If you are planning a Villiage you are Fucking Insane

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clandyone
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Post by clandyone » Sat Sep 20, 2003 4:25 pm

attydog wrote: I'm sorry to hear that. Bigger communal kitchens always sounded like a fairly good idea to me. What was the problem?

(snip)

What is your camp, and what is your expensive project?
Communal kitchens can work -- ours did last year. However we were shorthanded for setup, and the kitchen was neglected -- we didn't have a workable dishwashing system, we didn't have enough stoves, and the equipment was inadequate. (Tip: if there are 50 people in your camp, you don't need sixteen omelet pans.) Also, make sure everyone does their own damn dishes. We had a kick-ass kitchen coordinator, but even still it never quite came together.

We are Pinhole Camp. That big mysterious plywood cube on the Esplanade at 5:00 was our camera/darkroom. We gave out portraits as gifts. All the info, including camera specs and galleries of images from previous years, is at http://pinholecamp.org .

I have to say that our camp kicked ass this year, despite a few hitches. Next year we're streamlining somewhat -- I'll keep all posted as things progress.

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diane o'thirst
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Post by diane o'thirst » Sat Sep 20, 2003 4:52 pm

Opera Camp has been a Village, but we're only recently starting to admit to it. That's probably the key to success, is by <i>not</i> saying "We're a Village" and saying instead, "We're just a Big Camp."

But then there's the "allied camps" we've always had, some not in the same camp footprint: Superheroes of Atlantis in 2000, MuDance, Camp Schmamp in '01, Monkey Camp and Stranjbrew Hoop-Dee-Doo this past year, Safer Sex Dome (blown away a couple years ago — Robert's been distributing out of our yurt since then), and of course my establishment the Yeastery.

The way we've been handling the cleanup is peer pressure. We call for a volunteer to be the Camp Disciplinarian who nags and gets under peoples' skin late in the week to CLEAN UP YOUR SHIT! The abysmal cleanup grade we got in 2000 is generously applied to shame them into action. The other way we've been handling that is everybody brings whatever they have to contribute to the camp's infrastructure: who has a parachute? Who has a truck? Who has water barrels? Who has solar lights? Who has a gennie? Who can do this? Who can do that? We got the water barrels for the kitchen, the big quiet generator and the yurt and a couple times, the cargo truck, from individuals coming forward and saying "Here's what I have." Naturally with a big ticket item like a yurt or construction-site generator, the volunteer isn't interested in just flaking off and abandoning it so those get taken away and stowed no problem.

A third point, and probably the hardest to pin down: our group is <u>dedicated</u>. There's vision, creative passion, and mutual respect. How do you quantify never mind select for that? You don't, you just trust in the universe to bring it to the project and go from there. We like to think it proceeds directly from the fact that the ritualistic intensity of the Opera project has tempered our spirits and welded us together as a cohesive body politic.
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III
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Post by III » Sun Sep 21, 2003 4:38 pm

> Bigger communal kitchens always sounded like a fairly good idea to me. What was the problem?

beware the chimera of economies of scale.

it always seems that you should be able to save time, money, and effort by organizing things together as a large group.

(common things that are subject to this are meals/kitchens, power/generators, and transportation/big trucks.)

invariably, the people taking advantage of the service radically overestimate how much is gained, and undercontribute to the final project proportionately. the end result is usually strong rifts in the community and organizers who vow never to do anything for anyone ever again.

there are instances of group projects working out, but they are almost never done at a village level, but are composed a smallish number (i.e. less than 80) of people who opt in on that particular project, and who share in the work evenly.

any project which does not require proprtional participation from all of its beneficiaries ends up fostering a potential breakdown in self sufficiency, with a resultant breakdown in commuity as a result.
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precipitate
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Post by precipitate » Mon Sep 22, 2003 12:15 pm

> We call for a volunteer to be the Camp Disciplinarian who nags and gets
> under peoples' skin late in the week to CLEAN UP YOUR SHIT!

I personally vow to never camp with someone who actually needs to be
told that more than once, before the event.

Mark Hinkley
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Xara

Post by Mark Hinkley » Mon Sep 22, 2003 2:27 pm

I don't know anything whatsoever about villages. I don't know very much about anything else either. But I can speak from Xara's experience. We have always been a camp and never a village. I do think we represent one extreme range of the spectrum of models in that we do produce One Big Thing, with lots of integrated and interdependent parts. This necessarily takes a central organizational model. Villages with separate and independent parts and projects can afford to let each of them sink or swim on their own, whereas a failure in some aspect of Xara's execution would undo everything that everyone had worked on.

But what I think Trey and I came to after years of polite and scholarly discussion, is that projects need management while communities don't. As Xara's designer and director, I have been a benign (just ask me) autocrat, but as the former regional rep for San Diego, I have never asserted control of any kind over anything. The community model works beautifully for our regional community, but would never be able to produce Xara.

Just to correct the historical record, we started with about 15 in '99, grew to 85 the next year, and have been deliberately shrinking since then. It is true that a number of people have come, enjoyed, and said "not again." But turnover is not our issue now so much as it is controlled and organic growth. It's a fine line, because everything we do is done by the dues of our members and more is merrier, but we have erred on the side of financial shortfall rather than the surprise introduction of new interpersonal toxicity. Again, such toxicity is worse for us, just because we are interdependent.

My general response is in a different vein though. ANYTIME you take it on yourself to lead, just go into it expecting no thanks, no help, and generous portions of mistreatment from the people you intend to serve. I am serious. If it works out better than that, you can be delighted. But it is the general rule that you will get the short end of some stick, and it is all the more heroic and beautiful to go into it, eyes open and expecting it, willing to pay that price anyway. It sure makes it easier to avoid feeling disappointed or abused and it sets a better example.

precipitate
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Post by precipitate » Mon Sep 22, 2003 2:32 pm

> projects need management while communities don't.

Well put, Mark. And while Xara isn't a village, your lessons are just as
valuable when thinking about large-scale projects and communities.

> as the former regional rep for San Diego,

Former? Wow.

Jackie
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The Toil-Less Camp

Post by Jackie » Fri Sep 26, 2003 1:08 pm

I was able to be part of a Camp without the toil. Camp Jump Start's first and foremost premise was "No Toil". It worked out just fine. It is amazing how we all made it work in spite of the pre-determined decision not to toil.

We had a couple of meetings but not much came out of them. A $10 dollar collection was made, the funds to be used towards AC and gas to run the genny (from the rental RV) that would light the camp and buy supplies to make a shower area. No communal kitchen. The decision not to spend money and efforts into a shade structure didn't impede a very determined campmate to go ahead, try his luck and guess what? We ended up having a kick-butt dome.

Being my first time, I had been told by a friend not to be a part of a Camp, even less a Village becasue it would be too much committment and lack of knowledge of what type of experience I would've liked to have. Sure am glad I didn't listen because having been part of my Camp allowed me for so many more interactions than what I might have been exposed having camped out by myself. By the way, this was the leader's first time heading a Camp.

Now am back home organizing a group of local Burners while following a very close approach: I can instigate and do my part but in the end, it is a community effort.

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Tiara
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Communal Kitchens

Post by Tiara » Tue Sep 30, 2003 10:32 am

Let me start off by admitting that I fall into the "put all her guts into making it work, got disillusioned, and have no intentions of trying it again soon" category. But, hopefully, there are some lessons learned that can help others. . .

I planned, almost single handedly, the structure, equipment, meals, and snacks for a communal kitchen that fed 14 people this year. I was the first to arrive on playa from my camp, so it was me that constructed the kitchen structure (with help), me that arranged the interior workspaces, and me that felt most responsible for monitoring things to keep it clean, keep the food cool, etc.

First mistake: One planner equals one person who feels a significant stake in the outcome. Everyone had assigned shifts to cook and get ice, but rarely did anyone else show the concern I did for keeping the space orderly, making sure clean dishes were covered up from dust storms, or checking that the coolers had enough ice periodically.

Second mistake: Assuming that other people (with whom I had not camped before) would exercise what I considered common sense in regards to pitching in with kitchen duties. Examples: I didn't think it necessary to give lectures in "how to wash dishes without creating a lake on the floor of our kitchen and generating 8 gallons of grey water". I didn't think it was necessary to specify that it was a good idea to drain a cooler of luke-warm water before re-filling it with ice. Apparently, it was.

Third mistake: Giving inexperienced campers decision-making power over the menu. Recipes primarily based on perishable ingredients have no place on the 6th day of a camping trip. And labor-intensive dishes have no godly chance of being fully realized by a bunch of hung-over, sleep deprived first-year burners.

Luckily, I subscribe to the school of thought that asks not whether the fun you had at BM was worth the effort, but whether what you learned this year was worth the effort of attending. (Yes, I think it was.)

No, I won't be attempting a group kitchen next year. But yes, I would be willing to try again in the future. . . *IF* I was one of multiple planners, and *IF* I had previously camped with a majority of the people involved.

precipitate
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Post by precipitate » Tue Sep 30, 2003 10:44 am

Yep. I've had all of those problems, though thankfully not all in the same
year.

I did a group kitchen four years running, and it went overall very well
every year except the last, when we had a couple of assholes who
(a) wanted a discount on their meal fees, even though they were entirely
cost-based so it'd mean everyone else was picking up their share,
(b) didn't feel it was actually necessary to show up for their chosen kitchen
prep shifts because people would just do it without them, right?, and
(c) had no fucking idea how to follow directions.

Group kitchens can work. But they're not nearly as easy as you think
they'll be.

jinx_sf_burner
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Post by jinx_sf_burner » Tue Sep 30, 2003 11:53 am

I camped with The Spot this year, part of SoLoCo village. I was incredibly pleased that the whole village had very low drama, very high cooperation.
I think it is directly related to that "take care of your own shit" vibe. I've seen too many camps where one or two people try to "run" everything and they hate it, and their fellow capmers hate it... well, everyone just ends up hating it.
Big thumbs up for SoLoCo.
Ivy wrote:
That sid, I agree with miz P: all camps in our village were autonomous, as well as campers in our largest theme camp, Solo Collective. (the name even implies the "take care of your own shit" vibe). No dues are required, which is one of the things I always liked about it, but without dues, note that no services are provided (there's that damn "take care of your own shit" vibe again. :))
This year, as an experiement, we took donoations to rent a generator for the village. I ahven't got the full starts back yet, but it seems to have worked really well. All donations to the fund were voluntary, although if you didn't donate, you didn't really get to use it.
~jinx

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Chai Guy
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Post by Chai Guy » Wed Oct 01, 2003 5:22 pm

There are some really excellent points being made here, I'll try to add a few of my own truths that I have realized over the years.

On Theme Camps:

1. Don't comprise your camp of any more than two or three first year burners. They will inevitably escape any work to run off and play in the giant candy store, or worse fail to heed any warnings about not drinking enough water and end up in the medical tent with an IV in their arm.

2. Don't do a community kitchen, at least for the first year or two. Wait until you have a handle on everything else. This will spare you from having to kill someone when they inevitably ask "Is it ready yet?".

3. Do as much work as humanly possible BEFORE you arrive on the playa. When I see people cutting raw lumber and painting on the playa, I laugh.

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diane o'thirst
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Post by diane o'thirst » Wed Oct 01, 2003 5:36 pm

This will spare you from having to kill someone when they inevitably ask "Is it ready yet?"
I deal with situations such as that thusly:
[Nosey/impatient campmate walks up] "When's it gonna be ready?"
[Chef Wolfie grabs nosey/impatient campmate by the shirt collar] "Get in here. You just volunteered."

Then again it's not hard to get volunteers when you're dealing with butter, cinnamon, saffron and chocolate ;)...the battle in that case is in keeping the kitchen populace down to two or three...
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III
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Post by III » Thu Oct 02, 2003 8:49 am

i should pointg out somewhere along here that most of these kitchen discussions involve groups of somewhere between 20 and 80 people. the problems seem to grow exponentially, and become pretty unmanageable when dealing with a cmap of 200.
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alienfry
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Post by alienfry » Fri Feb 13, 2004 10:00 am

i posed this question in another thread, but i'll do it again here because . . .

well, just becuase.

two camps, creatively autonomous, coming together to share kitchen, bath, and dance area. does this constitute a village?
awesome oppossum

precipitate
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Post by precipitate » Fri Feb 13, 2004 10:04 am

That depends. Do you want to be a village? Sharing resources doesn't
necessarily make you one. Not sharing resources doesn't necessarily
make you not one.

It seems to me that a village should have some common goal, just as a
theme camp should have some unifying thing that makes it a theme
camp.

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III
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Post by III » Fri Feb 13, 2004 11:42 am

technically, the difference between a village and a camp is now just one of size - groups of people larger than 150 are treated as villages, smaller ones are treated as camps.

you can get into other semantic debates, but those are just, uh...
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dj chai
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Post by dj chai » Tue Apr 27, 2004 9:37 pm

Lamp lighter's kitchen hosts somewhere around 150-200 people and runs very smoothly, not to be devils advocate. But with a lot of planning and lots of volunteers it does work.
III wrote:i should pointg out somewhere along here that most of these kitchen discussions involve groups of somewhere between 20 and 80 people. the problems seem to grow exponentially, and become pretty unmanageable when dealing with a cmap of 200.

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_tears_
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Post by _tears_ » Tue Apr 27, 2004 9:43 pm

dj chai wrote:Lamp lighter's kitchen hosts somewhere around 150-200 people and runs very smoothly, not to be devils advocate. But with a lot of planning and lots of volunteers it does work.
III wrote:i should pointg out somewhere along here that most of these kitchen discussions involve groups of somewhere between 20 and 80 people. the problems seem to grow exponentially, and become pretty unmanageable when dealing with a cmap of 200.

Yes the Lamp Lighters kitchen does run very well ( i stayed with them last year and i will this year ) This year we are even making it better so it runs even smoother. We do host a lot of people, and we all mgiht be a little frantic, but it always works out in the end
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Tancorix
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Post by Tancorix » Sat Jul 10, 2004 9:49 pm

Bump!

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Burp!
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Villages n stuff

Post by Burp! » Mon Jul 12, 2004 10:44 am

This will be my 2nd year, being a part of a village (Asylum). I was feeling a bit hesitent last year about joining up with a village, mostly for fear of losing, I guess my individuallity. This year will be my 8th year, so had alot experience just doing the theme camp route. Never more than 20 people (I think 15 is the magic number). I wasn't quite clear what it would be like to be apart of a much larger organization than what I was used to. Would I simply be a player in someone elses project?? But in the end I thought the experieince was great. To me it really didn't feel alot different than simply being a theme camp as before. We get to do our thing the way we would have Village or not. The real benefit, besides community, I saw was that in the past, by being a smaller theme camp, meant less visibilty or less prefeability in the eyes of the BM folks, which means placement further out than I like. Sad to say but that's how it works. I've grown accustom to being no more that 2 blocks from the esplanade. Being apart of a village affords me that luxuary and allows me and friends to continue doing things the way we like it, only now we kick in $20 to overall village community. That pays for power and random things that the village needs.

NoFlash

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stuart
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Post by stuart » Mon Jul 12, 2004 1:36 pm

by being a smaller theme camp, meant less visibilty or less prefeability in the eyes of the BM folks
not currently my experience

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