Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $$$

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Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $$$

Postby zeigen » Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:04 pm

(Sorry to start YET ANOTHER thread.)

Presumably everyone by now has read this, by Beth Lillie:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/10205301569801653/

I've seen a lot of discussion about it on different sites, including here on eplaya, the Burning Man FB group, our camp forum, other FB groups, and Burners.me. I found Beth's account shocking, especially the part about the camp posting a serious Help Wanted sign DURING the event (photos of it have been posted elsewhere on eplaya). Clearly that transactional request flies in the face of the decommodification principle.

A coworker of mine went into the Caravansicle camp (as he's friends-of-friends with the organizers), and found it ugly and sterile and off-putting -- so much so that he's reconsidering if he's going to return to Burning Man (or so he says). He hadn't heard about the employment factor, until I shared Beth's story with him. He was just as shocked as I was, and is reaching out to see how much of the story checks out. So we'll see. But Beth's story strikes me as genuine and credible. (Although who knows. There are always at least two sides.)

To me, the event is strong enough to withstand this nonsense. Principles get violated all the time, and as people learn about themselves and the event, they return and do better. Many customers ("costumers") are financially supporting artwork and camps and art cars that all burners enjoy. Many will return and more fully embrace the principles in future visits. I don't think we need pitchforks, just open and honest communication with the BMORG organizers about what (if anything) we should do to reconcile camps like these with the principles of the event, and work to make such camps more inclusive and embracing of the spirit of the event. It's clear BMORG is thinking along these lines as well. This is from 2012, for instance:

http://blog.burningman.com/2012/07/news ... uidelines/

Where the organization has guidelines (as expressed in that blog post) and where there are camps violating those guidelines, it seems to me the best thing to do is report the violations THAT WE HAVE DIRECTLY WITNESSED via the official feedback form and make sure to express why we think the violations are a problem:

http://www.burningman.com/participate/f ... _2014.html

The main issue I see, and a bright-line for me personally, is that if a camp requires live-in round-the-clock paid help in the form of maids, drivers, escorts, DJs, chefs, bartenders, dancers, etc., to function -- employees on-playa being paid an hourly wage by the camp -- and employees who get little or no time to go "off the clock" and experience the city for themselves -- then that's a violation of decommodification and almost every other principle as well. (I don't care if the DJ is a world-famous name. I don't care if the chef is amazing.) The spirit of the event for me always has been (since my first burn in 1999) the volunteerism, inclusion, and gifting. If someone is being paid an hourly wage and can't experience the event, that's a big problem. Volunteer or GTFO.

(There's obviously a major exception for services/vendors such as medical staff, law enforcement, ice truck drivers, coffee bean suppliers, and porta-potty personnel -- but those people are (1) being paid officially by the event and not by an individual camp, AND (2) for the most part they're not living at BRC during the event.)

I don't care how rich or how poor you are. I don't care if you sleep under the stars or in a tent or in a spider-tent or in an RV: If you participate and embrace the principles, well, hell, I love you, let's talk and have a drink and dance and get dusty. We all hear the stories about famous DJs with trash bags de-mooping -- that gives me a warm fuzzy.

When we instead hear about someone flying in, being waited on hand and foot, being dressed, being cleaned up after, having a private bathroom with its feces removed by hand, and on top of that never truly participating and never giving -- only taking, then it's really only the last part that concerns me. I'd want to have a chat with that person to both understand them, and also to see if they can understand why it concerns me. But hell, I'm too busy out there to have many chats like that.

All the dire predictions that this is the death of the event? That's absurd to me. I doubt even 0.1% of the attendees in 2014 fit that second category. I doubt most of us met anyone in 2014 who fits that description.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby sparkleBrony » Wed Sep 17, 2014 1:04 pm

Why should we make an exception for medical staff? They live in BRC and party just as hard as any other Burners.

I personally think that ice & coffee vending does not belong in BRC, and all of the staff for Arctica and Center Camp are volunteers anyways AFAIK. Paid blackwater pumping is an unfortunate necessity until we figure out a better way to deal with our sewage as a city, because if the toilets don't get pumped then they can turn into a serious health hazard, so I can let that slide for now.

What do you think about somebody being paid a fixed sum, off-playa, to be on-call throughout the event? Not an hourly wage, they still get to run around climbing on silly sculptures, but they have to carry a radio and come home to work whenever they're needed, e.g. if they're a mechanic and something's broken. Would they pass your test? Or what about employees who work 4 days, paid hourly, and get 3 days off?

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby Nipple » Wed Sep 17, 2014 1:43 pm

sparkleBrony wrote:Why should we make an exception for medical staff? They live in BRC and party just as hard as any other Burners.


There are different levels of medical staff. Some are volunteers like you or I, buy a ticket, and work a couple shifts. All the way up to paid employees. You'll find that in most of the volunteer orgs within the BRC structures.

This is necessary with the event being as large as it is.

Volunteers are flaky. There is an expected amount of no-show in volunteering. Employees, not so much... and honestly, the employees in the volunteer orgs are not making enough to retire. This isn't their "Week of Work" and then the rest of the year they're in Cannes.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby lucky420 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 1:44 pm

SparkleBrony wrote:Why should we make an exception for medical staff? They live in BRC and party just as hard as any other Burners.

I personally think that ice & coffee vending does not belong in BRC, and all of the staff for Arctica and Center Camp are volunteers anyways AFAIK. Paid blackwater pumping is an unfortunate necessity until we figure out a better way to deal with our sewage as a city, because if the toilets don't get pumped then they can turn into a serious health hazard, so I can let that slide for now.

What do you think about somebody being paid a fixed sum, off-playa, to be on-call throughout the event? Not an hourly wage, they still get to run around climbing on silly sculptures, but they have to carry a radio and come home to work whenever they're needed, e.g. if they're a mechanic and something's broken. Would they pass your test? Or what about employees who work 4 days, paid hourly, and get 3 days off?


Nope ice belongs at brc, washoe county health dept says so.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby Ratty » Wed Sep 17, 2014 2:37 pm

AND (2) for the most part they're not living at BRC during the event.)


Just for information's sake. The guy I picked up in Reno, Tacobob, as a rideshare works early and all week as an ambulance driver. He was going to put in 2 days at the hosp also. He gets paid very well. He gets 2 free tickets and pays his own airfare. His schedule is 24 hours on then 12 off. There are sleeping rooms for the staff while they are 'on'. They go somewhere else to sleep/party when 'off'.

I can't imagine paid employees leaving the playa. Even though there is an entrance that goes around all the traffic. They would still be stuck on the Hwy in traffic from Sunday till Wednesday.
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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby sparkleBrony » Wed Sep 17, 2014 2:39 pm

lucky420 wrote:Nope ice belongs at brc, washoe county health dept says so.


Citation needed!

Not that I don't believe you, but I really want to see where Washoe or the BOrg is willing to state in print that they are allowing on-site sales of a product for health reasons.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby zeigen » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:19 pm

Ratty wrote:
AND (2) for the most part they're not living at BRC during the event.)


Just for information's sake. The guy I picked up in Reno, Tacobob, as a rideshare works early and all week as an ambulance driver. He was going to put in 2 days at the hosp also. He gets paid very well. He gets 2 free tickets and pays his own airfare. His schedule is 24 hours on then 12 off. There are sleeping rooms for the staff while they are 'on'. They go somewhere else to sleep/party when 'off'.

I can't imagine paid employees leaving the playa. Even though there is an entrance that goes around all the traffic. They would still be stuck on the Hwy in traffic from Sunday till Wednesday.


Good point. I was thinking mostly about the JOTS employees and the truck drivers bringing ice.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby Nipple » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:20 pm

I looked through the 2011 operating plan (online via the BLM) and it doesn't mention ice sales... However it does defer that kind of stuff over to the Nevada Department of Health and Public Safety.

Their records seem to be eluding my Google Fu.

It seems pretty reasonable though. The event space is now open for 10 days in the desert (general public). Getting rid of ice is asking for a lot of spoiled food borne sickness.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby zeigen » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:22 pm

sparkleBrony wrote:What do you think about somebody being paid a fixed sum, off-playa, to be on-call throughout the event? Not an hourly wage, they still get to run around climbing on silly sculptures, but they have to carry a radio and come home to work whenever they're needed, e.g. if they're a mechanic and something's broken. Would they pass your test? Or what about employees who work 4 days, paid hourly, and get 3 days off?

I personally have no problem with any of that if the arrangements are made ahead of time or if the person is being paid by BMORG instead of an individual theme camp.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby zeigen » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:25 pm

Nipple wrote:It seems pretty reasonable though. The event space is now open for 10 days in the desert (general public). Getting rid of ice is asking for a lot of spoiled food borne sickness.
Thanks for looking. I agree. There have been endless debates (for at least 20 years) about ice and coffee vending. Not everyone likes it and agrees, but no one can argue it doesn't have a long history of being part of the event.

In contrast, hourly employees experiencing what Beth experienced (in the first link in the original post) feels like something new and (to me) a very clear violation of the majority of the ten principles. (I have no doubt that there were examples in the past, but not on the same scale and with the same focus on money that seems to have occurred this year.)

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby lucky420 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:31 pm

Nipple wrote:I looked through the 2011 operating plan (online via the BLM) and it doesn't mention ice sales... However it does defer that kind of stuff over to the Nevada Department of Health and Public Safety.

Their records seem to be eluding my Google Fu.

It seems pretty reasonable though. The event space is now open for 10 days in the desert (general public). Getting rid of ice is asking for a lot of spoiled food borne sickness.



No shit and that's why it's required. Cant exactly run to the 7-11 and grab a bag
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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby maladroit » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:43 pm

lucky420 wrote:No shit and that's why it's required. Cant exactly run to the 7-11 and grab a bag


Perhaps next year, you can!

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby lucky420 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:44 pm

ah fuck no
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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby 5280MeV » Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:52 pm

You have to read the survival guide:

"As a matter of public safety, ice is sold at Arctica in Center Camp, and in the 3:00 and 9:00 plazas. During the event, Monday to Saturday hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m. and Exodus Monday in Center Camp only from 9 a.m. to noon. Ice is available in crushed and blocks for $3/bag. Pre-event, ice is available at Center Camp Arctica only. Hours are Thursday noon to 3 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Proceeds from ice sales benefit community groups in Gerlach, Empire, Lovelock, Reno and San Francisco."

http://survival.burningman.com/brc-infr ... -services/

Of, course, the survival guide also says stuff like this:

The sale of products and services by participants is strictly prohibited. ... There is NO participant vending. Bring what you need. Confront your own survival. This is not a consumer event.

http://survival.burningman.com/culture/ ... en-of-brc/

I can't find anything about vendor passes and such.

To me, it doesn't matter much if certain things are sold or provided at Burning Man or regional burns, such as ice, toilets, and firewood. In many cases there is a very good pragmatic reason to avoid puritanical idealism to set up the framework for an awesome event.

I would guess that most people cannot afford or put together the infrastructure needed to keep ice for 10 days, so without it everyone is chewing on jerky by the end. Toilets are another matter - one could have everyone bring their own facilities. Dealing with your own poo is a very important aspect of LNT camping that Burning Man and the regionals all seem to let us conveniently forget about.
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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby sparkleBrony » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:37 pm

zeigen wrote:
Nipple wrote:It seems pretty reasonable though. The event space is now open for 10 days in the desert (general public). Getting rid of ice is asking for a lot of spoiled food borne sickness.
Thanks for looking. I agree. There have been endless debates (for at least 20 years) about ice and coffee vending.


I agree that we should have ice available so that nobody dies of dysentery because their beluga caviar and filet mignon tartare sat out in the sun too long, I just don't think it should be sold on-site. If it's such an essential good, even though not everyone uses it (my camp had refrigerators and my personal stash was all shelf-stable), it should be built into the ticket cost, like the bathrooms and police. Just figure out what the average amount of ice consumption per person is, price that, and tack it on to the ticket cost.

zeigen wrote:Not everyone likes it and agrees, but no one can argue it doesn't have a long history of being part of the event.


So did the Man's platform. Traditions are for burning.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby sparkleBrony » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:43 pm

5280MeV wrote:You have to read the survival guide:

"As a matter of public safety, ice is sold at Arctica in Center Camp, and in the 3:00 and 9:00 plazas.


Thank you for RTFM for me.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby lucky420 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:47 pm

sparkleBrony wrote:
zeigen wrote:
Nipple wrote:It seems pretty reasonable though. The event space is now open for 10 days in the desert (general public). Getting rid of ice is asking for a lot of spoiled food borne sickness.
Thanks for looking. I agree. There have been endless debates (for at least 20 years) about ice and coffee vending.


I agree that we should have ice available so that nobody dies of dysentery because their beluga caviar and filet mignon tartare sat out in the sun too long, I just don't think it should be sold on-site. If it's such an essential good, even though not everyone uses it (my camp had refrigerators and my personal stash was all shelf-stable), it should be built into the ticket cost, like the bathrooms and police. Just figure out what the average amount of ice consumption per person is, price that, and tack it on to the ticket cost.

zeigen wrote:Not everyone likes it and agrees, but no one can argue it doesn't have a long history of being part of the event.


So did the Man's platform. Traditions are for burning.



bwahahahahaha you're joking, right? Yes, because those of you lucky enough to bring generators, fridges, etc would love to subsidize someone elses ice. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure you would. And lets penalize the people in Gerlach because their town isn't over run enough as it is without having a line of cars coming in to buy ice. Oh wait, lets make everybody drive to Nixon or better yet Fernley to get their ice. And gate would have fun with that because then they can search everyones' vehicle again.
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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby maladroit » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:01 pm

lucky420 wrote:bwahahahahaha you're joking, right? Yes, because those of you lucky enough to bring generators, fridges, etc would love to subsidize someone elses ice. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure you would. And lets penalize the people in Gerlach because their town isn't over run enough as it is without having a line of cars coming in to buy ice. Oh wait, lets make everybody drive to Nixon or better yet Fernley to get their ice. And gate would have fun with that because then they can search everyones' vehicle again.


I read the suggestion as everyone at Burning Man gets a prepaid ice allowance, so no money changes hands at the event itself.

I also happen to think it's not the brightest idea I've seen today, but it is at least more practical than the scenario you envision.

One compromise would be to buy a certain number of bags of ice before the event, print out a series of QR codes, which are turned in and scanned in lieu of money at Arctica. Still think this is a lame idea but it is a place to start dialing back on-playa commerce if you really really want to.
Last edited by maladroit on Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby sparkleBrony » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:02 pm

lucky420 wrote:bwahahahahaha you're joking, right? Yes, because those of you lucky enough to bring generators, fridges, etc would love to subsidize someone elses ice. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure you would. And lets penalize the people in Gerlach because their town isn't over run enough as it is without having a line of cars coming in to buy ice. Oh wait, lets make everybody drive to Nixon or better yet Fernley to get their ice. And gate would have fun with that because then they can search everyones' vehicle again.


What? Nobody has to go in and out. The ice distribution works the same, except it's publicly funded instead of being a point-of-service sale. Say each person gets one bag of ice every day for 10 days, on average. That's $30. Add that cost to the ticket as an "Ice Pass," same way we had vehicle passes this year. You show up to Arctica or one of the Ice Caps, flash your Ice Pass, and take bags of ice as needed.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby maladroit » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:07 pm

Does the acceptability of ice commerce trickle down? For example, if I buy 100 bags of ice, load it into an insulated cart, and then walk down the street peddling bags of ice? I bought six-packs and saved a little money, but I'm selling them one by one and making a small amount extra that way.

It feels like a fairly dark gray area but might get away with it. People hand each other money to go buy ice all the time.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby sparkleBrony » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:25 pm

maladroit wrote:Does the acceptability of ice commerce trickle down? For example, if I buy 100 bags of ice, load it into an insulated cart, and then walk down the street peddling bags of ice? I bought six-packs and saved a little money, but I'm selling them one by one and making a small amount extra that way.

It feels like a fairly dark gray area but might get away with it. People hand each other money to go buy ice all the time.


I've often thought about doing this, as a snarky way to make people more conscious of the issue. Curiously I always forget about it when I'm getting my cash and cart ready for an ice run. Maybe I will try it next year.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby lucky420 » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:33 pm

sparkleBrony wrote:
lucky420 wrote:bwahahahahaha you're joking, right? Yes, because those of you lucky enough to bring generators, fridges, etc would love to subsidize someone elses ice. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure you would. And lets penalize the people in Gerlach because their town isn't over run enough as it is without having a line of cars coming in to buy ice. Oh wait, lets make everybody drive to Nixon or better yet Fernley to get their ice. And gate would have fun with that because then they can search everyones' vehicle again.


What? Nobody has to go in and out. The ice distribution works the same, except it's publicly funded instead of being a point-of-service sale. Say each person gets one bag of ice every day for 10 days, on average. That's $30. Add that cost to the ticket as an "Ice Pass," same way we had vehicle passes this year. You show up to Arctica or one of the Ice Caps, flash your Ice Pass, and take bags of ice as needed.


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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:59 pm

lucky420 wrote:
sparkleBrony wrote:
lucky420 wrote:bwahahahahaha you're joking, right? Yes, because those of you lucky enough to bring generators, fridges, etc would love to subsidize someone elses ice. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure you would. And lets penalize the people in Gerlach because their town isn't over run enough as it is without having a line of cars coming in to buy ice. Oh wait, lets make everybody drive to Nixon or better yet Fernley to get their ice. And gate would have fun with that because then they can search everyones' vehicle again.


What? Nobody has to go in and out. The ice distribution works the same, except it's publicly funded instead of being a point-of-service sale. Say each person gets one bag of ice every day for 10 days, on average. That's $30. Add that cost to the ticket as an "Ice Pass," same way we had vehicle passes this year. You show up to Arctica or one of the Ice Caps, flash your Ice Pass, and take bags of ice as needed.


No

A hundred times, no.

There's no way you can accurately predict how much ice you'll need before you get to the playa. Yeah, you might be able to, but there are too many wild cards--I went into the shade structure drunk and knocked the coleman off its stand, for instance. Or do you think that you should just go home?

Also, I've been in a bar camp.

Also, people lose their paperwork. Some people bring fridges--and that's okay, so long as their genny isn't annoying someone else when it runs. Some people bring shelf-stable, and that's okay too. And some people buy ice. That is also okay. And it's way simpler than any system you can invent. And simple is good when you're working with a not completely reliable volunteer workforce.

And I worked ice, so i"m not saying a dam word about them.
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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby Lonesomebri » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:59 pm

The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win.....
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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby Nipple » Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:49 pm

... or the year my camp mates kept moving my MOTHER FUCKING COOLER OUT INTO THE SUN.

GOD DAMNIT.

THREE TIMES.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby zeigen » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:15 pm

Lonesomebri wrote:The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win.....

Yeah, not sure why we always seem to get bogged down on ice and coffee when there's a much much much bigger issue at hand.

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby 666isMONEY » Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:29 pm

ha, ha ice & coffee, where do you think you are + how many gallons of water did you use?

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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby sparkleBrony » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:43 am

Ok, yes, an ice tax is not feasible. Nonetheless, I really dislike the present system, so I guess the best way for me to handle that is to disengage from it by bringing my own ice, and if i care enough about it, come up with a radical new way to make ice that totally disrupts the frozen-water economy on the playa.

On the other hand, there is no public health reason for Center Camp to make coffee available. The Hat gave this excuse for commodifying 6 & Esplanade:
http://blog.burningman.com/2013/11/tenp ... of-coffee/

I think this is important for figuring out the turnkey camp problem, because we need to ask ourselves: is an exchange of money, to quote L-Harv, "a sufficient prop, a convenient foil, a means to gain a sense of social poise"? If it's ok for me to pay a servant for coffee at Center Camp because I'm using my money to create an immediate experience of social intimacy, then it's ok for me to pay one of the servants in my camp to build me a shade structure, because that's creating an immediate experience of social intimacy.

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Lonesomebri
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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby Lonesomebri » Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:16 pm

Just curious Sparkle, who joined after the shit hit the fan to comment on the shit hitting the fan, and who brought up the ice diversion, just curious.....are you on the board of the Burning Man Project, or just dating one of them?
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Savannah
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Re: Bright-line test: Theme camps paying live-in employees $

Postby Savannah » Thu Sep 18, 2014 1:39 pm

maladroit wrote:Does the acceptability of ice commerce trickle down? For example, if I buy 100 bags of ice, load it into an insulated cart, and then walk down the street peddling bags of ice? I bought six-packs and saved a little money, but I'm selling them one by one and making a small amount extra that way.

It feels like a fairly dark gray area but might get away with it. People hand each other money to go buy ice all the time.


But they're not profiting off of it. Not once in all my Burns has anyone ever attempted to charge me more than cost for ice. We just take turns being the one to give up 30 minutes of our day.

So you might "get away with it" depending on what you consider "getting away with it" to be.

i.e., there's a chance you would sell your bags, especially if you found a few people who didn't mind what you were doing and bought large quantities, but you would suffer socially more than monetarily, when people decided marking up ice was a jerk move. But it's hard to put a price on being well-regarded, I suppose. And it's hard to put a price on the amount of time you would waste at a Burn waiting to buy ice and then selling it down the street instead of doing something fun. Or a price on the hassle of being visited by a Ranger and being asked to stop . . . because someone IS likely to report you for commerce, just like other camps and individuals have been confronted & warned / ejected from the event.

I suppose it is much easier to count the monetary value of the bags of ice you might not sell. :lol:
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