Spring Break: Announce 2 : 1 Week Out

If you are new to GroundSwell then there are a lot of things you should absolutely know before you go out there. Since this is a 10 Principles based event, there is no difference between what will happen at this event than any of the others of its kind. Radical Self Reliance means self preservation.

GroundSwellHere is a quick re-cap

  • 18+ Event (MUST carry ID)
  • No Pets and No Minors…
  • Bring Mosquito Spray
  • Bring Sun Block
  • Be careful with Ticks
  • Bring bathing supplies
  • ….including a towel

If you have not completed the survey for special needs or reserved your place for a “pay at the gate” pass please use the survey form. LINK

Transportation to the Event

One of the biggest topics of the week! Many of the respondents who answered the survey are saying they need rides out to GroundSwell. But a lot said they have space to share in their cars. It’s at 18500 Highway 128, Yorkville, CA 95454 .. it is a 3 hour drive from the city on a normal day. Google Maps Link

Driving up on your own?

BE SAFE. The road is multi lane highway the first 2/3 of the day but the last 1/3rd is two lanes and runs through the hills. There are deer on the road.. better yet there are wineries along the way too. But the land opens to us on Friday May 22nd at Noon and Dinner will be served at 7!!!

  • Parking: there are designated areas to park unless you are car-camping. There will be people to help direct you on your arrival

When you arrive:

Look for a sign that says GroundSwell on the west side of the road and pull into that driveway. Look for a sign that will merge you down that says “CAMP” and you will come to a 8.5′ wide bridge crossing the creek that will take you deeper into the property.

  • drive down into the camp to a clearing where check in will be set up next to the dining hall and the safety building: you will check in there.
  • At check in you will present you valid ID, sign the safety waiver, choose your cabin or camping spot, and hopefully get all that done while it is still daylight.

Getting there late? Park in a safe place, NOT BLOCKING ANY LANES OR FIRE LANES, and finish your check-in in the morning. BE SAFE and have fun.

Spring Break: 2 weeks out announce

The event is the first of it’s kind that is a 10 Principle based event and it is being promoted to LGBTQ++ participants and our allies. The beauty of Groundswell is unparalleled.

kmarling_022215-5353-1024x643We are just a couple weeks out from the Memorial Day Weekend when Spring Break takes flight (May 22nd to the 25th). Your weekend will be amazing and to make it as comfortable as possible there are some things we need from you and you need to know!!!

We have a survey asking about your needs! Take the Survey: LINK
The land is in the California wild: there are things below to know: READ ON

– Hey! You could die out there!!!!!!! So…
What to bring with you for GroundSwell on Memorial Day Weekend
Bring Mosquito Spray / Repellent!
It’s tick season!!! Be prepared!!!!
Staying in a cabin? Bring bedding / sleeping bags, pillows.
Staying in your own tent? Bring what you need… it’s camping.
The cabins have about 8 beds each, bunk beds with a single mattress in each one.

– Food Scenario
If you buy a weekend pass all your meals are included
If you have special food needs you should have completed the survey already
(Link to survey: LINK)
If you buy a day pass, it includes 1 meal.

– Is it BYOB or can I buy booze there?
We recommend you BYOB if you can.
We will have a cache of whiskey and vodka you can get with a donation.
There is a market we recommend on Booneville which is 5 miles away.

– Volunteering
This is a 10 Principles event. Everyone is expected to help in some way
Volunteer opportunities will be listed at the gate; you can request in advance too
We need cooks, dishwashers, moop patrol, bartenders and decorators
… security and more…

– Hours of Operation
Events opens Friday, May 22 @ noon
All attendees will have to sign a waiver at check in
Please choose at least one way to volunteer on the shift board
Sign up for workshops at check in or not… make the weekend yours
the event closes Monday, May 25th @ noon

– Entertainment
There is a lot organized for the weekend: parties and workshops
The land has a lot to offer like swimming, hiking, sun tanning, exploration and creativity

Last minute tips and what to know…
– This is a 10 Principle based event – all 10
– This is not a plug and play weekend… we all do to make it what we want

ON-LINE TICKET SALES will end on May 22nd, but participants are encouraged to buy early. Cabins are first come / first serve and they are going fast… seeya in the woods!!!!

Wait? Then what? Can we buy tickets at the gate?
– Yes you can: your purchase at presale will help us out a lot with budget and planning. We really want to know who and how many are coming. You can reserve your place with a promise to pay using the registration form.
– Please bring exact change for the gate – yes, cash or money order please.

2015 Burning Man: Global Leadership Conference

The Burning Man Global Leadership Conference happened again this year and Toaster went representing QueerBurners.Com. There were a lot of other LGBTQ++ burners there working the event as well as participating.

Toaster, Jim Taflinger the Georgia Regional, and Bobby (aka Poohbear) from the New York Community

Toaster, Jim Taflinger the Georgia Regional, and Bobby (aka Poohbear) from the New York Community

The 9th Annual Global Leadership Conference runs Thursday, April 9th through Sunday, April 12th, 2015. Each day will be action-packed with incredible workshops, presentations, and fun gatherings. The 2015 Burning Man Global Leadership Conference will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area. The conference theme is “The Next Creative Renaissance: Buildin’ it up, Bustin’ it Out, and Bringin’ it Home” aimed at inspiring civic engagement through art and community. We want participants to return home full of ideas about how to make a meaningful impact in their hometowns, cities, and regions. Featured speakers and programming will address and explore activating and nurturing Burning Man culture and communities across the world.

- taken from the conference web site page

There were queer burner leaders in attendance, but only one wore the badge that said “QueerBurners.Com” LGBT Burners; that was your very own Toaster.


This was a weekend full of amazing dialog and communication building for the “Carnival of Mirrors” event, but the scope of the Leadership Conference is developing community and the Burning Man ideology (brand, projects and identity protection). One thing is definitely sure, what Burning Man IS has changed. The up and coming leaders (in the community, not necessarily employees) have changed.

Burning Man is a business and the many limbs of Burning Man are wrapping around themselves building a stronger core by collapsing those ancillary entities into the whole. In recent months: the Black Rock Arts Foundation and Burners Without Borders are now internal elements of the Burning Man Project instead of satellites. Those employees are now Burning Man employees and they now have the resources that Burning Man has developed as well as the influence.

Politics and Wrangling Not Your Thing?

This ‘thing’ has grown and is still growing. Burning Man is not just Burning Man (in the desert) anymore. It is a corporation that works hard to maintain it’s identity. It seems to work hard from being too mega and from being marginalized.

  1. It fights to maintain representation of the 10 Principles and the gray area surrounding them while increasing its ability to give the people who are a part of the culture a chance to really have a piece through community effort.
  2. It also fights to be seen as something more than a rave-like festival in the deep Nevada desert filled with cracked out naked hippies.

Burning Man is in that wide field in-between all that. While this is all an opinion being shared here as a participant, it became clear to me that some of the ugly parts of Burning Man are being matured away from by a generation that does not accept the snark, sexually aggressive, community destructive ideas. But at the same time while the community as a whole is growing into new shoes the struggle to really maintain the 10 Principles every day has also been a struggle.

10 Principles

See the 10 Principles here… CLICK. One of the questions that came up was: What is Radical Inclusion … Really? Here are two scenarios:

  • Creepy individual in camp stalking or pushing themselves on other members of the camp; does this person have the right to be a part of the camp under the Radical Inclusion umbrella or not? Most say no, but those that do not have to deal with the consequences say maybe or yes.
  • A camp of people with a certain “body type” or an “aesthetic” with an age limit or gender requirement is approached by someone that does not meet that standard; do they have the right to say no? Many would say no, but we have the right to choose who we camp with. The value of that individual is not known until we get to know that person.

Both these were discussed at the summit and in one case a unsolicited comment was made by one of the Gayborhood camps in a session of leaders. Most had never heard of the camp before, but as a member of the community behind this camp I was stunned and reeled.

the 11th Principle

There was a lot of talk about an eleventh principle. Seems like communities all over have developed something with the word “radical” put in front of it and found meaning with it. Among them, for a long while anyway, was the word Gratitude.

  • Radical Vulnerability: among leaders needing permission to look for a support team/system when working/building/launching events.

(See our post on this that started this conversation at the GLC: CLICK)


BMGLS2015 attendeesAll those leaders who went to this event (400 of them) should be bringing these tools back to their communities. It should be a trickle down idea and it will hopefully see some people be inspired and step up to help make leadership better. To all Queer Burners… I give this site to you. I present this whole project to you. Only you can take the baton and raise the bar for the future and yourselves and your communities.

Radical Vulnerability

This post was take from a discussion string on the Burning Man Global Leadership Summit with the written permission of the poster Gustav Josefsson and one of the respondents Jered Floyd. This was an important post of people in leadership roles:

Last year at the GLC I was at the Saturday night dinner, when me and the guy next to me from Oregon coined the term: “radical vulnerability”.

I’ve thought about this concept a lot, context of community leadership, and I would like to find a way to address this at the GLC. I think that vulnerability is a core ability in being able to lead a participatory community such as ours. More than that, I think it is going to be essential in the emergent network based leadership of the 21st century.

1423704446I’m not interested in just talking about this conceptually, but rather to get the opportunity to share the things that I am personally battling with other community leaders and hear and discuss their personal issues as leaders.

For you to understand more what I’m looking for, I’d like to share with you a list of issues that I’m personally battling with. These are just my list, and I’m sure that others will have different ones. In my mind, a session should be a facilitated session of sharing, with little set content. I’m just listing these now to give an idea of what kind of issues I’m trying to get at.

In my role as a community leader, I feel uncomfortable when:
* Everyone knows my name and I feel bad for not knowing theirs.
* People I don’t know come up to me to give me (what I feel is) undeserved credit, projecting the work of others on me.
* I hear of people in the community talking shit about me around my back.
* I have problem feeling connected during the event, because I’m worrying about the well-being of others.
* Some participants have a hard time approaching me, because they think i have better things to do than talk to hem.
* Sometimes I’m tired or lazy and I feel like I don’t contribute, so I try to hide it by pretending to be busy.
* I love being in the center of attention, but at the same time afraid of using my position as a leader to satisfy my ego.
* Someone puts me on a pedestal, making it hard for me to connect with them. When this illusion of a perfect me breaks, I’m met with disappointment.
* When I am stressed out and would need someone to calm me down, I tend to scare people off by seeming “busy”.
* Issues in my personal relationships affect my performance as a leader, and vice versa.

How does these things resonate with you? Would anyone else like to be a part of sharing thoughts and feelings on this? - Gustov

In my capacity with Queer Burners over the years I have tried to provide this service to my community with any fanfare. While I hope to do it and inspire others to help out, I found that I related a lot to the words he wrote and wanted to to share it with Queer Burners.

Boston Area Regional Contact and Queer Burner Jered Floyd [Facebook] posted his reply and I thought it was a really concise and thoughtful response:

The fact that you have these worries shows that, as a leader, your heart is in the right place! These are concerns common to leadership roles, and amplified in ones that are volunteer-oriented.

These feelings are normal and widespread across volunteer leadership, and dealing with them falls squarely in the category of reducing stress and preventing burnout. One key is identifying and following positive coping strategies for volunteerism-related stress, and avoiding negative ones.

1151004_10151507192887315_1201687110_nIt’d be great to have a “community leader support group” session, especially if we can find a facilitator who is trained in positive coping strategies – any volunteers? :-)

As a start, I’d say that you have excellent self-awareness. For each of your items, look if there’s a way to address it in a positive light. For example:
– People I don’t know come up to me to give me (what I feel is) undeserved credit, projecting the work of others on me.
+ I appreciate being recognized for helping catalyze our community, and have the opportunity to direct attention and appreciation to other makers and doers.

  • Some participants have a hard time approaching me, because they think i have better things to do than talk to them.
  • I work to be approachable and friendly, and talk to new people when I can.
  • Sometimes I’m tired or lazy and I feel like I don’t contribute, so I try to hide it by pretending to be busy.
  • I can’t do everything, and I should keep time for myself for things I want to do, or even nothing at all.

This isn’t about just feel-good affirmations, but rather recognizing your worries as valid, identifying the good things that you do that show why they aren’t serious, and choosing specific steps to take if you want to improve further.

Your list absolutely resonates with me; I’m happy to discuss this further, or at the GLC. – Jered

I have not met a single leader in this community that puts this kind of effort into various projects in order to receive personal recognition. The work I do is sincerely to make events, productions, spaces and more better for all participants. My sense is that it is much the same for all of you.

There was a lot more to the discussion than what was posted above including my own responses. Mostly personal accounts from other Regional Contacts best left there. But at a recent leadership gathering in San Francisco the subject came up in the conversation and there was interest so I thought I would share it here.

What happens at Burning Man, stays at Burning Man:

Taken from the pages of Queerty in a lovely article linked here.

So, fun story time. Burning Man is a weird place. Someone (as a prank) put up a bunch of flyers that read, “Tantric Blowjob Workshop, males needed due to overwhelming female response. 1 pm, 3pm, and 6pm daily.” They had the address to someone else’s camp.

201-600x489Of course, every few hours a bunch of thirsty dudes show up to invade this poor camp, and someone staying there has to explain it. Well, this guy shows up late, and the camp member who just explained it was a prank goes to greet him.
They shake hands, talk a bit, still shaking hands. Someone comments on how awkwardly long the handshake is. Someone else exclaims “its not like they’re shaking dicks!”

One guy jokingly goes for the crotch grab. The other guy sees, then actually goes for the crotch grab. Cue awkward dick handshaking and laughing. Laughing stops. Cue shorts sliding down / sarong coming off. Cue two dudes standing face to face jerking each other off while ~20 watch.

The guest finished, the camp member didn’t. His wife showed up just at the tail end, and jokingly shouted “Damnit, Robbie! Not again!”

And that’s how a handshake turns into a double hand job.

ADMIN: Ask Catcher and he will tell you these kinds of things happen all the time at the Down Low Club. DLC Yahoo Groups Link.

Stories of 1st Year

What was your first year at Burning Man like? Following up our week of Acculturation posts lets see what some people experienced on their blogs out there:

Bored Panda Posted this: Here

Last year I attended my first Burning Man festival and had the most insane time of my life. I have never been surrounded by so much creativity and enthusiasm, and as a photographer/videographer I was highly inspired to capture the festival from my own my-surreal-photographs-from-burning-man-2014unique perspective.

The whole week felt like a really trippy, lucid dream, and through the use of experimentation and photo-editing, I attempted to express my thoughts and feelings into each photo.

Burning Man truly is a one-of-a-kind festival and I really hope to return this year.


5 Things I Learned at My First Burning Man: Here

Two weeks ago, I made the decision to attend Burning Man for the first time. I had been making excuses for years on why I couldn’t go (“it’s too expensive,” “I don’t have goggles,” “techno isn’t my thing,” “my costume wardrobe is kind of lame,” “The New York Times says it’s played out — the techies have taken the playa over worse than they have taken over the Mission,” “I don’t own a CamelBak,” etc., etc.) but this year I finally bit the bullet. Instead of putting it off for the future, I finally accepted the time to go was now. A friend of mine passed away recently and his death has made me realize how fragile life is, how impermanent we are, and how little time matters except for what we are doing right now.


Burning Man Memoirs: Here

I went to Burning Man for the first time in 2012. From the moment I decided to go through my return to the “default world”, I felt compelled to photograph and write about the experience.


ADMIN: Just a few stories from the interwebs and hopefully making the days to come easier.

Admin Note: Discussing about Acculturation

In the last few days we talked a little about Acculturation and the way it was written on the playajoy.org web site resonates with me a lot. This being my eighth year in the community I am struck by the perceived vacuum of understanding Burning Man culture when engaging people out of context; e.g. when in a Burning Man environment versus outside. When the frat boy or O.C. housewives make their tourist destination a burn and treat it like they were at a mainstream festival. Their disconnection is something that I feel.

Definition: Ac·cul·tur·a·tion 1. A process by which the culture of an isolated society changes on contact with a different one. 2. A process by which a person acquires the culture of the society that he/she inhabits. – playajoy.org

Being a Radically Inclusive culture means that we embrace people for whomever they are and where-ever they stem from which includes people like Pip Diddy (or whatever he calls himself these days), and billionaires in inflatable houses, pop-stars in bustiers and (heavy sigh) Segway riders. It’s always we… otherwise it becomes us versus them.

The 10 Principles are important. The glittery glint in a newbie’s eye when they drink the burning man punch is something that makes salty veterans smile and avert their eyes because the saltier they are now the more glittery they were then. We remember when we chased those pretty lights with fishing-line behind them?

We have been forced to learn that at some point the radical inclusion had a gray area: I don’t want to hang out with the frat boys or others that do not appreciate …TTITD*. My gray area is that I get to say ‘no’ to a group or individual that I do not choose to embrace.

Show me a principle and let me show you a gray area.

Show me a principle and let me show you how it fits into my life… so both are true. Life is about balance. Life is perspective and the 10 Principles shine very differently depending on where you are in your journey through the Burning Man culture.

Why is Acculturation important?

Or one might ask why is acculturation necessary? Depends on how deep the proverbial bug bites. If you chose to embrace the popular gypsy image of burners or the outlaw anarchist.

Burners come in all shapes and sizes. Often naked or shirt-cocking. But one either finds a life in the playa or simply moves on to new things.

There is an interesting trend for those who are smitten:

  • Year One: Can’t shut up about it
  • Year Two: This is the year you bring a theme/sound camp or art car
    (that is better than all the others you saw because it can be done)
  • Year Three: The real year you get a theme camp going or you make that great art piece

The culture of this community we celebrate is still growing around the world. It’s inevitable commercialization are seeds falling from the trees starting new forests of followers.

Acculturating to Burning Man Principles is not giving up your individuality, but embracing new definitions of what it could mean.

1. A process by which the culture of an isolated society changes on contact with a different one.

This could go either way. Who is isolated?

2. A process by which a person acquires the culture of the society that he/she inhabits.

Opening the mind to the ways of others.

Acculturation: Acceptance

Definition of ACCULTURATION from Merriam-Webster


:  cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture; also :  a merging of cultures as a result of prolonged contact
:  the process by which a human being acquires the culture of a particular society from infancy
\-shnəl, -shə-nəl\ adjective
\ə-ˈkəl-chə-ˌrā-tiv, a-\ adjective
*TTITD = That Thing In The Desert

Acculturation in 2015

I think most people will agree that over the last 28 (or so) years the thing that started off as Burning Man has evolved into something else. The word “festival” is used more than it should. Does not matter if it meets the definition of festival or not, people who made this a lifestyle balk at the word.

Larry Harvey and Marian Goodell - The Business Side of Burning Man

Larry Harvey and Marian Goodell

So, when the 10 Principles spilled from Larry Harvey’s golden lips and they were heard by all many of us struggle to communicate what they mean and how they are fed into our daily lives. Some of us adopt these ideals 365 days a year and some for a mere 7 or 8 or less while frolicking in the desert.

The trick is perspective. Many of the burners who discovered this world go a little hard-core in the beginning, but over time the zealot ener-gasm becomes good old fashion snark and sarcasm.

  • Years 1 to 3 head in the clouds, glitter in the eyes
  • Years 4 and 5 Burning Man sucks and it is suddenly changed more than you like
  • …after that somewhere along the way it all settles into whatever it might become…

For many there is a burnout somewhere around 7 years. While this is not the same ride everyone experiences getting used to blurry lines is a matter of survival.

Marian Goodell

Marian Goodell

A personal note: one year I was dealing with a serious community issue with some bad behavior by a leader in our community and was trying to get Burning Man involved. I talked to Maid Marian (Marian Goodell who is the current CEO of The Burning Man Project) who told me that there were times when those lines are blurred and accepting that is a reality.

10 Principles

The foundation of what Burning Man culture has set itself on is the 10 Principles which is also more stoically defined right on the Burning Man web site. We tried giving your the dummy’s version of the 10 Principles in one of our past articles about them like this:


  1. Everyone is welcome
  2. No money needed, give from the heart expect nothing back
  3. Let’s get rid of the corporate bullshit
  4. Stand strong on your own
  5. Express yourself freely and honestly
  6. Stand strong on your own but a community is stronger
  7. Your community is stronger when it is responsible to itself and the environment
  8. Keep our world clean
  9. Get involved and no sitting on the sidelines
  10. …and act. Act now. Act up.

Of course, follow the Burning Man Blog link for the precise wording of the 10 Principles at the top of the paragraph above.

So, what is Acculturation?

It is the process where you are prepared for your accession into the community and to know what is expected of you while you are on the playa. While it may come across as cultish and kooky the fundamentals of these ideals can be a strong foundation for a gifting culture like we enjoy.

There are drawbacks and there are pieces missing, but keeping this fundamentals and not letting anyone harsh your burn. We don’t focus on what’s missing but endeavor to add to the richness of what is laid out in front of us.

So, we support each other but count on everyone to be self reliant. We keep our nature clean and leave no trace. We play well with others and rally when needed. We build out community even if it lasts a few days in the desert.


Making Acculturation sexy (through Submission)

Definition: Ac·cul·tur·a·tion
1. A process by which the culture of an isolated society changes on contact with a different one.
2. A process by which a person acquires the culture of the society that he/she inhabits.

Remember your first time at Burning Man, finally seeing everything you’d been hearing about? Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures (or, more accurately, about 30 frames per second).

Every year, returning participants wonder how to share their tips, tricks, and first-timer advice; and how the Survival Guide, Ten Principles, and other “Burning Man Essentials” can be best communicated to the next generation of newcomers. The Burning Man organization thinks the answer is: VIDEO… and is calling all filmmakers, actors, actresses, directors, vloggers, auteurs … acrobats, giant bunnies and sumo wrestlers to share their….. read the rest of the article a video on PlayaJoy.Org [click here]

Education is Everything: Better Behavior Through Learning

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Here’s what I remember being surprised by the most during my first visit to Black Rock City, in 1998: No garbage cans.

I had come utterly unprepared, and had little idea what going to Burning Man meant. Traveling separately from my only other friend who was going, I grabbed a spot on the Green Tortoise, packed a couple of bags, and made my way to the playa.
Danger Ranger, Burning Man Cultural Ambassador, 2013 (photo by Mark Hammon)Danger Ranger, Burning Man Cultural Ambassador, 2013 (photo by Mark Hammon)

Even today, I frequently recall wandering the Esplanade during Burning Man 1998, a wad of garbage in my hand, and simply not grokking why there was no place to throw my trash. Having failed to read the Survival Guide, that just didn’t make any sense to me. Not that I was the kind of person to blithely toss crap on the ground, but I had no idea what to do. Eventually, I found a nook in some wooden structure crammed with others’ refuse, and jammed mine in alongside.

See the original source of the post here: CLICK HERE