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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SteveInRealLife
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby SteveInRealLife » Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:48 am

We clearly have a difference of opinion about what constitutes an argument.

Where I'm from, stating and opinion and then saying "I'm not talking about this anymore" is considered a rude way to end a conversation. Maybe we have a cultural barrier.

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some seeing eye
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby some seeing eye » Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:56 am

The friends from SF Cacophony did not even talk about the event (Fight Club?) It took another Cacophonist to acculturate and bring me. In turn I've acculturated and brought others who adapted well to the experience. I would agree opulence is a problem. Some, like me, will argue that festival culture sexual assault and MOOP is a bigger problem. Those literally endanger the existence of the event and endanger what makes it unique in comparison to other festivals.

Virgins are future veterans. Acculturated virgins. That was the intent of the original post.

I agree with CG in principle, and that is why I always mention packing lists! That is where radical=necessary preparation gets real.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby FIGJAM » Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:50 am

I think the figure for virgins every year now is 40%.

I don't know what percentage of that is "bucket listers" and other one time attendees.

The majority of people that visited my camp the last few years were there for the first time and didn't know the 10 principals, or read the survival guide and first timers guide.

Not "bad" people, just ignorant.

Without doing the math, my gut tells me these things are changing the event to something more mainstream.

That's not what I went to BM for.

I may not be back.
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Dr Helix
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby Dr Helix » Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:09 am

FIGJAM wrote:I think the figure for virgins every year now is 40%.

I don't know what percentage of that is "bucket listers" and other one time attendees.

The majority of people that visited my camp the last few years were there for the first time and didn't know the 10 principals, or read the survival guide and first timers guide.

Not "bad" people, just ignorant.

Without doing the math, my gut tells me these things are changing the event to something more mainstream.

That's not what I went to BM for.

I may not be back.


What did you go to BM for?
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby FIGJAM » Fri Mar 10, 2017 11:08 am

My first year (2010) I went to see 50,000 self reliant people that could bring everything they need for a week without asking ME for something.

That and the whole LNT thing............................and the art thing...........................and the meet and greet thing.

I love helping when something doesn't go according to plan, but there needs to be evidence of a plan.

Most default people can't last a week without going to some store for something they "think" they need. 8)
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby some seeing eye » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:31 pm

We want Mr Figjam to continue to participate on playa! Maybe you could give some talks? And maybe there is someone in your local burner group to set up a YouTube channel with you? Mr Figjam does self sufficiency and goes beyond with burner maker ethos for all.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical commu

Postby FlyingMonkey » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:48 pm

Simon of the Playa wrote:we had to make our own cocaine too...


Oh the humanity!
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby FlyingMonkey » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:52 pm

I respectfully disagree with OP. I rely only on myself to "survive" a week of gratuitous pleasure but still enjoy the benefits of radical community because....well, who else would put up with us? I don't think one excludes the other.


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Last edited by FlyingMonkey on Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby FlyingMonkey » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:57 pm

FIGJAM wrote:My first year (2010) I went to see 50,000 self reliant people that could bring everything they need for a week without asking ME for something.

That and the whole LNT thing............................and the art thing...........................and the meet and greet thing.

I love helping when something doesn't go according to plan, but there needs to be evidence of a plan.

Most default people can't last a week without going to some store for something they "think" they need. 8)


You Sir, are the enabler of non-radical, non-self reliant "burners". Stop giving us the plans for success. We need to struggle & fail on our own :-)

Dude, you're giving the answers to the test that the other kids don't study for :shock:

BTW - Big fan. :P
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby FlyingMonkey » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:04 pm

some seeing eye wrote: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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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby Elorrum » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:22 am

For a new solo unaffiliated person interested in going. Here are the things that used to exist that are becoming truly difficult or impossible, and what you need to do now:
1. To guarantee you go, you used to be able to get a ticket anyhow anyway if you wanted to go. vs. You need to be a long standing dues paying member of a camp, or a part time unpaid employee with one of the various volunteer staffed departments, or fucking lucky.
2. You could think on what sort of fun interesting small scale art or activity you would want to bring and share at your camp in your neighborhood. wherever you landed. vs. you get a schedule of when you will be required to participate in your camps planned activities. paid for by dues, or when you need to be at work.
3. You could load up your own car with said art activity stuff that you worked on and paid for yourself happily vs. you set up or contribute to a go fund me kickstarter that best represents your interest and get a t shirt or sticker or something. The large scale of that art depends on outside funding, big big stuff out in the playa, and forget about people decorating their neighborhoods, cuz, they need to set up a bus station and some giant parking areas, and the generator has to run on the roadside all day long because air conditioning. Better think about car pooling, not much room for projects, or taking the bus, and maybe someone you know who has a parking sticker can bring you water.
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some seeing eye
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby some seeing eye » Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:55 pm

When I look at the 2015 Census, I see that about 36% of participants are virgins, with about 21% being year year 2.

The DGS which includes departments is 37% of the tickets, the general sale about 43%, presale and gold tickets are about 8%, OMG about 3% and low income about 6%.

Given the scarcity of DGS in relation to camp size, I would doubt many virgins attend on DGS tickets.

My conclusion is that up to 80% of the general sale is to virgins. What I would like to see is that the year 2 percentage increase. If (36%x70, 000) 25,000 virgins attend, but only (21%x70,000) 14,700 return for year 2, we have a yield problem. I'm proposing we do a better job in selecting those future burners and orienting them so they return in year 2 and beyond, participate in regionals and bring burner values into their year-around lives.

We make fun of the BMORG, but they have a lot of proprietary data on ticket sales. Even though there is a shortage of tickets, virgins, returning or not, are essential to their business calculations. Because the BMORG is few, it is up to us, the many, to find virgins we think can continue, and orient them. That, of course, includes orientation to self reliance!

Mass marketing of the event is causing a yield and culture mismatch we can no longer afford in an era of ticket shortage. And we have at hand in-person friend connection to in-person friend social media tools to better find virgins.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby lucky420 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 2:18 pm

Elorrum wrote:For a new solo unaffiliated person interested in going. Here are the things that used to exist that are becoming truly difficult or impossible, and what you need to do now:
1. To guarantee you go, you used to be able to get a ticket anyhow anyway if you wanted to go. vs. You need to be a long standing dues paying member of a camp, or a part time unpaid employee with one of the various volunteer staffed departmentsor fuckinglucky.
2. You could think on what sort of fun interesting small scale art or activity you would want to bring and share at your camp in your neighborhood. wherever you landed. vs. you get a schedule of when you will be required to participate in your camps planned activities. paid for by dues, or when you need to be at work.
3. You could load up your own car with said art activity stuff that you worked on and paid for yourself happily vs. you set up or contribute to a go fund me kickstarter that best represents your interest and get a t shirt or sticker or something. The large scale of that art depends on outside funding, big big stuff out in the playa, and forget about people decorating their neighborhoods, cuz, they need to set up a bus station and some giant parking areas, and the generator has to run on the roadside all day long because air conditioning. Better think about car pooling, not much room for projects, or taking the bus, and maybe someone you know who has a parking sticker can bring you water.


I really dont have that much pull :lol:
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby DoctorIknow » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:11 pm

I noticed maybe 5 years ago, while sitting with binoculars on a tower on 4:30 plaza during the Sunday gate opening, that there were what seemed like thousands of camps 100% set up. This was far different than a few years before that when what seemed like a majority of theme camps were still setting up on Tuesday morning, and nights during early arrivals were quiet.

What was an awkward (learning/progressive) experience of great numbers of people not having a system in place to have their camp ready by Sunday, not having storage in Reno or OMG a container stored locally trucked to and from their site, not having EA passes has turned into a system dependent on factors way beyond their capacity to do without.

As VultureChow said...

VultureChow wrote:... Now there's a VERY strong incentive to be part of an organized camp, and for camps to stay together to maintain placement history. It creates both stability and stagnation, and I say that as someone who benefits from the system now....

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

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:10 pm

Elorrum wrote:For a new solo unaffiliated person interested in going. Here are the things that used to exist that are becoming truly difficult or impossible, and what you need to do now:
1. To guarantee you go, you used to be able to get a ticket anyhow anyway if you wanted to go. vs. You need to be a long standing dues paying member of a camp, or a part time unpaid employee with one of the various volunteer staffed departments, or fucking lucky.
2. You could think on what sort of fun interesting small scale art or activity you would want to bring and share at your camp in your neighborhood. wherever you landed. vs. you get a schedule of when you will be required to participate in your camps planned activities. paid for by dues, or when you need to be at work.
3. You could load up your own car with said art activity stuff that you worked on and paid for yourself happily vs. you set up or contribute to a go fund me kickstarter that best represents your interest and get a t shirt or sticker or something. The large scale of that art depends on outside funding, big big stuff out in the playa, and forget about people decorating their neighborhoods, cuz, they need to set up a bus station and some giant parking areas, and the generator has to run on the roadside all day long because air conditioning. Better think about car pooling, not much room for projects, or taking the bus, and maybe someone you know who has a parking sticker can bring you water.


I think it's annoying when someone quotes an entire big long post, but this one is so right on the money it's worth keeping on top.
And if fucking Lucky really does get ticket privileges, Miss 420 you better get ready for a hell of a gang bang!!
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby FlyingMonkey » Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:16 pm

Even after the scarcity began you used to be able to spring for a pre-sale ticket without too much pain & pretty much be assured a ticket. Now that's our of reach for the average Burner.
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby vargaso » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:28 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:The event has two big problems. Plug & play camps, and the busses.
Yeah I know, how does someone who flew in from Farbackistan get to the playa and cover their needs... well, the answer is THEY DON'T!
This shit is ruining the event. The biggest difference between BM and a vacation at a resort was the self reliance and lack of commerce or accommodations.
Now we have the whining fuckers crying that EVERYONE can't just hop a flight and go to Burning Man. It's EXCLUSIVE... it's supposed to be inclusive of everyone... bulkshit!!! It was never like that. It was open and welcoming to anyone who got their own ass out there and took care of themselves. If it's that easy to just book a trip and accommodations, it really fucks the whole thing up.

The busses pretty much breed non-responsibility and self reliance. How do you bring art, camp stuff, and all the shit that makes BRC with you on the bus? YOU DONT. If you ride the bus, you're a spectator. OK there's a few Rangers and EMS people and such, but for the most part, if you bus in, you're going to spectate at what the others did. You're bringing your aura and hugs and moopy trinket "gifts".

Think I'm an asswipe? Answer this: if everyone rode in on the bus, would there be a Black Rock City?


I agree with everything here. To the people from far away who have to fly in, I say: get your shit together or make your own party wherever you're from. Sadly, that's not how the BMORG see it AT ALL. This is the core problem, in my view. I don't think Burning Man should make it easier for ANYONE, nor do I think the BMORG should allow others to make it easier by offering paid playa vacations. Burning Man shouldn't be exclusive or inclusive, it should just happen, and if you can make it without having to pay someone to set things up for you, fantastic! If you can't, tough shit.

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

Postby some seeing eye » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:17 pm

I would love to go back to the olden days before "the man" started to try to control things, like traffic safety on 447 between Gerlach and 80 and on 34 from the gate to Gerlach.

The BORG is highly motivated to balance the budget and generate maybe 10% free cash flow. The liberalized early arrival, vehicle passes, the bus and the air bus are in place to lift the population cap which is inhibiting growing the event.

From a BORG business view, International and domestic fly-in burners are encouraged. It is more difficult for them to bring a lot of stuff to SF, Reno or LV. But that is all designed to expand the regionals where they are from.

Regionals are also a BORG business backup plan in case the BRC regional has to be disbanded because of a disaster, LEO falling out or an injury lawsuit.

So there are a large number of business reasons working against old school solo self reliance. Seems doubtful we can change the BORG business objectives.

The big installations and MV's are on the upswing because of the economic expansion in he Bay Area, so people are still able to bring big stuff.

Maybe we need more how to prepare and what not to do on playa videos?
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Re: End of radical self sufficiency - shift to radical community

Postby Papa Bear » Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:05 am

Careful with the generalizations. There's a huge difference between riding the bus and being part of a ritzy PnP.

The good captain asks: "How do you bring art, camp stuff, and all the shit that makes BRC with you on the bus?"

The answer: you work together with the other people with whom you are collaborating to make a camp, art project, or whatever happen to have your stuff go out on the camp truck. Or, if you're from an far-flung area with enough other burners to make it worth it, you arrange for your stuff to go out on a shipping container you've all banded together to pay for.

This also works on a smaller scale. For the past few years, I've loaded all of our stuff up in our cargo trailer and hauled it out to the playa a week early so that I could be available to help set up our theme camp. Meanwhile, my wife has stayed behind that first week to care for the kids - whose 72-year-old grandparents are happy to take them for the week of the burn, but really don't have the energy to handle them for two weeks straight (and even if they did, that would be too much time out of school).

So when it's time to go to the burn, she has a choice. She can drive her personal car two days and a thousand miles to the playa and back, she can fly out and rent a car/find a rideshare, or she can take the burner bus. The bus is by far the best option - it's cheap, she can pretty much rely on the driver showing up and having a place for her, and it gets her to the camp several hours earlier than even a shared car would. That puts her on playa earlier to help with the last parts of camp setup and enables her to start her volunteer shifts that much earlier.

We'll take a similar approach this year, except that this year the kids will come along too. So that's three people on the bus who would otherwise require one more car crowding the road to the event.

Any given year we have between 10-25% of our camp for which this is the best option, and I know of several other camps in the same boat - none of which are PnPs.

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

Postby SteveInRealLife » Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:40 pm

some seeing eye wrote:When I look at the 2015 Census, I see that about 36% of participants are virgins, with about 21% being year year 2.

The DGS which includes departments is 37% of the tickets, the general sale about 43%, presale and gold tickets are about 8%, OMG about 3% and low income about 6%.

My conclusion is that up to 80% of the general sale is to virgins. What I would like to see is that the year 2 percentage increase. If (36%x70, 000) 25,000 virgins attend, but only (21%x70,000) 14,700 return for year 2, we have a yield problem. I'm proposing we do a better job in selecting those future burners and orienting them so they return in year 2 and beyond, participate in regionals and bring burner values into their year-around lives...Because the BMORG is few, it is up to us, the many, to find virgins we think can continue, and orient them. That, of course, includes orientation to self reliance!

Mass marketing of the event is causing a yield and culture mismatch we can no longer afford in an era of ticket shortage. And we have at hand in-person friend connection to in-person friend social media tools to better find virgins.


1. Thank you for taking the time to interpret the statistics. I feel like even if my numbers are off, my notion is still supported to an extent. There are too many virgins and short timers to fully communicate the values of Burning Man effectively.

2. I don't think that means that virgins or anyone else should be selectively weeded out of participating. The problem is too many virgins. Limiting them, however, wouldn't be fair and doesn't reflect the BMorg's first principle: commodification at the expense of sustainability.

3. Burning Man shouldn't exist at this size. It's a party, not a religion. It has outgrown its sustainability, both socially and ecologically. Its values have been subverted by both its organizers and by simple reason of its size. It is too big for itself. One of my goals this year is going to be to encourage and teach people to throw their own parties. My "radical ritual" will be to promote this ritual's end.

4. "Mass marketing of the event is causing a yield and cultural mismatch..." Perfectly stated, though I contend that we are well beyond changing it. Burning Man has become Coachella on steroids and I'm afraid there's simply no turning it around at this point. See point 3.

Burning Man's central ritual - burning the man - has always been a metaphor for the party itself. Both the burn and the man were small and approachable and eventually, its presence had to end. As the event grew, the man and the burn grew as well, becoming more elaborate and interesting, but less approachable (no more hay bales, fire perimeter, etc.). It still ended every year, though, with the city falling apart and disappearing like the man did. Finally, we come to where we are now, with the man appearing safer, less-exposed, and indeed...clothed. The man is participating in society with The Man (and in fact, has become the Man just as burners have become Burners), and as it becomes sanctioned and acceptable and common, it becomes more lucrative and is completely accessible, though not in its former mode. Now, anyone is free to come watch the spectacle, but no one gets to see the man naked and vulnerable and truly up close. The event itself has gained a degree of permanence. The metaphor is disappearing, the ritual is disappearing, the impermanence is disappearing and somehow, what's left is becoming simultaneously both cheapened and sanctified, however inauthentically.

It's well past time to have let it really burn down and the march of Radical Self-Entitlement is just one of the man's death rattles.


Preemptively (since people have said these things to me numerous times over the past ten years to these effects):
"if you hate it, why are you going?" I'm going to support a friend, and to expose my younger brother and a long time friend to the event and help them make it through the week in comfort. I'm also going to bother all of you and the rest of the captive audience with loud electronic music.
*in before "why do you hate Burning Man?" I don't. I never have. I am terribly bothered by the changes I've seen take place in the event and in the participants over the last decade. I believe the "Green Man" farce was the beginning of the end of Burning Man, though, and that its spirit has been in decline since then.
*in before "you're just old/bitter/cynical/a hater/etc." These are not valid arguments and never are because they are non-arguments; they're just ad hominem redirections. But for the record, I'm not so old, I'm deeply cynical, I am not a hater. I believe in personal evolution and have had to evolve myself to stay involved in the rave/club scene for the past twenty years, which I also believe has undergone terrible decline. Like Burning Man, though, I'm still there, still participating, and still love it. I'm just very sad about its condition.
*in before "if you're so great, why don't you throw your own events?" I do throw my own events and have for years and years. They are small, deliberately limited, and have never been intended for profit. That's what work is for.

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

Postby silvergirl70 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:05 am

I glowered at sociology majors in college; I felt they were the future glut of today's middle management bloat. That being said, there is something interesting about examining the numbers.

I probably don't have much to add that others haven't already, but I feel that I've embraced the burner culture as much as I can in my life without a paradigm shift. I have since attended regional burn (Lakes of Fire) and volunteered for ESD there as well. I find myself thinking about the event off and on all year. When I see clothes, coats, boots, I look at them in a different light and think about how I can modify them with paint, buttons, lights to make them awesome. I talk about the burns with people at work who will listen. I look at all the pics of the art installations and close my eyes and think about what emotion was invoked by each. I ordered 100 tubes of peppermint chapstick to give out to people for next year as this was the most asked for item at the medical station towards the end of the week. God I hope they don't melt. But I digress.

My first burn was 2 yrs ago. I begged and pleaded and was allowed to volunteer with ESD as a virgin burner (in the default world, I have 17 yrs of experience in Emergency Medicine). I couldn't go to an event like this without participating. I joined a very small 4 person camp and found that preparing for the burn really checked off a lot of boxes that I liked: semi-obsessive research and preparation, stimulating my muse to create some sort of art, and creatively working on logistics with backup plans.
It wasn't perfect, and as with anyone, I learned a fair amount of humbling lessons about the playa.

My situation is interesting tho as my spouse has sat by while I've gone to the burn the past 2 yrs. He had access to a ticket both times, but outside circumstances prevented him from going. This year, we got tickets in the main sale, but his terms for going involved more of a modified concierge experience. He wants an RV or trailer, but would rather have it delivered and take the bus, coming in midweek. We live in the Midwest, but I've been storing my stuff at a friend's house in CA and driving from LA after a frantic 2 day, 18 hr a day prep before the event. I have been staying in my tent the past 2 yrs with a friend. I can't say that the prospect of a bed and possible AC for morning sleep didn't look like a big-ass piece of carrot cake to me. But, the idea of trailer delivery, although it fits the out-of-town shelter needs, just kinda feels like sacharinne. Carrot cake makes my ass look huge. Besides, it was unreal expensive. We talked about buying a shitty RV and leaving it out in NV as an option as well. It would be a huge pain in the ass rock on the logistics load, but still doable.

This year, the spouse and I sat down and he asked me what the most important or relevent principle is for me: without a doubt, its radical self reliance. After exhaustive discussion, and really a fight that almost ended in separation, I grudgingly convinced him that this event is really not his style. He likes creature comforts, and you're just not going to get that (in the way that he is accustomed to) at the burn.

I don't fault him for that, but I feel that it is antithetical to expect to receive numbers from the letters set. He has many lifelong friends at the event who have been burning for well over 10 years, some actually contracting services in various capacities for the Borg. They gently (probably better than me) discussed their opinion with him on this matter, and it may have been the last bean on the scale. I want him to come, but I told him flat out: do the work you need to do for yourself or you are making a very uncomfortable error in judgement. Maybe those who just want to be spoon fed at the event don't have the voice of reason in their ear. Who knows.

Part of the magic of the burn, and really any event is the preparation, in my opinion. Doing all that work, knowing that you will be able to spend some days basking in the largesse. Mmmmmm. It is one of the most satisfying feelings for me. If some of that involves making an art project, or working on a grander scale, designing your shelter, or just bringing your counselling skills set to Zendo, then so be it.

Regarding the Burners express. Not having seen pre-BE, I get what people are saying. I suppose it is not hard to poll the riders en route (or while they are waiting in line at the airport) as to how they are approaching the event...Did they prep and work on an art car, but can't get out of work till Tues and they loaded all their stuff up with their boyfriend to caravan in earlier? Are they just woefully unprepared and paying someone to take care of everything..Or not paying someone and the playa will provide?

In my opinion, flying in is (although cool as shit..I was working on my pilot's license, and it would be awesome) the worst of the approaches. You really can't take more than 25 lbs with you on the plane, so someone else is truly doing your setup for you. Again...I have seen circumstances, usually related to work constraints, where this was the option available.

Burning Man is almost like a tourist town in a way. I lived in Sarasota, FL for a bunch of years, and off season it was quiet and there were just the residents doing their routines. During season, there was a massive surge in population, with some crappy destructive elements, some milquetoast tourists, but a bunch of people who came in and saw the place though fresh eyes, arranged some sort of new event, art, gathering, or just did it all differently.

Stagnant water is pretty gross. You'll drink it if you have to, but if I was thirsty, I would much rather drink from a stream, even if someone put a little shampoo in there.

I look forward to seeing you all this year! I'll be working station 12, usually nights, throughout the week.
:coffee: Never play leapfrog with unicorn. :coffee:


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