Equality, Inequity, Iniquity: Concierge Culture

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
–Motto of the American Grange

I began my career in the desert sleeping out of doors in the lee of a truck. The next year I brought out a low-slung two-man tent that accommodated my belongings and a sleeping bag. This arrangement was succeeded, after a period of years, by a series of ugly RV’s. Eventually I bought my current trailer; though battered by eight winters in the desert, it is still quite sleek and tighter than a can of tuna. It is an elegant home. Sometimes I half-humorously refer to this as the higher survival. I chronicle my history of upward mobility because I don’t believe this story is unique. Feathering one’s nest is a perennial human aspiration. It is amenities that make a house a home, and everyone should have a right to practice home improvement.

Black Rock City, 2012 (photographer unknown)
Black Rock City, 2012 (photographer unknown)

In the midst of the current controversy about Plug and Play camps, there has been a great deal of talk about equality, but I think that much of this misses the mark. Scan Burning Man’s Ten Principles, and you will not find radical equality among them. This is because our city has always been a place where old and young, and rich and poor, can live on common ground. The word for this is fellowship, as in the fellowship of a club or lodge whose members, however diverse, are united by common values and a sense of shared experience. But common ground is not a level playing field, and should not be interpreted as mandating equal living conditions.

This issue of equality almost amounts to a straw man. I do not believe that most people would want to live in a city that is the equivalent of a Marxist State, a place in which the prying eyes of envious neighbors are forever trained upon one. Instead, I think the current controversy over Plug and Play camps is not so much about equality, but concerns a very different though related concept: inequity – a basic sense of unfairness. Whenever a select group is allowed special access to tickets, especially when these tickets are in short supply, this can inspire ill feeling. This is doubly so if such a camp is widely perceived to be flouting nearly all of Burning Man’s Ten Principles. This is what has stuck and rankled in the public mind. It is as if these camps have been allowed to parade past the Main Sale ticket queue and insert themselves at the head of the line.

We do of course afford such a privilege to placed theme camps, collaborating artists, and many other quasi-public groups. This takes the form of a separate sale of directed tickets. However people don’t complain about this practice because it is now widely acknowledged that these camps are making special contributions to the life of Black Rock City. Unlike Plug and Play camps, which make up less than one percent of our city’s population, these activist camps are helping to knit together our city’s culture. They accomplish this by giving gifts that are above and beyond the common call of duty.

It therefore follows that the best reform we can enact is to stop placing these Plug and Play camps in a category that sets them apart from others. This was done informally, it was not fully thought out, and we apologize for this mistake. To rectify this error, we now intend to make these camps subject to the standards that have regulated theme camps and related groups. This means that in order to receive placement, early arrival passes to the event site, or access to preferential tickets, they must demonstrate what they propose to give to their fellow citizens. Not only is this fair, we also think this will lead to deeper and more heartfelt change. No amount of preaching can replace immediate experience, and we believe that constant interaction can be the best teacher of all.

This leads me to another aspect of inequity. Is it fair that Burning Man sells a limited number of higher-priced tickets that provide better access to the event? In order to adequately answer this question, I will first recount a little history. As everyone in the world now seems to know, in 2012 Burning Man went through a crisis. In that year demand for tickets exceeded supply by something like a 3:1 ratio. At the same time, the Bureau of Land Management, our Federal landlords, had placed hard limits on our city’s growth – it was the perfect storm, and many ticket buyers, long accustomed to unlimited access to the event, reacted angrily. People wanted a commodity that’s called a ticket, and over a span of several weeks, any sense of fellowship flew out the window – it was like a riot at a Blue Light Sale. Many people offered plans to solve this problem, and yet it often seemed that these solutions were actually crafted to ensure that they would receive a ticket. Amid much finger pointing and scapegoating, even theme campers were denounced as a privileged elite.

To look at this charitably, it’s clear to me that none of this would have happened if Burning Man were merely a consumer event. The passions that many people have brought to this issue are the result of a deep-seated commitment to an experience that has changed their lives. But as it was then, during the great ticket furor, so it is today; now it is being said that wealthy people – imagined as one-per-centers and gentrifiers who are taking over America – are actively demeaning and oppressing ordinary citizens, and that event organizers, motivated by greed, are selling out their principles. It is even said, bizarrely, that we’re scalping our own tickets. Such a picture has all of the advantages of melodrama, but the real story, especially as it relates to money, is very different.

We have sold a limited number of higher-priced tickets on a first-come first-served basis since 2008. In 2014, 3,113 of these tickets, priced at $650, were sold as part of our early Pre-Sale program. The advantage to the customer was that it was possible to order four tickets at one time – twice the number of tickets allotted to purchasers of $380 tickets in our Main Sale. There can be no doubt that this was preferential treatment and, on the face of it, this appears to be the sort of inequity that has angered people. But the mystery of our motive is revealed by another statistic. In 2014, we sold 4,422 Low Income tickets priced at $190, and this more than mirrors the number of higher priced tickets sold through our Pre-Sale program. We took money from the rich and subsidized the poor; and this seems fair to us.

This account of how money flows through our organization also has another dimension. In 2014 the owners of the Burning Man event transferred their shares to a not-for-profit corporation called the Burning Man Project, and the event is now nested within this new organization as a wholly owned subsidiary. The mission of the Project is to spread our culture throughout the world. This is an ambitious goal, to say the least, and such a start-up enterprise requires money. Over a span of three years, the Burning Man event has spent quite a lot of money in order to create this new non-profit and fund its operations. In other words, the Burning Man event has been the Project’s chief contributor.

We hope the Burning Man Project will soon become completely self-reliant – The Little Engine That Could can’t really pull many more cars. But until that time arrives,  a portion of our ticket sales will continue to benefit the Burning Man Project. Since 2012, when tickets first became a scarce commodity, I think some people have become so obsessed with squeezing through the narrow aperture that leads to Black Rock City they have lost any sense of a wider perspective. But from our point of view, by giving money to the Burning Man Project, we are making it possible for thousands of people, who might not ever come to Black Rock City, to participate in Burning Man’s culture.

This brings me to examine one last notion that has been in play throughout the present controversy over Plug and Play camps: the idea that these camps are guilty of committing some great act of wickedness – this is called iniquity. There can certainly be no doubt that there are conspicuous camps in Black Rock City that have practiced what I call concierge culture, and their missteps have been many; they have fielded members-only art cars, they have withdrawn from surrounding neighborhoods, and it would appear a few of these camps may have stationed security guards at camp entrances – they have, in other words, swaddled their members in a kind of cocoon that bears a strong resemblance to a gated community.

This kind of behavior is certainly an affront to our culture, though I find it hard to believe it has hampered or injured anybody. The curdling gaze of celebrities or the intimidating presence of the wealthy cannot possibly inhibit the remaining 99 percent of our citizens from participating. What I think these camps are really guilty of is being gauche. This is not so much about morals, it is more about manners, and we’re convinced bad manners can be mended; we can regulate the use of art cars, we can fashion guidelines for the funders and producers of Plug and Play camps, and we can make a systematic effort to monitor the result of these changes. Anyone who knows our history must be aware we have done this sort of thing before. In 1997, we enacted reforms that regulated access to the event, eliminated use of firearms, instituted speed limits for motor vehicles, and required cars be anchored to camp sites.

And yet, with all this talk of regulation, I hope everyone realizes we are beginning to move down the path toward a society that is ever more rule bound – and that should not be our objective. If Burning Man is about anything, it is about affording individuals as much liberty as possible, and critics who call for drastic and punitive measures are acting as if the Ten Principles are the Ten Commandments – but these principles are in no way commandments. They represent an ethos that arose from the lived experience of a community; this means these values need to be internalized, they should become a kind of second nature, not a set of literal and unyielding rules that are imposed upon us. The only thing that our tasked government can do is create new social contexts in which people can connect and meet on common ground. That is what we’ve always done, and will continue to do in the future.

[Editor’s Note: Please read Turnkey / Plug and Play Camping in BRC, a companion piece to this post.]

About the author: Larry Harvey

Larry Harvey

Born in 1948, Larry Harvey grew up on a small farm on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. In the late 1970's he moved to San Francisco, and soon discovered the city's thriving underground art scene. In 1986 he founded Burning Man at a local beach, and has guided its progress ever since. Larry is currently Founding Board Member and Chief Philosophic Officer of Burning Man Project. He scripts and co-curates Burning Man's annual art theme and collaborates with artists in creating aspects of the art theme and the design of Black Rock City. Larry also writes articles and essays for the Project's website. As spokesperson for Burning Man, he is frequently interviewed by reporters, and has lectured on subjects as diverse as art, religion, civic planning and the rise of cyber-culture in the era of the Internet. Larry is also a political planner, supervising the organization's lobbying efforts and frequently attending meetings with state, county and federal agencies.

122 Comments on “Equality, Inequity, Iniquity: Concierge Culture

  • Love says:

    Interesting take. You don’t feel that our culture is being spread without the help of the Burning Man Project? For years and years we have spread our culture through regional events and mouth to mouth. How much MONEY do you guys need to do this? How much of a paycheck does each member of the board need each year? When are you going to hold Jim Tananbaum publicly accountable for the actions of his camp this past year? Sorry Larry, you are sounding like you are out of touch with the culture as it has evolved.

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  • LEMUR says:

    Too little, too late, too out of touch and not nearly mindful enough, Larry.

    This post of yours, while great that you finally spoke, doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the damage that has been done.

    Speak wild eyed about the great glorious Five Year plan… and miss the meat of the issue.

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    • Drew says:

      Whoya, horse whining ponies!

      The idealism has gone to your Magic Dragon heads. Whilst you continue to party, unabatedly in excesses most default people would shiver and shrivel at– we are a country at war. Where has your idealism with BRC taken you too> an island where what happens there bears not a scintilla of a relationship to the outside world?

      Try something Radically self-relianant. Thinking before speaking.

      Your expectations have put Blinkers on to the Default world and super microscopes up to BRC and BMProject. The vitriol i read on here is weirdly misplaced. Why not take those voices and energy and change your own neighborhood. Too much escapism going on. Hippies of a Previous generation made $– Yes they did. and then they protect their interests. Yes they do.

      What happens on the playa is truly no different than what happened in school or the sandbox when we were kids, and most of the voices here remind me of the bullies. People get excluded, no rides on art cars, no access to mingle. But do any of us have it in ourselves to determine how others act?

      Throw a stone at a mirror if yer perfect. Otherwise pause, breathe and do something filled with Love and Understanding in your neighborhood. Don’t get so insular that you forget police brutality, racism, war, drones and the true INIQUITY and INEQUALITY that you so easily pass by in your daily life.

      Have you spent as much energy helping the homeless around you as on an Art Project?
      Priorities.
      Time.
      Burning Man is fun, a party, a bridge towards those who have similar interests in music and dance and community, but it is most definitely not Everything Important. Keep some perspective while you throw barbs at those who began this experiment. Realize it will always be Imperfect this Year, and it was Always better last year.

      If you want something different. Create it.
      Peace.

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  • JT says:

    When will Jim Tananbaum and his direct involvement with Caravancicle be addressed by the Organization? Not just sidestepped and alluded to? His name needs to be addressed by the Org. Saying his actions don’t effect the BM Project? How can someone be responsible for “spreading burning man culture around the world” when they setup a camp at the actual Burning Man event that blatantly disregards the majority of the 10 principles?

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  • Andrew B says:

    Thank you for the article.

    It’s still a concern (as the first few posters have mentioned) that Jim Tananbaum still sits on the board, especially after having such a great part in creating all of this controversy.

    My concern now is if you are going to treat these commodification camps just like other Theme Camps, how are you going to prevent groups like them that obviously have money to burn from purchasing all of the early special sale tickets that would otherwise go to proven theme camps? If these people can charge more than 15k for a spot, then they can easily scrounge up groups of people to buy 4 tickets each for $650, that’s pocket change to these people. They’ll still get in, long time theme camps will get screwed out of tickets for necessary members and we’ll have the whole scarcity problem from 2012 again.

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  • Will Chase says:

    Just a friendly reminder about our comment policy: http://blog.burningman.com/comment-policy/ While we’re as liberal as possible in enforcing it, if your comment violates this policy, including making personal insults, it will be deleted. Please keep this discussion civil.

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  • Mark Demma says:

    Larry’s post did a good job of addressing my main concerns that the commodity / plug and play camps be held to the same standards of any other theme camp and not be given the perks of a theme camp (EE passes, directed sales tickets) if they aren’t meeting the requirements of interaction or fail to de-moop properly. All the right things (IMHO) were said and given this as a directive I feel confident that the placement folks will do a good job of weeding out the bad players. (Or lord knows we’ll bitch about it!)

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  • Peter says:

    Love, to your question; ‘How much of a paycheck does each member of the board need each year?’
    The answer is none, it’s a volunteer position. I know there are other concerns you and others have, just had the answer for that one.

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  • pablo says:

    What is “our culture?”

    Putting on an event like this and doing the balancing act it takes to make everything work financially and logistically will not go without criticism. The work will go without notice to most. It will not go without mistakes.

    It’s heroes will be villains and its villains heroes. the only rule is keep aiming to be better.

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  • Hazel Meade says:

    To me the problem with “Plug and Play” camps is not the people in them (wealthy or not), or even members-only art cars and gates. It’s the people who are making money off of the camps, essentially by selling for thousands of dollars a pop an “experience” which they didn’t create. Most of the participants at Burning Man create this experience through uncompensated labor, whether they are members of the crew, or artists of various strips, or just someone who spent months making a fabulous costume. Instead of those people getting paid for what they contribute, the guy running the plug and play camp makes thousands off of their labor. Do you know any other theme camps that turn a profit? It’s not the inequality, it’s the unfairness of having someone build a camp that doesn’t contribute to the event, but mooches off of other people’s free labor to sell tickets to that camp.
    I’m not saying profits are evil. But in this case, it’s the same kind of profit that someone gets from scalping a ticket. They are selling something that they didn’t produce, they are able to sell tickets to these camps for thousands of dollars a head because of other people’s work. If Burning Man disappeared and all that was left was collection of RVs and a catering truck in the middle of the desert, do you think they would make any money? Of course not, they are making money off of what other people at burning man have created.
    That said, If these people want to really have a real theme camp that adds to the event, if they want to spend money building a giant art piece (plenty of rich people would be happy to pay for art), or throwing a great party in their camp, that’s a different story. But of course, those things cost money, which is why you don’t see other theme camps making a profit.

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    • haba says:

      Absolutely agreed
      I met artist who spent their last dollar to be on the playa.
      They came, they created music, they truly created Butning Man
      Then many more tirelessly worked so hard, for many months to bring the art to the playa so Burning Man will happen .
      Now, if some is using Burning Man to make profits and it’s allowed by the leaders I am sad to say that the Burning Man is infected.

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    • Timeless says:

      Hazel you touched on something dear: Help artists create memorable art…

      One burner art collector/investor paid this playa artist 100k for a huge sculpture only to see it appraise for 300k and I’ll share those documents with any doubters. After two visits to the playa and a showy installation at a Tahoe marina, the art accrued…and that’s not exactly a bad thing, especially if you own it.

      This is a potential win-win for plug and plays and the Burning Community, on and off the playa: Fact is, art and wealth go together just fine and have done so long before Burning Man! Art is considered a better investment diversifier than gold and history has seen periods where art investment out performs gold! Investment in iconic, durable, pertinent public art can be fun and smart. Low maintenance, unregulated and untaxed investment can be storage of value and our values.

      A financially stable community is a powerful community…so why chase money away when we can quell the controversy by feeding this snake its own tale…

      Look, in some future reality, plug and play camps could bring fabulous art to the playa while lessening the ol’ Borg funding burden and that will bring honor and beauty to their own camps even as it fills burner hearts everywhere. Then, by loaning the artworks for decomps and temporary public displays they can watch the investment ring higher and higher, all while bringing the pearl of the playa to humanity–OUR ART. That’s all that remains to tell its story of any culture anyway…

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      • D23 says:

        You hit the nail right on the head! Love the oraborus reference. As someone whose sold art created on the playa (after the event of course) having wealthy influential people at BM is great. Let them have their little private clubs, ultimately it’s their loss, as they are missing out on what I believe is the best part.

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      • Arlo says:

        Since the beginning of time, where there is a large gathering of people, someone is going to make a buck. There are wants and needs and both cost money. From those infamous designer plug-n-plays to the isles of the dreaded Wal-Marts. From the last click of that Amazon El wire purchase to the Empire store’s generic Burningman T-shirt.
        I even ran across a P-n-P camp in 1998 that had pre-paid “women of unquestionable virtue”. Fortunately, the organizer had no part in this amenity, as it was the patrons that brought these ladies. No, I did not engage with any of them nor was I part of that structure, but I did enjoy getting to know two of them and their stories. I was delighted to hear one of them even quietly packed her things and disappeared into the shadows of the burn without fulfilling all of her prepaid duties. These dudes were the biggest bunch of pricks I had ever met and that encounter is still the most impact the burn has ever had on me. And to this day I hope and pray that young lady is happy and safe somewhere. It’s proven that you never know who you are going to meet on the playa. Oh yes, there are people with lots-o-money that can’t get laid naturally at the burn and God bless the women that can make some income off that. The economy is strong!
        Sorry folks, someone is going to make a buck and I could care less if it’s someone selling the playa experience to some poor sap with too much money and no creativity and some funky hangup about dust and people, or the guy selling culturally skewed tacos during exodus. I say, sample that roadside taco, befriend the poor sap and sample his fine lil’ smokeys and poo in his lavish private Port-O and buy that cheesy shirt! It’s up to you to direct your Burningman dollar toward the business you want most to succeed and even utilize in the future and don’t dump on the guy prospering off the one’s that just don’t get it. I am a Reno native with over 20 years of burns under my shirt cock and I’ve seen relationships begin and end on the playa, I’ve seen life decisions made and life directions changed on the playa. I’ve seen lives begin and lives end on the playa. Larry, you’ve created a monster and one that reaches in a positive way entirely around the globe. I’ve fallen in love with this culture and nothing can change it. Keep doing what you are doing and I am happy.
        Cheers.

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    • Indra says:

      You are my Guru Hazel .. Amen, Amen, Amen..

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  • Sad burner says:

    True the 10 Principles are not the 10 Commandments, however, We The People of BRC insist that the powers that be respect and honor our community ethos when they are chumming with the same people compromising/ruining/gentrifying our communities outside of BRC. We are fearful the same thing is happening on the playa and not only under watchful eye of the org but with the orgs assistance! Allowing a board member to sell VIP packaged experiences and saving tickets for the wealthy is shameful to this community.

    We are not asking the org to create and enforce more rules, we are asking you to honor the 10 Principles and this thing you created long ago. We’re asking you to respect the community that helped make BM what it is by not favoring the people who have more money. This will ruin BM and the people that actually care about it will stop going.

    Please don’t be a 10 Principle Flip Flopper because the cool rich kids are now buying into all this. Imagine the MOOP!!

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  • Kay O. Sweaver says:

    After three years I would simply like to know what the Burning Man Project actually does. Black Rock Solar, Burners without Borders and the Black Rock Arts Foundation can at least point to tangible things they have done.

    I ask this question earnestly. I was very excited to hear about the Burning Man Project when it was first announced. There is much work to be done in the default world, but thus far all I’ve seen coming from the BMP is marketing and fund raising. Where’s the beef?

    There are regional groups, theme camps and artists who would really like support in spreading the culture and making the world a better place. How is the Burning Man Project going to help?

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  • Nandro says:

    More transparency. That is what is needed. Why is Burning Man Project, Burning Man LLC and Decommodification LLC run as if in some kind of NSA safe house? Where are the financial records? Why aren’t the number of ticket sold at what price published? Why do we have to wait for Larry to drop tidbits about ticket sales to find out that only 113 $650 tickets were sold? The LLC has always operated under a veil of secrecy. Fine, it was a private company. But now this is a non-profit. Its time to open the curtains.

    Holding for-profit commercial camps to the same standards as regular theme camps qualifies in my book as necessary but not sufficient. These should be discouraged and the official policy should be that they are not allowed at the event. Simple as that.

    Obviously some of these bad operators will try to sneak through but providing legitimacy and encouragement and having, ahem, burning man project board members be part of said commercial for-profit camps is unacceptable. Larry addresses none of this.

    Not enough. Sorry. Thanks for providing you participants with the crumbs of information you just did Larry, but not enough.

    This whole controversy has left a very bad taste in a lot of the mouths of the people that make the event happen. This one blog post does not ameliorate that. More transparency, however, would.

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  • Peace says:

    I’m just going to say thank you. I feel I’ve been heard.

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  • Jason Silverio says:

    Thanks for the apology, Larry! There is no other event in the world that has the logistics of Burning Man, and this crazy-ass movement you helped to create, Larry, is nothing short of a miracle. Period. Anyone that’s been any part of helping to make a one day concert, weekend festival, decom, birthday party, Olympics, block party … know what a huge pain in the ass it is.

    In all the real world (off-line) discussions that I have had with leading community members since these turn-key posts have taken flight, the overall feeling is that we are proud of what we created, proud of what is still created and protective that our collective efforts were being tossed aside, or at least heavily discounted. But also, everyone, mostly, said they are still on board with the event, and would rather have a flawed Burning Man than not have an event at all. For now at least. Hell, most of the army of Burning Man volunteers have a bit of Stockholm Syndrome. You wouldn’t be where we are without that personality type, and you guys know it! ;-) Your words ring sincere, let’s see what happens next year. I’ll be there, if I can get a ticket that is!

    So, now the big glaring million-dollar question is, still: what is the plan for distributing tickets to the show? The event can’t get much bigger in size or let more people in (can’t imagine future exodus of 100,000 people), the demand for admission will always be more than can fit (now more than ever!) and ticket “fairness” will always, especially now under a finer microscope, be impossible to achieve.

    I was a person that got a ticket through STEP, and, aside from Will Call backup problems (easy to fix, I think, just add 50 more windows first three days) I think that more tickets that can only be sold back to the waiting pool is one great, simple solution.

    And do you, or anyone at this point, see the event NOT happening one year? That’s a big problem for planning, too, right? The idea that the same snowglobe, with the same amount of flakes, shaken over and over, but still have to shake it. Yikes! The same week, the same problems, with no escape. Or is there? The prankster in you must want to pull the plug, just once, right? Hmmmm.

    Anyway, moving forward, Larry! But hey, while we are here, just wondering, why have the past three themes started with CAR? Cargo Cult, Caravansary and now Carnival of Mirrors.

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    • Benoit says:

      … what is the plan for distributing tickets to the show? … I love it. Yes indeed a ‘show’ for too many.

      Regarding growth, picture the following;
      A mirror image of the horse shoe city, BRC II, 4 km away, with the Man standing right in the middle!
      Two cities far apart but facing each other. BRC II with perhaps its own route from the North only.

      The aerial pictures of this 100k+ burners retreat would certainly be stunning. Just a tought!

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      • Jason Silverio says:

        There is plenty of room to make the event bigger, just impossible to get that many folks in and out in a sane manner to that remote area. Can’t make 447 any wider. The two cites idea would inevitably create a ‘good’ side and a ‘lame’ side no matter what, though i think it would be cool. I like the idea of a longer event, so people can come and go a bit more spread out.

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  • JOJO says:

    The great and powerful Oz has spoken. That is all. Back to work, plebs. Your geo domes and art cars aren’t going to build themselves. GET TO WORK NOW!

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  • titto says:

    @Peace

    Way to lay down. Good dog.

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  • Randy Newman says:

    Larry, how much money does Burning Man make? How much money do you make?

    How can you claim that you have any degree of transparency, honesty and respect for the people that give their time, for free, to making this event when you for years fail to answer these very basic questions?

    This blog is just some spin control, just lots and lots of words while effectively not changing anything. My heart is heavy with sadness.

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  • Canton says:

    Larry, thanks for writing such a clear, measured, common-sense opinion on this issue. In particular I think it’s helpful that you point out that at worst, plug-and-play camps are guilty of being gauche/obnoxious and that it is up to each of US as to whether or not we let that spoil our own experience.

    While reading your post I found myself wishing that all blog posts were written as well as this one… … but then I suppose I’d end up spending all my time reading blogs. :)

    Thanks for your voice of reason,
    – Canton

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  • The Eggman says:

    Having a board member with access to a pond full of tickets creating a commercially profitable pop up company not only doesn’t pass the smell test, but it is an affront to the rest of us, and it is WRONG.
    That they had a VIP art car is …. . iniquity on wheels.
    I hope you all get your arms around this before February.

    Peace , Love and Did You See what Those Two Were Doin ?!

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  • DigitalMorgan says:

    I’m still a Birgin (Burn Virgin) due to the high-cost/lack of luck in getting a pair of tickets. However, as I’ve followed the pre- and post reporting from each year, I’m losing my desire to attend.. and the reason is mostly because of all the strident dissent that many posting Burners spew out. Larry – I marvel at how you pontificate, keeping a balanced perspective, gingerly touching on subjects, keeping the faith, holding onto your principles. I should be so lucky as to shake your hand someday.

    As for the Debbie Downers.. pffft.

    Tom in Arizona

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  • Terry says:

    “It therefore follows that the best reform we can enact is to stop placing these Plug and Play camps in a category that sets them apart from others. This was done informally, it was not fully thought out, and we apologize for this mistake. ”

    This statement should have led the article, not been buried halfway through, because an admission that the BMORG erred, acknowledges it, and is trying to do better, is precisely what many in BRC has been hoping to hear.

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  • Terry says:

    PS — I think Larry’s characterization of the 2012 ticket fiasco is patently wrong: “demand for tickets exceeded supply by something like a 3:1 ratio.”

    The “shortage” of tickets was an artificial event, caused by a poorly thought-out BMORG decision to implement a system that encouraged people to purchase a ticket who had no clear idea of the event, or the amount of effort it requires to attend, preventing veterans from being able to procure one.

    The flood of returned/for-sale tickets in the final weeks leading up to the event, and the dismal attendance (compared to previous years, and projected growth) proves this.

    The recently enacted directed sales of tickets to theme camps was/is the best solution to this. But the BMORG needs to understand that unlimited growth is cancer, and bigger is not always better. It is painfully obvious that you have decided (or at least allowed) the quality of the event to be sacrificed to quantity.

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  • Karen says:

    The plug and play camps of non-participants turns the rest of us into monkeys at the zoo. We are unpaid entertainers for people who give NOTHING BACK except to the org and that grinds my gears.

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  • Storm the Camps says:

    What more proof do we need than this and the accompanying blog to realize that Burning Man is now controlled by Reptillians and the Illuminati if I can read this in my basement by the light of a single light bulb surrounded by fuzzy 8×11 photos of Larry Harvey naked and drunk that I took with the hidden camera planted in his apartment years ago, and feel as if they ARE trying to fix things with a thoughtful reply post and another fact based blog that mostly addresses the concerns of the community. There is no explanation other than the “BORG” has planted subliminal messages in my TV and smartphone to hypnotize me. Kudos New World Order, you win this round, but CC’s will face our wrath this year. Expect us.

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  • Storm the Camps says:

    Ebola!

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  • drdeb says:

    theres truth and theres stories we play in our heads. Truth is, if you dont participate, you shouldnt get priority access. Im glad the PnP will be treated like the other theme camps, they should be spread out too, all around so their compounds are not concentrated in one place, that way, more of them will face interaction ( “oh god, I have to be WITH the FREAKS?!”. Yes, you do, have to interact with us. Meanwhile, I dont feel the BMORG makes enough money for all they have done over the years, these are not wealthy landowners. Simple, dedicated people doing their best and sometimes they make mistakes.and I hope some day that the folks that created, imagined, dedicated their lives, and work most all days, everyday to spread our community out into the world will be able to some day stop working, and settle down with a home and a pension! BM has helped me grow in ways I could never have imagined and created a community of amazing people for me and my family.Priceless experience and Im so grateful.much love and fire,

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  • redbearded says:

    The Emperor has spoken.
    All Hail Emperor Harvey!

    Let them eat cake!

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  • Endo De La Playa says:

    I’m reminded of a time when during the 2012 Temple Burn, Free Bird was played. Loudly. Clearly violating the silent tradition of the Temple Burn for some. And some loudly voiced (yes violating the silent tradition doing just what they opposed) their displeasure (loudly). After The Burn it was time for some to take to the internet to continue to further advance their personal agendas on both sides of this topic.

    Attending Burning Man has helped me be more accepting and respectful of others to experience life (or Burning Man) in their own way. Also I am more able to live in the moment and experience what the playa (or life) provides. If the playa provides Free Bird….or silence….or both, then it’s up to me to experience it and respect it….or let it diminish the time of my life.

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  • R. O'Brien says:

    Excellent and well said, Mr. Harvey. Radical inclusion includes the radicals, and you have done just that. Thanks for sticking to the principals and pointing out that they are not commandments. What makes Burningman different from all other organizations is the radical inclusion of all. Keep up the good work and lets just enjoy ourselves -its not very Burner like to worry about how our neighbors are enjoying their experience. Burningman is the happiest place on earth and Its not what we have that makes us happy, its how happy we are with what we have. Great job! And that goes for your truly excellent staff as well – they deserve a raise! R. O’Brien

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  • Goodnews Bear says:

    First off I just want to say thank you to Larry. I found your blog post direct and informative. I think your personality shines through your writing and I appreciate your spirit greatly. Thank you for helping to create and shepherd an event that has transformed the lives of many including my own.

    I am well-versed with receiving negative feedback for events that I pour my heart and energy into. I do not doubt that bad things happened at ‘Commodification Camps’ this year. I would like to read about specific facts that these two posts missed. What do people think happened that has not been addressed?

    As for the personal attacks (‘Way to lay down’), I want to push back strongly and say they are a form of bullying, are intimidating (I am hesitant to add my voice to this thread) and work to divide the community. I see people working to improve a bad situation and apologize for their part in creating it. Being a jerk is a form of privilege a few here seem to flaunt with pride. It’s not nice. It’s not needed. Please stop.

    My understanding is that, going forward, everyone who receives support of any kind (early ticket sales, placement, early entrance) will need to demonstrate what they are giving back to the community. I think this is a great improvement!

    ‘Camps that have received negative feedback will be contacted in the Fall after the event…’ This is simply fantastic news!

    Unfortunately, as many have stated, this may not be enough to weed out all the potential ‘bad actors’. In the spirit of transparency and because we now have the use of a modern website, I suggest we call for more voices to be heard and for the Burning Man Project to publicly respond to specific factual accusations of ‘wrongdoing’. Can you please create a moderated section where people can submit concerns and where the Org officially responds to them?

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  • Kenny says:

    So basically they allowed a bake sale to raise money for the PTA. BMP has plans and was looking to show well heeled investors what they’re investing in, or at least show the potential investors a first person look at BMP’s resume. That’s my take anyways. Which leads to the question, “what’s Burning Man Project planning for the future?”

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  • SGK says:

    Im part of so called Regional. I have question about this here >

    “But from our point of view, by giving money to the Burning Man Project, we are making it possible for thousands of people, who might not ever come to Black Rock City, to participate in Burning Man’s culture.”

    Im part of Midburn (Israel Burn) and I never heard about a even cent from BM. As well I’m connected with Africa Burn and Nowhere and never heard from them about any financial aid from BM organizations. And as it seems we can create our own events based on BM structure – 10P’s with out financial support of B’ig M’other. (And we’ll be happy to be supported financially, everything costs money.

    Prove I am wrong , so…ahem. Where are the money?

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  • Laura says:

    Aloha Larry! And by that I mean Hello and Thank You!! Things are going very well in the forth largest city of Nevada. The other three could learn a thing or two. BTW I am a long time burner, was there at Baker once and camp with what I can pack into my van. So this ain’t no super rich person supporting the words you represent! Mahalo <3

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  • Peace says:

    @Titto. Thanks. I’m a Taoist so “laying down” when appropriate is a compliment. I asked for one simple thing, that the playing field is level; that no preference is given to anyone with regard to tickets and placement because of money. Looking over the two articles posted yesterday (this being one of them) I am satisfied that is official Burning Man policy at this time. I have never been one of the people who was convinced the org was selling out for profit. I believed they had been confronted with difficult issues since the event started selling out and sometimes they were unartful in how they handled those issues and I believed the lack of transparency as to how Plug and Play camps were being handled was causing an erosion in the confidence of the community that the org was living up to the principles. Now the guidelines have been laid out. All camps besides infrastructure camps have to abide by the same rules to get placed. Camps and/or producers found to be seeking to profit from the event will not be placed. The org made it clear profiting from a Plug and Play camp (commodification camp) is not only against policy, it is against the law because the event is on public land. I got what I asked for. I am taking yes for an answer. You may want sanctions on some individuals, a scalp to hang on your belt. You may want additional rules about RVs or how duties are divided in camp. Me, I want to get back to creating art for the community and preparing for a great burn. I agree with Larry that we want to deal with the issues that present themselves with the least amount of rules required, even if that doesn’t lead to perfect compliance. Burning man isn’t about rules and it sure as hell isn’t about compliance. When asked I often refer to Burning Man as a freedom festival; that you get to live for a week as if you get to make your own rules for your life, rather than the ones imposed on us in the default world. Burning Man is always on the cutting edge. It has to be. No one has done this before. That means those guiding it will sometimes get things wrong. That happens on the edge. The question is, are they trying to guide the event with honest good will and an eye to live by the principles. I believe they are as demonstrated by what was posted yesterday. Will unscrupulous persons try to subvert these guidelines and profit from the event? Will the rich try to use their wealth to get around the principles? Of-course they will. This is America. Now we know for a fact they will do so without the sanction of the org. The event would be diminished if the org supported inequality because of wealth. That would go against the spirit of the event. If it happens occasionally because unscrupulous individuals act independently and manage to fly under the radar, well that’s just life and you should put on your big boy pants and accept that nothing is perfect. As the saying goes, the perfect is often the enemy of the good.

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  • Lee says:

    The real question as I see it. Is what is BM really about? Is it the lights and techno music? I personally, was drawn by the Radical inclusion, and the no money policy. My question is what’s next. Vendors? I respect that the producers of these events work very hard and earn every possible penny they could receive. As they should from any venture and from the new wave of using foundations to avoid taxes and do some good at the same time. That’s smart business that can change the world if done right. The question seems to come back to what is BM? Commandments are not always bad. Sometimes they are there for a reason. Maybe a simple solution is to make a banned list, and then the rangers can go around and blacklist people with a bad attitude ;) But then we would all need Playa ID’s….then the drones can tag us in our own photo’s…awesome I can print it out from my iPhone in Realtime!!! :D I can understand how this could turn off a would be burner, but so would playa dust. I think the question is for the 15 year burner. Is this what they want? And is the “board” in agreement as to what direction this ship will take? Placing a commercial business in the middle of the Playa, might be like a drop of black paint in a bucket of white. It will never be the same color. But hey maybe thats the beauty of the Burn…never the same color.

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  • Manamana says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful answers. It’s hard to build a reputation based on what you plan to do. I look forward to participating with all who are willing.

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  • Focal says:

    I WAS among the believers that Larry is our all-knowing-god… but not after this. This simply justified current iniquities because you’ve made similar previous mistakes.

    Did you really write: “It is amenities that make a house a home”?!?! REALLY? Who has EVER said that?! Seriously. Let alone a previously outspoken moral guide of de-comodification. Sad.

    And that statement is only a symptom of this deeper disease that people are speaking up about.

    Larry, you didn’t address the worst part about those camps which were their employees, required to work an illegal number of hours in harsh conditions.

    Shoot. I was optimistic until you wrote this, Larry. Damn.

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  • Eva Destruction says:

    “whose members, however diverse, are united by common values and a sense of shared experience”

    This to me is the crux of the issue. I do not think the organizers of Caravancicle (and other plug n play camps) share common values with the, as Larry says, “other 99%”. And if they are living in “gated communities” there is no shared experience either.
    Having someone on the board who is absolutely “vending” the “burner experience” seems to go against The Burning Man Project ™’s own Principles for sure.
    I spent 21 years out at Burning Man. The event has changed tremendously since the days of HellCo. (and only TWO “principles”: Radical Self-Expression, Radical Self-Reliance,
    There is no self-reliance when everything is provided. There is no stretching and learning when you have “sherpas” to do your bidding.
    And these camps all have a “community” component. Caravancicle had specialty bikes with insulated baskets on them so their camp could pass out fancy popcicles. They were also going to build a stand outside their walled camp to do the same. Neither happened. Since there is no common values, there would be no shared experience. These people did not see themselves as part of the larger “burner community”, they went to Burning Man (whoohoo!) and treated it like a tourist destination (which it seems to become more and more of each year…DisneyMan!).
    So anything beyond that point is moot. The rich kids like Jim will continue to have access and thwart the “common values” to suit their own needs. No amount of policing these camps is gonna change the values of rich people who are used to getting their way, either by buying it or bullying it. Or both.
    Burning Man, the event, will continue the upward mobility spiral. Expect more PnP camps, more Senators, more millionaires on the Board (it’s not just Jim Tanenbaum sp?). It’s also your choice to spend your money and time to go.
    This who thing started with 300 people, no sound camps, no cops.
    Now it’s just one of a dozen “desert raves”. It’s no where near the biggest, most logistically dense event in the world, it’s just the one that takes itself the most seriously.
    Anyone can start a movement. Anyone can throw a desert rave.
    Radical self-reliance says maybe it’s someone else’s turn.

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  • Thagobar L. Verf says:

    Regarding your statement, Mr Harvey, I’d choose the same word as one of the other commenters : measured. You speak carefully and well in a difficult situation. As all will agree, BMC is an experiment in progress, with many immediate successes, and looming larger issues. You’re opening up new territory, and passing through the bands of bullshit that attend all such efforts. Once word of BM got around, and the photos started filling the Web, the advent of the Plug And Play camps was inevitable. If a bright young nerd hears of a way to see some naked women and ‘cut loose’ to the best of his ability, with a guarded safe haven filled with like-minded people a few hundred yards away, he’s gonna want to get some of that. Maybe he’ll never get beyond that point, and maybe he will. You have the low-cost “poverty” tickets for $190, why not see the P&P camps as intermediate steps for people that have spent their lives writing software and having no clue about BM, but the potential to get one ? They could be among the most profound of BM’s converts. Yes, they could take the standard advice and attend subsidiary events that are less demanding, but will they ? An opportunity was offered to them, and they took it, and, IMHO, that doesn’t constitute flipping the bird at non-P&P camp members. There’s enough party for everyone for total immersion. It’s like having a big college surrounding an elementary school.

    I’ve read about some fool at BM one year that went around asking people if they were ‘ready for their spanking’, and getting bitter about ‘non-participation’ when they told him to screw off. It seems there are disorders of ‘participation’ at all levels at BMC – just another one of those difficulties that goes along with social experiments. But I do like the idea of the Big Money contributing to the Big Art generously (or even the small art). It provides it with a slightly better image.

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  • Walter Sobchek says:

    Hmmm..It seems to me that, if there were no desire to inhabit a PnP camp (or whatever the nom du jour may be) then they wouldn’t need to exist.

    Perhaps a gentle re-education of potential “pnp” camp attendees by us “returnurburners” may be in order?

    After all, if all you know of BM is one of these camps then that’s all you’ll expect. Stands to reason.

    How about we all invite newbs into our camp (as we did this year – 20 out of 30 were freshers – too high a % for me but that’s another story)

    For if “these people”, as we must now not call them apparently, knew the sense of accomplishment and joy and downright togetherness that being part of a small totally self-sufficient camp would give them, they wouldn’t go near a PnP camp.

    Perhaps the answers are in us, too….Just saying…

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  • Beau says:

    After 7 burns in 10 years it still blows my mind that so many Burners treat the festival as if they own it. Where does this overwhelming entitlement come from? While almost unique in the aspect of how much of the event is actually put on by the attendees of the festival, the idea that Burning Man is therefore owned by the participants – that they are somehow shareholders by right of participation – is delusional. If Larry’s letter feels like a pacification that is quite possibly because that is (quite rightly) what it is. Honestly, it must be like dealing with 65,000 children on a daily basis. We do not own Burning Man people, we are blessed to be able to have an event such as this in any form in our lives and I am nothing but grateful to Larry and the entire BMORG organization who devote themselves to making this happen every year.

    I have camped in camps of 200 people. I have camped with 20. I have driven an art car for 4 days and spent days traipsing across Los Angeles collecting props and geodesic domes. I have installed sound systems, fixed generator, and parked 60 RV’s and 40 tents in aI have helped to build major installations that have benefited 1,000’s and I played sunrise sets for 5 people who told me that their entire burn was worth it just for that. I have also been cooked for, played for, built for, driven for and illuminated by the efforts of countless 1,000’s other Burners and in any and all of these situations one thing was always constant – there were those who who did it, and those for whom it was done. It is simply human nature and most definitely the nature of Burning Man. In my experience the % of festival attendees who knowingly fail to contribute via participation in a P&P camp pails into insignificance when compared to the number of people in ANY camp who think that showers will build themselves, food will cook itself, and moop will magically lift itself out of the dust…

    Last year I spent several months working on developing a P&P camp that ultimately (and thankfully) did not come to fruition. I spent hours and days trying to “enlighten” the developers of the camp as to the guiding principals of Burning Man, explaining over and over again that tenants such as radical participation could only and inevitably add to the experience of anyone who chose to attend the festival with the camp. I echo Larry’s assertion that over regulating the Burn is as potentially dangerous to the current experience as unchecked commodification. That said, I applaud holding the P&P camps to the same standards of contribution as other theme camps if they wish to enjoy the same benefits, and as far as I can tell, all whinging aside, that pretty much should take care of most peoples actual problems with the P&P camps.

    On the other hand, bitching that you don’t have as much money as someone else or implying that someone’s right to attend Burning man should some how by tied to your ideas financial equality is both naive and frankly annoying.

    In dust we trust. See y’all in 2015.

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    • haba says:

      Beau,
      You said it.
      It’s not about what the P&P is made of(gold or mud), it’s not about who can participate (rich or poor)
      What is mostly sad is if there is profit made out of 15k ticket?
      Really is that ok to bring participants and make profit?
      I think it is sad

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      • BurnerChick says:

        Or is that really what it all cost to rent the RVs, get them all out there, set them up with the infrastructure, buy all the food, pay the RV drivers, bartenders and chefs, get tickets for the staff and for the participants, and any other costs that go into the PnP.

        To me, $15k sounds excessive, but then again, I didn’t get to see what that paid for either. Making profit should be the big no no as the BM Project is non-profit and all of the activities that happen while there should also be non-profit.

        With that said, finances maybe should have the most transparency! Perhaps requiring a fairly simple 1-page recordkeeping for theme camps could easily keep them accountable to show they’re not collecting a profit. Although that sounds a little naive, there could be a feedback loop with theme camp attendees to make sure the expense record and balance sheet turned into the BMORG is an accurate depiction of their out of pocket expenses.

        Just my two cents.

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      • BurnerChick says:

        Additionally, BMORG activities should be just as transparent, if not more so. They have to show the IRS that they don’t make a profit, so show the participants, too.

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  • MC says:

    Thank you for the thoughtful comments, and the thoughtful companion article. As for all the vitriolic comments – some people will never be happy. Let’s get back to letting the evolution of Burning Man create a new world of surprises, rather than a world of expectations based on so many small conceptions of what the event “should be.”

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  • Walter Sobchek says:

    And the bit about amenities making a house a home that Focal addresses above. I’m not feeling that one.

    Wherever I lay my hat; that’s my home. I don’t need anything other than food, water, music and a “roof” over my head (which can technically be the sky, but whatever)

    I don’t come to BM to be pampered. I come to BM to meet with all the lovely peeps and to TEST myself. Self-reliance. It’s the kicker for me and most of my crew. Lots of whom grew up living on the road in the 80 and 90s in the UK. Back then we had no “amenities”, we had trucks and “benders” (like tarpaulin igloos) and EACH OTHER

    Now, of course, I live in a lovely house, with lots of amenities (most of which I neither need nor use) but that’s where I live when I’m not at BM. I don’t want that to follow me there; I may as well stay at home!

    Education is the answer. Teach people. They want to learn. Even the “rich kids” whoever they are, would really enjoy a bit of proper “radical” self-reliance if they were helped along.

    Give a man a fish and he has a meal. Give him a fishing rod and he’ll avoid going home all week

    Peace.

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    • ChaosBurning says:

      Hear hear Walter!

      This is a man that thinks like I do. Although, I have to admit, over the years as I’ve gotten older, tents and the back of my truck weren’t really cutting it anymore. So I’ve traded up as far as a camper from 1974 so I least have somewhere flat and dust free (lung problems) to sleep.

      We are horribly coddled in this world of ours…. I even lived in that RV I mentioned for 5 years – not because I had to – I could have lived just as everyone else does, but I wanted to TEST myself and see if I could do it. Nobody but my BM peeps seemed to understand it, it was like everyone assumed that I was destitute, even though I had a great default world job.

      I think that the PnP camps and the selling of the BM experience to those who would not put up the struggle for nothing but $$$, is a mistake. I do also agree with Larry, I do not want to see “official laws” at Bman banning this and that, but rather I’d like to see more “self-regulation” to discourage behavior that isn’t in line with our beliefs. Not that I expect that a some clueless rich socialite to pick up on subtle corrections mind you…. (I’m also not saying that all rich folks can’t get it – it all comes down to individual participation)

      That Larry and the other founders, and full-time staff make money from their creation? I don’t really have a problem with that! The event would not exist without them, Could Not exist without them. Could not exist without “volunteers” >>>>>>

      I do have some issue with the amounts of money that have been made by board members, while some of their more dedicated workforce are averaging 20+ hours per week all year making the event happen, they are paid nothing or next to nothing for their efforts. Some that are “paid” receive but an inadequate “stipend” for their efforts.

      I know some of these folks, and they won’t even talk about it, but they are wholly dedicated and over the course of a year, work MORE hours than a paid DPW employee, yet have to live on the cheep because they can’t work a decent job because of all the volunteering they do.

      Someone mentioned a touch of “Stockholm Syndrome” and I have seen it firsthand. This is probably an improper term here, but all that work for just a free ticket? And I’m not talking about all the work of a few weeks in the desert, I’m talking about YEAR ROUND. There is obviously a NEED for their efforts, but the Borg doesn’t feel it’s necessary to pay them for it. I just wish that these people that I love could do the “volunteering” they love for the life they love so much, AND be able to have a stable existence as well.

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  • Peace says:

    @Beau – actually, when the event went from the LLC to the non-profit the org said they were gifting the event to the community.

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  • Sandstorm says:

    It’s disheartening to see one of the founders of the event be so smug and dismissive about the concerns that Burners have about how the event is run.

    Larry & Co. gave Jim Tananbaum a free pass for his involvement with Caravansicle, a camp that in every aspect of how it was sold and run was antithetical to the ethos of the event and the community.

    Even though I feel disgusted by Larry’s blog entry my heart and soul have no more energy with which to rail at Larry & Co. At this point they’re depending on all of the big theme camps to join hands with one another, sing Kumbaya, shout out “All hail Burning Man!” and then drink the dust infused Kool Aid.

    No thanks, Larry & Co. I’m not buying what you’re selling.

    I’m thankful for the wonderful relationship that I had with Burning Man between ’07 and ’14. I believe in the people who build Black Rock City and fill it with creative content. I DO NOT believe in the people at the heart of the organizations that runs the event.

    I’m not sure that I have it in me to make one last trip to BRC. While I’d love to say hello to some people and goodbye to BRC I don’t know that I want to go to BRC with anger and disillusionment in my heart. Only time will tell. What I do know is that my relationship with Burning Man is coming to an end.

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  • Meri Go'Rabbit says:

    I’m an unashamed old-school burner (1995 to 1998), I took a long gap of 16 years (!) before returning “home” in 2014. Of course, I expected it to be wildly different, (e.g “where are all those cool fire-dancing anarchist pagans gone? Can we go to the hot springs? Oh look, they have road signs now…) But I digress….

    The saddest thing I’d heard was an “open” bar in a commodified camp that had 2-tiers of drinks: comprising of cheap drinks for walk-ins (“see we’re gifting!”) and top shelf spirits and champagne made from the blood of French virgins for those with wrist-bands (rich bastards who could afford the $25k to be part of the camp).

    Sadly, it all felt very Coachella-on-the-Playa.

    If BMorg doesn’t sort out this commodification issue they’re literally killing the golden calf.

    Burning Man is *nothing* without its unique culture and its integrity. Two qualities which have already been watered down so much by the invasion of the luxury camps.

    My suggestion? Ban the RV. Force people to get creative with their living quarters. Those RV ghettos are ugly, detract from the experience and actually do nothing to foster the “real” BM experience for virgins. The RV is a symbol of all that has gone ‘wrong’ with Burning Man. Buy a freakin’ tent ya lazy bastards. Don’t get me started…

    Lastly, on Monday night after the rainstorm me and my love sat on a pink fluffy couch at the pink palace on the Esplanade, drinking champagne (cheap TJs bubbles) and thoroughly enjoyed the city-wide fireworks. A simple thing, but I felt blessed. It was breathtaking. It was a “Burning Man moment”. I turned to him and said:

    “It’s really amazing that all this is for free (well kind of), this country is so abundantly wealthy that they can stage this week-long thing. It really is such a unique festival. There’s nothing like it in the world.”

    I still believe this, but Burning Man is in *serious* danger of becoming Coachella, and worse still, just like the default world with classist system to boot.

    The solution? Foster the raw anarchy of the prankster ethos energy. Not sure what I’m talking about? Buy a book on the Cacophany Society (of which our Great Saviour and Lord Larry Harvey was a member).

    Am I going next year? Probably not. Instead we thought we’d explore some of the amazing smaller festivals that happen around the same time. So many great smaller events with great vibes to be had all around.

    Peace out,

    M. xx

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  • Get Off My Lawn says:

    Never give in to the Marxists, Larry. Their idea of contribution is complaining.

    Every one who complains should be balanced against the tens of thousands of others who don’t, because they’re enjoying a life-changing experience, like what you’re doing, and feel no need to spread bad energy.

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  • rob says:

    In regards to “spreading the Burning Man message” the question begs to be asked, how far will you go to do this? If you compromise even one of the core principles to help further the message (allow commodification camps some lee way so that some may participate who wouldn’t otherwise) , hasn’t the message lost it’s value? The way I look at it, Burning Man is being treated like a Brand name and you are trying to increase it’s market share and it’s Recognition. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. I’d love to share the lessons and moments I so cherish about BM. But when you allow certain groups the option not to follow the principles upon which BM was founded upon and upon which many of our “transformative experiences” were built upon… the question becomes what are you selling? A hollow experience gilded with all the lovely tinsel of a dead ideal.

    I second what others have said:
    1) the brandname doesn’t need any special help to get spread. I’ve told anyone who stood still long enough about the amazing experiences I had and that they too, should try to go. We don’t need special camps to accomplish this. All these people are just as able as you and I to patient hunt a ticket down, read the FAQS, and formulate their own experience, WITHOUT the help of a concierge service.
    2) If you really do require personal service to have a good time at BM, then maybe BM IS NOT FOR YOU. Why are we trying to recreate BM into something which appeals to EVERYONE? Some people are not in the right place to hear the messages of BM and if you require a wall of RVs to sleep well at night, I’d suggest you are one of them and I certainly don’t think we should cater to that mindset. Come when you are ready and we will welcome you with open arms.

    Let’s not loose sight of what BM was started as, and let’s certainly not become the next Daedalus in trying to become a “world wide” brand.

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  • wow just wow says:

    @ Beau
    After 7 burns in 10 years it still blows my mind that so many Burners treat the festival as if they own it. Where does this overwhelming entitlement come from?

    Seriously? Usually in a rationally worded debate I can wrap my mind around where someone is coming from. This opener of yours leaves me confused. BMORG sets up the skeleton, the framework, and then the participants, like yourself are what make the event what it is. Damn right, there is a sense of ownership. The amount of blood sweat tears and $$$ the participants put in no doubt dwarf the amount of $$$$ that flows through the BMORG every year by a substantial margin. Participants ARE the event, so a “sense of ownership” is pretty much inherent ant true.

    If the BMORG takes on board members who exploit the event to for their own profit. that is literally thievery particularly when they are doing this to an experimental subculture that has blossomed under the temporary suspension of the money game, if only for a week and within the trash fence.
    The original organizers need to look into their minds and decide what their vision is for this amazing subculture they have nurtured all of the years. I would hope there is a little selfless nobility within them, however I fear that they may be ultimately sell outs.
    The time and money I put into my participation there is for the sake of my fellow BRC denizens. If some hyper capitalist bastard weasels in and exploits what I and others have created there for their own profit, then the meaning of what I do is transformed from contribution to voluntary slavery. My contribution is intended to generate the event, not to generate someone else’s profits.

    I do tend to be more suspicious of the new board members vs “the founders”. I have experienced another organization that went from mom&pop to a corporate non profit, and new the board members and executives there have made some detrimental choices and decisions that were due to money grabbing motives.

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    • Beau says:

      @Wow & @peace

      Absolutely seriously. What is everyone so afraid of? That Burning Man is not within their control? Well guess what, it’s not. It never was and (thankfully) it most likely never will be.

      As @peace says, Burning Man was “gifted” to us, the community when it went from an LLC to a Non-profit, but as far as I can tell Burning Man has always been a gift – gifted by all those who create it, and that extends far beyond Larry and the BMORG. Every single person who devotes any time at all to making a contribution to the Burn, my self included, does so with the full knowledge that that gift may be received in the spirit in which it was intended, or not. But that does not in anyway “entitle” the receiver of the gift to act as the director of the gift. Anyone who has ever offered themselves as a performer, for example, understands the fine line of playing to an audience. Yes, you want your gift to be received so you may temper your performance with that in mind, but ultimately it is your act of expression being gifted, and should your audience fail to connect to that then that is… unfortunate. Whether for profit or not, whether it is received as it was intended or not, the Burning Man experience is a remarkable gift, and as the receiving audience to that gift we can choose to receive it with gratitude… or not.

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  • Jericho says:

    Can we *please* talk about the employment aspect of commodification camps?
    Can we PLEASE make some intentional decision as to whether it is within community standards to hire servants for a camp who are not afforded the opportunity to participate in the event?

    My ideal would be an elimination of anybody {other than approved vendors, and maybe some specialty jobs like crane driving, or whatever} being paid other than not having to pay camp dues and getting a free ticket. That would ensure that people only accept “employment” by camps if they get to enjoy themselves.

    pleasepleaseplease.

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    • ChaosBurning says:

      Simple.

      Buy allowing a for-profit enterprise to occur on playa, without regulation, we have seen happen what always happens.

      The profiteer takes advantage of the worker. As it is, and always will be when greed is involved. Maybe that is human nature.

      Even with the best of intentions, these so-called “sherpas” were exploited regarding what was asked of them.

      It’s a train wreck that any burner should have been able to predict.

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  • Foxfur says:

    A thoughtful treatment of a touchy subject…
    I find many camps are lacking interactivity, not just the PnP’s.
    And this doesn’t affect my burn whatsoever.
    They’re not making my burn.
    I’m making my burn.
    My burn is my own and I’m the only one who can wreck it.

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  • Paul Carey says:

    Thanks for responding responsively Larry. As you seek to realign TTITD with the Principals, please consider the following.

    Spreading the culture is not a justification for any action of Burning Man Project administration. In fact, it can be argued, according to Principle, that such is not even a valid role for BMorg. That job belongs to Burners. It is somewhat obvious today that BMorg’s efforts to spread the culture has resulted in attendance by the unprincipled. Consider that the culture should spread in spite of your efforts.

    ’97 was a seminal year. The third phase of the project. It was the year that the women took over the organization. The event would be nurtured for many years following. I can’t seem to find a detailed listing of the current 19 or so board members. I have to believe that the “let’s see what we can get away with” direction is male driven. What is the balance? Please correct this if necessary.

    Vigorous defense of the use the words “Burning Man” was once welcomed as a shield against appropriation by those who sought the attention of the vicarious. It now takes on the pallor of a brand. I think we can thank the current board for that. Burning Man is a volunteer organization. The growth has been sustained by the blood, sweat, tears and dollars of the participants. This investment has consistently been ignored.

    Your example of the ticket crisis of 2012 underscores the fact that BMorg fails to acknowledge that it is the participants, not BMorg, that create the experience. It was unbelievable. Once again I ask you to consider the make up of the board. The board is obviously populated by those who were not directly involved in creating experience, gifting.

    Above all, Burning Man is not a brand but a concept. Your retreat into non-profit status is quite timely. I hope it will shield the Project from the righteous challenge of those who would want to be compensated for the exploitation of their gifts.

    The future for myself and others is regional. The playa today has a disproportionate population of predators, narcissists and spectators. I attribute this to a conscious desire to spread the culture rather than let the like minded find their own way home.

    I leave you with this: http://www.popfixx.com/hottest-women-of-burning-man

    Paul Carey
    paul@playavideo.org

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  • D says:

    Coming from the far opposite end of the spectrum – I show up with a two person tent, enough food and water for the week, some wild costumes I put together from thrift store clothes and volunteer at theme camps as a way of contributing – I personally have no issue whatsoever with rich people attending and experiencing it in an opulence I will never know, but if they can afford to build a turnkey camp, then they can afford to build a theme camp and contribute to the community and not just gate themselves off and come out to enjoy the wonders that everyone else works to hard to contribute and definitely shouldn’t be given any special treatment, unless they want to contribute something special and get the same special treatment and requirements as theme camps and big art projects.

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  • Eric says:

    The new Turnkey FAQ that is linked above is much more direct than Larry’s answers on many topics http://blog.burningman.com/2014/12/news/turnkey-plug-and-play-camping-in-brc/

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  • GOOD NEWS!! says:

    Hey good news guys!! There will be 2 tickets less demand this year.

    After reading this spin doctor crap BS article from this out of touch POS, We have lost all respect for all for this nonsense. We are done. Kaput. OVER. FINISHED. DISGUSTED.

    You can have this “PROFIT IN THE DESERT”, good luck with it.

    The bmorg is obviously as corrupt and greedy as they can be and it will only get worse. Burning man is dead to me. Thanks for the fun, but we are moving on,

    We were going to go and be part of the pranksters fucking the burn of first camp and as many rich boy camps as we could in hopes of changing some things, but you know what? It is not worth the effort. We don’t care any more

    I know we wont be missed by you and we will find
    another way to stay busy that week so we won’t be missing you.

    :(

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  • Gary Parsons says:

    Ah, so now BRC has its own version of the 1%, and, like the default world version, it doesn’t seem to be doing a good job allocating its vast resources for the common good. So far it doesn’t seem as if their version of the BRC experience has convinced these camps to join in the collective fun; it is my hope that over time these folks will be transformed and go from being the 1% to being the !%. Every year’s joyous struggle to create a better and more giving camp than last year’s is what I find most rewarding. I’m left wondering: what’s in the experience for these people? I’m not worried about ‘The demise of Burning Man’ as touted by the NYTimes and other out-of-the-know media outlets…there are always people who just never get the drift. Maybe these camps are simply gifting us all an opportunity for BRC’s very own Occupy movement.

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  • Peace says:

    Hey Good News (apt)

    Before you go would you mine explaining, if you were the God of BM, how you would have handled this? Cause I don’t have any idea what you are talking about.

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  • Sandstorm says:

    @wow just wow:

    You wrote:

    “I do tend to be more suspicious of the new board members vs “the founders”. I have experienced another organization that went from mom&pop to a corporate non profit, and new the board members and executives there have made some detrimental choices and decisions that were due to money grabbing motives.”

    It was BM founders such as Larry and Marian who put people like Jim Tananbaum on the Board of Directors. Thus, there’s no reason to put any trust in the founders who are still helping to run the event.

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  • jim tobin says:

    What about profit motive? I know of a plug and play camp that is the main source of yearly income for the couple running it. What about the gated community aspect? Is security patrolled space with no citizen access radically inclusive?
    What about art? Is a giant “like” thumb up sign on the top of a pyramid on the playa art or advertising? Is “burning down Wall Street” art or bringing the default world to BRC?

    I really don’t know the answers to questions like this. I wish I did. There is just something bad about the smell of it all. I guess art does imitate life. Onward into the abyss.

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  • Still A Sad Burner says:

    One of the 10 Principles, (that are apparently now mere suggestions) is Leave No Trace.

    So burners, only pick up MOOP if it suits you. Don’t worry so much about it now, the org doesn’t care much anymore and they have their own Sherpas to clean it all up anyways. And the org Sherpas probably get paid less (if at all) than plug and play Sherpas.

    ((Larry, I like you and I appreciate this great thing you’ve started. I appreciate it so much and love it so much that I’m protective of it and all of the wonderful things it has brought into my life. BUT, us burners, are worried and if y’all appeared a little more EMPATHETIC to our worries, that would make us feel a little more secure with all this))

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  • Eli says:

    I see no difference between a turnkey and a corporation using burning man to profit. If you allow turnkey then allow Coke and Walmart to set up camps too. You can use the same argument to defend them, after all Corps are people too . There is no contribution to BM by either groups; only the motive to make money. Where is radical self reliance in a turnkey operation? To me turnkey is a BM parasite that takes tickets away from those who would contribute.

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  • Paul Carey says:

    Thanks for responding responsively Larry. As you seek to realign TTITD with the Principals, please consider the following.

    Spreading the culture is not a justification for any action of Burning Man Project administration. In fact, it can be argued, according to Principle, that such is not even a valid role for BMorg. That job belongs to Burners. It is somewhat obvious today that BMorg’s efforts to spread the culture has resulted in attendance by the unprincipled. Consider that the culture should spread in spite of your efforts.

    ’97 was a seminal year. The third phase of the project. It was the year that the women took over the organization. The event would be nurtured for many years following. I can’t seem to find a detailed listing of the current 19 or so board members. I have to believe that the “let’s see what we can get away with” direction is male driven. What is the balance? Please correct this if necessary.

    Vigorous defense of the use the words “Burning Man” was once welcomed as a shield against appropriation by those who sought the attention of the vicarious. It now takes on the pallor of a brand. I think we can thank the current board for that. Burning Man is a volunteer organization. The growth has been sustained by the blood, sweat, tears and dollars of the participants. This investment has consistently been ignored.

    Your example of the ticket crisis of 2012 underscores the fact that BMorg fails to acknowledge that it is the participants, not BMorg, that create the experience. It was unbelievable. Once again I ask you to consider the make up of the board. The board is obviously populated by those who were not directly involved in creating experience, gifting.

    Above all, Burning Man is not a brand but a concept. Your retreat into non-profit status is quite timely. I hope it will shield the Project from the righteous challenge of those who would want to be compensated for the exploitation of their gifts.

    The future for myself and others is regional. The playa today has a disproportionate population of predators, narcissists and spectators. I attribute this to a conscious desire to spread the culture rather than let the like minded find their own way home.

    Report comment

  • Heartspace says:

    This avoids addressing a fundamental distinction between team camps and concierge camps: participation versus selling a tourist experience at a profit.

    When somebody joins a theme camp and pays dues generally the dues go towards supporting the camp including its public offering. In a large camp that may include paid staff or buying tickets for some staff who put in a lot of their own time and energy into the event. I think that’s okay because it’s facilitating the everyone’s participation. An important aspect of this is that all the dues are used for the camp itself; there’s no profits left over for the organizer. I also have no problem with a wealthy person financing such a camp providing they are making an offering to the community as a whole -This would justify their early placement and allocation of theme camp related tickets. Plus, they’re not making a profit.

    In the concierge camps the focus is on servicing the participants who pay a very high camp fee, are not expected to work in the camp, there is little or no public offering, and the organizer retains a significant profit from the event-after all that’s the point of their organizing this vacation experience. And part of the reason they are able to retain a profit is due to the abysmal pay they hand out to their employees/Sherpas. This practice commodifies the event and is contrary to the principle of the commodification. Larry and the BMorg have not addressed how to eliminate this scourge.

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  • fri-'net-ik says:

    Helpful. And I will gladly accept the extra tix.

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  • Fred says:

    Has there been any attempt to identify and survey the folks we camped in the commodification camps? It seems to me all this controversy is about culture: are the commodification camps a cancer on the BM culture that must be defended against, or are they more like newbie burners (like myself–2014 was my first burn) who either fall in love with BM and grow into better burners or find nothing in particular there that inspires them and move on to some new experience?

    How aware were they of the ten principles and the burner culture before they came to camp? Did the camp organizers do anything to acculturate them? Do they know even now that they ignited so much controversy, and do they care?

    We need to know the answers to these questions, and we need to figure out ways to make sure that future campers DO know the ten principles, HAVE been acculturated, and know what is expected of them as burners, before they come. I believe the commodification camping problem will become less, rather than more, the more ways we find to inform potential commodification campers of how poorly their experience will model the real experience, inspiration, and culture of the thing they think they are participating in.

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  • PBarbie says:

    I don’t mind who is rich, who isn’t, or what ticket privileges they get. What’s wrong with Plug & Play is that they are eroding our culture with paid labor, profiteering organisers, and campers who have not even invested the most basic thought into attending Burning Man. They are not gauche – they are not even burning. It’s spectating at its most pure.

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  • no comment says:

    You are right to mention the ticket crisis.

    When this was news and tickets were scarce people began to follow blogs to find any news they could.
    Now an Internet culture of bashing has grown to over 100k of followers via blog life.

    The blog collect trolls, virgins, curious and disgruntled veterans and then storms the ticket window in full force and cry foul when the tickets sell out.

    The same trolls comment all the posts and stir up the same controversies. They are never satisfied as they have no trust and most likely never attended the event nor will.

    They will never be satisfied with anything less then dismantling the event.
    “Let’s start our own event” is a common trolling mantra by virgins and such ilk.

    These blogs will encourage petitions or fundraising for lawsuits.

    One day they want the whole board ousted.
    The next day they want all the logos and trademarks public domain so the masses can make merchandise for sale.
    “We made burning man”, they say ” why dont WE profit? Not them.

    The only solution I can see to any of this is to continue with the Burner Profile system.

    Burningman is an art festival and the participants should register as artists.
    People get tickets based on their merit of participation not on luck.
    Allow for growth, but the event is not Coachella.

    A Sherpa wrote a letter about their experience and everyone vomited.

    What kind of a person would take such a job of sherpa, get the ticket and complain about the job?
    A person who may not have a ticket to go anyway or a virgin who did not know what they would be excluding themselves from.
    I would never trade my Burn for a sherpa job.

    Burningman is a community before it is a party.

    A community has members who contribute.
    A party has everyone gawking and indulging until they pass out.

    Camps that employ people and charge dues are a problem. They become territorial exclude participation without a financial contribution and in my view discolor the event.

    Profiles, register the community, assign tickets on merit.
    Allow for growth, but tighten up the gate strings so the crashers can’t get through.

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  • Hugz - MRL says:

    As much as people in the community like to rip Larry (and as much as I stand by my comment in the other post about Tannenbaum stepping down) I think this post is heartfelt and thoughtful.

    As with the bible which so many people choose to misquote — many have misquoted Larry’s words here…

    “They represent an ethos that arose from the lived experience of a community; this means these values need to be internalized, they should become a kind of second nature, not a set of literal and unyielding rules that are imposed upon us.”

    If you Love it — Live it. It’s not so hard!

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  • Hugz - MRL says:

    As much as people in the community like to rip Larry (and as much as I stand by my comment in the other post about Tannenbaum stepping down) I think this post is heartfelt and thoughtful.

    As with the bible which so many people choose to misquote — many have misquoted Larry’s words here…

    “They represent an ethos that arose from the lived experience of a community; this means these values need to be internalized, they should become a kind of second nature, not a set of literal and unyielding rules that are imposed upon us.”

    If you Love it — Live it. It’s not so hard!

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  • Captain Vic says:

    Our do-it-yourself arts festival that only happens if we all make it happen. No doubt, some of the paying members of plug-and-play camps are merely spectators that add nothing to the event. Unfortunately, there are also low-rent spongers who contribute nothing and expect the rest of us to feed, water, and entertain them, and then clean up their moop. Let’s focus our efforts on strengthening commitment to universal participation.

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  • Jericho says:

    Also, hey, Tanenbaum is getting lots of attention, but can we take a look at Chip Conley?

    I don’t know much about him beyond his wiki page, but he runs Fest300, a organization whose ONLY PURPOSE is to commodify fest culture, including burning man.

    Maybe he’s the most sincere guy in the world and just wants to bring peace and love and burn stuff down. I am super unease with that conflict of interest, and would prefer the board be staffed with unconflicted individuals.

    AT THE VERY LEAST, I think he needs to make some serious public statement addressing this conflict and explaining why he doesn’t need to recuse himself. If her has a case to make, I’m willing to listen.

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  • Thank you for providing context, clarity and taking affirmative action. The rich and powerful have the world as their play pen but Burning Man should be hands off!

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  • 1999 says:

    I am open to the idea of not-for-profit Plug-N-Play camps.  However…

    I am NOT ok with a version of PnP camps, aka safari camps, charging $13,000 per head.

    I am NOT ok with a new board member of BMorg being involved with this a for-profit camp, Caravancicle.  This is a clear conflict of interest.

    I am NOT ok with the “employees” of this camp being harassed by their clients and pushed to work for a flat day rate for 15 to 20 hours. This could likely have violated numerous state and federal labor laws.

    I am NOT okay that these same employees were afraid to speak out or quit because one of the key organizers is also their boss (owner) at the restaurant they work at in the default world.  

    I am NOT okay with one of the organizers of this PnP camp firing and utterly abandoning an employee after discovering them discussing matters with a BMorg staff member, effectively abandoning them in BRC without food, water or shelter.

    I am NOT okay with this camp using several fellow BM artist’s names in their advertising when the artists were completely unaware of such and had nothing to do with the project.  This could be considered a form of fraud if the artists or clients were to pursue this.

    I am NOT okay that this camp is so above the rest of us, MEMBERS ONLY and absent of the true Burning Man spirit they didn’t have courtesy to allow the neighboring camp that helped build the majority of their camp to simply have a drink off their bar menu.

    Sure I am all for setting up camps as a gift or hiring some chefs. But not if the employee isn’t allowed some time off to experience the city. Otherwise that would be stealing from another potential burners experience.

    I am absolutely APPALLED by the actions of Caravancicle Camps organizers and the fact that a newly added BMorg board member is associated with it.

    I am all for some rich folk learning the value of thinking differently and selflessly gifting (not just for tax deductions). But not if it’s like this.

    If there is any decency left in the organizers of Caravancicle. You will donate your profits from 2014 to a worthy cause and cease organizing high-profit safari camps.

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  • Mark "fry" Flip says:

    I just finished reading every comment posted to Larry’s blog and I’m surprised (and entertained) at how many people are letting these “1%’ers” take away from how awesome burning man is. Even if it’s just 2 people talking there will always be things they disagree on so imagine 65,000 people all trying to agree on a matter. As much as the idea of a PnP camp sucks and does not seem to follow what most of us can agree that burning man is all about, it’s easy to dismiss in my opinion as there is so much more good stuff going on (99%+). It’s like the ultimate TV, just choose your channel.

    As for things that suck on the playa, my neighbors camp was ransacked and more than 10 tents had items stolen from them during the man burn last year. That is truly a problem but an unfortunate side effect of the diversity of a large group of people. It’s impossible to come up with a solution for every problem in any society and if the BMORG were to ever consider having rules to enforce then what would separate BRC from any other big city, pretty lights?

    Burning man has changed my life for the better and for that I am thankful to Larry and all the folks that keep it going for us every year. I can’t wait for Carnival of Mirrors, see you all in the dust!

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  • elkay says:

    @mark- it would be nice to not care, and just go have fun, but their Sherpa staff has made it impossible for many of us to obtain tickets.

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  • Liam Xavier says:

    Thank you. Well spoken and to the point.
    Nothing is permanent, this includes methods, styles, systems, view points, and attitudes. This, like all things, will pass. Through evolution, design, force, entropy, atrophy. I look forward to seeing how Burning Evolves and moves past this current issue.

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  • Jason Silverio says:

    There is plenty of room to make the event bigger, just impossible to get that many folks in and out in a sane manner to that remote area. Can’t make 447 any wider. The two cites idea would inevitably create a ‘good’ side and a ‘lame’ side no matter what, though i think it would be cool. I like the idea of a longer event, so people can come and go a bit more spread out.

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  • Fishstick says:

    Nice words, Larry. I think he explaineth too much. No movement exists forever on true-believers alone. BM has moved well into the enforcement stage. The organizers can’t control what people do on the playa, however, they have the ability of who to give early placement to. Allowing PnPs to flourish, in my opinion, stinks.
    Costumes provided? Pretend gifting? I don’t like being made fun of. Even at my first burn in 2006 I new to not come empty-handed. Condoning tourism at a policy level gives me that “why bother” attitude, I’m ashamed to say.
    Maybe it’s time to put some dusty asses in the board seats.

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  • leo says:

    Thanks Larry for responding to some of our concerns. There is still radio silence about JT and his apparent conflict of interest with being on the board of directors and having a commodification camp. This issue won’t go away by ignoring it. It should be addressed with the same candor that you have expressed in this post.

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  • Crow Two says:

    Leo is right. Larry thank you for this and even thank you Burning Man for the turnkey blog. Also Read Danger Ranger from the FB post off Reddit that makes me think the organisation is on a right path (he is the real deal). Now can you clean out the boardmembers who obviously would step down if they cared about the event? Who the heck is JT anyway and why is he on the board of Burning Man??? I’m a 7 year Burner and the whole ordeal makes me sick. How stupid. I’m sure he is a nice guy, but take some responsibility man. You can find other people of “influence” who wont have such bad judgement to take his place. that would be the final thing to clean up this mess in my opinion. He has to be aware the community wants him gone, sorry JT, you blew it, now go away. I’m sure there are plenty of boards that will welcome your “expertise” but you just arent cut out for this one. Let us look forward. Please.

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  • Stefan says:

    The problems and pressure are all stemming from the scarcity of tickets. We don’t care if the elite are turning up, but we care if they’re getting preferential access that’s stopping us from getting there. The BLM know that we clean up well and would allow a bigger event if that was possible but with only one access road exodus is already unbearable. Wouldn’t the best solution be to locate another site with more access roads? Another road or lane could double the potential size immediately. Also it’d be cool to see how big Burning Man could get without artificial limits and a cat fight about tickets every year.

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  • Me2 says:

    Clearly the best way to game the BM ticket system is to have as many friends and family buy as many tickets as they can at all ticket tier levels. Then start up an all-inclusive luxury hotel, charge a several thousand dollars above start up and operating expenses. Next year, your camp will have more capital than you can dream of and will be able to position yourself above the majority of money-strapped artist and bar theme camps that just bring the same crap every year anyways. There would even be plenty of funds left over to make a sizable monetary donatation towards the Burning Man Project for some special access ticket kickbacks or to grease any sticky theme camp placement wheels. Great idea!!! Thank you for modeling this so well JT. And thank you for your contined support to keep him on the board! It would be a shame to loose this fine example of how to charge 120 people $17000 per head for a ticket to the best concierge and escort service in the state of Nevada. This business model is bloody brilliant!

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  • Tul says:

    Larry makes a good point that Burning Man is about more than just what happens on the playa. The vision of making it a sustainable worldwide lifestyle (as opposed to a little or big engine that could) means that more and more we need to be cognizant of the “waste products” that our event throws out into the world before and after the event.

    I think Larry is generally right that commodification camps don’t do much to harm the experience of the 99% who don’t avail themselves of them. But there is one important way that they do harm us: commodification is contagious. When an art car or security guard says “Sorry, members only” that leads everyone who comes into contact with them to think “Hmm, am I a sucker for sharing my art car or camp when I have much fewer resources to share than those folks?”

    Outside of the event, the way that commodification camps harm us is by sending the waste product of exclusivity out into the public’s perception of Burning Man. Even though they may be less than 1%, it is well proven that less than 1% can control the dialog and thinking of the rest of the country. Just as Lexus commercials exploiting Burning Man harm us, so do the recruiting advertisements that the commodifiers use to further their agenda. Paid advertising, for better or for worse, is still what controls the hearts and minds of much of America. If the commodification camps are the only ones who advertise Burning Man, this waste product becomes the public face, and the project of taking Burning Man culture to the world fails, or at least becomes much more difficult.

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  • Peace Love and a penis says:

    What a crock of shit! Spin COMMODIFICATION CAMPS into Theme camps and the ‘problem’ simply disappears. Larry and the BMorg have NO interest in anything but making huge piles of CA$H aka COMMODIFYING OUR gifts and volunteer efforts. The greedy BMorg wants the extra CA$H from wealthy SPECTATORS and this is how they’re justifying NOT OUTLAWING THEM. COMCAMPS break every single one of the 10 principles and should be the TARGET of all Burners.

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  • Peace says:

    What is clear to me is there are some who do not want a resolution. They want a fight. The biggest threat to the culture was the idea that the org might be sanctioning behavior that blatantly countered the principles. With these two posts the org has said publically they do not and will not sanction commodification camps; so that threat to the culture has been extinguished.

    Eliminating that threat is not enough for some. They want a scalp (preferably JT’s) to hang on their belt. They want hard and fast rules against all sorts of behaviors. Some even want RVs banned. They fail to recognize that revenge, persecution, and rules are anathema to our culture just as much as commodification camps.

    The org has stated publically that all placed camps have to go by the same rules and that there will be one level playing field regarding tickets. That is what the majority of us were asking for. There are some that want a guarantee that the privileged will not use their wealth to get around these rules. They will try. Some will succeed. But they will succeed despite what the org is doing, not with the help of it. That means the principles are kept intact, even if they are a few who get around them. Perfection is often the enemy of the good.

    The org has also said this is just the beginning. There will be additional actions. I’ve seen it suggested constructively that board members should not sponsor camps to avoid a conflict of interest. I think that would be something to consider. You have to accept that a rule like that might deny the playa a great participatory camp, so at this time I’m agnostic about the idea. Without that rule, we have to rely on the integrity of the board and their understanding of the soul of Burning Man.

    I’m one who believes if we can’t trust in the integrity of the board there is no point in the exercise of the event to begin with. Sure they will get some things wrong sometimes. The question is, is their heart in the right place and do they have the interests of the community in mind. Gandhi said you always have to trust in the good will of those in power, even if you have been betrayed and failed by them repeatedly. Because eventually it is those in power who are going to implement the change you are trying to achieve. There is no scenario where you can cut them out of the picture unless you are willing to destroy them and yourself in the process.

    This is a movement of creativity and love. Those are the tools we have to achieve the change we seek. Anger in this age is understandable, as is cynicism; the problem is they are both impotent. They make those wielding them feel powerful and superior, but rarely accomplish anything.

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  • Zippo says:

    Thanks to the BMorg for supplying internet and cell phone service on the playa. Now everyone’s connected. Capitalist Commodification Camps will stick out like a sore thumb. There’s no way you can make a bunch of quarter million $$$ RV’s look like hippie buses. Once Burners find them, word will spread like wildfire (flash mob, anyone?) and I think there’ll be organized demonstrations and protests at the sites. it won’t be a pleasant time for those who paid $17,000 to wall themselves off and be elitist. Perhaps the inhabitants of such Camps might be happier at Coachella, which is where I’d recommend that they go.

    Principle #3 of the 10 Principles says, “We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience”. Sounds like a “call to Arms”, doesn’t it. And such protests would be perfectly in line with the values of Burning Man.

    I hope it doesn’t come to the point where the camps of those who paid $17,000 for a “Burning Man Experience” need to be protected by a perimeter of Black Rock Rangers or BLM Rangers. In that case, Burning Man would just become a microcosm of the Default World.

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  • dunadan says:

    Seriously? Where did Larry Harvey get his definition of Marxism?

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  • Larry Harvey says:

    In Cuba while talking with artists; Marxism on the hoof, not the theoretic kind.

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  • Tony Z says:

    I think we’re looking at this the wrong way. These camps and their customers are to be pitied. They pay a lot of money for a very shallow experience. This is a case of more money than imagination, financial resources over adaptability, security and smugness over interaction and enlightenment. Would any of us sincerely trade the incredible magical moments that we’ve shared for what they are receiving? They are not to be envied or even chastised these are unintelligent sad people. Consider yourself lucky that you avoided that trap. Exalt in inventiveness, independence and creativeness. I ride around on my bicycle laughing and smiling at the sheer imagination of what’s been created. And I feel satisfaction knowing that what I did in my own little camp may bring the same sense of joy to others. They will never feel that pride of accomplishment. What these camps do to the Burning Man experience is trivial, they will never truly understand or be apart of what it’s about. Even though they’re there cocooned in their compounds noses pressed to the glass of the candy store never able to enter.

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  • ChaosBurning says:

    Oh Yes! you have to be with freaks!

    If in fact, this is the move that is being made, I support it whole-heartedly.

    Make them be a regular theme camp, and no VIP anything. Buy regular tickets, have to show up like everyone else, you have to offer your camp to everyone, just like everyone else.

    Any kind of “country club” exclusivity shall be strictly banned.

    You cannot say “we must radically include THEM” only to have them “radically exclude US”.

    That is what does not work with what is happening here.

    I’m still not a fan of the PnP camp idea, but if it is to be allowed again, the exclusivity aspect must die a horrible death.

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  • Marquee says:

    Still waiting for answers about your Board of Directors. JT? Anyone?

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  • Indra says:

    I think a separate city for the rich is just the ticket , like a moon of the coast of Black Rock. Everyone is clean, regal, dressed in flowing, feather headdresses and riding Segways. Imagine huge tour buses, helicopters and hot tubs, Bouncers , Velvet ropes and P Diddy, Kim Kardashian and Playa Skool, high fiving one another. Maybe get Wolf Gang Puck to set up a Pop Up restaurant , escargot, lobster, and Champagne. You know, maybe Ill just send one my assistants to the event with a Go Pro and watch it on my flat screen…

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    • oldgrump says:

      Perfect.
      Make a gated community out by the airport.
      Transpo (Segway, pre-decorated fat-tire bike with gifties, MV, decorated golf cart …) provided into the City.

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  • Johnny Johnny says:

    Thank you Larry for all you have done and continue to do, I could not imagine the difficulties you are faced with trying to make everyone content as you manage this cultural growth. thank you, thank you! 1989, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and yup 2015 and beyond. thank you~ johnny johnny~ j pres k

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  • tranquillo says:

    Nothing wrong with a good ol fashioned community prank on Royal (jim) Tenenbaum’s camp and any other plug n play this year. Lets get em good, have some laughs, and hold up the mirror for these confuse attendees, coming to burning man in turnkey fashion, these predictable westerners are begging for a playful awakening.

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  • art for kids says:

    It’s amazing for me to have a website, which is helpful in support of my
    knowledge. thanks admin

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  • BurntMAn says:

    Think $^# is messed up; wait until you find out how much BMORG employees get paid? Want more? Please do check out the financials. Lots of people living large off your dime.

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  • ab dive says:

    Every year has had its tantrums and troubles, this year will be no different, it’s part of the growing pains that occur. I, for one, am satiated. I feel as if we’ve addressed this as a community and it hasn’t been swept under the rug.

    I am guilty of not doing enough. I have been a tourist in many of the years I have attended. This past year I had the great pleasure of getting to look behind the curtain, I couldn’t help but think that if all of those who worked were wearing uniforms we would all be amazed and confounded. There are a million moving parts that make the city work. I do have a job on the Playa, but it’s still not enough.

    Thanks for addressing this, looking forward to another year.

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  • Folks,, don’t get wraped around a pole on the issue please. I have dealt with these folks for 10 plus years and while I have my own camp at the Roller Disco I find them to be very inclusive and wanting to spread the BurninMan joy. I to was somewhat dubious of their intentions and surprisingly surprised when we engaged them. Not all participants can stick it out in a tent for 7 day. We connected with a couple who were in ther 70’s and were at their 1st BM last year at a Plug and Play camp. They wanted nothing more than to invite everyone they connected with to enjoy what their camp provided. Deal with it BM is evolving and we should all appreciate that!

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