Burning Man Transitions to Non-Profit Organization

The Man, 2012 (photo by Steven Fritz)
The Man, 2012 (photo by Steven Fritz)

BIG NEWS! It’s been a long time coming: we’re excited to announce that Burning Man achieved an historic milestone in January with the successful transition of the 24-year-old organization to a non-profit organization! The process has taken nearly three years, and now more than ever we’re positioned to support the global cultivation of art and community based on the 10 Principles.

“After 24 years of tending our garden in the desert, we now have the means to cultivate its culture worldwide,” said founder Larry Harvey. “Sometimes things just pop and this is one of those moments.”

In the late 1990s the founders needed to form a corporation to run the event and opted to create a Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Black Rock City LLC — because it made the best sense at the time. But an LLC is not designed to meet the needs of our growing culture and it wouldn’t survive beyond the founders’ lifetime. Our mission has always been to serve the community, and a non-profit public benefit corporation is the most socially responsible option to ensure and protect the future of Burning Man.

The non-profit Burning Man Project was created in August 2011 and received its 501(c)3 status in May 2012. On December 27, 2013, the Burning Man Project Board of Directors voted to make Black Rock City LLC a subsidiary and is now the sole shareholder of the LLC, which will continue to manage the event in the desert. The transition became official January 1, 2014.

You’ll be reassured to know that the annual desert experience of Burning Man in Black Rock City as a gathering and event will be largely unaffected by this change. Over time, however, it is likely that the event will evolve in ways that support the efforts of the non-profit in more distinct ways than are currently apparent or even yet explored.

Burning Man began as a one night event in June of 1986 on Baker Beach in San Francisco. The burning of the art piece became a weekend event when it moved to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert over Labor Day in 1990. From there it grew organically from an event with 80 people to a cultural experience capable of provoking change year round.  In 1997 we took our first steps to nurture connectivity beyond Black Rock City with the self-nomination and subsequent identification by the organization of local point persons in several areas. The first was in Austin, Texas, with New York City, Canada, North Bay area of San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle all following in that order. Since then we’ve built a global network of more than 220 members in 28 countries in which Burning Man culture is being encouraged to develop.

Every year, as you well know, tens of thousands of participants depart Black Rock City invigorated and inspired to make the rest of their lives ‘more like Burning Man.’ It is through this network and with the help of the non-profit we can now proactively stimulate the culture to manifest in programs related to civic engagement, education and the arts.

Marian Goodell, a Burning Man co-founder who will oversee the Burning Man organization, said “We’re scaling to meet the growing demand for tools and resources to reproduce the Burning Man experience outside of Black Rock City. We’re interested in expanding the values born of the playa – thinking of the world itself as The Grand Playa. What’s transformational in Northern Nevada for one week a year can, with the right tools, be manifested everywhere. Not just in the form of overnight gatherings, but through transformational engagement in our daily lives.”

The immediate logistical priority is to migrate aspects of the LLC operations into the Burning Man Project and rework the internal business processes so they are adaptable to the regulations that govern non-profits. As we will attain success and experience challenges in specific areas we will endeavor to communicate what’s going on as often and as transparently as possible.

The Burning Man Project is a public benefit organization, and our intention is to build the network of connectivity through relationships with individuals, organizations and government entities. We have great ambitions for what we sometimes refer to at HQ as a “100 year plan.” We’re a little over a quarter century into that plan… and our best days are still ahead.

We are restructuring some of our operations to strengthen our capacity to deliver on our ever-growing potential as a force for creativity and good in the world. We are deeply focused on keeping the Black Rock City event a thriving entity and beautiful experience that feeds into the possibilities beyond Nevada out here on the Grand Playa of human society. In the coming months we hope to share our progress in technology, communications, fundraising, community relations, network development and, of course, the building of the philosophical center. We are getting our own central house in order so that Burning Man can more effectively decentralize and are counting on the community and those not in the community to participate in this wonderfully potential-laden moment together.

Look for a new website this summer and more exciting posts here in the coming weeks.


About the author: Burning Man

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man's Communications Team.

101 thoughts on “Burning Man Transitions to Non-Profit Organization

  • So burning man actually continuing as a for profit..and will remain for-profit in the foreseeable future.. it’s just owned by a non-profit…….and Steven Jones of the San Francisco Bay Guardian was right when he described what happened as a Bait And Switch..

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  • steven jones being a prick doesnt seem to change the fact that all of the for-profit stuff will continue to be for-profit.. calling burning man non-profit is sort of disingenuous

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  • this is the type of thing that makes this deal seem unsavory to me:

    “Consider the example of a renowned scientist whose skills command a premium in the marketplace. Charitable fundraising might be hampered with a half-million dollar employee on the payroll; in contrast, employment of that person in a successful for-profit subsidiary might raise no eyebrows.”

    how much of the eye-brow raising stuff that people might not want done with a non-profit is going to remain in the for-profit subsidiary ?

    ..there is mention in the post of some stuff from the LLC transitioning to the non-profit… but what ? .

    ….the idea of a non-profit burning man is a good one, this doesnt appear to be what this deal is.. a community with a lot of built up sweat equity which has created value for the LLC deserves better transparency, more details, and more respect..

    ONWARD, indeed

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  • Unfortunately Butning Man as a brand has too many “radical” associations which make it “unsuitable” for the ordinary. The principals should be spread but not by burningman.

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  • Great to hear!

    Btw Jayer, from what you posted it seems you have little understanding of the nuances of corporate structure and tax law, and started with a desire to dislike the situation. Even the example you used (the highly paid scientist) was contrived and did not really present anything that should leave a bad taste in your mouth. Instead of throwing stones at things you don’t understand just go get stoned and be glad a group of more knowledgable people is making sure ttitd will continue beyond any single individual.

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  • I tend towards thinking the opposite, I am not glad to rely on them… It isn’t a good thing that we need to rely on one organization/corporation to make it continue… as John Law once wrote (in 2007):

    “If the organizing core of the event believes, as they say quite clearly in their literature that the BM concept is a true movement, and has an opportunity to really make a difference in peoples lives and ideas around community, the arts, etc., then they shouldn’t have a problem releasing the protected trademarks Burning Man, Black Rock City, etc to the public domain where ANYONE can then BE Burning Man. Doing this will not impede their ability to manage and organize the event, sell tickets, pay themselves, and any artists, vendors and tradesmen as they choose using ticket sales receipts.”

    As some have seen with the haranguing by the LLC over alleged copyright infringement by similar-looking festivals using some similar-to-burning-man elements, allowing TTITD and further, the expanding culture itself, to be controlled by one entity may end up causing damage, or, even stifling its growth..

    its spread cannot be truly organic when one needs to check in with the home-office… further centralization of the culture within one organization, for-profit, or not… isn’t good.. and it seems like, with the the ardent defense of ‘their’ valuable trademarks the expansion of this culture.. whether it is non-profit or for-profit.. will continue to be held back by the very ones claiming to be its stewards..

    may they have noble goals? sure!!
    may they not care for profit as the intent of what they do? sure!

    but this new path they are taking is bringing things that have been brewing up to the surface more and more..

    is it good? who knows..

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  • Jayer Orphrey quotes an unidentified source as saying, “Consider the example of a renowned scientist whose skills command a premium in the marketplace. Charitable fundraising might be hampered with a half-million dollar employee on the payroll; in contrast, employment of that person in a successful for-profit subsidiary might raise no eyebrows.” This observation, however, does not at all apply to the transfer of the organization that produces Black Rock City to the non-profit Burning Man Project. The truth is that the Burning Man Project now employs all but one of the former owners of Black Rock City LLC.

    This means we have surrendered all rights of ownership. Formerly, as owners of a private business, my partners and I possessed the unhindered right to do whatever we chose to do with revenues generated by our enterprise, but this is no longer the case. As employees of the new non-profit, we are now subject to federal standards regarding private inurement. And this means, among other things, that we have no right to pocket profits garnered by our former business, which, given the event’s potential for growth, could amount to a great deal of money. Furthermore, any future salaries we receive as employees of the Burning Man Project must be commensurate with compensation received by employees who work for similar non-profits. To put this even more bluntly: if we expect anything further once this transfer is completed, we must sing for our supper; our days as capitalists will be over.

    I know there are some persons, who chose to think that we were retiring, but the former owners of Burning Man have never asserted this. The truth, in fact, is that some of us have nearly doubled our workload. We will continue to sit on the executive board that directs the Burning Man event. This alone could be considered to be a full-time occupation. But we will do this as volunteers without compensation, and it is our intention, once the complex task of fully integrating these two operations is completed, to transfer the running of the Burning Man event into the capable hands of those employees we have worked with all these years. But even as we strive to do this, my colleagues and I also intend to serve the Project as leaders of a movement that will carry Burning Man’s culture out into the world— and it is clear to me that this will be as time consuming and as challenging as all that came before it.

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  • I am not a huge fan of the philosophical direction the organization is taking, but this type of business structure is totally appropriate. There’s nothing sinister about it. The fact that the LLC remains as a sub-organization does not all of a sudden turn it back into a for-profit entity. At its core, an LLC is nothing more than a shell that’s easy to set up and allows people to own a business together without the dangers of a partnership or the inconvenience of a corporation. A 501(c)(3) is not allowed to operate a business for profit.

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  • To be able to write off a donation, you must donate to a charity with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. You can also donate to churches and religious organizations that are recognized as tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS maintains a list of eligible organizations, updating it every tax year. You can get it by downloading “Publication 87” from the IRS website.

    That being said, are we making donations for tix?

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  • Congratulations on the milestone in your transition! I look forward to seeing the broader impact of The Burning Man Project receive more visibility worldwide.

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  • A 501(c)3 can absolutely run a for profit entity as a subsidiary. Additionally salaries can still be paid by a 501(c)3 all this means is the actual PROFITS (which is what is left after all operational expenses including salaries) will roll up to the 501(c)3 and can’t be distributed to the former shareholders. This doesn’t mean the former share holders are no long making money off the event.

    In fact if the former share holders are employees of the LLC and the 501(c)3 they can be paid twice.

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  • What is the Decommodification LLC and how does it relate to the non-profit and its subsidiary BRC LLC?

    this LLC known as Decommodification LLC is the apparent owner of the trademarks now (as mentioned in the terms and conditions) this is new for 2014:

    “I acknowledge that the name “Burning Man” is a trademark owned by Decommodification LLC and licensed to BRC, and that BRC LLC has been given the sole right to license and enforce that trademark, and that all of Burning Man’s logos, trademarks or other intellectual property are owned by Decommodification LLC and licensed to BRC”

    what role does this LLC play in the burning man eco-system?
    why the change of ownership ?
    does it have anything to do with the non-profit?

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  • Hey folks! It takes a lot to make a big thing happen. Let’s lay down our pitchforks and get to work building this city! I’ll see you on the Playa!

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  • Gerlach Holdings LLC also comes to mind.

    Don’t tell me to put down my pitchforks we should and have the right to ask questions and not just do what we are told and accept what is claimed as “good for us”

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  • Big fracking deal. The event has been penetrated to the heart by the ‘outside reality’ (i.e. mainstream) and no longer, if it ever did, represents an alternative to a society dominated by consumerism.

    Despite the pretensions of those profiting massively from the event (some of whom suffer a messianic complex) the event has become little more than a carnival and becomes more so each year.

    This didn’t have to happen but this is what occurs in the USA when large amounts of money come into the equation. It takes effort, care, and diligence not to be co-opted and in this case that didn’t happen. The advantage is that at least the founders are exposed for the hypocrites they truly are.

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  • As a builder of Burning Man for 18 years I too would like a little something, you know, for the effort. The owners of the LLC alone did not build the event, it was built on the backs and from the wallets of thousands and thousands of people. Those drinks, that music, this art all take substantial portions of our annual resources yet only art grants and low income tickets come close to giving back to our community.

    Instead, each year, we find it more, not less difficult to pull off amazing things. Last year this came in the form of surprise tax on habitation supplied by vendors. Trying to free the roads from more RV’s some of us try and drag our living spaces out to the playa early only to penalized for the effort. This year we have the car pass? That’s working on the wrong end to solve the traffic problem.

    Not wanting to bitch, but is there no creative, surprise and delight method in the new non-profit that could make it a bit easier for all who make it happen? How about not making it more difficult.

    I like what’s happening, it’s the right direction inside the realities we live in, but the danger is thinking that things are being done right because the structure is in place.

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  • The founder(s) and other selected few involved made money off this before and they’re making money off this now. (call it profit call it non-profit call it LLC call it “doesn’t matter”.) It all comes down to simple economics: supply and demand. How many people will continue to pay these escalating prices year after year? I, for one, will likely not be attending Burning Man because it is now outside my budget. Unless I can get a ticket gifted in the “spirit of us True Burners!” (and not the spirit of Burning Man Organization / Employees / Money makers!) Not attending is the only real protest option, and I am too poor anyway.
    Point is: It’s pointless for this continued discussion of if we love or hate the direction of Burning Man and if this is Right or Wrong. It is what it is. We, True Burners, “vote” with our Dollars and participation.
    I call myself Burner whether I attend or not.

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  • So as I recall in April 2011, Larry Harvey announced that the LLC was beginning a three-year process to transfer ownership and control of the event over to a new non-profit organization called the “Burning Man Project” and he has.

    The devil is in the details e.g. the bylaws that said and being in the process of starting a non-profit of my own Larry is right you are under the scrutiny of the California attorney general’s office, as well as federal scrutiny, Under California law, a public benefit corporation must be formed for public or charitable purposes and may not be organized for the private gain of any person. A public benefit corporation cannot distribute “profits,” gains or dividends to any person but you are allowed to pay a “reasonable” amount to director, officers and employees. The fact that former owners of Burning Man are willing to transfer owner ship of burning man to the community and work as volunteers without compensation for the non-profit says a great deal their motivation it brings new meaning to “gifting”.

    ”Burning Man is 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.”

    In doing research for a corporate accountability amendment to the Constitution I have found that non-profits seem to be, in my humble opinion, much closer to what the founders of the constitution envisioned for corporations. There seems to be a collective shift back to this vision. The ongoing experiment in the desert embraces to a certain extent this ideal that a corporations power comes from the people for the benefit of the people.

    Thank you for the wonderful gift it will be your legacy, you guys rock!

    Dr. Baron von Realz Esq.

    “You are the art!”
    – Dr. Baron von Realz Esq.

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  • What is wrong with just saying clearly what is going on here. Why not allow the individuals who volunteer their time, donate their hard earned money, fund private projects or go out of pocket to facilitate the experience you claim to provide the clarity of full disclosure about the nature of the event.

    Why must you make these statements in hyperbole? Why not simply state what is truly going on here.

    1) Black Rock City LLC is still a for profit entity, the profits from the operations of the entity no longer can be distributed to the former shareholders, however the former share holders as employees of Black Rock City LLC will still collect a paycheck, the amount they collect is still not disclosed.

    2) The profits from Black Rock City LLC will now roll up to the non-profit organization which in turn can not distribute the profits to individuals but CAN still pay out salaries and other expenses. As long as the profits aren’t distributed to individuals as PROFITS they are well within the rights of a 501(c)3.

    3) Ticketing being part of the festival operations would indicate that the tickets are not write offs on tax returns for those purchasing for the event. If you would like to give the over all organization more money you can always buy (excuse me, donate) for $150 dollars to the 501(c)3 and then they will send you a branded scarf.

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  • Thank you Larry and the rest of the shareholders for this great gift.

    @Tanya – The non-profit can distribute “reasonable” salaries to its employees and since the records of a 501(c)3 are public, you’ll be able to see what they consider reasonable. So it looks like your wish will be granted. It seems fairly clear to me here that the founders are living up to their promise.

    John Laws idea of “gifting” the trademarks to the community is just crazy. How long after that would you be going on Amazon to buy your official BM sparkle-pony action figure or over to Old Navy to select a few items from their Black Rock City collection. Clearly those who have controlled the trademarks have done so to keep BM from becoming too commercialized. If all they wanted was profit, they could have made millions licensing BM trademarks.

    Why don’t these folks ever get credit for the responsible way they have managed this event over the years? There is a difference between reasonable oversight and cynicism.

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  • Oh yes I’m sure I will see their salaries from the 501(c)3, if I do some digging as the 501(c)3 has not submitted their form 990’s to reputable repositories of such information as guidestar (dot) org, nor have they published them on their own site. As such I can make a request to the IRS for the documents needed.

    I will also not be able to see the salaries issued from the LLC as that is not required.

    Please don’t address me like I’m stupid.

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  • As a virgin burner last year, the Burning Man experience was life changing not just for the experience, but for what Burning Man is trying to expose, an idea, a wake up call, a reality check. As an Indian born in the UK, conditioned by the UK and USA, which is where I now live, what the West is now experiencing is what the East is slowly becoming, moving towards ego and not “self”. This is a classic example of the universal concept of duality except this time we are experiencing it not on on an individual level but at a universal level and in the West the most powerful nation in the world, the USA, is experiencing it the most,for now at least. We are all becoming more aware of what and who we are and its not what our brain tells us we are.

    I experienced something at Burning Man which is so magical and so spiritual that I am constantly sharing my experience with the world at large. The problem is individually it takes time to change the masses. Our world and our reality of the world today is ego driven and that is what we have become our names, labels and pre- documented experiences run our lives. Burning Man, either intentionally or accidentally,forces you to loose that ego and connect with yourself and with the universe and everything in it, we are all one. Burning Man its an idea of “what could be”, because lets face it, we can all see that where we are at right now is heading for disaster. As human beings our ego informs us that we are allegedly at the top of the evolutionary scale, we have nothing to be proud of, we are missing life and the point of life everyday. Burning Man gives us an idea for 1 week and magically we all come together without any law or society rules any banks, money, education and status and the best bit, no body is dictating what we should or should not do, its natural, human and what we are here for, to help each other and everything around us to evolve together as a universe and enjoy every moment of getting us there.

    When we leave Burning Man we come back as different people, feel alive, creative and want to help each other in whatever way we can until that ego calls again and we switch back to being me. Eventually we get our chance to go back “home” and again we all become one with everything.

    What Burning Man has achieved is something which no other prophet, book, religion or society has been able to achieve, why, because it talks to us in terms of where we are now, it current, its not historical its now. They have crossed age, gender, race religion etc etc, its real.

    Our problem is we live in the age where the ego is our life and we are all seeing the impact of ego presiding over “self” and oneness. If Burning Man is to be able to spread the message of the universe to the entire universe they have no choice but, to grow within the current structure of our egotistic society in order to communicate their message to the world at large and if that means a non profit, so be it.

    Burning Man has to be able to communicate, expand and provide the experience which has changed all our lives and if we have to conform to the modern day system of business and legal structure to get the most important message that this representation of humanity needs to experience, then whatever it takes should be the motto. As a business consultant for the worlds largest IT company, I understand why Burning Man has to do what it has to do but, the fundamental message of what Burning Man represents does not and should not change, look beyond the material aspects of what this particular corporation is and see the message its trying to give, again our minds hear the work corporation and off we go with our per-canned views. How easily we forget the message of the Playa

    I am a single father bringing up two children and if I could move to SF to work for this Organization I would do so without any hesitation and for a drastic pay cut, because if you are really experiencing what Burning Man is trying to present, money, career, material possession do not and should not even come into your mind and there is the problem, our mind the thing that built the ego and the thing which Burning Man is allowing us to see, ego vs self.

    One day I will work for this organization and will help it to spread the message which is the message to humanity at large. The founders are an amazing group of people who had a collective idea which was not “normal” and created a reality, they shared that reality and now more of us share the same reality we all experience that idea and make it better, make it grow, evolve, and it works, its magic and we love it and everything it represents. What is wrong with that because the alternative is what we have created, wake up world, we are here at the crossroads are we going to go the same way as our ancestors went, leaving traces of clues but no book to decode what happened or are we going to evolve.


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  • Follow the money.

    First, until they change and the ticket revenues are paid directly to the non-profit (and become tax-deductible), the LLC can do with them whatever they want. That includes bonuses and salaries. They are governed by the LLC agreement and NOT by the “owner” of the LLC. That is, the non-profit owner cannot tell the LLC what to do. It is not like owning shares in a corporation, where the majority of shares can control the company. It is an LLC, which is designed to have passive members who are not involved in the day-to-day operations.

    Second, there can be debt obligations that went with the “transfer” (notice that the word “gift” has not been used) of ownership to the non-profit. The LLC can sell ownership to the non-profit, where the non-profit owes money to the previous LLC owners, or whatever debt obligations they loaded up before the transfer (such as deferred compensation to the previous LLC owners). That money would be paid at a later date, with or without interest. This is the way a building owner sells a building to a co-op; though the co-op owns the building. The co-op still owes a lot of money to the previous owner, in addition to the initial purchase price, because the previous owner loaded up the building with debt before he sold it – a sale that included the debt obligations. (Of course the debt obligations can be to third parties, but the money finds its way back to the seller.)

    To understand a non-profit owning most of a for-profit company we don’t have to make up examples: MIT owns most of the stock of Bose Corporation. And like the LLC, Bose gave that stock as non-voting shares that cannot be sold. MIT gets any distributed share profits from Bose, but has no control over Bose operations. But unlike a co-op or LLC sale, as a publicly-traded C-corporation, everything is disclosed.

    Until the ticket revenues go directly to the 501(c)3, and we see all the LLC financials (balance sheet and annual P&L statements), and see the 501(c)3 “transfer” agreement, it is all spin. If the LLC really wanted the “non-profit” status to be taken seriously, as they are trying to sell it to us, we would have all that disclosed.

    So, if you want to volunteer your time to a for-profit for the benefit of a non-profit, you can go wash the cars in the Bose parking lot in Framingham, or hold a bake sale for Bose, or promote Bose speakers to your friends. Why? Because any benefit from all that will be disclosed in the Bose financials, and you can actually see how much money MIT gets.

    Oh, and keep in mind that Bose discloses all this not only because it is the law, but because the other shareholders want to know what Bose did with their revenues, so they can decide if they want to buy or sell Bose shares (the P/E ratio). That is not a concern if your shares cannot be sold, and particularly if the board of the for-profit, and the non-profit that owns them, are essentially the same people.

    This will all be on the final business ethics exam.

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  • And hopefully Tanya Everywhere is on the right track. I am not familiar with 501(c)3 public filings, but if there is a balance sheet (assets/debts), that should show if the LLC loaded up the Burn with debt before the “transfer.”

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  • @Nomad…Sigh…so I have to ask you what I never understood from Tanya…why do you care? The org could have sold the event to the execs at Google and retired on their own island. They could have licensed the trademarks they own for many millions. All evidence shows they have managed the event, which they founded, and which was theirs to exploit in any way they chose, for the benefit of the community.

    Have you met the founders? They are lovely attractive people, but do they strike you as the penthouse, day spa type? Where is the suspicion comming from? If you could see the full financials, what could you see that would suggest to you the org has played dirty with the running of the event?

    Not caring about money, not being caught up in consumer culture, is different than being angry that some people have money and you don’t.

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  • Pooh Bear, I care because I went to the Burn five times and invested many man-months in creating my contribution to the stone soup event. They are profiting from the work hundreds of thousands of Burners have done and millions of dollars spent to make it happen.

    If they were up-front with all this, as they could by disclosing all the financials, it would be one thing. That way we could all make our informed decisions to contribute, or not.

    But we are being sold smoke and mirrors, and being asked to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain and what profits he might be making. The apparent attempt is to preserve the ever-growing spin and denial of the facts to keep the contributions of time, effort and money coming in. For the stone soup to continue, the theme camps and artists have to keep coming. I just don’t like the disingenuous representations that are being made to keep people believing the Burn is non-profit when it is not.

    The solution is simple: disclose all the financials. There is no good reason not to, unless that would disillusion the cult followers. Sorry to be the Toto that pulls the curtain.

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  • @Nomad…That’s not really an answer. You aren’t pulling any curtain. The LLC has always been a for profit entity, has never said they weren’t. When you worked on those projects, did you do it expecting to be paid? Do you not understand the idea of gifting? When you go to a therapist do you expect to split his/her fee because you “participated” in the session. Burning Man has always said volunteering your time and effort is part of the event. It’s part of the experience. It’s good to do something for love and experience even though you aren’t getting paid. It’s the gift you give that binds you to the community. The org never said no-one made a profit. They have simply said participants shouldn’t participate for financial gain. What is clear is, profit isn’t the motive for Burning Man, because the org has continually passed up the chance to maximize profit.

    So for the 100th time, what would it matter if the Financials showed Larry made a billion dollars a year if the event is what the event is?

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  • The devil is in the details. Seem like a lot of un-substantiated accusations and innuendo. Keep in mind non-profits are formed and governed by states a non-profit in one state will have different obligation than another state. I am not an expert but my understanding is in California One very critical restriction is that the assets of a public benefit corporation must be irrevocably dedicated to charitable purposes, and cannot be distributed for private gain. By loading up debt obligation and then collection on that debt would be a form of private gain and would be illegal. Also the director have to remain “disinterested” loading up a non-profit with debt could be view by the attorney general as “self-dealing” and if so would be illegal. But if the for profit-LLC sold it assets e.g. the new headquarters and such to the non-profit LLC at fare market value, again I am not an expert, but seems reasonable to me. Co-ops are not non-profit, but are incorporated under state co-op statues which recognize co-op as businesses that exist to serve their members.
    Non-profit LLC’s disclosure would come in the form of federal tax returns, a IRC 501(c)(3) organization must make its three most recent federal tax returns, its status application and its determination letter available for inspection by the public. IRS Forms filed by the charity with IRS and with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts, are public records. IRS regulations require charities to make these records available for inspection by any person. Some charities with gross revenue of $2 million are required by California law to have independent audits performed and make the audited financial statements available for inspection. Also statutory members have legal rights to receive annual reports, to inspect and copy corporation records.

    Dr. Baron von Realz Esq.

    “Forget safety.
    Live where you fear to live.
    Destroy your reputation.
    Be notorious.”
    ― Rumi

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  • Sorry, Baron, but the LLC is not a 501(c)(3) , and my understanding is that the LLC is not required to file public returns. The BM Project is the non-profit 501(c)(3) curtain.

    My co-op example is to show how when you “sell” something, the buyer also acquires the debts along with the assets. Simple: show the balance sheet for the sale of the LLC to the 501(c)(3).

    Even when the 501(c)(3) might start selling tickets, it may have to pay off the debt associated with the asset.

    As for fair-market value, the Burn has a proven revenue stream. That means that it has an asset value greater than any real property. If we saw the sales documents to the 501(c)(3) , we could see what the valuation was.

    If they did it like building owners do when they sell to a co-op, they know the fair market value of the building, which includes future income. The technical term is “income capitalization.” The debt and profit is then set to match the income capitalization value. To avoid taxes, the sale is usually an installment sale, so the seller is not hit with a large capital gain in one year at a high tax rate.

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  • Pooh Bear, all you are asking is that we not look behind the “non-profit” curtain. If they were above board in all this, that would be great. But they are not. Instead, they are flying the non-profit flag, and having it both ways.

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  • @Nomad …last try…WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU LOOKING FOR! Please, please, please tell us what you think the org could be doing that would indicate they are profiting unreasonably (considering it is their event, or was until the 501(c)3 went into effect, I cannot fathom what unreasonable would be) or is behaving in some nefarious way. Just give me a hypothetical that would prove the org has done something they don’t have a right to do, that they have attempted to fool people, or that would indicate hypocrisy. It can even be a wild ass speculation, just give us something besides what appears to be suspicion for suspicion’s sake.

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  • it’s like butt-hurt.com all up this bitch…

    nobody is getting rich, ‘cept maybe Bruno.

    worse than children, i swear to god. Much ado about Nothing….

    oh well, it’s the off season, and people love to complain, it’s human nature.

    now sit down, shut up, and get the fuck off of my desert, hippies.

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  • So I just got back from therapy. It went great, just what I needed. Then the therapist had the nerve to tell me I had to pay him for the session. WTF! I totally participated in that session. I talked way more than he did. Is he making some kind of profit off of my participation? If so, shouldn’t he rightly share some of that with me? He should show me his bank statements immediately.

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  • As long as everyone is fitchin’ & bussin’ like this. How come I can’t bring and shoot off my fireworks when I know, I swear I have seen fireworks being shot off somewhere out there before. I just know I have. I mean that’s how I get paid most dayz, in fireworks. So, of course I have a mass quantity to go thru each year. Help a brother out.

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  • Decommodification LLC will ensure that the funding from licensing of the marks will never touch the 501(c)3 it will also ensure a steady revenue stream for the former share holders. Gerlach Holdings LLC will apparently oversee the property that is purchased in the area around the playa and will also serve as a revenue stream for the former share holders each entity has nothing to do with BRC LLC or the 501(c)3.

    If the former shareholders would just admit what they make and stop trying to appease the detractors I would have less of an issue. I could care less what they make personally but as the daughter of an artist who watched her parent struggle to make ends meet on art I have issues with what I perceive to be exploitation or artists. I can safely assume that the total funding donated to ALL art at the event doesn’t even come close to Mr. Harvey’s paycheck at the end of the year.

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  • If the event showed that Larry Harvey made a billion dollars a year off the event the org might have a harder time getting people to volunteer their time, funding and resources.

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  • Why is it that Burners have to figure out that there’s a Decommodification, LLC , that owns the IP? It’s been around for 4 years, but you’d never know from reading this blog or JRS. If it’s not nefarious, and it’s not for profit, then why can’t we have Radical Transparency? The world is going towards openness, the language of We, not proprietary monopolies, the language of Robber Barons. They have a right to make money, sure, good on them – as Tanya says, meanwhile the artists are starving – the majority get NOTHING from BMOrg, and even the top ones only get a small honorarium, not really enough even for their logistics costs. If they want to help the world, help the artists, instead of travelling the world on their own personal junkets, taking to stages talking about how great they are and all the good they’re doing.
    Larry says “the truth is we’ve surrendered all ownership”. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the truth at all. Make money, be honest with the community, reach the ladder down to those who are still struggling. Why is THAT so hard for Pooh Bear and others to understand? Burners calling for this are not being greedy, and not denying the founders their right to profit from their quarter century. We’re thinking about the future of the culture we’ve co-created too. Shouldn’t we all have that right?

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  • listen to the haters.

    they might be as invested, or more, than you in trying to make the community kick ass.

    blowing your load all over this announcement and suggesting that theres no reason to even WANT to know details is not going to fly anymore..

    people wanted transparency before.

    now with their supposed non-profit status people are going to be calling for it still, and their wish may even be bolstered by the fact that people tend to expect transparency from non-profits..

    it might not matter to you, pooh bear, to see behind the curtain, you might not see any novelty or use in it.. but for some folks, it matters, ..and they see these issues at the heart of the survival of a community and culture they love.

    you call them haters..

    the reality is that they are probably lovers of burning man and its culture.

    is it in the best hands? who knows!

    do they have the best interests of the community at heart? they say they do.. but we cant be sure..

    some people want to be sure.

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  • I might know more than the average person about corporate structure and business it might be because I worked in an industry based around it for years. Perhaps I found something that seemingly gave more meaning to life than the pursuit of the all mighty dollar. Maybe I was happy to no longer be the dark sheep of the flock instead finding a flock of all colors. I could possibly have been happy and in turn took my time my money and my know how to help keep it going forward without asking for anything in return.

    This could have happened, quote possibly it did but just as I was able to see the problems with my prior profession I too can see issues here. Just as I questioned the issues in my other industry I too question issues here. It doesn’t really matter, it’s just a party on the playa. I can keep telling myself that but it doesn’t sit right and honestly it doesn’t feel good.

    This thing we are talking about it goes beyond any event it goes beyond any corporation and I think what’s at stake here is ideology. How does one preserve a culture whose core has gone rotten?

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  • Nomad writes, “The solution is simple: disclose all the financials. There is no good reason not to, unless that would disillusion the cult followers. Sorry to be the Toto that pulls the curtain”. The Burning Man Project will most certainly release this information. In fact, as has been pointed out elsewhere, it is required to do so by law. It will also make the details of this transaction publicly available, including the salaries of the founders that it employs (I would never have consented to this move if I’d thought disclosing my salary would create a scandal). We will not do this now, but wait until later this year when the transition is complete. It must withstand inspection by California state attorney’s office, and there are still many complex operational details to work out.

    From start to end it has taken us four entire years to create the Burning Man Project, and so I don’t think it’s too much to ask our critics to wait a little while longer to learn more about this new phase of its career. When that time arrives, however, a bright shining light will illuminate what we have done in thorough detail. Though critics such as Nomad may call this “smoke and mirrors”, it’s really more like nuts and bolts. In the meantime, I suggest that he is not quite like Toto, who pulls the curtain away from the fraudulent wizard, but more like less precocious canines who bark in the dark.

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  • Larry Harvey it’s so nice you will be complying with the laws around your 501(c)3 but none of the comments here are about your salary with regards to that entity. Do you intend on revealing the financials for Black Rock City LLC and perhaps while you’re at it Decommodification LLC as well?

    Your attempt to create another red herring is cute and your response is trite.

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  • and Tanya, quite frankly, your obsessive behavior and obviously lack of even WILLING to listen to, appreciate, digest any other argument than yours shows us that indeed, you are that annoying chihuahua, yapping at anything that walks by.

    Yo Quiero, Baby.

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  • @Tanya (I know, I can’t help myself). It seems you never really left the corporate entity you used to belong to. You are obsessed with money. It’s hard to believe you’ve ever attended Burning Man, but if you just see it as a “party in the desert” that makes sense. You clearly live in a world of suspicion that cannot be cracked by integrity, ideology, or evidence. Cynicism is not cool. It doesn’t make you superior or insightful. It makes you the Darrell Issa of the playa, desperately searching for a scandal to justify your existence.

    I’ve asked repeatedly for evidence the org is doing wrong. You’ve offered conjecture. You seem to find something suspicious in Decommodification LLC. You assume that is an entity to exploit Intelectual property instead of protect it from commercial exploitation, which the org has always done. For f%*k sake it’s called Decommodification LLC, does that sound like they plan to sell the man image to the Gap? Which again, they have always had the right to do and refrained from doing. All the evidence is the org has behaved responsibly in protecting and growing the event and the culture. Why don’t you wait until there is actual evidence of a scandal before you dream one up.

    Not that I want to shut you up. Hell this is pretty entertaining and probably makes the point better than the announcement alone could do. You have a perfect right to express your suspicions, even if they are based on nothing.

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  • You may try to minimize my impact by maligning my intentions and claiming my points are simply bottom line oriented. In fact I no longer work for a large corporate entity however I retain the knowledge of large corporations, structured and layered entity placement and fund flow.

    I ask these questions not as a lay person and quite frankly your accusations are hilarious. Oh you must be in it for the money and big corporate because you look at it from a business perspective.

    I have worked with numerous non-profits including art based ones and assisted many artists in their operations in achieving a place in which they can earn a living on their art and not starve or go broke or sell out. In addition I have worked with local government branches and politicians to work for affordable housing in a major city. On top of that I have volunteered for numerous organizations in order to spread the necessities of art and basic needs to those who don’t have the business background or understanding.

    I have been to the burn, more than once but that is neither here nor there.

    I am saying I have no idea what is being done behind the scenes because there is no transparency and given that these organizations will continue to exist as privately held corporations which have no reporting requirement it is wholly on the the entity owners to create or assist in transparency. Licensing to the GAP may not be in the cards but SPARK: A Burning Man Story was a for profit endeavor which *may* have included (and I say may given that the film maker has admitted as much in an interview) licensing fees for rights to use footage. How much was paid for this is unclear because the P&L is never reflected in any of the reported “financials.”

    And may I state I have yet to demean myself to the point of calling anyone names or accusing anyone of anything that isn’t directly referenced in their posts.

    Simon of the Playa if you’re going to call a woman a dog you may as well go all the way and just say bitch thank you.

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  • @Tanya … oh stop with the false outrage. Simon was riffing on the Toto theme Nomad started when he was supporting YOUR position; whatever that might be.
    And I never said you were in it for the money, I said you are obsessed with money. Your obsession has lead you to create some injustice in your mind that the org must be guilty of, even though you have no evidence of it. Money is a tool. Not everything is about money. When you say your attendance at Burning Man is “neither here nor there” it says a lot. Burning Man doesn’t compensate most people for their participation not because they can’t afford it (which they can’t, obviously) but precisely because it’s not all about the money. Learning that giving something to a community without expectation of getting anything back IS THE POINT. It makes you a better person and frees you from being a product or seeing others as exploitable.
    I have worked in management at a large non-profit for 15 years, so while I admire the work you’ve done with artists, I don’t think it’s relative here. However Burning Man was setup in the past, it wasn’t a non-profit. It is in the process of becoming a non-profit now, with all the public controls (which you should be familiar with) that come with that. The Spark movie was in line with the goals of the Black Rock City foundation (did I get that name right) because it promoted the themes of Burning Man to the wider public. If the org could do that AND get paid for it, good on them. Is there something wrong with using Burning Man intellectual property to promote the values of the culture? No one said the IP couldn’t be used for anything, simply that it would be protected from becoming commercialized.

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  • And I’m saying that you make the assumption that the org can’t pay people for their participation because they don’t have the funding or revenue stream which is just as much a guess as anyone saying they do.

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  • You’re supposed blind insistence on good faith and support is just as blind as someone who happens to be a detractor, that is unless you are privy to information that isn’t public. Are you Pooh Bear?

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  • I’m sorry asking for free help when one has the means and ability to pay fair price for labor is the exact definition of exploitation. If there was transparency one could make a fully formed decision. My involvement with the event itself extends beyond just buying a ticket and showing up demanding services. My involvement extended to personal financial loss and labor because I honestly wanted to believe that what was going on was something that I could feel supportive of to that level. The more I look the less comfortable I feel with that choice and I know I’m not alone in that feeling.

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  • @Tanya…I have all the evidence I need to hold my position. I am supporting my position on this thread with that evidence which you completely ignore. What is public is all the evidence anyone should need that the founders are running the event with integrity. You have never responded to the obvious fact that the founders could have profited greatly by licensing the Burning Man IP and only have in the few situations where it promoted the culture without commercializing it. If that doesn’t tell you they are protecting the integrity of the event I can’t help you. Even if the founders could pay participants (which is a ridiculous notion just given the budgeting that is public), I as a Burner would be really, really pissed if they did. That would completely change the nature of the event. You clearly just don’t understand the power of giving.

    I live in a small town. I am an actor. I have been doing that for 40 years. There was a great theater in town all the local actors loved to work at because the artistic director was a genius. The problem was, this is a small town. There was no way for the theater to make enough money to pay actors. That was not a problem for the actors. We never expected to be paid. We did this for love and that’s what we got. Then someone on the board decided the artistic director was a poor business man.; that the theater should be making enough to pay the actors. So they fired this brilliant artistic director. The theater has struggled ever since. The community lost a great cultural asset and us actors lost a great place to play. Everyone lost because someone didn’t understand that some things aren’t about money and that when someone is doing something for love that’s all the compensation they need.

    No one is forced to volunteer or participate at Burning Man. The org provides the infrastructure, the community provides the culture. Burning man could exist if no one gave anything, it would just be really boring and pointless. Really Tanya, we understand the way this works. We aren’t being taken advantage of. There are lots of places in the world that need your zeal for justice, please apply them there.

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  • Yes it’s obvious I don’t understand the power of giving. How completely baseless and rude. You’ve now drawn horrible assumptions about me as a person because I DARE question the great and powerful org. I see how this operates, take the words without proof, take it, don’t question it, don’t you dare because should you even attempt you will be painted as a terrible money grubbing selfish ass.

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  • “You clearly just don’t understand the power of giving.”
    Over my 14 burns I have seen DJ getting paid (cash and/or RV+ticket for their playa set), camps staff getting paid (I can name more then 5 camps that have paid staff come out and have RVs, showers, infrastructure, etc built for the campers…), JK Sound and other such companies have camps out there and camps renting from them pay for a tech (a ticket) to have out there… There are many others who get paid for what they do out on the playa. I got a stipend from the camp (major Esplanade camp) I led 4-5 years ago…

    After experiencing being a leader and the bureaucracy that comes with it of a large camp (80+ppl) and then mayoring a large village (~250 ppl), I completely see that some are being taken advantage of – I was being taken advantage of! But I allowed it consciously because I did what I did as a gift, encouraging the gift economy. But I am NOT an ostrich with head in sand about the fact that I WAS taken advantage of, even with that tiny stipend I got…

    There are two sides to Burning Man:
    1. the awesome-fun-time-we-all-love-each-other-and-give-to-each-other-out-of-love event at end of August…
    2. the multi-connected-entities business that is the festival.

    Love and live by the 1
    Question all about 2

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  • @Pooh Bear
    We both have worked for a non-profit for many years. So you know how it is – you do the work for less pay then at a for-profit (or no pay at all) because you truly care about what the org is trying to achieve, but you still question the org’s ethics and business practice, right?

    Naming it Decommodification LLC does not make it un-commodification-able. I mean you call yourself Pooh Bear for f@$&’s sake of course you love honey! Don’t try to tell us otherwise with that name!

    Evidence is a trickie thing – there have been ppl freed from death row due to new evidence…and there are ppl arrested for murders they committed many years ago due to new evidence… If those who discover these evidence have the attitude you have, the innocent would have been killed and the murderer would stay free.

    Larry Harvey – I’ll share a copy of my last two paychecks if you share copies of yours. I have nothing to hide or to loose – do you?

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  • @Pooh Bear:

    You seem to be bent on people not seeking information about just what they are giving their time to. Part of that picture is the financials of the people involved. There is nothing wrong with wanting to know that information. What if Tanya was a person considering participating in the future?

    Just because YOU don’t think it is important for YOU to know what you are gifting to, doesn’t mean that route is right for everyone else’s peace of mind who might want also to gift.

    Everyone who wants to participate is a stakeholder in this event, and it is ok that some want to question it more. Hopefully they will do so in a respectful manner, but we can’t ask for perfection from any community.

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  • @Ilya or/and Dezaad

    I am not against people looking into the operations of things that are important to them. I am against baseless accusations. Larry himself has said once the transfer is complete, all will be revealed, why don’t we all take a chill pill and see if that happens. If not, at least there would be a reason to complain. Although I still don’t understand what. Let’s say the books showed Larry made a million dollars a year, would that bother you? Do you think he doesn’t deserve that? The guy who started the whole thing and nurtured it all these years?

    I volunteer a lot with my camp. Last year they needed some of my default world expertise, and that pretty much meant I was working a full time job on playa. I never actually got to see the camp during the day. That’s what I signed up for. This year it’s someone else’s turn. We support each other. I don’t want to be paid. You could not pay me enough to miss wandering the camp meeting new people, but I am wiling to do that for the good of the group.

    I just don’t understand what people are looking for. They see something called “Decomodification LLC ” and jump to all sorts of conclusions about what that means, even though the org has always been responsible about handling the IP.

    I’m not against oversight. Oversight is actually built into the move to a non-profit. It is required by law. I am against cynicism that starts with suspicion for the sake of suspicion.

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  • Larry Harvey Says: (March 6th, 2014 at 12:29 am)

    Larry, I said “The solution is simple: disclose all the financials.” Not a lot of words there. One important qualifier is “all.” As Tanya points out, I have no doubt that The Burning Man Project financials are squeaky clean, because the CA law is clear on that, and you have paid big bucks to your lawyers and accountants to make that happen. But as I illustrated with MIT and Bose, the non-profit Burning Man Project is not necessarily responsible for the operations of any for-profit company it may own.

    If you are to show that the concerns Tanya, I and many others have are unfounded, “The solution is simple: disclose all the financials.” That would be all the financials involved and associated with the event called Burning Man. Only then could we see that the endeavor that so many of us have invested our own time, effort and money to create is truly a non-profit in intent rather than only a facade.

    This all speaks to a higher level – a level of trust – an issue in this country and in civilization right now. You see the politicians in the news, and you think they can’t possibly believe what they are saying, and a good number of them prove they don’t by their actions. You know what is disclosed and what is kept private. We all have secrets. But when our secrets are explicitly part of fooling others, we are also fooling ourselves.

    As you make the lecture circuit, I wonder what message you are really giving. Sure, the Huffington article was all bleary eyed, and must have made you feel great about what the Burn has done. But you must always keep in mind that no matter how inspired the idea was, the Burn is a destination because of the people who freely give of themselves, some at great sacrifice, to make it happen. I never saw you out there helping us put up our parachute tent, or making sure people had a drink when they visited the camp. As the facts about the LLCs dribble out, what does your audience take away? Burning Man was and is a great idea, and a wonderful place for art, culture and people to come together in a new context of discovery and creativity. What does this hiding and subterfuge do to that message? What does it do to you? If I were you, I would be worried that, instead of being seen as inseparable from the Burn, you may be that guy who cashed in but desperately tried to make everyone think he did not.

    This is your big ticket to the SF money in-crowd party. Maybe not with the billions of a Bezos, but parlay the Burn to get some support and attention. Sure, some will be impressed on how you deceptively parlayed the finances to your personal gain, but always be aware of just who those people are. When you are at the party and glance around the room after you get your drink at the bar, are those really the ones you want to be your peeps? But maybe I am wrong. Maybe that is where you want to be.

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  • Our lives are not entirely our own. From the womb to the tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every loving kindness, we birth our future. One thing is undeniable though, this blog is not short on passion. In some circles way more valuable than the subject at hand. Life will give us whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of our consciousness. How do we know this is the experience we need? Because this is the experience we are having at this moment. Remove, change or accept.

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  • It’s like Beaujolais.

    A new Whine.

    seriously, if you dont like the way things are, go out, start your own fucking even and run it the way you want to…

    pretty simple.

    the reason why i am such a Staunch BORG supporter on this issue? BECAUSE THEY ARE DOING IT RIGHT.

    18 years, 18 years i have been going to TTITD, i have a WEE bit o’ experiance out there, and all glibness and snark aside, i can honestly say “good Job”…

    i don’t begrudge Larry or the “Big Six” one iota…

    yeah, mistakes have been made, SO FUCKING WHAT?

    who here is without DIRT? may you cast the first Dust…


    now STFU and work on your art, time is wasting and this conversation is stupid.

    wait until the financials are released before you start stoning people.

    btw i have no affiliation to the ORG, i am but a simple dusty man…

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  • @simon

    “seriously, if you don’t like the way things are, go out, start your own fucking even and run it the way you want to…” . . . . .

    There is another website out there that reports that BMORG is legally impeding other independent efforts at doing just that. If true, that is a bit unseemly to my mind.

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  • @ Problem…what they impeding is the illegal use of their intellectual property. You can start your own event, but it has to be your idea. You can’t just steal Burning Man’s.

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  • sounds more and more like pooh bear is a borg drone (which is fine.. )

    clearly you dont see the conflict between bringing the lawyer assault squads in for tangentially related stuff, or even directly related stuff, at a participant run festival and the LLC/non-profits alleged mission to ‘spread burner culture’ ..and their ‘100 year plan’

    seems to me like the nonprofit/LLC answer is to spread ‘their’ network of contract-bound franchises which use their ‘vital intellectual property’ more-so than to allow the burner culture to spread organically, as a true culture and community would.

    just how exactly is this mission so charitable and home grown on the streets hug it out organic when the very culture and community they claim to be fostering cannot do that thing they claim to want them to do without calling up to the home office and entering into a contract ? …less the lawyers are emailing and calling?

    this bullshit about their vital intellectual property is just that: a bullshit slippery slope scare mongering tactic that allows them control over the culture itself..

    no! you cant make a burner culture related festival, just as we seem to want… because if you do then someone will be able to sell burning man sunglasses!!! we need to protect our IP!!!!! (and license it to ourselves through unsavory third party companies)

    the truth is that even the jaded people like SIMON seem to have drank the kool-aid.

    burning man can be great and the LLC can still be making a bunch of bone-headed decisions that endanger its greatness at the same time.

    it seems that much of the greatest problems that come from this whole situation, which some say ‘WHO CARES’ about… relate to the BS concept of “intellectual property”

    …it is said that roughly 75% of the value of public traded companies these days is in Intellectual Property…. and judging by the actions of many of those public traded companies (patent trolling, DRM, MPAA, RIAA suing grannies) its clear that having things of such value can make those at the helm go out of their freakin mind.

    it is sad that this private company seems to be suffering from the same insane behavior

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  • Well said Nomad. I for lone look forward to the man behind the curtain, pulling it back with a flourish to reveal a yellow brick road to an emerald city. Ie financial transparency and openness to everyone. So far it seems more like a monopolization strategy. If we see something that helps the whole Eco-system, and includes Burners in the governance and planning of the culture, maybe then some of the dogs will be wagging their tails or humping their legs, instead of barking annoyingly interrupting their peace.

    As Larry says, it’s been a few years already, what’s a few more? Stay tuned, we’ll find out “soon”…

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  • @Jayer

    You said…

    “seems to me like the nonprofit/LLC answer is to spread ‘their’ network of contract-bound franchises which use their ‘vital intellectual property’ more-so than to allow the burner culture to spread organically, as a true culture and community would.

    This bullshit about their vital intellectual property is just that: a bullshit slippery slope scare mongering tactic that allows them control over the culture itself…”

    You clearly know absolutely nothing about intellectual property law. The org has the choice to protect the trademarks in all cases or let anyone use them for anything. That is the way the law works. The org didn’t write it. If they let someone use the trademarks without permission, they establish a precedent and can no longer protect their property.

    Do you want Burning Man to become commercialized? If they release their IP to the public do you think a bunch of copy festivals will pop up sticking to the principles, or do you think you’ll be able to buy Burning Man tee shirts at the Gap. Once that’s done, fuck it, charge $1000 for tickets, it’s all about profit now. Can’t you see what you’re asking for is the exact situation you are baselessly accusing the org of; the commercialization of the culture for money. Something the org has always refrained from doing but which you Darrell Issa wanabes complain about.

    I don’t work for the org. I have never worked for the org. I have been critical of the org in the past over things like waiting too long to get a decent ticket vendor.

    Burning man has also changed my life by changing me. By providing a place where creativity, community, and culture are valued over money. Where a person is a person, not a consumer. Where I make my own choices and am forced to rely on my own resources. When I was in my 20s I hiked the Inca trail over the Andes. We had to cross a 15,000 foot pass and I felt I was going to die attempting it. When I finally got to the top I said to myself, “if I can climb this fucking mountain I can do anything”. That was the most important experience of my life until Burning Man.

    I thought no one could be immune to the effects of the playa. That it would really transform anyone who attended as I’ve seen so many times. What I find so sad about this thread is it is clear some people are so cynical they see evil anywhere they look. If it’s not obvious, they figure it’s worse, because someone must be hiding something. They believe others should go out of their way to cater to their cynicism. If you protest against the cynicism, it’s not because you honestly believe in the integrity of the founders, based on what they’ve delivered for 30 some years, but because you are some kind of dupe, or worse, an agent of the enemy. An enemy that must always exist to justify the cynicism.

    Cynicism is poisoning everything these days. Read your Gandhi. Change can only come with trust and a belief in the deep down goodness of humans. Cynicism is death while you’re still breathing

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  • you clearly make a lot of assumptions!

    i understand it very well… and think they arent using their IP very well.

    burning man is already commercialized. go buy a copy of SPARK, or AS THE DUST SETTLES….. the latter is available on Amazon, Vimeo, Reelhouse, IndieReign, Distrify, Gumroad, VHX, Indiflix, Roku and Microsoft Xbox Live…….. BUY NOW

    earlier it seemed like it was claimed this type of thing is OK because it effectively acts as an advertisement for burning man itself.. and that its an example of the LLC being good stewards.

    i disagree with that.

    its commercialization of burning man, by the organizers.. some might argue its their right.. i would argue its not.

    i think they should release all of the the burnin man related intellectual property.

    the ‘do not commodify’ burning man ship sailed long ago… ask the plug n play camps who run for profit enterprises at burning man..

    of course in this culture it seems that anything that is OK’d by the LLC is OK by the culture… even if it is blatently commercial (such as the site-fees and contracts for profits from films/books/photoshoots)

    I think more damage is done to the culture by centralizing its expansion in an HQ in sanfrancisco and binding it into contracts and NDAs than by some idiot using photos of burning man to sell blinky lights, or t-shirts.

    the idea of burning man ‘transforming’ people into a bunch of Kumbaya PLUR folks is quaint, and it might apply to some.. but the reality is that Burning Man is firmly grounded in the real world. its a business, and people spend real money to bring the art and theme camps.. ..just because someone looks at it from a different view doesnt mean they dont get it, or that they dont realize what it is,.. or that they dont respect “THE FOUNDERS” ..it just means you have a different viewpoint.

    i think the same thing about ‘cynicism poisoining everything’ could be said about pie in the sky love will change the world trust and belief in deep goodness type thinking… that there can be a middle ground between the two seems to escape the thought process of some.

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  • @Jayer

    you said…

    “earlier it seemed like it was claimed this type of thing is OK because it effectively acts as an advertisement for burning man itself.. and that its an example of the LLC being good stewards.

    i disagree with that.

    its commercialization of burning man, by the organizers.. some might argue its their right.. i would argue its not.”

    Um…I mean…it’s just that..oh fuck it your just OBVIOUSLY wrong.

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  • The founders of this amazing experience chose to make a career out of bringing it to all of us. I would never begrudge them for making millions from their efforts. This is America where people are free to find fulfilling and productive ways to make a life. I think that they earned exactly everything they have. This is a business and strategic plan that makes sense and will serve the purpose of making sure that the event can continue. Whining about who profits from the event is ridicules on its face. If you paint a picture and someone pays you a million dollars for it, does anyone have a right to say you don’t deserve it??

    The people who volunteered, volunteered! They never expected compensation because they got out of it what they put into it. It was payback enough to be involved. Many thanks to Larry et al for creating, improving, managing and now preserving something so amazing that has and will mean so much to so many.


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  • Copy & paste of some excerpts from a travel webpage . . . .

    Every September for 86 years, Santa Fe residents have gathered to witness the burning of Zozobra.
    “Burn him! Burn him!” the revelers shout into the warm September air.
    Before the throng –about 23,000 women, men and children – a 49-foot-tall marionette hangs from a pole on a rise above Fort Marcy Park.
    Zozobra himself has inspired other, similar effigy burnings, including Burning Man, held each summer in Nevada, and Albuquerque’s El Kookookee – the Bogeyman. But Zozobra, in all his hideous, gangly glory, remains one of a kind.

    Effigy burning has a very long history, it is just one of many primal factors that are present at Burning Man, and why I love the event in BRC so dearly.

    The BMORG appears to be on something of a tight rope. They have a ton of factors, not all of them harmonious, to balance. I wish them well.

    Those above who are calling attention to the various LLC’s, 501(x)’s etc I think should look to a greater power than the BMORG, and that would be the US Government and how it has evolved since the mid 19th century with its legalistic and tax structures concerning coporations. I think it quite likely that BMORG are just naturally, inevitably falling into the die that the US government has long since cast concerning corporate organizations. Then again I suppose it may well be that corporations have shaped the US Government. What ever it is, it is what it is.

    All organized human endeavors morph over time. Seems lots of them become parodies of what they were in their gestational stages. Burning Man does have a life of its own and will continue to evolve. It will be fascinating to watch. I hope sight of its gestational years is not lost.

    This has been an intensely fascinating thread.

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  • Assume I haven’t started something of my own. Assume I haven’t been to the burn. Assume I’m obsessed with money. But don’t i dare suggest that something might possibly be going on behind the scenes.

    You want licensing? $150.00 man branded scarf (a scarf!) being offered by the 501(c)3 of course it’s a “gift” for a “donation”.

    What about that calendar? The documentary, the books, the vogue photo shoot.

    Why does decommodification llc still have burning man brew as an active mark. Once they claimed it from the original mark holder they could have killed it and it wouldn’t be an issue. Same goes for burning man energy.

    The popularity of the event spreads as mainstream culture continues to kiss subcultures involved including but not limited to festival culture, edm culture and to an extent art culture. Where as I can see the salaries involved as being reasonable up until a few years ago the ticket cap has risen as has the price drastically.

    Also if those involved should be able to make a reasonable living (which I have never argued they shouldn’t) why not those involved with the regionals network? Why do those people need to do it for the “feel good fuzzies” do they not work hard too?

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  • I must now leave this list, but before I go I will address two lingering perplexities. It has been asked if we intend to reveal the financial records of Black Rock City LLC. The answer is yes; that too will happen at about the same time as the Burning Man Project reveals its information—these two entities will then become a clean well-lighted suite of rooms thrown open for inspection. But I cannot guaranty that even this amount of disclosure will satisfy everyone. Even then, I suppose that some will look for skeletons in closets, or search for sliding walls that might conceal a dungeon.

    So let me make one last comment regarding Decommodification LLC, which is viewed by some as a sort of sinister outbuilding that is separate from both the event organization and the Burning Man Project. My fellow founders and I are the sole members of this entity whose chief property is the name “Burning Man”. This too will be transferred to the non-profit in three years time, unless the partners elect “not” to do so by a unanimous vote. This arrangement is designed to force our hand.

    The Burning Man event organization has used this trademark power to protect our community’s culture from being exploited. We have done this very diligently over several years (it is a right of ownership that must exercised, or it will perish). Furthermore, we have not relied on licensing this intellectual property as a source of revenue. The reason for this 3-year interval is that even we do not invest blind faith in the new non-profit’s workings, and we want to be perfectly sure that it can be relied upon, in the face of temptations that arise within any organization when dealing with power or money, to pursue the policies that we have practiced.

    I want to thank everyone who has participated in this discussion. Regardless of divisions of opinion, it certainly shows that people care. Such discourse will be very helpful when we roll out the entire agreement that governs this transition. It has taken my partners and I four full years, as we’ve confronted stacks of documents written in densely worded legalese, to gain a grasp of what all of this means and how it will function. So I suppose that, when this veritable elephant of information is made public, there will be those who grasp its tail, others who will seize its ears, and still others who will locate a mole on its butt (and then perhaps suspect that the entire creature is cancerous).

    This certainly will be a lot to digest, and we plan to develop a very extensive Q & A document that will help interpret it. The issues and concerns that have arisen here, and those that will surface in future discussions focusing on the operation of the Burning Man Project, will help us to create this guide, and whether your initial response is thumbs up, or thumbs down, or somewhere in between, you are all a part of this

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  • all i know is, during the temple burn, i am going to scream “CeaseFire” at the top of my fucking lungs…

    freebird’s getting kinda old…

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  • I honestly do not care if Larry Harvey is getting filthy rich off of Burning Man. While it’s true the participants bring the fun, the BMORG make it possible by dealing with the mountains of bureaucracy so that the event can continue.

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  • @ Asoftime

    When are gonna get a clue you stupid beautiful bastard and learn to express yourself. You sound so tired and so old. Like an old troll eating the same rotten meat day after day. Regurgitating a tiny bit just to have that bitter taste back. Swallow it and get on with something new.

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  • @Asof…keep digging that shallow grave for yourself, bubbeleh…your bedside manner needs some improvement….you’re not winning friends with the schmutz mouth and the hurting of the butt.

    whatsamatta?…they kick you off of eplaya but they don’t check your IP here, huh…

    love ya, now go play in traffic.

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  • @ Asoftime

    Nice. I Like it. You nailed it though. The real beauty of the whole trip to the desert is indeed the ‘substance’. And that ‘substance’ is ultimately created by YOU. More please. And the feedings should always be self induced. A good mantra to follow is, always focus on having a delicate balance of never over-extending yourself, and at the same time never limiting yourself. This should insure to keep the bile down and fairly manageable. Although, the quick remedy is of course a shot of playa dust. Luckily bile is mostly made of water.

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  • BM has done so much for overly blessed drug dealers and part time sex addicts it is hard to measure… on a positive note perhaps dreaded and tattooed hippies can find mainstream jobs… but that I am not certain of….. and one of the token lines at bm is I hate hippies. So what is bm culture? Hell for sale. Hell someday for free? Hypocrites? It seems bm should die. Or at least be honest. Let’s get half naked and do it in the cold pit of hell. You are all better off at home.

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  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) … proposed legislation that would strip the National Football League’s tax-exempt status.

    Chaffetz said professional football and hockey leagues are for-profit entities that don’t need a [501c5] unfair tax break. He offered the measure days before the Super Bowl, the nation’s most popular sporting event of the year.

    “In reality, the NFL and the NHL are for-profit businesses, and they should be taxed as such,” he said. “They are not charities nor are they traditional trade organizations like local chambers of commerce.”

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  • At the top of this page a guy named Dave replied on March forth. I could not agree with his statement more. I quote:
    “As a builder of Burning Man for 18 years I too would like a little something, you know, for the effort. The owners of the LLC alone did not build the event, it was built on the backs and from the wallets of thousands and thousands of people. Those drinks, that music, this art all take substantial portions of our annual resources yet only art grants and low income tickets come close to giving back to our community.”

    Thanks so much Dave

    I too have spent many years and tons of money building the fabric of Burning Man. No one ever asked us what direction we would like to see the event proceed. The members in our camp collectively have over 100 yrs at the burn. We are all mostly in our 50s. You would think we count for an opinion.

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