The Places We’ll Go

We’ve gone viral!
Teddy Saunder’s beautiful Dr. Seuss video is the first Burning Man media to truly catch fire. With 800,000 views in just over 3 days, it has been on BoingBoing, The Huffington Post, and the front page of Reddit.
It is gorgeous, well done, and makes Burning Man look AWESOME.
So…are we screwed?
With ticket fears rampant, will our community be able to handle the flood of virgins drawn in by a dust-free depiction of whimsy, smiles and sunshine?
I was asked directly in my podcast this week and share my rambling answer (plus my plan to sell tickets for $1,000,000) here:


**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **

What did you think about “Oh the Places They’ll Go?”
What do you think this surge of awareness means for the future of Burning Man?

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn

Halcyon is a 17-year Burning Man participant and founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site CockyBastard.com & his "Love On Demand" video podcast HugNation.com. He hosted the defunct NBC.com web series "Fears. Regrets. Desires." and frequently speaks about Gratitude & Gifting. In 2010, Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and the idea of "Service Without Sacrifice." You can find his digital home at www.JohnStyn.com.

49 thoughts on “The Places We’ll Go

  • Burning man has become a necessary part of my journey towards wholeness. I cannot NOT go to Burning Man.The people their engegy, their love for life is contagious and I hope to rub against them from time to time. They are the most beautiful people in the world

    Report comment

  • I’m of the belief that everyone should experience the full week of Burning Man. I doubt there’s a soul on this Earth that wouldn’t come away with at least a little extra enlightenment. To that end, I feel that the extra exposure is fantastic.

    But…

    With all these ticket worries, what happens if demand for access to Burning Man far outstrips the organisation and volunteer’s ability to sustain it? Multiple Burns on the Playa each year? Separate but simultaneous Burns? Strict ticket rationing that leaves people out but maintains the Burn’s current atmosphere?

    Report comment

  • I am a BM-virgin, but I got my ticket before this video came out. Even though I have had internet for 15 years, I still got interested by word of mouth. Five years ago I already wanted to go, and now, finally, I get to go.
    I know I won’t bring tradition or mores, but I sure as hell will bring open mindedness and thankfulness. It’s everybody’s first time some time, and did you really think the potential target of Burning Man doesn’t exceed 50.000? I’d say at least 1 billion people would go if they had the chance! And changing the 50.000 who do every year doesn’t change the quality of the experience – at least not if they see it like me ;)
    See you on the playa!

    S., The Netherlands.

    Report comment

  • Its a tough call. I think the attention is amazing, however I think the video also goes beyond burning man. Personally “oh the places you’ll go” has always been a story dear to me and always found me when I hit a slump. This rendition I think reminds us that there is whimsy still in the world by using burning man as a great case study.

    When it comes to tickets, we’ll that’s an interesting argument that leads to the greater question of where and how does the burning evolve? And if burning man is an experience open to those who seek it the mission gets hazy with occupancy caps. In the same light burning man isn’t burning man without the people who’ve gone before and continue to make it their ritual. It would appear, after last years record and how quickly this video is going viral, that we may be on the dawn of another evolution for the man.

    Report comment

  • I agree with everything you said about new people experiencing burning man is a good thing. Two things I don’t agree on, the lottery system and your “million dollar” idea.
    The lottery system obviously cannot have caused problems because it hasn’t been fully enacted yet. I don’t understand why when it comes down to being forced to create a new system because of the sell-out, luck has to become the deciding factor. As you stated, last year didn’t sell out until close to the event. Why not just do it the same way so that those who were most dedicated and therefore bought their tickets first got to go? Also, with the lottery system it isn’t illogical to be scared of the outcome. Even if you do get your ticket, because of the lottery system it is likely that a few of your friends will not get to go simply because they were unlucky.
    As for your million dollar idea, it seems more like you are just trying to make a million dollars… If someone has gotten to the point of being so wealthy that they can throw a million dollars at a week-long event, then they would be smart enough to know that they could get the same ticket either legitimately from burning man or from a different scalper at a minuscule fraction of the price…

    Report comment

  • It seems to me, as a Burning Man luster-but-never-been, that the Playa itself is the great arbiter in this. Going out into the desert for that long and following the rules and conventions of Burning Man should limit the number of people who can in fact come. Whether that’s enough of a limit is something that I don’t know, but it does force an outer limit.

    The question then becomes is it the potential to corrupt the inclusive and radical nature of the event that is the threat. This reminds me of the arguments that I see about America being threatened by an influx of Spanish speakers.

    To all of this, again, as one who values Burning Man immensely though I can’t go, have faith in the power of your community.

    Report comment

  • Not worrying about something potentially troubling simply because the effect hasn’t happened yet is not necessarily a good strategy for survival, ha. I agree we shouldn’t FREAK OUT yet, but to air grievances regarding the lottery system, as well as offering alternative ideas, is a healthy response, I think.

    I do very much agree with you on the new people thing, though.

    Report comment

  • This video is gorgeous… I’m hoping to be able to attend this year and I’m going to do whatever I can to make that happen. It’s something that has sparked my interest for years and I’m finally going to grab the reins and do something about it. I’ll be bringing with me my virgin mind and heart, open and trusting to the experience. I’ll bring my virgin friends who feel they are also ready. I feel that this could be a big step on my road of personal growth and discovery. The desert is calling me, I can no longer ignore it’s cry.

    Report comment

  • I was originally weary of the new lottery system being used this year. I have now rescinded that way of thinking. I realize that the Burn is a place for people to gather, and should not be all-exclusive to virgins. In fact, I believe the magic at the burn is something that should be shared. However much I may feel it is my home, that doesn’t mean that it should not be the home of others.

    Report comment

  • I think this beautiful but in many respects in bothers me, for the fact that this video (thought it’s stunning) feels like a commercial. And along with that “commercial” comes all the facets and tools of marketing that glorify something into some altered form of reality. Don’t you notice how the realm of people used in this video could all be models in some Urban Outfitters or chic outcasts catalogue? Also how is no one dirty… where’s the dust? It troubles me sometimes when people spend their entire time and Burning Man not living in the moment, and spending time recording the festival and scripting versus actually experiencing it. Then when they try to edit and capture it and share it with the real world, they are selling an altered version. Are people buying into the reality, or the vision of a filmmaker who made it pretty with filters, effects, edits? I get that Burning Man is supposed to be spread and it is beautiful… I just wish we shared it without all the modern techniques not unlike a photoshopped magazine ad or cosmetics commercial.

    Report comment

  • as always, inspirational. Much like yourself, i’ve been constantly letting people know that we have transcended the organization. The org has its hands full trying to make things work. Now it’s up to us to make things work within our world.

    It is what it is.

    and it is a very beautiful, loving, gracious, tough, dusty, hard, sweet, generous, harsh, soft world we build each year.

    Thank you for your thoughts!

    ~aoxomoxoa~

    Report comment

  • I agree with JV completely.

    On eplaya, every single specifically detailed concern I’ve had has been belittled, ignored and met with the accusation of fearing change. I’ve been accused there of whinging making it impossible to actually continue the debate without cementing the accusation (way to go amateur wordsmiths, you win by default). BTW, I did have specific ideas to make the lottery work – easy to implement ideas. Nobody wants to hear that shit.

    I may be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. That’s not the point.

    Since Halcyon has also put forth the “fear change” accusation here, I don’t imagine a debate with him on YouTube would be any different.

    Report comment

  • Beautiful video.

    I have never been to burning man and this is the first year I plan on attending…but it’s definitely not because of this video. It’s been on my bucket list for years! And how could it not be? Living so close to the playa it would be foolish not to go.

    xoxo

    Report comment

  • Beautiful video! It’s nice to still see whimsy in the world.

    The second video made a comment about licking our wounds from an enemy we haven’t vanquished yet, and how everyone is “freaking out” about ticket sales. I think it’s a good idea to look at and evaluate a new system to find potential flaws. I know I have a concern about the bias toward those who can afford higher tier tickets. Due to entrance into the drawing of tier tickets below the maximum value willing to be paid, those who can afford to pay $390 now have three separate drawings in which to win a ticket, and those willing to pay $320 have two, whereas a person who can only afford a $240 ticket has only one drawing in which to win. Additionally, if someone who can afford to pay a $390 ticket wins a $240 ticket, they may have taken that ticket away from someone who can only afford the first tier, and doesn’t have the option of a scholarship ticket. If it were a system where you register for the tier you can afford to pay, and only that tier, giving everyone one chance to win a ticket, then that may be more “fair.”

    Report comment

  • “On eplaya, every single specifically detailed concern I’ve had has been belittled, ignored and met with the accusation of fearing change. I’ve been accused there of whinging making it impossible to actually continue the debate without cementing the accusation (way to go amateur wordsmiths, you win by default). BTW, I did have specific ideas to make the lottery work – easy to implement ideas. Nobody wants to hear that shit.”

    Amii, eplaya is frustrating as shit, I’ve also done the same and met the same response, even from the moderators. I’ve come to accept the “do not question the BMORG” attitude of a lot of people when it comes to most issues, but the ticket one is pretty big. That said, we’ll see what happens.

    $quirrel Banger, I too noticed that almost every person in the video is stunningly gorgeous, male and female. Granted, Burning Man does have it’s share of physically beautiful people, maybe even more per capita than other gatherings; and also, this video isn’t the first visual piece done at Burning Man to feature mostly model types. But, yeah, it’s a little slick. As for the dust, well, 2011 was an exceptionally dust-free year. I and some other members of our camp rolled around on the ground on Sat. that week just to feel normal, ha.

    Report comment

  • I LOVED this video! It was epic beyond compare with its focus on the ritual and ceremony and stunning beauty of Home Sweet Home! This will be my fourth year on the playa (yes I’m a manifestor, dammit) and I think no-one should be that concerned about tickets or the Lottery…I have always felt that if you are meant to be on the playa then the way will be opened to you….even with all the hype last year (Time magazine ad, tongue in cheek mention on South Park, etc etc.) the population of our fair city was still at a nice steady 55,000! I really dont think a whole lot more people than that will ever figure out how to push the limits and survive our great Social Experiment! I recognized so many awesome people and camps in this and was brought to tears thinking of the next set of starry nights filled with pretty lights, and dusty treks around the Clock in my future…all that said, the reason this video and the people in it aren’t looking so playafied is because 2011 was one of the least dusty years in many recent…I can’t wait to get home! Register for the lottery, get your act together, make the drop, and you will almost certainly be there! I think those left out will be the procrastinators and those not dedicated enough to ensure their Attendance…this Shite is what I like to call ‘God’s Birthday Party’ and I am reeling with homesickness, ready to rock the dusty dream again!

    Report comment

  • Looking through the comments and watching the video I am confused. How do you already have your ticket? I assume pre sale but some of us can not afford that. I feel that the people who know for sure they have a ticket to BM don’t understand the feeling that many burners are going through at the moment.
    This game of waiting knowing that the 240 group only has 10,000 tickets and you need one cause that is the only one you can afford. That feeling of chance of not knowing if you are going to attend something you have dreamed about everyday since you stepped foot on the playa. Last year was my first year and it has changed my way of living.
    I am not beating myself down or feeling pain before it happens but its human to be anxious about it.
    Last year I got on to the web as soon as the site opened for tickets I was abel to get a ticket I could afford. Only cause I planned ahead and got on right away. This year I got on right away an placed my name in to the lotto. I have never felt so much stress.

    I have shared the places you will go video with every one I know. I feel its going to bring in more lovely people. I hope every new person that attends the burn this year is as excited and ready to jump in like i did last year.

    Report comment

  • I love the “Place you’ll go” video. I agree with everything Halcyon stated in the video on the bottom… except he doesn’t address that almost everybody wants to buy the cheapest bracket. Some people NEED to buy in the cheapest bracket for financial reasons, but by stating that they can’t afford to pay more during registration, they are further limiting their chances of getting in. Meanwhile, he offers tickets for a million dollars each… almost a slap in the face to the person (people) that will be jipped by the new lottery system and is squeezed out due to chance. This guy is ridiculous if he thinks he’s going to become a millionaire (if he isn’t one already) just because he put it out there in the world. Hey Dude: You should use your profits to buy tickets at reasonable prices and give them away for free to those that otherwise can’t afford tickets to Burning Man!

    Report comment

  • Thank you Halcyon for remembering what “inclusion” means. As someone who watched from the sidelines for too long, this is to be my first burn @ an over 40 age. I have not felt inclusive vibes these days towards “virgins”. I do understand people not bieng comfortable with change, but you just never know what a virgin perspective can bring.. I do hope to see you in pink on the playa

    Report comment

  • Someone should post a 4-hour video of waiting in line to get in. That would thin the herd.

    We assume that, because we love Burning Man so much, that a billion other people will also love it. Keep in mind that many people won’t want to go no matter how many awesome videos they see about it.

    And even if it does begin to sell-out every year, nothing is stopping anyone from launching similar events around the world. Or expanding Regional events.

    Report comment

  • As a virgin last year I was extremely thankful that I was lucky enough to finally experience Burning Man. This year I will not be that lucky and while that is a real downer that I will not be returning home this year as planned, I know that “my” ticket will get to now go to someone else that will be one of the lucky ones and maybe that will be another virgin who will get to finally have the experience I was lucky enough to have last year. Hopefully that person will see the chance to experience Burning Man as a gift as I did.

    I did share the places you will go video as did many of my friends. I wanted to be able to share with people may see it and decide to look more into this Bunring Man thing and to those that will probably never go because the message is still the same. It isn’t a commercial for Burning Man (This is how my husband viewed this video) but an inspiring message about life which is why I love that book so much. Burning Man is just the perfect setting for that book and Burning Man is more of a way of life than just an event anyway right?! I wish the whole world would read that book or see the video.

    Report comment

  • I want to clarify also that my (admittedly harsh) criticism *of* criticism was aimed at the extremely mean-spirited, sky-is-falling, and accusatory comments I keep seeing on certain Facebook posts. I didn’t mean to discourage dissent or discussion of alternative solutions.

    I’m personally a fan of a single tier set at $350 or higher, with a larger number of scholarship tickets.
    But I’m sure there would be tons of people upset with that solution because they can only afford $240. Is a lottery the best solution? Well it is *a* solution. And it will not be the downfall of anything unless we allow it to be.

    Report comment

  • @Halcyon . . . I always love listening to you! . . . I love you! I’m interested in all the worriers vs. the non-worriers about obtaining tickets in this ridiculous lottery. I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty certain you and the non-concerned already are guaranteed a ticket.

    I’m pretty certain 90% of the non-worriers already have a guaranteed ticket via being an elite burner, volunteer, Larry Harvey, or what have you.

    I certainly would not be worried right now and for the last few months if I knew a ticket already had my name on it. Honestly, would this system be in place if EVERYONE had to play?

    If you do have a pre-arranged ticket would you give me yours and not go? Like you, I have invested and contributed years of time, money and passion in projects for the Playa and I’m not ready to scrap it all to luck. I work year-round on BM projects. (I saved up for several years and finally this past year bought a huge trailer to soley haul all our art/theme camp, gifts and love to the Playa).

    With every post/video/blog/etc. put out there (especially right now) it reduces the chances for those who are passionate about home, to get home. It’s clear through all the blogs that an enormous hoard of newbies is chopping at the bit to get their dicks wet in all the sex/drugs/booze our fair city has to offer. It’s disturbing that so few care to learn about our community before setting out. I love virgins, but it’s blatently clear few if any have a clue as to the mission or principles of BM.

    I know the numbers will never be released, but it’s pretty obvious with all the coverage, that there will be an exponentially larger amount of people vying for the few cherrished available tickets.

    With that in mind, even though odds aren’t good, you can’t win if you don’t play. And though I’ve never been “lucky”, I’m registering in this ticket lottery and hope I WIN the opportunity to buy a ticket home! )'(

    Report comment

  • Halcyon, I am aware that the point is not fundraising. I am simply curious where such a large sum of money would end up going :) Thank you for responding! I’ll put my energy towards manifesting the person (or people) who are able and willing to do that :)

    I’m also a virgin and am hoping to make it this year. I’m already registered, so my work is done. Now I wait to see what the Universe has in store! <3

    Report comment

  • I made the decision to go to burning man last year shortly after a few of my friends had returned. I’ve registered for the lotto, if i get in, i get in. I have a feeling i will.

    I watched the Places You’ll go video, and it did get me more excited about Burning Man- it also has this weird effect of making me want to talk and think in rhyme (very strange).

    That being said, i’ve watched videos for Electric Daisy Carnival, Coachella, Lightning in a Bottle, and many other festivals, and all of them cast their particular party in an amazing fun light- have i ever been to any of them? nope. not my scene (except for maybe LiB this year). I think the “Places You Will Go” video is being seen by a lot of people who aren’t old enough to go, can’t afford to go, wouldn’t want to go anyway, and of course burners. personally, i can say i account for maybe 10 of the views, as i’m sure most of you do as well- and i know that number will increase, it’s a great story.

    If i don’t make it in, will it suck- sure. I’ve never been there so i don’t have the attachment to the play that some of you have, but i can guarantee if i don’t’ make it in, i’ll spend those days lying naked on a beach somewhere enjoying life, and then when next year rolls around, i’ll try for tickets again.
    —-

    And what to address Sadhaka’s question- i don’t speak for halcyon – but what i took from it was that burning man is full of artists, creatives, outcasts, nerds, geeks, etc… people that can make change locally, but seldom rise to the level of global change. The million dollar ticket idea would be for someone like… i don’t know we’ll say Obama… someone who has made their millions in a suit and tie.

    Imagine the US with a burner at the helm. imagine the president with pink hair riding a bike naked around the playa. once someone of that “societal level” experiences the wonder and awe of burning man- they could take that experience and spread to the world.

    as for the million dollars, i’d imagine Halcyon might donate most of it to Burning Man related projects… you know, after he fixes his RV (or picks up a new one and paints it pink.)

    Report comment

  • Nah, we’re not screwed. Most of the people I know who see this beautiful video will never go. For them, BM is a nice daydream, nothing more. It takes guts to actually *live* that fantasy (if only for a week) and most aren’t willing. For a few, this video will give them the needed push to go, and that’s great. I suspect that they’re the folks who would have eventually found the courage/passion/money to come home one way or another.

    Report comment

  • In truth i thin this is a beautiful thing….Burning man is an epic experience that changes the lives of all who go to it. The spirit of the black rock community has such strength already that it could only be enhanced by an influx of virgins.

    YES- this does mean that more virgins will wish to attend

    YES- this does mean that some veterans may not be quick enough to get a ticket.

    YES- it will mean if we want to be a part of this we need to be more on our shit to make sure we get our tickets on time, or have faith in our ability to manifest it divinely.

    I for one registered for the ticket bracket I wanted on first morning it became available….some times in life you have to work a little harder for the things you want.

    WE HAVE A BEAUTIFUL THING…..LETS SHARE IT.xxxx

    Report comment

  • Last year I posted a Burning Man ticket on craigslist for $1,000,000.00 just to see what kind of mail I’de get. It was flagged within hours, and I didn’t bother to repost.
    It would have bee interesting to read the email inquiries and count the positive, negative, and otherwise. Perhaps I’ll try again this year.

    Report comment

  • @ Steve D- you’ve hit the nail on the head. For many Burning Man is a fleeting daydream. For some, it’s like you say a nudge to go, or perhaps a first-timer just becoming aware that there is a Burning Man. For those that Burning Man is part of their yearly routine, attending & participating is no easy task. Buying the ticket might be the easy part. Then there’s getting there. Do you fly? Do you drive? If you drive, what do you bring? A rental? A converted school bus, or step van, or 70’s -80’s era thrasher motorhome? Do you arrive in your Prevost Marathon million $ RV? A rental at $10,000.00?
    What do you eat? Tuna out of a pouch and cheap ass beer, or bring your chef and eat like kings? Costumes, are they thrift store finds or internet outfits made by someone else? IF you bring gifts to give out, are the home made or crap ordered online that’s Made in China? OR you you give of yourself…a smile & hug, or help setting up someones tent?

    Attending & participating Burning Man is not a walk in the park. It takes planning, cash, and open heart, and a great attitude.

    For those that cannot live without Burning Man, the planning for the next starts as they (myself included) drive off the playa towards the black top highway. Then it starts all over again.

    Report comment

  • Nice video, so true about virgins and new energy.
    I just really wanted to comment about the Dr Seuss vid. While it was a really nice video, to be honest I just naturally kind of threw up in my mouth a little bit. Am I jaded? Goodness I never thought….I agree with a post above about how it reads so much like a real commercial on TV, like for life insurance or a car or something. I’m surprised the Love Letter to the Temple vid didn’t go viral. That made me cry for days. It is because the general public looooves the candy.
    It just came off weird, even though it is well done.

    So true about Burning Man change. Gotta go with it, even though I wish to covet it with my 50,000 Burner friends, thats just not the name of the game. Throw it on up to the wind!! Set it Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee….Oh my goodness, what’s the latest internet term? “White People Problems” :)

    Report comment

  • Thanks for the wonderful video! It is the favourite of my 2 and 4 year old children-they completely understand the beauty of what you are creating at Burning Man. Dr. Seuss was a visionary and you did him justice.
    If toddlers think what you have created is beautiful, then you are on the right track…

    Report comment

  • Leave a Reply