Mediation and Neighborly Behavior

This has been a topic that has come up quite often in the community lately in many forms. During a meeting last year at the Red Lightening camp hosted by the Burning Man Theme Camp Organizers admins and Placement where it was a seriously addressed issue by the head of Placement/DMV “Retro” making it clear that sound in the city limits was being taken seriously.

If you know Red Lightening they are a venue with performances and education series usually positioned on the Esplanade and are a relatively quiet, if not busy, camp with a lot of foot traffic. As we held our meetup at 11pm on a Wednesday night the camp next door started playing death metal and we could barely hear each other talking. In the not so far distance we could hear the Mayan Warrior on it’s way out of the city with the trademark drums beating announcing it’s arrival.

The look on Retro’s face was awestruck but he understood campers point of view, as he and a placer who was with him at the time, explained they were working on creating new policies to address those issues.

Within our Queer Burner community there were some issues as well. The new sound policy felt like it was getting it’s legs in 2015 but already in 2016 we can feel the full force of these new policies. In 2015 BAAAHS was placed at 7 & D kitty corner from Camp Conception which both played amplified music. And across from both was Sun Guardians that holds yoga and meditation classes during the day. As mayor of SG I found both BAAAHS and Camp Conception amiable in helping me limit the amplified sound when I went to talk to them about it for our day-time classes.

Yet other neighbors complained for various reasons, but asking two sound entities placed in the city was like asking a cheetah not to run.

In another case that came up, Disco Château was not placed this year because of a sound battle they had with their neighbors AEZ (Alternative Energy Zone) and possibly others in 2015. Not being good neighbors, especially to a long established camp, earned them a serious black mark from Placement.

We can do better and are working to do better. BAAAHS did everything they could to be compliant and tried to meet the needs of officials who gave them feedback. Disco Château on the other hand had some renegades who really ended up digging a deep hole that pulled a few people down with them; forcing a change in leadership for 2016.

stole this from the Facebook post

Solution

It is not up to us to confront people over issues that cannot be resolved with a polite neighborly discussion. I found our neighbors helpful from my point of view when I explained we needed the volume down between certain hours in the middle of the day which was pretty reasonable.

If you are not getting a response then seek out a Ranger for conflict mediation. Black Rock City Rangers are trained for that very purpose. When these occurrences happen they are being recorded in a blotter that is reported back to Placement and will / could affect your placement in the coming year.

The old fashion term “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” is still the standard. The “Fuck yer Burn” mentality of the past is slowly fading out with troll attitudes and crotchety veteran burners giving way to the flood of festival candy ravers who are flooding into the event.

If Rangers in the field cannot help, then go to the closest Ranger station and make a case for some escalated help calmly and probably with a bottle of booze. There is a strong desire to enforce sound policies this year and going forward that will support you. And if you are the one not complying, then you are inviting unwanted attention.

Conclusion

There was a post in the Burning Man Group that inspired today’s posting (link here) that inspored today’s post. The issues discussed with the named camps above were also issues I was mostly directly/indirectly involved with on some level. We need to have an open dialog with camps in violation of policies so they are not surprised with a denial of Placement the following year. While it may be assumed there should be no surprise, camps need feedback! While we have the benefit of the MOOP map for our cleanliness, we really need a report from Placement / Earth Guardians  or others if there are things we need to improve on.

There is a blacklist that exists that camps and participants do not have access to, nor the feedback necessary to make improvements with, that is a one-sided conversation and is hallmark of a very needed transparency with a department that makes huge decisions. Camps are putting out 10 – 20 – 30 thousand dollars a year to help build the city not to mention the price of a ticket only to be blackballed anonymously by a system rigged against its self.

It is an awful thing to consider. But we have learned to take these things in stride so far and move forward with what we can in spite of the odds. Volunteers make up most of the Burning Man troops and we appreciate their amazing work every year for something so many of us really believe is as close to Utopian ideals as we can imagine.

We all can do better with some effort. Be better humans. Be better neighbors. Be better participants. Be more accessible.

Burner Express is not enough: Making Shit Happen

Apparently the need for sustainable transportation that reduces the impact of cars on Gerlach and Black Rock City is bigger than Burner Express (BE) buses can provide. While many of us are grateful for a means of self-reliant transportation WHAT Burner Express was has expanded to is including air travel. They have even gone to the level of offering tickets to TTITD in conjunction with their BE ticket.

While Burner Express is a ray of sunshine for participants for many organizers who build the city are hampered a little by the service which means there are fewer people to help build, take out refuse and assist with breakdown. Yes, BE passengers are each given a recycling bag and a trash bag and can take out one of each. All camp leaders should make sure BE riders are doing their share.

BURNERS TAKING CONTROL

There are some camps making their own express buses out of a need to get their people on site and reduce impact on the playa. We can only hope that these groups are getting the same direct access as Burner Express, but we are moving in baby steps. We are reducing impact on the environment and helping BMorg to achieve their goals.

At least 2 camps have been posting about a bus service they rallied and are looking for riders to get to Burning Man (TTITD). If you are still looking for transportation and cannot hook up with someone in your camp already then this service can be a good fit.

GLAMCOCKS (from Chris Ruiz) [Original post since taken down]

Started a campaign to get a bus out but as of this post we found out that the project was started but was not financially solvable. It was exciting to see and then Mystopia said they were trying to do something too it made sense to talk about both. Why bring it up if not happening… to show that there is a need and then we have Mystopia:

MYSTOPIA (from Jake) [Original post on Queer Burner Facebook Group]

The Mystopia Burner Bus tickets are now available for the 7:30 Sector neighborhood camps, so take the opportunity to grab your tickets now. Below is all the pertinent information, please let me know if you have any questions and please distribute to your fellow campers as you see fit!

xoxo

Jake Standish aka Ms. Frizzle aka Always Something

LINK
https://www.mystopia.camp/bus-reservation/overview

PRICE
Tickets are $88 each direction.
(Less than the $108 for the official Burner Bus)

Burning Man opens in a f*ing Month

The whirlwind is here and for those of us building camps we are in crunch time. It is the mission of this site to be a platform that helps the community in their creative and community building efforts. That being said what we do out there at TTITD has a reflection on what we do beyond the trash fence.

CAMP BUILDERS have resources you should be engaged with:

These are the community wide resources out there. The Haven (mentioned above) is a new feature this year that may or may-not make it to the playa. None the less, it is good to know and use.

PARTICIPANTS should use every resource out there. Acculturation is absolutely vital for Burgins (Burning Man Virgins) to know what they are getting into. We will be listing queer camps, queer friendly (not implying those that are no listed are not queer friendly), and then we will also have key events.

RECENT IMPORTANT POSTS

 

Too White to be Queer

The theme this year was : “Incusivity”. The production team form the 2016 Retreat worked very hard to make the event itself safe, welcoming and desirable for people of mixed gender and race. We had a significant amount of success depending on your point of view.

Another gay, white, male member of this community met with another gay, white, male of this community this week and they talked about the work being done to include those who have been marginalized in the LGBTQQ construct and both had wondered the same thing. How are they continually dismissed for being gay, white, males – thus dismissed – by people not wanting to be marginalized?

There is no right answer, because agreeing or disagreeing is an ‘us versus them‘ thinking that benefits no one. If it is under the LGBTQQ construct then we are eating ourselves from the inside out. Understanding and patience has to be the banner and hopefully it was a rainbow banner.

It’s clear that gay, white males are the overwhelming participants and camps at Burning Man so that is the demographic that carries that loudest voice by volume. Whatever entitlement and perspective came with that no one has to be marginalized and everyone in this community has a voice.

What they say Post Event: SURVEY RESULTS

Out of 150 attendees we got 42 people who answered a survey about the weekend. Overall it looks like people love GroundSwell, but not their plumbing or the cabins so much. But overall people seem to love it very much. The goal was to capture the general feeling of the event as a whole.

Back2GSquestionThere is little doubt that GroundSwell was very appreciated by everyone attending. While we love the property the production team is already looking at a place that can hold for a larger population next year. The Queer Burner Retreat is not looking to grow significantly, but we feel that the new venue will allow us some growth and the ability to expand what we are offering.

We had no injuries this year, thank goodness. We had no need for any medical assistance or problems with behavior. Everyone was safe and not a single incident was raised that except for 2 minor abrasions that were treated with the first aide kit.

We were fortunate to have a attendee who was a paramedic and he was not needed in that sense.

In regards to GroundSwell there were some comments:

Cut down the tall grass in tent sites to decrease tick activity.

“Time to upgrade that bathhouse! :)”

“…No real suggestions except possibly expanding volunteer roles a bit with like a “bathroom mop” daily or something. But
people were super-cooperative and pitched in. It worked!”

Events

The next biggest area we got comments on was about the events that were offered and not offered. We had a limited program based on the amount of time available on the weekend. A few people asked about having an ice breaker on day 1 which is something we should definitely consider.

  • Day 1: Camp fire meet and greet at 9pm

Maybe they were suggesting some kind of exercise. We did have Dinner Circle wherein people were introduced but if someone has a suggestion in the future that is something that can be implemented please let us know.

4 workshops

  • Inclusivity workshop on Saturday at 10am

This seemed to be a well attended workshop and really took on the banner of the weekend as the Production Team wanted a gender and racially diverse weekend. We went to a lot of effort to try and make sure people felt comfortable.

  • Hats for the Playa on Saturday at 1pm

A nice afternoon crafting workshop with good attendance.

  • Being a Ranger on Sunday at 10am

While the rangers out-numbered the attendees it was really nice and we hope some people felt inspired to explore rangering. I know a few people understand what Rangers do more.

  • Acculturation Sunday at Noon

There were comments about workshops for people new to Burning Man. We did have this piece for newbies and encouraged all new people to attend.

The Food

The survey at the top was very well in favor of the food produced, but there were some people who noted some dissatisfaction. Clearly we need to do better with Vegetarian food as the chef was not as prepared as needed to handle those needs. This falls strictly on Toaster who will make sure that these needs are met next year significantly better.

Lessons Learned

Mistakes happen and the real failure is not doing better next time around. Here are a few areas of note in random order:

  • improved meals for vegetarian diets
  • more clearly defined workshops
  • better explanation of the requirements of consent and personal boundaries among the attendees
  • written agreement with staff
  • making sure property representatives are able to respond to the needs of their guests

Conclusion

The survey we put out was to get a general temperature of what people experienced and how we could do better in the future. There were places we fell down and hope people will give us a chance again next year. Please add comments to this page or continue the dialog in the Groups / Forums part of this web site.

All in Placement’s hands now…

Many community members were given a jolt with the news that BMorg’s Placement wanted to talk to LGBTQQ leaders about the state of the Gayborhood. Was it getting too big? Why are there 350 applications for the 7:30 sector and is it because they were from queer Camps? Is the high number of self identified queer attendees a correlation of these applications to the sector?

The above graphic came from the BMorg meeting showing that, according to BM Census almost 1/3rd of attendees identified as LGBTQQ (BMorgs choice of acronyms). Queer Burners has posted similar numbers on this before showing significant results of the impact of queer patrons on the Burning Man event but we have been marginalized in the culture every year.

A majority of our community have been marginalized in society and it was still prevalent in the Burning Man event except in the Gayborhood; which is not 100% true. Burning Man queers are predominantly gay, white males which to some are still vilified on some level for the same reasons as our straight, white part of society.

At the 2016 Queer Burner Retreat we were part of a well attended workshop about inclusivity and how simply respecting basic pronouns for people of various gender identification make a huge difference in the area of respect.

The popularity and attraction of the Gayborhood provides 1 outstanding feature for many people of all orientation and gender identity and that is Safety.

  • gender queer people (people of other ethnicity as well) are more vigilant about their environment  in the world and will react and go to the aide of other queers who might be in trouble.
  • that environment of awareness and networked safety has attracted people outside that demographic seeking the safe spaces just like they do in gay communities in cities all over the world.

The 7:30 sector, in this burners 8 years, has been a zone with the best camps with the best attractions including but not limited to the Gayborhood. Camps like Orphan Endorphine, Party Naked Tiki Bar, AEZ, Playfully Yours, Suspended Animation and so many more have been based in that same zone.

The 3:00 zone tends to be a popular zone as well with camps known for making that space highly entertaining.

The 10:00 and 2:00 zones speak for themselves.

So the Gayborhood is just one part of the attraction that makes that sector so big and under demand. It is close to Center Camp. It is a hub of activity and entertainment especially at night.

So when members of the BMorg talk about a dream that one day all of Burning Man will be integrated and there is no need for a Gayborhood, I see this as fundamentally offensive. We are not always welcomed with open arms and we have been faced with threatening behavior by other burners. We have the numbers showing that. And many of us do not want to turned into processed cheese slices that fit nicely into someone’s bland world where we are all marching around in our gray suits.

Out of 302 respondents on a survey about personal safety in the gayborhood:

  • 14.57% say they were threatened or felt endangered at Burning Man
  • 21.67% say they knew someone in the same circumstance

IMPORTANT: removed the white, gay male respondents and the numbers jump up to nearly 100%.

Based on our conversation with Placement this week we can anticipate the Rainbow Road layout of what we have been calling the Gayborhood. However, with changes coming in 2017, there is a chance the Gayborhood will be split into 2 sectors or Rainbow Road might be extended; although we want the community to be prepared for both possibilities.

To see the results of the recent survey follow the following links:

Footnote: “Gayborhood” is a term a lot of people are looking to see retired. Queerborhood has been thrown around but it is not a marketable phrase. Neither is “Gayburbs” (the 4:30 & J mini queer collective). As Placement releases the placement of camps that we consider a new brand; like Rainbow Road or something else that might better represent our community as a whole.

You have been granted a magic wand

fabFor all the silly things in this world there is nothing more ridiculous than the winds at 50 mph blowing dust non-stop so bad one cannot see 3 feet ahead of oneself. Or maybe that there is the same art car passing by fifty times and the people on it never let you on? Or maybe waiting to get in the gate when you can see the brightly lit gate area 12 cars away and YET it is still 3 hours from getting inside.

Insanity. (Did we see that out there somewhere in the form of art?)

What would you change about the Burning Man event if you could wave a wand right now?

View Results


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InsanitySo, we pass you a magic wand and now you have 2 choices to make a change on the playa right this moment. If you play the game right you will be whisked back in time and given a chance to relive Carnival of Mirrors with your changes implemented.

rules: 1. complete the survey as requested. 2. see the results as they compare to others who have also participated. 3. put on your favorite burning man costume. 4. this includes makeup and personal lighting. 5. proceed to your front yard/sidewalk/dirt-patch and light a small fire using anything flammable BUT cannot be larger that a very small flame. 6. dance around it while spinning siting the 10 principles in order and after 3 times… you will find yourself in deep playa. The consumption of alcohol or absinthe before answering the survey is a recommended start with a 2 oz shot with each step.

Blogs of the Burnerverse

Where do you get your information about Burning Man? In that first year, with glitter filled eyes, the best sources are YouTube and Facebook. The hungrier you are for Burning Man related posts the the less those two networks can satisfy, because what is the content that context is made from? What are those 10 Principles and how and when are they applied.

Burner Life

If you are a person who thinks the 10 Principles is something you hold on to for 8 days and nights a year then we respectfully ask you to put the toys down and back away slowly. Your inexperience with firey toys will get someone burned. Likewise, you are a tourist in a world many of us have committed to.

While Facebook and the hundreds of Burning Man related groups and pages that exist there are an amazing source of materials about the community, there is still more. While YouTube is a bonanza of burner videos and we see pretty boys and girls singing Dr Suess rhymes as what brought them out there. That is what writings of fellow burners can bestow upon you.

Here are, in our humble opinion, the best Burner Blogs:

  1. Voices of Burning Man Blog [Web]
  2. Burn After Reading Magazine [Facebook] [Web]
  3. Burn Life [Web]

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

good : the blogs listed above have been really true to the mission of the playa. While this is only a limited list of good ones out there that is not to say there are not others. These are just the noteworthy ones really deserving your read.

bad :  there once was a child who was really sweet, but someone spoiled the little brat. Some time ago Queer Burners published a post about other blogs.  The web site Burners.Me was once a platform of one person who raised a lot of dust; not in the good way. Well, after some serious bounce back that person supposedly went away but another took over with even more noise and rancor. So much so even a usually quiet FOUNDER of Burning Man came out swinging against him. Burners.Me was the good blog that threw itself on a sharp object and never recovered.

the ugly : the ugly side was pretty clear. But was is also ugly is when something good goes away. One of those jewels we lost was BurnCast.tv that saw it’s last post in 2012. 2012 was a transitional year. We have those points along the way that are milestones of change.

Conclusion

This is such a limited list of voices out there. Even a google search kept looping me back to a few. The Borg has done a great job marketing The Voices of Burning Man and they are really great posts. What are you favs? (Comment Below)

Burning Man and Turnkey Culture

After the 2014 Burning Man event, turnkey (a.k.a. “plug and play”, a.k.a. concierge) camping in Black Rock City rightfully became a hot-button issue in our community. We share the concerns that turnkey camping, left unchecked, could undermine Burning Man’s principles, and we’ve taken measures to ensure that doesn’t happen.

In her keynote address at the 2015 Burning Man Global Leadership Conference, Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell put it plainly: “We are absolutely committed to ceasing the plug and play culture.”

We are doing this in three ways:

  1. All theme camps must go through the same process and meet the same standard (including being interactive, open to all citizens of Black Rock City, successfully Leaving No Trace, etc.) to be considered for placement.
  2. Our updated Outside Services (OSS) contracts make it extraordinarily difficult for concierge service operators and potential organizers of turnkey camps to order necessary equipment to successfully build a turnkey camp without showing up on our radar.
  3. A new ‘Statement of Values’ on gifting has been developed to guide our actions and relationships with individuals and groups that provide financial and other forms of support to the nonprofit Burning Man Project.

TO READ THE REST GO TO THE VOICE OF BURNING MAN

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.

Scope

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)

Conclusion

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.

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