Snoopy and the Second Principle: Gifting

Gifting @BurningMan:
“Being devoted to acts of gift giving.
The value of a gift is unconditional.
Gifting does not contemplate a return
or an exchange for something of equal value.”


Twas 2010 Burn Night, when all o’er the playa;
The sub woofers were bumpin’
The place was on FIYA!

The Man had been lit, the circle released;
Every man, woman and child,
Were up on their feet!

With The Man on the ground,
Dust and ash in the air;
No one knew where they were.
No one much seemed to care.

All hugging and smiling,
The dust in our teeth;
The flames and the cinder,
All within reach.

Ten minutes had passed,
Since The Man had last stood;
With the air filled with his ashes,
My mood was quite good.

Wearing red coat and white fur,
Goggles and boots;
With a sack full of goodies,
Any Burner could use.

A full night of Gifting, is what lay ahead;
My friends all around me, I had nothing to dread.

When all of sudden, I hear from behind;
Two words hollered at me, terse and unkind.

Two words said with venom, hatred and bile.
Well I pulled down my kerchief,
And turned ‘round with a smile.

And then he repeats them –
These words thrown like stones;
“FUCK Santa!”
Flung by this young man,
Out here on his own.

“Santa HATES Me! I’m Jewish.” He then says to my face.
And I paused before answering, the wind filling the space.

These words from his mouth, were just words he was taught.
Old ideologies learned – that had come here, to this spot.

“Santa doesn’t hate you. Santa wants to give you a gift!”
Presented with a flourish – – “Fuck yer zip-tie.” He spits.

Determined to break through this veil of learned hate;
The night’s further adventures will just have to wait.

Reaching back into the bag, my hand finds the key;
The world disappears, now it’s just him and me.

My hand closes round Snoopy, a well traveled friend;
When this kid sees what I have, his hate comes to an end.

“I love Snoopy.” He says, with a young sheepish grin.
Now I reach in the bag, finding that zip-tie again.

“Santa wants you to have him, let’s put him here.”
Zip-ing Snoopy to his backpack, the message is clear.

“See, his head swivels round, he’ll watch your back.
Or keep an eye on you, from right here, on your pack.”

“Thank you Santa.” He hugs me – his eyes filled with tears.
I say “Good-bye” to Snoopy… (Hey, I’ve had ‘em for years!!)

Then this kid turns to Santa beside me – now hugging him tight;
“Thanks again Santa, I mean it.” “You guys have a great night!”

“Merry Burn Night!” we both holler, as we watch him go.
“How do you do that Santa?” “Hell, Santa, I don’t really know.”

I never worry about the how – and this is all I know –
“The gift is just a conduit, to a deeper, grateful flow…”

by WendeWho!

originally posted on Piratess Philosophy

Art as Catalyst for Change in Haiti

Earthquake damage in Jacmel, Haiti, Jan 17, 2010. (AP Photo/Peter Prengaman)

When the devastating 2010 earthquake struck Jacmel, Haiti, Sue Frame was sitting in a restaurant with her best friend, Flo McGarrell. Flo was an incredible artist who had worked tirelessly in Jacmel for marginalized artists including women, the physically challenged as well as those who identify as gay or transgender.

As the earth began to shake beneath their feet, Flo and Sue made a run for the nearest exit, but tragically, only Sue was able to make it out alive before the restaurant collapsed. Sue vowed to continue Flo’s work in Jacmel through the creation of Jakmel Ekspresyon, a non-profit arts organization whose goal is to provide a place for artists to learn and express themselves in a non-discriminating environment. BWB has partnered with this one of a kind organization in Haiti to create a program that will train and create employment for these artists for years to come through the creation of a screen printing studio and business.

Jacmel is known as the arts capital of Haiti-famous for its vibrant arts culture. However, it is very difficult for artists to benefit financially from their work due to persistent political and economic challenges that have plagued the country for centuries. It can also be extremely difficult for these marginalized individuals to be accepted by the community and have the ability to make a living.

Jacmel Ekspresyon art classes

But, with the support from the Burning Man community, we can make a real and lasting difference in transforming this paradigm. This screen printing project will be the first of its kind in Haiti. BWB will send ten artists to Jacmel to teach skills in design, screen printing and professional development. There are currently no screen printing services available in Jacmel to create post-cards for the tourism industry or for the various international organizations who work there. This project is sure to be a success and we need your participation to make it happen.

If you would like to apply for the artist in residency program, you can read all about it here.

We are asking for your financial support in making this unique project happen. We have just launched an Indiegogo campaign that will fund the residency program and the construction of a screen printing studio.

This is an incredible opportunity to support the arts and a unique program that will make a significant impact in the lives of these artists and for the Jacmel community.

Thank you for your support.

Burning Man’s Charitable Donations for 2012

bm_logoEvery year since 2003, Burning Man has used a portion of proceeds from ice sales at the event to make year-end donations to various charitable, art and service organizations in Northern Nevada and the San Francisco Bay Area. For 2012, our donations totaled $140,675. Below is a list of charitable donation recipients for 2012:

Bay Area & National Organizations:
Best Friend’s Animal Society (in memoriam Bill Carter)
Black Rock Arts Foundation
Black Rock Solar
Burning Man Project
The Crucible
Lawyers for Burners c/o Levin Law Firm Client Trust Account
Leave No Trace
Friends of Potrero Hill Nursery School
San Francisco Parks Trust
Surprise Valley Chamber of Commerce (Cedarville)
Yick Wo School

Nevada Organizations (not including Pershing Co.):
Gerlach Volunteer Fire Department
Gerlach High School
Gerlach General Improvement District
Gerlach-Empire Senior Citizens Palace
Crisis Call Center
Friends of the Black Rock
Nevada Museum of Art
Nevada Outdoor School
Nevada State Museum
Historical Society of Dayton Valley
Friends of the Nevada State Railroad Museum
Sierra Arts Foundation
Bruka Theatre
Nevada Discovery Museum
Kiwanis Bike Program
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum
Pyramid Lake Volunteer Fire Department
Consolidated Agencies of Human Services
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada

Lovelock/Pershing Organizations:
Pershing County Senior Center
Eagle Scholarship
Pershing County Community Center
Lovelock Middle School (Special Education)
Pershing County High School (Athletic Department)
Pershing County Domestic Violence Intervention
Pershing General Hospital & Nursing Care
Pershing County Humane Society
Lovelock Frontier Days
Lovelock Lion’s Club
Friends of the Library
Marzen House Museum
Kids, Horses & Rodeos
Lovelock Food Bank
Lovelock Boy Scouts Association
Lovelock Little League Association
Lovelock Chamber of Commerce
Pershing County Arts Council
Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary
Lovelock Volunteer Fire Department
Project Graduation

Why Not Implement Identity-Based Ticketing?

In the wake of 2012 ticket sales, a number of people have called for Burning Man to implement an identity-based ticketing system (non-transferable, name-on-ticket). There are valid points on both sides of this question, and it is something we have thought about and discussed at length. Putting aside the many challenges inherent in executing an ID-based ticketing system, the case may certainly be made that not-transferable tickets might better serve the needs of ticket holders if they are simply regarded as individual consumers of a service or a product. But this approach ignores the complex and interdependent social fabric of our community.

As things stand now, participants are free to bestow tickets on their friends, lovers, campmates or family members — on anyone who they believe should come to the event. This form of ticket distribution often occurs spontaneously and is independent of any authorizing agency. It is an extension of the gift giving ethic that informs our culture. Furthermore, the chief argument advanced in support of identity-based ticketing is that such a system prevents profiteering by scalpers. But we have found that little more than 1% of ticket sales can be attributed to scalping in 2012. Even in the face of scarcity, a vast majority of ticket buyers appear to have honored a social compact that values persons over profit. Burning Man is an experiment in community, and in 2013 we will continue to invest our faith in that community.

[Editor’s Note: If you do sell your ticket, we ask that you sell it at face value, and if you’re buying one, to find one to purchase at face value.]

Burning Man 2013 Tickets: the Holiday Sale

Here’s the deal: we don’t know yet what Black Rock City’s allowable peak population for 2013 will be. Some of the details of agreements that impact that number have not yet been finalized, which means we don’t have enough data to determine precisely how many tickets will be sold and at what price. We are working hard to get our permits and agreements in place, and will be announcing the full ticket plan on Friday January 4, 2013. That said…

We know you’re super curious about some big questions, and we’d like to put your mind at ease about a few things right now: tickets will be sold first-come first-served — that’s right, no lottery. Secondly, purchasing tickets will require pre-registration so that we can weed out known scalpers beforehand. We’ll offer a robust Low Income Ticket Program, as we have in the past, and we’re bringing back the Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) to facilitate the safe, hassle-free exchange of tickets between people in the aftermarket.

So there are the big ones for you. We’ll have the rest — all the details — on January 4th. And with that, here’s information about the Holiday Sale …

Burning Man Tickets Holiday Sale
Early-birds can participate in our Holiday Sale, which allows folks to buy tickets in time for holiday gifting. PLEASE NOTE: Holiday Sale tickets are priced dramatically higher than our regular tickets will be and Black Rock City, LLC will donate 3% of the price of each ticket from this early Holiday Sale to the Burning Man Project, a new nonprofit dedicated to spreading Burning Man culture around the world. (In addition, Black Rock City, LLC makes other substantial contributions throughout the year to support the Burning Man Project, including contributing the proceeds from fundraising events and many other forms of support.)

So … here are the details for the Holiday Sale:

  • 3000 tickets will be offered at $650 each for the Holiday Sale.
  • In order to participate in this sale, you must pre-register here.
  • Registration is open NOW and will close at noon PST on Wednesday December 19th.
  • Those pre-registered will be able to participate in the first-come first-served sale on Thursday December 20th, starting at noon PST.
  • You may purchase a maximum of 4 tickets per person.
  • These tickets are not eligible for STEP, but are transferable (you may resell them on your own, if you wish).
  • The only payment types accepted are Mastercard or Visa credit cards, or debit cards with either the Visa or Mastercard symbols. If you don’t have one of these cards, you will need to obtain a one-time use card.
  • Physical tickets will be shipped between June 1 and July 15, unless you opt for pick-up at Will Call in Black Rock City.

(We will not be implementing identity-based ticketing (e.g. name-on-ticket) … for more information, see this blog post from Larry Harvey.)

As always, you can find find full ticket information on, and answers to your questions in our Ticketing FAQ and spiffy new online ticketing forum.

Cargo Cult is a daring – and dangerous – theme. Get it right.

A ceremony raising the John Frum flag on the island of Vanuatu

I belong to a large but informal group of Burners whose unofficial motto is:  “Fuck the theme.”

We came to Burning Man for Burning Man:  the theme added nothing to the experience.  All it did was give complete strangers license to tell us things we already knew about Evolution, or to go off on predictable rants about the American Dream.

If Burning Man was Santa Claus, we felt, the theme was an icicle on Blitzen’s ass.

Not this year, though.  This year’s theme is a mind-fuck.  Because … well … let’s talk “Cargo Cult” through.

What’s very likely to happen this year is that:


  • tens of thousands of Burners
  • in flashy costumes
  • who are attending a ceremony where we burn a 40 foot tall wooden man and dance around him

are going to create camps and installations satirizing Cargo Cults because they:

  • dress in costumes and
  • build sculptures of air strips and bunkers
  • to dance around.


There’s a kind of subversive genius here:  Burners who take “Cargo Cult” at its easiest, laziest interpretation – look at those crazy people who have bizarre beliefs and perform useless rituals – are inadvertently putting themselves in the cross hairs.  Judging strictly by the superficial, the difference between “Burning Man” and a “Cargo Cult” is the difference between ABC and CBS.  They’re not the same thing, but a casual observer might never notice. (more…)

Black Rock City 2012 Population Update

This guy does NOT work for us.

When the peak population for Black Rock City 2012 was announced at noon on Friday of the event, the preliminary tally was 52,385, which seemed a bit low. We suspected there were more people in Black Rock City at its peak (which was actually Friday at 6am this year, by the way). So after the event, we went back and conducted a full and comprehensive audit …

After doing some pretty significant accounting and recounting, we determined that the actual peak population at the 2012 event was in fact 56,149. (Now, that’s not everybody who went to Burning Man, it’s just the peak population … a lot of people came late and/or left early this year, having planned ahead to avoid high-traffic ingress and egress times — did you notice the shorter wait times?)

Due to some new processes that were put in place in 2012, the count released on playa was low.  For fifteen years we’ve had a great record of recording accurate population tallies, and we place a high premium on capturing and reporting this important data.  We keep count because a) it’s really important for us to know how many people are out there (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is production planning), and b) it’s required by our BLM permit requirement, as you’ve probably heard by now. Our population cap for 2012 was 60,900, and happily our peak population didn’t come close to bumping up against that total.

So there you are … we’re happy to be able to report the final population count for 2012 … and we’re glad we’ve worked out some kinks in our system to ensure proper reporting in the future.