We’ve never met – at least I don’t think – and so I don’t know whether you’re true believing Burners who are just trying to make a buck sharing something you love without thinking it through or opportunists trying to strip-mine our culture and sell the raw materials to the highest bidder. Could go either way, and I prefer not to think the worst about people, no matter how often it’s justified.
And hey, let he who is without sin cast the first stone, right? I think pretty much everyone who has been inspired by Burning Man has wondered “How can I make THIS what I do in the world? Can I make Burning Man economically productive for me?”
It’s a completely reasonable question. Why wouldn’t you think it? Decommodification is a principle, but paying rent is a necessity. The question of how to make Burning Man a sustainable part of one’s life is one that Burners around the world are grappling with, experimenting with different models, and I think they’re at the vanguard of Burning Man’s next big step.
But some approaches … most particularly selling Burning Man merchandise … aren’t going to work. And most of the schemes I’ve seen to offer “Burning Man Experiences” aren’t going to work either.
But not so much because of the money thing.
I want to explain why, not so that I can yell at you for trying, but because maybe if we get on the same page about what the problem here is, you can come up with an approach that will work. So the dynamicism and energy you’re obviously bringing to this effort – starting a business is challenging – can be harnessed in service of the community you’re trying to introduce people to. And so that those people can be better introduced to our community.
Because right now there’s a serious problem with what it looks like you’re trying to do, and it’s not actually decommodification. Well, maybe that too, but there’s a much bigger, much more serious, problem here. That’s the one I want to talk about. (more…)