So you’ve read our last two posts on Cultural Direction Setting — What’s Happened and What We Heard. Perhaps you’re wondering, “Where do we go from here?” The Theme Camp Symposium on March 23-24 was an important opportunity to gather more feedback, discuss ideas and share the potential next steps of this Cultural Direction Setting project. So for those who couldn’t join us at the Symposium, we want to give you the opportunity to hear what was said, and then we’ll talk about what’s next.
Rough Draft of the Vision
At the Theme Camp Symposium, nine members of our Cultural Direction Setting Visioning Group presented the rough draft of the vision that will guide residential Black Rock city and its culture for the next five to 10 years. This vision was based on the extensive community feedback we gathered from thousands of surveys, interviews, community conversations, online comments, and the visioning group’s perspectives.
At the Symposium, we presented some of the potential pathways for this vision and outlined the themes, which included:
- Needs and expectations of theme camps
- Where is the line for resources? How much of the city do we place and which camps don’t we place?
- “Global citizenship” in BRC
- Redefining Plug & Play.
For the first 15 minutes, you can listen to Trippi Longstocking and Simone Torrey talk about the process we’ve taken to get to the rough draft and the objectives of Cultural Direction Setting. If you’d rather just listen to the rough draft vision, skip to 14:50.
We then hosted two breakout sessions where we heard feedback from camp leaders in the room and on the livestream of the Symposium. Curious what folks said? Here’s a six-minute summary of the feedback we heard throughout the weekend.
There was also this 25-minute fascinating discussion about Plug & Play that we recommend you watch.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Now our group is taking in the feedback from the Symposium, and this spring we will be thinking and working hard to create the next draft of the vision, which we plan to release before this year’s event.
Here’s what we’re hoping for the 2019 event and beyond. We hope you’ll read the vision when it comes out. We hope your camp, your community, whatever Burner groups you call home, will read and dig into it together.
From the surveys, we already know there’s divergence in opinions. Not everyone will like everything in the vision, and that’s okay! What we ask is that you engage with it, as you’ve hopefully already engaged by being part of the community engagement in the fall, by watching the videos from the Theme Camp Symposium, and by reading this right now.
Whatever parts of the vision are in alignment with you and your camp, we hope you’ll come up with amazing ways to implement those parts into how you show up in Black Rock City this year. Have a group brainstorm about what you want to change in the culture of your camp, and run with some of the ideas.
The lived culture of Black Rock City doesn’t come from a vision document. Culture comes from you, from our community, and how we all collectively show up in Black Rock City. The reality of this year’s cultural direction will be up to you.
After the 2019 event, the Cultural Direction Setting initiative will shift gears by reaching out to the community for input on how we (including the organization) will implement the vision. This is when the abstract becomes concrete.
How do we take our tensions of the past and transform them into implementable actions that will guide us for the next five to 10 years? When it’s typically quieter in the fall and winter, expect a lot of updates from Burning Man Project on what the organization is doing to make this vision real for the 2020 event.
We will involve key stakeholders in each of these implementation decisions (i.e. camp representatives, Placement team volunteers, relevant department staff, community members, etc). We’ll be doing this intentionally, one step at a time.
As Marian said, “The integrity of our culture is the highest priority,” and we want to maintain that integrity while also embracing change. We feel pretty darn sure you’re ready for what’s next.
Black Rock City Cultural Direction Setting Group*
Bravo (Placement Team), Jennifer Warburg (Boom Boom Womb Camp), Jess Hobbs (Flux Foundation, Maker Faire and Flaming Lotus Girls), Kari Gregg (Philanthropic Engagement for Burning Man Project), Kimba Standridge (Facilitator and Man Pavilion Project Manager), Lauren Brand (Varsity Camp and Cirque Gitane), Level (Placement Team), Marisa Lenhardt (Death Guild Thunderdome), Mercedes Martinez (Burning Man Project Board Member and Ashram Galactica), Danger Ranger (Burning Man Cultural Co-Founder and Burning Man Project Board Member), Ray Russ (Community Member), Scotto (Meta-Regional and PolyParadise Village), Shadow (Placement Team), Simone Torrey (Lead Facilitator, bEEcHARGE! Camp, Red Hot Beverly Crew), Skywalker (Root Society Camp), Terry Schoop (Community Services Manager), Trippi Longstocking / Victoria Mitchell (Associate Director and BRC Cultural Direction Setting Project Creator), Wally Bomgaars (Burning Man Staff and Community Member), and Zang (Suspended Animation Camp)
With support and direction from Marian Goodell (CEO and Cultural Founder of Burning Man Project), Harley K. Dubois (Cultural Founder of Burning Man Project), Charlie Dolman (Black Rock City Event Director), and Heather White (Managing Director of Burning Man Project)
*Since it’s not possible to have every camp participate in the visioning group, the camps represent a cross-section of Black Rock City in terms of camp size and complexity, number of years as an established camp, and camp location. This is a new level of engagement with the Burning Man organization for most of these camps, and hearing voices from all camps in our survey, social media, and community conversations is a critical part of this process.
Top photo: Black Rock City Cultural Direction Setting Group present the draft vision at the Theme Camp Symposium 2019 (Photo by Chuck Revell)