Center Camp/coffee debate

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BlueBirdPoof
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Post by BlueBirdPoof » Mon Dec 01, 2003 2:36 pm

As for the reason coffee is sold, I'd have to say that the complete lack of refutation of the reason stated above [that someone in power (possibly Larry) likes coffee/cafes] probably means that it's believable to most of the people involved in the discussion. As someone who grew up in Berkeley and could define periods of her life going back almost 20 years by which cafes she was habituating at the time (plus I have a senseless "looking for a cappucino in St. Paul, Minnesota" story I can always trot out) I can't actually argue with that. So for me the side issue of "Does/can a playa cafe function in the same way as one in other cities" could become interesting. In fact, I guess that one reason I've tended to post supporting "the mere existence of the cafe is a serious challange to the no vending policy and therefore needs to be examined closely" is that to me it was perfectly natural that there be a cafe, so it was interesting for me to broaden my own mind on the issue. (Although I do try and recognize my own ambivalence.)

precipitate
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Post by precipitate » Mon Dec 01, 2003 2:48 pm

> In my opinion, I think it's a justifiable exception to the rule.

Why? How? Because You Like It (TM)?

(Forgive me if you've answered this before - just point me to the post(s)
and I'll read for myself.)

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Mon Dec 01, 2003 3:08 pm

precipitate wrote:....Larry's gonna do what Larry's gonna do....
That, in a nutshell, would be the reason, as well as a rough description of the decision-making process, for the entire event. Add "LLC" or "cabal" to Larry as needed.

But let's talk Larry. The cafe -- whatever it is now, whatever it represents to you, and however it differs from the original idea -- to Larry represents as much of a civic effort as the Man, the platform under it, the lamp spires leading up to it and rimming the Esplanade, the Esplanade itself and the entire road system, the trash fence, the rest of Center Camp, the shitters, etc. etc.

All of this stuff involves paying people and vendors. It's all commerce.

Guest

going without

Post by Guest » Mon Dec 01, 2003 3:43 pm

and do YOU go without ice for the week?.... I'm betting that more people wouldn't stay as long if Ice were not available... and what answer would you offer up for the NEED for Ice in medical situations.....

Yes! we would/could go without ice, IF it wasn't available we wouldn't have any other choice.... and all that aside in order to obtain the permits for the event we have to have it... its a "health issue"

coffee on the other hand is a luxury item but certainly one that many would not willingly give up..... I just dont understand why anyone wants to pay that much for a cup of java (or whatever) when ya can use the ICE to make your own drinks in camp <grin>

this conversation seems moot... center camp, along with all the amenities is offered and accepted by MANY (as one can see upon visiting center camp)... we choose to accept it or not... make use of whats offered or not... Your choice really....

what i'm not clear on is what you mean by "I've said it needn't be sold" as opposed to Shouldn't be sold... ???


precipitate wrote:>
The royal we could do without. Probably wouldn't choose to, but could.
Who said you needed cold beer or fresh food? Ice is a luxury. But one
with a lot of uses, and it's not something I've heard anyone say shouldn't
be sold. I've said it needn't be sold, but that's not the same thing.

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Post by BlueBirdPoof » Mon Dec 01, 2003 3:58 pm

LyingBare
For what it's worth, I don't think that Artica is much of a sticking point. It's too obviously useful under the circumstances for all but a tiny minority to accept. Plus, we know what happens to your proceeds. Coffee is definately a luxury item (and I say that as an addict.)
So if you're enjoying the debate, good. If you feel some obligation to defend CampArtica--not nessasary. (And good call on the medical uses. Not only the obvious, but I know an insulin dependant diabetic who was on the playa this year. The meds have to be kept below 85 fehrenheit--but not frozen. Imagine going to Empire every other day for that! Makes the logistics even worse.)
As yet another possible side bar, some historians consider the switch over from beer to coffee to have been a real factor in the developement of commerce and culture and domination of the world by European powers and eventually the US. I'd say that it's current status as the world's 2nd most traded global commadity adds some weight to that hypothesis. Maybe that's a reason to keep the cafe off the playa--guilt by association.

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Post by precipitate » Mon Dec 01, 2003 4:06 pm

> what i'm not clear on is what you mean by "I've said it needn't be sold"
> as opposed to Shouldn't be sold... ???

What I mean is that ice isn't necessary. Therefore it needn't be sold.
[Caveat: I have no idea what the health department regs are. If they
require it, then it is necessary for this particular event.] You can
certainly go to the desert for a week without a cooler. I never said that
would be desirable. And I'm not advocating getting rid of ice sales. I just
said it'd be possible.

As for medical needs, why do you need to sell ice to the public in order
to supply medical facilities? Do we all get to buy walkie talkies in Center
Camp because the cops and Rangers need them?

Guest

Post by Guest » Mon Dec 01, 2003 4:34 pm

Nope... not necessary to defend the sales... just curious how many people actually do go without ice for the week (or some of the other creature comforts).... I have always wanted to attempt the "purist survival skills lifestyle" but haven't ever talked myself into it.. I would like to know how far I could push my own survival boundaries just in case I ever need to.... but.... if the amenities are offered I'm more inclined to give in and enjoy whats offered.... Ummm except for the coffee <grin>
BlueBirdPoof wrote: If you feel some obligation to defend CampArtica--not nessasary.

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Post by precipitate » Mon Dec 01, 2003 4:44 pm

I ran a communal kitchen for four years. In the final year, we had about
fifteen people, and about 20% of our food needed refrigeration. We could
easily have done without that 20%. And we ate very well. I think the
only thing that would have been missed is yogurt in the morning. Well,
and dipping a sarong into icy cooler water and wearing it on your head.

It's not exactly purist survivalism, either. It requires a lot more work
on-playa to prepare dried or canned food into something resembling a
gourmet meal than it does to whip out your pre-grilled chicken breasts,
your pre-made bean salad, and your pre-boiled rice and make a Burning
Man burrito at lunch time.

[edit: it was four years, not five as I originally wrote]
Last edited by precipitate on Mon Dec 01, 2003 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by unjonharley » Mon Dec 01, 2003 4:49 pm

It seems we have a couple of hard asses in this thread.
'
I came to the desert with full knowlage of what I would need for the week. I have my own "coffee" and with a small design change ice. I go home with 5gallen of ice. I do some camping along the way so the trip is about 12 days.

So now all that blah blah Bm prints and post has no meaning huh? Just bring your self and a lot of money. BM center camp will fill all your needs. This is served to you on the back of some poor smack that don't know any better.
I'm the contraptioneer your mother warned you about.

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Mon Dec 01, 2003 5:45 pm

All I'm saying is that it seems petty and myopic to focus on the cosmetic aspect of selling cups o' coffee as seemingly the only, and most egregious, violation of the Commerce Subsection of Burning Man Ideology for Dummies.

Any volunteer who eats in the commissary is engaging in commerce. Seems hairsplitting to differentiate that from the commerce that takes place in building, staffing, serving, striking, and cleaning up at the cafe.

Do people who use satellite hookups for telephone or media purposes delay the charges until after the event? How the hell does that work?

Does the shitter service empty RVs in exchange for post-dated checks? Doubt it.

Oops, we ran out of kerosene. Guess Black Rock City goes dark tonight.

Oops, the gas tanks at the ranch are empty. Guess the neon goes out tonight, and there goes the lighting up at the Gate and Greeters.

Point being -- there's a lot of money, goods and services changing hands, whether you recognize it as "commerce" or choose to ignore it.

I'm neither justifying nor condemning any of it here -- I'm just baffled that people seem a little challenged re: the amount of commerce represented in a 16-oz tip jar as opposed to a 55 gallon drum of kerosene.

It's the cosmetic shit that's meaningful, apparently.

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MrChevere
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Commerce

Post by MrChevere » Mon Dec 01, 2003 5:51 pm

Is there a place at BM to sell your soul? I've got one in perfect condition.
Original owner.
It was like this when I got here, honest.

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Bob
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Re: Commerce

Post by Bob » Mon Dec 01, 2003 5:54 pm

MrChevere wrote:Is there a place at BM to sell your soul? I've got one in perfect condition.
Original owner.
That's a service that has been offered at any of a number of theme camps.

And we all know theme camps don't engage in a speck of commerce during Holy Week... er... Burning Man.

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Post by precipitate » Mon Dec 01, 2003 5:57 pm

> It's the cosmetic shit that's meaningful, apparently.

Uh huh. Me and my cosmetics go hand in hand, everywhere.

It's the transactional aspect of it that changes my experience and bothers
me. I've stated elsewhere, and will repeat if necessary, that the illusion
that Burning Man is commerce free is pretty easily pierced and that
mostly people just defer the money spending aspects of it to before or
after their time fucking, camping, tripping. And I like that deferment. I
think, although it's completely artificial, it is beneficial to the event as a
whole.

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Post by Bob » Mon Dec 01, 2003 6:37 pm

As a Burning Man tradition, the transactional experience of buying your coffee in the cafe predates that of paying the shitter service to empty your RV tanks by three or four years, AFAIK.

And the septic guys don't even offer a floor show, just nasty buttcrack.

And... to paraphrase Badger... where's my fucking paycheck???

Guest

Post by Guest » Mon Dec 01, 2003 7:58 pm

precipitate wrote:> In my opinion, I think it's a justifiable exception to the rule.

Why? How? Because You Like It (TM)?

(Forgive me if you've answered this before - just point me to the post(s)
and I'll read for myself.)
I think its justifiable because its a safe place for people to sober up without worrying they're getting something more then they bargained for in a beverage.

edited - or to recharge their batteries, or to rehydrate halfway through an adventure, or to re-caffeinate for a volunteer shift, etc.

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Post by unjonharley » Tue Dec 02, 2003 7:02 am

The ice line is a discrace. If you like Mickey Land so much. Go there and stand in line until your old. I would like to enjoy myself instead of trying to bust my way trough soom damn line. Go alone the ice line and read the stress in the faces. If we need ice "now" Why didn't we need to sell ice those other years? Take the ice out of center camp. Put it in the outer limites. Lets get some more stress going.
I'm the contraptioneer your mother warned you about.

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self reliance

Post by Guest » Tue Dec 02, 2003 7:15 am

I guess my last post brings into the discussion into another of the organizing principles of Burning Man - self reliance.
There seems to me to be an acceptance that self-reliance is not absolute, but a goal to be worked towards, and that the center of the village is about a recognition of the occasional limitations of self-reliance. We rely on the message board to contact others, we rely on the post office for mail, we rely on the rangers for help in dealing with unworkable situations, we rely on the medical assistance folks for help in dealing with health issues, and we rely on center camp for a gathering spot when the theme camps and other gathering places are not doing it for us.
Again, i see those as justifiable exceptions to the rule.
I've seen a problem described as thinking that Burning Man is some kind of utopia where the problems of the real world don't intrude on our experience.
But sometimes they do.
When i crashed my bicycle at night after doing a header in a crater left by an explosive device on the playa, i was wounded. A campmates gentle assistance and gift of bandages helped me recover. I learned to bring a light and to watch out for bomb craters, but i healed more quickly due to their assisstance.
When a campmates muffler was falling off their car and i gave him a coat hanger to help support it i think i was demonstrating community, and not damaging his ability to be self-reliant.
I believe that center camp, the sale of ice, and the sale of coffee and hydrating drinks serves to help us establish community.
I want to make it clear i am not in any way opposed to the concept of self reliance. It is a goal that i think i have learned from and will continue to learn from. But the learning i have done through my participation in this forum is a concrete example of the limitations of self-reliance. And the knowledge and experience given by the posters is a contribution to community. Thank you for those gifts.

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Post by Bob » Tue Dec 02, 2003 7:33 am

Given that the various volunteer groups have access to enough power around Center Camp to power dozens of coffee machines, and enough fuel to boil more cowboy coffee than could possibly be consumed, the function of the cafe to supply dunking fluid for Ranger donuts is arguably uncritical.

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Ice Lines

Post by Guest » Tue Dec 02, 2003 10:05 am

We don't like the lines any more than anyone else.. and we work em... and quickly too... so.... all I can offer up for ya is make friends, buy or bring a drink of some sort and hang in there...

it doesnt have to be stressing.. it can be fun... really.... cuz just like "mickeyland" you will eventually reach the front of the line and it'll be your turn..... :)

Ummm.. as for moving the ice further out... well... if there was a way to get those big ole trucks out to the outter rings without runnin over someone it mught happen.... Nah!! probably not.... ya know.. I think someone has tried to do a delivery service for people but not sure it ever took off... anyway....

maybe if people thought ahead a little too they wouldnt all be needing ice at the same time.... <grin> worst time to get it is first thing in the morning (although that is my shift) and right before cocktail time... so if ya time it just right ya could miss the lines but then you'd be missin out on meeting some really cool people all sharing the same focus.... :) and if that doesn't do it for ya... well... who knows maybe one of my morning crew people will entertain ya when its your turn at the front of the line... or even better come help us sling some ice.. we can always use a willing volunteer.... see ya in 04..... :)

Bare....
morning Ice shift leader
unjonharley wrote:The ice line is a discrace. If you like Mickey Land so much. Go there and stand in line until your old. I would like to enjoy myself instead of trying to bust my way trough soom damn line. Go alone the ice line and read the stress in the faces. If we need ice "now" Why didn't we need to sell ice those other years? Take the ice out of center camp. Put it in the outer limites. Lets get some more stress going.

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Post by III » Tue Dec 02, 2003 10:10 am

> if there was a way to get those big ole trucks out to the outter rings

don't the trucks have to cross over those outer rings to get to center camp? why not just stop em on the outskirts of the city?

unjohn- ice wasn't always sold at the event, but it wasn't always a full week long, either. you'll note that those two things changed at about the same time.
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Post by Guest » Tue Dec 02, 2003 10:17 am

> all I can offer up for ya is make friends, buy or bring a drink of some sort and hang in there...
What i've enjoyed is arriving in the hottest part of the day with more then one cold drink, then gifting the pople close to me in line a cold beverage.

Guest

Post by Guest » Tue Dec 02, 2003 10:20 am

Uh huh... they cross the "outter rings" from the front gate to center camp... its not that far from the gate into center camp and we know they are on their way into the city.... it would be a logistics nightmare to stop them near the front gates... and I am sure our truck drivers would not be happy campers..

Ice has been sold for at least 7 years.... I've been working it for 6 and I cant imagine what everyone did before that... trek into Gerlach or Empire I suppose... or do without... which is certainly an option... but I sure do enjoy my cold drinks and if the ice lines are any indication so does at least half the other burners.....

III wrote:> if there was a way to get those big ole trucks out to the outter rings

don't the trucks have to cross over those outer rings to get to center camp? why not just stop em on the outskirts of the city?

unjohn- ice wasn't always sold at the event, but it wasn't always a full week long, either. you'll note that those two things changed at about the same time.

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Post by III » Tue Dec 02, 2003 10:25 am

> I cant imagine what everyone did before that

most of em showed up with enough to last for the duration of the event, or found ways to do without. as precipitate mentioned, it's quite possible. i myself have never bought ice at the event. i've got better things to do than stand in line...
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Post by Guest » Tue Dec 02, 2003 10:25 am

I think I love you.... YOU (and burners like you) are the reason workin the ice crew is soooooo much fun...

and we love the myst sprayer people too....
abeerinthemorning wrote:>
What i've enjoyed is arriving in the hottest part of the day with more then one cold drink, then gifting the pople close to me in line a cold beverage.

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Post by precipitate » Tue Dec 02, 2003 11:30 am

Bob, I apologize for having been incomplete in my vitriol against monetary
transactions during the event. Being able to pay to have your RV pumped
pisses me off, too, as does being able to recharge your water tanks. Your
ass is so precious you can't shit with the rest of us for a week? You can't
haul enough water to wash and drink in that big fucking RV? Etc. etc.
etc.

> I think its justifiable because its a safe place

Forgive me, beer, but I call bullshit. I don't buy that as a viable reason to
justify the sale of coffee. I seem to remember that you might have been
dosed at the event (or maybe it was someone else?), so paranoia is
understandable. But the antidote to that is to get to know your neighbors,
not to build some gifuckinggantic structure and turn it into a hippified
Starbucks with naked chicks.

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Bob
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Post by Bob » Tue Dec 02, 2003 11:41 am

Top-quoting and smileys... it's all over...

AFAIK, a good portion of the camps along the 5:30 & 6:30 routes used to access Center Camp consist of those belonging to volunteers & staff, somewhat by design. Only the trucks servicing the cafe enter the inner ring of Center Camp -- the ice trailers use the outer ring -- and I believe that since all cafe trailers and such are in place by the time the event starts, it's only the potable water truck that makes regular trips to the cafe.

The potable water, dust control, septic service, and fire trucks go pretty much everywhere.

Not everybody sees such things in terms of design decisions, but they pretty much are.

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in summary..

Post by technopatra » Tue Dec 02, 2003 11:42 am

I've been lurking on this debate after a couple of posts, as I have the doublewhammy of working on both the tech teams and the cafe team. I have a question:

The biggest issue that has been repeated ad nauseum is that the selling of anything is in direct opposition to the no vending rule, and flies in the face of self reliance.

At the same time, some folks say that they wouldn't have a problem to the bending of the rules if, as with Camp Arctica, the money was being used in a charitable/responsible fashion. The lack of transparency in the financial reporting has several backs up.

The other big issue is that some folks feel that the cafe itself is antithetical to the spirit of community because people can just go there to hangout without interacting with anytone, if they wish.

Does that about sum it up? Beacuse I want to bring this back to my teams and see if they are even aware of this debate. It's great that folks are talking, but if you are not communicating to the people actively involved, you are just blowing so much smoke up each others' asses. HAving a fine time doing it, too, but there it is.

Guest

Post by Guest » Tue Dec 02, 2003 12:20 pm

Hey Precipitate - Yeah, I see your points.

It was me who said in another bbs that I unwillingly and surprisingly tripped my ass off hard in my tent for several hours. Perhaps that personal experience and the fear its caused led me to ascribe to the org a justification for the coffee sales.

> and turn it into a hippified Starbucks with naked chicks.

or other commercial venue with naked chicks

You're right about that, and again my personal experience has led me to a different vision. I still think of it as the place I sat down my first year after arriving at 2am and was surprised when the person nearby began talking to me. So for me I just don't see it that way. I can only imagine how annoyed I would be if I did. I have this weird habit of seeing things a little differently then those around me, and for me the dance hall theme camps tend to bring this feeling up more then Center Camp does.

> in my vitriol against monetary transactions during the event

I like that you're consistent Precipitate.

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Post by Chai Guy » Tue Dec 02, 2003 1:35 pm

Does that about sum it up? Beacuse I want to bring this back to my teams and see if they are even aware of this debate.
Oh, I think they're aware.


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KellY
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Stupid #@%$!! analogies

Post by KellY » Tue Dec 02, 2003 1:59 pm

Hey y'all,

I think this has been an interesting long-term discussion. Doubt it's changed anyone's mind, but hopefully it's made people seriously consider other folks' point of view. But could all the anti-cafe people do me one little favor?

Stop calling the cafe a fucking STARBUCK'S! Selling coffee does not equal evil chain store, dig? Do you people who make this comparison even go to cafe's in unplayaland? Do you know the difference? I love cafes, as I've mentioned before I spent a big chunk of my teenage years hanging out in them, and I fucking hate Starbuck's. Their genericizing (just made that word up; seems to fit) of cafes and driving out all of the real small businesses makes me incredibly angry if I spend to much time thinking about it. Saying the center camp cafe = Starbuck's is a distortion on the level of Rush Limbaugh's level, in my mind.

Interesting anecdote: the first year I worked for the cafe, one of the managers was a fellow named Colin. He had owned a very popular establishment in Boston called the Liberty Cafe. Well, Starbuck's opened a branch down the block (that's their normal modus operandi : find a place where's there's already a proven market for coffee, set up shop and do their best to drive the original cafe in the area out of business), and when they couldn't out-compete him, they bought his building and evicted him. It worked out okay for him in the end- he succesfully sued them for unfair business practices or something like that, and got quite a lot of money from it; but the community that had enjoyed the Liberty Cafe was still out of luck. Anyway, I think if he was on this board he probably would have crawled through the phonelines and strangled anyone who equated the Burning Man cafe with Starbuck's by hand.
"Of what use is a philosopher who doesn't hurt anybody's feelings?" -Diogenes

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