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.

Playa Conditions

It’s definitely that time of year, when a boy’s thoughts turn to dust and fire and questions begin forming in his mind. I don’t mean the obvious ones, which have obvious answers, such as: “Will it be hot?” Yes. “Will it be dusty?” Yes. “Will there be fire?” Yes. “Will there be old naked dudes hugging you?” Yes.
No I mean the important question. You know the one I mean. Don’t be shy. You can do it….”What will the playa surface be like this year?”

That’s the one! And the news is good so far. Pictures and reports coming out of Juplaya show and tell of a fairly hard surface with very few crumbly bits. Here are some beautiful pictures from Jessica Stanell, taken over the weekend of the 4th of July, that illustrate it well. It’s looking like it’s going to be a great year for biking, at least as far as the surface goes!Update: Some new pictures from Jovankat casts serious doubt on my theory. Album of very soft-looking playa during Juplaya here.

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Beautiful pics…can’t wait!

Do you know who took these photos? I’d love to use them but won’t before I have permission!

Yep, it’s in the post. Jessica Stanell. I don’t know her, but saw them and contacted her on Facebook to ask permission, since they were posted in a private group.

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.

QB Network Numbers

One of our claims is an audience of 5000 on our network. While many have opted in and signed up in one form or another many are accessing the free resources on the web site on a daily basis. That number is a wide reaching number based on the engagement of our social networking and web site numbers.

Web Stats provided by Buddy Press plugin

Above are stats provided by software on the site / Below is from Google Analytics. See how they compare.

Web Site Analytics from Google

While it is not clear which is more reliable for data, they are showing very similar algorithms happening. It’s clear there is a lot of activity and people are seeking out information we have on the site. 1400+ sessions in the last 30 days and 1200 visitors with 80% being unique and new as far as software tracking can determine.

Social Networking Links

  • Queer Burners [dot] Com Web Site : 600 Members
  • Queer Burners Facebook Page : Link : 2009 Followers
  • Queer Burners Facebook Group : Link :  1373 Followers
  • Bay Area Queer Burners : Link : 591 Followers
  • SoCal Queer Burners  : Link : 111 Followers
  • Atlanta Queer Burners : Link : 40  Followers
  • Las Vegas Queer Burners : Link : 25 Followers
  • Europe Queer Burners : Link : 3 Followers (newest board)
  • Quire (Queer Burner Leadership Network : Link : 97 Followers
  • Twitter @queer_burners : Link : 650 Followers
  • MailChimp Mailing List : 583 Recipients

3rd Party Queer Burner Boards

  • NYC Queer Burners : Link : 284 Followers
  • DC – MA- VA Brothers of the Man : Link : 27 Followers

What are they looking for?

An overwhelming number of people coming to the site are looking for Queer Camp and networking information for their planned expedition to Burning Man in 2015. They are looking at:

  • Pictures from previous burn years (mostly 2014 right now) : Link
  • Queer Camps on the 2015 List : Link

There is a clear sense they are looking for more and are not exploring some of the more interactive features on the site like the Groups and Forums. If we can get the site to allow a more robust social networking feed, better than what the RSS page offers, then I think on these accounts the site will be more than just a spot to check of static information.

The 2015 Fund Raising Campaign

The first goal of the campaign is to improve the site. We can do that by paying someone to help or having someone in the community volunteer. This is a Buddypress driven site and if worked more like a Facebook feed then it would make the project a lot happier:

  • cleaner feed on what is now called the RSS Page
  • Greater personalization of the profiles
  • Easier to communicate between members
  • Better way to share projects and events

Then we will focus on the Queer Burner Leadership Summit for the late Spring and/or a structured campout for Queer Burners.

What’s up with Queer Burners?

We are gearing up for some new changes and also trying to make the site more dynamic and interactive for the 2015 season moving forward. We are so excited about the Carnival of Mirrors theme and what Burning Man has predicted with the upcoming event. The new Midway… if it is anything like the Souk from 2014 …wow.

How things happen?

We are looking for people to invest in a few ways: 1. Fund Raising which is starting mid January and ending March 30th that will provide us funds for the following 3 things: improve the web site, prepare and set the Leadership Summit for 2015, and then create a meetup for Queer Burners, 2. Get more people writing on the site, 3. …and finally give more people the tools to engage each other and promote and create an unbelievable kinetic energy for the upcoming season.

IndiGogo

The fund raising campaign will begin in mid January and we are looking for up to $4000.

It is time to take the project up to another level. This has been a strictly grass roots level project managed by a single person with occasional help from committed leaders in various regions elsewhere geographically.

  1. Upgrade the web site with more user friendly features and a better social networking strata; upgrade software, upgrade hosting, buy and install applications to make it more independent and user focused. About $500.
  2. Originate a Queer Burner Campout on private land that we can get campers to and from easily so we can get maximum attendance; deposit for land, insurance, a fund to help artists and performers, and just enough to get started as the rest and a bank will be created by charging a fee for the event. About $2500.
  3. Create a more intense and focused Leadership Summit for 2015 with  sound principles that will fulfill and help camp, project and community leaders with LGBTQ++ (all inclusive) in our community forge ahead strong. Provide programs that might require outside speakers. About $1000.

While more details will appear below, above are the bullets of what this funding is requesting. The goal is to provide a strong resource for LGBTQ burners that stands on its own since it is a project that is not associated with or connected to Burning Man, LLC or the Burning Man Project TM; this is a project created for the community and strength of the Gayborhood* that is not for profit and not a private entity.

It’s getting steamy out there! NEW DATES!!!

According to Twitter Handle @DaysToTheBurn we are 271 Days from when the Man Burns at Carnival of Mirrors. While it is usually about this time people get excited the reasons are different this time:

  1. No Christmas pre-sale; while there was not one in 2013 either it is also a time when people start seeing tickets going on sale but this year it’s not.
  2. The theme was announced: Carnival of Mirrors; important to stay in the loop on what is happening because people ARE already getting excited.

Positive or negative they both speak to the excitement brewing for this theme. The tent used for the Souk will reappear as the tent for the Midway of the carnival. And, Burning Man is pushing people to shit or get off the pot early setting a deadline for LOI (Letter of Intent) by December 19th.

Important BRC Dates

2015 Burning Man Theme: Carnival of Mirrors

The new theme was announced on Burning Man’s new web site www [dot] Burning Man [dot] Org today! The new site is a great leap from the [dot] Com site which is still around. While on first review the web site looked a little incomplete on a more complete review found it much more modern and less contextually intensive than the predecessor.

Carnival of Mirrors

It is absolutely exciting and as powerful sounding as Caravansary was. The possibilities and idea flourish and the theme speaks to the hearts and minds of many of us. Cheers to 2015.

2015 Camps listed?

Here I come!Are you kidding me with this already? Yes, today I posted the 2015 Camps List without knowing who the heck was going in the first place. The truth is that I was just doing some pre footwork by accumulating a list of camps that I know about and will edit the list as we get closer to the big event.

This will also give us a chance to give people visiting the site to see what camps have been at Burning Man and associated with the Gayborhood (directly or loosely). Links to the various resources are there and will be updated over time as well.

BRC Honoraria Art Grants — New Process for 2015!

Big Rig Jig by Mike Ross, 2007. (Photo by Gabe Kirchheimer)
Big Rig Jig by Mike Ross, 2007. (Photo by Gabe Kirchheimer)

Burning Man Arts — the new department combining the Black Rock City Art Department with the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) — will launch a new online system in mid-November designed to make it easier for artists to apply for honoraria grants for art destined for Black Rock City.

Read the complete original article here on the Burning Man blog

This year, applicants will be required to first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI), which will allow the Grant Committee to select which projects will be invited to participate in the full grant application process, saving everybody time and effort.

The system will go live in mid-November, and LOI submissions will be accepted for four weeks. The Grant Committee aims to inform artists if they are invited to participate in the full grant application process by the beginning of 2015.

All artists hoping to receive a Black Rock City honorarium will need to participate in this new LOI process.

More information will be made available via the Jackrabbit Speaks and on the Burning

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