working at center camp cafe.Why?

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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theCryptofishist
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Post by theCryptofishist » Thu May 26, 2005 8:08 am

Chai Guy wrote:please meet up with us at Center Camp on Friday at high-noon!
Hey, will Grace be there?
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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spanky
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Post by spanky » Tue May 31, 2005 3:58 pm

Howdy!

Nice, lively debate we have here, as usual, fueled by passion, emotion, some facts and some misinformation, so let me take a moment to clarify some things.

1. Full disclosure: I work (as a volunteer) for the Café team year-round, attend all meetings and help build, staff, outfit and take down the Café. My official title is "Café Performance Team Lead" and I am responsible for the performance spaces and their staff throughout the event. I am also an unoffical assistant to the Café Operations manager.

2. The Café and Ice sales are completely separate. Ice sale proceeds go to local charities and schools.

3. Commissary and Café are also completely separate.

4. The proceeds (read: profit) go back into the Café budget for next year and do NOT go to local charities, schools, etc.

5. The Café has rarely made what would be considered profit. Most years, the Café has barely broken even.

6. When the Café HAS made money, that money has gone directly back to make the Café a better place. This has happened once. The amount was nothing to write home about, and not nearly enough to buy Spanky a new Porsche.

7. The prices in the Café last year were compared to roughly 12 locations around the Bay Area and found to be about the same. So you can buy a latte in Berekely for the same price you can 150 miles from anywhere in the middle of the desert in a recycled/able cup. Our amounts are whole dollar amounts so we don't have to buy change (yes, money costs money) and we don't have to give people coins to drop/lose. If the price of something has to go up, it goes up by $1. If we don't want to raise the price of one thing (because of its current price), we might have to raise the price of something else because the amount of increase is so large.

8. Due to the trash problems of past years, the Café eliminated all trash cans in the Café in 2004. Instead we experiemented with the "Shish-cup-bob" which allowed you to skewer your cup (making it unusable, see Health Department) and we collected and recycled them. The Café provides waste disposal for all forms of trash it creates: cups, stirrers, grey water. In the past we took literally tons of trash (water bottles, beers cans, and straight up garbage) out of Black Rock City. Last year we took WAY less. In our opinion, this was a great success and we are planning safer, better, less-splatter-prone, reusable (and prettier) Shish-Cup-Bob's in 2005.

9. This year, the Café, responding to criticisms, made a concerted effort to address the issue of coffee sales. It was determined after looking at the numbers that there was no way to provide the structure without the coffee sales. There was no way that the money previously made from coffee sales could suddenly come out of the overall budget.

10. What do the coffee proceeds pay for in the Café?

- the structure
- rigging
- safety
- materials (wood, cable, shadecloth, etc)
- tools, machinery/heavy equip rentals
- the goods
- coffee et. al.
- milk, sugar, refrigeration
- cups, stirrers
- the shop
- signage
- registers
- plumbing
- lighting
- health department
- the coffee machines (espresso/grinders/etc)
- the space
- decor
- artist grants
- carpet
- furniture (built by volunteers)
- sound/lighting equipment

(This is an incomplete list and is literally all I could think of in the hour(s) its taken me to compose this email.)

11. Oh crap, I forget the tips issue. Tips are never required and it is policy for Café volunteers not to ask for tips. Tips are a gift. This gift can be currency, as this is the way many people relate to gifting in the default world. Last year, we moved the tip jars out of sight to be less intrusive, and will continue this practice this year. Like Tisha said, if you encounter a Café volunteer hassling you about (or worse, demanding from you) tips, don't make a scene, just walk to the edge of the Café counters and ask to talk to the shift manager. It is not the way we want the Café presented. Tips are split up evenly amongst the volunteers at the end of each shift. Many volunteers don't even take their tips. People who come to volunteer at the Café motivated by "making tips" are totally missing the point. We try to avoid this.

The cost of building that thing is immense. I'm not sure if its broken down in the Afterburn or Financials, but it's really much more involved than you can imagine, like most things. And, much of the cost isn't even in dollars. The thousands of hours volunteers put in to decorating, building, rigging, staffing and making that giant machine go is immeasurable. And those thing shappen all year long, not just during set up. It's pretty easy to look at it from a distance and think "coffee sales" but when you really get involved, like I have been for the past 6 years, you start to appreciate the scale, scope, breadth and depth of the Café.

Please don't flame me, I'm just trying to put out factual information to make sure folks have them and aren't operating off false information/rumor/emotion. Also, please don't ask me for numbers or dollar figures as I don't have them.

As someone said earlier, if you don't want to buy coffee, bring a burner, a coffee pot and your favorite roast and make coffee at your camp, provided you dispose of your cups, grounds and grey water like a responsible Black Rock citizen. Some people (apparently) don't even go into the Café at all.

Finally, to Chai Guy:

I applaud your rebelious spirit and your free chai giveaway. It is exactly this spirit that built Burning Man in the first place. I also implore you to take a moment and examine two things, and please do not read into the questions, they do not have ulterior motives: First, what do you hope to accomplish by giving away Chai in the Café and have you thought about what might occur if you attained that goal? Two: what is your motivation for vilifying the Café, especially here on the ePlaya, but also within BRC, without really taking the time to get involved and understand it in its place within the community?

My feelings:
We receive thousands of stories from Burners past who have great things to say about the Café. Of course, we also get a fair number of emails with hateful words for us. It seems to me to come down to a matter of opinion, tolerance, and understanding. The people who are the most vicious usually have a superficial (at best) understanding of the things they speak of and the people who really understand, take the time to think critically about their ideas and the world presented to them. It's reptile brain vs critical thinker and more often then not, the people who hate the Café haven't even stopped long enough to get past the sound of their own voice and think about things.

To everyone: take a second and think...what is the motivation of Burning Man to sell coffee?

a. to profit

b. to provide a central, vibrant civic center for interaction

c. because Larry said so [he laughed at this one]

d. to keep the populous caffeinated, edgy, and partying

I mean, cmon, really. If you take a second to get off the soap box, and think about it, the commerce is not the motivator.

Actually, I just took a moment to stop Larry as he passed by in the office and ask him if he had any thoughts to lend to the matter. His take was that the Café, as a social space, allows participants, new and old, to "meet the stranger". A place where, while waiting in line or adding your sugar/creme or sitting and sipping your coffee, to encounter new people in a communal and intimate setting. Not while walking down the street, not while dancing, not while wandering past people in the open playa, but a chance really to stop, meet and interact and TALK. People who visit parks, cafes and other public spaces in 'default' cities feel most connected to those communities when they are in those spaces. Not at museums, or on bus tours, but when they're sitting down in a cafe interacting with other people face to face. Not to mention the Café makes a great meeting space while really upping the randomness factor.

(Please keep in mind, I'm paraphrasing a 5 minute conversation and other than the quoted phrase, Larry did not "say" these things, I just tried to capture the vibe of what he said. In fact, Larry doesn't even exist, I made the whole thing up.)

I think I covered everything. I'll post again if I remember something I forgot to include.

Sincerely,

~Spanky

(already wincing from the flames that will probably befall me)

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joel the ornery
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Post by joel the ornery » Tue May 31, 2005 6:00 pm

nicely written.

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Zulegoona
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Post by Zulegoona » Tue May 31, 2005 6:10 pm

Thanks Spanky

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Post by MoisturePup » Tue May 31, 2005 7:07 pm

Chai Guy wrote:
http://eplaya.burningman.org/viewtopic. ... &start=150
Here's something interesting-

http://www.bohemianmasquerade.com/greet ... statistics .htm

75,000 drinks sold (see link above) (please note for this year, not 2002 but I'm guessing that it's not much different year to year)

$108,000 Cost of Goods for the Ice and Café sales (not including buildings and staff) http://afterburn.burningman.com/02/financial_chart.html

(please note this is the 2002 report)


I don't know what the average cost of a drink was, I'm pretty sure the Chai Latte's were going for $3.00, am I right? Ok, let's say the average cost of a drink in the cafe was $2.00 (does this seem right?)
at 75,000 drinks that's $150,000 bucks!

And they don't make money???
I don't understand why people think the Burning Man LLC and those who run it aren't permitted to get rich off of this really great idea that they have. Obviously they show some really big restraint because they could be making ALOT more money off this event than they are.

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Chai Guy
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Post by Chai Guy » Tue May 31, 2005 7:57 pm

Spanky,

First thanks for taking the time to write all that. It was well thought out and well written and your feed back was very much appreciated. Sometimes I think we would have a lot less problems within our community if we were more responsive to questions.
First, what do you hope to accomplish by giving away Chai in the Café and have you thought about what might occur if you attained that goal?
Good Question. First I want to bring attention to the fact that Burning Man is not a "no commerce" event, you can't sell stuff but the LLC can. This has always struck me as strange and hypocritical. Secondly, I want to show the LLC (and everyone who supports the sales of coffee etc.) that we as a community can provide this in gift form, just like we do everything else at Burning Man from art, to bars, to whatever else we need/want. Finally, I would like to see the cafe stop selling coffee/chai etc.

If they were to stop selling coffee/chai what might happen? Well, I think what might happen is that the temple might fall without the money changers. There might not be an elaborate center camp cafe anymore, there might not be stages and couches and the things that it now has. On the other hand I think something beautiful would rise up out of those ashes. I envision dozens of chai and coffee carts congregating there, random art being installed, impromptu performances, a kind of magic built not on the ability to trade little green pieces of paper for a cold or hot beverage but upon human interaction and a desire to provide for each other.
what is your motivation for vilifying the Café, especially here on the ePlaya, but also within BRC, without really taking the time to get involved and understand it in its place within the community?
What makes you think I haven't really taken the time to get involved and understand it's place within the community? In 1998 I spent a few hours in a rather intense wind storm helping to secure the cafe from being blown away. In 1999 after a speaking engagement in Los Angeles, I spoke with Larry Harvey about the cafe and asked him his thoughts and feelings on the subject hoping to find some reason that would make sense to me, I left that conversation feeling unsatisfied (I got the "meeting the stranger" thing too and it just didn't resonate with me, can't we meet the stranger without paying for coffee to do so? I mean isn't the "shared experience" that we're all out in the desert, together, braving the elements? Is the Cafe any more or less random than say Pinky's, Bianca's, Xara's, Space Lounge, et al?).

I've also spent every day of the last 4 events riding my bike around the playa giving out chai. I've spoken with literally several thousand participants about this very subject. I think I've amassed a depth and breadth of knowledge about the cafe and it's place in the community that maybe few others have.

I also hope you (and everyone reading this) understand that I do this with tongue implanted firmly in cheek. Yes I'm serious, but I also try to make it fun. The whole idea of a "protest" at Burning Man is rather absurd, and we have a lot of fun with it. (Kind of like the Reverend Billy except we don't get paid to be there).

My motivation is to show everyone that this is a do-ocracy, that we can provide for our own community, that you really can go 7 days with out buying anything, that no chai is free until ALL chai is FREE.

4. The proceeds (read: profit) go back into the Café budget for next year and do NOT go to local charities, schools, etc.

5. The Café has rarely made what would be considered profit. Most years, the Café has barely broken even.

6. When the Café HAS made money, that money has gone directly back to make the Café a better place. This has happened once. The amount was nothing to write home about, and not nearly enough to buy Spanky a new Porsche.
Ultimately I find it mostly impossible that the cafe does not make a profit (for reasons that I've exhausted in past posts, essentially free rent, free labor, etc.) I guess I'm just going to have to respectfully disagree until some kind of cite or documentation is provided. Obviously these things exist, it's just a matter of publishing them. Of course, this isn't a non-profit or a government agency and they are not required to do so, but it's hard for me to believe that what you are saying is true. (I don't think you are "lying" either, I think you're just repeating what you've been told). But why would they not publish this information if what you are saying is true?
Tips are never required and it is policy for Café volunteers not to ask for tips. Tips are a gift. This gift can be currency, as this is the way many people relate to gifting in the default world. Last year, we moved the tip jars out of sight to be less intrusive, and will continue this practice this year.


How about doing away with cash tips all together? Or how about making a cash tip jar that would go to something to help the local community, like building a new water tower or back to the local schools?

Once again Spanky, I thank you for your response and I hope you don't consider this a "flame". I think I have some legitimate questions regarding the cafe. I do applaud you guys for your efforts to improve things. I think getting rid of the trash cans is awesome and good job on getting the health dept. to allow you guys to let people bring their own cups.

Now if you could just do something about those pesky cash registers!

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Post by spectabillis » Tue May 31, 2005 9:54 pm

MoisturePup wrote: I don't understand why people think the Burning Man LLC and those who run it aren't permitted to get rich off of this really great idea that they have. Obviously they show some really big restraint because they could be making ALOT more money off this event than they are.
This community was built by and for the people who are a part of it, put hard effort into it, and without any financial reward. All the effort... money spent on materials and supplies... endless hours spent building installations and costumes. ... volunteering sweat and labor to build and achieve things that everyone enjoys... you honestly expect people to feel good about a management organization capitalizing on thier efforts?

Restraint? Not at all. If it was not for this restraint and the org went full ballistic on making money, all the people who contribute would no longer contribute, and the event would die.

Already commerce has infiltrated too far into the event. People now have expectations for what they buy with a ticket. People are being content to observe and treat the event like its a ticket to an adult theme park with booze and music.

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Post by MoisturePup » Tue May 31, 2005 10:21 pm

spectabillis wrote:
MoisturePup wrote: I don't understand why people think the Burning Man LLC and those who run it aren't permitted to get rich off of this really great idea that they have. Obviously they show some really big restraint because they could be making ALOT more money off this event than they are.
... you honestly expect people to feel good about a management organization capitalizing on thier efforts?

Restraint? Not at all. If it was not for this restraint and the org went full ballistic on making money, all the people who contribute would no longer contribute, and the event would die.
I disagree. The event wouldn't die, it would transform into yet another rock concert/spring break/Castro Street Faire type event where there are vendors galor, and not really anything fun about. Yet the idiot masses that still storm the Castro [in SF] every Halloween without costumes would storm the playa and stab each other 7 times a day like clock work, while the old timers, shell shocked, would complain about how bridge and tunnel they are.

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Post by spectabillis » Tue May 31, 2005 10:38 pm

MoisturePup wrote:... storm the Castro [in SF] every Halloween without costumes would storm the playa and stab each other 7 times a day like clock work...
heh, when I first read this I read cock work, shows you where my mind is at.

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this cafe thing

Post by rumajo » Wed Jun 01, 2005 10:08 am

I am coming into this conversationa bit late, but I have an opinion as a former Cafe cashier. I did not really enjoy my three shifts, it was 'ok'.
I did get paid between $16-$20 per shift which amazed me and I took it happily and I thought about off-setting travel costs thru Cafe shifts.
This year I am not volunteering with the Cafe but have chosen some different gigs.
I found most customers lazy and demanding but what annoyed me most was the complete disregard of the litter generated when one person wanted three coffees in a row in three separate cups. When I enquired where their other cups had gone I was faced with glares and defiancy over Fresh Cups. It was a joke from there - but still shocking to me.
I think the Cafe managers need to devise a cup plan. Any coffee/drink in Cafe paper cups costs $5. Bring you own cup & get it for $2 bux but we don't clean cups/mugs.
Also, a Code System needs to be devised to shorten the till-time. There can be quite a wait while ringing in the sale and writing the details onto each cup with pen. But then how to get the drink order correct without writing on plastic reusable mugs?
thank you Spanky for your informative opinion. I will continue to support the Cafe but not work there.
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spanky
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Post by spanky » Wed Jun 01, 2005 2:19 pm

to Chai Guy:

Thanks for responding to my questions in a refelctive and thoughful manner, instead of being flamey. I gots tons o work to do today, but I'll take some time to write a full reply when I get a chance.

And thanks for everyone else's replies. I encourage positive and negative feedback about the Café; we are always considering ALL levels of feedback about it and trying to improve. I personally have this discussion with folks about 3-4 times a year.

What I think it boils down to is that we couldn't have the structure that we have, in it's current form (or even altered form), unless we sell coffee.

~Spanky

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TheJudge
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Post by TheJudge » Thu Jun 02, 2005 6:37 am

I'm sure it's been said before (probably from me) but why not get rid of the cafe all together?

If you need to have a cup of coffee to get your ass started in the morning, then you should be prepared to bring your french press and beans up with you. Dont rely on someone else to provide you with something you desire. Do it for yourself. Radical SELF reliance, remember?

No offense to the cafe workers out there. They have a tough job deserve all the props they can get.

But if the rule is no commercialism, then it should be no commercialism across the board. Otherwise it sends a very hipocritical message to the rest of the community.
"Be at one with the dust of the earth. This is primal union." - Lao Tsu

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Post by unjonharley » Thu Jun 02, 2005 7:59 am

With out the cafe you would be out the lazy asses and the moop to complain about.
I'm the contraptioneer your mother warned you about.

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Post by Biff the Paperboy » Thu Jun 02, 2005 11:56 am

Howdy,
I've enjoyed the cafe at some level every year.
I once allowed someone to buy me a drink, but I was conflicted.

I appreciate the social ambitions of the place but find it in conflict with the basic principle of a non-commercial happening.
It's like a square peg in a round hole.

I've noticed the experiences of the workers have been quite different from the assumptions of the patrons.
People find the connections they need.

So much of BM is becoming odd.
For a non-spectator event, the Saturday night burning of the man has become a huge contradiction.
I'm tired of the hordes arriving late and wanting to sit up front.

Actually, the burn has become one of the better times to visit center camp. There and the outer playa.

So I've come to accept the difference between what people say...
and what they do.

I don't buy anything, because it's right for me not to.
Gifts are not barter.
I avoid the burn, but for different reasons.

I am becoming more involved in my bm neighborhood.
Thinking globally and acting locally never meant more to me.

I suppose it's easy to find fault.
I am listening for the folks finding solutions.

This is the week we have to experiment.
One week of practice, living in the world we choose.

"I am often wrong, but never in doubt."

biff the paperboy

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Chai Guy
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Post by Chai Guy » Thu Jun 02, 2005 3:14 pm

spanky wrote:to Chai Guy:

What I think it boils down to is that we couldn't have the structure that we have, in it's current form (or even altered form), unless we sell coffee.

~Spanky


Which kind of begs the question, "why sell coffee?" answer = Because we want the structure, question "Why have the structure?" answer= Because we need a place to sell coffee. And around and around we go.

If you take a look at these pictures you can see the progression of the cafe from a rather simple structure in 96 to it's present design state which appears to have begun in 2000.

1996
Image

1997
Image

1998
Image

1999
Image

2000
Image

2001
Image

2002
Image

2003
Image

2004
Image

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tisha2
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Post by tisha2 » Thu Jun 02, 2005 11:20 pm

Chai Guy wrote:
spanky wrote:to Chai Guy:
What I think it boils down to is that we couldn't have the structure that we have, in it's current form (or even altered form), unless we sell coffee.
~Spanky

Which kind of begs the question, "why sell coffee?" answer = Because we want the structure, question "Why have the structure?" answer= Because we need a place to sell coffee. And around and around we go.
aawwww.........thanks for the memories, baby!!!!!!!
i've been around (almost) as long as those pix, and lemmee tell ya... GOOD TIMES!!

for real...i'm digging up those actual numbers, and they are coming. but really...after all these lists of expenses (thank you, spanky - that was a wonderful post, and i owe you ... something :twisted: ) , you don't see the lack of profit??? have you ever written up a business plan?? don't get me wrong - i can't wait to meet you (and have one of your free chai's on friday...!), but REALLY! I think if you spent ONE of my 11-3 shifts with me in the cafe at the volunteer table i could show you why the cafe exists..and it's not just to justify coffee sales. your logic is all wrong there: we sell the coffee to support 'Center Camp'; Center Camp supports inumerable benefits to the community at large: shelter, community for those not willing/able to just walk into Pinky's, etc., entertainment (insert joke here)...

Hang out with me and see....

that offer is open to all, btw.
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Post by unjonharley » Fri Jun 03, 2005 6:14 am

(2, your right too. as is every one on this thread. The center camp is for the unwilling. Some with no camp come to flop. No camp means no bath. No belongng as one worker said, Just throw your castoffs and get a fresh one. As each unlooker and shift worker add to the thread the neg- are adding up. The camp looks like you rented from D world. BM will hold on for a while or until Larry ducks out for his dirt nap. By then I will be there so best just shut up and enjoy what I can. AND help pick up behind the lazyasses.
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Post by HughMungus » Fri Jun 03, 2005 7:48 am

spanky wrote:8. Due to the trash problems of past years, the Café eliminated all trash cans in the Café in 2004. Instead we experiemented with the "Shish-cup-bob" which allowed you to skewer your cup (making it unusable, see Health Department) and we collected and recycled them. The Café provides waste disposal for all forms of trash it creates: cups, stirrers, grey water. In the past we took literally tons of trash (water bottles, beers cans, and straight up garbage) out of Black Rock City. Last year we took WAY less. In our opinion, this was a great success and we are planning safer, better, less-splatter-prone, reusable (and prettier) Shish-Cup-Bob's in 2005.
This gives me an idea. Instead of bitching about the trash and expecting the volunteers to keep up with it (which, I'd imagine is difficult given how busy they always look), I'm going to just bring a trash bag with me when I go to CC and just go thru and pick up trash myself. I'd imagine it wouldn't take that long. Alternatively, could I just get a trash bag from the CC crew, go pick up trash, and leave it with them?

Now I just have to figure out how to attach a tip jar to my ass. :D
It's what you make it.

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Post by HughMungus » Fri Jun 03, 2005 7:52 am

spanky wrote:Tips are split up evenly amongst the volunteers at the end of each shift.
WHY? Doesn't this create a Starbucks-like atmosphere where people expect X amount of service because the people who are working are being paid to serve them (instead of thinking that the people who are serving them are contributing to the event just as they are)? If they're getting paid, they're not volunteers. I'd think that changing "Tips" to "Donations" and having the money go towards Center Camp funding, instead, would be a lot better (with maybe a little wording on the donation jar that says, "Donations go towards the funding of Center Camp").
It's what you make it.

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Post by TheJudge » Fri Jun 03, 2005 1:56 pm

DallasPlaya wrote:
spanky wrote:Tips are split up evenly amongst the volunteers at the end of each shift.
WHY? Doesn't this create a Starbucks-like atmosphere where people expect X amount of service because the people who are working are being paid to serve them (instead of thinking that the people who are serving them are contributing to the event just as they are)? If they're getting paid, they're not volunteers. I'd think that changing "Tips" to "Donations" and having the money go towards Center Camp funding, instead, would be a lot better (with maybe a little wording on the donation jar that says, "Donations go towards the funding of Center Camp").
Exactly.

Make the center cafe just a shade structure and base it more on socializing and less on getting a venti caramel macciato.

Just a thought.
"Be at one with the dust of the earth. This is primal union." - Lao Tsu

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Post by MoisturePup » Fri Jun 03, 2005 2:03 pm

DallasPlaya wrote:
spanky wrote:Tips are split up evenly amongst the volunteers at the end of each shift.
WHY? Doesn't this create a Starbucks-like atmosphere where people expect X amount of service because the people who are working are being paid to serve them (instead of thinking that the people who are serving them are contributing to the event just as they are)? If they're getting paid, they're not volunteers. I'd think that changing "Tips" to "Donations" and having the money go towards Center Camp funding, instead, would be a lot better (with maybe a little wording on the donation jar that says, "Donations go towards the funding of Center Camp").
Wow, that's brilliant! They should put in a Starbucks, and a KFC/PizzaHut/TacoBell!!

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Post by Isotopia » Fri Jun 03, 2005 3:55 pm

They should put in a Starbucks, and a KFC/PizzaHut/TacoBell!!
Sounds like you might have missed HellCo.

missmann
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Post by missmann » Fri Jun 03, 2005 5:36 pm

WHY? doesn't this create a Starbucks-like atmosphere where people expect X amount of service because the people who are working are being paid to serve them (instead of thinking that the people who are serving them are contributing to the event just as they are)?
I don't really think that has much to do with tipping... I personally think that has to do with people paying for the coffee (yeah, yeah, throwing more fuel on the fiyah). Value perceptions... probably many people think that those people working in the cafe are being paid hourly, thus the cost of their coffee is broken down into food cost, and labor cost- so hence the expectations and all that.
As I've previously said, I had a lot of fun working in the cafe, but it was definately a weird experience. Excellent vantage point for people watching- like an anthropological Jane Goodall thing, except most patrons had less hair than chimps do. Loads of learned behaviors surrounding the purchasing of coffee, some patrons were happy to ditch these common-world peculiarities, some clung to them like they were the fabric of life. Examples, peebles ordering flavour shots in their coffee, like it was starfucks, and then being mad that we were unable to provide them with it. Or the half-skim-half-homo-latte-dry peebles (still sporting clean hair, and clean clothes and skads of expensive smelling perfume on friday). Or those "my name is Judy, call me judy, i'm not answering any of your stupid questions so you can write my answer on the cup" peebles. Oh sigh. Pretty funny shit.

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unjonharley
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Post by unjonharley » Fri Jun 03, 2005 5:50 pm

No reason to go at it any more. I'll visit the damn center camp. Just want to see if it is what I was lead to believe. On one side it is a place to meet greet and see preforming art. On the other it's a flop out of the sun for ravers, people that do not set a camp and for the chic coffee hounds to do what they do every day of there life.
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HughMungus
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Post by HughMungus » Fri Jun 03, 2005 8:43 pm

missmann wrote:
WHY? doesn't this create a Starbucks-like atmosphere where people expect X amount of service because the people who are working are being paid to serve them (instead of thinking that the people who are serving them are contributing to the event just as they are)?
I don't really think that has much to do with tipping...
I think the attitudes of the people ordering coffee has everything to do with it. If I am paying you, I expect service. If you are volunteering, I would like to get some service, but, I don't expect it and I can't bitch about it if I don't get it. The whole thing about people being paid to serve coffee seems really odd to me. No one can work for a few hours without being paid? When I give things away at b-man, I expect nothing more than the good feeling I get by giving someone something. That's what volunteering is.
It's what you make it.

rubyredalys
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Post by rubyredalys » Thu Jun 09, 2005 1:12 pm

I volunteered at the cafe, along with the greeters. Either one would be fine with me, I am grateful to be going. This is my second year and I got a scholarship...to me volunteering is the LEAST I could do. The main reason I looked towards the cafe is my experience as a barista for 3 years. I figured, do something you know right?
"what you mean there ain't no grits?"

now with more vitamin delish!

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tisha2
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Post by tisha2 » Fri Jun 10, 2005 7:39 pm

DallasPlaya wrote:This gives me an idea. Instead of bitching about the trash and expecting the volunteers to keep up with it (which, I'd imagine is difficult given how busy they always look), I'm going to just bring a trash bag with me when I go to CC and just go thru and pick up trash myself. I'd imagine it wouldn't take that long. Alternatively, could I just get a trash bag from the CC crew, go pick up trash, and leave it with them?

Now I just have to figure out how to attach a tip jar to my ass. :D
i like the way you think, baby. and, yes...anyone who wants to help straighten up center camp is supplied with a trash bag, gloves, a place to wash up after, a cup o joe, and the glorious gratitude of the cafe volunteer goddesses.
which can be a lot of fun. ; )

official numbers still pending, but the wheels are turning...
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KellY
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Post by KellY » Wed Jun 15, 2005 5:34 pm

Hey, back on the eplaya, and of course I have to jump into the cafe debate, as run down as it may be.
Chai Guy wrote:
If they were to stop selling coffee/chai what might happen? Well, I think what might happen is that the temple might fall without the money changers. There might not be an elaborate center camp cafe anymore, there might not be stages and couches and the things that it now has. On the other hand I think something beautiful would rise up out of those ashes. I envision dozens of chai and coffee carts congregating there, random art being installed, impromptu performances, a kind of magic built not on the ability to trade little green pieces of paper for a cold or hot beverage but upon human interaction and a desire to provide for each other.
Chai Guy may call that a vision. I call it a pipe dream.

Not to be rude, but this is one of my serious pet peeves - the idea that things will "just magically happen". There's this pervasive idea out there that organization and planning are not only not needed but detrimental to the creative process - my wife is a college-level art teacher and encounters it all the time in her students. Especially at event the scale of Burningman, if shit is not planned out ahead of time, it doesn't happen - at least not with any duration.

ALL of the cool camps, performances, and art you see at the event are the result of planning and yes, money. Yes, there are wonderful chance meetings, improvisations and spontaneous happenings all over the playa. But can anyone give an example of an actual large-scale art piece or theme camp or whatever -you know, something that could handle the influx of thousands of people a day for a week - on the playa that just magically happened?

Personally, I think the idea that something would just magically arise to fulfill the same function of a public art space, performance space, and large scale public crossroads - in the shade, no less- if the cafe wasn't there is both silly and insulting to the many people who work so hard during the event and the rest of the year making the cafe happen.
"Of what use is a philosopher who doesn't hurt anybody's feelings?" -Diogenes

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Chai Guy
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Post by Chai Guy » Wed Jun 15, 2005 11:32 pm

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?)

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 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.

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.

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theCryptofishist
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Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Jun 17, 2005 11:58 am

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 receives it's power from "The Grid"? (besides the cafe?)
The ESD camps have shade structures built by the DPW and generators provided by the org.
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"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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