Many thanks to everyone who sent comments to feedback(at)burningman(dot)com! We have received over 100 responses from participants. The Board Members, Senior Staff, various other production staff members and volunteers have read these emails and forwarded many to the appropriate Departments. We are in the planning stages for 2005 and are considering the great suggestions.
Because of the overwhelming number of responses, we cannot reply directly to everyone. Depending on the nature of the feedback, some participants may receive a direct response. Because, many comments touched upon similar issues, we are able to address these issues generally below.
Many folks commented on the DMV registration process and related safety issues. First, the organization would like to apologize for any inconvenience that participants experienced this year. Second, please rest assured that the DMV registration process will begin earlier and the DMV department will be modified to reflect the needs of the mutant vehicle community and all other participants in 2005.
Acculturation of Newcomers
Yes, there were a large number of newcomers in 2004. As a result the event experienced some serious challenges, such as trash in the porta-potties, and some reported a dilution of the sense of community experienced by seasoned Burners. Some people perceived less evidence of unique self-expression, such as large scale art and costumes. We are in the process of discussing the numerous solutions that many of you proposed. We are considering many changes in an attempt to acculturate newcomers in 2005 and we will be asking for your support. In the meantime it is important to remember that we were all newcomers to Black Rock City once. It takes time to learn how to be a responsible participant at Burning Man. If many of this year’s newcomers return in 2005, they will come as veterans with a year’s worth of planning and inspiration under their belts.
Several participants perceived less art on the playa this year. Inclement weather prevented some artists from completing their work and there were a few no-shows. Burning Man has already begun to address this issue. A proposal for more funding by our organization is in the works for 2005. Stay tuned.
Fall Town Meeting
It is our feeling that the annual Fall Town Meeting is no longer meeting its intended purpose. Accordingly, we received several emails with suggestions on how to reinvent this forum. Before discussing this further, a background of this meeting is given below.
Initially in 1997, Burning Man created the Fall Town Meeting to address some heavy issues that the organization was facing. In 1998 the same forum was used as a very successful way of exchanging ideas and recruiting volunteers. Out of it, the Spring Town meeting was created as a volunteer recruitment event and the fall Town Meeting was reserved for discussion and feedback. The Spring meeting has flourished, but the Fall meeting has served only a smaller group of Bay Area participants.
Burning Man staff decided it was time to reexamine the purpose and format of the Fall Town Meeting. The following issues surfaced:
- The core Burning Man community is no longer restricted to the Bay Area; but rather, is global.
- Many of the same basic questions and concerns are raised at the Fall Town Meeting repeatedly every year, so it yields little in the way of new information.
In order to address these issues, we solicited feedback from participants. After reviewing the suggestions, we have decided that the Fall Town Meeting is no longer automatically warranted each year. The need for this meeting will be evaluated on an annual basis. Should the meeting be held, it will be done in a way to involve the community as broadly as possible. This could likely include pre-event outreach as to the purpose, and a webcast or teleconference for remote participation.
In lieu of the meeting, the Burning Man organization has set up several feedback mechanisms for all participants to utilize in expressing ideas and feedback. The first of these is the feedback(at)burningman(dot)com email. This year the feedback email address remained active until December 31, 2004. Next year the feedback email will go live immediately after Burning Man 2005, and stay active through December 1, 2005.
Additionally, next year there will be a “Feedback on 2005″ topic on the Eplaya (Burning Man’s BBS) where participants can not only provide feedback, but also, have a dialogue with staff and other participants.
Furthermore, Burning Man staff members are interested in meeting with participants and hearing their thoughts in person during their increasing number of trips to meet with Regional groups year round. We are currently working with Regional groups and will continue to do so to set up meetings with participants when Board or Senior Staff members travel. If you would like to find out more about our regional groups please visit http://regionals.burningman.com.