Turnkey Camping in Black Rock City

Photo by Lucas Swick

[6/25/12 UPDATE: We’ve changed the nomenclature for these types of camps from “Plug & Play” to “Turnkey” to better reflect the way they function.]

In the last few years, a new phenomenon emerged – an increase in “Turnkey” camping in Black Rock City. What is “Turnkey” camping? It’s a shorthand that has emerged around those camps where a group of people (it could be individuals, or a commercial outfit, we have learned) set up a camp not just for themselves, but in advance of the arrival for others to arrive in Black Rock City and have things ready to go for them. Depending on the camp, this could simply include camp infrastructure, or it could also include food preparation, or it could go so far as providing an art car, a decorated bike, or a schedule of activities, for instance. It’s most often for a fee, ranging from reasonably close-to-cost setups to high dollar luxury style RV camps.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s hard to precisely define Turnkey camping — because we ALL pool resources to survive on the playa, and we all have to take care of each other … so who is to say what someone should bring or how much they should or shouldn’t spend to experience Black Rock City? Paying someone to do your kitchen at the event isn’t new, for example; other camps collaborate on porta-potty rental or other efficiency services. And sometimes, it turns out, these camps are prearranging the setup of their living conditions so that they can focus other contributions -art projects, for example, or a wedding. Or, just having fun without all the sweat equity.

But what are Turnkey camps doing to our culture of radical self-reliance and Leave No Trace? Are Turnkey campers “participating”? And who and what does this BRC camping genre really impact? Perhaps most importantly, how can Black Rock City learn from this and evolve?

It could be said that if these camps are providing everything — what about radical self-reliance? But on the flip side, it could also be said that these camps are providing opportunities for some would-be Burners who wouldn’t otherwise have the ability to survive and thrive in the Black Rock Desert to experience Burning Man. Doesn’t that broaden radical inclusion? A number of these campers bring or support big projects to add to the fabric of Black Rock City in other ways — if one is bringing some other legitimate form of civic participation and communal effort, could it be justifiable to want to offset some of the other effort one’s camp requires?

In order to explore these questions, we need to do some reflecting and some research. Importantly, we’re encouraging your input and dialogue. We know that such camps (and those who use them) are a varied bunch and they’re here to stay. The challenge, then, is to help these camps integrate into the ways of Burning Man and to positively acculturate their participants. We also want the sponsors of these camps to understand how they are perceived and how they affect the event and the rest of the Burning Man community.

We’ve produced a 10-minute video of a conversation here at BMHQ, to frame the conversation on Turnkey camping to help advance our dialog around the issues it presents. After you view this video, join the conversation and become part of what creates a better future. We know there are other Burners with Turnkey camping experience out there. We hope they will join the conversation, too. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments, or on this ePlaya discussion thread.

(Special thanks to Black Rock City Manager Harley K Dubois, Black Rock City Community Services Manager Terry Schoop, and Theme Camp Coordinators Jon La Grace, Andy Tannehill, and Kimberly Morabito for participating. Thanks also to our volunteer video team Ana Grillo and Ana Arcioni.)

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258 thoughts on “Turnkey Camping in Black Rock City

  • I appreciate very much that you are exploring this concept. Thank you.

    Plug and Play campers are diluting the ethos of radical self-reliance. I don’t know what the solution is, but it’s frustrating to hear about people who don’t participate in the values of leave-no-trace, the gift economy, etc. It feels like another Disneyland package that they can drop into and out of without truly being transformed by the experience.

    Keep the dialogue going…

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  • I am a theme camp leader, and I have to say… I don’t support the concept of Plug-n-Play camps. One of the best things about bringing a camp together is the creative spark that happens when everyone participates in its design and construction. This is what separates the wheat from the chaff, revealing who demonstrates the true Burning Man culture of participation… and who’s just a spectator. Radical self inclusion doesn’t mean to kowtow to the lowest common denominator. Most peeps are simply not Burning Man material, and making it too easy for them to attend will severely degrade the quality of our community, and bring undesired commercialism to the theme camps. It’s just a bad idea. Let’s keep the event pure and the people fully engaged in the manifestation of their own unique theme camp environments!

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  • what happened to radical self reliance? These are simply tourist! Our large theme camp partakes in fresh water and sewer service because we are organized and plan well in advance. I thought Burningman was against anything commercial. This is about as commercial and for as it gets!

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  • I am a theme camp leader, and I have to say… I don’t support the concept of Plug-n-Play camps. One of the best things about bringing a camp together is the creative spark that happens when everyone participates in its design and construction. This is what separates the wheat from the chaff, revealing who demonstrates the true Burning Man culture of participation… and who’s just a spectator. “Radical inclusion” doesn’t mean to kowtow to the lowest common denominator. Most peeps are simply not Burning Man material, and making it too easy for them to attend will severely degrade the quality of our community, and bring undesired commercialism to the theme camps. It’s just a bad idea. Let’s keep the event pure and the people fully engaged in the manifestation of their own unique theme camp environments!

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  • I understand sharing, help, mentoring. I think the issues boils down to “is someone or a business making a real profit” is it a business. We all know the difference. I watched the video, the couple is making money as a business, come on who are we kiding.

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  • Whether or not there is a profit motive is one key consideration in this discussion. Trying to make money by selling places in a plug and play camp is no better than trying to make money by scalping a ticket. It perverts the spirit, values and essence of the event.

    If someone would not come to Burning Man without paid luxury service provided by others, I’d rather not have them come. If you wouldn’t welcome them in your camp unless they gave you lots of money, you shouldn’t have them in your camp.

    Burning Man camps, to me, are creative and self-organizing products of the love, joy, gifts, contributions and efforts of their members. Planning, preparing, organizing, cooperating, interacting and contributing are all essential parts of the theme camp experience, because they create community.

    Direct experience with nature in the desert is also an essential part of the Burning Man experience.

    In travels over many years, I have often experienced fabulous, unspoiled places and cultures, which some travel writer extols, attracting exploiters, who acquire and develop the place, running out those who made the place special, bringing in those unwilling to experience difficult travel or original conditions, and spoiling the place forever. Having to experience hardship to get there or be there, or having to change yourself to adjust to a local culture and conditions, keeps a place pure and unspoiled.

    If Burning Man becomes something to be exploited for monetary gain, Burning Man will become something which is no longer Burning Man.

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  • I have to echo the sentiments of others here. There is a bright line in the sand between large collaborative camp and plug and play which is this: If the camp generates profits it is a business venture and in my mind is unwelcome in Black Rock City.

    I suppose you could say my stance violates radical inclusion, but it’s only one of the principles and a for-profit turnkey camp violates almost all of the other 9.

    The ‘clients’ the couple shown in the video brings to the playa sound particularly taxing. If they need the event to be “translated” to them and wouldn’t be there without the profit-based-hospitality-services provided, then they simply should not come. PERIOD.

    Burning Man has always been a great equalizer in my mind because everyone has to pay similar dues to learn to thrive there. Over time you can learn to be pretty comfortable there through social collaboration and built up infrastructure but it is a process, and that process turns you into a Burner. It is that shared experience that brings so many people together and if that critical path of acculturation is short-circuited our entire culture pays the price.

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  • I cant believe this is what burning man is coming to. I have been one of the leaders of a large theme camp for 8 years. I have dealt closely with this type of plug and play camp in the past. 95% of the people that were in the camp did not get it. We even had one of them beat up someone in our camp because they were being obnoxious at 10am on sunday morning. the reason they could not understand it was because it was just a vacation to them. Another ibiza. Is this what our community is coming to? It makes me want to not go to burning man. It takes away from the fabric of the event. Radical self reliance is one of the things that make this event so special. It is one of the things that makes it a transformative experience. This acceptance of Plug and Play almost makes me ashamed of my burning man tatoo. It takes time, effort, creativity, money, persistance, love, and an open mind to make a proper burning man camp. When i watch the people who are at the head of this event accept and condone this, it makes me really wonder if I want to be be part of it any more. I feel as though the ones in charge are losing sight of the rest of the community. Is this just a money making opportunity now? Between this and the ticket scandel this year i have a huge hole in my heart. A place that was once filled with joy and pride, is going vacant. Maybe the theme this year should be doubt and disbelief. This goes against everything that i hold dear about the event. “All good things………”

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  • This is basically creating a motel system that is thumbing its nose at the principal of Decommodification. In times when true burners (participants) can’t find tickets… do we really want to cater to wealthy, lazy tourists who just want to check BM off their bucket list? These would be the people who can afford the $1,000+ stubhub tickets… so maybe there will be quite the thriving cottage industry of PnP camps at BM2012.

    I’m a 15 year burner but I’m definitely NOT one who is averse to change. Last year there was a proposal to charge a higher rate to a few more affluent newbies who wanted the plug ‘n play experience. The person who suggested that we consider this wished to use the additional funds to help bankroll our costs. I am happy to say that after a brief discussion, the unanimous decision was that the “tourists” were welcome to visit anytime, but we were NOT going create a class structure of haves and have-nots in camp. In the end, the folks who thought that participating in camp would be a lot of work and take away from their experience… participated, cooked meals, cleaned, costumed, AND had an amazing time. If they came as tourists… they would have felt like outsiders in their own camp, and their experience would be very different.

    A big thank you to Harley for being such a gracious and non-judgmental host to the Plug ‘n play camp business owners (yes, that’s what they are). And thank you BMOrg for opening this topic for discussion.

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  • Oh, come on. “Participating”? “Radical self reliance”? Those words mean nothing to an event that allows RVs. Throughout the article and the entire thread of responses the term “plug-and-play” can be transposed for “RV”. Any criticism of one is the same for both. But there are only a few P-n-P camps. There may be as many as 7,000 RVs. Do something about both or quit talking about either.

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  • It seems to be unanimous. Even at BRCMobility we work with our mobility challenged participants in a more collabrative way by helping them with basic infrastructure but still require them to be self-suffecient, and contribute time to the care and running of their camp. Plug and play may be more appropriate at regional events for the world travelers that have only a weekend to share in the concepts of community and art… hence planting the seed of burner ethos in the broader world.

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  • Plug n Play should be called what it truly is, Pay to Play and Profit to Work. I’ve seen such camps and feel that the environment created by one person paying another for services at Burning Man robs both sides from experiencing a potentially transformational event. For those indentured into service, it becomes a job for money for wealthy people that “just don’t get it”, expecting everything to be done for them. (which the servants should not complain if that’s what they signed up for) For the wealthy, they don’t get to see what it is like to take care of themselves, perhaps mess up or forget something vital, then in seeking help, discover the pure kindness and generosity of others around them. Burners that expect nothing in return for lending a hand or giving something needed. Burning Man is a Sacred event. It should keep to the principles and do everything it can to help people see the light directly, and the first hurdle should be to come out to the desert on your own. The process the virgin burner goes through in getting ready for, getting to, surviving, sharing, discovering, and making it home is a huge part of the transformational experience.

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  • This will be my first year at Burning Man. I find the idea of these “Plug and Play” camps to be fairly yucky. I’m actually having a really good time scouring information to make my preparations for my first BM experience. Making lists and checking them twice. It’s a bit overwhelming at first but I feel a real solid game plan coming together on how I’m going to make this all happen for myself. I have known BM was the place for me for at least 10 years but have always put it off mostly due to the amount of energy required to do it right. Last year I decided I was going to finally do it for 2012. Put in for 1 ticket in the lottery and got it yay. I definetly agree with what seems to be the strong sentiment here that my experience would be incredibly diluted if I could just shell out some cash (which maybe I could if I wanted to) and put it on the back Burner until showtime. My First Burning Man is already starting. It will take months of thought and preparation to make this happen. I’m gonna really really enjoy being on that Playa after all this effort. Trust me.

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  • Wow, I don’t know what’s worse, that these camps even exist, or that they operate with the full cooperation of the BMORG. You can talk about Radical Inclusion all you like, but I think this completely stretches the bounds of that principle. At the end of the day, you kinda have to have your shit together to make this event survivable. And we’re not talking about a huge amount of stuff, but in all that preparation is good for the soul. It helps create a mind-set. It helps you get in touch with the event. And if you get stuck and need help, there’s lots of friendly folks around willing to lend a hand.

    The clients described in this video sound like douchebags. They need the event “translated” for them? They have to be “welcomed” to their RV and have every little thing explained to them? What exactly are these clients bringing to the table? What contribution are they making? They apparently have not made the slightest bit of effort to figure out how to survive on the playa. I doubt they brought spare rebar in case the neighbors need it. It looks like all they’re bringing to the playa are fat wads of cash for the contractors, who frankly come across as even more pathetic than the clients.

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  • My first year at BM was with a Garage Mahaul theme camp. The next year I explored other ways to camp with groups including a PnP camp. I felt a certain visceral repulsion to the PnP camp promotion. While at BM that year, I saw the air conditioned PnP bus arrive with tens of bicycles and all the passenger looking out the window with an expression of classic tourist, ‘oh oh look at the quaint native in there native costumes living in squalor. I am sure glad I don’t have to live like that.’

    The filter of self reliance is one of the key elements that set BM apart from any other festival.

    Plug and Play camps push the limits on most elements of the 10 Principals, the least of which are no commerce, radical self reliance. Only the element of radical inclusion is not arguable as a violated element.


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  • Wow. I cannot see how this is anything but a poison to the city. The greatest problems I have seen on the playa in my 11 years out there come from those with the least time and effort invested in the community. If all you have invested is money, how could you feel other than a consumer. One of the brilliant aspects of BM is having the event in the desert. This has always acted as a filter to weed out the less committed. Remove the trials and you remove part of the power of the event. “I payed good money for this week’s vacation, now amuse me!”

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  • I guess my big question around this that I can’t discern how you would ever “make this go away” anyway…it hasnt been my experience that they advertise using imagery or marks in a way we can identify them ahead of time, or stop these producers/small companies from coming, especially on the private level. And I’m not convinced that the organization should prevent them, anyway…I believe that to be a very slippery slope, requiring monitoring, possible evictions, and having to sleuth out anyone who’s paying someone else to run their kitchen (say goodbye to a lot of art projects and theme camps, then, because that’s how some of them do for themselves…) or projects that utilize other paid labor or transportation or heavy equipment (believe me it is there and has been there, for a long time) – because I’m not sure how that is all that different in the end.

    And if regulated away I think their actions would just go underground. It is simply something that is happening, but there must be ways that some acculturation and emphasis can be introduced so that at least the streets don’t fill up with walled-off RV parks full of people who don’t believe the 2 hours of community service MOOPing public areas applies to them.

    I try to think about who in this world needs authenticity, transformation, participatory experience, and a good kick in the ass from a desert (after 16 years thinking about this I am pretty sure it’s “humanity,” and not just me and my friends), and then i try to remember that everyone gets what they need, eventually. I don’t have the answers but I’m glad to be talking about this with others here.

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  • First, thank you Harley and the others in the org who started this conversation and brought it out in public for discussion.

    #1 – Services are the new commodification. For-profit, catered camps go against everything I think is important about the event. You build community when you build a camp, you build self-reliance when you take responsibility for your life in the desert, and you create a clearer view of who we are and why we are on the planet with that single week where everyone is equal and involved with something larger than themselves. No spectators! No tourists! No class system!

    #2 – How many tickets are taken up by staff for rich people now? How many resources in terms of fuel, water, service trucks, etc?

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  • Blaze –

    I’m part of a large theme camp and we go out to the playa a week early to set up, and stay late to break down. The long stay on the playa is made more comfortable by the RV that I own. It doesn’t take away from my Participation (my camp throws fundraisers all year long, we all donate time and energy to make sure we can bring something great to the playa, and we head out for close to three weeks to help add to the amazing experience that is Burning Man) or Radical Self Reliance (my RV holds everything I need, and many things that others need). How is that taking away from the principals of Burning Man? Do you have camp in a tent to prove that you are really part of the community?

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  • It seems that Plug in Play is no different from the default word. I mean isn’t that how real life works, Ie, Paying to make so many aspects of our daily life easier, faster, less complicated and less of a burden

    This type of participation seems like no more than those wanting to have the “Burning Man” experience….but not really willing to do the work to have it.

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  • To continue (I hit submit by accident), having wealthy people interested in the event isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. If they truly Get It and end up devoting resources to art and community then their presence can be extremely beneficial. Some amazing art and camps have been created this way over the years.

    But that’s not what I’ve seen happening recently. Burning Man reached the popular culture and the popular culture reached right back. We need to establish with them that we are not Coachella, or some other event where VIP status can be purchased. We need to frame the “price of admission” as one of personal involvement with the event, otherwise we face the continual and possibly rapid degradation of something very special.

    I was pretty horrified when the caterers in the video described the separate camp for staff. All of that space, all that money, all those tickets going so that a privileged class could be indolent and be served. I contrast that with the individual who buys their ticket, takes care of themselves, and then goes to volunteer humping ice at Arctica or some other community function. Which of these shows the core of Burning Man? How likely is it that ANYONE in a catered camp does ANYTHING for someone other than themselves?

    It would be preferable to address this problem with an ethos rather than a set of rules, but use rules if you have to.

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  • If you need to stick to your dogmatic 10 values start by getting rid of for-profit coffee vending in center camp. Its existence was justified by giving money to Gerlach/Empire schools which have been almost non-existent since before last year’s burn.

    Look, you can find problems with anything everywhere at burning man. Are you starting a witch/commie hunt here? The elitist burnier-than-thou attitude is tired. It may be what is ruining “your” event. Get over yourselves. It’s been a big rave in the desert where you all shop at the same store and wear the same shit for 10 plus years. The 10 bm commandments are a joke, it’s a way for the borg to control you.

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  • Having camped for the past 9 years in Tents, HexaYurts, Rental Trucks, Teepees.
    I have concluded the following based on my personal effect on the Playa and those resources available on the Playa.

    The RV seems to be the least impact: Considering space it requires on the Playa,
    number of people able to use that space, Use of the toilet versus the Dreadful PortaPotty’s, Self contained for water supply, versus the madness of tempermental Evap Ponds, Less Dust Free inviroment, Refridgeration, Cooking facility, MOOP space, Not leaving trails of MOOP on the Exodus Highways ( Every year it gets worse ) Thank You DPW and others who recover this MOOP.

    So, the 3 of us will be on the Playa with an older well maintained RV ( no Leaks ) and saving over $ 430.00 compared to the Tents etc and 40% less impact on the Playa and highways.
    Plug & Play is not for me, would like to hear some pro’s about it, so I can see all sides..
    Just my thoughts. Lizzy

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  • Comparison: walking by the encircled RV’s = alienation and separation, no sense of community. Walking by tents with people sitting under shade as if on their front porch with various items to give or display = community and participation and welcoming.
    tents and shade structures = NIEGHBORHOOD.
    which would you rather visit?

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  • Also, preparing for the experience yourself and creating your experience = the point of BMan.
    Self-discovery is IMPOSSIBLE if someone is creating the event for you and escorting you. You ain’t learning a thing.

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  • Reminds me of all the people who pay others to drag them up & down Everest – people who are not prepared or in-shape. And then everyone is surprised that Everest is a trash heap and tourists dying unless their sherpa can drag them up and down the mountain at the risk of their own safety.

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  • Setting up shade structures and learning about them and designing your camp is a great thing at BMan. Getting an RV or paying someone else to design and set up your camp is really lame (you are missing out!).

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  • Only my third burn, so I’m not terribly experienced, so perhaps this a silly question – but how do these camps get even get placed?

    I tried to run a theme camp last year (my previous camp fractured) and we were denied placement on the ground of “not being interactive enough”. We had already rented two 28 foot trucks and borrowed $15,000 worth of lighting and sound gear from Phish (one of our camp mates works on the tour) so we decided to commit to the original plan and land-grab, which was a nightmare. It took us 3 days to set up, felt like I was there for half the time!

    How on earth do these camps get granted a spot for 50 bloody RV’s? How on earth can they possibly qualify for placement? What do they do for the general public?

    Seems like an easy enough problem to solve to me – just don’t place them, for goodness sakes, and the problem will simply go away. How did those guys get a spot while we, a team of 35 burners pouring every cent we can spare into throwing a great party and hosting a super fun camp, get denied?

    I’m again leading the charge and hoping to get placed, and I’m freaking out we’ll get denied for some insane reason, so when I hear that people with significantly more financial means than I have can just pony up and secure a spot, it just doesn’t seem right. Are the camp organizers paying a fee to BMorg or something? Why is this even up for discussion?

    Just tell these guys if they want to come, get in line on Sunday night like everyone else and find a spot to camp like the rest of us. Placement should be something special, given to those who contribute to making the event great for everyone attending!

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  • I think the biggest question to ask is, “How does plug and play camping help the citizens of Black Rock City?”

    Answer: It doesn’t. It does nothing to emphasize self-reliance, planning, participation, leave no trace, and makes BRC a “destination vacation”.

    Black Rock city exists because thousands of people contribute and care for it, NOT because a bunch of folks want to just “enjoy” it. BRC citizens ARE the entertainment. Folks just there to party, and not contribute are the ones who end up causing trouble and trashing the city usually.

    Here’s an idea, every member of a “Plug and play” should volunteer daily at another established art or theme camp.

    I’m OK with “P&P” camps, just make sure they are far away from me, like 2 O’clock… :o)

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  • We have found that the RV’s are great wind breaks for the Shade structures, Tents, and HexaYurts in Camp and of coarse a positive addition to the Camp. Most camps are a combination of the above structures.

    Guess alienation and separation are in the mind of the beholder.

    I always used the RV wind breaks as a welcome relief from the high winds.
    Comparing RV’s with Plug&Play Procedures is like comparing the Temple to Reno.

    Fortunately a great percentage of Virgins were guided by experienced Burners
    for their Self Discovery of what Burning Man is.
    Just my personal thoughts, Lizzy

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  • Ah — my Dear Friends and Fellow Burners — it’s Headmaster Janus from Play)A(Skool aka Jon La Grace, one of the people on the Plug and Play video, reaching out to all of you and hoping to address some of the notions and ideas of what Plug and Play IS and IS NOT. I represent Play)A(Skool — a Plug and Play Camp. Hopefully some of you were able to come and participate in our Interactive heavy schedule last year that included daily talks, classes, demonstrations in our SkoolHouse as well as hosting the first-ever TEDxBlackRockCity at our camp — an incredible venue to share some of the great voices and incredible Ideas Worth Spreading from OUR wonderful community. Or perhaps you stumbled on our Sunday Graduation party with the amazing Lee Burridge spinning for 7 hours leading up to the Temple Burn? Hundreds of people were there and the moment was, for me, sublime — We had envisioned this very party while planning Play)A(Skool, and that vision was eclipsed by the true beauty of the moment. Our gifts to the Burning Man community not only included these incredible events, but we also shared 8 different art cars in our camp including Shaggadelica – the big furry bus, Shagillac, Christina (the 70ft boat), The Scorpion, BalanceVille, FishTank I and II, and others. One of our campers created the now viral video called, “Home” — which hopefully you’ve seen? Images of Burning Man that were featured in many global media outlets from a number of famous Burner photographers — yes — they too are from Play)A(Skool. As a Plug and Play camp, we eagerly invite each and every one of you as our gift to the community. And we are very proud of our Family and their work to help bridge the gap —

    Let me describe Play)A(Skool to you so perhaps it frames how our Plug and Play camp works. We are a NOT FOR PROFIT organization. Our books are open to anyone in our camp who requests to see them, as well as to the Burning Man Organization. Our financial model is simple: we look at what our needs are going to be for the year — power generation, water, dumping, providing shade structures for our lounge, kitchen, tenters, creating the SkoolHouse, Sound needs, Art provisions, etc.. — we take that number and divide it by the number of campers we have and that’s that! To me, that’s no different from when there were 8 of us at Hualapai Playa — we took the total cost of getting ourselves there and setting ourselves up and divided it by 8?? I’m not really sure how if we divide that number by 200 how all of the sudden we aren’t modeling the 10 principles? We had 1 person that volunteered his time to overseeing the camp operations and we allocated a ticket for that person. We also allocated tickets to an additional 4 people who volunteered as well. One person was licensed to drive the water truck. The other 3 who were licensed to build the SkoolHouse from pallet racks and operate the SkyTrak lift. We ended up taking a collection at the end from out campers as gratitude for these guys that took time from their full Burning Man experience and offered to pay them for their time and work. Additionally, we hired a team of people to come to the Playa to make sure our LNT plan was fulfilled. (Here’s the kicker — the team we actually DID pay — they failed the LNT plan and we ended up getting a red mark — so this year, we are eliminating even THAT component and instead we are asking a group of PlayaSkoolers to stay for an additional week to ensure our compliance.) Other than that, it was the 200 people in our camp that were told WELL in advance that they would be part of a cooking team and a moop team — that they would be responsible for their RV’s and costumes. For all this talk about the Entitled Plug and Players — I can’t tell you how FAR that is from the reality of PlayaSkool. That’s the ticket to PlayaSkool — it doesn’t matter if you are a CEO, MD, Ph’D, MBA, CFO, WTF — we are all equal on the Playa — anonymous — and you’re gonna be responsible for our camp. Period.

    We at Playaskool ARE the servants — self-servants — self-reliant — giving — participating — and yes, Plug and Play.

    7 of us form what we call the” Fakulty” — a group of volunteers who spend the entire year planning the camp. What an incredible journey it is for these people — the sacrifice becomes a test of many things: relationships, jobs, mental health. Last year our planning team were scattered all over the world: 2 in Cambodia, 2 in California, 1 in Canada, 1 in Colombia and 1 in London. We planned all year via Skype, WhatsApp, Free Conference Call and loads of emails. We never met in person — not once — until we were standing on the Playa in 2011. We didn’t pay anyone to do this job, we each volunteered our time and effort in the planning of the camp. To me, that smells like Self-Reliance. (And it sure felt like it — this will be year 13 for me and last year was one of the MOST demanding in my tenure at Black Rock City.) As a group of planners we dealt with Placement, Interactivity, Infrastructure, Kitchen Plans, MOOP, Layout, PR and Communication,etc.. Let’s face it — planning a camp of 200 takes a team of dedicated volunteers.

    The other 193 people worked on art, decorating the camp, teaching classes, dj’ing, working on Art Cars, cooking, cleaning, setting up there little micro-camps within our group. In ALL my years at Burning Man, I honestly don’t find this ANY different than when I was a poor college student with a tent and a ticket. This year, I got to the Playa a week in advance of the start in my RV, set up my area, decorated, met others — not a speck of difference if I do that in a tent, yurt or RV. No one set this up for me or anyone else in our camp! And if they DO, it’s a fellow PlayaSkooler — not some paid person there to pamper and certainly not a “servant.” Setting up camp and breaking it down is still the FUN pain in the ass it has ALWAYS been — Yes, a vast majority of our campers camped in RV’s, many who already own their own vehicles. And yes, we provide an infrastructure for our campers. We had 2 bio-diesel generators and procured water from a local source (helping the local economy). I was pleased to see the the post regarding environmental impact — this is something we’ve actually spent some time researching and continue to study. We are not new to the Playa. MANY in our group are long-time Burners. So this conversation is not new to us — we constantly look to decrease the impact on the Playa as much as possible. The reality is, when we look at tents and yurts — providing power and water and restrooms and showers — there is as great an environmental impact as compared to RV’s, in fact there are more. Personally, I’ve done it all — tents, yurts, rv’s — for me, I want to provide a choice for people to choose what is comfortably right for them. This year, I’m going back to the tent to experiment with this idea. But that will take WAY more space than the RV because Ol’ Janus will build three sleeping tents, two dressing rooms, a very large hang out tent — all of which needs power and air condition. All of which I will do myself and with my fellow campers. All of which will have an environmental impact equal to if not outstripping that of my RV. But if the argument is about RV’s —- then we can easily switch that out and I personally will model what that means this year. Environmental impact? I think the jury is out on that one Kiddies.

    Really — if you want a RADICAL self-reliant policy — then perhaps banning RV’s all-together is the solution? (Oh Janus! You didn’t!!)

    We are a camp of 200 of the most incredible, giving, wonderful, dedicated Burners who come from all over the world for a week in the desert — to fill our creative well, to let go, to demonstrate a craft or realize a dream. For some it’s about building art and art cars and participating in conversations about how to bring these incredible gifts back to the default world. I’m proud of our Plug and Play camp and campers as I think we exemplify the creative spring and the fabric of Burning Man. I think we are a model community in many ways — and therefore really hope to continue the conversation about what Plug and Play means. The very image of Burning Man, the beautiful costumes and incredible art and one-of-a-kind experience — a great deal of those ARE Play)A(Skool, a Plug and Play camp. We are but one, there are others that are less self-reliant. But all things change in time and to just merely discount the value of this model would be dire. I was very pleased when Harley Dubois and Terry Schoop invited us to participate in this conversation because there are many different ways to do Plug and Play — but suffice to say — our model is NOT a Disneyland ride of tourists being whisked from place to place on the Playa like some sort of Falling Down the Rabbit Hole ride.

    “Every generation gets a chance to change the world
    Pity the nation that won’t listen to your boys and girls
    Cos the sweetest melody is the one we haven’t heard”

    As always — I’m happy to engage in helpful conversation —-

    In Love and Dust Kiddies —

    Ol’ Janus

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  • When I was at the Burn last year I read a good article in the Black Rock Gazette about how the plug and play style of camping can be done well. I’ve also got to point out that artists and wealthy people can make very great alliances for the good of culture and art. Remember that great art from the Renaissance was funded by the wealthy patrons of all those Michelangelo”s and Raphael’s.

    I’m going to make the radical statement that wealthy people have just as much of a place as Burning Man as anyone else, and that there as many intrinsic rewards to having someone with money at the event as there are having someone with artistic talent there.

    But the tension comes from the fact that the wealthy and the non-wealthy exist in very separate spheres in our modern society, and both groups have lost something from that segregation. Let Burning Man be a place where these two groups can join back together instead of another place where we play out the mistakes and prejudices of the greater society.

    I’ve recently begun volunteering for the artery, its clear that there are already systems in place to create a sense of investment among volunteers in various parts of the BMorg. If Plug and Play camps are failing, it’s because they are run by a diverse group of people, some of whom are great project managers and others who have different skill sets. And while some may have figured out how to create the best service on playa, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve figured out how to create a sense of investment off playa, or how to socially engineer the experience for the benefit of their clients and other citizens of BRC.

    I believe that treating the Plug and Play camps as a different category of project, but using the organizational skills that other parts of the BMorg already employ for theme camps and art projects, allows the BMorg to have a level of oversight over the camps which they can use to nurture the positive contributions and minimize the impact of negative contributions to make a better burn for all.

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  • I believe enabling plug n play camps violates the decomodification of the city. How is reserving space for someone selling a spot to “vacation” in BRC, any different than reserving a spot for a commercial vendor to come in and sell a meal, or set up a pay-to-drink bar?

    Sure the world is full of haves and have-nots, and those with tons of cash will try to find some way to pay someone else to do the tough stuff for them. But honestly BRC is a harsh place to live, and if you want the experience, that is part of it. Placement, Gate and DPW should not enable this in BRC. Any camp found to be selling “vacations tor BRC” (or anything really) should not be placed in the future, should be evicted from the city, and should have their vendors turned away at the gate.

    I know it sucks having to police this, but I find that a better solution than simply accepting this commodification into the city.

    I would imagine that if a bunch of these camps got tossed out mid-week, we’d see a significant decline the next year.

    Just my 2 cents.

    I have no ill will towards the people trying to enable this. I just don’t agree that it should be allowed.

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  • NO. Long diatribes about non tribes are not arguments for “Camp Hold Your Hands.” Bottom line: If you are charging anyone to camp with you you should be taxed by the BMORG or leave. Camp dues = reliance. We have no dues, we build MASSIVE art, we volunteer, we BURN. You come to glean off that infrastructure and charge others to pay for your “parties.” Sorry but none of your arguments will win this.

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  • Yreka !! Found Gold on this Blog. For years are Camp Organizers have seached for answers to fund the cost of transporting Mutant Vehicle, Facades, Camp equiptment, Art, Fuel Costs, and other expenses to create an Inter-Active Theme
    Please Sad Burner let us know your secret to this puzzle.

    Camp dues were equally applied, but eventually some were caught with the added forseen expenses.

    We have been guessing at how you do it :
    Rich Benefactor ?
    Some type of KickStarter program ?
    Found the Lost Scotsman Gold Mine near the Playa ?

    Please, let us know, our expenses are adding up daily as we are preparing for the Playa.
    Hugs & more Hugs Lizzy

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  • @Lizzy: in response to the “benefits” of “RVs serving as wind breaks”.
    I have walked down streets lined by RVs, and have seen the “residents” peering at me from behind the windows. That felt really wierd and alienating to me as the person walking down the street.
    In contrast, I very much enjoyed walking down streets with tents and shade structures where people sit on the “front stoop” (so to speak) and invite people in or have various interactive or/and display things. It is also much more interesting to look at the various shade structures and things.
    I’ve also enjoyed sitting on my own front stoop in front of my own shade structure, and enjoyed interacting with passersby.
    You may have some interesting stuff encircled inside that impenetrable barrier of RVS that line the street, but I sure as hell can’t see none of it. I just see walls of metal with wierd people peering at me. That may benefit you on the inside, but it is a wierd and uncomfortable experience for me (feel like I’m in the regular world, visiting an RV lot).

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  • Also felt disturbing at times, to see the faces of guys in the RV windows, leering at people as they walked by. I have seen that on the promenade (!) where there should be interaction. But it is unwelcome on any city street.
    Creepy, uncomfortable, made me get the hell out of those streets.
    That creepy leering/staring is not welcome. If that’s you, just go to Vegas.

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  • I don’t think the question should be whether or not to allow plug-n-play camps, but rather should we allow the creation of a 2 tier event. One tier for those who buy their experiences (tourists), and the other tier for those who contribute to their experiences (participants).

    Personally I don’t have an issue with the concept of plug-n-play camps as long as the residents of those camps contribute to Burning Man in a significant way, uphold the values of Burning Man, and don’t allow their camps to become private gated communities. After all, if they don’t have to worry about packing/unpacking, camp setup/take down, or food purchasing/preparation/cooking/cleanup, that leaves a lot more time than those of us who still have to deal with those functions, to give back through supporting the Burning Man playa infrastructure, erecting fabulous art pieces, delivering an incredible performances, etc. Especially if you are traveling in from Europe, Asia, or South America. After all don’t the Black Rock Rangers and DPW benefit from a commissary in exchange for their countless hours of contribution. Isn’t the very definition of a theme camp, a communal living experience.

    Now, when Burning Man installs an private pay to use lane for faster playa access and exit (although I suppose that already exists in a minor way with the BRC Airport) or the first 2 blocks off the Esplanade are reserved for plug-n-play camps, then we will know we have crossed a threshold.

    For those of us who yearn for a simpler more rustic, self-reliant time where the highlight after the man burns was finding an oil drum with a fire in it, maybe this is our cue, like those who have been leaving for over a decade, to find another event. Maybe our path lies in a different direction from that of “Larry Harvey’s Holiday Camp” (sorry, can’t get that Tommy song out of my head)? ;-) Maybe it is time we recreate a new Burning Man event base upon a simpler, less crowded, older version of Burning Man model?

    Food for thought….

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  • Germany has a Fusion Festival, while not exactly the same as Burning Man, I believe they are far less about profiteering, I encourage people look into this event as well for ideas and comparisons to BRC.

    People own an Airfield it seems fantastic also over 50,000 attendees.

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  • Camp leader as well. Although we charge a small camp fee if we have individuals wishing to camp with us, it is a totally transparent process. The money is used for supplies to build evap pond/shower infrastructure, shade structure, as well as be used to finance projects to give back to the city in terms of our bar, art supplies for inclusive activities, etc.

    If theres cash left over form the pot, it is redistributed among ALL camp members, not just the core members who organized everything.

    It saddens me to hear about for profit organizations operating within the Burn. :(

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  • I and all the Burners I know are very opposed to the P&P mentality.
    Over the past many years, my husband and I have been part of a few different camps, both large and small. We were Temple Guardians, and enjoyed the fact that we were participants and that BM was a place where everybody enjoyed radical self-sufficiency and self-expression. Part of that wonderful experience was the fact that we each helped to take care of the necessities. We “built” our own camps, maintained them and kept them clean. We generally helped one another and we each pulled our own weight. This was the cement that we all shared. We gifted food and shared duties and felt as one big family. That was an integral part of the BM experience which was experienced by everyone, no matter which camp we were with.
    This concept of Plug ‘n’ Play changes that equality and adds an aspect that is foreign to the nature of BM. It means we can now pay for the privilege of being elite, and of shirking all the responsibilities of being actual Burners. It means we can become spectators instead of participants, and visit a “resort” environment where we are no longer self-sufficient. It changes the entire culture, and attracts people who would not otherwise survive the environment nor be able to actually take care of themselves there.
    It just isn’t why we old-time Burners go to BM. It dilutes the experience of “coming together” in this harsh environment to experience this community culture together. If this “B&B” mentality is implemented, it will drastically change the BM experience, culture, and the people. It will no longer be the wonderful community that has made it what it is. And it will open the door for more and more commercialism in the future, drifting further and further from the original concept and experience of BM.

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  • Totally agree with all the above. (that I read)

    Would just like to add; In the article above, the writer used a common phrase, “‘experience’ Black Rock City?” and “Black Rock Desert to ‘experience’ Burning Man”. Burners don’t “go” to BM like one would “go” to an amusement park. They “come home” to BM not to experience BM. They “come home” because they are BM. BM is not something outside that you “experience” like an amusement park, “been there, did that”. And it shouldn’t be. Last year was the first time that I actually felt uncomfortable being a true expression of who I am. There were so many “tourists” that I often felt both “on display” and judged. With all the newbies, I’m afraid this year may even be worse.

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  • RV’s have less environmental impact than tents??? You have to be fiercly high to believe that. People in RV’s use soooo much more water than people in tents. Not to mention the feul costs of getting an RV to the playa. And on what planet do RV’s take up less space than tents/yurts/domes? I know LSD can do wierd things to the mind but seriously. And last time I checked space really not much of an issue in the middle of the desert.
    RV’s can’t realistically be limited/banned, but I can definitely see the benefit of eliminating their massive presence on the playa. Tickets would be alot easier to come by at least.
    Camp dues are criminal. Plug N Play is criminal. Anyone who pays for someone else to do something needs to reevaluate how they participate in the event. I have never and will never pay dues to be a part of a camp and me and my friends have and will continue to bring projects to the desert. Quit shackling yourself to someone elses plan.

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  • Meh, whatever. A significant number of clueless rich people coming out in trains of RVs that will most likely be stocked with nice stuff that rich people bring with them on vacation. Sounds like as good of an excuse for rampant jackassery as any other.

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  • Andie Grace (assuming it’s really her) writes @ 12:37pm:

    “I can’t speak for placement but I haven’t seen any of these camps get placed. Interactivity is the deciding factor for placement, not money.”

    Ummm, what about Green Tortoise, advertising a Pay-and-Play week for $1073, or a Thursday to Monday party weekend, while advertising a camp near First Camp? While also offering to perhaps procure tickets for their 2012 customers. How do they get these tickets, where the only two possibilities are through the BMOrg, or through scalpers?

    This is a great example of why tickets need to be matched to a name, to allow more of us who really care about the event to attend, instead of paying customers of for-profit outfits.

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  • Headmaster Janus, not to be a jerk, but when you add up salaries and overhead and equipment and incidental cost and then you cover that number by selling units of that overhead to customers, that’s not a “non profit”. That’s what we call a business.

    I run a couple myself, so no disrespect, but dude, come on. You’re not UNICEF. You’re a business. Your salary for the year? That’s the “profit” part.


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  • After watching the video and reading the comments above I’d like to add the following:
    I think that PlayaSkool model is definitly different then the other camp featured at the video. PlayaSkool simply decided to use more pooled resources such as shared water and electricity. many theme camps, including ours do that. For example, We had a discussion with our members and everyone agreed that sharing water makes sense since it eliminated the need to bring up those platci 2.5 gallon water jugs ndiidually and reduces moop. I would not call sharing resources within a camp where everyone contributes to the build of the camp a “plug and play’ camp in the vain of what is being discussed. I do take execption to the the hiring of the cleanup crew, but am glad to hear that they decided to scrap this idea for this year.

    By contrast, the other people in the video, definitly run a business which provides a “burning man tour” . Their whole description reminded me of a Luxury safari tour . These types of camps should be discouraged, and can be simply eliminated by denying them theme camp status, AND vendor permits to be able to bring in their infrastructure (for example equipment delivery, RV delivery, etc). Withou the ability to bring in the infrastructir through vendors and hired staff, they will not be able to exist…Problem solved.

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  • Pay-and-Play camps normally bring Tourists, not Participants, Green Tortoise may be a touch of exception here. Such as the for profit out of Henderson advertising a happy hour for paying customers. Interactivity, yeah, right. More like people who want normally to be left alone except when they’re out being tourists, don’t want to interact with non-campmates except to leer at them or be old frat boys, wall off their customer area with RVs or similar, don’t want louder music in their area, especially after 10 at night.

    It used to be that one of the core principles that “There are only participants, NO SPECTATORS” Catering to spectators should not be in the ethos of Burning Man.
    Not to mention that these camps are going to pay and be reimbursed for whatever scalpers demand for tickets, to get their paying customers to the playa.

    These camps permit people to be on the playa who are not radically self reliant. PLEASE MATCH TICKETS TO A NAME, NON-TRANSFERABLE! This reduces the demand for tickets from tourists, profiteers, their support staff, and ones who are not prepared to be self reliant. Provides more tickets to people who really care about the event.

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  • “Student” nailed it when comparing the “pay and pluggers” to the rich tourists being carried up Everest by Sherpas. We were camped near a large luxury compound on 7 last year…did not look like a fun place, never saw any people.
    If you have time, Google: “RV rentals for Burningman”. There are numerous companies offering all levels of service. The most expensive picks their clients up at the Reno airport and drives them to the playa. Everything imaginable is provided, along with daily water, sewer, and MAID service!
    I want to know how the fucking maids got tickets and I didn’t.
    It will be hard to do much about the companies that offer these services, but the BMORG should try to put all of these “pay and plug” RV companies together, say at 10 o’clock, hahaha.

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  • By bringing in rich tourists PNP camps totally violate radical self-reliance and every other principle, including radical inclusion. IMHO, radical inclusion means you have to include everyone who shows up respecting all the principles, including radical self-reliance. Shows up means is prepared to undergo the rigors of getting and being on the playa, more or less under their own steam (of course including a little help from friends and cooperative campmates)–not everybody who wants to buy their way in, including people who are antithetical to the principles of Burning Man. Sure there are a few folks who would attend and ‘get it’ and give back the following year. But mostly PNP camps attract gawkers and partiers who are used to buying experience and being served — not creators, participants, and folks willing to serve others as well as themselves.

    I echo the questions above: how do the maids, caterers, etc., get tickets when veteran burners can’t get tickets individually and long-lived theme camps can’t get enough to build, operate, and tear down?

    Is anybody for PNP camps? So far I’ve seen NO positive comments supporting them. They should be prohibited as all other commercial ventures are. No camp should be placed unless they share something openly with the community, not just a private hotel for elite tourists.

    Would it be OK with the org to place a private dance party that allowed in only people who bought tickets prior to the event? This is quite similar.

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  • So far we haven’t heard from anyone who’s camped with a full service P&P (not Playaskool). I guess they’re not paying attention. Can’t say I’m surprised. People who have to be kept after to deal with their plates? Really? My children already know that stuff. Anyone who hasn’t figured that out and can afford to camp with servants is likely a lost cause.

    I just can’t buy what these folks are selling.

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  • There is a big difference between a Plug & Play camp, and dues camp, and a true community camp. I understand that large camps with lots of infrastructure need to charge dues to make the camp possible and support that. I organize a large camp and this is our 10th time together on the playa. We have never charged dues, have community meals provided entirely by camp members, have complete infrastructure for members including a kitchen, shower and and chill space. Our funding comes from sharing the accumulated gear of ten years of participation, and the generousity of a few members that can afford it. Many of our members volunteer for BMan jobs so they can attend. Our camp is home to many performers and artists that respresent the culture of Burning Man. Our secret to success is organization and community bonds.

    Plug and Play is hurting us by making it harder to get the tickets we need to have the builders and keys camp members attend Burning Man. Only 20% of our camp got tickets in the disasterous lottery. So rather than supporting veteran burners by discouraging tourists and profiteers, it appears the LLC has made choices that I see as destructive to the core of the Burning Man community.

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  • A couple years ago I had a conversation with one of my village-mates about whether these types of camps actually existed. I adamantly denied that they did and insisted that they were a Burner myth. I couldn’t phantom why anyone would step up to hand-hold a group of pampered tourists on the playa, even for money! That would be a nightmare!

    No, for me radical inclusion doesn’t apply here. To me radical inclusion means that everyone who is committed to the Burning Man values has a place at the table. Someone who has to be reminded to pick up his/her own plate doesn’t fit that criteria. If we start facilitating Burning Man tourism in the interest of radical inclusion, we will soon find that Burning Man is unrecognizable to everyone, including ourselves.

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  • It would seem to me the current ticket situation should make plug and play camps impossible. When someone could buy a whole group of tickets, then they could buy enough tickets for the camp infrastucture and additional tickets for the “players” they charge for the experience. but that is not the case anymore. I assume the BMorg isn’t providing these camps additional tickets and the only other way these camps could have enough tickets to make the plug and play camp financially viable is to go out of the accepted (STEP) ticketing system. So plug and play camps should be banned simply because they can’t exist without supporting the scalping system.

    My first year I remember how blown away I was by the art and culture at Burning Man, but the most important part of that experience was knowing I was responsible for keeping myself alive in a hostile environment (the weather and dust, not the people), the next year I designed my own little house that i transported and built on the playa, something i wouldn’t have thought to do before. The other reason plug and play camps should banned is they are a rip-off to the “client”. They are promising the experience of a Burner, but are only providing the experience of a tourist.

    I understand the desire to use your money to overcome obsticals and eliminate the time you have to put in to prepare for a week in a hostile environment, but if you are not willing to put in that time because you have other priorities, you’ve already made your choice; you don’t want to be a Burner.

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  • My number one question is… how are PnP camps getting the tickets? The rest of us are scrambling to figure out how our camps will be built when 90% of members didn’t get tickets. The ticket problems don’t seem to be and issue with the PnP camps. I don’t understand this.

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  • @Janus- you’re camp seems to be very different from the other couple’s camp in the video. There are camps like that, where tourists pay $10,000 to fly in, spend a few days being escorted around, and leave. Playaskool seems to be not that different from other theme camps, where some people are the core organizers, some are the core builders, some are artists who bring, set up and maintain a project, and another team breaks down and cleans up. it seems like all your campmates pay and equal share and contribute to the community. I don’t see the clear relationship to other camps who hire a staff to set up a “hotel” and wait on their customers to fly in for some kind of voyeuristic experience.

    I am a camp leader and our camp is 100% participation. We share a vision, we contribute to the build and maintenance of it both monetarily (camp dues) and with our work effort. That’s the way we found that works for us. Not all camps are the same and that’s OK.

    I think the issue with PnP camps built on the “hotel/catering” model is that 1) it’s a for-profit business that assaults the very nature of decommodification and 2) it creates a class that are not invested in the sweat equity that makes BRC what it is. And this feels emotionally like a slap in the face to the rest of us who work to create the city, art and music.

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  • @Andie. I appreciate where you are coming from, but here’s what hurts… The 10 principles are help up by the LLC as sacred as a holy grail. While one class of participants (namely, theme camps vying for placement) is asked to demonstrate how much they embody the 10P’s, not only on the playa but in default life as well (yes, that is a direct quote from the theme camp meeting)… then turn around and say,”how can we help you?” to a for-profit hotelier setting up tours of the playa for $10,000 a person.

    It’s false, it’s inauthentic, and it just plain stinks.

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  • For me, the main issue here is commodification. I don’t think any of us want to see the functional equivalent of a hotel, or destination resort at BRC. The tough issue is how to draw the line between a business that charges for housing, food, entertainment and/or other services, vs camps in which participants share expenses and divide-up labor?

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  • How do these people get tickets? Considering the ticket problems this year, a lot of get tickets through scalpers I guess. Anyway this really isn’t the idea of Burning Man, a bunch of tourists coming out to get their look at the Art and all the weirdos. I was working at DMV last year when a suv with a tour bus following, drove up and unloaded a bunch of tourists in playa wear, all clean and tidy. They didn’t have a camp, just came to see the playa. This just seems kinda strange to me.How do they arrange it? Not self reliant at all it seems!

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  • @rocketgirl I am personally not for special services for these camps, if you’re asking about my opinion. I am for requiring them to at least do the extra effort to acculturate if they’re going to do it anyway, but not special access to tickets, placement, entry, services, or anything like that.

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  • How do these people get tickets? Considering the ticket problems this year, a lot of themget tickets through scalpers I guess. Anyway this really isn’t the idea of Burning Man, a bunch of tourists coming out to get their look at the Art and all the weirdos. I was working at DMV last year when a suv with a tour bus following, drove up and unloaded a bunch of tourists in playa wear, all clean and tidy. They didn’t have a camp, just came to see the playa. This just seems kinda strange to me.How do they arrange it? Not self reliant at all it seems!

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  • I think my sense of radical inclusion includes Plug ‘n play.
    I want Mr & Mrs One Percent out on the desert. I want them exploring, however tentatively, the idea that something other than default is possible, viable, has value that is not associated with a dollar sign.
    I want them covered in dust, even if they shower it off three times a day. I want them to stare into the deep dark beyond the trash fence, and be completely baffled by every third thing they see. And I want them back next year, with some friends, and the year after that with some ridiculous art and a paisley paint job on their RV. Because I just don’t believe that even the most dedicated tourist can come out year after year and not be changed, and if we want change, we have to welcome those who will be changed.

    Those tourists, who pay for plug and play, are still looking for Burning Man, and that’s enough. Looking for Burning man isn’t doing it wrong.

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  • Broadening “radical inclusion” should not come at the expense of “radical self reliance”. It’s like saying we should provide ballet dancers and figure skaters during and at football games so that stadiums get sold out.

    With the population pressures, should not self reliance win out the day?

    And nevermind the anti-commercial credo. You’re not Disneyland. No, tourists/PLUGPAY, etc. ARE NOT LOOKING FOR BURNING MAN, THE ARE NOT PARTICIPATING, THEY ARE OGLING.

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  • If your “radical inclusion” needs broadening, stop and think about that. Plug and Players are just people, who have come to Burning Man. They paid more for the privilege than most, and probably get less out of it than most. We can expose them to resentment and anger, and all that default bs. Or we can expose them to some new ideas, and a different way of thinking and living. if even 1% of them gets it. I call that a net win.

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  • The BMorg controls what images of the event get out to the media supposedly to protect participants’ privacy. What’s the difference between that and bringing people in who just want to look.

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  • “Those of you that want BMorg to stop this are looking at it the wrong way. The financial transactions take place off playa and BMorg cannot regulate them. The camps are not typically placed, they just plop their monster RVs down out in the cuts, so they cannot be denied placement. The supply side of this problem will be difficult to affect; the demand side may be easier.

    I am one of the founders of Pancake Playhouse and I am currently discussing with my camp mates putting up signs at our camp saying that plug and play campers are not welcome in our space or our city. I think that all of you other theme camp organizers should do the same. We can’t enforce this but we can make them feel unwanted. If, when the people who paid for a Burning Man Experience can’t get what they paid for because the open, welcoming community that we create is denied to them, they will be less likely to pay for such an experience again.”

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  • Janus, please never come back to the playa. I’m sure 99% of the people you met on the playa didn’t who you were and would have walked away if they knew. Take your pretty package and move it to Coachella, competitions awaits for you.

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  • Shenanigans, I do not know you and therefore do not know the ways in which you have not merely paid for a prepackaged, commodified, “Burning Man Experience.” Perhaps you have created an art car, perhaps you volunteer with the org, perhaps you created an interactive theme camp. Perhaps, you have helped to construct an art project, perhaps you helped plan a sound camp. Perhaps you just go out there and help populate a city of connected, caring, equals. Or maybe you merely refrained from hiring servants to wait on you. Ultimately you have to answer the question, “How did I not merely pay for a “Burning Man Experience?” yourself.

    If you think that tourist package deals like this are not harmful to our community, then we disagree. To those of you here that find this commodification of Burning Man appalling, what do you think we as members of the community can do to stop it?

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  • Fatman Wow….Discrimination…..Shunning……Bigotry…..Stigmatizing and Disapointmen of your comments.
    Are you serious or is this an early April Fool.

    We had 2 new Camp members the past years that were from previous years Plug&Play Camps. Their exposure to Burning Man has brought them to creating
    some fantastic art. Would like to mention their names and art, but fearful the stigma of being introduced to Burning Man by a Plug & Play might be what ??

    I met Burners in your Camp and cannot believe that they will endorse your Dogma.

    Consider what Shenanigans said its closer to the Ethos.

    Just my thoughts and 14 others.
    Hugs & Hugs Lizzy

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  • I’m going to take one for the team and admit that I camped with Green Tortoise last year.
    I have been participating in the burner community for several years but living on the east coast had not had the resources to be able to attend Burning Man until last summer.
    If you have a limited amount of vacation days and must fly out to the event you likely get to take 2 bags with you. Well, there’s a challenge to radical self-reliance! I’m as self-reliant as the next burner but that doesn’t help you fit a weeks’ worth of clothes, supplies, a tent and a sleeping bag into 2 suitcases.
    I knew I had to go to Burning Man last year but I didn’t want to end up being un-prepared and a burden to other campers (who I know would willing help a stranger but shouldn’t have to take care of my ass). It was my first year and as a noob no amount of internet research is going to ensure you’re prepared (and yes I read every damn thing on the website and got advise from friends).

    In the end I practiced self-reliance by camping with Green Tortoise who provided meals, shade structure and community. I was able to go to Burning Man when I otherwise would not have been able to and I was well prepared to take care of myself. The weather last year was near perfect but if it had been as erratic as I’ve heard it usually is I would not have been able to safely participate on my own.
    No, I don’t need to be coddled and pampered and chances are I was the one helping others set up their tents properly for high wind and sharing the extra sturdy tent stakes I had brought with me for that purpose (as I knew many would show up with the crappy little things that come with the tent) BUT knowing I wouldn’t run out of food or have to lean on my neighbors for survival was great.
    It was great to have the large communal area where everyone could hang out. When we would have otherwise been many individuals we formed a community. It was great that people from other countries where able to experience Burning Man without a hung financial investment for supplies and it was amazing seeing a few people realize they were burners all along and just hadn’t found us yet.
    They were not tourists. They participated in everything they could. They understood about not taking photographs without permission, they picked up MOOP and they might just be the people bringing art to the playa to share next year.

    That said I don’t like the idea of camps that cater to rich people that want to ‘take it easy’ and leer out their windows at us like we are strange unknown creatures and everything is taken care of for them. But, I think there is a difference between that and camps like Green Tortoise where everyone helped make the meals, there was no air conditioning or other comforts of home and everyone participated in clean-up and a MOOP walk through camp before we left.

    It’s hard to know where to draw the line, for instance should everyone on the playa air condition their RV’s and tents? Hell no! Is it super awesome that there are some places that employ AC like Orgy Dome?
    Hell YES!! People be getting busy in there and I’m all for keeping them cool while the do it.
    There are cheaper tickets for those with less available funds, I don’t see a problem with their being camps that help people who have less available time be able to participate. Again, not the same thing as camps that pamper people who do nothing but throw down some cash and ogle the natives for a week.
    Thanks for listening,
    Who’s all for people getting assistance to get to the desert as long as they get just as dirty as the rest of us while they’re there

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  • I do think BMorg should discourage P&P camps until the ticket situation is resolved. The only way for P&P camps to come together is for the organizers to buy scalped tickets and that hurts everyone. I would feel differently if there weren’t a ticket shortage. I don’t think they should encourage P&P camps, but I don’t they should be actively discouraged if there are plenty of tickets for regular Burners and newbies.

    As for Fatman’s idea of shunning or belittling people who participate in P&P camps, that’s disgusting and un-burner like. Once they’re there, win them over with kindness and enthusiasm. Don’t let them be voyeurs. Pull them in and get them involved.

    And congratulations to BMorg for cleverly bringing this subject up when I doubt they really care much about it. Sure got the topic off of STEP.

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  • Fatman offers a concrete idea for what individual burners can do to combat this problem. You might not agree with it, but at least it’s an action people can take in their own way. Burners have long shunned non-participants. This idea is not new. It’s just that now, instead of being directed at “frat guys,” it’s being directed at Plug and Play campers.

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  • The signs we decided to go will are to read on one side the classic “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem” and on the other “No Participation, No Service.” Not overly clever, I admit, but also not so strident as to offend the delicate sensibilities of our fellow burners.

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  • Hello Kiddies — Headmaster Janus here again. Some other food for thought —-

    One of the conversations that took place during the shoot of this video was on “registering” yes or no. Play)A(Skool is a registered Theme Camp and goes through the Placement Questionnaire process. From what I gathered, the other camp represented on this video, they do not register their camp. My guess is the VAST majority of Plug and Play camps DO NOT register with Placement and therefore the BMORG would otherwise have NO idea that they are coming, what they plan to do or not do, what their Interactivity plan is, what their LNT plan entails, etc..

    What are some ways that the BMORG can address these situations that embraces or models ALL 10 Principles in some way?

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  • I was at Center Camp briefly during the day in 2011 and overheard the following conversation about the Green Tortoise, between a 30-something year old woman, dressed in typical playa style with furry leg warmers, and a 40-something year old man with a bald head and clothing that appeared to come from one of those Indian gift stores you see everywhere.

    Man: “You should camp with the Green Tortoise next year! Really, it’s been great with them.”

    Woman: “Why’s that? Tell me about them”

    Man: “Well, it’s just a much better experience. They have everything set up for you. They are VERY good if you have any dietary restrictions or any other special needs”

    Woman: “Do they bring you out here?”

    Man: “Yes! You don’t have to take your own car. That was big for me because I’d never drive my car out here.”

    Woman: “Oh really, that’s interesting. Are the people you camp with cool? Are there lots of tourists?”

    Man: “No! We’re not tourists! I mean, people go on and on about Burning Man this and Burning Man that, but what it comes down to is that, it’s just a festival! These people need to stop taking themselves so seriously. I participate, but in different ways, you know, I don’t have to spend all this time preparing. I go to events listed in the guide, I take part in group discussions and activities.”

    I have not taken the liberty to modify the wording of this conversation at all — I remember it clearly and this is an honest repeat without changing the wording, at least to the best of my recollection.

    I remember this conversation clearly because it made me think. Taking one look at this guy, I thought he fit the profile of a tourist, but his words made it clear he didn’t think that was the case at all. While he was camping plug and play style, he thought his presence at the Burn and interactions with people was his way of participating. And who’s to judge if that constitutes participation or not? For all I know, that guy could’ve made someone’s week by showing up to their event and doing something awesome.

    Most major theme camps charge serious dues (upwards of $200, as high as $500 from my experience); and also have a good share of “sparkle ponies” and the like who are essentially plug and play campers. By the time most of the camp shows up on Monday, the camp infrastructure is fully built, and Monday/Tuesday is really finishing up moreso than beginning to stage for these camps.

    But if we didn’t have a flow of sparkle ponies and these plug-and-play campers (like the Green Tortoise camper who I described above), who would populate our dancefloors? Who would come to events and listen to lectures, if everyone is busy holding an event and giving a lecture?

    If anyone has a 50+ person Esplanade theme camp that does not charge camp dues, and does not recruit plug-n-play campers/sparkle ponies who they know will contribute little labor and just party all week (but will show up in a nice outfit!), please let me know so I can present you guys with a medal!

    May the theme camps without sin throw the first stone.

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  • Plug/Play camps need to be regulated in some way. It is possible that in the future, the money that can be made by setting up these camps will become very lucrative. I can see in the future where all the space for people is gobbled up by super camps and the smaller ones and the single camp people will be forced out or made to have “what’s left”. Remember, the commandments are self reliance and “Gifting”. Not, what can I do to make it easy and profitable. The reasons like, it makes it easier to do more art work and concentrate on participation is frankly a lame excuse for just making Burning Man another stop on the Tauck Tour.
    Be warned Burning Man people. The camel nose is in the tent. Not long before his head and neck start inching in.

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  • @Lizzy: keep your “hugs and hugs” and your pretentiousness
    Where are the Extra Action Marching Band cheerleaders to hit people? God I miss them and their ethic.
    I doubt Lizzy knows what I’m talking about.

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  • If I were going this year, I would SO SERIOUSLY MESS WITH PNPs and their tourists. If they want to bring that passive agressive bs to BMan, I would so dish it back to them and MORE.
    Remember the days when people shot fireworks at each other…?

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  • Wait a minute @LarryHarvey… are you telling me that PnP camps are GIFTED a certain number of tickets to sell at their own profit?!? And while regular worker collective camps, which labor to make art and structures for EVERYONE to enjoy, are made to wade through the heartbreak of the lottery and end up with too few tickets to make their camps viable… these PNP camps, who build an elitist camp to pamper and cater to their customers and employ bodyguards to keep the rest of us out… these camps dont’ have to worry about tickets apparently?!? Woah… my head is exploding!

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  • Eventually, all the real doers and creative people will leave because of this. The only thing left will be paid help & paid entertainers, and the rich 1% lapping it up for a large sum.

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  • @ Larry

    Non-Participants go to the end of the line. If there are plenty of tickets for them great, otherwise, sorry tourists, no room. However, I agree that Burners comming from all over the world may have trouble organizing survival materials from a distance. There is a place for camps that help these folks get these materials to the playa. I wouldn’t call that plug and play, I’d call it a playa survival kit.

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  • glad these people are sucking up tickets from burners who’ve been making this happen for 15 years. keep it up borg. your ship continues sinking away from what this event was meant to be about in the name of worthless paper.

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  • Janus, I don’t see how camps like the anonymous camp created by the Grab Your Ankles crew can possibly live up to the Decommodification principle. To quote the Ten Principles directly; “In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.”

    The relationship of the servants hired by the company that created the anonymous camp to the clientele of that company were in no way decommodified, they were entirely transactional. The servants were paid and would not have spent time with the wealthy clients without that payment. The clients substituted consumption for participatory experience, that was their whole purpose in hiring the servants in the first place. Prior to this thread I would have thought that hiring people to be your servants during Burning Man was self evidently commodification, but I am clearly wrong. If someone picks up an extra bag of ice from Arctica and drops it by your camp, it is a gift, if someone pays you to go buy them ice, that is a transaction. If you help your neighbor set up their carport, that is a gift. If you are paid to carry someone’s luggage to the RV that they paid you to set up for them, that is a transaction. If you cook someone a meal that is a gift. If you are paid to provide a meal that is a transaction.

    The principle of decommodification also says that, “We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation.” If you want to embrace all ten principles, that includes not only not commodifying the event but protecting our culture from such commodification. One of the ways my camp has decided to resist this commodification is by passively discouraging the clients of these plug and play camps, this might be the wrong way to go about it, and we have many months to think about our course of action, and if need be, amend it.

    If there are people here with suggestions for other actions that we can take to protect our culture from such exploitation, please share them. I will consider any proposed plan of action, and reconsider our camps decision if it is shown to be a bad one. But I will not pretend that hiring servants to decorate your bike, mix your drinks, and moop your camp is anything but a violation of the decommodification principle.

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  • If you are one who believes in conspirocy theroies, consider the following:

    Burning Man LLC is turning over control of the event to a non profit sometime in the next three years. The existing board members, those people who put together the event some 25 years ago, ain’t no spring chickens. They are retirement age, and are looking for that Golden Parachute, not that they don’t deserve some sort of reward for creating the worlds most fantastic happening. So how do you do that without pissing off the very people who you have come to rely on to keep this thing going? Well my friend, have I got a plan for you!

    First, let’s create a ticket shortage, that will drive up the price. Last year sold out, so we can prey on people’s fears about not being able to go this year. A random lottery should get everybody in a lather, especially when they all warn us that this is a bad idea. Oh, we can release a really cool video right when the lottery regristration starts. Maybe it will get over a million hits on You Tube! That way, when nobody gets tickets, we can blame it on the newbies. The 18 million plus dollars in legitimate ticket sales is nothing compared to what we could get for these on StubHub. And nobody could be mad at us because it wasn’t our fault.
    But wait a minute, if the people who make BM what it is can’t come, it won’t be BM anymore!
    Oh yeah. O.K., lets take the last 10,000 tickets, and give them to the most entertaining burners, the ones everybody else comes to see. I didn’t mean GIVE them the tickets, they’ll have to pay full price for them, and then spend thousands more bringing all their cool shit.
    Sounds great, but we’ve only got this a few more years. Can’t we squeeze a little more out of it?
    Well… there’s allways Plug$Play. We take some unallocated tickets, and set up camps for the 1%ers. These guys will pay $10,000 for the week. We can make sure they get space, but can’t place them as theme camps because you know sure as hell that they won’t interact with the rabble. Just deny it if anybody asks. We provide them tickets, ample space, throw in a bunch of rented RV’s, get some desperate burners to serve them food and clean up after them, and you know there is plenty of room at the BRC airport. In the words of Blagovitch, “This is fucken Golden”
    The only thing that could screw us is ID based ticketing. Under no circumstances do we let this happen. Except of course for those low income people, and the two dozen that are getting tickets through STEP. We’re in the money, honey.

    Far fetched? Maybe. But then again……

    As with everything else in this world.

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  • It stopped being “radical” 15 years ago.
    Now we’re losing “self-reliance.”

    You’re trapped in your own maze.
    You know it and we see it.

    The only way we can be truthful to those beautiful propositions is by not supporting what the event is becoming and starting our own.

    Your job is done here.
    Retire gracefully.

    Thank you for all those amazing years.

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  • So what’s next? Does Burning Man morph into Club Burn (Club Med on the playa) where folks hang out on chaise lounges and are served cocktails by waitstaff wearing furry costumes?

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  • I agree with rush whole heartedly. to add facts top that fire, I just recently quite my job at stub hub over this. The reality is, they have thousands of tickets, not hundreds. This was absolutely without any doubt in my mind an inside job. There is no theory, only conspiracy.

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  • seems like P&P camps are necessary on some levels to help finance some larger projects. i know it’s easy to dislike those “lazy, rich, etc”, but BM claims to be about radical inclusion. the situation should be monitored/examined/regulated so that there’s the right amount of participation / “spectation”, but let’s not pretend that P&Ps are evil.

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  • I knew a couple of guys who got paid to help build a PnP camp. Their private name for it was “Rich Douchebag Camp.”

    There is a way to significantly shrink the PnP population: Identity-based ticketing. Assuming tickets quickly sell out again next year, that would require the tourists to buy their own tickets some 8 months before the event. Pretty small window for a PnP promoter to go out and sell their future customers on the services they offer and convince the customer to invest in a $400 ticket. Problem (largely) solved.

    The Borg had said identity-based ticketing was under consideration for this year, and then took a different path without explaining why. My assumption is that the lawyers told them they couldn’t change the rules on lottery tickets after the sale. I sure hope the rules are different next year and all tickets come with names attached.

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  • @Larry Harvey

    Honestly, without a ride from Green Tortoise I would have had to rented a car. I might have tried to give someone from the airport a ride but more than likely I would have chickened out of dealing with strangers and driven in by myself and wondered what the hell to do with my trash on the way out when I was trying to catch my flight home. I would have had no shade structure and would have eaten poorly (when I did get around to eating) and it would have been more surviving and less experiencing.
    I don’t know how you could ban them other than not placing them. Logistically Green Tortoise is the same as other large camps, they group a lot of people together to share resources. Yes, they charge to camp and travel with them but most large camps charge fees. I understand the difference between charging soley for profit and camp charges that are only used to support camp activities but again, how could you monitor such a thing?
    No, I wasn’t there when they built the shade structures or took them down and there were a couple of Green Tortoise staff in charge of the meals and everyone helped cook and clean up but that sounds like the other camps where it’s usually a small core of the group that comes out ahead to build camp.
    That said, I think there is a huge difference between that and ‘resort camps’ that pamper the tourist with pre-made costumes, bikes, and catering and there is a huge separation between those who are working and those who are benifitting from that work. And how would BM be able to tell the difference other than monitoring how much people where paying to camp with the group or what? have Ranger checks to make sure that no one is being waited on by others? In the end that just becomes making more rules to protect our right not to have a bunch of rules.
    I don’t know if you can monitor or even identify these groups ahead of time but I certainly don’t think large amount of tickets should be provided to them. And no, they should not get prefered placement. Seems like it might be easier for organization to place them but if a group seems like thier purpose is profit place them way the hell out there and see if they keep coming back. If they are on the outer circle the ‘real burners’ can just stay away.
    I’m going to seriosly hope that where your message said these camps had been ‘gifted with tickets’ you at least mean they were alloted a number of tickets at the usual cost. Perhaps if they are alloted some tickets it should be very few and then most of those that wanted to camp with them would have to put the work in to find a ticket the same as everyone else. But, at the moment I guess if you’re willing and able to pay scalper prices that could be worked around also.
    So it’s back to the scalping. If that is cut off then the richie resort camps will shrink and fade on thier own when it’s too hard to find your own ticket. It’s sort of a fad right now for non-burners to ‘stop by’ burning man for their vacation but I think that to will fade in time.
    Other helpful options to help burners from far away to participate would be mass transport from nearby airports.
    I suggested to Green Tortoise it would be awesome if they could use the buses to do airport pickups for large numbers of people. Seems like that might be a better use of resources than individual drivers.
    Hell, maybe that could be thier gift to the community, do a few airport runs and pick up whoever will fit!

    and please, please tell me that none of these groups where ‘given’ tickets for free. That would suck.

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  • Lot of Larry Harveys posting here. So, “Larry,” can you tell us what you mean by “placement tickets.” Are you trying to say that some tickets are good for getting placement, because I know that is an absolute lie.

    Hey, what happened to the last Larry Harvey post? It disappeared.

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  • i think if PnP camps are providing a service to the community (ala Opulent Temple) and they use the funds to help the camp, then great. if it’s just a large camp that provides very little to the general community, then they just don’t get good/any placement. certainly not any early arrival passes. seems pretty easy.
    and LH, as a soon to be 3rd burner…. THANK YOU! i love the community that you & your crew has helped to create. can’t wait for this year! it’s gonna be epic!

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  • @Larry Harvey
    If the point is to plan for next year I would hope there won’t be ‘placement tickets’ that are offered to specific groups. I would discourage any planning that involved holding aside tickets for those that are deemed worthy and focus on improving the ticket system so that (like most things burner) foresight and planning give you an edge. This alone could help cut down on ‘resort camps’ if they are unable to provide tickets. You could still camp with Green Tortoise type camps but would have to plan ahead like everyone else. This too would allow burners and would be burners the opportunity to attend but not at the last minute and anyone who is serious about going, even if someone else builds their camp infrastructure, should plan ahead.
    But no, plug and play camps should not be given any sort of preferential treatment. I’m not sure what the parameters currently are for placing registered camps but I believe camp history and contributions to the event come into play, if so all camps should be placed by the same standards.

    You can’t ban these ‘resort camps’. How would they be identified? Who would get to decide? They could have new names and leaders every year. Plus, it goes against radical inclusion. It’s a slippery slope once you start judging who can participate and who can’t. Some might think it’s a good idea to block groups that don’t conform to the burner ethos but what happens when someone decides your group doesn’t belong?

    I suspect that in the past small blocks of tickets were made available to some of the plug and play camps to pass on to their clients which may have been fine when there were plenty of tickets to go around but now there isn’t. But, either way all camps should be placed by the same standards.

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  • BMORG is making it too easy for everyone to be part of this event. Sound policies, disclaimers about nudity, recommending the purchase of insurance for art/structures, advertising on RVs or other vehicles, kid friendly, a busy airport, vendor/RV deliveries and now the plug-n-play & bucket lister camps. The population as turned from Burner to General population, no wonder there are no tickets this year. General population = more regulation, more law eforcement, more disney horrific policies. Black Rock being the largest gated community in the world why not be selective. It was a very special niche group of people that amazingly began and developed this event, a blue print that worked.

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  • Maybe I have it all wrong. It could be that Plug-N-Plays are an issue because Larry and Crimson Nose is worried that First Camp will start charging them dues. That would be a real problem.

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  • @kitty:
    kid friendly in itself is not bad. Kidsville was around for along time (is it still there, I don’t know). The kids attending some years ago were pretty worldly, little rag tag dusty things at one with the desert. Since I haven’t been in a few years, maybe they are just disney kids now, I don’t know.
    The point is, kid friendly can be done in tune with BMan, since that has been the case in the past. The kids back then had no prob with nudity or anything at all. (I saw a little kid who must have been related to that little dusty grunting kid in the tina turner mad max movie, looked and behaved EXACTLY like him, very funny at the time.)

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  • First, thank you to all who have post on here and continue to engage in discourse that is solution-oriented, forward-thinking, supportive and constructive. In the spirit of what we are talking about, I think it’s important to keep these things in mind.

    Plug and Play is here to stay, I don’t see how debating that existential aspect is moving the proverbial rock forward? There seems to be a two key issues: acculturation and impact. I believe that the solution could involve a change in both placement and vendor policy.

    I speak from a perspective of organizing a large Plug and Play Theme Camp no different from many other large, organized camps out there, except to say that we identify and register our camp through the Placement Questionnaire and in that questionnaire we disclose that we use vendors.

    In that Placement Questionnaire we describe who we are, how long we’ve been coming, what other camps we’ve been a part of, our Raison d’Etre, how we plan to interact, what our camp will look like, what our meal plan is and LNT plan and everything that’s required information, we disclose. And we wait to find out from the Placement team our plight for the year. We trust that team to flush out and determine who is acculturated and who isn’t and who they believe have positive impact and who doesn’t. To use vendors, we pay an additional fee for each one, identify those vendors to DPW, and abide by DPW and BM rules related to vendors, as well as State and local rules and regulations. That’s IF you’re a registered Theme Camp. But what if you’re not? A good majority of camps don’t register and therefore there are no controls over acculturation and impact, let alone knowing who is going to have vendors or not.

    In order to identify vendors in a community, you have to who they are and who is using them.

    Well then the argument is then about impact. If we don’t enforce registration and camps end up using vendors and are deemed “Plug and Play” how do we look at impact, how do we judge it and enforce it? Through LNT reports? OK, that’s tangible in my book. On whether or not a camp is perceived as modeling the 10 Principles? No, totally subjective. By measuring the impact of a camps’ raison d’etre? No, because unless the camp is registered you don’t know it until you see it in action. And really, the most important question to not sweep under the rug: How do you fairly judge impact when you can’t truly know what “impact” is, how its measured objectively or when to even measure it?

    How do you create a policy system that intersects Plug and Play acculturation and impact?

    The first step would be to devise policy that requires two things:

    1. ANY and ALL campers, camps, theme camps or villages who uses a vendor (and that will have to be defined) are required to register with Placement and must identify their vendor: El Monte RV, Sunbelt, Table Nektar, Fluff ’em and Muffin — again it would need to be defined.

    2. ANY and ALL vendors must be registered, no exceptions.

    Now you know who is using vendors and who those vendors are. Step One.

    Step Two would be deciding whether you want to tax that relationship. There are arguments for and against that will determine how much or little. I’m not really here to debate that, just yet. :-)

    But ultimately the argument isn’t about Plug and Play or whether we should kick ’em all out or invite ’em all in. The argument is maintaining what Burning Man “IS” while allowing it to evolve.

    I believe an adjustment of current policy to reflect that ANY use of vendor(s) requires registration of camp and vendor with both the Placement team and the DPW for further determination.

    That said, it will then be up to the Placement Team and DPW (or some other amalgamation of oversight) to determine whether or not having meals catered or hiring LNT teams disqualifies someone from coming to Burning Man because they must automatically be just a bunch of lazy, entitled, “douchebag” rich people who want to come as tourists — or if they are instead a part of the core fabric contributing in a variety of positive ways, acculturated with real concern for community impact.

    It’s a stab at a solution.

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  • Ummm, no, Headmaster Janus. The solution is tickets matched to a name from the get go in February, non-transferable. Please get tickets in the hands of participants who really care about the event, rather than tourists. Especially rather than tourists who pay scalped prices. Thanks.

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  • @”headmaster” (try to use a less creepy name).
    You are not to say what is here to stay and what is not. (No more or less than anyone else, at any rate.)

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  • @ Janus

    I’m evolving my opinion on this subject. I would ask a question. If you consider yourself a “plug and play” camp, where are your ‘players” getting thier tickets? Are you requiring a recite that shows they paid face value through BMorg or STEP, or are you accepting campers who purchased tickets through scalpers. I’m willing to accept “plug and play’ as a viable option as long as it doesn’t negatively effect those trying to play by the rules. If you make it easy for people who purchase scalped tickets, i think you’ve gon too far.

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  • Having read through all this very interesting discourse. I still feel the same about dues at Camps, I don’t like em, cause I’ve seen some of the biggest Camps and Villages thrive without them.

    Upon all this reading and reflection I believe names and Card numbers on Tickets is the best suggestion to move towards streamlining the PNP issues. Don’t put names on EA passes as that aspect of the planing is too fluid.

    Identified tickets though more tedious seems to solve far more problems overall than it poses on the PARTICIPANTS.

    I appreciate the dialogue.

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  • Uff — ok —-

    @BeachBum — thanks for offering up another possible solution. That’s the spirit of this conversation.

    @Student — Where is your solution to Plug and Play in there? You offer nothing but personal attack. That’s NOT in the spirit on this conversation.

    @ Peace —- ahhhhhhh —- finally someone who is asking questions and not having to make digs or personal attacks — first, thank you. That’s what I consider true BM spirit. And a good question.

    First, we applied through each lottery process with dreadfully limited success. Actually, the vast majority of tickets we were able to get was in the $420 range. We applied through STEP and had some success, but the reality is our camp is still dragging by over 100 tickets. To that effect, we applied for tickets in the Theme Camp lottery, as we were a registered Theme Camp last year as PlayaSkool and a registered Theme Camp this year again. Much to our disappointment, we’ve still not heard back anything and expect at this point that we’re being heavily scrutinized with Placement and DPW, as well as public opinion and that many of our long-term campers, builders, purveyors of art cars, artists, contributors, planners, Founders, and friends will not get tickets and will not be able to attend. We have the same policy for tickets as Burning Man, we don’t advocate scalpers and we fully support the STEP program. We will have to see where the cards fall. But if Burning Man isn’t checking receipts to tickets, I don’t think singling our camp because we use vendors to achieve our objective should mean we need to have a more stringent policy then one that’s afforded to everyone coming through the gates.

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  • Oh, forgot this —-

    We are ALL for untransferable, name associated tickets. As a Plug and Play Theme Camp, we aren’t offering a tourist attraction. We know every member of our Family of Friends and this type of ticketing is something we would prefer to see. We are in support of this, despite it’s obvious collision with again, OH NO, the (in a Moses voice) 10 Principles and the Gifting. But really, if I want to GIFT a ticket to someone, then I can just buy it for them and put there name on it months in advance. Sorry, no more gate “miracles” I suppose. But yeah — we’d fully support this in conjunction with other policy changes and objective criteria.

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  • @Fatman: you asked for suggestions to save the event. I honestly don’t think it can be saved from this (greed, empty-headed people who prob don’t wipe their own butts). The solution: we should all see what is happening and STOP GOING and go do our own thing. For a couple years, the rich people will come to be entertained by arranged/staged/paid entertainment and served by paid staff. it will be a sad parody of the real thing (something people like that don’t recognize and wouldn’t understand if you explained it to them).
    So long burning man

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  • I can’t have any respect for anyone who can’t pick out their own clothes (what are they 5 years old?), pound their rebar, put up their own structures, clean their own dishes, and pick up their own trash.

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  • @HM (your name is far to creepy to spell out),
    you want a solution from me? don’t come to this event.
    Don’t like my attitude? You ain’t my boss. I work hard, think, and do my own thing. No wonder you don’t like me.

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  • While my sense of radical inclusion does include plug and play campers, (there’s just too many examples of why people legitimately need the convenience ). I do believe that vendors, and plug and play service providers should not get any break on tickets, and should be held to the highest standard for LNT.

    In 2010 a notorious old school burner, rented out some RVs to some folks from Europe. (or back east, irrelevant.) He plunked these old nasty RVs down on the corner of our allotted theme camp space before we arrived, and emailed them the location.
    Some highjinx ensued, he never did move them and we got to know our new neighbours. Nice folks.
    At the end of the event, monday afternoon, he and a buddy show up all subtle, hop in and drive off. No moop sweep, no LNT, nothing, and quite intentional about it.
    I was in charge of the camp that year and went over to have a look. Not only was there moop everywhere, but one of the RVs had been leaking, and there was nasty sink hole full of a mysterious pink fluid.

    I fully believe plug and play is going to continue to happen. Responsible providers, like Green Tortoise, provide a needed service. However, I’d like to see them registered, monitored, and their results made public.
    If there was a vendor list that showed plug and play providers with excellent LNT, and a good record of enculturating their clients, it would go a long way towards relieving a lot of the suspicion and resentment that burners apparently have towards them.
    See you in the dust.

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  • @ Janus

    I really see a role for a plug and play type of camp. I recently returned froma trip to the medateranian and middle east. If I had to carry everything with me I needed to survive, i could not have gone. One of the great things about Burning Man is you meet people from all over the world. I think dues camps and plug and play camps make it possible for more international Burners to attend and that’s to the good. There is a line in “Lawrence of Arabia” refering to an Islamic practice, ‘to the extent it is easy, you should memorise as much of the Koran as possible”. I think we should think that way about the principles, “to the extent it is possible, we should follow the 10 principles”. Having more people who want to attend than there are tickets available makes it impossible to follow the principles purely, so we are left with doing the best we can. Letting a Burner who is comming from England, and who scored a ticket through STEP, pay someone to bring survival supplies to the playa for them might be bending the non-comodification principle, but it is not breaking it. Letting someone pay $10,000 to stay in a pre-placed RV who only wants to oggle and is not interested in participating beyond giving roofies to an unsuspecting sparkle-pony is breaking the principles. I think ethical people can tell when they are bending the principles for good reason and where they are breaking the rules for a profit. Basically if you are sharing the cost of keeping you tribe whole abnd healthy, good deal, if you are figuring a way to make a profit off of Burning Man, you’ve gone too far.

    Yes, identity based ticketing would make all this a hell of a lot easier and the failure to make that happen is the single biggest mistake the BMorg has made.

    Also, a truely creative person can spell a word three or four different ways.

    @ student

    we’ll miss you

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  • @peace, I don’t know you & you don’t know me. I may go in the future, I may not. All depends on crap like this. I got along fine with real attendees, volunteered, did my part. i have ZERO tolerance for those who don’t. crap like that pisses me off, as it should all those who care about this event and end up cleaning up others carelessness and trash.

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  • I take that back… I really am done. I won’t miss what BMan has become, but I will miss what it used to be.
    too bad
    There used to be really great, involved, working, creative doers… I’ll miss them too.

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  • @Janus- one of the requirements for getting Theme Camp tickets was to have a green MOOP rating. Since you got a red last year, I wouldn’t count on getting those tickets. And as for moaning about the lack of tickets.. guess what? You are now in the same boat as every other theme camp. Hope you can swim!

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  • @ student

    I’m sincere. You will be missed. You care about the event and someone who cares and does not go will be missed. But rigidity is the opposit of creativity. Burning Man is a society and societies change or they die. Sometimes they die anyway. You can help point the change in the right direction or you can give up. One thing for sure, there will be a lot of new blood on the playa this year and thus a lot of potential for amazing things to happen. It could blow and be stupid, but it could also be the best burn ever. You can be part of that or you can leave it to other people.

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  • @Shennanigans– if you know this guys name, or who he is, I am certain that the BM org, especially Playa Restoration, would appreciate knowing that…

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  • @Janus

    You don’t have to wait for BMorg to do the right thing to do it yourself. You could say you won’t cater to people who purchase thier tickets through scalpers and enforce that by requiring them to show you a face value recite. We all learned in third grade you don’t jump off a bridge “just because Billy is doing it”. I suspect you run your camp the way you do because you find it fullfilling or profitable. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the former. You have to decide how far you can bend the principles and still find the experience fullfilling. What you shouldn’t do is blame your personal choices on the BMorgs own foolish decisions.

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  • @Peace — fair enough and I appreciate what you say.

    @Rocketgirl — 1 of the 4 criteria for receiving tickets was your LNT report and I believe we’ve done everything as a camp to explain to the LNT Team and Dark Angel what went wrong, atone and I’m confident they heard us. The other 3 criteria points had to do with longevity, interactivity, and acculturation. I’m confident the decision makers know our camp very well and have taken the time to get to know us better if they didn’t. Beyond that, they stopped in and spent time with us on playa this year, they are familiar with our artistic contributions and contributors and plans, they see what many of us do in our default lives. I’m confident that they know we are not about profit. I’m confident they know we aren’t missing out on our experience and I’m confident they know we aren’t trying to bend the principles but instead exploring who they might apply as we evolve. I’m confident in their ability to assess us based on the other 75% of the decision criteria. So I hold out hope on behalf of my family . . .

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  • So much negativity, hate and paranoia here, I thought I hit the wrong keys and got to the Fox News website by mistake. Let’s all take a deep breath and focus on something positive. By now, most people have a good idea if they’re going or not. If you’re one of the lucky (?) ones with ticket prospects, get busy on your camps, art, or whatever you’re contributing to BRC this year. The man burns in 162 days.

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  • As long as the plug-n-play camp includes the hard work of an artist creating value for the event, you should consider it may just be a welcome and creative way for the artist to get their work commissioned.

    If the plug-n-play camp is comprised purely of leeches, they should be discouraged from attending.

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  • @Janus

    I really don’t have much argument with your camp and I think student is lumping you in with the caterer’s camp…at least describing behaviors of the caterer’s camp & attributing it to Playaskool mistakenly. but you are here, involved & explaining.

    Where is that catering couple? I think caterer’s camp is a perfect name for their camp. i fear they are violating many of the principles. where are their clients getting tickets?
    It doesn’t matter if they are not exchanging money on playa…they are commodifying the experience. I’m glad that the BMORG has brought this here for discussion and thank you Janus for PARTICIPATING. That really is one of the deciding factors in how a camp and a person is received.

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  • These plug and play camps need to be- stopped. It was open to debate, I suppose, before there was a shortage of tickets. Now- there needs to be no tolerance selling the burning man commodity to tourists coming to ‘party’, and’ oh yah, we helped someone with their art project- for a whole hour, man, it was so cool!’

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  • @Janus: I was at the theme camp meeting, and Harley said that LNT history is key. With over 1200 or so theme camps vying for only around 500 slots in the ticket allocation sweepstakes, any one factor can be the reason why you are rejected. But in my memory, she stated emphatically that your LNT history is key.

    Add that to the heartfelt request that she made in the end, that these tickets are to go to you CORE camp building/maintaining and tear-down crew. These tickets are not going to you to sell to clients or friends.

    In other words. out of “our long-term campers, builders, purveyors of art cars, artists, contributors, planners, Founders, and friends”… only the “builders” are eligible for theme camp allotment tickets. And if your camp is 200, and 100 don’t have tickets, then that means that 100 have tickets in hand, and that’s 50% which is WELL above the current reality of 10%-25% that most theme camps are dealing with. Consider yourself lucky! Your whining rings a bit tinny to my ears.

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  • I live in the Midwest. I fly into Reno. If I were not part of a theme camp, I would not be able to attend. And I am much happier now that we’ve moved our storage from SFO (where I could never help load-in and load-out) to Sparks, NV (where I do). We pay a camp fee – which goes to paying the storage, covering dinners and providing water. We have 1-3 RVs, 10 tents and 2 yurts. We use the smallest amount of space possible for our sleeping area is behind our (rented) large truck – the front side of which faces the playa and hosts a movie screen. The RVs are also in the back, used as windscreens. Except for the vintage Airstream, which is just too lovely to hide. Our shade structures, couches, and shade dome and art cars are on the public side, as well. With my tent, sleeping bag and clothing in storage, I can arrive with one suitcase. Because we coordinate our arrivals and departures, I can catch a ride with one of my West Coast driving camp mates for our group grocery shop, loading up the truck at storage, and filling the water drums. And because we are all committed to self-reliance within a group setting, I can hit the ground running for setup and take-down. It’s an organized camp, with more “easy” than most, because we’ve been doing it for 10+ years…and because we’re type A, by nature.

    Were I asked, I’d be against plug’n’play. However, if that isn’t possible: I feel that any for-profit “non-profit” be required to tithe and that each ticket sold via their packaging include an individual tithe fee equal to the face amount of the ticket (above and beyond the plug’n’play’s tithe). Additionally, they should park in the way-out so that participatory camping burners aren’t stuck without.

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  • @rocketgirl “only the ‘builders’ are eligible.”

    are sparkleponies considered ‘builders’? because i don’t know how the Org is going to fill the city with cock-teases without allocating a certain amount of tickets to these types of necessary participants.

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  • “Starting this year we are going to have to come up with New Policies, New Processes, MORE FEES!” 7:40 in the video – In case anyone had any illusion as to what this is all about. BMORG is just looking at ways to generate new streams of revenue a.k.a. a way to make more dirty, disgusting, money.

    Over the last 4 months EVERY single blog or post from BMORG has been about the controversial ticket situation which was an emotional downer for everyone and has left a bit of a cloud hanging over this year’s event.

    I must say at first I was excited to finally see a post from BMORG that did not have anything to do with the ticket downer of 2012. Finally, a post to help put it behind us if only for a moment and remind everyone about why we all still love to Burn! Well it turns out the BMORG is just stirring up more shit, preparing people for the “MORE FEES” to come. (They actually say this at 7:40 in the video)

    You know we are all thinking it… YES! MORE FEES! That will make this event so much better, thank god the people at the top are such great defenders of the integrity of Burning Man. So sick of this corporate, capitalist, bullshit. We get enough of that in our day to day lives, in fact you might say that is what Burning Man used to be all about. Giving us a break from the day to day, default world bullshit. Now it’s the same as any other B.S. company trying to get in your wallet. …only they pretend as if they aren’t interested in any of that.

    So sorry to be another downer. I’m ready to move on, but I feel the BMORG keeps dragging us down with this negative B.S. Maybe the next post could just be something positive that everyone can rally behind instead of another controversial debate sparked by the corporation.

    I’m kind of at a loss. Does anyone else feel sick?

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  • @StopStirringupShit BMORG

    you may remember a couple years ago the Org posted an ad for a job for someone to help identify additional revenue streams… seems they latched onto this PnP stream.

    attendance has come to mean de-facto cooperation with the corporation. most attendees don’t care, and that’s fine with them. most of them are corporate types anyway. it’s a total transformation of the event. it’s 100% the opposite of what it once represented, and still sells itself as a counter-cultural movement – which is a disgusting lie.

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  • Wow! Too bad the organizers did not put this much thought into ticket distribution. This is a complete waste of time. Who cares what other people do? Radical self reliance? How about Radical Self Determination. You people are freakin’ sheep!

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  • I think what we are all looking for are the open, wellcoming interactive camps that have something to offer the BRC community. What we don’t want are the RV walls or fences ( I actually camped next to a group that installed a trash fence type perimeter around their camp one year) that keep us riff-raff out. Last year I visited PlayaSkool camp for an event which because of “playa time” didn’t happen when it was scheduled for. It was a fun interactive camp, I shared some iced tea with two lovely ladies. The fact that it was a P&P camp didn’t matter, they understood what BM is and were an asset to BRC. I would suggest that the camps that don’t wish to be inclusive, weather P&P or not, have their own area. That way they don’t take up valuable space from those that would wellcome all. Let’s move the walk in camp area over to the 9:00 side. The BLM camp in that area could be moved somewhere else. Maybe back to D.C. They are just a bunch of narcs anyway, and serve no usefull purpose to BRC . The freed up space could be used by the “catered” “rich douche bag ” and general non contributing tourist camps. They would be close to the airport, which would lessen the burden of finding their camps. A wall of RV’s could encircle the whole area, and a Keep Out sign posted over the entrance. They could eat their own food, drink their own drinks, and play with themselves the whole week. I would still wellcome them into our fun interactive camp, if they would be willing to stoop so low.
    On another note, when do we get to see something about all the great art that’s coming to the playa this year? Usually by now, we are treated to a preview of the funded art projects. BMorg, you do seem to be steering the conversation into the negative. If this fiasco was really caused by misscalculating demand, and the honest but stupid mistake of the lottery, then be open with us, tell us what really happened, and move on. The Man burns in 162 days. If this whole thing was manipulated by you, as I outlined half jokingly a few days ago, then you really suck, as many posters have said.

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  • This controversial topic has been rearing it’s ugly head for years. In one way or another some form of “‘So-and-so’ is not a ‘real Burner’.”

    We’ve all heard reports of the apparent gross and blatant disregard of the 10 principles. The recent rise of these ‘plug and pink’ camps into the forefront of the BM hive mind is bringing mass attention to the issue, but these problems have been around for years. They are also not as easy to levy judgement upon as the veritable horde of pariahs with their stone tablets would suggest.

    You only have to take a close look at the BM Utopian Principles to understand that in theory they are noble ideals of a redesigned society, but in reality anyone doing anything serious on the playa knows that when you get down to the dirty details the 10 principles fall apart like a house of cards.

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the 10 principles, which ironically I find easier to live by the other 51 weeks out of the year. I’ll get up on my pale horse and preach from my stone tablets too, but when you get to constructing a mutant vehicle, or building an art installation, or running a theme camp, the mandates of our society have other ideas.

    It was just a few years ago that our camp was debating whether or not we would allow RV’s in camp because we felt the use of an RV was a deterioration of the BM experience. It was argued that the use of an RV was conflicting with self-reliance, polluted the community we were creating. Heh. The BM Experience.

    We can talk about decommodification, as we drop 4 bills at the gate, as several thousand portopotties roll in, as United drops off enough diesel generators to power Reno, as Gerlach and Empire make their annual revenue in 7 days, as a fleet of Fuel trucks, Water Trucks, and RV servicing trucks troll around the festival offering services for $$.

    Or we can talk about “Civic Responsibility.” This has got to be my favorite one. Read this principle, then read the back of any BM ticket.

    Or let’s talk about how radically inclusive we are as we pick and choose who gets tickets.

    And Radical Self Reliance? Who’s to say my paying for my meals to be cooked isn’t self-reliance? I’m sure there are a thousand unique scenarios where certain people can’t get off work, have to come in late because of their daughter’s bat mitzvah, are traveling 5000 miles, and whatever other mitigating factors cause then to not fit into this simplified little framework you’ve decided is the right one.

    How is it you are so quick to pass judgement. How is it you feel you are qualified to pass judgement? What are you other than just one more whiney bitch complaining about everything that is wrong with the world.

    Oh, you’re not going to go this year because of blah blah blah? Well good riddance! We need your ticket.

    I remember my first year, and I was a spectator. Now, I run a 100+ person Esplanade camp. Last year’s Plug&Play campers are this year’s benefactors. Last year’s spectators are this year’s structural engineers. Last year sparkle-ponies are this year’s…uhhh… sparkle ponies.

    Aside from that though, I am an artist. I come to BM to do art, and I do it as big as I can. And I pay Ahern to drop off my forklift, and I charge camp dues, and I hire my friends to cook my meals, and have my people set up everything I possibly can. I pay for containers, I pay for storage, I pay for shipping, I pay for the fuel truck to fill up my generator _every day_ at $4/gallon. I pay the water truck guy to refill our shower. I bribe, I mean ‘gift’, everyone I can. That’s just good good relations.

    And I pay for all that so I have enough time to finish the art project. So I can spend every moment building something amazing.

    So step back from your keyboard, and put your hammer and nails away. You do not know the details of everyone’s (anyone’s?) particular scenario. You don’t know why they are a plug&player.

    The community is a self-healing organism. I find the most effective remedy to the plug&player, the spectator, the frat boy or the sparkle pony, is about 15 minutes of good conversation. Find the person you hate the most on the playa and then go make friends. Find out why they are the way they are. Most of them just need some direction, some help. Most of them come back next year with a passion for being more then their contemptible prior incarnation.

    Don’t look to our overpaid and under appreciated year-round employees of the LLC to help us. They’re not that good at this kind of thing. Besides they can’t do anything anyways. Any attempts at judgement or discrimination will end badly. Any attempts at policing, tracking, or monitoring themecamps will just cause more subterfuge.

    Seriously, let’s just advise our esteemed overlords at the LLC to roll around in the piles of $$, and relax. Take it easy, sit back and put your feet up. We, the artists, the burners who still go and believe, we got this one. We’ll take care of it. This is schoolyard issue that we resolve in the sandbox. We don’t go running to teacher to tattle on the other students.

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  • There may be camps being labeled as plug and play where there is collaboration of planning, where the group decides on varying forms of contribution to the camp including administration, construction, operation, and yes, monetary investment. I understand that, building a functioning theme camp takes both labor and capital, and we should all recognize that. The problem comes in when there are individuals that are just hiring servants and not simply contributing more capital than labor to a cooperative group venture.

    This is an account from an old friend of mine who worked for one of the plug and play camps being discussed. I did not post this earlier, as it took me a few days to get permission from the author.
    Here is the url.


    This does not describe a joint venture where individuals contribute varying ratios of labor and capital, this describes a transaction pure and simple. I know that there can be many interpretations of the 10 principles, but is anyone here saying that the practices described in the linked article are not transactional?

    I do not believe that there is anything that BMorg can do to ban camps like this, but, as I said before, if we as members of the burner community want to follow the decommodification principle, including the part about standing ready to protect our culture from such exploitation and resisting the substitution of consumption for participatory experience, we need to do something to push back against the commodification that these camps bring. Does anyone here have any ideas on how to do this?

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  • I wish that the Table Nectar people were available to join these posts. I am sure they would want to. They are off on the first vacation they have had in a very long time – much deserved and off the grid! I asked them to be in the video because they are concerned about the difficult situation they have found themselves and everyone they work with, and in support of, in. Their story is as complex and diverse as Janus’s. Their situation is almost the exact opposite, as the video indicates (and is why I asked them to help), but shares all the same issue and concerns. Everyone in the video wanted to show how diverse the reality of Plug and Play camps is so we, the community, could discuss it more fully. Andy and Kim’s desire for real good is as true and focused as the people choosing to post here. They agreed to help frame this difficult issue because they want to find a positive solution that would further and strengthen out community.

    As for tickets, there are no directed sales planned for Plug and Play camps. It was never considered. That would be counter to everything we are. If this notion was derived from the video it should be notes that the video was made before our tickets went on sale. This is why there are no direct references to this issue. Rest assured, no privileged tier is receiving unfair access to tickets.

    The video, though nicely crafted, left one point a bit unclear (we produced it very quickly and I should have caught this). When I suggested to Andy and Kim that the Burning Man organization might be able to help I was indicating that the organization might be able to make our expectations and rules more targeted toward these Plug and Play camps. Since they often don’t attempt placement it is easy for them to not research or gain knowledge of what we expect. With an additional push toward them on our website, in a JRS, or whatever vehicle would be best, we might be able to catch these camps before they arrive and help them learn what is expected so they can successfully integrate, participate, engage and be engaged. With a simple push or two we might alleviate many stresses. As we all know, information is knowledge.

    I will admit, when I began to research this issue two years ago, I was inclined to be fearful of the negative implications it could mean to our culture. As I have investigated I have been pleasantly surprised and a bit chagrined by my initial negative impulse. I was foolish to expect anything other than the fact that their stories are as rich and filled with successes and failures as my own. Some are doing it so right and some don’t even know they are missing the point.

    I am enjoying the open communication on this topic and hope to learn from our collective wisdom how we can make this growth in our evolution fruitful for all.

    Am looking forward to our forum, where we will discuss this in person tomorrow morning!

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  • @Harely K. Dubois
    “Everyone in the video wanted to show how diverse the reality of Plug and Play camps is…”

    You can’t get past the fact that the people who organize these camps are not just receiving camp dues – they’re earning income ON the playa. they’re vendors selling their services.

    i suppose it’s difficult or impossible to stop PnP camps – but for the Org to sanction this type of private commodification and provide special services to these camps for additional fees is total 100% bull shit of the first degree. this is not a minor infraction of the principles – this is one big FU to them.

    so FU, too!

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  • There may be camps being labeled as plug and play where there is collaboration of planning, where the group decides on varying forms of contribution to the camp including administration, construction, operation, and yes, monetary investment. I understand that, building a functioning theme camp takes both labor and capital, and we should all recognize that. The problem comes in when there are individuals that are just hiring servants and not simply contributing more capital than labor to a cooperative group venture.

    This is an account from an old friend of mine who worked for one of the plug and play camps being discussed. I did not post this earlier, as it took me a few days to get permission from the author.
    Here is the url.

    (I attempted to post this yesterday, but the link caused the post to be lost in moderation, so I am trying again without making it a link, just copy and paste this into your address bar.)


    This does not describe a joint venture where individuals contribute varying ratios of labor and capital, this describes a transaction pure and simple. I know that there can be many interpretations of the 10 principles, but is anyone here saying that the practices described in the linked article are not transactional?

    I do not believe that there is anything that BMorg can do to ban camps like this, but, as I said before, if we as members of the burner community want to follow the decommodification principle, including the part about standing ready to protect our culture from such exploitation and resisting the substitution of consumption for participatory experience, we need to do something to push back against the commodification that these camps bring. Does anyone here have any ideas on how to do this?

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  • Forgive me if this is long, but there’s so much to say…
    Bottom line: if you are “working” or doing something for money while you are on the playa, then you are selling something on the playa, and if it’s not coffee or ice that the organization puts there so you don’t get sick from rotten food or have a mental breakdown, then i will kindly tell you to go fuck yourself, or i’ll put it nicer: you don’t belong at burning man. call me a snob, call me some elitist pig, but seriously, that’s right up there with selling a free ticket, scalping, or flicking your cigarette buts on the playa. it erodes the culture of burning man, it’s a step backwards, and it’s being a tourist. It cheapens a priceless thing.

    Someone asked me a great question though, they asked “so victor, there’s always something sold on the playa, and without it there would be no Burning Man. Can you guess what it is?” I thought about it, and it dawned on me:

    Yep. Its me. Its you. Its us. Its the experience we provide as a community, created out of our thoughts, our dreams, our desire to shake free our 9 to 5 coffins and breathe free air if even its clouded dust in our lungs. It doesn’t matter… its ours.

    Its you. Its me. I get it. But while might seem that way for some on its face, there is a different spin: I’m an artist paying to be in the gallery for my friends to enjoy, not to be sold, but for someone to enjoy that’s going through the sane thing. I don’t want to be for sale or to be something some tourist comes to see. Not on their terms and not at their price. Know what I mean? No commerce. No vendor passes. No vending. Radical self reliance. Pack in, pack out. Participate. And in the end leave no trace. Right? Or are we saying that doesn’t matter anymore and burning that creed like Paul Addis did the man?
    Those that want to come and party and be a new age Hipster and go tell their office buddies how cool they are should buy PBR and wear tight jeans, not get wasted in Blackrock . They wanna come see my bar and my art? What cover should I charge? Who do I send the bill to?

    And I heard you Janus, you got your people (200 of ’em? and you know all their names?) to look after, but if you need to have dumping, water and other resources come across the border during the week YOU ARE NOT SELF RELIANT. If you are taking a collection to pay people THATS NOT VOLUNTEERING. having micro theme camps? so they have to pool their money for themselves and cut you in? Sounds like a village for money thing. (To be fair, I will visit the playaskool for the first time this year, for a very thorough inclusion inspection.) Why should a non paid volunteer donate time at the gate so someone else should profit? I get it, there are those that want to have a good time. To them that just want to experience something, roll at Cochella. I wanna go home, to Blackrock.

    the egg victor

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  • Just out of curiousity…

    Someone buys extra tickets, sells them at a higher price then they paid… They are a scalper, and are condemned (rightly so).

    Soneone else buys extra tickets, and buys food, rents an RV, buys an art car, etc…, sell it all at higher prices than they paid for it, but they are welcomed with open arms?

    Wait, what?

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  • Last year I was blown away when I rolled up to 6:00 ( Center Camp ) on Saturday from the Plata on my bike and there sat a hugh tourist bus. Blue haired people were getting out and the driver was unloading folding camp chairs for everyone to sit and watch the festivities. The fact that it had parked on the Espladade in such an obvious spot just completely shocked me. This was about 10:00 in the morning and these people were here just for the burn.
    I believe that the gates should close on Wednesday and anyone not there should be turned away. If your not willing to make the commitment of at least 3 days then what’s the point. I don’t think it’s too much to ask and it would definitely weed out the weekenders and tourists.

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  • I think the seniors from Gerlach are fine too. They get a tour of the art, and some fo the other stuff. They don’t pay for it. The nearby communities get tickets. I’ve talked to a few Gerlachians on the playa, and they are cool.

    The blog post linked was pretty much what I expected. Carry my bags to the RV? Please make sure the RV door was closed for me?

    Bleh. Stay home, or do the Burn. Don’t expect a resort, and don’t get a resort. Too bad it wasn’t dusty…I hope any P&P/resort campers this year get a howling dust storm, with the dust sifting into the cracks of their RVs.

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  • Burning Man takes care of the Senior Citizens from Gurlach. Last year I watched an elderly burner gentleman pose with a group of ladies in front of the Senior Citizens van. He was dressed up crazy and on a bike, they looked like my grandmother. All were having a great time. Super way for BMORG to take care of the local community. A variety of people is what makes the event so much fun.

    I met several of the plug and play campers last year who were great people. They flew into the BRC airport and did not have to wait in line 6 hours like my brother and I and the other 55 thousand of us did. I am not going to criticize them for it. I hope BMORG does not make their lives or the lives of the vendors easier than mine, just treat everyone the same please.

    Also, idenity based tickets… Please

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  • @ fatman
    “I do not believe that there is anything that BMorg can do to ban camps like this, but, as I said before, if we as members of the burner community want to follow the decommodification principle, including the part about standing ready to protect our culture from such exploitation and resisting the substitution of consumption for participatory experience, we need to do something to push back against the commodification that these camps bring. Does anyone here have any ideas on how to do this?” . . . . . . . . .

    How about this? Figure out where these camps are and tip off the art cars with the killer sound systems to go by all hours of the night. This may well be entirely within the pranking ethos that is pretty much informally one of the 10 + X principles. Sound so loud your lungs resonate at 4 am? ? ? ? Welcome to BRC. Happens to me annually down past Center Camp at 6 o’clock in the supposed “quiet” part of the city.

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  • Please consider this, send the Mutant Vehicle’s out to the Artists on the Playa and see if they need some help with contructing their Art.
    The same goes for recruiting for all of the other services that are run by volunteers. Some listed below.

    Find out where the Plug & Play Camps are and recruit help from the P & P Camper’s, explain it, and deliver them to the Art site.
    Not having to attend to the daily Camp chores, they have more free time to contribute.

    We have done this for years and everyone involved was grateful and fullfilled with their contributions.
    I have met so many Burners from all parts of the Planet, who because of logistics
    had no choice but to start with a Plug & Play.

    Also seen those P&P Burners over the years become major contributor’s
    too BRAF, Earth Guardians, Black Rock Solar, Greeters, Exodus, DMV, Cafe, Temple Guardians, Lamp Lighters, Artica and the BORG.

    Don’t chastize the Campers, question the Organizers.
    Either way, NO Early Arrival Pass’s, Camp Placement, Step Tickets,etc.
    Just my thoughts, Lizzy

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  • Lizzy, your angle has much merit and appeal.

    I don’t get how the big projects would get done without early arrivals though.

    The essay that fatman posted the link to does reenforce my perception that some of the most spoiled, helpless, childish mentalities out there are the ones at the top of the economic pyramid. Maybe they need radical inclusion at Burning Man more than anyone else, it might get them out of their bubble.

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  • To all Plug and Play camp organizers who are reading this with apprehension or terror.
    Please park your semi trailers pointing towards the MAN so that you block as little of the view as possible.

    Thanks! Stag Camp.

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  • I have always camped in an RV. And not all camps at BM are meant to be open to all. We in fact do circle the RV’s and trucks and I do not want you coming into my camp unless you were invited. There are other things I do on Playa so most of you can enjoy your experience, I am there only 12 days and work over 90 hours, around 40 hours my first three days. My camp is a semi-private chill space, everything I give is outside my camp, stay the fuck out unless you are invited in….

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  • @Roissy

    i agree. if i could put an electric fence around my camp to fry the naked hipsters that come in asking for all kinds of shit – i would.

    we throw private parties with signs posted saying no single males, yet they always find a way in. i wish we had a side door that we could throw these guys out and teach them a lesson so they would never come back. READ THE SIGNS!

    i’m sick of the sparkleponies coming into camp shaking their tits and asses and complaining when we don’t have their choice of alcohol and special mixers. i wish it was socially acceptable to punch women in the face in moments like these.

    and don’t get me started about the fucking kids running around everywhere. parents: wear a condom next time!

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  • Excluding off-topic replies, I count 136 posts against PnP camping, 25 supporting it. 84.5% are against it.

    Why did you think this would be received well? That ripping sound hasn’t stopped, the community is decimated this year and possibly forever. You didn’t listen when people screamed at you not to run a lottery and didn’t see any reason to protect the people who’s time, money and energy built and nurtured BRC every year. Now, while desperately trying to save the event, you dare to ask what PnP camps are doing to our culture, while appearing to condone the assholes profiting from self reliance dilution businesses in BRC. You’re out of touch with the mood you’ve created, and what people want to see you say, and do.

    If you’re not going to defend the community, other people will, and I don’t think that’s going to end well.

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  • Levy steep taxes. If you are deemed to be breaking one of The Principles you will be fined. Give us taxes or give us death.

    PS For everyone that is posting on these blogs and referencing The Principles, please look them up and read them. For us that carry a copy in their front pocket (most of the DPW) it really hurts when They are misquoted.

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  • Thank You @Reality!

    My point exactly. Enough controversy. Why even bring this garbage about PnP camping up? Did it seem like a subject that would bring a lot of MUCH needed positive unity to a community that has been torn apart by this years ticket debacle?

    If I was you I would post something new and fresh ASAP to get this crap story off of your home page. And before you post your next blog ask yourself if it will help to mend some of the wounds caused by the BMORG this year? Can it be viewed as largely positive and perhaps even unifying to the community that hasn’t stopped ripping apart since the announcement of a lottery system. (Thanks @Reality)

    I heard that you are trying to fund all 35 proposed “core” art projects this year. That sounds like a pretty positive story to help remind us of why we are still with you after all of the shit.

    Give us something positive BMORG or we will be forced to find somewhere else that will.

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  • @fatman

    did your friend think that prostituting herself would be like Pretty Woman?

    did she ever think that without people like her, camps like that wouldn’t exist?

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  • @StopStirringUpShitBmorg
    “..help to mend some of the wounds caused by the BMORG…”

    i’m so sorry, baby. i didn’t mean to do it. sometimes i get crazy and you know how it is. it’s not my fault i do these things to you. i love you, baby – i REALLY love you. you’re everything in the world to me. just because sometimes i hit you in the face doesn’t mean i don’t love you. you deserve it sometimes, let’s be honest. but that doesn’t mean i’m not very very sorry. forgive me, baby.

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  • “The community is a self-healing organism” You cut out the gangrenous part, let the maggots eat for a day and then sterilize and let the rest of the wound heal.

    I don’t know how you handle healing but it’s not something I try to do more than once. Some infestations are worse than others, sounds like you’ve had your share.

    Maybe it’s your approach that needs some adjustment.

    Or maybe you’re just burnt out. Maybe you just don’t care anymore. OR maybe it’s just that year after year you see things get worse and worse. Your motivation for positive social change wanes in the face of failure after failure.

    Maybe it’s time to step back and let someone else try. Let someone with the motivation you had 10 or 15 years ago give it a try. I know you remember those days. I know you remember how much more you got done back then.

    I know it burns every one of us, who still believe, to hear the jaded negativity of how much things have gotten worse, and how much better they were back then.

    I don’t believe that.

    2001 was my first year and I think 2011 was just as good. Sure I’ve heard about the magical ’97 but, honestly, if you’re still living 15 years in the past, get a grip.

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  • And now for another episode of “As the Man Burns”

    This week Lizzy confesses her love for the Plug&Players to the Fatman, outraging her long-time lover and fiancee.

    This bubbles forth a volcano of indecision as The Fatman had just finished negotiations with ‘the student’, the DPW’s most revered Assassin. With the help of the local Gerlach Mafia, masquerading as a tour bus of blue-haired senior citizens, Mafia leader ‘Pink’ and ‘the student’ had orchestrated a mutant vehicle collision with a variable-reach forklift, cascading massive damages entirely though Plug&Play Camp. The death-toll would be a thing of beauty.

    Only when Victor, Disciple of the Church of Dust & Sand, laid down his body in front of the VR, did the assassins see that these plug&player’s were not the rich douchebags we had been led to believe, but just misguided souls. Rich, douchey misguided souls, but misguided nonetheless. These foreigners to the burner way of life, with no prior experience, and no shepherd to show them the way, reverted to their sinful, pagan ways.

    They constructed new false gods, and fostered and revered greed, and exclusiveness, and elitism. The aspects of status and power from their corrupted homeland held no power here. Only garnered contempt and hatred. They became confused and felt ostracized from a community that bespoke inclusion. They shored up their defenses, and hid their evil ways, or planted their flag and blatantly strode about. Their Leader, Doucheus Maximus, and his first mate, El Doucheanova, are looking for conflict. They are baiting you to make hypocrites out of yourselves. They are waiting to be excluded from radical exclusion. They are commodifying your decommodification, and their ready to point out all the flaws in that mantra. They’ve been preparing for this fight for a long time and their arguments are good.

    Next week on ‘As the Man Burns.’: Stubhub signs with the Plug&Players to build a condominium at 8:30 & A, and BRC Airport has issues with their helipad. Art-Car rentals skyrockets, and DMV starts smog-testing vehicles.

    You need to remember that this is their way of life. You are not going to take it from them. You are not going to force them to change. Just as much as we believe in our way of life, so do they in theirs.

    If you take the low road, the path of exclusion, negativity, penalties, taxes, levies, the road of “You can’t do that!”, the road of “That’s wrong, get out!” the path of “We don’t want you here,” then you betray everything you propose to uphold. These are not the weapons we are allowed to use and their discussion here as a means to an end makes me sick. When I see these people I don’t shun them, I welcome them.

    Assimilation, education, and conversion our the tools we have and they work well. I can’t count the number of spectators and plug&players and frat-boys I’ve assimilated.

    Reputation, Social Standing, Peer Pressure are what these people value.

    Do you really think a financial tax is going to bother these people? Seriously? Are these not the people you are saying have so much $$ they are paying ridiculous amounts for the smallest luxury? And taxing them in your answer?!!?

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  • EvilJim, I agree you can’t fight commodification with another form of commodification (taxes, fines, penalties). But we don’t need to aid in their commodification with vendor passes. And now I’m wondering about the container rental too. Stored at the ranch?

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  • yeah, i know, it’s like a grand drama. for something so simple. But it’s really not about seniors coming to gawk (i think it’s cute) or rich people doing their thing in an RV (i hope to have one someday), i think it’s about the impact of having all that bullcrap chucked across the border daily. if i could, i’d have all the good stuff there, and let’s not joke ourselves, we all want to camp in style, right? Nobody wants to sleep on the playa under the starts anymore, you know why? cause they all got hit by art cars (Darwin wins again!). We want to have that for ourselves one day someplace deep inside. I do. but *when* i do, i will bring in what i will take out myself, and i expect no less out there from anyone else. Also, in this ticket economy it takes away tickets from people that really want to give more than what some P&P providers can bring. While their pouring drinks for douchers, some other burner will pour drinks for participants. Wile participating.

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  • I believe the Borg announced at the meeting for Theme Camp Organizers on Saturday that a 3%-of-revenue fee would be imposed on PnP organizers. It was said quickly, and there were no follow-up questions for clarification. A friend said that outside vendors, like fuel deliveries, were also going to be asked for a 3% tribute.

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  • Vendor delivery should be disallowed. Flat out. Go ahead and make whatever camp you want. But if you need 10,000 eggs, better get all 250 of your camp mates to bring 40 eggs each.

    No but seriously. Can we simply ban any kind of vendors or vendor entry? How did that get started in the first place?

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  • “I believe the Borg announced at the meeting for Theme Camp Organizers on Saturday that a 3%-of-revenue fee would be imposed on PnP organizers.”

    Is there official confirmation or denial of that?

    I’m going to sell cheeseburgers on the esplanade, $1 each, 3c to the Borg each time.

    What’s the difference?

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  • @EvilJim

    “Maybe it’s time to step back and let someone else try. Let someone with the motivation you had 10 or 15 years ago give it a try.”

    i stopped going in 2007 when i realized the Borg’s relationship with the community was abusive. once you realize you’re in an abusive relationship, either you get out or you’re just asking for it.

    so i left the event for people like you to continue to get bloodied, thinking you can change things. and when you finally realize things can’t be changed – after years of effort and thousands of dollars – you’ll leave it to the next wave of eager burners who will attempt the same thing with the same results.

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  • this saddends me as much as the ticket fiasco. plug and play camping is for tourists or people who are too lazy and uncreative to setup their own camp. i cant even imagine rolling into a fully assembled camp WHY WHY WHY BORG did you have to sellout before i got to come to the playa do you realize that 75% + OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE BURNING MAN ARE NOT/CANNOT GO THIS YEAR DUE TO IRRATIONAL MOVES LIKE THIS AND THE TICKET FIASCO. R.I.P BURNING MAN 1986- 2011

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  • i don’t know how pay & play is any different than the thousands and thousands of sparkle-ponies that show up and do nothing but prance around. they don’t even pay to play – the most they provide to their benefactors is an occasional hand-job. i’ve never seen one of them plant or pull rebar. they feel justified enough that they’re participating by looking sexy and teasing men.

    the people who buy into pay & play camps are the same as sparkle-ponies in my book. no one is callling for a ban on sparkle-ponies.

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  • @Peace

    I think what Anne Stern was talking about is vendor deliveries to attendees, not the infrastructure teams.

    There’s no reason why attendees need vendor deliveries unless they’re supporting other attendees who are unwilling to provide these services on their own (with very few exceptions). Hence the violation of the principle of radicle self-reliance – as such these deliveries should not be allowed, and at a minimum should not supported by the Org.

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  • All of this makes me want to bring a Uhaul out to BM loaded with feathers and styrofoam, then open the gate and let it all blow out. Why should I follow the LNT principle if the Org can’t follow its own decommodification and self-reliance principle?

    There’s actually no reason I can think of. I’m sick of picking up after myself out there. I’m sick of being nice to people. Fuck everybody and everything – let’s PARTY! Let’s party like the Oh-Are-Gee and kick some fucking ass! 2012!!!!!!!

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  • @Fluffy Tony

    If you have a huge (50+) camp and you’re an attendee, I could see needing vendors. You have to deal with storage and spoilage. We don’t have a 1000 temples, but we might have as many as a 1000 people contributing to the temple. Are those people not being “self-reliant” because they don’t build their own personal temple? Burning Man isn’t in a harsh environment because we think it’s cool to spend a week in a place that’s trying to kill you, it’s in a harsh environment because that was the best place to go. A giant blank canvas the “the man” would let become a crazy happening once a year. if we could find a “playa” with no-rain, no-wind, no-dust, and 85 degree temps, we’d go there because we aren’t stupid. We aren’t the group that does the road-warrior/rennesance-faire deal in california City, we’re a group of creative people who gather to do crative projects. It just so happens in a harsh environment. Part of Radical Self Reliance is having the brains to realise collective action can make surviving on the playa easier. The vendor issue is off topic, the P&P camps aren’t really the issue either. The issue is participation vs tourism. The reason people want to stop vendors is they believe that will hurt P&P camps and thus discourage tourism. But eliminating vendors also hurts large participatory camps. It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face…it’s dumb. I don’t care is there are P&P camps if they are run responsibly and encourage participation. I think trying to regulate them simply adds more rules, regulations, and enforcement to the playa. That’s what I’m trying to get away from more than anything.

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  • @Peace

    the large participatory camps are unnecessary. they build big things. do we need big things? i don’t. no one needs them. they’re just big, and usually the bigger they are, the less interesting they are. everyone looks and goes, ‘oh, that’s biiiig.’

    somewhere along the way bigger became known as better. so bigger became a justification for all kinds of bending of the principles…. ‘we’re bigger, so we need vendors to bring us fresh fruit and and beef flown in from argentina.’ that doesn’t sail.

    the playa is so expansive that it dwarfs even the largest piece of shit burners can hammer together. being a big camp is no excuse for being an exception to the rules – especially ‘self-reliance’.

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  • @Fluffy Tony

    It sounds like you’re substituting your personal taste and your desire for a specific experience for the desires and experience of others. I personally love the big stuff. I personally love to see the efforts of hundreds of creative people rowing in the same direction. Seeing everyone doing their own thing? I see that everyday. I don’t get to go to my local art collective or local gallery and see a trojan horse. I don’t get to see people living on a six story scafolding in my town. If I want to see a bunch of people in small tents I only need to go fishing this summer. To say there shouldn’t be large projects on the playa because they bend the principles is like saying women should be submissive to men because it’s in the bible (it isn’t by the way). The principles should serve creativity, if they get in the way, they need to be adapted. We should not become Burning Man fundamentalists. This is an experiment in collective living, collective creativity. It is a society in the making and division of responsibilities is what happens as societies grow. If you don’t grow, if you don’t change, you die.

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  • “There’s a lady who knows all that glitters is gold, and she’s buying the stairway to heaven.”

    PnP camps are a great way to buy your way in without having to participate. If that’s what you need, great, but the question is, how much of the city’s principles should be compromised for a commercially-motivated special interest?

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  • why can’t we just all get along?

    I just read this and it made me laugh. Since laughter is something that is in short supply these days, I thought that I’d share it.

    Dear-Would-be-Burner: It is with deep regret that we must inform you that, due to overwhelming demand, we are unable to process your ticket request. We hope you understand, and we are really sorry. I mean REALLY sorry. We admit we totally dropped the ball and our karma is suffering, and we promise to straighten up and fly right next time. We are feeling guilty and losing sleep-in fact some of us are suffering from PTSD, and have started drinking VERY heavily. Others have become violent, and had to be forcibly restrained, and it’s a bad scene all around, so just DEAL with it, O.K.? Why don’t YOU try herding 50,000 fucking cats in the desert sometime and handling 10 different government agencies, and everybody wanting this and wanting that with no let-up and see how YOU like it??!! HUH??? Thought so!!! All righty then, see ya next year.
    Best wishes, the BMORG

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  • Ticket fiasco year after year. Actual BMOrg *support* and *assistance* for Plug-n-Play camps. Blatant commodification before/during/after the event. Radical self-reliance thrown completely off the playa. RIP, Burningman. You are as good as dead.

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  • don’t hate me, but PnP camps might actually save the burn for me this year. i have a MV that holds up to 30 people with a complete bar, but since only a couple people in my camps got tickets, i was thinking about not bringing it out this year.

    actually, i don’t think i need a camp. i’m fairly certain that i can rent out my MV to PnP camps. at say, $200 per head each night and i can make $3k PER NIGHT! maybe more if it’s one of those high-end PnPs. that is BANK. it would only take myself to drive and my buddy to tend the bar and music and we’re good to go.

    that actually sounds exciting to me because i can network with some of these high-valued burners and also probably get laid EVERY night.

    i’m actually so excited about this right now. and before you all start hating on me – the Org has already sanctioned and assist this type of activity. i’m just doing as they do. if it’s good enough for the Org, it’s good enough for me.

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  • In any movement, there are 10% believers and 90% hangers on. The 90% are there because they believe participation bestows some level of cool on them, some illusion of being on the inside. Ironically those people here who are complaining most loudly about the ticket situation and the P&P camps probably think they are in the 10% because they hold some fundamentalist attachment to the letter of the law regarding the 10 principles. In the words of Jesus (yes I’m going there!) “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”, in other words the principles were put in place to serve the community and provide a framework for creating an ever growing, ever changing city. It is inevitable the principles, when interpreted literally, will come up against reality. At that point you can keep to the letter of the principles and let the event collapse under its own weight, or you can look to find creative solutions using the principles as a guide rather than a limitation. I’ve seen what fundamentalism does to well meaning religious people, and I’d rather not see that happen to Burners. In a broken world, I see creativity as our only hope for salvation (is that dramatic enough) and it is the spirit of creativity that needs to be preserved here. Comodification can kill creativity when those providing the money want to control the outcome, or when the recipient of the patronage feels they must cater to the patron. On the other hand most great art has been produced under a patronage system. Very little is bad in itself, it is how something is used that makes it beneficial or destructive. Those who hold a fundamentalist view of the principles believe they are part of the 10% of true believers, but in fact they care more about their own experience than they do the soul of the event. And let’s face it, the event is the community. Yes Burners do a lot of good in the default world, but the event (happening) is the center around which the community forms. If the center does not hold, the community will not be a community. The changes happening now are natural to a growing civilization. We are seeing 1000s of years of human development play out in microcosm over a few decades. It is to be expected that the problems of the default world would infect Burning Man eventually. Great! Now is when the real work begins. How do we deal with these problems creatively? You can say you’re a Burner, hold the principles tightly to your chest, and walk away now that things are getting really hard, or you can be a Burner and participate in creative solutions.

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  • i’ve been waiting since 07 for this cluster-fuck in the desert to burn itself to death. now that it’s finally shoved ‘decommodification’ and ‘self-reliance’ all in one go, there’s no retreat from the flames.

    actually, i wouldn’t mind the event continuing for another 10 years just to watch it burn slowly into the ground, miserably and embarrassingly for the so-called founders that the legacy they leave is one of corporate-klowns gone bad. they’re getting very old now, and i hope they get buried in the earth when they die so i can dance on their graves.

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  • Ghost: as a woman alone, in 2010, arrived a virgin and built my own shade and tent structure and my respective neighbors lent a shower twice and a misting tent 4 of the days…so i was lucky. I did not expect such luck. I rarely had to feed myself–but I did not expect that. I was prepared, completely self reliant, to eat out of cans all 8 days, peanut butter and bread, and boxed juices and wine; sponge bath in my little 5 x 9 x 3′ tent, pack out my grey water (water something at a rest stop), likewise trash, etc. I prepared to leave a very small single visitor footprint so all that would be easy to deal with. People who come from afar have no excuse. I brought self-disposed lysol wipes and toilet covers for the porta potties. I brought a single burner propane canister stove attachment so I could make tea. I brought a case of 30 cheap beers which i buried in my clothes at the bottom of the footwell in my car and so they somehow managed to stay less than air temp the whole time–and recipients of those beers oh so happy about that gift! I brought my award winning photography, matted, to pass out as playa gifts. I bought no coffee or ice the whole time. I pounded no rebar because all my bought water held down my tiny tent. I did, however, dig out other’s rebar and clean up their moop. That’s one of the agreements on the back of the ticket: that I moop for 2 hours in the 8 days, as well as maybe dying. But I lived…better than most other times in my 43 years. And driving out, I bought Indian Flat Bread because I read about it in an Alexie Sherman novel and because it supported the community. I stopped at the garbage stop in this small town and paid to throw away mine and other’s garbage as well as turn in recycling I could have gotten $20 for in California. That’s the Burning Man I prepared for. What I was not prepared for the generosity I would find around me, it blew me away. I would have survived without it and I would have given someone a ride both to and from, had I not gone at the last minute (how lucky to have gone the last year it was not sold out) and had I not packed out other’s trash. Driving from and to Reno gives alot of opportunities for radical self reliance, and to be the recipient of alot of radical inclusion. I still marvel at this, and I came as a skeptic.

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  • @Weinstein: I loved your post! I’m also a woman, but attended with a friend. I recognize the challenges for those traveling solo (most of my other travels are solo).
    Alot of the challenges for a solo woman are due to the existence of agressive wierdos like @Pat Attack.
    @Weinstien: you rock!
    @Pat: stay home

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  • “But on the flip side, it could also be said that these camps are providing opportunities for some would-be Burners who wouldn’t otherwise have the ability to survive and thrive in the Black Rock Desert to experience Burning Man.”

    “….wouldn’t have the ability to survive…” If you’re too much of a wuss to survive without a babysitting service, don’t come. (I mean no disrespect to the disabled Burners out there, y’all have been self reliant and thriving for years). I know lots of people who would love to come to Burning Man but can’t tolerate heat, dust or porta potties. That is what kept our event at a managable size.

    Now that anyone with money can buy an all-inclusive vacation package, we’ve got the ticket crisis. Next year, let’s move BRC to a gigantic grassy field with shade trees and swimming pools, then a million people can come. Talk about radical inclusion!

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  • Gninja Says: “If you’re too much of a wuss to survive without a babysitting service, don’t come. (I mean no disrespect to the disabled Burners out there, y’all have been self reliant and thriving for years). I know lots of people who would love to come to Burning Man but can’t tolerate heat, dust or porta potties. That is what kept our event at a managable size.”

    Even if you come in an RV you are dealing with wind, dust, heat, mud… Most of the RVers I know use the porta-potties because the sewage syetem on an RV isn’t sufficient for an entire week and you probably aren’t near your RV when nature calls. I don’t RV, but our camp has Burners from 17 to 70. I’ve burned with folks dealing with heart conditions, diabeties, and cancer, yet they still want to come out and contribute. They have to deal with the same harsh environment you do, but they do need a place to escape when they’re limitations get the better of them. Plus the dust jacks-up your RV, you’re going to spend weeks cleaning it out. I’m not saying RVs don’t have advantages, but they don’t make the playa a luxury condo on the Riviera.

    Since when did being a Burner become equivalent to being a Navy SEAL? If you’ve burned for a while and haven’t figured out how to give yourself a few comforts on the playa you’re not more hardcore, you’re just dumb and lazy. I spent months building a house from scratch that could be taken down and transferd to the playa in the back of my pick-up. Am I a wuse for using my creativity? I thought that’s what Burning man was all about, creativity. If you really just want the Road Warrior experience, there’s a group that does that, but that’s not what Burning Man is about. It was originally on a beach and folks went home to their beds at night. It didn’t move to the playa because the environment was harsh, but inspite of that. The playa provided a great blank canvas to create on and the fact that the place is constantly trying to kill you was overlooked.

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  • @pat
    No, it is your wierd obsession with female body parts that makes the point even more valid.
    Dysfunctional aggressive sickos like you are the reason that I need to have a conceal carry permit.

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  • @pat: I’ve been physically attacked by people like you. And I know someone who was murdered by someone like you.
    People like you feel it necessary to make it difficult and dangerous for women. that is why I need to protect myself and have a conceal carry permit. TThat conceal carry may not be allowed at bman, but I can do that in the rest of the world.

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  • To add to what Peace said, RV’s aren’t necessarily luxury RV’s by any stretch of the imagination. Some of those RV’s you see out there have no AC, no working plumbing, and less than adequate power.

    My first, second, and third year, I drove a 1970’s RV and ended up sleeping in chairs on our ‘front-porch,’ and wish I had brought a tent instead.

    The only thing the RV provided (like many out there), was a large enough vehicle to tow/bring loads of ‘art/supplies’ to the playa, and provide some degree of a wind-break for the tent campers.

    7 years later and the RV still isn’t luxury, but now it’s at least ‘somewhat’ better than a tent. I still poop in the porta-poties, at least until I finish the composting toilet…

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  • @ Peace
    “It didn’t move to the playa because the environment was harsh, but inspite of that. The playa provided a great blank canvas to create on and the fact that the place is constantly trying to kill you was overlooked.”

    it moved to the playa because larry’s beach burn got shut down by the cops. it happened that his burn attracted a few members of the Cacophony Society who suggested to larry that he take the man out the playa. the CS had been going to the playa for years before BM because it allowed them to behave like the anarchists they were – there were no rules governing behavior.

    larry showed up with his friends and eventually turned what the CS had gifted them into a business loaded with rules and and restrictions and with a strict hierarchical structure. basically, BM raped the sentiment of the counter-culture and made millions off doing it.

    and still you people don’t get it – that you’re chewing on one giant turd and you have shit all around your mouth and your breath smells like something died in your mouth.

    but wait! as long as we can redefine shit to mean roses, everything is fine.

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  • @Twiddle
    I think you left out the part where people got run over in their tent because there was no organization to the event.

    It comes down to this; Burning Man has always been an experiment in community. There is a reason sociologists study Burning Man. As with all societies the roots of Burning Man are anarchy, and like all societies that survive, there comes a time where the society grows so large that some organization must be agreed to among its members (social contract). I’m guessing you don’t live in the wilderness and hunt for your food, so I’m guessing you understand the reason for this. The CS didn’t suffer a coup led by Steve Harvey; they were complicit in the change. They could have continued to have a small event on the playa if they wanted to; they chose to see where the event went, just like your welcome to spend a week on the playa with a few friends now if you like. Burning Man is only one week (plus set-up time), they playa is huge, open to the public, and there all summer, just go if you think that’s better.

    I’m certainly not saying the BMorg hasn’t made huge mistakes. Gee a bunch of creative hippie types didn’t turn out to be perfect city planners, big surprise, but they’ve done pretty well and the experiment continues. This year the society has to deal with serious scarcity for the first time, along with a bigger than expected influx of aliens (virgins) who need to be integrated into the society. I’m down to see how creative we can be with those limitations. I’m actually jazzed that there is this big issue the society has to deal with; something to shake things up.

    Nostalgia isn’t creative, it’s just some people’s excuse for not doing the work required to make things better.

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  • @Peace
    “I think you left out the part where people got run over in their tent because there was no organization to the event.”

    no, because it’s irrelevant. it was dangerous back then. no one was holding your hand. and people getting hurt is no excuse to implement hand-holding on such a massive scale.

    if you want to be safe, stay home. or rather – if you want to be safe, go to burning man.

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  • @Twiddle

    Peaple get hurt at Burning man all the time. There is a reason there is a medical tent. I’ve never known a year where there wasn’t at least one death and i always marvel there aren’t more. No one is checking out art projects to make sure they’re safe, case in point, we almost killed some people with a palm tree last year. The org didn’t make us fix it, we just decided killing people would be bad karma, so we fixed it. The org helps organize a minimal infrastructure. that’s it. There’s a reason burners worry about so many newbies comming out at once…it’s a dangerous environment! You can still get run over, fall off an “interactive” art project, get hit by a flying palm tree, overdose, suffer dehydration, or sunburn parts that usually aren’t exposed to the sun. There’s no hand-holding, just a structure for the chaos to play out on.

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  • Does “tits or GTFO!” mean “bare your breasts or Get the Fu– Out [of Burning Man]?

    or that some sort of discrimination will occur if “tits” (please define) does not occur?

    And an unrelated note, no one is trying to validate anything by mentioning someone’s femaleness. That was your extrapolation.

    But I am far more interested in the first two questions being answered. Anyone? And you will see why its pertinent to the original issue of Plug and Play in a minute.

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  • Oh for fuck’s sake. This sort of thing would have been strictly forbidden in the 90’s and is now defended by the borg as “contributing” (monetarily). Face it, suckers. This shit belongs to someone else now. Find something new. If you are truly a creative person I’m sure you can find a better venue for your efforts. It’s over. I know it hurts to say it. But try. “It’s over”. “It’s over”.

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  • Hey, “peace”. I remember a year when there wasn’t a death. I remember several, in fact. I also remember the first death at Burning Man. Michael Furey. RIP.

    From SF Weekly— “Despite Furey’s death (the first ever), the Hudson accident, and several other fender benders, Harvey says this year’s crowd of 8,000 to 10,000 was the most well-behaved to date. However, he is worried about the amount of traffic on the playa. “Have we reached the maximum amount of people that can attend? Absolutely not,” he says. “Have we reached the maximum amount of vehicles? Yes.” Harvey says plans are already in the works to create a public transportation system next year to move cars off the desert floor. “We are going to redeem that guy’s death,” he says.”

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  • @ Weinstain
    “And an unrelated note, no one is trying to validate anything by mentioning someone’s femaleness. That was your extrapolation.”

    your post that begins with “as a woman alone…” goes on to have nothing to do with your gender. either women have it in their minds that being a woman is special and somehow makes whatever they write more poignant than if they were male. so it’s necessary to inform the reader as soon as possible that they are female. that’s sexist.

    the other alternative is that women do this to seek attention or favor from the men who are responding. that’s fine, ladies. nothing new there – you can accomplish this by merely having a non-gender neutral name.

    hence, tits or GTFO. either you’re seeking attention from men – in which case: show tits. or you’re being sexist – in which case: GTFO (of the discussion).

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  • @free spirit

    “that is why I need to protect myself and have a conceal carry permit..”

    okay, psycho. and you wonder why you’re still single.

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  • I am amazed at how rigid, stuck in the status quo, and stuck in the past, and hung-up on the rules, so many of these supposedly creative people are. Yes, this will change the event, this will have an impact the events relationship to the principles, blah, blah, blah. Of course the event is changing. That’s what creation is, doing something new. Did you not realize when you signed on to this it would change based on a variety of catalysts and pressures? Kick ass art, made by kick ass people, in a supportive and appreciative environment; that’s what this is, that’s all it’s ever been. The principles are alive and well even in an environment that requires minor compromise. To say you won’t play because it’s not as cool as it was in 1998 is cowardly. There are thousands of people who will, once again, create something beautiful an unique out on the playa this year. Help or get out of the way. Go have you Burning man fundamentalist party somewhere else and stop whining.

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  • Namecalling and vulgar/abusive language aimed at any group are unwelcome on the Burning Blog. Uncivil comments will continue to be removed and repeat offenders may find their IP addresses banned. Four posts have been removed from this conversation per the comment policy linked below. Please keep it civil.

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  • OK, the reason I ask about the “tits” comment, is because it is Federal Land. And there can be no discrimination based on gender, national origin, etc.

    Some rich attorney COULD make a case regarding discrimination for any group or activity that is excized.

    Anyway, yup, Benny is right. It is over. Glad I went in 2010. But it is more than just appreciating art, it really is and its sad to see that it become a tourism, unparticipatory, commercial driven, exercise. No point in Burning the Man then.

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  • @Weinstain

    What big difference did you observe between 2010 and 2011? I was at both and could not tell you of any great difference other than different art projects. It was still the best creative outlet out there and I suspect it will be again this year.

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  • @ Pat Attack

    Free Spirit never made any gun threats. She simply pointed out she carries a gun in the default world because creepazoids with small penises (my assumption) have to objectify and exploit women and she expressed her disappointment that cowards like that have found their way into the Burning man population, forcing women to be cautious. She specifically said she wasn’t bringing her gun to the playa. Ironically one of the changes the Burning Man fundamentalists complain about is you can no longer bring a gun to the playa as people did in the early days.

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  • @Peace

    “Burning Man fundamentalists complain about is you can no longer bring a gun to the playa ”

    They complain that men can’t bring guns to the playa. No one wants to see a woman with a gun, as women are not held accountable for their actions.

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  • plug and play at BM = Disney World Resort style
    I just want people who participate and give to the event rather than pay and watch.
    I know many of those who buy into P&P do participate in some fashion but the concept just seems counter to what BM is all about. But, I guess if you own tickets you can have whoever you want in your camp, right??

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  • Maybe the term Plug and Play is a misnomer. We come to the playa to play. We all plug in and play in our own ways. My first year on the playa I didn’t even have a tent, just a sleeping bag and a tarp, lol. Then I tented it for many years, then invested in the solid walls of an old camper. It was a nice progression. All I can say is focus on your own experience. How do you like to play? Others are always going to play differently, thank gawd, that’s the spice of life and what makes the unexpectiveness of bm so radically fun.

    If someone intends to make their bm experience a job, then tax them if there is a way and reinvest in public infrastructure… win win!

    The principles are just a social guideline, not laws chiseled in stone by dog almighty. Maybe I’ll make my camp this year into “Camp Pantie Unpacking”… come kick back, relax, and we’ll gently unfurl your knotted up panties for you. :)

    As for some historical edifications…

    …there where vendors on the playa selling food back in the early years and camps you could buy into food plans, it has always been there, who the fuck cares, we all gotta eat. Sharing and gifting is lot more fun, it’s that simple, that’s how the gifting “principle” evolved.

    …On the off topic topic of death on the playa, the Michael Fury tragedy happened miles from Black Rock city, it was during set up time when there were maybe 70 people on the playa and theirs were only two vehicles within miles of the incident. In ’97, the following year, when BRC relocated to Hualapai flats, there were no cars on the playa, car camping was above the shoreline, you had to walk out to the playa.

    …As far as I know, the first CS event on the playa was zone trip #4 and there was no definition separating cacophonists and burners, “you may already be a member,” I see no reason this is not the case still. If you go to burning man or not, you can be a cacophonist and/or a burner or not, it’s all a subjective thingie, is it not?

    If bm tastes of a pile of bm to you, don’t come roll in it, if you doo, I’ll probably avoid your camp (smirk).

    As others have intimated before, the playa is a great equalizer, no matter how or what you do there, you are the subject of dust. The all inclusive, inescapable, unnumbered principle.

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  • Another between the lines principle that plays into this topic… esteem is garnered by what you give! I think this is the greatest power of this crazy experiment of the absurd that is bm.

    ie… if you just ogle (especially with camera and no pants (ie. shirt-cock)) = low on totem pole.

    if you gift sublime experience unto others = ripples of ecstatic bliss will likely permeate your being!

    Most people get this and we all revel in what the fertile desert bestows… (take note dearest firsties). Of course there is a delicate balance between giving and burning out by attempting to give more than you have. (Teamwork/collaboration, experience, synchronicity and simplicity are other factoring principles here).

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  • People people people. The world is changing as it always has and always will. When Burningman changes to the point that any individual does not like then you move on. From what I have heard is that the 4th of Julplaya is what Burningman was like when it first started on the desert. The only reason borg was concerned about not enough core people got tickets is that would not have enough volunteers or playa events to bring people back again next year. Sadly this appears to be the beginging of the end for Burningman and the borg may have to find a real job like the rest of us do here in the near future. RIP Burningman !!

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  • I am curious…What are the p&p managers planning to do when specific clients–who didn’t “get it” last year–want to come back? Will they refuse these individuals a spot in the camp? Will they negotiate terms? Or will they just take their cash and put up with their antisocial behavior, which will ultimately perpetuate the problems.

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  • Burning Man is a social experiment. The focus of the event is peoples’ experiences. This year has shown there are a finite number of people and increasing demand. With that in mind I would argue that plug and play camps dilute a finite resource without increasing a positive experience for the people doing the work. If the limited resource is tickets, then it should be against the terms of the ticket holder to engage in paid work while at the event. Allowing a servant class to be created robs both tickets holders who engage in commerce of important parts of the experience. Some have argued the an RV is the same as paying to have a camp built. I do not like RV’s either, but RV’s do not subtract anyone from the experience and they allow their users more time at the event to participate. Groups will generally distribute work by skill, or other priorities. It is important to the experience of all Burners, that one of these priorities is not a labor agreement extending onto the Playa.

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  • In my opinion, plug and play camps work directly and unequivocally against Immediacy, (“the touchstone value in our culture”), Radical Self reliance and Decommodification (and all these principles are an interlinked system anyway). It boils down to why we do this thing that we do. For me, providing the charge/the environment/the catalyst that wakes up people’s creativity (whatever that may be) is what these events are here for. They are supposed to be the revolution where fun and deep engagement is the vector that makes change happen, in us, in our worlds making the default world an altogether more meaningful place, a bettered place. They are a counterpoint a very passively consumptive (default world) society, where most shit is pre – packaged and all you have to do is passively consume it. Which is spiritually bankrupt. Creativity comes form a diversity of activities crashing into one brain/human/collective. So very fundamentally, radical self-reliance is as important as radical self-expression. Its that jolt of pleasure you get when you’ve worked hard and suffered a bit and then it all comes together makes you feel exhausted, alive and engaged. You’ve made a home, you’ve invented. Having your shit organised for you at Burning Man/AfrikaBurn, I believe robs you of at least a good chunk the experiential learning that is happening out there..The world needs more generalists (which is what being a burner does to you), everyone should know how to put up shelter for themselves because its quite fundamental.

    So its simple: A luxury experience at BM is a commodity, its a service being sold. Its someone doing your shit for you at a cost. Its back to the impersonal transaction. Its an exceptionally slippery slope this. When we transact like this, we lose relationship. For me, it sucks the immediacy out of the thing. Its consumptive and un-engaged. If we allow that default world, service/exchange sensibility to slip into the mix (the thin end of a very big wedge) the principles that guide this thing run the risk of becoming glib slogans empty of substance. These events are not meant to be vacations. They’re not meant to be easy. They’re moments in time that wake all sorts of shit up in us. If we revert to default world behaviour because its sensible, we lose the movement. Going to the desert to build a wooden structure and burn it, is essentially not sensible. Pretty much nothing about Burning Man is sensible. Its about senses. Reconnecting with our wilder natures, which wakes up our more caring natures. Its about practicing imagining.By plugging and playing you are missing out on the collaboration of inventing a project, a home (however simple it is)

    The massive growth of AfrikaBurn and the sheer popularity of the event actually disturbs me a little. I have spent massive amounts of time this year dealing with tour companies, that are trying to sell package tours to AfrikaBurn. Their argument is that its sensible. We’ve decided to ban these kinds of services at AfrikaBurn. Try and nip this shit in the bud. Our general approach is that people can go and fetch a good (like an overland truck with a fully kitted kitchen, an RV, etc) but services may not solicit burners. If it starts with a service, the good being sold, not the relationship, you can just say aye or nay to it. Consume it or not. It messes with the foundational stuff. If it all starts with real relationship, its makes sense…..groups of friends, theme camps hiring stuff to make their sojourn more efficient/easier is fine. But it must remain in the realm of relationship, unmediated by impersonal money transactions, or advertising. I’m still not entirely sure how we are going to “enforce” this , but we are muddling through that and trying work it out.

    The guide is there from the Burning Man mission statement: “The touchstone of value in our culture will always be immediacy: experience before theory, moral relationships before politics, survival before services, roles before jobs, embodied ritual before symbolism, work before vested interest, participant support before sponsorship”

    I think that Burning Man should phase plug’n play camps out it might just solve some of the ticket crisis. Bring that slog back and you might lose some rockstars….might
    A quote from the AfrikaBurn Surviving and Thriving guide:

    As AfrikaBurn is a camping community event
    that is all about participation, and because
    radical self-reliance is as important as radical
    self-expression, we do not endorse prearranged
    sort-all-your-shit-out-for-you package tours.
    We also do not endorse people staying off-
    site and visiting on a daily basis

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  • @Monique Schiess
    “A luxury experience at BM is a commodity”

    burning man itself is a commodity. your attendance and participation is a part of that. in fact, the whole business model depends on it.

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  • I first want to say thank you so much for being you. Not many groups would look after both sides so bluntly, and I feel that is the quickest and best way to find solution. All I can offer is my experience. I definitely would of been a plug and play camper if money would have allowed it, since then though I have seen what that level of dependence takes away from the event. Burning Man is a week in the desert and more for some, it is a place to feel comfortable outside of your comfort zone…which makes no sense if you’ve never been, but all the sense in the world if you have.

    Now speaking to the ones that it makes sense to it is important to breach your comfort zone in multiple ways on multiple levels, but at the same time one could totally lose themselves without a place of comfort beyond center camp, preferably in or near their sleeping quarters. Currently I will be running an all Virgin camp at our regional Burn, I did this one other time last event and it went very well. What I provided was simple, a shaded lounge area, tables, coolers, basically the bear bottom stuff, but I also charged no dues (no need to provide anything so a little seems like a lot) However I do highly recommend bringing just 2 things for the camp/community beyond a 4 page supply list for themselves. BACON AND BOOZE

    Bottom line is if we asked for dues/fees we should at least kept these things the same, but required some form of community effort like helping other camps build, which I require, maybe prepare a meal for 119 DPW ;) or volunteer in the BRC infrastructure or clean up (maybe not clean up, because the honor system seems to work better in theory) but you get the idea…I might do a followup post with a bunch of plug n play for communal effort bartering ideas…..blah thats a mouthfull

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  • I co-produce a Plug & Play camp but I wish I didn’t have to. I don’t like the culture it creates within our camp. I wish I could get folks to do more, but I do it because the folks that join our camp would never otherwise go…folks who are opinion leaders that wish to experience it (often only once). It’s important that these folks come away positively transformed and inspired, and they simply aren’t inclined to take more than 4 days off. That’s just life and if I don’t create this experience for them someone else will…….

    HOWEVER, I would like to see RV’s banned altogether, for so many reasons. For the money folks like us spend on hiring people to have RV’s driven in/out, fully stocked, we could be supporting designers/architects/engineers who have developed interesting forms of temporary housing whose applications go way beyond BM and help alleviate suffering in crisis centers. THAT’s what BM is about to me, and the added benefit is that if you eliminate RV’s to all except those who come very early to set up or break down (maybe let them roll in after Sunday temple burn), you will be back to normal numbers. Suddenly, stub hub problem MAGICALLY disappears, and you see an explosion of interesting, innovative habitats that inspire and point the way to a more sustainable future. It may leave less time for folks to create art and interactivity, but the camps themselves will be so much more aesthetically pleasing and interesting that it won’t matter.

    Burning Man wants to be about its principles, but because it has become, by its own infrastructure limitations, too big to hold all who wish to attend, it must therefore support the communities that wish to spread the culture. Until I see more radical requirements for participants, I am focusing my efforts and resources in other participatory festivals beyond the playa that promote Burning Man principles.

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  • PnP is not something I’d seek out on the playa. This doesn’t mean it’s wrong, just something not for me.

    It just seems like a cruise ship or all-inclusive resort experience they offer. Why bring that to BM?

    PnP seems like Barbie & Ken from Newport Beach with costume bought online (that all look the same), Segways, heroin chic, botox, lipo, perfect tans, and hyper-white teeth (or something manmade to resemble teeth), Marathon (Prevost) motor coaches with slide outs, Jacuzzis, wall of sound soundsystems, and so on.

    Some of the BM allure to me is the mild suffering, the dust storms, the heat, the harshness of the environment, and toughing it out.

    Some PnP camps exclude passerby, and that kinda runs opposite of what I thought BM was about. I know, I’m naive.

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  • It appears burning man has become a victum of it’s own success I have been wanting to go for several years now, but it appears I will never be able to go. I was hoping to go this year but I see it is now out of the question. The ticket lottery will have to go and a single price ticket will have to be in effect to first come first go. The organizers may have to find another place to have this affair which can hold all who wants to attend. Maybe it could be divided up into 2 events. Maybe it could be moved to the last week of september. This much I do know, if something isn’t done, burning man will die.

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  • Planning on going to my first BM, but tickets all sold out like some kind of elitist club or members only. And all these rules?! My tent leaks and I love my old pickup and camper/RV. So somehow what I sleep and travel in marks my values and integrity? Thought I understood BM open and accepting off all. But placements and priority/special treatment just because you’ve been able to attend before, wtf? Judge not lest you be judged. If you ostracize everyone/anyone new or different you’ve already lost your way. Play and park are not BM, but an RV is just a hard-sided tent on wheels. Disallow them, then lets disallow tent and everyone just huddle under a bit of sagebrush.

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    May all beings have fresh, clean water to drink.

    May all beings have food to eat.

    May all beings have a home.

    May all beings have someone to share love with.

    May all beings know their true purpose.

    May all beings be well and happy.

    May all beings be free from suffering.

    Today I shall do what I can to make this so.

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  • I used to be the ranch manager for Burning Man, and I live in Gerlach. I had an extra trailer that I loaned to a friend one year, and he insisted on paying rent. Thus, Black Rock Rental was born. I have since expanded to 9 travel trailers, and I rent off-season to film crews (NYU, CBC, Mythbusters), other user groups (like rocketry and Friends of Black Rock), and regular folks who just want to go camping in the Black Rock. I also provide delivery, other equipment like shade and generators, and other local support, and I volunteer for Burning Man, Washoe County, and the BLM.
    I started providing trailers as part of my duties as an employee for BRCLLC, and have continued on my own from a desire to assist people who are helping to make Black Rock City function, and to develop local economic opportunities in northern Washoe County (for myself and for people I hire). Certain staff members have trailers provided for them as part of their deal with BRCLLC, and others do not. For the most part, I have rented trailers to staff and artists who are already contributing to the event in some way, but are not provided a trailer by BRCLLC and want to have some comfort.
    I provided a trailer with support for over 4 weeks to 2 Temple of Transition workers last year for $2400– that’s less than most outside companies charge for one week (my research indicates the average weekly rental price starts around $3500, with other hidden costs like cleaning deposits). Last year, I put $600 into the company from my own pocket. Yes, I have a stake in the company, and the trailers that I purchase and fix up have some value. They also take a beating from use in the Black Rock Desert, and so far I have not really seen a profit. This year I will need to live on income from the company for the first time, and my prices may have to rise due to BLM fees and any other outside costs that may develop. Even so, let me assure you this is not especially lucrative for me.
    I have learned that people “in the trenches” working at the event really appreciate my services, and people who expect Motel 6 on the playa do not. My trailers are not brand new, but they are in working order. Sometimes things at Burning Man go wrong, and that’s part of the reality in the Black Rock Desert. When people pay for a service, however, they outsource an expectation of comfort and security to me as a vendor. I try to avoid this by being selective in my choices of who may rent from me, but I suspect this will happen no matter what I do. Those Temple Crew people had the propane function of their refrigerator go out for the whole event, and they were still overjoyed. Another person basically had a water leak (that I repaired promptly), and wanted a full refund.
    I do not think of what I do as “Plug and Play” in that I merely provide a supporting infrastructure that still requires the participant to consider meals, waste water, and other details of their survival and triumphant Burning Man experience. People rent trucks and purchase all manner of consumer goods to support their efforts. If you want to be a purist about it, porta-potties are a luxury that outsources one particularly difficult waste management problem to a vendor (one that is probably required by law). Coffee sales are way less important than shelter to survival or support of a successful event, but the money from those are controlled completely by BRCLLC for them to reallocate as they see fit. None of this bothers me that much. I like how BRCLLC manages things, and I like having a porta-potty. I make my own coffee.

    I suppose my overall point here is that as much as everyone would like to protect the fantasy world that is Burning Man from venal outside forces, some services (ice, water, shelter, human waste management, communications) can enhance the experience if used responsibly. I’ve joked about providing “adventure trailers” to people with themes: Catholic theme with priest, nun, altar boy, and school girl outfits, or Jungle theme with Tarzan and Jane (or Tarzan and John), or BDSM theme with all the accoutrements, and so forth. Now, would that be Plug and Play or what?!? Would that be participatory on my part for the creative idea, or “Plug and Play” that removes responsibility from the participant? What if my company is successful, and becomes my livelihood. Does that mean I am a nasty, leeching profiteer, or an honorable, hardworking participant? I know that I am the latter, despite some people’s withering criticism.

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  • I haven’t finished reading through all of the comments above; however, I gotta chime in now.
    This whole “plug and play” thing has got to be eliminated. This is a direct violation of the “Radical Inclusion” concept. From what I’ve heard, these tenants are not including themselves radically at all. I don’t see any inclusion in the knuckle stripping, playa huffing work it takes to get your shade up. I don’t feel they’re degenerous hosts are including them in the “chapping your finger tips and cheese-slicing your cuticle” phase of fixing that rusty glow-bike. It doesn’t seem like the “yo, what the shit are we gonna do about our feces pile this year?” conversation ever happens with the tourists’ inclusion. So what exactly are they being included in?
    If you want topless stilt trannies with pheasant hackles shoved up their butts, go to carnival. If you want to see a spectacle spend your money on a trip to the tiger show.
    If you want to be “included in burning man”, buy yourself a ticket and get your shit together like everyone else does for the whole year.
    Any way, that’s how I feel about it.
    I didn’t get a ticket. Can you tell?


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  • hay metric,
    I know we are all harping on PnP but in my opinion you are not PnP. You supply items that people need to go to BM but do you supply everything including the ticket and the ride? Maybe this is mincing words but when it comes to someone doing it all it is PnP. A package deal is where I see the thing crossing the line……Hell, If let a lady sleep in my tent all week and we had sex every night then maybe I would be a PnP the way some people think of it. :)

    take care

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  • I have been to burning man the last two years,once in a theme camp and once as a plug-and-play participant. They’re both the same thing just done in a different way. They’re both stimulating the economy in different ways as it takes substantial amount of time and investment of resources to survive in the desert for a week.

    The first year I was part of the theme camp although I flew in from Toronto and my friend in the camp had gotten all my supplies and I paid her. I helped set up the theme camp and break it down and participate in it. We were very close to center camp right in a busy spot. It was a wonderful first experience and we shared an RV with five people.

    Last year my friends weren’t going in the same camp, so me and my girlfriend really wanted to go again and so we signed up with a plug-and-play outfit. It was even more enjoyable as we had a smaller RV to ourselves and the privacy was wonderful, not that the orgy dome isn’t fun but it is nice to have some private space. we’re looking forward to meeting a couple that was next to us last year as we have kept in touch all year and become friends. Maybe next year we will all create an art event together or something as our involvement involves and maybe as we have more time to do such things.

    We got to know the other campers and had a wonderful time in our own little community of plug-and-play campers. Everyone had a unique story and for many it was the fact that they were coming from afar and just didn’t have the connections and resources and couldn’t spend time in the area beforehand to prepare.

    But we all participated in our own ways very much. we dressed up and were involved in contests and events, went to interactive workshops and collected moop before leaving. We would share stories of our adventures at night or the next day. We made friendships that have lasted all year. I actually was more involved with some of the events going on as a participant than I had been the year before.

    Obviously the theme camps are the heart and soul of burning man, but so are many participants that come in a more plug-and-play environment to enjoy and participate in things in their own way. To stimulate the economy of the area and to be their own version of art in whatever way they choose.

    their stories were even more interesting to me, as there were many who were a little older but eager to experience and expand . To see them being changed by the events and opening up in new ways was amazing. it was a completely different environment and being a little away from the action was nice and serene at night, enjoying the quieter desert breeze by fire, with new friends in our own unique community.

    Everyone’s definition of radical self inclusion can be different. But the inclusion part seems important.

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  • I have tried to read as many of the comments as possible. It seems to me that what I am hearing is the “type ” of people who go to these “camps” is different than all you “old ” burners. I guess I would say to you that yes they are different and that is the point. If humanity is ever to succeed we must learn to accept all our differences. I have to laugh when you say how “self reliant ” you are. I laugh becuase you are the same people who “load up” at the local Walmart. Bottled water, canned food, sun tan lotion, blankets ,chairs, tents ———- come on ! how many of you hunt for the food you eat or dig a well for your water, or grow your own food, did you walk here or did you come in a vehicle ? wake up ! how about coming up with a plan to INCLUDE THOSE ODD BALLS !!! Think about it !

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  • wow. i should not have read this. depressing all around. i’ve been going to burning man for 13 years and never thought it would come to this. i’ve also been working at BM for as long, as i arrive a full week+ before event as a volunteer for build. i drive with all my stuff from canada to build my camp, we sleep in tents and create a shade structure from bamboo and never more than 10 people in our camp. all with a 20+ hour drive and a border to deal with.

    and people from LA and SF (and beyond) need plug&play camps? incredible.

    i’m all for adapting, and including and adopting the “tourists”, etc. they are certainly part of BM’s evolution but somehow steps need to be taken not to dilute core values. as much as we have to evolve, there is nothing wrong with preserving at the same time.

    the mere use of the words “service providers” (video) in a discussion about BM is absurd. let’s at least keep this value: if you come to BM, provide your own services! “service providing” is not helpful to our evolution.

    it was one of the naturally selective ways of keeping those not committed enough to make the journey from coming to the playa.

    as for the name calling and all the other questionable replies. c’mon people! really? is this constructive dialogue? i feel like this is what being on a high school blog must be like.

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  • Being a burner means that you are on PROBATION this year thanks to the Borg. BLM has put the event on probation because of too many burners at the 2011 burn. How did that happen? The management team for the Borg can’t count or are just greedy and let the overpopulation happen and damn the consequences. You just can’t fix stupid……

    You can read the article in this Sunday’s online edition of the Reno Gazette/journal

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  • No one reads this far down, but here goes.

    Just say NO to tourists, and Plug and Play camps. Participants only please.

    WHO is supplying the tickets to these pnp camps? Pleas let me know. 80 % of our playa friends, who got screwed out of a ticket the raffle, want to buy a ticket, and can’t, and want to camp with us in tents, in the dirt.

    Scalpers? Names on tickets please – limit two for couples, three for polymorous folks.

    Please say it ain’t BMOrg who’s holding back regular burners’ tickets and selling tickets to pnp camps to help create “players”.

    Want to rv on the playa – no problem, don’t circle them. No rv camps in the inner city.

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  • In this life you are either growing or you are dying. Those are the facts. Burning Man is changing, It is changing in order that it may survive and thrive. You guys keep saying the same thing. How dare these people attend Burning Man in a different manner. Who made you the expert !!! Just maybe they are getting the same value out of it that you do- did that ever occur to you ? I can’t believe the whiners on this posting. You are saying that because they don’t choose to sweat in a tent that that makes you a better person because you do? Really ? What if I choose to eliminate the tent am I better person than you ? You are nuts. I was in the army and I can assure you sweating in a tent did Not make me a better or more noble human being !!!!!!!!

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  • Larry Harvey once said that community comes out of strugle. Plug and Play eliminates the strugle and turns the experince into a commodity. Community suffers. This is turning Burning Man into some Disney Land like experince where you just show up and throw money at it and expect enjoyment in return. Please put a stop to this.

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  • If someone wants to experience the burn from an RV, that is their problem and shouldn’t be everyone else’s concern. Also, I have no problem with someone paying operating costs of a camp and arriving after set up. It can be extraordinarily hard for international travelers to bring sufficient infrastructure for the burn. However, camps that charge fees beyond operational costs crosses the line in a major way and cannot be tolerated.

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  • The pivotal moment of this video to me, and the part that makes me completely against plug and play camps comes at around 8:00. As a veteran burner and member of a theme camp, we spend over six months planning our camp. We take virgins on every year, but limit the number we take. Each virgin is part of the planning process, and learns who, what, where why, when, how to do everything at camp throughout the planning process. THAT is as much a part of the burningman experience as the actual event is.

    To show up on the playa and need to have to be shown how to use your RV, and learn about MOOP and leave no trace on day one will not prepare you for what to expect up there. I’m sure some people will get it, but a majority probably won’t – ever. The organization shouldn’t have to help these camps figure out how to get their ‘members’ to prepare for the playa.

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  • @michael from reno:

    there is a reason burning man had core values put in place, and that was to preserve something that it set out to do at the beginning. it’s that simple. all are welcome and no one is better than the other. it’s just that we should all be heading out to the playa adhering to a set of principles to unleash the best possible experience for every person. and a little roughing it is a good thing. and it does serve to weed out the committed from the not-so-committed.

    we often hear from people, like yourself, “oh, well, burners should grow up and realize things evolve, yada yada yada, and if they don’t like it anymore they should go start another festival, yada yada yade.”

    it’s actually the opposite. if people can’t stick to the principles and forgo P&P camping and other such things, THEY are the ones that should be going to other festivals.

    there are plenty of very comfy festivals they can go to. OR they can get their shit together and head out to the playa within the context of the principles that made the playa a great equalizer. and i for one don’t want to see all the issues of the haves and have nots infiltrating burning man. because last year when my wife came a cross a dining room table being set up deep playa and was told she could not join that it was a private catered affair, something changed.

    there’s nothing wrong with moving forward and evolving while maintaining values that made the playa what it is in the first place. evolution without knowing what was good about you in the first place isn’t going to take you very far and likely make you obsolete.

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  • My 14th time in a row this year
    So many people. So much consumption.
    Many “walls of RV’s” – cycling down some streets there was just a blank white wall of huge RVs with no welcome, no ‘hey here’s our camp'” just “fuck off”.

    However, I admire the response of BORG. Don’t knee-jerk ban, discuss. BORG, I have learned to trust your judgement.
    Personally I would prefer all RVs to be banned.
    OTOH, that’s just my opinion, however BORG I trust you (and I really mean this) to Make The Right Decision.
    I’m not just saying that, I actually trust you to look out for all of us. Sincerely. Make me happy about that. Thx.

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  • this was my 10th year via public transportation. forget radical self-reliance. there is very little radical self-reliance (tent camping) space available. “theme camps/ business” get almost all the space. I camped in the BX reserved camping and there was a huge rv, a camp with 8 vehicles/20 very loud rude people, a lone camper with a car, and a truck with campers all in the tent camping area. I am 77 years old and camp in a small tent by myself. I had a miserable time with a huge truck, noisy people and loud music til 2am right next to my small tent. if I go next year I will go to walk in camping and try to get away from all these hateful people. for me it started 3 years ago in walk in camping. people parked their car on the outside and just set up camps to rent and a disco in walk in. last year someone wrote nasty things on the toilets and broke off all the doors to the disabled toilets. I realize nothing stays the same but there is too much space for rvs, paying theme camps and not enough space for tent camping.

    I loved BRC when I started going 10 yeas ago. I probably will go next year because the BM people have weathered worse and I have confidence that they will work this out.

    oh yeah, we rode 11 hours from the playa to san francisco in a full BX bus with no ac. there are no opening windows so the only air was from the two small vents on the roof. I believe that the BX got in a little over their heads and the rain did not help with their schedule. considering how many people they moved they did OK.

    I truly hope there will be a place for me and people like me next year.

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