Balance

It had occurred to me that there is at times a lack of balance with some of the things we involve ourselves within the community (Burner community). As a blogger here on this site and others I have been very critical of BMorg on those occasions; they do make it so very easy. I will explain this a little more later.

Balance is a key to life in many areas of our existence and finding it ideally brings harmony. At least that is what some spiritual good feeling stuff tells us. While we can be critical of BMorg and it’s operators true analysis comes in examining the whole picture.

BMP-Board-of-Directors
Burning Man Project Board of Directors

The Scales of Thought

The ticket fiasco in 2012 is one of the best examples of finding balance in a difficult situation that hit the community and affected all of us. As most know, the ticket lottery in 2012 was a solid brown poo on the heads of many of us who have been engaged in the community. Many seasoned burners were so pissed off from it they walked away and never looked back. While these extreme reactions are not un-typical here is something as an example:

– ticket lottery | + expanded ticket dispersal for theme camps /  artists
– BMorgs initial reaction | + acknowledgement of problem (though late)

Albeit extremely simplistic in its context you kinda get the idea with the handy +’s and -‘s, right?

Balance comes in other areas too, which we recently explored in another article where this author reflected within the Queer Burner community. Camp leadership needs to be present and have their heads in the game, especially when they have multiple souls under their roof. Much of Comfort & Joy has learned to master this balance and will hopefully be sharing that wisdom at the 2014 Queer Burner Leadership Summit.

lead camp | find personal time
setup, build and breakdown camp | enjoy the fruits of labor
get people doing their chores | enjoy the kinship formed

Courage Under Fire

The community and the leadership are always up to whatever challenge is laid at their feet. Recently in Burners.Me an argument was made about the long existing Burner Man Project leadership stepping down. While rolling into a non-profit was a solution for protecting the cohesion and brand of Burning Man with a clever legal structure with the facade of bringing more to the community what has it really done?

So who is under fire more? BMorg leadership or the community? While the house of the BMorg is made of glass the villagers are too stoned to really grasp the complexity of this relationship. Balance often comes late from the people held so highly and balance gets mired down in the expectations of the people who consider themselves devotees to the cause.

Many members of the community demand a drama free zone without concern or focus on the leaders of this community. Being held to the light of the flames the people driving Burning Man bear the cross when the gray lines of the 10 principles are being applied ___ like they were scripture.

Burning Man Leaders

Let’s go back in time to “Green Man” in 2007 where for the first and last time ever the people who brought you Burning Man allowed sandwiches to be sold at center camp and ‘green vendors’ showing their wares. The green_manramifications of allowing these elements into an event that talked about Decommodification was loud. But, who can fault the organizers for trying something new?

Selling coffee was new once, but these days no one could imagine center camp not having coffee or the amazing people selling it.

Going back one last time to the 2012 Ticket Fiasco the leadership recovered very well in the end, but their proximity to the issue seems to have clouded their ability to revel in their success. The SPARK movie was an unnecessary revisit to that mess, but a win with giving me a visit to the playa while in the default world; see it’s all about balance.

Burning Man Participants

2012 made a lot of people fall off the fence with the obscene growth of the attendance at TTITD. For reasons of their own, the days of HELLCO and FrogBat (in their glory days) are gone, and some people have moved on in their journey.

Has Burning Man jumped the shark with the numbers swelling? Who is still adding Burning Man to their bucket lists? And… are the people who made it what it is still going?

  • 1st Year attendees never shut up about Burning Man
  • 2nd Year your new Mega-Theme Camp is destiny
  • 3rd Year you are a seasoned veteran and are living the dream
  • 6th Year you’re so old school burner
  • 7th Year, you think Burning Man has sold out
  • 12th Year, Burning Man sucks but you keep going….

Look, we’re all basically insane for doing this year after year. Anyone we know outside of the community thinks we’re out there fornicating endlessly and tripping out on drugs anyway. This ki-ki is cra-cra… (yeah, I thought that right after typing it too…. I already regret not editing it out).

Can we be critical of the BMorg without destroying the people that make this elaborate event happen every year? We are the people who pay for the ticket and they are the engineers who make fantasy land reality.

As long as we keep going things will continue to evolve and whether we choose to believe it or not, I think the BMorg Board is willing to meet us along the way. Keeping the community happy is in their benefit, so we think, but to keep this going we cannot be afraid of change.

WTF?

As mentioned above, Burning Man leadership has made it incredibly easy to take a pie in the face when it comes to criticism. Over the many years some decisions were made and their presentation was so mired in arrogance that it was dumbfounding. Arrogance? Maybe ignorance is the better example, because this nest of heterosexual white hippies are so busy defending their ideology that they often forget the emotional and fiscal needs of the people who have pledged loyalty.

One of the latest controversies was Rape Kits on the playa. At the 2012 Burning Man Regional Conference and Leadership Summit in San Francisco I brought some very real issues to the table in a forum attended by community leaders, board members and Regional Contacts from around the world. Because of the projected (at the time) 70% of expected attendees who were unfamiliar with our 10 Principals we were concerned for people vulnerable to physical attack including women and fae queers.

While we have the Gayborhood where ANYONE can find safety (a promise made by Queer Camp leaders at the 2012 Queer Burner Leadership Summit) we were worried that given the expanse of the attendees was not being matched to assure education and safety of people in attendance; particularly women and fae.

Andie Grace (aka Action Girl, formerly with the communications team with Burning Man) very confrontationally stated in the public forum said that people were responsible for their own safety. Well, that year sexual assaults were on the rise AND there was a very publicized rape behind the Emerald City just off the Esplanade. There were others too and Burning Man was moot.

However, it appears that in 2013 Rape Kits did make it to the playa but how they were implemented is not clear. The fact is that a Rape Kit is a very complicated thing to implement and the balance is that Burning Man simply cannot have a hand in it. But, an official agency can.

While the short sighted reactions to things much like Angie Grace’s comments make the leadership look very dull in their ability to respond to their community.

Tearing Down the Man

There are not shortage of critics. There is also no shortage of people with glitter in their eyes when it comes to how we see Burning Man leadership at the BMorg. It is so easy to find holes in the thinking, but this event and this community is really doing a lot of very positive things. The hypocrisy of BMorg is second to the results. And, the future of  Burning Man itself is unclear.

In an article that came out today (update 1/6/15: the following url ceased to exist and was unlinked: http://www.groundedmedianetwork.com/fuck-burning-man/) the above video was attached. You can see here where there is a lot of holes in thinking and what this is all about, but maybe this is being take too seriously?

Conclusion

When we criticize are we looking at destroying Burning Man? Are we demanding they see reality from our perspective? Do we not give them the gay area to make mistakes and come back with a solution? Do we consider balance? While almost everyone who has gone says that this has changed their lives or made an impact that in itself is the big win.

This pre-season rhetoric has seen so much criticism lest we forget the gift of evolution. Yes, the environmental impact of the event might be questionable. The motivation of the BMorg might be questionable. We can find holes in anything, but if Burning Man were to throw their hands in the air and say “fuck it, we’re fucking done” we would all feel the world got a little more darker that day.

Let’s face it. The BMorg has made some stupid decisions. So have we as individuals. Yes, ticket prices are obscene and becoming more and more out of reach for the average person. The cost of going is less for the accessible for the average person and more so for the privileged. YET, many of us without much cash still manage to get out there (myself included).

Balance is the key. Knowing the difference between attacking windmills versus standing up for a real issue impacting the community is key, too. Right now we have Regional Contacts (R.C.) (except for San Francsico) who represent BMorg to their regional communities and R.C.’s who have a voice back to Burning Man. Hold your Regional to the fire, because he or she is like your state senator for Burning Man.

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BMorg – Burning Man Organization usually referring to the home office in San Francisco, CA.

TTITD –  That Thing In The Desert aka Burning Man

TO FLAME BUSES NOT AUTHORIZED TO ENTER BLACK ROCK CITY IN 2013

Hello Queer Burners,
I wanted to make sure the word got out to the community about the authorized busses. Here is the post from the latest JRS.

Burning Man Update: The Jack Rabbit Speaks
Volume 17, Issue #30
July 20, 2013
TO FLAME BUSES NOT AUTHORIZED TO ENTER BLACK ROCK CITY IN 2013 Burning Man organizers want participants to know the To Flame bus operated by Rally Bus will not be granted access to Black Rock City in 2013.

Companies providing bus service to the Burning Man event are required to secure permits from Burning Man and the Bureau of Land Management. To Flame and Rally Bus have not secured these permits.

Additionally, Burning Man issued a Request for Proposals for a bus service to the event earlier this year. To Flame submitted a proposal, but was not selected based on gaps in their operational plan to support the event, previous track record and negative feedback about their bus service from operators and participants.

During the RFP process Burning Man advised To Flame to not sell any additional tickets. To Flame was not selected as the bus service vendor, but continued to advertise bus service during and after the RFP process. On June 26 Burning Man issued a Cease & Desist letter to the company.

Participants have a few options for public transportation to the playa, including the new BRC-supported Burner Express bus service operating from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. For more information on options, visit http://www.burningman.com/preparation/travel_info/.

Time to put the wheels to the pavement

Camps are recruiting and welcoming new members of their micro-communities. We are 90 days out from the burn people and you need to invest yourself, your time, and in some cases your dollars to camp with the right space for you.

Today, Gender Blender added their web site to their listing and an email received from PnkPants said they were looking for some amazing cool, new people. Check them out on the Queer Camp Page.

Also check out the pages listed in our previous post and the Groups page for more info.

Camps accepting campers:

  • Gender Blender
  • Beaverton
  • Comfort & Joy
  • Sun Guardians

READ THE PREVIOUS ENTRY

2013 Theme Announced

2013 Burning Man ThemeIt came out today and depending on your point of view… I think it seems pretty cool. So I am looking forward to what the coming year will bring with vision and creativity. Yay for us.

QueerBurners.Com also appeared in the JRS today. Well, I wrote the note that appeared because i am trying very hard to show we are radically inclusive. Why? Because someone (okay several someones) said we were not. Some of those were inside our own community.

Recently I made a x-post of an event and it was asked if it was being run by Queer Burners. It should never keep any member of the community at-large from being a participant. I did say community. That means the Burning Man Community and our LGBTQ++ community.

So, raise a glass with me at the next meetup and let’s look forward to an amazing new season.

Burning Man Leadership Summit

This is a trip report: March 31st-April 3rd saw the 5th Annual Regional Conference and Leadership Summit held in San Francisco at a couple locations. It started with the Bentley Reserve in downtown near the Financial District. Then over to the Kabuki Hotel for the rest of the time in Japan Town. Turns out the owner of the Kabuki is a Burner!!!!

Although I did not get a lot of pictures, hopefully what I am sharing tells a good story.

Terry at the Kabuki LoungeThursday we were hosted at the Kabuki in their Lounge with a lovely cocktail party. Right away I started connecting with amazing people from all over the world. Early on I connected with Dave Umlas and Marrrilee Ratcliffe from Austin, Texas who have this amazing dynamic and it seems they are building the Temple this year with their team.

I also met Terry who was visiting from the Western Colorado Region who I have now adoption as my Burner Mom. If only my Burner Dad knew!!!

Early the next morning we convened at the Bentley Reserve where PODS began in the form of classes. There were a lot of options and the schedule was so well orchestrated that it seemed like no matter what your Mes in Regionals 101role in the community was there was something for you. This turned out to be a long day and a lot happened:

  • Morning Classes like Regional 101
  • Lunch Mixer and then participation with $tephen Ra$pa in the St. Stoopid Day Parade
  • Afternoon meet and greet with offices at Burning Man; like technology, H.R., Burning Man Earth, and camps like Comfort&Joy; Flux Foundation and so much more…
  • Then evening welcoming ceremony that featured a speech by Larry who talked extensively about the new future of Burning Man and becoming a Non-Profit

On Saturday we were back to the Kabuki Hotel for more PODS and team building that was what a lot of us needed. One of which was Conflict Resolution. Real situations that were submitted to Burning Man from a variety of communities including my own region. Should I mention I was the only being complained about in the letter?

The result was interesting feedback for one and all in the 12 situations that were presented. It forced a lot of people to share and add a input of strangers with no prior knowledge not to effect the position of the argument and to explore potential solutions effectively. It shows the groups can mediate, but it also showed that something in the mix was still missing which I will blog about later on.

Burning Man hosted a great mixer late that night that involved Dj’s, Scrabble Letters, and karaoke. I neglected to mention the open bar. The beat, the vibe, the energy was immense and a lot of us got to bond even further.

Then Sunday was going to be the last day of events. They did something called World Cafe that brought all of us together in small groups exploring more situation effecting the health and structure of the community as a whole. In bits and pieces, shifting around to new ideas, we each were able to add input into these circumstances and saw potentially new resolutions for future experiences.

More PODS concluded the day including Events Planning with $tephen Ras$pa (this is how his name appeared everywhere) and Social Networking with WillPants. All were so highly informative and teaching/mentoring that it was all just this amazing blessing to be a part of.

There is talk of opening this up in the future for any interested party. I was able to go because I was nominated after a request because of the things I have been doing in Vegas and with Gay Burners [dot] com for the last couple years.

Gay Burners

I had a chance to pose the question: Should we as members of the LBGT+ (and all the blurry lines) have our own Regional representation? I can only give you my opinion, but turned out someone else posed the question before me from another ‘sub-culture’ of the Burner world. We all do have such strong geographical Regional representation that one based on an interest, lifestyle, orientation or other might be redundant.

A web site like gay burners is a network and linked into the BMHQ (especially now after introducing it presently) and networking with a force like WillPants. This site is growing and exploding. We are a gateway.

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