My letter to the Burning Man Project

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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Sandstorm
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My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Sandstorm » Thu Nov 20, 2014 2:28 pm

I just made the below post over on FB in the BM group.

"I thought that I'd share this with the group. (Note: If you're a member of the tl;dr crew then just move along because these are not the droids you are looking for.)

So, yesterday I received an email from the Burning Man Project asking for a monetary donation. After I got some feedback from some fellow burners I sent the below email to the Burning Man Project.

"Steve,

I hope that this finds you well. I've taken some time to thoughtfully respond to your fundraising email regarding my potentially donating to the Burning Man Project. As a point of reference, I've known about Burning Man since late 1996 and it's been a huge part of my life over the past 7 plus years. I've been burning since '07 and I've been to Black Rock City 6 times in total. Since I've started burning the only 2 burns that I've missed were in '09 and '14, the former by choice and the latter due to my being unable to make the trip.

During each of my burns I've volunteered my time to groups such as The Lamplighters, Arctica, Center Camp Cafe, The Temple Guardians and a variety of theme camps and art projects. During that time I've made numerous monetary donations to groups such as Black Rock Arts Foundations and Black Rock Solar as well as to individual art projects and the 2013 Temple build. During my time as a burner I've repeatedly sold to other people Burning Man tickets that I did not need or could not use and when I did so I sold those tickets at below face value. On 4 occasions I've gifted Burning Man tickets to other people. In 2013 I helped half a dozen people I didn't know acquire the Burning Man tickets they needed and I did so free of charge. I did that because Burning Man meant so much to me and I wanted to use my time and contacts to help other people make it HOME to Black Rock City.

At this point in time I have no desire to contribute a single cent to BMORG or any of it's affiliated agencies. That is due to the fact the since the end of this year's burn BMORG has hid from the Burner community as many of it's members have eloquently and repeatedly voiced their concerns about the commodification of Burning Man via BMORG's enabling of commodification camps such as Caravansicle, which was apparently run and funded in part by Jim Tananbaum, who currently serves on the Burning Man Board of Directors (BOD). There is ample and credible evidence on the Internet that indicates that various members of BMORG, the Burning Man founders and the Burning Man BOD have been engaged in behavior that runs contrary to Burning Man's 10 Principles and to BMORG's mission statement. Huge swaths of the the Burner community are deeply concerned by the fact that there seem to be forces within the Burning Man power structure that are willing to commodify the event in the name of personal and organizational profit. In light of this controversy BMORG has maintained a level of radio silence that makes many Burners believe that BMORG is simply buying time to get its story straight about the Commodification Camp Controversy, buying time to let BMORG's lawyers talk with the lawyers for various Commodification Camps and Burning Man BOD members. From this side of this situation BMORG seems both corrupt and inept beyond all belief. This situation makes the 2012 Ticket Lottery Fiasco seem like a small clerical error on the part of BMORG.

Before the Commodifcation Camp Controversy rose up I was identifying next year as one which I'd spend my summer working on the Temple project. I was planning on realizing a personal on-playa dream of mine, which is a mobile, deep playa pop-up bar. I was also planning on volunteering with the Resto team. While all those ideas are still meaningful to me Burning Man itself is no longer as meaningful to me as it was just 2 1/2 months ago when I watched large chunks of the burn via the official live video feed of the event. My lessened passion for the event is mostly due to my sense that elements within BMORG itself are willing to corrupt the event in the pursuit of profit and power and that BMORG is willing to ignore the concerns of the very community that builds Black Rock City and provides its creative content.

I took the time to write this email because I want you to know that the actions and inactions of various people within BMORG, the Burning Man founders and the Burning Man BOD have made me feel that the Burning Man Project is undeserving of my money. I sincerely wish that wasn't the case. To be honest, it's galling to receive a fund raising request from Burning Man at a time when BMORG is continuing to ignore the concerns of the Burner community. Like many other burners, I'm not buying BMORG's company line that they are listening to the Burner community and will get back to them as soon as possible. Whether or not my perception of that situation is accurate I have been given no indications that BMORG values the event and the community as much as the community values the event.

The Commodificaton Camp Controversy is not about poor burners versus rich burners; it's about the fact that certain members of the Burning Man power structure have misused their positions in such a way that they have introduced class warfare into both the event and countless Burners psychological relationships with the event and those who are meant to protect it. Shame on them for doing so. The event and community deserve better than that. Dusty hugs,

David / Sandstorm"

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digital
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by digital » Thu Nov 20, 2014 2:53 pm

Nicely said, Sandstorm.

I'd ask you to post their reply... But I doubt they will respond.

The radio silence is becoming deafening.

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GreyCoyote
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by GreyCoyote » Thu Nov 20, 2014 3:09 pm

(Static)

(Silence)

(Shaking head...)
"To sum up my compassion level, I think we should feed the unwanted animals to the homeless. Or visa versa. Too much attention and money is spent on both."
(A Beautiful Mind)

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Sandstorm
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Sandstorm » Thu Nov 20, 2014 3:47 pm

digital: Thanks. I'm curious to see what, if any response I get from them. I didn't get the most recent edition of JRS, which makes me think that I'm already on someone's BM NO FLY list. :wink:

Grey: Yeah, I know.

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TT120
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by TT120 » Thu Nov 20, 2014 4:07 pm

Well said. Lets hope everyone that gets the donation request letter responds in same.
Life's a bitch, then you go to Burning Man - Unjonharley
We welcome the stranger, but that doesn't mean we have to like them, nor they us, and that's alright. - AntiM

W6BJD

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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by lucky420 » Thu Nov 20, 2014 4:28 pm

I got the request. After I burst out laughing I deleted it
Oh my god, it's HUGE!

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Isotopia
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Isotopia » Thu Nov 20, 2014 4:59 pm

I
think
that
letter
rocks!!!!

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Ratty
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Ratty » Thu Nov 20, 2014 5:43 pm

Sandstorm, Well done. Nothing says " I'm mad at you", like an empty envelope. Hopefully they hear a lot more of the same.
Those aren't buttermilk biscuits I'm lying on Savannah

Pictures or it didn't happen Greycoyote

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
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Sandstorm
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Sandstorm » Thu Nov 20, 2014 9:14 pm

TT120 & Isotpia & Ratty: Thanks for your kind words. :)

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Sandstorm
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Sandstorm » Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:18 pm

And in related news, I just posted this on my FB profile:

In an unexpected turn of events I was recently given the chance to be a guest writer on burners.me, a well-known and feisty website that covers events and news related to Burning Man. My post on the site just went live.

http://burners.me/2014/11/21/dear-burning-man/

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GreyCoyote
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by GreyCoyote » Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:31 pm

Very nice, SandStorm!

And in a stunning coincidence, the Burningman Blog has suddenly gone missing, replaced by an error message like "please wait while we change costumes".
"To sum up my compassion level, I think we should feed the unwanted animals to the homeless. Or visa versa. Too much attention and money is spent on both."
(A Beautiful Mind)

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Sandstorm
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Sandstorm » Fri Nov 21, 2014 4:22 pm

GreyCoyote wrote:Very nice, SandStorm!

And in a stunning coincidence, the Burningman Blog has suddenly gone missing, replaced by an error message like "please wait while we change costumes".

Grey
: Thanks!

How about I cue up some elevator music for you while you wait for the Burning Man website to undergo its MAGICAL TRANSFORMATION...

http://youtu.be/HZiSPYWgd5E

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Elderberry
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Elderberry » Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:02 pm

Well said. (and sent to someone directly at the BMORG where is should get more attention than posts on a bulletin board; especially since it was in response to their request for a donation.)

That could be a good draft for others to use if they get the same donation email.
JK
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Then I realized that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me

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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Lonesomebri » Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:36 pm

Thanks Sandstorm for continuing to fight the good fight, both here, and on all fronts.
Camp THREAT: Dominating the porta potties 3 years running.
"If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others?"
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Jovankat » Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:37 pm

GreyCoyote wrote:Very nice, SandStorm!

And in a stunning coincidence, the Burningman Blog has suddenly gone missing, replaced by an error message like "please wait while we change costumes".
The latest JRS did say that would happen briefly while they updated the site

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Sandstorm
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Sandstorm » Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:04 pm

Elderberry wrote:Well said. (and sent to someone directly at the BMORG where is should get more attention than posts on a bulletin board; especially since it was in response to their request for a donation.)

That could be a good draft for others to use if they get the same donation email.
Elderberry: Thanks. I'd be shocked if I actually get a response to my email to them. It was addressed to someone who is supposedly at the heart of Larry & Co.'s relationship with the Commodification Camps. I probably just got flagged as being a PROBLEMATIC REPEAT CUSTOMER and put on the BM NO FLY LIST. :shock:

I'd love to see Larry & Co. get directly bombarded with a wide range of creative and unhappy feedback about this situation. If I had had the resources and the vision I would have bought a ticket to the Autumnal Gathering and dressed up one of JT's Popsicles. :D
Lonesomebri wrote:Thanks Sandstorm for continuing to fight the good fight, both here, and on all fronts.
Lonesomebri: Thanks. I hope that you had a great burn and that all has been well in your life since we last spoke. :)
Jovankat wrote:The latest JRS did say that would happen briefly while they updated the site
Jovankat: But it's so much more fun to interpret every bump in the Internet as being part of Larry & Co.'s Illuminati fueled conspiracy against we, the (upset) burners. :lol:

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FIGJAM
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by FIGJAM » Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:25 pm

Sandstorm wrote:[But it's so much more fun to interpret every bump in the Internet as being part of Larry & Co.'s Illuminati fueled conspiracy against we, the (upset) naïve public who were labeled chumps and suckers, marks and rubes. :lol:

Fixed it for ya. :cry:
"Don't buy ur Burn...........Build ur Burn!"

"If I can't find an answer, I'll create one!!!"

Fuck Im Good Just Ask Me

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Sandstorm
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Sandstorm » Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:59 pm

FIGJAM wrote:
Sandstorm wrote:[But it's so much more fun to interpret every bump in the Internet as being part of Larry & Co.'s Illuminati fueled conspiracy against we, the (upset) naïve public who were labeled chumps and suckers, marks and rubes. :lol:

Fixed it for ya. :cry:
Nice work. It's too bad that you're on the money with your edits. I send you dusty hugs for your wounded heart.

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burner von braun
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by burner von braun » Fri Nov 21, 2014 10:25 pm

A really solid letter Sandstorm, expressing honest concern and disapproval. I'm glad to see you've been able to echo it at the burner.me site too. Well done sir!

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Sandstorm
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Sandstorm » Sat Nov 22, 2014 2:04 pm

burner von braun wrote:A really solid letter Sandstorm, expressing honest concern and disapproval. I'm glad to see you've been able to echo it at the burner.me site too. Well done sir!
BVB: Thanks. I hope that you've been well.

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alt12
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by alt12 » Sat Nov 22, 2014 6:15 pm

Thanks for posting this Sandstorm. I purposefully blocked out all media coverage of BM post-event this year because I could tell it would irritate and depress me. As such, I didn't realize there was such as Popsicle Gate going on until I checked the website today for the new theme and saw a lot of comments on the PNP/Turnkey camps. Its nice to know there are others out there who see the increasing commercialization of the event and are doing something about it.

I stopped volunteering with the org years ago and am continuously shrinking our theme camp to the bare essentials to lessen the time/money investment in attending BM. While I've had amazing and transformational experiences out there over the last 12 yeas I find myself being less invested in the event or the culture as time goes on. Perhaps its just age. I guess you could say I had "drank the kool aid" in the past when I really believed that BM was a transformational event and would have implications far beyond one week in the desert. What I see instead, is quite the opposite. The other 51 weeks of mainstream american culture and values are increasingly coming to BM and of course their absence in the past is what made Burning Man so special.

We shall so where this goes, but what I see is that there is no turning back. Its not just about the PNP camps either. Its the private VIP-only art carts, the professionally run/managed/owned sound "camps", the plethora of new participants that see BM as just another Electric Daisy Carnival, etc. Change happens, so be it. Maybe next year I'll check out some of the regionals like AfricaBurn or the one in Israel.

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Sandstorm
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Sandstorm » Sat Nov 22, 2014 11:06 pm

alt12 wrote:Thanks for posting this Sandstorm...
Thank you.

That was a great post that you wrote and it echoes the conversations that I've had in recent weeks with Burners who have reached out to me via PM on here and on FB. This situation isn't about people being upset for flimsy reasons; it's about a lot of very intelligent, talented, driven and passionate people coming to realize that Larry & Co. are so out of touch with the community that they're willing to live their lives via the mantra "Do as I say but not as I do".

Up until 2 years ago I was on track to join DPW or GPE and to volunteer with some of the off-playa builds for the big playa art projects. Now, like you, I'm detached from the event in a way that is disheartening. It is SICK that Larry & Co. are so far gone that they don't care that those who would give their life blood to the event are walking away or ready to walk away from BM for good.

I wish you the best with your journey to find something that fills the place that BM once had in your life. Yes, part of what you and I are feeling is related to our respective ages (I'm 45) but that doesn't mean that we're incapable of experiencing transcendence via an event that leaves the default world's sh*tty values outside the event. Dusty hugs.

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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Leo » Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:35 pm

It appears that the "new, improved" website has done a good job of sweeping some of our collective angst about commodification camps under the rug. With the previous format of the Burning Blog, you could see the comments racking up. The revamped website has "sanitized" the collective angst, as if to say that if the BMORG sits this one out, the issue will go away. I feel like we need to keep reminding them of their folly, otherwise our thing in the desert is going to be "Disneyfied". The continued silence from the BMOG is frustrating and the "We hear your concerns" is lame PR at best. What does it take to reach these guys? I suppose that if I was going to organize a commodification camp and give them a cut of the action, they would be on it like flies on shit.
Best Regards,
Leo

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digital
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by digital » Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:43 pm

Radio silence, still?Any update Sandstorm.

Even me, who's defended the Org, is getting a rather upset with waiting.

=\

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alt12
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by alt12 » Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:00 am

digital wrote:Radio silence, still?Any update Sandstorm.

Even me, who's defended the Org, is getting a rather upset with waiting.

=\
Yes, the silence on their part is deafening. It certainly does give the appearance that they are not taking this seriously. I am surprised, however that there hasn't ben any publicity on this. Ticket-gate had huge news coverage, as did Chicken John's BMORG2 rift a few years back at least in local press and even this summer the New York Times had an article on the changing face of BM, the techies, etc. Yet, amazingly there has been no coverage of Sherpa Gate even though its appears more scandalous than any of the previous ones. I'm surprised no reporters or news outlets are jumping on this.

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Corvus
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Corvus » Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:25 am

I'm trying to remain as optimistic as possible about this. It may be that the Borg hears us and wants to do the right thing, but have gotten themselves stuck to a tar baby. Those commodity camps have budgets of over a million bucks apiece. Not being dumb, the operators of those camps will want guarantees befor committing themselves to the considerable outlays that establishing one of those camps entails. Guarantees like a contract that says the Borg will supply this number of tickets for that amount of money plus so many square feet of space at the event, to say nothing of EA passes and other ancillaries.

I'm hoping the silence is the Borg trying to figure out how to gracefully back out of those contracts.

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Simon of the Playa
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Simon of the Playa » Wed Nov 26, 2014 7:23 am

sit and wait.

december 2nd.

now go and enjoy your holidays and stop the gnashing of teeth and the wailing. They ARE working on it...

seriously.

you know i was WAY out in front on this, i'm asking you to trust me now....This Too Shall Pass, Noses will Roll, the CLowns will get what is coming to them, and new rules will be established.

our voices have been heard.

disclaimer, i am in no way associated with the org, i get my info from electronic surveillance, hearsay, rumour, and extortion.

it's usually dead on, btw...
Frida Be You & Me

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GreyCoyote
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by GreyCoyote » Wed Nov 26, 2014 1:49 pm

"Bring me the earphones of Simon Of The Playa!.." :mrgreen:
"To sum up my compassion level, I think we should feed the unwanted animals to the homeless. Or visa versa. Too much attention and money is spent on both."
(A Beautiful Mind)

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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by motskyroonmatick » Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:59 pm

Well done Sandstorm!

Thank you.
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Sandstorm
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Re: My letter to the Burning Man Project

Post by Sandstorm » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:05 am

digital wrote:Radio silence, still?Any update Sandstorm...
Digital: As of 2:43AM EST on Thanksgiving day, the answer is NO. :(
alt12 wrote:...I am surprised, however that there hasn't ben any publicity on this...
alt12: Ditto. If THE BORG f*ck the pooch AGAIN on this matter then I suspect that various people in the community will make sure that this story gets some news coverage.

BTW, as a point of reference here's some info that burners.me gave me the other day about the coverage that my "Dear Burning Man..." post got. Note: I'm not sharing this info to toot my horn, just to give a sense of the interest that people had in the story.

"250 shares of your post so far, that's pretty high. It's been read by more than 2500 people, 10% is an excellent engagement rate"

"and on Facebook it reached 37,200 people"
Simon of the Playa wrote:sit and wait.

december 2nd...
Simon: Okay. I'm interested to see what happens on 12/2/14. At this point I've said all that I can about this matter. I'd like to be pleasantly surprised by what THE BORG says and/or does about this clusterf*ck. I'd much rather say "Wow. Holy sh*t. They actually owned up to and cleaned up after the f*cking disaster of a mess that they created" than say "That's it folks, I'm out of here. No mas BRC for me."
motskyroonmatick wrote:Well done Sandstorm!

Thank you.
motsky: Thank you! :)

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