End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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some seeing eye
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End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby some seeing eye » Sat Apr 11, 2015 2:29 pm

Burning Man is a business. It is an experiment in temporary community. It grows and has many virgins each year.

For that reason BMORG has introduced principles, city planning and rewards theme camps for interaction. They have their own self business interest in not having to baby and keep alive 30-40K newbies a year.

So some principles, and individual participants on ePlaya, hype radical self reliance.

We suggest practical self reliance along with radical community.

The classic example is the individual online burner reading all the BM website and posts. Radical self reliance, bringing camping and survival supplies is great! I always suggest packing lists. New to the event, a solo vision quest is a natural first approach.

We have come off track in focusing on physical survival and material survival to save BMORG expense. What we should refocus in is psychic survival and community evolution.

Joining with others the event is much more epic than not. Experiencing the event as part of a camp and with other people and traveling to and from is an experience is radical community.

Let's encourage radical community and reframe self reliance into community.
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Simon of the Playa
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Simon of the Playa » Sat Apr 11, 2015 5:35 pm

blasphemy.



Radical is as Radical Does.



i like my self-reliance just the way it is, thank you anyway.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Zhust » Mon Apr 13, 2015 5:23 am

some seeing eye wrote:We suggest practical self reliance along with radical community.


This is an interesting way to formalize what I've been seeing in my own experience.

Once I got over my virgin year, the "game" was: "how do I do this?" I shot for 100% self-sufficiency and largely succeeded. But that depended on a huge energy use: I was using my own vehicle to drive the whole 2,500 miles such that I could bring all my water, and since I had the space, far more possessions that any one person has any need to own (much less schlep across the country for fun.) Thankfully I was rich enough to do that.

The last two years I went was much, much harder since it included the wrinkle, "I don't own a car." The first time I came in by train and bus, I attempted to tote my own water, expecting to be able to rely on buying frozen water or the ridiculous excess of purchased, containered-water people bring. Through not being an asshole, I was welcomed into a camp who had plenty of water, food, and shelter, although I remained more-or-less self-sufficient. The second time, I counted on that group's collective resources and it went fine.

But it's been a slow death for me of the "radically independent individual" myth. It is a very romantic ideal, spawned perhaps from coming of age in the individualistic 1980s, and I just can't stop adoring it. But that kind of thinking is as old-fashioned and out-of-step as racial segregation. The name of the game now is individualism within a well-supported, vibrant community—not separate from it.

Likewise, I adore Burning Man for all I learned about myself and others, and how the "old days" were, and how next year was better.

But it really does have to shift, and the shift to radical community is as forward thinking as it was in the 1980s and 1990s to imagine a world of radical self-reliance as the logical conclusion of the "greed is good" logic of the 1980s.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:03 am

You all do it your own way, but I'm not going out to the middle of the desert without everything I need! I'll rely on others in case of unforeseen emergency but I'm sure as hell not gonna plan on it.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby mooserider » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:50 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:You all do it your own way, but I'm not going out to the middle of the desert without everything I need! I'll rely on others in case of unforeseen emergency but I'm sure as hell not gonna plan on it.


Aye, aye, Captain! I agree with you. My family goes camping in some very out-of-the-way places (where there aren't 70,000 other people to get help from), and we're always prepared for problems. I still remember the last year I didn't drive my own vehicle up to camp, but rode in my father's truck towing the trailer. The glow-plugs failed en-route in Dad's diesel truck and he didn't know it. After a week of excellent fishing, it was time to leave, and the truck wouldn't start because the cylinders couldn't get hot enough to diesel. Thankfully, my sister had left her electric hair dryer in the trailer, so, while we were using the generator to recharge the truck batteries for another try, we were also blasting hot air from the hair dryer on the engine cylinders, trying to heat it up enough to diesel. Thankfully, this worked after a couple of hours, and we were able to leave. After that, I always made sure I had separate transportation; in case of emergency, it would be unlikely that both vehicles would fail or get stuck.

It will be nice to have some spare supplies in case someone else needs help, though. Good for my kharma and all that....

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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby misfit » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:53 am

well said captain.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby trilobyte » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:59 am

Speaking personally, I disagree with a lot of that. Radical self reliance/radical self sufficiency and radical community are not two mutually exclusive things. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that if you're doing one and not the other, you're doing it wrong!

The reason that Burning Man introduced the ten principles in 2004 (my first year) was actually in response to a request from the first regional groups, who were looking for information and resources as they started to build their communities and organize their own events. As such, the principles are descriptive and not prescriptive. It's a subtle, but I think important distinction. The principles came about as a result of looking back at the last several years of the event, and describing what amounted to some kind of not-so-secret sauce.

Even in my first year, I experienced not only a strong sense of radical self reliance, but a really radical sense of community. While 2004 was pre-Facebook and pre-flickr/photo sharing sites and pre-youtube, and very few pictures from the event even existed (this was before the phone-cam and cheap digital cam eras, too), there were some online resources. This incarnation was in its infancy, but still existed, and tribe.net was alive and well as a social network that catered to creative communities. With the help and guidance of my campmates I connected with the event and started doing that required reading of the survival guide, and through radical self reliance I did the research on and offline, and spent months buying and making the things I would need to survive and thrive at the event. I could never ever have done it alone, though. It was only through this radical sense of community that all the dots were connected. As a lurker here for my first year on the boards I relied on the kindness and information and knowledge shared by complete strangers. I was an active user on tribe, and as I prepared I visited all kinds of different special interest groups there to get answers for the countless questions I had, and to just help me deal with different waves of stress and anxiety that I faced along the way. I think I came close to selling my ticket and bailing on the adventure 3 or 4 times, if someone had not been there to help I never would have seen it through.

Psychic survival and community evolution have been there from the very start for me, and my dusty adventures began the same year the principles were introduced. I'm pretty certain I wasn't the first one to experience that.

More online resources makes radical self reliance easier in some ways - more good information is available at your fingertips. It can be a double-edged sword too, with so many resources so readily available, many people take the lazy way out and aren't radically self reliant at all. Every year it seems like we see more "where do I camp" threads or posts from people who make it clear from that very first message that they haven't done even the most basic reading or research on the event. In my opinion, our charge is to keep paying it forward, and to be that radical community that is open and helpful to strangers and answers questions and points people in the right direction no matter how many times we get the same question. Don't end radical self reliance/radical self sufficiency... encourage it.

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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Ratty » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:23 am

I'm a big believer in self reliance. On and off the playa. I camp alone with others that do the same. We share meals, shade and drinks but we all have our own just in case. When it's time to pack up we gift excesses to each other like rebar, disposable plates, costumes etc...We hope to see each other next year. Each of us enjoy being self sufficient through planning and prep work. It's a week long vacation in the desert. Make of it what you will. This event is one large community that helps each other. Eplaya is a smaller community spread out over the entire city that you can reach out to. As long as I'm able, I'll be totally self reliant. That is what makes it fun for me.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Simon of the Playa » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:06 am

when i first started we had to crawl naked, on our hands and knees for 27 miles across the scrub, filled with scorpions while carrying 50 gallon drums of water on our backs. We shot Jack-a-lopes for food.

dang-nabbit.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Simon of the Playa » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:08 am

we had to make our own cocaine too...
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby wolfraider » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:32 am

My first year I saw a burner in front of my camp baking in the sun. When I realized just how drunk he was (clinging and swigging his handle of vodka) I thought I'd be nice and bring him in to give him some shade and some water. It was his first year too and was hitting it a bit too hard on who knows what. I was actually scared for his safety at that time of day.

After he downed an entire liter of water he proceeded to tell me about his plans for next year: travel in with nothing and rely on everyone else to provide. I emphatically told him that was not only a terrible idea and also against having any shred of self-reliance to which he responded "the playa provides."

My personal thing is to make sure I'm prepared as much as possible, gift everything I can when I see someone else with a need, chances are it will comes back to you I don't count on it at all.

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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby misfit » Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:42 am

>>>>we had to make our own cocaine too...<<<<
yea, no one makes their own cocaine anymore. we also walked barefoot to the rave camps located in deep playa. until the hippies started showing up and brought gifts of sandals. what a glorious day that was.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:48 pm

wolfraider wrote:After he downed an entire liter of water he proceeded to tell me about his plans for next year: travel in with nothing and rely on everyone else to provide. I emphatically told him that was not only a terrible idea and also against having any shred of self-reliance to which he responded "the playa provides."


When I make fun of dirty loser hippies, THOSE are the ones I'm talking about.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby FIGJAM » Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:51 pm

"The playa provides" also means dehydration, malnutrition, and death!!!

They always forget those.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Dr Helix » Mon Apr 13, 2015 5:09 pm

wolfraider wrote:My first year I saw a burner in front of my camp baking in the sun. When I realized just how drunk he was (clinging and swigging his handle of vodka) I thought I'd be nice and bring him in to give him some shade and some water. It was his first year too and was hitting it a bit too hard on who knows what. I was actually scared for his safety at that time of day.

After he downed an entire liter of water he proceeded to tell me about his plans for next year: travel in with nothing and rely on everyone else to provide. I emphatically told him that was not only a terrible idea and also against having any shred of self-reliance to which he responded "the playa provides."

My personal thing is to make sure I'm prepared as much as possible, gift everything I can when I see someone else with a need, chances are it will comes back to you I don't count on it at all.


That's when you take his vodka bottle and smack him in the head, then tell him to go find someone to look after the nasty bump that's forming. "The playa provides" my ass. As my Dad used to say. "Fuck that shit. Get that shit outta here."
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby A-RockLeFrench » Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:40 am

Seriously.

I don't think that as principles 'radical self reliance' and 'communal effort' are mutually exclusive. On the contrary, I believe that you cannot have a strong community unless it is made up of individuals who are capable and willing to take care of their shit. The reason why the community out there in the desert works is because most everyone takes care of their own survival and comfort, with enough to share. Vodka guy mentioned above not withstanding...


However, I do think it's a good point to consider how much of this 'radical self reliance' shtick people are clinging to is based off of pride and ego, ie: "I don't or can't ever ask for help because I'll appear weak" vs. personal responsibility. I believe there is a difference between the two and the former is a myth that can be detrimental in building a strong community...

Just my humble $.02

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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby mudpuppy000 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:55 am

Not to encourage a lack of self sufficiency, but I rarely have to cook a meal for myself on the playa. Someone is always cooking up a giant batch of whatever and walking around camp offering it to people. I still bring a storage bin full of canned food for myself just in case, but I don't think I've ever gone through more than a quarter of what I bring. Even just wandering around randomly, there's usually someone offering grilled cheeses or burritos or coffee, or something.

I do make up for it by bringing a shitload of homebrew though, so I guess it balances out. :D

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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby wolfraider » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:06 am

I have to say I'm happy at all your responses about the Vodka Guy story. I definitely felt it was complete and total asshat behavior. I left out the part where he was trying to pick both me and my girlfriend up, assuming we were double-propositioning him. When I told him multiple times that we weren't he froze, only to tell my girlfriend that "her hair was dancing." His eyes were also the size of teacups.

And I do agree that communal effort and radical self reliance aren't exclusive. If you don't take care of your own shit you become a burden on the community. But if everyone takes care of themselves, there's always a little more "and then some" that can be spread out into the community for everyone.

PS: Thanks A-RockLeFrench for the name. Vodka Guy has a good ring to it.

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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Dr Helix » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:32 am

I actually enjoy helping people who may need something I can provide (water, a beer, some food, shade, etc). But I dislike anyone who is pushing the envelope from needing help to opportunistic behavior. We had a woman two years ago who showed up in our camp just as dinner was starting. She inquired as to the "wonderful smell" coming from the table so we asked her to join us. She ate and drank everything in sight and then left abruptly. Next night? Same woman, just like clockwork. When we told her we sitting down to dinner and to maybe come back later, she pouted, accused us as being selfish and left in a huff. I would agree that there's plenty of food and drink out there for anyone to enjoy. But when it's expected rather appreciated, I shut down.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Sham » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:44 pm

This brings to mind a story going back at least 7 years. I had an extra ticket and offered it FREE to a friend who has been attending but had tight money. He gratefully accepted the ticket but asked if I could give him some food as well. Sure! I can just buy extra for a friend.
Then, he said he felt bad about not going with his girlfriend---could I give her a ticket too and provide her food?
At that point I politely told him that someone else claimed the ticket. The ticket went unused that year.

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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby some seeing eye » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:06 pm

Here is my history, and what has brought me to this idea. I have never soloed at BM, to me it is an unnatural act.

I knew several Cacaphony Society friends in different cities. They were never "BM is the *%$# and you have to come" (though I heard that kind of thing from other cult members later, or "you have to cross it off your bucket list", which we are hearing today.) So after a few years of knowing it was out there, my friend is "do you want to go?" The preparation was not reading any websites or having a packing list, it was going shopping with my friend at the military surplus-survivalist store and "you need this." Then shopping along the way and "we need this", including filling up water at a gas station after buying gas and politely inquiring.

Year two I brought a friend, who I had to evacuate early because of a respiratory infection. On the in and out to Reno, I met Pearl, and he's "if you have any problem getting back in, just tell them you talked to me." I saw another in our small camp, our friend's brother, who was just starting his senior year in high school, and struggling fitting in with his defaultia classmates, really establish a playa identity at the Thunderdome, and return with great optimism for life. Unfortunately a few years later he took his own life. Now his sister, my friend, works with homeless youth. Year three, I brought a friend in a similar way, taking care of the needs for two, we slept in the back of a rented SUV. One night late, we got medical help for a man down in the deep playa on a cold night, it took two of us, one to stay with him so we could find him again, and one to run, literally, for help. That year I created my playa persona and interactive experience/gift.

Year four, returning from a very intense overseas trip in July, I took three newbies, arranging a van, and advising them as I had been advised. They are "camp with our friends in camp _." The next two years, I took responsibility for greywater for that camp/_village, and volunteered for a BM department one of those years. One year we spent a lot of time talking in our camp to one of our campmates who had witnessed a death on playa. Year six I joined another friend's camp and was one of the volunteer chefs, planning a meal for about 125. Continued volunteering for a department. In between, I helped out with the disabled mobility camp. Year seven, brought two newbies, I took care of shade, by then I had a packing list I provided them, but it was similar shopping together.

I think some many-year burners, like ePlayans, are "I don't want the drama", "I'm soloing", or "camping with the same buds as the last >5 years", or "I can park my RV wherever."

But I don't believe in advising newbies to go solo, or support solo vehicle passes.

It can work, but how does that benefit the culture? And how can it work against the culture?

We have the BMORG gathering ticket revenues, then promoting the event to newbies by mass communication channels, with no acculturation other than "read the firsties guide".

What BM needs is one-to-one, or group-to-one, cultural orientation. I have found growing corporate organizations with 40% newbies a year, each bringing their own cultural expectations, is a disaster without compensating, very focused, cultural orientation.

You can say that one of the principles is do your "own thing", but "own thing" is proving to be mooping, not contributing, bad club behavior, endangering others (for instance the laser blinding), promoting commercial interests and not taking the community into their community ongoing.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Captain Goddammit » Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:47 pm

What about the person who finds out about BM, doesn't know any burners, and lives in some nowhere town?
Hell, I've gone solo. There's nothing wrong with it. I think there's a lot more wrong with people depending on someone else to provide for them.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Ratty » Tue Apr 14, 2015 7:24 pm

This can be a great opportunity to do whatever you want for a whole week. If your life is too structured it's freeing to make decisions about when and where you will eat, sleep and socialize. After a week you may be tired but also renewed. It's all in the prep work. New burners that spend some time with us have an instant support group on the playa. Eplaya is foreplay for a week-long orgasm.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Captain Goddammit » Tue Apr 14, 2015 7:32 pm

Catty Ratty wrote: Eplaya is foreplay for a week-long orgasm.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby DrYes » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:52 pm

trilobyte wrote: the principles are descriptive and not prescriptive.


The most important thing said in this thread.

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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Simon of the Playa » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:07 am

Sit down, shut up, and put on your fucking man pants.

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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Ratty » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:26 am

Thanks Simon it was refreshing to feed my dark side.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:27 pm

Where the sun don't shine??? :?
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby Ratty » Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:02 am

Watch it Buddy. :shock:
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby FIGJAM » Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:43 am

Don't feed me straight lines!

I can't help myself!!! :wink:
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