#PlayaMade: Creating a Community That Goes Deeper Than Economics

Which is more meaningful: a hand-carved pendant imbued with its creator’s intent or a blinky trinket that will ultimately end up in a landfill? How about a camp sign made by your mates from recycled materials or a plaque ordered with two clicks late one night all by your lonesome? What about an old coat you dolled up with faux fur and embroidery, or a mass produced… yawn… what were we saying again?

Oh yeah. There’s a secondary theme we’d like you to consider this year (and come to think of it every year ever after). It’s called “Playa Made” — or #PlayaMade in social media parlance — and it’s a simple idea with mighty consequences. It means don’t buy new stuff just because you can and because it’s easy. It is bad for the earth, degrades our culture, and it’s just plain boring.

Burning Man Bucks by Rob Sturtz

“Playa Made” means putting your wallet away and looking at what’s already around you. It means getting creative, crafty, and resourceful. It’s realizing that, together, we are creating experiences that can’t be bought, and the experience of Burning Man is all of it, from the outsized majesty of the art right down to the tiniest dangly earring gifted by a new friend.

When we make instead of buy, transactions become intentions, and consumption becomes creation. Many of you are already in this frame of mind, but it’s time to remind the whole community why this is important. We stand ready to resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experiences and to protect our culture from the commercialism that besieges us in the default world.

Check out our Instagram feed to see the latest in #PlayaMade.

Please join us in this movement. We want you to show us the interesting ways that you are building, sewing, sawing, hot-glue-gunning, bedazzling — however you do you — your costumes, jewelry, playa gifts and more. Take a photo, tell us what you’re making and how, and post to Instagram using the #PlayaMade hashtag. We’ll amplify your projects and tips here and on our social channels, so that by the time it’s August, you’ll have some pretty sick outfits, not to mention some of the most thoughtful gifts in the world.

What happens when people stop thinking about money and start creating?

We can’t wait to find out. Make…for the Playa. #PlayaMade. Get it?

Top photo: Headpiece by Siberfi, photo by Scott London

About the author: Mia Quagliarello

Mia Quagliarello

Mia Quagliarello is Burning Man Project's Digital Community Manager. She went to Burning Man for the first time in 2006 (seven months pregnant, no less) and immediately wanted to leave. (She didn't know dust storms were a thing.) But 24 hours after that initial shock, she fell in love with it, and it's been a part of her life in big and small ways ever since. On playa, you'll usually find her camping in Kidsville, riding Bahamut the dragon, or hugging a speaker because she loves music so much.

11 Comments on “#PlayaMade: Creating a Community That Goes Deeper Than Economics

  • Glimmer says:

    I make my BM swag for my groupies out of wing nuts, eye bolts and nuts and chains for hanging lights. Works great except for on the sun on the Playa- they do get hot. Hugs

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  • "Glimmer" Lee Myerhoff says:

    I’m Glimmer- my default name is Lee Myerhoff

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  • Dr. K says:

    I always start my ‘gifts’ as soon as the theme is announced. I spread the time and the cost over the nine months it takes until I leave for BRC. While I am making them I am having a great time either reliving past burns or anticipating the next one.

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    • creatur says:

      Must be nice to know you will be “getting” a ticket, us mortals that have to wait and hope our finger is swift enough only have half the time to plan.

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  • Geomom says:

    A good conversation is a great gift. So are listening, rubbing someone’s feet, playing Russian folk songs to drunk Russians on a kazoo (I thank my parents for owning a Theodore Bikel lp). The trinkets are fun, but if you don’t have them, share yourself in your own, creative, unique way.

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  • Naiad says:

    One million times yes!

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  • Went to the shed.
    Left hours later with a wooden kid goat called Jude. It has a music box wind under his tail that plays Hey Jude.
    He has a paint brush bristle on his chest.
    Two little battering horns are appearing.
    He can’t get from Australia to burning man easy.

    He’s gunna start climbing soon we can tell and he’s getting attitude. That’s when we wind the music and he settles.

    Back to the shed but really Burning Man sounds just my scene.
    “reuseing everything”

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  • Dr. Phil says:

    Putting down money is the biggest lie in Burning Man. Money is the great equalizer–everybody’s money is equal. Burning Man eliminates money to keep power in the hands of people who live near Burning Man and so can bring things there in vehicles, the people who have high status in the social networks around Burning man, and the people who have the cash to build camps and support structures themselves, rather than using money, which would make it both cheaper and equally accessible to everyone.

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  • Marzipan says:

    Looks like there is a costume-making workshop tomorrow in San Jose!


    Costume Making Workshop & Exchange
    Public · Hosted by South Bay Burners
    Tomorrow at 1 PM – 5 PM
    School of Visual Philosophy
    425 Auzerais Ave, San Jose, California 95126


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  • George Post says:

    Amazing. Playa Made is the title of our Jewelry Burning Man museum show, now at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton Mass, through June 4th. http://fullercraft.org/event/playa-made-burning-man-jewelry/

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