooks Jordan says:

    Turnkey camps shouldn’t be allowed based on this principle alone:

    “Decommodification: In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.”

    A turnkey camp is a commercial transaction.

    But the people, aside from the turnkey camp, have every right to be there and who’s to say they haven’t, or won’t, contribute as much as anyone. It’s much more nuanced then this person has lots of money and this person has less money.

    At the moment, though, the turnkey camp seems to be blocking their ability to participate and contribute. They’re living in a commercial-transaction camp so how can they truly participate it a non-commercial transaction community, along with its closely related other principles?

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  • TTATC says:

    I fear Burning Man is transitioning towards Disneyland in the dust for the elites.
    Biked out in the 9 & K neighboorhood one afternoon. It felt cold, lifeless, sterile, and institutional even. How or what are these people contributing? How are they self-reliant?
    Come on all you millionaires and billionaires, please do come out to BRC, but live in a tent or a modest hard side camper, pound rebar, pick up moop, and use the community porta-potties. I strongly suspect you will have a way more memorable experience compared to being pampered in a mega dollar turnkey camp like some helpless child who never grew up. BRC is not a luxury resort, it is boot camp for the mind and body. So try actually living radical self reliance, communal effort, participation, and civic responsibility and I’ll bet you emerge from the experience a better person. Take that money you spend and donate to a project or some theme camp rather than supporting a turnkey camp that insulates and isolates you from the true Burn expereince.

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  • Sugar says:

    Turnkey is just one type of exclusivity that happens in the modern burning man. Lots of camps create a tent version of “this is ours and only we can enjoy it”. There are land grabs and “hotties only” or “rollers only” or “hipsters only”. I think a lot of people talk about Radical Inclusiveness and dont know what it is. We never turn away anyone from our camp in word or deed. If we have space for you and you need a space to be then you are in. Regardless I’ll make you coffee or offer you some of “our” food. But, I dont have time for you or you dont fit in to my idea of what a burner should be or look like is so boring. And it hopefully is just on the learning curve and not a trend. Something about glass houses on the playa. If you cant hug your greeter maybe you should just go home and reconcider your values.

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  • ADP says:

    None of the people who bought their high priced burning man experience are reading this, ya know…

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  • BRC bender says:

    I got no problem with the rich kids. I got no problem with how they act. My problem is the employment of individuals on playa to build and service the rich kids. And like any business they are subject to the rules. Building a temporary area through paid employees. OSHA, labor board, and tax man will be in your business. Don’t joke and say OSHA has been out there. If you think so. You’ll see. These government agencies will take a bit out if your profits. They will also make sure you are treating your workers fair. Deal with it.

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  • Rev. Tequila says:

    A virgin’s perspective. This was my first year. I came alone. I saw turn key camps, theme camps, many different camps. It seems the offense being complained of is one of scale of the ‘other guy’ when it may be more appropriate to consider our own actions.

    While I saw many camps with a welcoming area there were few I felt welcome. While I’m sure many brought gifts there were few that gifted me. I was struck how most participation was with some group, large or small, but there was little true commradery among the groups, large or small.

    Yes, I reached out. Yes, I talked and volunteered and gifted. But I was accepted by only one small group. Thank goodness there are some out there who truly feel the connection an live it in thought and deed.

    I think it would do well for some who are ready to ban someone to look at their own actions with a critical eye. Because I am pretty sure there are some burners who felt the sting of isolation from the actions of some of these critics. It is just a matter of scale.

    Thank you Burning Man. And thank you Todd, Stacie, and the Zombie Camp at Jade and 4:15. See you ALL next year. Peace and love from Rev. Tequila.

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  • Patience says:

    I’d love to see these PnP camps put their money where their mouth is and sponsor low-income people that maybe would never know about BM – so they can come to BM and experience the amazing sense of community and interdependence. Pay them to take a week off word, transport them, provide all the gear and food they need (because they likely can’t afford it), teach them to set up their gear and how to be self reliant (cause if they can’t afford gear they probably haven’t camped before), provide them space in a welcoming camp environment, teach them about the 10 principles and help them put them into action, help them integrate into BM, and even help them find a way to bring something of their BM experience back to their community in the default world. Its a pipe dream, I know – but it doesn’t hurt to dream!

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  • Bryan Mohr says:

    What ever happened to “No Spectators!”? It seems like all these pnp camps are just that .. spectators! If they are there to participate, cool, but if they’re just there to people-watch, and do drugs in their motorhomes, fuck ’em!

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  • LifeSux says:

    coffee
    ice
    water and water pumping
    hotels
    prostitutes
    slaves

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  • TweakTheWyrd says:

    My experience was very similar to Rev. Tequila’s. My partner has been to BM five times and was excited to share BM with me. I came prepped to survive and contribute and did contribute. This year was my first year, and it was not the welcoming, inclusive experience I’ve been told it is. Many camps just looked us up and down and then turned their backs, or if we got to introductions told me that virgins are wrecking BM. The spectacle of BM was amazing, but the only consistently welcoming camp I found was Fandango. I get that upping the size and plug-and-play are problems, but I think the BM’s community response to these things at times not following the principles of radical inclusion and is changing BM’s reputation as a welcoming to anyone place. I encountered a lot of “I earned this and you’re an outsider who’s wrecking my event” attitude that was really disappointing. I loved the spectacle of BM 2014, but it had no heart connection and seemed to be filled with “us and them” tension.

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  • Blaze says:

    I work at the airport, it is just as much a cattle call as Gate, but with planes.

    Although the boon in traffic is more work for us, I understand and embraces this growth. I don’t particularly mind that the sparkle ponies are clueless – so long as they aren’t rude – for in a week they will be a changed little pony. (so true)

    Like so many of the issues we have faced over the years, it is new territory, delicate, complicated, scrutinized carefully – and our decisions set new precedent for assimilating commodified groups into our culture. The eyes of the world are upon us.

    Ultimately, it is about breaking apart and commodifying portions of what we intend to be a bundled experience: reducing your cost in terms of effort to be there, shunting that responsibility (opportunity!) on others, and putting very real expectations on them. As always, money on the playa undermines our 10P in myriad little ways, which is why it was tossed out in the first place.

    If a wealthy person wants to come out, they should have to produce and run their own camp. They will find, like everyone, that real effort is required; for them effort is in terms of time and concentration. That effort invests them, in a very real way, in the community. They are us.

    Suggesting: Limit SRPs to single-service providers (ie, potties, food delivery, etc.) Sub-contractors only, no General.

    The real gap hits those who aren’t necessarily wealthy, but travel from afar and cannot bring a camp with them. Might I suggest a way for BMORG and / or interested parties to set up a hostel (not hotel !) system that provides minimal accommodations, under the same guidelines we provided the Turn Key camps. Perhaps as a Guild …

    Anything but what we’re facing.

    Dang, the issues just don’t roll over and die like they used to.

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  • G says:

    It appears to me from my 12 Burn’s experience, that people with money have always been there. It was clear to me at my first Burn in ’03 that there were people of some wealth to put together many the various amazing camps and art cars and playa installations.
    What is new is this subset that is being brought in and pampered by for-profit operations. As much as I believe they are a defilement of the spirit of the event, their numbers are relatively small, and honestly, they are lost in the sea of 65,000 others at the event. Other recent year’s developments such as the art car sound system wars, ticket demand exceeding supply, and ridiculously strict intrusive police state LEO presence negatively and directly impact me as a participant way more than knowing there are a few clueless moneybags being fed a synthetic Burn experience by profiteers. On that note the Gypsy Flower Power Camp deserves the same disdain, and it appears neither they or the camp organizer were extraordinarily wealthy relatively speaking. Perhaps for profit turnkey camps need some sort of oversight by the BORG.

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  • belinda williams says:

    no spectators, participants only!

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  • Matthew Leeds says:

    Why is this conversation about turnkey camps always couched as false a dichotomy between “not allowing rich people” and “allowing rich people”? It is actually getting somewhat annoying to hear it repeated by someone like the author of this article. After all, people have been repeatedly railing against this mistake in most discussions that I have read. So, presumably the author of this article, if she has been paying attention, knows better. Annoying.

    In any case, to repeat: I don’t think *anyone* of significance wants to exclude rich people. Indeed, it would be foolish because rich people have been coming for a long time, including one old burner who is my friend. My understanding is that many people want the commodification (and other “violations” of burner culture) that is represented by turnkey camps to end. That desire is not equivalent to a desire to exclude rich people.

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  • fri-'net-ik says:

    I’m in the radical inclusion camp. They might come out once and love it and come back with something spectacular. And it’s an experimental community – maybe gentrification is just inevitable even with a different set of principles? We have to maintain ticket prices at about the current price tho because we already exclude people who can’t afford to come out.

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  • Rio says:

    My beef about PnP camps is that this is really ticket scalping. Someone gets a bunch of tickets, diminishing the availability of tickets (directed sale? swarming the regular sale? someone on the inside?) And either by selling those tickets at a premium or jacking up the price of their turnkey services does exactly what we have all been working hard to avoid and supposedly banned by the BMorg.

    Tickets in the regular sale sold out in minutes. Friends who have been going for years and following the rules were shut out. No problem for the PnP camps and their their Sherpas. How come? Without a guaranteed source and amount of tickets these camps couldn’t exist.

    Something smells here and that is the problem. This stuff threatens the trust the BMorg asks we have of them. I buy the expensive pre-sale tickets because I have been told my larger payment helps provide tickets to the low income folks. I’m no longer sure that I trust this is happening. This is why these camps need to be eliminated.

    P.S. As I read these blog comments I am struck by the lack of response from PnP camp owners, attendees or the BMorg. We can wish these folks get what we get from Burning Man but judging from the replies we are singing to the choir. The BMorg says they’re not against commerce just against making Burning Man a commodity yet that is indeed what these camps do.

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  • G says:

    Piss Clear’s Adrian wrote recently that this is Burning Man 3.0, defined by when ticket demand exceeded ticket supply. This new reality is catalyzing some not so subtle changes.
    If I recall correctly,2.0 was defined as when the event went from non-organized to organized.

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  • NJohns says:

    I want to know how large pnp groups get large groups of tickets. This question is being skipped over time and again. I was unable to purchase one ticket last year via any route. ( I need to plan, want more than a OMG sale month to do it!)
    If the financial gain and ticket process has a double standard and is encouraged by a selling methods for one set and not the other – That would be … Very disheartening
    I would also like everyone who judges the pnp to look in the mirror and be sure their reflection is very clear. I’m 50 – I can tell you .. a good sum of burners don’t see me. Period. You have your own natural set of blinders on for what you want to see. No one cared who I was or if I hug or not. I don’t wear fake fur, my style is simple tank and boxers. No neon, no boobs, no flash. Everyone raced by on bikes to their next stop. No one talked or sat down until I made a point to visit neighbors and interact. In 7 years this has not changed. Does that mean your from a pnp camp if you zoom by? Did you respond to me like you accuse the pnp people of being? How many times did you meet a new person last year and sit with them, talk and experience new perspectives next to great art? How many times did you help a stranger? Did you really go outside your comfort zone and do new things with new people on playa? Theme camps and art cars are turning into their own special PnP groups. When they pass my Mom at age 70 and get pissy when I ask for a ride to my camp on their way back – Look in the damn mirror and tell me you don’t exclude with the same sorts of mental blocks the PnP group does. Seriously – Its not the money that is 100% of the issue here.

    If I camped in a pnp, suddenly you would see my trailer but not me.
    My only issue is with people finding an issue. Allow the experience of life to be theirs while you live yours. We cant rate them on one scale and then rate ourselves on a different scale – Sheltered in a pnp trailer or out in a tent, makes no difference when a person says Hello while looking at amazing art.

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  • JAiAquarian says:

    The first principle hasn’t been mentioned. Radical Inclusion “ANYONE may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. NO PREREQUISITES EXIST for participation in our community.” PERIOD
    I agree that the plugnplays might not get as much out of the experience but so what. We are not curating their personal growth. If someone wants to go half-assed to Burning Man, it is our perogative to whine and moan and bitch, but seriously…banning someone because they aren’t as Burner as you? Participation might not look the same to everyone but that is the way of the world.

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  • Rio says:

    “NO PREREQUISITES EXIST for participation in our community.” PERIOD”

    Well, that no longer true. To be part of a Pnp your first prerequisite is MONEY. Lots of MONEY. The second is someone on the inside (probably) to assure the organizers of these camps he/she have enough tickets to make the endeavor worthwhile. IE: Profit motive.

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  • Weinstain says:

    It feels like every Burning Org Blog is a propaganda to accept this change, this loss, this 2.0 plus 1.0 equation. The above blog entry is no exception. It is just another course of logic that attempts with fallacious logic to convince. Feels that way, anyway.

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  • Dustin says:

    I don’t care how rich someone is, or how much many they want to spend on their camp. I want to know if these camps get their tickets the same way everyone else does? Do they go through the same theme camp placement process, art car approval process, wait in the same gate lines, and scrounge for early entrance tickets like everyone else, or as rumor has it, do they pay more for preferred access to these services? If so, that is complete and utter bullshit. The lack of information from the organization is also appalling. Burning man transparency the past few years has gone from “weak” to “terrible” – it’s sad.

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  • Nevada Badger says:

    Divide and conquer…

    …Ha, ha ha…

    You are all a bunch of fools!?!

    burning since 1994

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  • Nevada Badger says:

    p.s. the true community – has long ago – moved on…

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  • Brigit says:

    Commodification. How are these turnkey camps NOT commodifying the experience of Burning Man and why will the BMorg not address this issue?

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  • kyle ruddick says:

    There’s nothing wrong with being rich. There’s nothing wrong with $20,000 camp dues. Rich people are welcome to go big and do. We owe a ton of art to the wealthy. But there is an issue with for profit businesses invading the playa to provide private hotels. Don’t act like rich people can’t go anywhere with out a 5 star experience. That’s bullshit. If they can’t figure it our with a nice RV then fuck them don’t come. Any camp with dues over $500 should be required to be a 501 c3 or submit financials to show a lack of profit. If you have a million dollar camp you should be providing $975,000 of interactivity to the playa. Imagine rich folks! You will be so fucking cool. Ditch those hotels and start your own camps like many have. The hotels are just hustlers scamming you from the ultimate experience you could be having.

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  • jolly green giant says:

    AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL BURNERS
    It is with great fascination that I have read, listened, and watched the variety of interpretations of the Ten Principles. Most of my fellow Burners have taken reasonable and responsible positions, but others seem confused. I am requesting that the my following ruminations be considered as thought-provoking and worthy of exploration.

    All organizations,both for profit and non-profit begin with three basic principles:
    !. WHAT do I want to do?
    2. HOW do I want to do it?
    3. WHY do I want to do it ?

    Most organizations start with the “WHAT”, then move on to the “HOW”, allowing those two questions to come to the conclusion “WHY”” For-profit organizations usually answer the “WHY” with “to make a profit” while non-profits answer “to help those in need”

    However,there are some organizations that begin with “WHY,” allowing it to determine the “WHAT” and “HOW.” These organizations are radical. You may recognize their names: Google, Apple, Tesla, and BURNING MAN!!!! What is the “WHY” for these radicals? It is not the Ten Principles; the Ten Principles are the result of the “WHY;” the Ten Principles are merely the “WHAT.”

    I have not canvassed the founders of Burning Man, but here is my perception of what they might tell us about the “WHY:” ‘We see a need in our society to be more open, honest, authentic, spiritual, accepting, creative, kind, and helpful. These attributes must be extended to our fellow humans and to our home, our Earth. We wii, if only for a brief time, do our best to pursue a better, more complete, more healthful way of life. We will not only propose it, but we will witness it.'”

    I believe this “WHY” is inclusive, gentle, tolerant, and in accordance with the Ten Principles. It allows for the righteousness of diversity in practice. Because someone’s Burn is different from mine does not make it wrong. The “WHY” is community — a healthy, vibrant community.

    Principles can, of course, be too rigid, misused, or poorly applied; but those negatives do not change the original intent of the principle. The tail does not wag the dog. Conversely, the dumping of garbage or defecating on the Playa, exchanging a product or service for money on the Playa, embezzling from patrons or other forms of rule breaking go far beyond misinterpretation or misunderstanding and must be dealt with promptly and vigorously.

    Peace be with You, The Jolly Green Giant

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  • Ang says:

    Lose all RVs over 20 foot. No more than one RV for ten people, a bathroom on wheels. No walls around a camp. A silent night, no sound other than voice and human powered instruments, mid week. Those pretty people can’t stand to be with their own thoughts for more than 15 minutes, they will clear out fast. Do that and I might try this train wreck of an art event again.

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  • Ted says:

    I humbly offer a suggestion for both the PnP and the Radically UnSelfreliant:

    BAN ALL RV’s !

    (except perhaps for DWP and early arrivers)
    (and this comes from an RV owner)
    (and six time Burner (1st in 2000))

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  • I wonder if there might be a sliding scale Entry Donation that is decided at the gate. This Donation would increase with the size of the RV…..from a zero to bus folk (who must be coming with very little) to a LOT for the biggest of the BIG….
    Sorry if this idea has already been submitted!

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  • Nik says:

    @Momentum – best comment here; so true that there will always be some that do Burning Man half-assed. Whether it’s PnP participants, PnP workers, or just random people who are, at least initially, “doing it wrong”

    But that’s the whole point. We all were new at some point, and we all did it wrong, and we all learned. Maybe some didn’t and left and never came back. Either way – you can’t force personal growth on people, and you couldn’t force anyone to do burning man the right way, even if there was a right way.

    All the “problems” we see with PnP camps we see with any camps that provide services; a lot of the older camps provide showers and meals for a camp fee, and virgins often make use of that as they’re scared to go to burning man without such support. Especially when they come from overseas.
    These meals and showers are not radically inclusive – they’re for camp members only, and there’s a certain tension with ensuring there are no freeloaders. I’ve always felt that that’s not fitting with burning man; but I’ve accepted those camps and their rules;

    I feel the outrage over PnP camps is mostly a default world kind of outrage; this grudge that many hold that the rich can do things they can’t. The feeling of lack. Which is ironic, considering that money has no value at burning man – that’s one of the best things about it! Everyone who has ever been knows full well that their own experience would have been the same at best, but likely worse, had they been locked up in a PnP camp, or flown in for the burn weekend.

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  • jolly green giant says:

    I am reminded of the parable in the Bible of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee ( Holy Man ) states that he is not a Tax Collector. He seeks GOD, prays , worships etc etc. To be a Tax Collector in those days was to say that you were the lowest of the lowest. Now the Tax collector said “Lord have mercy on me sinner that I am” Both men were telling the truth as they understood it. But only one man was telling the whole truth. That was the Tax collector. You see both men were the same but only one realized it. Think about it!!

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  • Bear Bernardo says:

    It took me 15 minutes to realize after stepping onto the playa off the plane from Burbank to realize I’m a burner. The turn key convenience got me to BM, but did not define my experience. It’s a month later and Ive crowd funded from fellow camp members – all new friends- to build an art car for next year and I’m excited to arrive earlier next year to help set up. I am still learning about what makes the magic of BM but I am grateful to have had the camp as a catalysts for my first burn.

    – Bear Bernardo

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  • jolly green giant says:

    If you will I would like to add a postscript to my various posts. For the Last 35 odd years of my 71 years I have been going to medium and maximum prisons. (Mens,women’s and juveniles) Now those are places that have no tolerance for the breaking of rules. For 35 years I have followed those rules. If you don’t you are blackballed. So the first rule is 1. Follow the rules . 2.The second is Tolerance . There is not much of anything that I haven’t seen or heard in those 35 years. But in order to do my job as a volunteer I had to learn TOLERANCE because without that I COULD NOT BE EFFECTIVE. 3.The third thing I learned was that people do change but they have to want to change. It is not my job to change them. My job is offer a choice. 4.The fourth that I have learned is that God gave me two ears ,two eyes and one tongue. Please think about what I have said.

    Peace be with you, Jolly Green Giant

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  • Glenda david says:

    Prior to heading out to BM I had cause to visit a dentist in Reno. He was interested in my trip and told me his Dad (also a Dentist), loved BM and had been 3 times. After an X-ray and consultation I went back to the front desk to pay. No charge! I totally ‘got it’ – my BM experience started right then.

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  • Human Jones says:

    The Oligarchs even want Burning Man to justify themselves. We are all doomed.

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  • Al Hausser says:

    I am a PNP Burner. I funded through Kickstarter several major art projects, and once on the playa, found the camps that built the art projects to introduce myself and felt welcomed. I volunteered at Center Camp and as a Lamplighter. I shipped out a case of “CoolOffs” and gifted over a thousand to total strangers. I spent each and every day on the playa. I shared our trailer during major dust storms with other burners. We shared beer and stories and got to know our neighbors. I read this blog contrary to what other bloggers say about PNP’s not reading and participating. I don’t resent any comments made on this blog, even though there is a ton of surmising about what a PNP Burner does and does not do at BM, which is mostly incorrect. I am sure there are some PNP camps that are exclusive, but the one I was in was all inclusive of any Burner that happened to come by. I would not be able to participate in BM if it was not for the PNP camps. As to tickets, I put down a non-refundable deposit for this camp, not knowing if I would get a ticket or not through the lottery. I did get tickets through the lottery just like everyone else, and gifted two extra tickets to a couple that could not afford them. Don’t be too quick to judge PNP burners, as most give back to BM much more than realized.

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  • Pilgrim says:

    @Al Hausser, thank you for sharing your story. And @Bear Bernardo
    I think we can see here the issue is not “wealth.”

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  • Brown Sugar says:

    I am looking over these comments trying to make sense of it all and come across Nevada Badger short yet hurtful words. You tell me you have been going sense 94 and I say thank you. I tell you I’ve been twice and you don’t consider me part of the community. If the “real community” moved on long ago than the scraps you left behind I call home and I don’t want it further eroded by people who openly choose not to participate. So instead of looking at us like children fighting over a dying dog how about you take your wisdom and experience and help.. Who Is Conquering As We are dividing?

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  • Brown Sugar says:

    I second Pilgrims thank you.

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  • roller says:

    i’ll third Pilgram’s thank you

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  • TTATC says:

    @Pilgrim . . .
    I take you mean money is not the problem, culture is?

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  • Pilgrim says:

    I’m curious about if, how and why BMorg is complicit in the ticketing, placement and labor practices of Commodification Camps. (See a sherpa’s tale.)

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  • Bonerz says:

    @Al Hausser

    Dude, you can only get two tickets in the lottery. So it seems unlikely that you were able to give away 2 and have 1 for yourself as you claim if they actually came from the lottery.

    Why do you say you would “not be able to participate” if not for PnP? What disability prevents you from just going like everybody else?

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  • Al Hausser says:

    I don’t need to justify my post, yet to clarify Bonerz doubting my truthfulness, two of us each got two tickets in the lottery and therefore had two extra tickets to gift. While staying in a PNP camp, we did participate, with our hearts and souls that made BM a better place for all; more than Bonerz will ever know. Funding art projects allowed us to participate months before our arrival at BM. Bonerz, please don’t be so quick to judge others, especially those who can only participate by staying in a PNP Camp. (And my reasons for staying in a PNP don’t need justification.)

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  • jolly green giant says:

    These posts have degenerated to attacks on the “Rich”. They have stopped being helpful . Your generalizations about PNP Camps are not factual. Your generalizations about Theme Camps are just as bad. Some of you have even accused Burning Man of colluding somehow in a ticket scam. I have no doubt that some of you belong to the “Black Helicopter ” club. If you are so dissatisfied go have your own “thing” . Or make an effort to have constructive helpful ideas. Our census tells us that 45% of us make $50,000 or more. 55% of us have 4 to 6 years of Higher education. We are not idiots,liars or lazy. Just because some of us do not want to do it your way does not mean “we don’t get it”

    peace be with you, Jolly Green Giant

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  • Pilgrim says:

    Thank you, again, @Al Hausser for clarifying your tickets only came from the lottery. This is a valuable contribution to the thread.

    @Jolly Green Giant, how is it constructive or helpful to accuse others of being conspiracy theorists? Weren’t you just preaching about tolerance a couple of days ago?

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  • Jolly Green Giant says:

    Dear Pilgr1m, Thank you for your reply. Tolerance and acceptance are two different words. Tolerance is conditional ( limits) Acceptance is unconditional (no limits). One of the big problems with our society ( our community at large ) is we have become intolerant. If you are not with me you are against me. That is why our government is so dysfunctional. But tolerance does have limits. What we are discussing in all these blogs is what can we all agree to tolerate. We are beginning at the Burning Man community to find that we cannot accept all things but must determine what we may tolerate. That tolerance is guided by the WHY of our community. In “My Letter to The Burning Man Community”(above) I describe what that is. I spoke out because , in my opinion, certain individuals, went over the line. I did not mean to say that they were not entitled to their opinion. But rather that opinion could have been said kinder. Which brings me back to the point I was trying to make in “My Letter”. Our limits are not to be determined by the” 10 Principles” but rather by what makes us a “healthy and vibrant community”

    Peace be with you, Jolly Green Giant

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  • Kevin says:

    Some of this discussion confuses me, because as long as I’ve been going to burning man (back around the turn of the century), there’s been a pervasive presence of rich people, even if they didn’t make their presence obvious. Seriously, are poor people (or even middle-class people) bringing powerful green lasers, sound systems fit for a disco, etc.? And yes, I know some art cars are pieced together from junk, but I’d guess most involve some serious outlay in cash … and then more cash to store them in Reno for the off-season.

    Yes, there is an issue with plug-and-plays, but it has little to do with the income of the attendee, and more to do with people seeing Burning Man as just another festival to attend, or a vacation destination that they can book in advance. We should stick to the issue.

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  • Jolly Green Giant says:

    KEVIN you hit it square dead center!!!!!Guys you need to read our 2010 census. 1.4 percent of us earns $300,000.00 or more in a given year. This year that means 952 persons. Out of 68,000 persons. Do you really think that is a problem ? Really? Being “Rich” is not the problem. The problem is our “THEME” Camps need some LIMITS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and we have to realize that people ,in general, will not pay attention to RULES !. Namely SEWAGE, GARBAGE,PAYING BURNING MAN FEES,PAYING BLM FEES, ETC. For a start= Everyone coming to BM should be sold diesel mandatory sewer dumps. Lets drill down with that first. Then lets make it mandatory that all vehicles(exclusive of working vehicles and art cars) be sent to an adjacent parking area. Then we move on to our Theme Camps and require downsizing. Namely allotting a certain amount of space for every member of that Camp. Some of our Camps are using an unconscionable amount of space. All of the above would relieve any Space Problems. Then we move on to requiring our Camps to use large diesel generators instead of small portable gas generators. Those diesel geberators are

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  • Jolly Green Giant says:

    KEVIN you hit it square dead center!!!!!Guys you need to read our 2010 census. 1.4 percent of us earns $300,000.00 or more in a given year. This year that means 952 persons. Out of 68,000 persons. Do you really think that is a problem ? Really? Being “Rich” is not the problem. The problem is our “THEME” Camps need some LIMITS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and we have to realize that people ,in general, will not pay attention to RULES !. Namely SEWAGE, GARBAGE,PAYING BURNING MAN FEES,PAYING BLM FEES, ETC. For a start= Everyone coming to BM should be sold diesel mandatory sewer dumps. Lets drill down with that first. Then lets make it mandatory that all vehicles(exclusive of working vehicles and art cars) be sent to an adjacent parking area. Then we move on to our Theme Camps and require downsizing. Namely allotting a certain amount of space for every member of that Camp. Some of our Camps are using an unconscionable amount of space. All of the above would relieve any Space Problems. Then we move on to requiring our Camps to use large diesel generators instead of small portable gas generators. Those diesel generators are over 200 percent more efficient. Result less pollution/less noise. You guys have any ideas you would like to share ?

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  • Jolly Green Giant says:

    sorry about the typo please “delete diesel” preceding “mandatory sewer dumps”

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  • socks2 says:

    This is not about being rich. It about the 10 principles
    Ever heard of them? If not here they are

    The 10 principles
    Our community’s ethos is built on the values reflected in the 10 principles
    Burning man is understood not as a event, but referring to a way of life lived
    consistently with these 10 principles. They are meant to be taken as a whole, as
    a set of commonly understood values that have arisen out of the history of the burning man experience

    Radical Inclusion civic responsibility
    Gifting Leaving no trace
    Decommodification Participation
    Radical self reliance Immediacy
    Radical self expression Communal effort

    The plug and plays mock these principles
    so that’s why people are mad.

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  • jolly green giant says:

    Dear Socks 2, you have it backwards. A healthy community gives rise to all of those things and so much more. Those are just a few of the things found in a healthy community. No one is saying that those ten principles are not valid. But they certainly do not comprise the totality of a healthy community. A healthy community is diverse. A healthy community is not singular in values. A healthy community is in a constant state of creation and destruction all going on at the same time. This universe,this world we live in is in that same state. Try as you might you cannot describe one thing in your life that does not have change. Without change- We die. There is no stopping- No time out. If you are talking about Burning Man or Flesh and Blood,it is change or die. Burning Man is changing from what it needed to be to what it needs to be. It is either that or it dies. Only time will tell what that change is to be. Enjoy the ride. You only get one.

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  • Serin says:

    Just thought I’d put a few ideas out here. Each time we define something we use an extreme to do so. Seems that we are in a city not a nation with a bunch of little cities in it. I mean we call it ” Home “. Because when you get this many folks together and most all are giving of them selves freely and generously allowing others to help them if they need some thing.., you create this quite awesome ether , where magic happens.
    You know when you just think it and it happens. This takes a lot of mental and physical prep-work and intention of all to pull that off. I sold a ticket to a couple who were one short and newbies. I could just tell that they would be so beautiful there. My camp is beautiful and hoping to camp next to other great camps in a beautiful neighbor hood. With out having to do extra special meditations to pretend I don’t mind that wall of an RV 5 ‘ from my camp that blocks the sun rise. I mean its like a red rubber ball! IT is so cool and rewarding to wake up in your place that you made and you slept like a baby despite the noise. And your dust masked worked just fine but your camp stove
    failed as someone just gave you a hot pizza and you don’t need that RV. It just feels so good. Maybe we need a movie night event to high light all the fun you can have when you can get real dirty and stay up all night for a week dancing from
    out of a shelter that you build in your back yard. I think that BM 2015 is going to
    be better regarding this issue.

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  • Jolly Green Giant says:

    I have shared with you that I am a businessman,one of your vendors. ex-Officer in the National Guard,a volunteer,who has spent thousands of hours in our prison systems, trying to make it better in this world. Very early in this process I was involved in a “Weekend retreat” in Prison. Believe me it bore no resemblance to what you and I would call a retreat. There were large round tables scattered around the room. At each table there where 6 inmates and three outside people. The three outside people were each put between two inmates. A speaker would talk about a topic for 30 minutes and we would discuss what was said for another 45 minutes. Now no one knew who was going to be sitting where. It was pot luck. But I like every other human being have my prejudices-Issues?- Problems?. I have a hard time dealing with Pedophiles. They are wired different and they prey on children. So guess who set on my left. You guessed it. A Pedophile . He was an attorney. He was smart, articulate and courteous. And what I was taught was that I might not like what the person was but I was called to love that person, You see liking someone is not the same as loving someone. I believe this lesson holds true for much of what we have been discussing here. Lets try and follow thru on that principle.

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  • Mim Krohn says:

    BM 2014 was my third. I travel from Australia and it takes a lot of preparation and courage. We have to commit to air fares, annual leave and RV long before tickets go on sale. This year we missed out on tickets. But determined to go “home” I contacted a whole lot of theme camps and in the final weeks before departure got some tickets. We had to pay an additional $500 each to be part of the camp. In return we had great facilities. But compared to years when we’ve arrived on our own, it was a totally different experience, nowhere near the same as pulling up next to strangers who become your mates , who share stories and experiences before heading out for a ride of discovery. Its not an experience I would choose again. Commodification of BM has begun. With the accidental publishing of play lists before the event and pnp camps BM is changing. This is not a debate about rich people ruining BM, it wouldnt exist without generous donations and gifting. The question is for those of you that go to huge lengths to be on the playa and fully participate, are the pnp camps in the true spirit of BM? It is a commercial transaction. Allow one, then others may follow.
    It doesnt sit right with me.
    As someone who struggled to get tixs this year I would also like to know how these camps are allotted tickets.
    Mim
    Sydney

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  • Jar says:

    Definitely we must limit the amount of turnkey camps or else the whole thing may at some point turn into a playground for the wealthy at the expense of many, many creative, beautiful folks who do not value wealth as a high priority in their life goals.

    I don’t see an issue of any type of person “ruining” Burning Man, rather, it is more an issue of commercial interest bearing down and affecting ticket access. Folks interested in making a buck off rich people are going to be very resourceful at securing tickets. It may not be possible to stop them doing what they do. And where huge profits are being made, other entrepreneurs are sure to follow.

    The only solution may be to limit the number of large RV’s which are integral to the turnkey camps. Or at least, break up the “wagon train”-ing of them. If rich folks want an escorted, turnkey camp, let them do it individually. This will confound the profiteering camp providers as it will not be profitable (or at least make it logistically difficult) to service each RV individually and separately interspersed throughout the city.

    As for radical inclusion…..bah. This principle serves to make us feel better about ourselves but is not practical in reality, is it? I have never seen it practiced consistently out there even among veteran burner camps and I personally have booted drunks, random freeloaders and dope seekers out of our camps many times.

    One year I was out on my own on my bike and stopped to take a drink of water in some shade at a small, colorful camp. I asked permission first and an older lady, said “sure, no problem” and I sat down. A guy then stepped out of a nearby RV and looked at me like “who the hell are you?” The lady said, “he’s all right, he has a peace symbol tatt.” I looked around and saw the camp had a peace/love theme. The guy relaxed a bit and said okay, but it was clear the message was “drink your water dude and move on.”

    Another year I met up with an old girlfriend who had become a fire dancer. She invited me into her huge 1,000 person art/disco camp and asked me to wait by a fire while she prepped herself for a show. I sat down on a log with some other folks there and soon there were people saying to each other “who is this guy? does anybody know him?” I spoke up and told them I was was waiting for my friend prepping for a fire dance show. They apologized and said they were suspicious of law enforcement posing as burners and surveilling the inner sections of big camps looking for good places and cause to bust people.

    These are the realities of Burning Man 3.0. LEO’s posing as Burners, along with parasitic, anti-social types have destroyed radical inclusion. And now, it looks like turnkey camps are on their way to affecting who is able to get a ticket.

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