AH --- Top of the Morning to you ePlaya People --- Headmaster Janus here.
What an interesting conversation this has become. I have actually gone through and read this entire blog now a couple of times, really pondering all comments and believe that we, collectively, are all one thing: passionate about what we believe Burning Man IS and SHOULD be. And the conversation, interestingly enough is really being carried by less than 20 or so people, so I'm encouraged that ePlaya as a forum for discussion is not significant enough of an opinion poll to rely on it: a few loud voices and harsh words don't define the ethos of an entire community. But, like my good friend told me long ago, "The Spouting Whale gets the harpoon." And boy, did I feel that I got harpooned yesterday.
I want to say it's not personal, but the truth is - it is. That a choice I made when I opened myself up to representing what I consider to be an evolving model of how people are camping at Burning Man. I'm not here to say that model is right or the only way. I'm here to discuss it, add perspective, and seek solution. And while each of you hold Burning Man dearly in your hearts and minds, it's very important to realize this --- that IS our common ground --- a love for Burning Man and what is means in our lives.
When I read about "intent" and "clients" and "VIP" and these things --- It's frustrating because that's not what PlayaSkool is. If you were to gather 200 of your close circle of friends and go to Burning Man, you would divide responsibilities, pool resources, maybe look to have a couple of cool projects, build, cook --- maybe you might register your camp, maybe not. Maybe you would have people in your camp skilled and capable and able to do special services like driving heavy equipment, maybe not. Maybe some of the 200 could only be there for 72 hours because they are an Emergency Room MD working in London who just came off a 3 day shift, will go back to a 3 day shift, but chooses to connect with their family, even if it's just or a few days --- maybe not. But you certainly wouldn't have 200 homogenous people --- you would have 200 people with varied intent and circumstance. That's what we have. We aren't profiting. We aren't trying to shred the fabric of Burning Man. It's quite the opposite. But that's just PlayaSkool --- imperfect, flawed but very committed to getting it right.
There are other models of Plug and Play that are out there. Let me state for the record: I believe there is a place at Burning Man for Plug and Play.
I need to address the person who is part of the private PlayaSkool Facebook page, which is supposed to be for members of PlayaSkool. While I think it's wrong of you to take the private conversations I have with my PlayaSkool family, I will atone and describe the circumstance.
Yes, I expressed my frustration with ePlaya Blog yesterday on a private, closed-group Facebook post where I pointed out Andy Tannenhill and Kimberly Morbito and said they were lounging in South America while I was scrapping by. First of all, let me say for the record that I don't know Andy of Kimberly. I just met them while filming the Plug and Play video. In that short time period, I found them both to be wonderful people, intelligent, committed, open and most of all TRUE to what they believe. At the time we met and were discussing our camps, I was very open that I represent a form of plug and play through a new camp called PlayaSkool. They spoke of their experience with Plug and Play but didn't not disclose the name of their camp or their client. It was a mystery shrouded in conversation but with hints that "tickets were NO problem to get for their 'client'" and "money was no object" --- after the meeting I was talking to a friend of mine at the BMHQ and even asked her, "So who is their client?" --- I thought for sure it was Mark Zuckerberg or Sergei from Google or some high-flying Silicon Valley guy who wants to bring all his friends to the Playa and introduce them to Burning Man.
I was genuinely surprised yesterday when I found out that the client for Table Nektars Plug and Play camp that is featured in this video is Burning Man Project's Board Member and owner of the Joie de Vivre hotel chain, Chip Conley. The video that is post on here shows the camp.
So for me yesterday --- I was fielding all sorts of comments --- trying to lend perspective to something that I think is important: Plug and Play. But when I discovered that the other model of Plug and Play shown was a Burning Man Board Member's own camp! I was really upset that I wasn't told this but rather had to find out on my own --- and I post on our private Facebook page that here I was explaining PlayaSkool when Andy and Kimberly are vacationing in South America for a couple of months. That's not fair to Andy and Kimberly so I extend my apology.
NOW --- let's tackle Burning Man Board Member Chip Conley's Plug and Play camp. Here's what I think: GOOD FOR CHIP!!!! And where was my invite?!
Here is a guy that regularly GIVES in every aspect of his life and in a BIG way. For his 50th Birthday he wanted to bring a group of his closest friends and family to Burning Man and introduce them to it. I really don't give a HOOT if he decides to do that with RV's and caterers and setup crews and everything else that goes into HIS choice to share with the people closest to him something that is hear and dear to his heart. GO CHIP GO! How can't you knock his intent or that of his campers?
Here's one for you: what's the intent of the LLC or the Not-for-Profit when one of their Board members hosts a Plug & Play camp? I call it: EVOLUTION. Or better yet: FERTILITY 2.0. ---- you can't hold back the tides of change.
But if you want to squelch the Plug and Play camps then there are two policies that would certainly slow it down:
1. NO vendors allowed at Burning Man. Period.
This extends to vendors that bring in large cranes to lift the top of the Temple to go on it. This extends to vendors that bring large flat-bed trucks to carry giant Cherry Branches made of metal out to the Playa. This extends to water trucks delivering water. This extends to any and all heavy equipment that is brought in AT ALL.
2. NO RV's, Trailers, Fifth-Wheels, Sleeping Vans, or any other form of Vehicular Shelter allowed.
That would slow things down. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE --- the evolution of Burning Man would STILL take place.
Some people believe that these vendor services should be taxed in some way. But again, I'm sure Chip Conley or any other Plug and Play camp will find a way to pay for that tax and you would STILL be battling over "intent" and the other issues highlighted in this conversation.
The reality is this: Plug and Play is here to stay. Like Andie Grace said, and I paraphrase, if you push back the tide, it will just emerge underground somehow. And it will.
Who are we to judge what is right or wrong in the course of a self-made week? When did we become exclusive?
I'm personally frustrated by a lot of the 10 Principles talk. For me, they are guide posts, not dogma. They form a moral ground and frame how we should play in the creative sandbox. But Burning Man and the 10 Principles is NOT some sort of religion. I don't even remember the 10 Principles back before 2000! And it's VERY difficult to live each and every one of them in all moments. I try --- We try --- but I'm not going to frustrate myself with trying to be perfect based on these things. I broke free from my Catholic guilt and the dogma of that cult NOT to trade it for some other. Free Will. Gratitude. Golden Rule. Green Rule. Peace. Seek to Understand before Being Understood. Family. Love. Empathy. ---- these are better than Radical Self Reliance, Decommodification, or some of the others.
So yes --- I'm for Plug and Play. I believe it's here to stay. I think if it's about "intent" it's something you just can't "police" because it's nearly impossible to know what someone's "intent" is with any certainty and it's wrong to place judgement on that intent in a world of inclusion.
Do I hear your voices and what you are saying? Absolutely, very much so. Do I think that catered camps are the bane of Burning Man's existence. NO. Do I condone spectator tours of Burning Man. ABSOLUTELY NOT. But do I consider EITHER of the examples shown in this Plug and Play discussion as a mere spectator venue --- NOPE.
You want me to hear you --- but are you truly listening as well with an open mind and in a supporting way? If you seek to find a solution to the question: is there a place in Burning Man for Plug & Play camps and how do we deal with the fact that they are here? Then I suggest spending MORE time on topic and LESS time attacking one another.
I'm not a perfect person. I don't profess to be. I'm just a guy, a Burner, trying to make sense of the evolution of something that has transformed my life for the better. And I want to share that with the people I care about the most so they too have that choice. I celebrate PlayaSkool, Table Nektar and the rest of those people dedicated to Fertility 2.0 ---