"Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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some seeing eye
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"Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by some seeing eye » Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:16 am

The Burning Man Global Leadership Conference has some ePlayans participating including Dr Yes.

His report on one of the sessions: http://www.burn.life/blog/burning-mans- ... -in-danger

BMORG doesn't read ePlaya but ePlayans have been discussing this for some time. Now the BMORG is asking for help.
increasing the signal to noise ratio with compassion

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by A-RockLeFrench » Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:37 am

News flash.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Meat Hunter » Sun Apr 02, 2017 11:50 am

And so, my fellow Burners: ask not what Burning Man can contribute to you — ask what you can contribute to Burning Man.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Traveller in Time » Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:48 pm

Is this "BM's Culture" not that what people bring together and what they do with their gathering.

The "BM's Culture" is trying to get a clear image of itself, apparently unaware this self reflection is as much part of the culture it is.

In the same context this "BM's Culture" is always changing as part of the composition of the identity of the participating individuals.

In short: just expect the unexpected.
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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Ano » Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:48 pm

This conversation is way too late. I started in 2011, and it was probably too late to have it already then.

I'm riding this train while I still can. I still have an insane amount of fun out there, but I can't deny the culture creep. Maybe I'm just getting older, too, because I'm almost 30 now and I was barely over 20 then, but... I don't know. The people are changing. Even the worst places on the playa (IE: big rave parties) used to be full of good people doing good things... but now it feels like a bunch of shitty people who just came to party. I go to certain big art cars for sunrise parties every year, and it's 100% true that the crowds have gotten MOOPier, ruder, and altogether less "burny" and more "designer festi-raver partier." Porto potties get worse every year. There's an observable uptick, every year, of more and more people just looking for turnkey camps to provide their experience.

There is also something to be said about nepotism, though. While some of the stereotypical coachella-raver-party people that I have met have indeed been awful, I have met some 15+ year Burners who don't give a shit about the event and treat it as such. I think that it's kind of unfair that old art cars without much mutation get licensed because of tradition, meanwhile it feels like you need to be a professional with a crew to build a mutant vehicle nowadays. Same with old theme camps that don't provide much nowadays, but are packed to the brim with connected people and flex their connections for placement and other things. We all know it happens. I know more than one camp and more than one person with situations like that.

I go party at the places I like and I do my best to involve people who don't care about the culture. I do my best to be involved with a camp that I call my family, and we do our best to involve the greater city in our shenanigans. I seek to be strange, confusing, funny, and altogether involved in all things I do out there. I try to sing for no reason, I try to be weird, I try to tell people to go the wrong way and to warn them they might find something better that way. It gets harder and harder every year, but god dammit I try.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by FlyingMonkey » Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:22 am

RANT WARNING RANT WARNING RANT WARNING RANT WARNING RANT WARNING RANT WARNING RANT WARNING !!!

I've heard people in the past say that maybe to cut down on the "weekenders" that maybe the gate should close on Wednesday or Thursday. I never supported that because it could affect Burners who could only get a few days off from work & they wouldn't be able to attend, but I have to say this idea is growing on me.

Also, Since there is an obvious problem with established large camps & villages having trouble getting tickets to support their core members maybe the number of DGS tickets should be increased & taken out of the General Sale pool. I know that sucks for people not affiliated with large camps but every solution will affect a segment of the Burner population.

While we are on the topic, how about giving a certain number of tickets to the regional groups to divvy up among members that have been vetted as (at least somewhat) embracing the principals. I know this could be totally abused by regional reps lacking integrity but there could also be a way of reporting abuse at that level & the next year they would get fewer. I don't know, but I suspect that there are a lot of volunteers that don't get anything more than a high five & a hug. How about allocating more volunteer tickets. The more years & events they volunteer for the better their chances of scoring a ticket.

Artists & their crew should be considered although I suspect they do get something already.

And how about the T-Rex in the room. If BMORG is concerned about an increase in commercialization then don't give (or sell) tickets to plug & play camps that sell them for "extravagant Burning Man experiences". These camps are obviously acquiring a lot of tickets & selling them to people as an all inclusive package & no doubt profiting from it. That is enabling the complete commercialization of Burning Man than anything else. I couldn't make Burning Man pendants & sell them so how is this different? I don't want to stereotype everyone that spend a shit ton of money & has their every need attended to, but for the most part I think they contribute less to the event & greatly to the problems we are addressing. Yeah, these camps have huge sound stages & provide food & drink but to be honest, I think some of them have gotten too big & smaller sound camps are better and offer a greater variety of music. If a camp has to bring (hire) a staff of servants & crew and all they do is set-up & attend to the needs of the high $$$ campers, then I think each one of those tickets would be better utilized by a Burgin.

No megablock exclusive RV walled in Villages! Placement reviews camp layouts don't they? They could stop or reduce that problem.

my 3-cent worth on this (maybe a nickels worth).
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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by some seeing eye » Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:43 am

increasing the signal to noise ratio with compassion

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Token » Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:19 am

some seeing eye wrote:
BMORG doesn't read ePlaya but ePlayans have been discussing this for some time. Now the BMORG is asking for help.
Oh, common, the Glitterati(tm) absolutely follow ePlaya.

The writing was on the wall 12 years ago when BORG2 had its go. The last death throws of a cultch'a lost or very much on the way out. 2005 came and went and with it the last few pieces of original flair fading into memory.

The green man, circa 2007 was the nail in the coffin for me. The experiment declared a cause, instead of leading it chose to follow. It became turn-key.

I stuck with the decay for 4 more years from the BORG2 marker before calling it quits. The transition from experiment in community to mainstream entertainment has taken the ride into cost prohibitive territory. Just not worth it anymore for me personally.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by DrYes » Mon Apr 03, 2017 11:26 am

Ano wrote:This conversation is way too late. I started in 2011, and it was probably too late to have it already then.
It's never too late to work to make a change. Whether that change might have been more effectively made many years earlier....well, yes, it would have been. The writings' been on the wall re: the direction of the culture for years.

I think there are things they could do to not just slow the cultural dissolution, but to reverse it. I don't have a ton of confidence that they're willing to take those steps though, and each of them comes with downsides. There's no silver bullet though.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by VultureChow » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:50 pm

I mean acknowledging it is a first step, and I'm glad they did it in a way that emphasizes actual issues that affect the viability of the event (MOOP, volunteerism) and not simply cultural tastes (EDM), but it's not going to be easy.

I did have one idea towards the volunteerism issue.

So it feels like there's an arms race in the Theme Camp World. More events, more interactivity. It's encouraged by Placement, and rewarded with DGS tickets. And that's fine. BUT, in a small camp with something going on every day, volunteering takes a backseat to camp duties.

What I'm thinking of is a day of service. Your camp takes a day off, ie no events that day, but everyone volunteers for something. And then the rest of the day is free. Go off and explore. Because it can be easy to get settled in and forget to experience the burns as something other than your own domain.
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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Ano » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:12 pm

I think it's a great thing they are willing to admit something, don't get me wrong. It's a huge step in the right direction.

But I can't forget about Jim Tanenbaum - who was on the Burning Man Project board of directors was complicit in running the kind of camp that I think most would argue have done some of the worst damage to the culture as a whole. That was 2014. He had admitted that it was his third camp requiring workers to provide infrastructure, and had been attending since 2009. Huge plug and play camps that have been vomiting out the worst kind of campers onto the playa via safari packages have been doing it since long before I ever attended, and more than a few were involved in a turnkey camp forum of some kind that occurred after the 2012 event.

For reference, that blog post - http://journal.burningman.org/2012/03/p ... rock-city/ - reading some of these comments now is kind of weird, a lot of them are absolutely on point with what has happened.

So I really feel like it's kind of late to be having this conversation... I mean, it's great, but it's so late, I don't really know what can be done at this point. What's to do? There's a significant percentage of attendees who don't give a shit about the culture. There's a significant number who are just chasing headliners, rather than floating to parties. There is a significant downswing in the number of volunteers, and MOOP is out of control. I was at some little volunteer thing at American Steel in Oakland last year, and a representative from resto said that for the first time in history, Burning Man didn't pass a portion of the inspection.

It's too late. Either these folks find a new thing to ruin, or we ride this train until some catastrophe year that resembles a 1995 Grateful Dead show happens and we all pack up our toys and go home.

If anything, though, this year is probably the best shot at starting a rebound that we have. That big silly eclipse party is happening, and it's definitely peeling off a huge number of people who just want to go to a hippie rave.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by wraith » Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:25 pm

I'll be blunt here, since it's the fashion : the Directed Group Sale isn't helping.

It effectively creates a class system that reinforces an environment where only those sufficiently well-connected are assured entry. It's poison to a sense of community.

Unfortunately, I don't see a better solution other than hoping the weather makes the Playa terrifying for a year or two, or banning big sound to kill the people who want to treat the Burn as an EDM festival.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by berzins » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:32 am

(...) or we ride this train until some catastrophe year that resembles a 1995 Grateful Dead show happens and we all pack up our toys and go home.
Was not aware of this piece of history. Googled it and learned about the Tour of Doom. Thanks @Wraith!
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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by wraith » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:34 am

berzins wrote:
(...) or we ride this train until some catastrophe year that resembles a 1995 Grateful Dead show happens and we all pack up our toys and go home.
Was not aware of this piece of history. Googled it and learned about the Tour of Doom. Thanks @Wraith!
That was Ano's, not mine, but it made me go read up on it as well, and oh my. :shock:

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by FlyingMonkey » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:06 am

wraith wrote:I'll be blunt here, since it's the fashion : the Directed Group Sale isn't helping.

It effectively creates a class system that reinforces an environment where only those sufficiently well-connected are assured entry. It's poison to a sense of community.
I disagree. I don't think it's as black & white as you make it out to be. Can you provide an example that actually happened & elaborate? I'm curious why you think that.

I can see where it can & probably has been abused but I camp in a village comprised of several different camps from all over the country that all provide different interactivity. They receive DGS ticket & usually provide them to people that have a track record of providing village infrastructure & generally have a strong "Burner Ethic". That ensures that the camp/village has a strong base of core members that all work together on projects & supporting the village. They also, if they have enough, provide them to enthusiastic burgins who have proven to be reliable & have something to contribute to the camp. That's bad why? That's a win-win. Camps have enthusiastic people making a contribution & some of them get guaranteed tickets. Those are the people I want to Burn with.

It's a vetting process that provides tickets to people that will contribute to the experience and not detract from it. Nothing poisonous there.

I think that's better than random dumb luck or rich people scooping up tickets who resell them as a Burning Man vacation packages to other rich or well connected people. I actually think the current system lends itself to a "Class System" more because we see it every year & it needs to change.

I think there should be a secret handshake to get past Gate too. No not really
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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by wraith » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:34 am

FlyingMonkey wrote:
I think that's better than random dumb luck or rich people scooping up tickets who resell them as a Burning Man vacation packages to other rich or well connected people. I actually think the current system lends itself to a "Class System" more because we see it every year & it needs to change.

I think there should be a secret handshake to get past Gate too. No not really
Yeah, that's something that's been kicked around here that I probably should have mentioned.

Ticket resale outside of STEP needs to be gone. Tickets need to be made non-transferable. If you can't go, then sell the ticket back to the Org at face value minus a few bucks for administrative fee so it can go to the next person on the list to be picked up at will-call.

That kills 90% of the ticketing issues around plug-and-play catered camps and scalping instantly, at the minor cost of not letting people hoard tickets just in case.

Of course, it got immediate push back here last time I suggested that people who buy in the pre-sale probably ought not be able to buy again in the main sale and resell the pre-sale tickets. :mrgreen:

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by DrYes » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:09 am

wraith wrote:
Yeah, that's something that's been kicked around here that I probably should have mentioned.

Ticket resale outside of STEP needs to be gone. Tickets need to be made non-transferable. If you can't go, then sell the ticket back to the Org at face value minus a few bucks for administrative fee so it can go to the next person on the list to be picked up at will-call.

That kills 90% of the ticketing issues around plug-and-play catered camps and scalping instantly, at the minor cost of not letting people hoard tickets just in case.

Of course, it got immediate push back here last time I suggested that people who buy in the pre-sale probably ought not be able to buy again in the main sale and resell the pre-sale tickets. :mrgreen:
Honestly, I don't think plug n' plays, fucking annoying and shitty though they are, represent that big of a problem. I mean, yes, for sure, I would love to eliminate them, and I wish the Org would do something about them, but as far as the culture of the event goes, I think it's the flood of instagram-posting, headline-chasing bucket-list types who have been trained by commercial EDM festivals to be consumers not participants. There's a lot more of them trying to come to Burning Man than folks who can afford plug n' plays I'm fairly sure.

No reason not to attack this problem on many fronts though, and both of those groups suck for the culture.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by OscarElGrunon » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:51 am

I know I'm new here, but I have experience in other volunteer organizations.

It seems like contributing to BRC as a volunteer of a theme camp can get you a DGS ticket. Wanting to contribute to BRC as a volunteer for the event itself gets you... spending Labor Day at home because you didn't get a ticket in the main sale.

Even if you don't get a DGS ticket, the prospect of possibly earning placement and DGS tickets in the future encourages achievement in a very capitalistic kind of way. At the back of every camp organizer's mind is "I can earn DGS tickets for this." Volunteers have no such carrot dangling in front of them to keep them motivated.

Any successful organization that runs on volunteers knows "support the people who support you." BM seemed to miss that one. BM has people who want to volunteer... and BM has tickets... but they haven't put together that in order for the volunteers to be there, they need their own ticket sale.

You can contribute to the culture of BM at a theme camp and be rewarded with a DGS ticket. You can contribute to the culture of BM as a regional director, go to the GLC, get fired up to proselytize the 10 principles... and you spend labor day at home because you didn't get a ticket in the main sale.

BM wants more "true believers" who carry the right attitude and spirit. Those people exist, they're being educated and accultured at the regional events and organizign said events. But they have to wait in the same main sale line with the instagram models.

So far the theme camps seem to be doing pretty well. They seem to be largely successful in executing their mission. Volunteering and culture, not so much. The difference seems to be that the camps can earn DGS tickets, volunteers and "true believers" cannot.

If BM wants certain types of people, or people willing to volunteer, it needs to sell tickets to those people instead of operating their volunteer department on "wishful thinking". "Oh, I wish and hope that our volunteers are among the 30k who get tickets instead of the 50k who don't" is not a viable volunteer recruitment strategy.

Volunteerism may or may not be dying, but they just can't get tickets.

Another issue might be the price of the event doubling over the last 5 years while volunteers still have to shell out full price. That would kill my enthusiasm to volunteer.

BM will either figure out how to support the people who support them or the event will die.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Leap » Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:34 pm

DrYes wrote: Honestly, I don't think plug n' plays, fucking annoying and shitty though they are, represent that big of a problem. I mean, yes, for sure, I would love to eliminate them, and I wish the Org would do something about them, but as far as the culture of the event goes, I think it's the flood of instagram-posting, headline-chasing bucket-list types who have been trained by commercial EDM festivals to be consumers not participants. There's a lot more of them trying to come to Burning Man than folks who can afford plug n' plays I'm fairly sure.

No reason not to attack this problem on many fronts though, and both of those groups suck for the culture.
These groups are not mutually exclusive. I'm not sure why you are drawing the lines here.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Chowski » Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:34 pm

I run a theme camp and I get placement and DGS. We are successful at providing interactivity because we're awesome, and we are successful at acculturating virgins because we don't operate as a hotel. Our numbers bounce between twelve in a low year to forty in a large year, and we don't accept strangers. We only allow people who are friends of former campers. This serves two purposes - someone (the sponsoring vet) is responsible for making sure their virgins aren't a shit show, and two, it forces our vets to choose people who won't threaten their standing with camp.

Our virgins aren't "guests" in any way. They are part of our camp. And our virgins aren't awful because we pick and choose. I think the larger problem with the culture is those camps who advertise for strangers to camp with them. Those people are customers, who exchange cash for a product (shade, showers, meal plans) even in a camp which may not be a plug-and-play, advertising for strangers is a cash grab, not a way to bring in people who you KNOW should be going to Burning Man.

For decades, people went to Burning Man because an acquaintance said "there's this thing and YOU would love it!" That's how the population grew -organically, and with thought. Then White Privilege Ocean started rented RV compounds and gaining customers by advertising their EDM celebrity button-pushers (sorry, "musicians"). Suddenly, all you needed was a ticket and some cash, and you could fly in to Ibiza in the Dust.

We all know BMORG isn't going to put a stop to it, so what's the point complaining. But every once in a while, I dream of a year where the OONZ OONZ camps are totally shut out - no Robot Heart, no blaring garbage noise, no EDM tourists. A Radical Transformation of the event away form what it has become. Less White Party, More Blowing Shit Up. Ah, sweet daydreams.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by OscarElGrunon » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:09 pm

Come to think of it, the art camps that provide the fun to the event get DGS tickets. The volunteers who run the event do not. It's almost like the people in charge are artsy types who don't have a good mind for logistics....

(not to stereotype artists, most artists have to be organized to execute a project, but we all know a few...)

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Ano » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:19 pm

It's not seen as good form to talk about, but volunteers do receive access passes for the next year if they work enough. I have attended on a staff credential for working enough for years.

And to be fair, it is not really too many shifts to at least guarantee yourself access. I know what the requirements are across a few departments, it isn't high.

I also know that, late in the game, Bmorg has offered tickets for volunteers to do things like census data entry. I've received those emails before.

So, at least on that front, things are covered.

And I really hope I'm not the only one who finds pulling up the ladder after we are all on the boat a supremely fucked way to deal with the issue. The issue isn't only virgins.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Ratty » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:19 pm

Ano you are partially right. The borg doesn't indiscriminately offer tickets to work for census. There were about 150 volunteers last year. I'm guessing. A tiny handful of core members get staff tickets. They not only work every day out there for 2 or 3 weeks. They work all year on data entry and everything else for their department. I dont want people reading your post run towards census to get a ticket. Thats not the reason to join the team. I love working for census. No perks necessary.
I've worked in other departments and 1 shift a day for the entire week may get you a reduced price ticket the following year. Its harder than you think.
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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by lucky420 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:23 pm

OscarElGrunon wrote:Come to think of it, the art camps that provide the fun to the event get DGS tickets. The volunteers who run the event do not. It's almost like the people in charge are artsy types who don't have a good mind for logistics....

(not to stereotype artists, most artists have to be organized to execute a project, but we all know a few...)
Volunteers of certain depts do get access to tickets. You have to volunteer lottttts of hours though. Lots
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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Popeye » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:46 pm

Ratty and Lucky are right. You have to put in lots of hours with census to have access to, usually, full price volunteer tickets. Staff working year round and are needed on playa may get staff credentials.
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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Ano » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:14 pm

This needless obfuscation of the truth doesn't help anyone. Same with the muddying of ticketing issues with credentials/passes/staff-priced access/etc. Maybe if we are talking about where to find the tuna guys, sure, but operational things, I've always found it weird how the org is so squirmy over talking tickets, especially when there is a noted downswing in volunteerism.

Straight fact - you can earn a staff-priced credential or full staff access, and a vehicle pass, by working for a number of org departments. The shift requirements vary. In rare cases, If you are connected to the org, you might score a last-minute ticket in order to work. You absolutely do not need o work year-round for a free ticket. That is a bold-faced lie.

In fact... It's how I got my ticket in 2012. I was a last minute recruit for a department having ticketing issues. I was recruited... Through my ticket post on eplaya.

And to finish my post - within the past five years, a superviser working for census awarded access pass(Es) to someone or some people I know for last minute volunteer coverage.

So it happens.

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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Ratty » Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:59 pm

Ano i never meant to dispute your statement. Shit definately happens.
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Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Simon of the Playa » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:10 am

"I don't see a better solution other than hoping the weather makes the Playa terrifying for a year or two"





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Camp Name: Tiger Man

Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by Ratty » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:17 am

There are some fabulous videos from the 2016 Theme Camp symposium. This one is on various camp types. Lovely slideshow. These wouldn't be possible without guaranteed tickets.

Pictures or it didn't happen Greycoyote
I a recovering swagaholic I have to resist my grabby nature VultureChow
Those aren't buttermilk biscuits I'm lying on Savannah
We're out there to play like adults with no adult supervision CaptG

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FlyingMonkey
Posts: 1172
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:33 am

Re: "Burning Man's Culture is in Danger"

Post by FlyingMonkey » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:47 pm

Simon of the Playa wrote:"I don't see a better solution other than hoping the weather makes the Playa terrifying for a year or two"





as you wish...

IMG_3919.JPG
Well yeah, We always hope for a good Dustpocalypse to thin the herd.
In your wildest dreams you can not imagine the marvelous SURPRISES that await YOU.

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