July 22nd, 2014  |  Filed under News

Black Rock City Fuel Program

Flaming Lotus Girls' MASSIVE propane tanks, 2009 (Photo by Caroline Miller)

Flaming Lotus Girls’ MASSIVE propane tanks, 2009 (Photo by Caroline Miller)

Tired of hauling gallons upon gallons of fuel to the Black Rock Desert? Concerned about keeping a large amount of fuel in your camp? Want to power your Theme Camp or Mutant Vehicle without having to worry about how? We have news for you! Black Rock City now offers a fueling program for Theme Camps and Mutant Vehicles at Burning Man!

In order to participate in the program please see the Fuel Program page on our website.

Chalk this one up to Communal Effort outweighing Radical Self-Reliance in Ye Olde Ten Principles … because y’know, there are just efficiencies to be had when we share resources. And sometimes that just. Makes. Sense.

July 22nd, 2014  |  Filed under News

RC / UAV at BRC – So You Want to Fly Your Drone at Burning Man

Dronetastic! (photo via Wired UK)

Dronetastic! (photo via Wired UK)

In response to the growing popularity of remote controlled aircraft, helicopters and multicopters (aka UAV or drones), Burning Man has formed a new team: Remote Control Black Rock City (RCBRC) under the Black Rock City Municipal Airport management, and updated its guidelines for registering, and the terms and conditions for flying RC aircraft in Black Rock City.

Like mutant vehicles, BRC regulates all RC aircraft and requires that they be operated responsibly, and are subject to restricted fly zones and other rules of operation. The goal is to streamline the registration process, have all RC pilots be familiar with flying in the city, and make it safer for all Burning Man participants.

The FAA requires all pilots of RC aircraft flying within 5 miles of an airport to notify that airport of their operations. Virtually all of Black Rock City is within 5 miles of 88NV, Black Rock City Municipal Airport, and completing the on-line registration and on-playa briefing with RCBRC meets this requirement.

Burning Man hosted a Drone Summit in 2013 to bring together RC pilots, who crowd-sourced the first set of community guidelines for flying in BRC. While the aircraft captured some great imagery of the event in 2013, we also encountered problems, including at least four instances where RC multicopters nearly hit participants.

You can read the new policy and register here, but these are the highlights:

  1. Registration on-line is limited to 200 pilots and closes August 15.
  2. RC pilots must receive an on-playa briefing, after which their RC aircraft and transmitters will be tagged and the pilots issued wristbands. Registration and briefings will be at 5 p.m. sharp, Monday through Saturday at the Artery in Center Camp.
  3. RC pilots are financially responsible for any harm or damage caused during the event.
  4. RC equipment can be confiscated for unsafe flying or violation of RCBRC, AMA, and FAA rules.
  5. Confiscated RC equipment will be held until the end of the event or when the participant departs Black Rock City.
  6. In addition to independent flying, registered RC pilots will have the opportunity to come together, share ideas, and fly from a protected RC Landing Zone. This will be set up at different art installations including near the Man. The changing locations will be posted at the Artery and announced on BMIR 94.5FM.

As in 2013, some guidelines remain the same, including:

  1. When possible, use a spotter to control onlookers.
  2. No First Person View (FPV) flying.
  3. Flying limited to a maximum altitude of 400 ft.
  4. Avoid flying over crowds. Maintain at least 25 ft. horizontal separation from people.
  5. Avoid flying near emergency, police and fire personnel.
  6. No flying near the Man beginning Friday night (during pyrotechnic set-up), and during the Temple burn.
  7. Flying is prohibited in Center Camp, along the Esplanade, near the airport, and near the BLM Incident Command area.

Support your love of RC flight and volunteer! You do not need to be a RC pilot to volunteer. To get involved, fill out a Burner Profile and Volunteer Questionnaire on the Burning Man website and specify airport for volunteer team.

For RCBRC scheduling issues, email milehigh here: milehigh (at) burningman.com.

For more information regarding duties, email firefly here: firefly (at) burningman.com.

Review the complete RC aircraft, drone and UAV policy.

July 22nd, 2014  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

The Barkinator — Testing the Limits of Radical Inclusion

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man's 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

Someone once said to me that every year San Francisco builds a city in the desert and it’s called Burning Man. Hearing that made me think about why I came to SF in the first place 36 years ago. My mother called it a “push and a pole”. The “push” was getting out of the small town mindset that I had grown up in, and the “pole” was the fantastic “city of permission” that sat at the end of the wagon trail where all the whack-minded odd birds migrated to. I was certain that I, too, was a whack-minded odd bird. I was a starless-bellied Sneetch that had been shunned from the boat parties of the snobs and the too cool cruel schools.

I had a hunch that a more permissive place lay to the west where the radically minded set the stage, not the fad followers. On one of the first nights that I had landed in the city by the Bay in ‘79, I went to the midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show on Market Street, and just like that, I had stepped into an entire nation of whacky birds and they all seemed to be crammed into one maniacal theatre! Still a small town pup, it was the most outrageous thing I had ever seen – right down to the six-foot drag queen sitting next to me handing me a lit joint. It was radical, and I was included!

DPW Parade and Green Man, 2002. Photo by Steve Saroff.

DPW Parade and Green Man, 2002. Photo by Steve Saroff.

Radical Inclusion sits at the cornerstone of the Ten Principles. It assembles the community in the first place where the other principles direct it. It’s also one of the tougher ones to hold to. Allegiances can be challenged when Techno Surf Camp, for instance, find themselves parked next to Camp Carp’s Black Sabbath Pancakes. Seems that putting up with our radical differences takes work. Wouldn’t it be easier to just surround ourselves with all things familiar so we never have to stray from our well-worn color wheels? But that’s when treasures of life start slipping by unseen – camouflaged by the shroud of unfamiliarity. We become imprisoned by our own opinions – by what we might consider to be in good or poor taste. Pablo Picasso once said that taste was the enemy of creativity. Taste forms a boundary that excludes.

Photo by Mark Peterson, 2011

Photo by Mark Peterson, 2011

Black Rock City was challenged with radical inclusion early on. Back when the Department of Public Works (DPW) of BRC was still newly forming, many of our first generation crews were members of the Black Label Bike Club. They were a brazen bunch that had the rough-and-tumble it took to pound those early cities into the summer playa with broken trucks and tools. They also knew the meaning of a good prank and had the brass to pull ‘em off. The Bike Club was pretty specific in its view of the world and every year their irritation would grow along with the swelling presence of rave and techno music at our event. They were fine with radical inclusion, as long as it didn’t include rave and techno music.

I would explain to them that all-inclusive meant just that and that rave camps were here to stay, but their irritation continued to grow nonetheless. That’s when they decided to create “The Barkinator!” They took one of the road warrior junker cars we always seemed to have on hand and loaded it up with this pretty massive sound system. Then they made a tape loop of vicious dogs barking – at ear-bleed volume – and blasted it as they drove around Black Rock City. It was the most obnoxious thing I have ever encountered out there. The complaints started flooding in.

“That’s not art!”
“That’s ugly and annoying and should be kicked off the playa!”
“It’s too loud!” (Actually, it was nowhere near as loud as a rave camp.)
“There’s nothing interactive about that horrid thing!” – and so on.

DPW Rolling in the Gremlin, 2004

DPW Rolling in the Gremlin, 2004

But the Bike Club held fast and flipped the pointing finger around back to them. “Your rave camps annoy us as much as our Barkinator annoys you! This just happens to be our form of expression.” Long story short, the court battle went up the food chain until a senior decision was handed down saying that the Barkinator had as much a place in our city as any. You can’t get kicked off the playa simply for being horrid. And so, the Barkinator barked on, wreaking havoc like a three-headed Cerberus in the night – that is until the third night when not even the Bike Club could stand it anymore and dismantled it the next day. But the point had been made!

The more mindsets we welcome, the more facets on our sparkling gem. A city that encourages a radically inclusive philosophy also encourages an environment of discovery. When you shine your one-sided beam through the prism of another’s perspective, who knows what kind of spectrums will be splashed before you.

Black Rock City – the bastard child of San Francisco – the runaway teenager that started their own production company while still grasping to the core values of their parent, which was to be a permissive city– to open their gates to any who have something to offer and to open their minds to the fanatical quirks they may bring. Black Rock City – where the Playa’s vacuum acts as the great equalizer sucking away even the biggest of egos – where dubstep can go on a blind date with gypsy music – where a billionaire’s next door neighbor is a guy in a tent – where failed art can receive just as much encouragement – where a grilled hot dog can taste as good as a filet mignon.

Coyote Nose

The Generator, A Community Art and Builder’s Space

The Generator with LOVE by Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton being moved

The Generator with LOVE by Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton being moved

Gene kids2

Youngsters making things

There is a new art kid on the block! The Generator is a non-profit, inclusive, community art and builder’s space in greater Reno, Nevada (actually in Sparks). It’s open to anyone who wants to make art and be part of a creative community, and they run on their version of Burning Man’s Ten Principles.

I went for a tour a few weeks ago, and I was amazed. There is every sort of tool, and many different kinds of artists: painters, sculptors, woodworkers, Burning Man Honorarium artists, brand new artists of every sort, and children learning art. And the best part is there is no cost to anyone who wants to participate in making any kind of art.

Read more »

July 22nd, 2014  |  Filed under Participate!

Caravan Master Al-Ari Invites Travelers to the Souk!

Image c/o vauxhallgardens.com

Image c/o vauxhallgardens.com

Caravan Master Al-Ari invites all travelers to enjoy the exotic delights and unattainable wares of the Souk at the Feet of the Man. Un-merchants from five continents will be selling nothing at giveaway prices during our week-long GRAND OPENING / GOING OUT OF BUSINESS celebration.

To enliven the festive atmosphere of the Souk plaza, he extends a special invitation to itinerant jugglers, acrobats, fortune tellers, magicians, seers, fakirs, sadhus, strongmen, sword swallowers, fire eaters, dervishes, human statuary, and dancing sign-shakers to bless us with the gift of performance at all hours of the day and night.

Levitationists, situationists, and contortionists will be greeted warmly in the Souk, as will stilt walkers, plate spinners, sitar players, mechanical snake charmers, hula hoopers, puppeteers, and alien bellydancers. However, the Caravan Master warns that sound systems, cover bands, singer-songwriters, and anyone violating the prohibition on commerce will be chased from the Caravansary like wild dogs.

Performers are asked to check in with the INNKEEPER staff upon arrival at the Souk, and to leave no trace upon departure, but are not required to register in advance. Al-Ari adds that he has a special place in his heart for storytellers and mad poets, and hopes that the 1,001 minutes of the Souk will be graced by thrilling tales of adventure and flights of fancy.

July 17th, 2014  |  Filed under News

Update on STEP for Burning Man 2014

Ticket cuddle puddle!

Ticket cuddle puddle!

Here’s a quick update on the state of the STEP … the Secure Ticket Exchange Program.

Good news! The system is working! Over 2,500 tickets have been sold back through STEP, snapped up by eager Burners yearning for the playa.

Right around now lots of folks start deciding – for real – if they are or are not going to the playa this year. This means we expect a lot of tickets to change hands in the next few weeks. If you have an unneeded ticket to sell, get it into STEP (through your Burner Profile) before Friday, July 25 at 12pm (noon) PDT … that’s the deadline for submissions.

If you’re still looking for a ticket, we encourage you to exhaust all of your options. The best way, we’ve found, is to beat the bushes and shake the trees in your Burner community. Friday, July 25 is the last day ticket offer links will be sent out through STEP. Links are good for 72 hours from the time they are sent.

Keep at it, don’t lose faith, and we hope to see you on the playa!

More info on our ticket page  and in our help desk. Still have a question? Email ticketsupport here: ticketsupport (at) burningman.com.

July 16th, 2014  |  Filed under Burning Book Club

Burning Book Club – Chapter 3 (part 2) – Money and Revolutions

(We’re basing this discussion on Terry Eagleton’s “Culture and the Death of God.” Read all the book club entries)

To everybody who’s apologized for falling behind on Book Club:  I’ve fallen behind too, so let’s make it official.  Book Club moves slowly, and nobody has to be embarrassed.  A chapter a week was just not going to happen.

But we’re making progress!

Okay … here we go …

Today we’re going to talk about money and economics.

If Burning Man, as I’ve argued, has many of the attributes and contradictions if Romanticism, there’s one more that should be noted.

Here’s Eagleton’s description:

“If the movement is divided against itself, it is largely because it is both a product of middle-class society and a protest against it.  Its flamboyant individualism is among other things an idealized version of the entrepreneur;  yet it is also a rebuke to the faceless civilization he is busy fashioning, one in which men and women are reduced to so many cogs and ciphers.  Spiritual individualism is to be prized, but its more possessive variety must be countered by some more corporate forms of existence, whether in the form of Nature, Geist, art, culture, world-spirit, political love, medieval guilds, ancient Greece, utopian communities or the Kantian consensus of taste.”

There is it – and Burning Man has been living that contradiction for decades.  Burning Man as we know it could only exist in a world of capitalist excess, and it is easiest to participate in by those who are living high on that excess.  Can there be any real argument on these points?  Yet Burning Man’s values explicitly call for us to undermine the motives and impacts of these same systems of excess.  Burning Man is like the landlord who raises the rent while voting for public ownership of buildings.

Read more »

July 15th, 2014  |  Filed under News

Scaling Infrastructure: Lessons Learned in a Pizza Oven

If you’ve created art or built a theme camp at Burning Man, you know that it’s all about trial, error, complex planning and a fair amount of flying by the seat of your pants. In 2006, my camp, Random Pizza Experience (RPE), was placed on the Esplanade for the first time. For two years, we’d been cooking homemade pizzas in camp and making random deliveries across the playa.

Temple Portrait, 2013. Photo by Mark Hammon.

Temple Portrait, 2013. Photo by Mark Hammon.

We were unprepared for the impact of thousands of Burners flowing through our camp on the Esplanade. We were asked questions small and large all day. Why do you make the dough from scratch? Is this pizza the right size? May I give you a kiss? Why aren’t you open?

What did we know? Enough to get into trouble and not enough to avert small disasters. We simply were not prepared for the crush of Burners that came with Esplanade placement. I’m embarrassed to say that at one time, the Nevada Health Department featured our camp in a presentation on what not to do! But, we were thrilled to see people making music, art and performance together while they were waiting in line for pizza. We tried to focus on our strengths, like connecting people, and not our weaknesses (according to the Health Department).

Scalability is an issue for nearly every aspect of Burning Man. In 1990, the first year in the desert, roughly 90 people showed up. This year we’ll have 70,000. And Burners have taken what they’ve learned in the desert into the world in awe-inspiring ways. We now have more than 220 Regional representatives worldwide, with more than 40 official Burning Man affiliated events on six continents. From artists to civic activists, the world is changing every day because of Burning Man.

Man at SF Decompression, 2011. Photo by Waldemar Horwat.

Man at SF Decompression, 2011. Photo by Waldemar Horwat.

Burning Man Project is facing scaling challenges of its own. Staff and volunteers are working days, nights and weekends to serve a growing community that is active around the world every day and every hour.

Burning Man Project is fundraising to build out an infrastructure to support the worldwide culture of Burning Man. Some Burners are addressing social and environmental problems (Burners Without Borders and Black Rock Solar) while others are bringing civic art to the public (Black Rock Arts Foundation) and some are inventing things that none of us have imagined.

I started volunteering for Burning Man Project in 2012 at BMHQ in San Francisco. Today, I’m in a leadership position helping create infrastructure to support the year-round culture.  We’re creating systems and processes for building and tracking our events, programs and activities in the world. We’re also exploring collaborations with like-minded organizations like [freespace] and Maker Faire -  groups that are teaching us what they’ve learned along the way.

Spire of Fire in Downtown Reno, 2011. Photo by Bill Kositzky.

Spire of Fire in Downtown Reno, 2011. Photo by Bill Kositzky.

We’re a public benefit corporation because our purpose and mission is to support the Burning Man culture out in the world. Income from Burning Man tickets supports the event in the desert but that income isn’t sufficient to support the infrastructure needed for a global movement founded on Burning Man’s Ten Principles. Burning Man staff and volunteers are running fast to keep up with  the growth of this culture year-round and we don’t yet have the resources we need to sustain this level of growth.

Just as the questions of Random Pizza Experience helped us understand our strengths and challenges, we welcome your questions about the future of Burning Man in the world.  Please keep them coming. Each one helps us learn more.

Making pizza dough from scratch takes a little longer but I’m convinced that it tastes better.  And making better pizza is actually scalable – just teach more friends how to do it.

Please join me and Carmen Mauk, Executive Director of Burners Without Borders, for “From the Playa to the Planet,” a conversation about social change at Everywhere (6:15 and Esplanade), on Monday, August 25th, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm.  This is an opportunity for crowd-sourcing solutions to social change challenges and we’d love to see you there!