Guest Blogger! “Thanks But No Thanks: Plastic Playa Gifts”


Special Guest Blog from the one and only Molly Golightly:

Here’s the thing: I loved the Burning Man documentary “Gifting It.”

I have been given some wonderful playa gifts, including: First Aid and a gin ‘n’ tonic (BM ’98); pair of hand-made earrings (BM ’00); combination lighter and bottle opener (BM ’01); an antique kimono (BM ’04). I have also been given countless pieces of plastic crap that ended up dusty and broken in the bottom of my backpack and that generally made me sad.

Now, I don’t want to seem ungracious. I know you’re not supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth. There is so much magic on the playa — I’m well-known for crying at the overwhelming beauty of it all. Burning Man’s gift economy allows you to put meaning into almost anything. It’s not the cost of what’s given, but the act of giving. But that plastic butterfly hair pin one gentleman insisted I have when I was dressed in hoop skirts and corset as a gothic southern belle left me cold and went straight to the landfill

Playa gifts are a piece of you. You’re giving a stranger something to add to their experience, all because you can. People are open to receiving and it is a beautiful thing. When you’re thinking about playa gifts, put down the made-in-China trinket list. I’d rather have you stand in front of your camp passing out lemonade or spraying me with a water gun. That would make my Burning Man that much more playa.

About the author: Tom Price

Tom Price

Tom Price is the former Executive Director of Black Rock Solar. Prior to that he was the Environmental Manager for Burning Man during the Green Man theme, and was in the Gulf Coast for six months during the genesis of Burners Without Borders. He's been attending Burning Man since 1997, and he's proud to say that his decade plus streak of breaking down from sun stroke on the playa on day three remains intact.

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