working at center camp cafe.Why?

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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Post by Ron » Fri Jun 17, 2005 12:51 pm

For the respectful exchange of views and information, my thanks. :)

Personally, as someone who has volunteered to help sell both ice and coffee, I can see the point about this being an example of how the rules apply to everyone except for BMORG. And no one likes hypocrisy, true enough.

OTOH, Center Camp has become a thing of beauty and the source of some wonderful experiences for me, in the past two or three years. The entertainment there has been exquisite and I've struck up a few playa friendships with folk while waiting in line. And I don't even drink caffine myself.

So color me conflicted. I'd be happiest with a solution that did not involve on playa commerce. My own theme camp raised about $5K last year, and will have about $7K this year by the time we're done, via external fundraisers and camp dues. In turn this money goes to build a huge public shade structure, with live grass under foot, for everyone's sensual pleasure. It seems to me that Center Camp could eliminate the selling of beverages, and costs associated with doing so, and substitute some form of external fundraising (grants, parties, off playa sales, who knows what else...) to generate the income needed to build it's wonderful public space.

But I'm *not* an informed volunteer. And an MBA and years of business experience tell me that getting informed would take a bunch of work, forensic accounting, and crap I'm not about to do. And I do love me some time in Center Camp. So, in the final analysis I can only say thank you to the folk who put it on, ask that they're certain that they can not conceive of any other way to do it without being an exception to the no commerice clause, offer my brainstorming help in achieving that goal, but finally to tip my hat to those that are willing to do the hard work and trust that they're doing the best they can.

Ron, saying thanks for the work while also agreeing with the Chiaguy's meta point.

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Chai Guy
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Post by Chai Guy » Fri Jun 17, 2005 1:43 pm

I wouldn't really consider ESD to be a "theme" camp in the sense that it's not there to serve as a public art space / performance space.

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Post by KellY » Fri Jun 17, 2005 4:42 pm

Hey CG,

I realize that the inherent source of our disagreement is that I don't mind the presence of commerce in the cafe and you do, and most likely never the twain shall meet. That being said
Chai Guy wrote:Kelly,

Can you name another theme camp that is built by DPW? (besides the cafe?)

Can you name another theme camp that pays for itself through commerce generated at the event? (besides the cafe?)

Can you name another theme camp that receives it's power from "The Grid"? (besides the cafe?)
The cafe isn't a theme camp - it's public space. All theme camps are run by burners privately and thus most have times when they are open and closed, discretion about who to let participate (e.g. Thunderdome) and in some cases are quite exclusive about who they let in at all (e.g. The Temple of Atonement). The cafe is open 24 hours a day throughout the event and is equally welcome to everyone. And because it's public space, many people -especially people new to the playa- have a much easier time meeting people and acclimatizing to the culture there than they would in a private camp. As has been said before, when you're in a camp, no matter how nice and welcoming, there's always the dymanic of being on someone else's turf. That's the advantage of public meeting areas, whether cafes, bars, hairdresser's or what have you.

I think there is this belief that the cafe HAS to be this huge shade structure with 300 couches and 3 stages, etc., but take a look at the photos I posted and you'll see that it's current form is a fairly recent phenomenon.
Yes, and you forgot to mention in that series of photos is that huge population growth of the event in those years. A structure the size of the cafe in 1996 wouldn't come near to being big enough for the population the last couple of years. I think it's pretty amazing that the size of te cafe has basically remained static since 2000.
I'm sorry if you interpreted my statements wrt: to "magic" as meaning a lack of planning, a lack of organization or a lack of insight. All the art, and all the theme camps you have seen at Burning Man are the result of some (most of the time a huge) level of organization, money and planning, I absolutely agree. All of those things go into creating the magic that we experience on the playa.

I mean absolutely NO disrespect towards the people that work in the cafe, those who build it or those that help plan it. My real problem, as I've stated before many times, is the whole commerce thing, but I've been told that you can't have the cafe without it, so there you go. But I think it's an amazing structure and kudos to those that build and design it every year.
Thank you.
"Of what use is a philosopher who doesn't hurt anybody's feelings?" -Diogenes

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Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Jun 17, 2005 4:52 pm

Chai Guy wrote:I wouldn't really consider ESD to be a "theme" camp in the sense that it's not there to serve as a public art space / performance space.
I would really like to answer by saying
Then you've never seen Lothos give a head-to-toe
but that's far too frivolous for someone with my ESD connections to put out in public.
The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri

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Post by Lassen Forge » Fri Jun 17, 2005 10:46 pm

If you've ever seen some of the professionals who work the various "venues" at ESD, you'd see the artistry in their plying their trades... (or loves...)

Just because something is not on canvas or welded or painted or (shit - this could go on and on and on, but you grt the idea) doesn't mean that (1) it's not art, and (2) the person is not an artist. An artist is applying a partially learned, partially God/dess given talent, and, well... that too is art. It's just that art has the benefit of also helping another person... and helps in the creation of the canvas (BRC) which makes the Art (not just the Man, but BRC itself) possible.

Then again, maybe I'm just hallucinating... >>grins<< But something says maybe not, too...


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Post by Chai Guy » Sat Jun 18, 2005 12:50 am

Ok, just briefly and then I promise to shut up until the cafe earnings statements are published.

1. I was only making the "theme camp" equation because Kelly brought it up. I was trying to point out that I don't believe the Cafe is a theme camp. In a way it's almost like an embassy in that it does not have to follow any of the rules of the country it's located in (those rules are of course self-reliance, and no commerce). I can see how even Robbi Dobbs thinks the poopers are art, and in a way, she would be right.

2. At one time selling burgers on the playa was condoned by the event, they got rid of that (good for them), I hope that one day they realize that selling coffee isn't essential to the event either and in fact detracts from it, and I'm going to keep giving away chai in front of the cafe at noon on Fridays until I stop going or they stop selling it.

From here on out I'm just going to respectfully disagree with everyone that's on the other side of the fence on the cafe thing.

(but I reserve the right to comment on the earnings report if and when it's published).

Thanks for listening.

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Post by Dustdevil » Sat Jun 18, 2005 6:30 am

Chai Guy,
I am curious as to how you support your gifting. I do not drink tea, but I have always admired your type of gifting. I have no idea what it costs to bring Chai to the Playa every year and enough to so generously share that commodity. I have a LARGE fire art "device". I built it myself without outside funding. I did not wish to be told when to run and how often to run it. I pay for the fuel and all the transportation costs. (It burns almost 50 gallons a minute of fuel). I am fortunate that my business allows me the freedom to do that. BTW, I also respect the way you argue. You attack the issue, not the person.
Those who think they can and those who think they can't are both right.

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Post by Chai Guy » Sun Jun 19, 2005 3:55 pm

Hey Dustdevil,

Thanks for the compliment! I'm self funded as well, though I usually receive about 50% of my chai from fellow citizens of BRC (people have offered to give me $ but I only accept donations of chai, ice and water, and I ask that people who donate also help with giving it out so that they can experience that feeling first hand).

50 gallons of fuel per minute?? YIKES!

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Post by HughMungus » Sun Jun 19, 2005 8:22 pm

Slightly off topic: I wonder what would happen if camps were to start selling stuff (namely, food). Would BORG intervene?
It's what you make it.

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Post by unjonharley » Sun Jun 19, 2005 8:31 pm

DallasPlaya wrote:Slightly off topic: I wonder what would happen if camps were to start selling stuff (namely, food). Would BORG intervene?

They would be on you like stink on shit.
I'm the contraptioneer your mother warned you about.

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Post by Elemental666 » Sun Jun 19, 2005 8:58 pm

ok, my 2 cents, even though I have yet to visit the playa (this will be my virgin year)..

From our good friend the dictionary(ies):

1. The buying and selling of goods, especially on a large scale, as between cities or nations. See Synonyms at business.
2. Intellectual exchange or social interaction.
3. Sexual intercourse.
4. transactions (sales and purchases) having the objective of supplying commodities (goods and services)
5. social exchange, especially of opinions, attitudes, etc.

I'm sure there are more but I'm stopping at 5. Point? Well, almost any exchange between 2 parties can be considered commerce. Burningman would not exist without commerce, niether would your art project, in fact, the world would come to a grinding hault populated by blabering monkey men, well I guess it already is populated by blabbering monkey men, but anyway... I can see what is intended by the "rule" banning commerce, as far as an attempt to prevent the corprates from tainting the purety of the temporary community. But you must admit that without commerce you yourselves would never arrive in BRC. Once in BRC you choose to cease what are considered the most popular forms of commerce in today's society, that being the trading of money for goods and services. However you still participate, do you not? In that there is an elevation in commerce in the form of sharing experiences and art and what not.

In the case of Center Camp vs. The people's republic of ePlaya, one must keep in mind that requardless of how commerce is intended to take place on the playa, one still has to make the transition from the default world. And that takes commerce of the monetary type. Tickets, ice, coffee, re-entry fees. I think this is a fairly short list of ways for the BORG to fund this event. Given the population figures of this event I can see where even making a profit off these ventures is a necessity as they now have to support a puplation of a medium sized town. If you can show me 1 town in the USA where 30k-40k citizens are capable of planning sufficiently for their every need and thus never having to rely on the infrastructure of that city, I'll give you a millionzilliongazillion moneys! Now look what percentage of BRC to this very thing. Not too shaby...

If this one single instance of monetary commerce in BRC is such a mindboggingly huge example of hypocracy that it prevents you from relaxing and having a good goddamn time then I submit that you are in despreate need of some zen, and possibly some anal yoga. There is free choice in commerce, just as there is in life, you can simply not get your ice and coffee at center camp. Conversly you could support the event and purchase ice and coffee in the hopes that the BORG will be wise and use the money to improve the event. Should BORG prove unwise in their handling of the money, you could actively boycot and make your case with the population. But getting all caught up in a discussion of symantics seems an awful waiste of time and energy that could be better spent on having a great time prancing around the desert butt ass nekkid experiencing art and social synergy unlike any place available in the default world at this time.

Don't sweat the small shit...


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Post by missmann » Thu Jun 23, 2005 3:22 pm

I really liked that post.

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