We Have a Dream Petition

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
User avatar
ronski
Posts: 77
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 6:07 pm
Location: Seattle

.

Post by ronski » Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:46 pm

thinkcooper wrote: how about BMorg approach some of the more progressive, institutional, deep-pocketed, art grant organizations for co-funding of playa art?
I know that this was sincerely meant as a constructive, positive suggestion but...

GOD NO!!!!!!!!!!

I don't even consider myself much of an artist but this strikes me as jumping right into the belly of the beast.

http://www.burningman.com/art_of_burnin ... s_art.html

What Larry said back then...

thinkcooper
Posts: 174
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2004 9:47 pm
Burning Since: 1996
Camp Name: Illumination Village - Spiral Oasis
Location: East side Santa Cruz- can you keep those seals quiet?

Post by thinkcooper » Fri Nov 19, 2004 4:53 pm

You got a point there...

User avatar
Badger
Posts: 3322
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 2:43 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by Badger » Fri Nov 19, 2004 5:46 pm

still, that makes me think that it needs to not just be technical 'newbies' at the boot camp. maybe some 'veterans' need to be born again.
I don't think that a boot camp is necessary for first timers as much as I believe we all need to sit back and ask the question of why do we attend? As I said before I really don't want to lay this at the feet of the people who don't have the collective history and experience(s) that some people do. I'd rather problem solve from the point of asking what do we (or are we) gonna bring to the banquet to share with the other 30+ thousand folks who're coming to dinner. For that segement that comes exclusively to vacation, spectate, exercise their inner asshole or vicariously suck on the energy of those who'd create and/or contribute I think we all need to somehow make the point that the the welcome might be a little chilly. That's the message that needs get put out there. Well, maybe not that message but one that discourages or attempts to disuade people from attending who see the the event almost exclusively as week long party in the desert.
Desert dogs drink deep.

User avatar
Bob
Posts: 6748
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 10:00 am
Burning Since: 1986
Camp Name: Royaneh
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Post by Bob » Fri Nov 19, 2004 7:54 pm

Other than the Man and what goes around it, I'd vote for ending direct art funding.

That wouldn't prevent the org from helping hook up donors and the needy, or people who might be able to work collectively. Fine with me if they jury and give special placement to whatever few of those they choose to fit the theme -- just don't corrupt and belittle the creative process of everyone else at the event with a corporate money boost.

Some of the funded art has been great -- but so has much of the unfunded art. Level the field, and you might have something that more closely approaches radical self-expression and radical self-sufficiency.
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

"Let us say I suggest you may be human." -- Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam

Bob A
Posts: 207
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2003 6:04 pm
Location: Springfield, Mass

Post by Bob A » Fri Nov 19, 2004 7:56 pm

Badger wrote:
still, that makes me think that it needs to not just be technical 'newbies' at the boot camp. maybe some 'veterans' need to be born again.
I don't think that a boot camp is necessary for first timers as much as I believe we all need to sit back and ask the question of why do we attend? As I said before I really don't want to lay this at the feet of the people who don't have the collective history and experience(s) that some people do. I'd rather problem solve from the point of asking what do we (or are we) gonna bring to the banquet to share with the other 30+ thousand folks who're coming to dinner. For that segement that comes exclusively to vacation, spectate, exercise their inner asshole or vicariously suck on the energy of those who'd create and/or contribute I think we all need to somehow make the point that the the welcome might be a little chilly. That's the message that needs get put out there. Well, maybe not that message but one that discourages or attempts to disuade people from attending who see the the event almost exclusively as week long party in the desert.
What about some sort of adopt a newbie. OR a newbie mentor program. I know what helped me be a better member (I hope) for my first year was some local burners who found me wandering around this board my first few months. They made sure I got it and that I went prepared on all levels, they really helped make my first burn for me.

Bob A

User avatar
Badger
Posts: 3322
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 2:43 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by Badger » Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:41 pm

What about some sort of adopt a newbie.
I think it'd be fantastic if people availed themselves to doing something like you were fortunate to have experienced. But to 'adopt' sounds...condescending and suggests (in my mind) that there is a I-know-more-than-you-do dynamic and that's a very one way street - very osmotic - in how culture/experience/information is conveyed. The experience has to be dynamic for all folks wanting to immerse themselves in it beyond just getting drunk and partying. The selfish side of me needs to say that I too need something. I need to see it again through the eyes of that first timer who is shorting wires and pissing all over himself from the overload of it all. I need - no, I want - to remember that again. That's where the exchange happens. That's the essence of the 'gift'. That's the idiot in me talking.

But sometimes, ya know, I think it should take a village of idiots to raise the Man.
Desert dogs drink deep.

User avatar
andi
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Oahu, HI
Contact:

Post by andi » Fri Nov 19, 2004 9:00 pm

I think what you guys are talking about with this whole newbie thing is or should be covered in the Regionals Network. How many of you are on your Regional's announce list?
Andi
BMHIRC

User avatar
Isotopia
Posts: 2848
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2003 11:26 am

Post by Isotopia » Fri Nov 19, 2004 9:14 pm

Andi,

If it's something you think should be posted there maybe get in touch with Technopatra and see if it might be possible to link the thred. I don't know if you can or not. Just a thought.

User avatar
Bob
Posts: 6748
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 10:00 am
Burning Since: 1986
Camp Name: Royaneh
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Post by Bob » Fri Nov 19, 2004 9:21 pm

Tying into the newcomer thing, democracy and all that -- if people with art projects were constrained to arrive at the same time the event opens, I think we could make more effective use the resources of Playa Info and the Artery in Center Camp to hook up volunteers with projects.

I've worked on projects since '96, and I believe that none of them would have suffered from having a more compressed time frame on the playa. Set pieces can still be made off-playa and trucked in.
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

"Let us say I suggest you may be human." -- Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam

User avatar
Isotopia
Posts: 2848
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2003 11:26 am

Post by Isotopia » Fri Nov 19, 2004 9:55 pm

Totally cool idea.

User avatar
andi
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Oahu, HI
Contact:

Post by andi » Fri Nov 19, 2004 10:27 pm

I have been to the playa 7 times since 1996, founded and ran the Cult of Distraction (6 times), founded and have been running the Hawaii Regional "Ka Pilina" (also made it's themecamp happen this year), and I gave birth to the Regional Information Center this year (with a LOT of help from Mr. Ra$pa and a bunch of other great RC's and volunteers). I have been around the block and I have seen a lot of change at BRC over the years.

If you assume that on average 50% of the population in any given year are newbies (the most common assumption as no real data exists) you come to a total of around 100,000 people who have gone to BM (including this year's numbers, 88,000 before). Where do come up with this? From the few sources of reliable statistical data available, some from the Project, some from burners, and some from my own polls I have done over the past couple of years. Amongst the Regional Contact and Project staff community we came to this conclusion last year.

Amongst longtime burners that I know there is the general understanding that among the other 50% (the veterans) half are going for the second time and it gets smaller from there with very few old-timers. There is a LOT of drop-off, there are more and more newbies coming all the time. And there is an attrition rate, beyond the first couple of years most burners return not so often if at all.

This is how it has been so far and I don't see anything that would change that, petition not withstanding. The decline in art and Participation has more to do with our success than with any diabolical bureaucratic schemes. Everyone keeps expecting bigger, better, more and newbies are hip to it too. The big stuff that gets all the press is so far out of the range of normal people it's not funny, so why bother, just Participate in the "Take Economy", dress up and act like a raver, and let your friends do all the work. "I go to Burning Man to party, not work, this is my reward for working hard all year long", these were words spoken by some Regional Contacts, so I am sure this sentiment goes much farther.

Perhaps what we need is not so much squabbling over who gets the cash for the biggest baddest art, but how can we all encourage and create small to medium scale art. That makes up the vast bulk of the art at BRC and is funded solely by the Participant. Small-medium art is also the same type of art that is just beginning to flourish at Regional events and is pretty much the same type of art that the Black Rock Arts foundation gives grants for (they are strictly OFF playa).

Don't get me wrong, I am NOT advocating doing away with or diminishing the large scale art on the playa. They are key installations that not only inspire on the playa but around the world. What I am saying is that this petition is at best a hurtful way to start a much needed discussion, and at worst the first real fissure that could just end this event. Sure let's bring in more of the community to advise on the theme and the curation, that is a natural move (one I think the Project was making anyway before this). But let's settle the relatively small problem of art curation compared to the larger task of energizing burners to Participate "like the days of old" as some burners say.
Andi
BMHIRC

User avatar
Bob
Posts: 6748
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 10:00 am
Burning Since: 1986
Camp Name: Royaneh
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Post by Bob » Fri Nov 19, 2004 10:43 pm

I'd guess a quarter to a third newcomers in recent years, assuming that more newcomers bother to fill out surveys than others. Whatever the number, newcomers make up a healty percentage of the people showing up to volunteer, in my experience.
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

"Let us say I suggest you may be human." -- Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam

User avatar
andi
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Oahu, HI
Contact:

Post by andi » Sat Nov 20, 2004 12:57 am

From: [email protected]
Subject: [regionals-list] Art at BMAN, a second look
Date: November 17, 2004 9:47:13 PM HST
To: [email protected]

Aloha,

Let's take a closer look at this petition, I think they are wrong or misguided on almost everything. I am going to take it point by point.

SUMMARY: We are the artists. We feel that this event which we made great has gotten away from us and we would like it back. We want the art to be spectacular again and we are willing to step forward to do the work to make it so. But for this to happen, we think the "art curation" should be put in the hands of rotating "Guest Curators" and all funding decisions should be made by "Direct Vote" of the full community. The art should also be well funded (10% of the gate) and not subject to creativity squashing litmus tests for "theme compliance" and "mandatory interactivity". The petitioners at http://tinyurl.com/6l5lh request attention to these very reasonable demands or we commit to STOP CONTRIBUTING our art to Burning Man. Repeated discussions over many years have failed to result in meaningful change, so now we are resorting to more extreme measures.

This is the first I have ever heard of such an open discussion and I am very up on events in the community. Such a large discussion would be hard to miss, especially by ALL of us Regional contacts. I have never heard these grievances aired before (or anything like it) in any worldwide public forum I am aware of.

A small (compared to the worldwide burner population) group decides amongst themselves to take radical action feeling sidelined by a powerful and faceless bureaucratic power. They shun cooperation and communication after failed attempts to work it out, the only course of action is revolution. Freedom fighter is a very romantic idea, but in the end you are still just a terrorist. I do not believe they exhausted all attempts to address this issue/suite of issues. Their petition is only destructive no matter how this all turns out, they are introducing radical division into our family, our community. We should be able to work out any differences we have by talking or we shouldn't exist at all.

FULL PROPOSAL
Their proposal is a rambling rant filled with taunts, demands, and threats. They do talk about how art has in general over the past couple of year seemed to have not been up to par with past years, which is true in my mind. But they seem to think that the Project (or the "borg" as they refer to them) is fully to blame ignoring their own complicity.
I think the problem stems from this whole bigger is better thing, in playa terms everyone competes to have the loudest music, biggest camp, best party on the playa. This philosophy completely ignores the small to mid-size camps and art that comprise a much larger portion of the art on the playa than the few key large installations. Why compete? Just go off and join one of these huge camps, they have a core group that does everything and you can be free to take in the Take Economy. If everyone has done all the big stuff, why bother doing my own thing? Just go and Take.
A. "Direct Voting":
For wanting to bring power back to the people, these guys make it sound a LOT more like they want to hold a hip and happening party in SF for them and all their friends who live not too far away where they decide how to divvy up the cash. They have a piss poor understanding of the rest of the burner world and how this type of art selection process would surely favor those in, near, or able to be in SF regularly. This voting process is an insult to all of us more than a couple hundred miles from SF, and that is a LOT of us.
The day we start voting on what art should be paid for is the day I might just have to say goodbye. I trust the Project, they have done an incredible job over the many years, and their effort does not define 100% of my playa experience (there are a lot of other artists there too, they just look like normal people). I don't see why we should derail a great event thus disappointing many just to make a small group "feel good".
I thought we were all supposed to be self-reliant. What is with the demand for a handout? Why do you think someone owes you cash so you can build your flaming toilet or whatever? The percent of spectators has been growing in recent years, perhaps it is because of this exact attitude, "the Man owes me because I am here". Our camp mate calls this the "Take Economy", where spectators who look like Participants (all the glitter, glowies, neon, drugged up, etc.) but all they do is going around demanding things. This has been growing significantly over the past couple of years and I don't think you can pin it on population growth alone.

B. "Guest Curators":
As a Regional Contact with 2+ years and 7 big and many more small events under my belt I can see a little more clearly what it takes to produce successful events that significantly grow the community. It is actually pretty simple, you come up with a date, time, place, name, and theme and Participants fill in the rest. The theme is not a commandment but an inspiration, something optional but it can spark the creative flow for Participants to grow and expand on. A theme is like a logo, something which helps to define you, but also something you should not spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over, it can always be changed in due time.
This guest curator idea seems overblown to me, if it is more and better art than why not build it themselves, or better yet agitate others to Participate. Who cares about the theme, the money, and the power, BM is supposed to be about giving something to the community and not about your personal prosperity or prestige. And this mechanism they come up with to vote and constantly switch leaders, sounds more like 20th century college activism than a 21st century movement and network.
Where do we want to go with all this? Do we want to turn inward and shun the world or do we grow outward and expand our community? Guest curators would weaken the organizational structure of the Project which would would only be detrimental to the event and network. The only way to grow and evolve is through organization, like it or not.

2. TEN PERCENT FOR ART.
This group obviously doesn't take a look at the Afterburn reports or know very much about what BM is and does outside of the event. Do they realize the increasing amount (small but significant enough to strain) of the Project's budget is going to support the Regional Network? Do they realize the enormous production BM is and the need to have year-round staff? Everyone loves to fantasize about the "lost millions" that Larry and pals are hoarding, I don't believe it is possible for them to make very much money directly off BM. Taking extra money from the gate would impact many other critical areas of the event and the Network. And why should the Project pay for people to Participate? I understand it if they put forth a small part of their budget to commission "theme art", it is only a portion of the overall art and it helps to form the core to inspire others.

3. NO THEMEATIC FUNDAMENTALISM.
More ranting, see "guest curators above".

4. BURNING MAN ART IS "RADICALLY COLLABORATIVE"
They spend the whole time bashing interactivity and don't really explain what they mean by "Radically Collaborative". They have the idea that the Project are "interactivity nazis" or something and they have a very narrow idea of interactivity. More griping with precious little substance.

Chaos will provide . . .

That is if you get up off your fat ass and do it yourself. I don't know what hippie anarchist world this guy comes from, although I have been to and lived in plenty, but the ONLY way anything ever happens is by someone actually doing it. And the only thing better than one person standing up and doing something is a group finding unity and working together to achieve a goal. In order to set your sights on higher and higher goals (with the ultimate goal being changing the whole world) you are going to have to include more and more people, and the ONLY way to do that effectively is through organization, period. It is exceedingly rare to change the world without going beyond even a small level of organization. The Project staff does a great job, I would hate to see what a "citizen burner art committee" would make of our city.
Andi
BMHIRC

User avatar
Isotopia
Posts: 2848
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2003 11:26 am

Post by Isotopia » Sat Nov 20, 2004 1:54 am

Rising like a bottle rocket is s/he.

User avatar
DVD Burner
Posts: 10358
Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2003 3:09 am
Burning Since: 1986
Camp Name: White Trash Camp
Contact:

Post by DVD Burner » Sat Nov 20, 2004 2:22 am

No Just lookin to get peeeed on:

Image
https://www.facebook.com/NeXTCODER

buzzcut
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2004 9:06 pm
Location: los angeles. points beyond

Post by buzzcut » Sat Nov 20, 2004 6:46 am

Dont like the art? make better art.
Dont like the direction BurningMan is supposedly headed? Start your own Burning Man.
Who the fuck are these self appointed group of artists that speak for all BurningMan artists?
They dont speak for me or any other artists I know.
We come from all over the country, the world for that matter.
The REAL artists I know work their asses off on BurningMan, some get funding some dont. Everyone of them contributes and makes art.
This is just a sad sad ego driven diatribe written by the chronically uncreative based on uh...nothing.
Burning Man is what you make it.
No one is stopping you.
Want great art?
Its your respondsibility to make it then
BMORg doesnt make the art
Lady Bee doesnt make the art
And from what I can see not many of you make the art either.
BurningMan was/is made great by ALL of the participants who labor long and hard out there in the desert.
Not some obscure group of people in the bay area
Delusional anyone?
If all this energy was put into making some really great epic art
then what would there be to complain about? Dust?
If all of the folks who threaten to boycott the festival really did, would anyone even notice?
What great art wouldnt happen?
Since there seems to be a lack of this "spectacular" art anyway then what would we be losing?
Art is something tactile.
There seems to be an over abundance of self importance here.
Shut up and create. Really meaningful art rises above any obstacles. Real or imagined.

reply to this post

technopatra
Posts: 727
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2003 3:04 pm
Location: SF, CA
Contact:

Re: ~

Post by technopatra » Sat Nov 20, 2004 10:47 am

Sensei wrote:
Rian Jackson wrote:...i can't help but think that a lot of this stuff needs to happen at a regional level. that's where people can be inspired on a daily basis, where people can learn new skills, where folks can be indoctrinated and inspired in the ways of radical art. i realise that not everyone who goes to BM has a strong, supportive community. but the question may be more 'how can we support these visions/ funding needs/ etc at a regional level' as opposed to 'how to we change the structure to do this.'
I bet this makes someone spit their chocolate milk all over the monitor. The Seattle folks, IMHO, are going to show how this is done... More local events + holding them more often = some serious frickin' money.
You and Andi raise one key idea in particular - the Regionals are an incredible resource and should be included in any conversatoins about inspiration. Some were born out of art communities that predate Burning Man, all were born out of existing comunities that predate their affiliation with the Project, all have smaller budgets, some have different business models behind the group that runs their regional burns.

We have a lot that we can learn from the Regionals. Ok, assuming for a moment that the Project's main goal is to provide the infrastucture for the event (which it is), and the secondary goal is to help , drive inspiration for the event (which it is, through the Flambe Lounge parties, the broadcasting of Regional events via the JRS) the Regionals started from a place of no support and created it themselves.

Jim et al are complaining of a lack of support from the Project, inspirationally and funding-wise. It clearly did not even occur to them to check in with the Regionals and see what efforts they make to keep the flame burning. I don't necessarily fault them for this - I can attest to the fact the being in the SF Bay Area can lead to a certain tunnel vission, as there is so much happening here that looking outside is frequently a forgotten option.

But I agree with Rian & Andi who are espousing a more involved, localized endeavor.

technopatra
Posts: 727
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2003 3:04 pm
Location: SF, CA
Contact:

Post by technopatra » Sat Nov 20, 2004 11:16 am

FYI - LadyBee posted a list of all the artsts ever funded by the Project, by year,, in the Burning Man Art Process - Facts thread.

User avatar
nesdon
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2004 5:59 pm

art by committe sucks???

Post by nesdon » Sat Nov 20, 2004 2:18 pm

BS, Burning man is all about art by committee. Everything really really awesome that I've seen out there over the past 7 years could never have been pulled off by an individual artist.

Committees can have hierarchic structures, a single person's vision can mobilize them and remain intact. Democratic institutions are flawed, but anarchy and nihilism prove even more dangerous. There is no way the event would have survived into this century without at least some of the bureaucratic reforms after 94. The anarchist’s can whine, and say it'd be better off dead, but I'm grateful it has survived long enough for me, and likely most of you, to join.

The whole “just shut up and make it yourself” argument just completely misses one of the core ideals of B man: that communities should help to create (read fund) bigger and better art, and most of that bigger and better art we have all loved, would never have existed without the grants. I think they are the most beautiful part of the whole thing, and I’ve never gotten a dime.

I think maybe it needs to be more of a republic. A Democracy can and should be much more complex than "the peoples choice awards." which is how Larry so disdainfully dismisses the heart of the petition's demands.

There are pretty well-documented structures of checks and balances, from various parliaments to our three branches of govenrnment to the overly oligarchic security council and general assembly of the UN.

I thjnk various stake holders should nominate and elect representatives from their respective and GLOBAL communities, who will then form a steering committee to not only oversee the selection of a guest curator but to also tweak the bylaws and mission statement. We need to hash-out a broader political structure for the greater community that includes the same transparency within the Bmorg that it has mandated in the regional organizations.

So many of the remarks posted here are completely ignorant of the current, highly opaque curation process which controls more than just the distribution of grants (which Larry says will be substantially increased), it (she?) also controls how and where art can be placed within the city.

As to all this about it being so SF centric, here’s a paste from the petition:

"Imagine the difference in the event from year to year if some of the below groups each had their turn at the wheel:

- Madagascar Institute (NYC)
- Austin regional
- Seattle regional
- London regional
- Robodock (netherlands)..."

If you call that SF centric, then you must define SF as a state of mind.

Nesdon Booth

User avatar
Bob
Posts: 6748
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 10:00 am
Burning Since: 1986
Camp Name: Royaneh
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Post by Bob » Sat Nov 20, 2004 6:51 pm

Crikey... you mean the "We Have a Dream" meeting tonight's been moved from Frisco to Tokyo?
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

"Let us say I suggest you may be human." -- Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam

User avatar
andi
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Oahu, HI
Contact:

Post by andi » Sat Nov 20, 2004 7:08 pm

This was posted on Tribe, so it is in response to en post from Chicken.

Chicken, please call me Andi, only my mother calls me Andrew.

Ultimatum is your word which implies a lot of baggage. I was not issuing and ultimatum, I was merely stating that if your proposal goes through I think it would begin to spell the end of Burning Man. Do we need more community input, of course, and the Project was already beginning to address that when you brought up this petition.

Who exactly is questioning your qualifications? That is already an established public fact, and you bringing it up is clearly a distraction from the topic. The only reason I can see that you brought that up, and mimicked my signature is to mock me. Let's drop the heated rhetoric and get to the point shall we.

You state "Our intention is to fix the event. Our observation is that it is broken. Our motivations are selfless." and I believe there is much truth to what you said. But your public words and attitude tells a different, much more negative story though.

Has Burning Man ever been in a "perfect" state? No, there have always been complaints about this or that and the Project has always been the easiest scapegoat. We are all evolving and over time we have dealt with every problem in our path. Each year we learn from our recent past experience and work to make it better next year. Open communication makes this process much smoother.

I share your view that there has been a measurable decline of many sorts, not just the art, over recent years. I think the solutions should all stem from bringing the community closer together. Your action of doing this petition however, is driving us apart, please drop this petition and stop the heated rhetoric and nastiness. Join the conversation in a respectful manner and we all will be better off for it. I understand you wanted to initiate a conversation about art curation, but you let the genie out of the bottle, and much more will come from all this than art, curation, and who gets money, and I am sure there will be plenty of burners upset about it.

What you are proposing with voting would take the whole organization backwards and make it much harder to get things done. And it seems like you are opposed not only to art curation but to many other aspects of the event that Project staff have responsibility for. How far does the voting go? I would not have to make a decision about leaving Burning Man, if we voted on everything all the time, it would be so unworkable it would not happen at all.

Here's a shocker, BURNING MAN IS NOT A DEMOCRACY, it never has been. Was the potlach, luau, village festival only possible because of democracy? NO, they had no idea what that was and many many people going back thousands of years have been doing what we are doing without it. What is most important is central organization and group Participation, not exactly democracy but everyone is involved, perhaps more so than democracy.

I think we need to get beyond the 60's-style college activism and fully embrace a modern 21st century ideal of organization, open communication, and unity. Everyone is different and everyone has a role to play, it's called a do-ocracy and all you have to do is step up to the plate and Participate.

Without a strong organization we can only set our sight so high. Want to have a private party in the desert, fine ditch organization. Want to grow Burning Man beyond the desert, perhaps one day change the world? Well there is ONLY one way to do that, more organization, but more importantly better communication between everyone. The Project sure has shot itself in the foot a number of times in the past through poor communication, just look at this mess.
Andi
BMHIRC

User avatar
andi
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Oahu, HI
Contact:

Post by andi » Sat Nov 20, 2004 7:56 pm

You say 1000 people signed your petition, so that's maybe 800 or so without the dissenters (the only way to dissent from your petition is to sign it, not very democratic) or the duplicates. The general understanding is that the worldwide burner population is somewhere near 100,000, and that is just people who have been to Burning Man. There many times that number of pending newbies, and burners at heart who may never make it to the playa. The critical question is what is a burner? By the most conservative definition of a burner less than 1% agree with this petition. That is not a very strong mandate, let's lose the bluster.
Andi
BMHIRC

User avatar
andi
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Oahu, HI
Contact:

Post by andi » Sat Nov 20, 2004 9:05 pm

Again a re-post from Tribe involving Chicken:

I believe we are conversing with respect, and you are right it has only been 5 days, hardly long enough to reach a real conclusion. Your concern is valid and right on the money, you are just not doing it in a very democratic or fair manner.

If it was me, I would have done your petition something like this:

explaining yourself in a coherant manner without the taunts, sarcarsm, threats, and straying from your central topic. Explain what you are about in a few short sentences, not a long diatribe that meanders into other issues (that you just so happened to ignite off as well).

A poll with more than one possible response. There is no way for someone to dissent from your opinion on your site, everyone who joins in is looked upon as agreeing to it. But that is the only way to show dissent. If your complaints are sound (they are more than sound, look at the discussion this has spawned) they will be picked up and spread and change WILL happen, you just have to make sure it does (which you are doing).

Concrete and real solutions that bring everyone together. Don't just tear down but also propose real solutions that are workable. Sure this is a negotioation and you want to start high but the stance, defiance, and (worst of all in my mind) your theat to take burners away all for your cause, goes too far. Sure they didn't listen to you then but they are sure as hell listening NOW. You are making yourself look bad by publicly refusing to talk (although you are talking), lead by example, you propose a new order, is continuing this rift and resfusing to communicate with the Project the type or example we want to switch to?

Your concerns are sound, there has been a bad change over the past few years but the problem is much more complex than what art gets funded by the Project. This is a discussion that has been latent and brewing, perhaps you have just popped the cork. Cheers!
Andi
BMHIRC

User avatar
diode
Posts: 53
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2004 9:03 pm
Burning Since: 2000
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Contact:

Post by diode » Sun Nov 21, 2004 12:19 am

I thought Andi's first post where he wrote about the importance of the small to medium art was an excellent point.

The large scale art is exciting, but it's just one aspect in the continuum of the burn. Whether the dissident artists get their demands met or not will not really touch on the larger issues of participation.

One way to increase participation is to educate newcomers and veterans alike on the importance of contributing art to the playa. Even small or seemingly insignificant pieces can have a huge impact when taken as a whole.

I think the community would be better off looking at how to encourage smaller works, and having many more contributions to the playa.

You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to make a piece of art that will touch someone. Perhaps this should be part of the communicated BM ethos.

I think most people at the burn think there is some bureaucracy waiting somewhere to tell you not to put your stuff out there. It's true in the default world, why not at the burn?

I think the community has to counteract that inertia. Perhaps tickets could be mailed with contacts to regional playa art support groups. There could be forums devoted to building your playa art.

The survival guide could front page this and make a point of telling people how to do playa art, or how to find out how to do it right. The jackrabbit speaks could make a point of amping people up to get their playa art out there. It can become a touchstone of burning that you have to get your piece built on the playa or you're just a wannabe.

I'm still a wannabe by that criterion.

I like to wander the playa and be amazed. More stuff, better stuff, more contributions by everyone.

User avatar
andi
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2003 7:33 pm
Location: Oahu, HI
Contact:

Post by andi » Sun Nov 21, 2004 3:45 pm

The Project need to come out publicly (perhaps by Monday, Tuesday when the JRS usually comes out?) and address this issue and set up a town hall meeting where everyone can talk about it face to face. I would do a live meeting 2-4 weeks from now, time enough to put this meeting together (yes organizing something like this does take a lot of time, work, and money), time enough to let tempers subside, and enough time to allow as many people as possible to get educated on what people are saying and what is really going on to form a logical and not emotional conclusion.

This problem of communication has led us to this point, and open communication is what is going to get us out of it. Burning Man should have a more robust website incorporating functions seen in their own extranet, Tribe, Six Degree Burn, and include areas for all of the Regional groups, themecamps, and other burner groups. They should be a worldwide "burner portal", perhaps with a $10-20 yearly subscription that comes free with purchase of a ticket, to pay for it.

We would have one home where anyone could start their own little group, and we would have one central place to communicate. A much more robust burner news section would also be very good for the community. The JRS is great and it is all most of us have, something like Salon with up to the minute news on Burning Man activity at HQ in SF and from every Regional around the world would be better.

Perhaps if we are more tightly connected as a community we would be better able to discuss issues of importance and solve problem in a less dramatic manner. I know a lot of you will be screaming "what the hell that's COMMERCE!", to that I say, the only places we engage in 100% gift economy/100% anti-consumerism, is on the playa or at Regional events. Guess what, the whole REST of the time we live in what many of us call the "default world", and there the gift economy will only get you so far. The Project figured this out years ago around 1996, and has since then built an organization that has kept this event and thriving when everyone constantly thought it would fail.

There are many fault lines in our community (conservative vs progressive, partier vs connecter, taker vs giver) and I believe one struggle in particular is most at work in our current "manifesting genie".

There are some I call Burning Man Conservatives, they romanticize the early days, get the most bent out of shape with the growing population, think John Law leaving the event was the worst thing that ever happened, they hate the law and want their freedom above all else, and they get the most upset when there are new rules established. Conservatives reminisce on the days of old with all of the great stuff that happened, compared to the shit you see today. They like it the way it was way back on the first day on the playa, and think of Burning Man as more of a friendly egalitarian society, where consensus rules and there is no hierarchy.

Burning Man Progressives look at the event as: an ongoing experiment and evolution, each year brings new opportunities to do something new, we have grown so large that we have to start thinking outside of the event (like the Regional Network), we can overcome problems of the past by setting up structures, organization, and rules to remedy them. Progressives relate our communal "trip" as being more like surfing, than a totally planned out thing, the event can be managed but it could never possibly be controlled. You set you sights on a goal, make a theme, invite others to contribute, who knows what the end result will look like, but it will start looking a lot more like what you want the more you are organized and the more planning you do. Progressives look at us as all working together with burners each filling a role doing what they do best and generally call this a do-ocracy (those who step up to the plate and do things will get to make the decisions).

I believe our current perception that art and Participation is at an all time relative low is because of the growth and shift in the population, but not exactly like people think. Until 1996 or so the event doubled in population every year (that would make 50% of attendees in all those years newbies) and then the growth started to slow, the rate of growth of the population from 2003 to 2004 was the smallest yet. Also, going back before 1996 you started to see waves of old timers dropping off, this accelerated in 1996. It is impossible to know in absolute terms but from the available data and a LOT of anecdotal evidence, there seems to have been near 50% newbies at each event since 1996 as well.

Having been to the playa 7 times I have noticed a pattern in burners. Your first year you are fresh and new, it's all so exciting, you wish you knew more about it and could have prepared better. Your second year you come back prepared, perhaps overdoing it, the city is great, there is so much to go out and see and do, your loving it. Your third year you go all prepared and pumped up but everything seems not quite as shiny and new, you act like an old-timer showing newbies the ropes, after all the drama, expense, and exhaustion you start asking yourself "why am I doing this?". Statistically not many people make it back for 4 years, and the numbers get even smaller the higher you go.

In my experience the only way to keep Burning Man worthwhile in years 3+ is to give something back, make a themecamp, volunteer, make playa art. Those who not engaged tend to not make it back. So now here in 2004 we have come to a point where the majority of people in BRC are either coming for the first time or it is their 2nd or 3rd trip. There is a growth curve when it comes to Participation, so naturally we have a relative decline in Participation (oddly even as the raw number of people Participating has increased).

What is the solution? Pay off a couple of local SF artists to "resurrect all the good art like from the days of old"? That is a band-aid on a huge gash. What we really need to do is to strengthen our community, we need to pump up the Regionals, they are the ones who can do the most to help. Old-timer burners who get sick of the playa and what it has grown to can go to a wealth of great Regional events which are in many ways just like early Burning Man. These veterans can help to educate newbies so when they hit the playa they will be a LOT more informed and Participation levels will reach new heights.
Andi
BMHIRC

Anthony Bondi
Posts: 51
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2004 3:32 pm
Location: Las Vegas NV

States of Nevada

Post by Anthony Bondi » Mon Nov 22, 2004 12:30 pm

I have noted in other posts that it might be useful for interested people to consider BRC as being located in what is a de facto two-state region; the state of Nevada and the state of Las Vegas (Clark County). Vegas voted for Kerry; Nevada voted overwhelmiingly for Bush. These are the voters whose (locally) elected officials and administrators have a lot of statuatory authority over BRC. If establishing good relations with these people has been a priority for BRC administrators over the past few years, I'll suggest this was a very timely decision. Consider, if those relations had been judged to be of secondary importance, where BRC might stand today, trying to make up for lost time.

User avatar
Bob
Posts: 6748
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 10:00 am
Burning Since: 1986
Camp Name: Royaneh
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Post by Bob » Mon Nov 22, 2004 5:00 pm

Are you saying that funding more bush is good for the local economy?
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

"Let us say I suggest you may be human." -- Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam

jbelson
Posts: 312
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 4:41 pm
Location: lost Angeles

Post by jbelson » Mon Nov 22, 2004 5:43 pm

I dont know if this was covered in the thread yet, but I thought the petition was poorly executed. From a business standpoint, burningmam is a business lets not forget, Nobody is going to give up control of financial resources in regards to the livlihood of thier product, the art at the festival.
Secondly, the petition was too emotional and came off as someone crying about not being happy. It pretty much comes off as telling that ORG. that they suck and have become incompetant.
There was an overwhelming sense of entitlement too (which many artists suffer from). Making art does not place a person above everyone else. It also doesn't make it YOUR event. You might feel that your contributions thru instalations are what has made the event, but they are merely a part to the greater whole. It smells very similar to what professional athletes feel the sport owes them. Dont get me wrong, I think the art is definately the high point.
Plus telling the executives of the company they are no good at choosing which art gets funded is no way to engratiate yourself or your ideas. It is a fast way to get your concerns flushed with other shit.
What kind of real examples were mentioned? Was there an actual breakdown of declining art over the years? The size of peices or amount versus the money funded? Art is very subjective, and it's critisism taken with a grain of salt. Rather than just saying that it sucks, why not point to how it wasn't quite right for the event and what could possibly remedy the situation?
As far as a democracy, well thats a pretty far leap. Just cause I buy a ticket to a dodger game doesn't mean I get a say in who's pitchinng.
It sounds pretty unreasonable to me, and I'm not even the one your trying to wrestle power from.
A much better route would have been to suggest a way of consulting with the art grant process and getting views and opinions from the artist community taken into consideration rather than a coup de tah (however you spell that).
Did I sign the petition? No. I dont sign just anything (unlike most Americans). If it were more professional and made suggestions that sounded "doable", than maybe.
"I gotta have more cowbell"
Bruce dickenson, legendary rock producer

User avatar
Bob
Posts: 6748
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 10:00 am
Burning Since: 1986
Camp Name: Royaneh
Location: San Francisco
Contact:

Post by Bob » Mon Nov 22, 2004 5:55 pm

Yeah, all that has been mentioned.

But I've yet to see a justification for any kind of direct funding out of the ticket money, given that it's supposed to be a DIY, self-reliant, self-expressive, participant-not-spectator event, and much of the art produced by funding is crap that requires tons of hand-holding by the SF office and DPW.
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

"Let us say I suggest you may be human." -- Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam

User avatar
nesdon
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2004 5:59 pm

justification for funding

Post by nesdon » Tue Nov 23, 2004 2:34 pm

One of the core concepts that the whole thing has crystalized around is that community forms spontaneously around art, and that community can be constructed as a collborative work of art.

The larger, more complex and ambitious the art ptoject, the more support it needs from the personal community of the artist, and the more community it brings with it to the playa.

Larger more complex work will always result when the community at large offerrs support via grants. Every one of these large works that I have been involved in, has never recieved even a majority of the costs for materials from the borg, they generally consume huge quanties of volunteer time, and lots of additional resources from the artists and their friends. Many artists have completely exhausted all their personal resources both emotional and physical, to bring pieces to the playa.

Many of you may not realize how much art is at the core of the event, but the Bmorg does. Some of what many posts on this thread seem to see as radical and self agrandizing, are the parts of the process that already exist. You're not attacking the petiiton, you're attacking the foundational principals of the organization.

Larry has said they would have increased funding this year if it hadn;t been for some demands from the local authorites that increased their costs, and that they will increase funding next year. Funding major art works on the playa is the heart and soul of Burning Man.

Post Reply

Return to “Philosophical Center”