FoxCarn And The Betel Store

2015 foxcarn

FoxCarn & the Betel Store is the China and Taiwan regional project for Burning Man 2015. 

The project will feature “worker” participants drawn from Burning Man attendees, who will make Apple parody products as part of an interactive art installation in which participants will experience working in an electronics factory meant to draw parallel to the real-life Foxconn, complete with a robotic overseer arm overhead.

The installation draws from both the Taiwanese-owned but China-based company Foxconn, which manufactures much of the key electronic components in Apple projects under inhumane labor conditions, as well as the Taiwanese tradition of betelnut beauties who are a common sight in the Taiwanese countryside.  As described by organizers, this is meant to call attention to commodity fetishism in contemporary capitalism as well as the role of gendered labor.

[Source: New Bloom]

The FoxCarn Facebook page is more direct in its commentary on FoxConn:
Screenshot 2015-07-31 13.03.59
They met their lucky $2888 funding goal on Kickstarter. Looks like robotic overlords are pretty cheap, these days.
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The Jackrabbit spake:
A cybernetic collaboration between Taiwan, China and the Burner diaspora, FoxCarn & the Betel Store, will set up shop in the Midway at the Man base this year. Exploring the symbiotic relationship between Chinese factories and Western consumer culture, FoxCarn’s rallying cries include: “Consume different! Think global, exploit local. Decommodifying the fetish, unalienating labor. Circulating gifts of Taiwan and China with the Burning world.”

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FoxCarn & the Betel Store is the third in a series of regional projects from Taiwan and/or China to Black Rock City.
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The first was Enlightenment in 2013, an eighteen-foot tall meditating man.
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The second was the Taiwan Temple Market last year. They return to the market theme again in 2015 with the Betel Store.
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The team for FoxCarn is largely composed of members from these past two projects plus the organizers of Dragon Burn, Shanghai’s regional event. The team mixes up “diaspora” Taiwanese and Chinese, with Taiwan and China-based expats.

ian china contactIan Rowen is the China Regional contact for Burning Man. He has put together and continues managing the concept and the team, and has written all of their copy.

Nathan Melenbrink is the lead architect and robot designer. He, Jiyoo Jye, and Tiffany Cheng (Taiwanese-American) are all students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Nathan designed the 2014 Dragon Burn effigy.

Kenny Yu, from Hong Kong, is the lead graphic designer.

Michael Huang, Taiwanese/Chinese-American, freelance designer and fire lead on Enlightenment, is co-managing.

Jen Childs and Nick Kothari, Dragon Burn organizers based in Shanghai, are leading up China-side sourcing along with Elaine Kang. They are also providing additional design help.

DJ Furth, Beijing-based filmmaker, cut their Kickstarter video.

Jimi Moe, Spring Scream co-founder and member of the Taiwan Temple Market last year, is helping with materials production.

Ty Chen, founder of dance troupe Luxy Boyz, will choreograph the “product launch” on Tuesday night, during which Ian Rowen will don a turtleneck and wire rim glasses for the launch of:  iSwag: their most personal swag yet. Tagline: “This changes nothing!”

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FoxCarn robot team. Photo credit: FoxCarn & the Betel Store

Ian Rowen, the producer of this project, recently gave an interview about the project to Taiwanese Columbia University student Brian Hioe in New Bloom magazine:

IR: FoxCarn shows how Taiwan is implicated in China’s economy as investor, manager, and mediator between the Chinese party-state land masters, Chinese labor, and global capital. The design of the space, with the FoxCarn factory and the adjacent Betel Store, also in some ways reflects cross-Strait economic geography. In general, the piece takes aim at commodity fetishism and capitalism more broadly, and is meant to give participants a visceral reminder that their objects of desire don’t materialize from thin air, without real human and environmental costs. In this way, we intend to playfully “unalienate labor”.

BH: I also want to ask about the aspect of the betelnut beauties.  This is something distinctively Taiwanese and isn’t something which has any direct relation to FoxConn that you’ve incorporated into FoxCarn. What is the role of the betelnut beauties in regards to FoxCarn?

IR: FoxCarn is the production side of our project, while the Betel Store is the sales and marketing side. The Betel Store satirizes Apple, and adds a uniquely Taiwanese sense of place that highlights the erotic imaginaries that drive so much of consumer product marketing. Instead of the Apple Store’s “genius” salesperson, our sales staff, male, female or otherwise, will be a “beauty”. By, if you will, “decommodifying” the oft-fetishized betelnut beauty, our project also plays with desire as a motive force of capitalism, not just in the sales of stuff, but in the deployment of the human body. So we’ll swank up our otherwise sleekly minimal Betel Store with gaudy pink lighting, and our staff will wear provocative Taiwanese/Chinese uniforms, including Betel-branded dudou.

IR: FoxCarn & the Betel Store are in a premier, highly-trafficked set of tents located right at the base of the Burning Man, the center of the whole event. The Man Base is meant to manifest the year’s art theme, and in recent years has also been a showcase for the globalization of the event’s culture. This year the theme is Carnival of Mirrors, so they’ll be sent up like a Carnival Midway, hence our name, FoxCarn. Burning Man is a big place—with 70,000 people and thousands of projects, there’s too much for one person to see. But pretty much everyone makes it to the Man Base, so this is a perfect spot to interact with the very wide variety of creative and influential people that compose the city’s population. Given Burning Man’s increasingly broad impact beyond its temporary urban confines—and with most major press organs in attendance—we also look forward to our message, and our “goods,” spreading far and wide. We’re also building our online presence and community. Of course, supporting our Kickstarter is a great place to start.

265f30db759f99b2989277a29db2ea06_originalLast year, with Caravansary and the Silk Road, the theme was commerce and trade. We had a souk at the Man base, a market place selling (ironic) timeshares and whatnot. This year, in the carnival, it looks like we have ironic retail stores again (and ironic Commodification Camps). We get  some subliminal messaging about our robot overlords thrown in, buzzing over our heads while we enjoying playing rubes at the carny.
I’m surprised they’re not handing out “Hello Titty” t-shirts or something. Perhaps that’s more of a Japanese thing.
hello-kitty-satva-horizontal-2

First we had the iPhone on the Playa, now we have an Apple Store and iPhone factory. This comes after previous Burning Man advertising ironic looks at commodity fetishism:

2013_iphone

1683901-burning-man-gets-its-own-iphone-app-updated-rotator

Image: Curtis Simmons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Curtis Simmons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

bummer hummer 2008

Image: jojomelons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: jojomelons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

big-vw-bus-burning-man

 

burning man burger kingmcsatans

Baal Mart and TaarGay. Image: Wayne Stadler/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Mal Mart presents Baal Mart and TaarGay. Image: Wayne Stadler/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Blip.TV documentary on Helco

Image: Blip.TV documentary on Helco

baal mart night

Baal Mart, 2012. Image: Wayne Stadler/Flickr (Creative Commons)

bm_ghostbusterschaosManhattan01-X2forbes-sm

Image: razlfections.com

Image: razlfections.com

SpamTanic by Karen Weir (Burning Man 2012) Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

SpamTanic by Karen Weir (Burning Man 2012) Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Image: Hiker Carl

Image: Hiker Carl

Some of these were pretty funny. Some of them fell flat. It’s a fine line  – let’s hope that Foxcarn and the Betel Store falls more on the funny side than the thinly veiled commercial promotion side.

Ultimately, psychologically, the thing that you are mimicking and emulating is the thing that you are promoting. The irony helps make these mainstream brands more palatable to those who might otherwise be offended by them. As They say, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. And as They also say “sex sells”. It doesn’t matter whether money changes hands: you are being sold this commodity fetishized lifestyle at this art project that supposedly parodies it.

For anyone interested in exactly how subtle and psychological modern marketing can be, I highly recommend Douglas Rushkoff’s book Coercion: Why We Listen To What “They” Say. It was published in 2000, before social media, smart phones, and Big Data, but everything described is still part of the system and working better than ever.

cocercion

 

Apple is the world’s most valuable company, and a core part of the Bay Area tech scene. Many current and former Apple employees are Burners, as are many loyal Apple users. Building robots for Apple is right there at burningman.org, on the Founders page. Slavery, robots, and the tech industry are interesting themes with which to build a bridge towards potential Chinese Burners. To me this showroom and production line says “commerce and politics” more than “art and culture”.
Burning Man is becoming a must-see place for an upwardly mobile generation of Mainland Chinese, and there is even a major Chinese theme camp now. More on that “coming soon”…

Shift-Pods: The New Generation of Burnitecture

SHIFT-POD-SILVER-600x400

Years of Burning and dealing with yurts, tents, RVs, and everything in between, have led to Shift Camp developing this new solution for Playa Accommodation. They are offering them as a Gift to anyone who donates $800 or more to their camp fundraiser. They will be diverting a portion of the funds to create shelter for people devastated by the recent earthquake in Nepal, the rest goes to support their camp which is a registered non-profit. This is a way to give back to actual Sherpas!

WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN NEPAL?
We are raising funds to take 500 SHIFTPODS to Nepal to house victims of the earthquake. We are manufacturing them at cost, delivering them and setting them up ourselves as one of our camp out-reach programs.  Interested?  Please join us.  We need funding and people.  Let us know if you have something to add to the program. WE ARE SHIPPING THE FIRST UNITS TO NEPAL AUG 15TH 2015!

I have seen the Shift Pod in action, there was plenty of room for my 6’3″ frame. It has many features that make it superior to a yurt, including Playa-ready windows. The production model is a substantial improvement on their earlier prototypes. It’s amazing how quickly they set up and fold back down, compared to the struggle with a regular tent that many Burgins seem to experience on the Playa. When folded up, it is much lighter and more portable than a yurt – and it doesn’t need to be re-taped every year. Some people are charging more than $1000 just to rent yurts, so this $800 minimum donation seems more than fair.

Check it out – fast forward to 2:30 to see all the features of the Pod. The music gets a lot better then as well…

From the Shift Camp website:

THE SHIFTPOD!

FIVE MINUTE SET UP – FIVE MINUTE STRIKE WITH ONE PERSON!

HEAT REFLECTIVE AND INSULATED!

“Wow! It is so much bigger and cooler than I thought it would be!”- Most heard response

Hands down the best festival tent available!! After spending 23 years on the playa we finally sorted out the best way to tent it at ANY festival! Yep, RVs are comfortable but there is something really nice about having your feet on the ground and connected to the Earth. The SHIFTPODS make it easy. Set up in less than 5 minutes and take-down is a blur. No loose poles and connectors to manage or lose, everything is together and in place for easy pop-up. No foam panels to cut or store. Easy to carry, transport, set up, take down, clean and store… finally the perfect festival tent.

Designed by us for us, these tents reflect heat, stay cool in the heat of the day and warm in the cool of the night. The SHIFTPOD is quick set-up quick take-down high-tech 4-meter x 4-meter pop-tent you can stand up in and plenty of room for a queen size air mattress, and air conditioner or two inflatable couches that fold out into beds! You can be set up and hanging out in record time.

With high quality dust proof zippers and windows these tents feature a quick up, quick down pop-up integrated system so you wont have to keep track of poles and clips which get easily lost in between events.

Insulated reflective nylon fabric is easy to wash and blow out. The SHIFTPOD is the perfect place for a shift experience! Available in Space Ship Silver the SHIFTPODS are made with a heavy duty 3-layer insulated shell, 6 windows to let the light in, with water-proof zippers keep the rain and dust out. Reinforced corners and heavy-duty construction, large built in mesh pockets, stainless steel stakes, and heavy-duty storage bag. SIZE: 12 feet (4m) x 12 feet (4m) x 6.5 feet (200cm) tall — 64 pounds. Shipping size is 74″ x 14″ x 14″ and can be shipped UPS or taken on the airplane!  Includes stakes and clips to secure the POD.

Lights and TWO-TUBE air-conditioner recommended but not included.

A great amount of thought has gone into this design.

The SHIFTPOD stuffs the best lessons of camping on the playa for 23 years into a fast set-up and fast take down weather, wind, rain, dust and UV proof living POD.  Don’t blow the excitement of arrival on the playa with an hour or set up, aSHIFTPOD can literally be set up in ONE MINUTE and 28 seconds (not including hammering in the stakes).

Hung over and burned out after a week at a festival in the desert?  How about three weeks if you are helping build a camp?  Not to worry the SHIFTPODS can be taken down and stuffed in the bag in less than 3 minutes. Hard to imagine but very true.  Check out the video: HERE (NEW INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS COMING SOON)

The SHIFTPODS can be used anywhere.  With three layers of welded UV reflective insulated fabric, waterproof zippers, sewn in screens, “black out” sunshades, heavy YKK zippers, the PODS are ready for anything.

They weigh in at less than 65 pounds and the packed size is airline compliant so they can be taken with you on trips all over the world.  Heavy travel bags with wheels are also available.

For the burn and other hot festivals, the SHIFTPODS are designed to be used with two-tube air-conditioning units which are available at Home Depot, Lows, Walmart, and many other retailers as well as Ebay and Amazon. These units cool the inside of the SHIFTPODS without as much of a vacuum inside of the POD.  You can use the single tube systems in a pinch but it is highly recommended to use the two-tube system or make filters for the outside of one of the windows.

If you are hardcore you can forgo the AC units and the extra $400 or so for the AC.  SHIFTPODS have two 6 inch ventilation ports with filter pockets to help keep the dust out.  The windows also zip out for better ventilation, cleaning, and replacement.

The SHIFTPODS are built strong and and can be set up and taken down many many times or left up and used as a small house. We have several farmers using them as seasonal housing, we have people traveling with them and we are working with a UN group to use the PODS as shelters for the homeless and disaster victims around the world.

Shift Camp are bringing in the first load of Shift Pods as a camp fundraiser, but they have opened the offer to anyone else who wants to support them. More than 100 Burners have already taken up the offer, and there could be as many as 300 Shift Pods at Burning Man this year.

Donate here to support Shift Camp and gets yourself a Shift Pod for this year’s Burn.

 


 

 

SHIFTPODS 2015
CAMP SHIFT FUNDRAISER

SHIFTPODSUPDATE

AFTER MANY ADJUSTMENTS AND UPGRADES WE ARE VERY EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE WE WILL BE SHIPPING OUR FIRST CONTAINER SOON!ONCE THE SHIFTPODS ARRIVE THEY WILL HAVE TO CLEAR CUSTOMS AND BE DELIVERED TO OUR WAREHOUSE IN SONOMA, CA.  FROM THERE WE WILL BE SHIPPING YOUR ORDERS AND LOADING THE TRUCK TO GERLACH, NV.
IF ALL GOES WELL WITH CUSTOMS WE EXPECT TO BE SHIPPING BY AUGUST 10 – 2015.
NEW UPGRADES:ROUND WINDOWS:We have upgraded the windows to a new design which eliminates the leaks we found during rain testing.  This new design also allows for sewn in screens which reduce the number of loose parts and additional zippers.  The new design incorporates three weep hole which allow the windows to shed even large volumes of rain.  The shades roll down and fold neatly out of the way.BETTER FABRIC COATING: The new coating is more reflective and cooler.  It reduces the amount of heat inside of the POD and reflects more of the UV light from the sun.STAINLESS STEEL STAKES: After a lot of testing we found the titanium stakes we planned on using were just not durable enough to meet our requirements.  We have designed new heavy duty stakes and made them out of stainless steel so they will not rust and will last for years.  The stakes are designed to be pounded in flat so people don’t trip on them and then pulled out easily when you are ready to go.AC PORTS: After looking at the worn out elastic on and old pair of boxer shorts I  thought “Hhhhmmmm maybe we should not use elastic on the SHIFTPODS“, that day we upgraded the AC ports to a draw cord with a clasp.  This allows you to cinch the AC tubes in tight and gives you more options for hose sizes.VENTILATION PORTS WITH FILTER POCKETS: We have built in filter pockets to help reduce the amount of dust in the PODS. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER: ALWAYS LEAVE THE VENT PORTS OPEN WHEN IN USE.  CARBON DIOXIDE (FROM YOUR BREATH WHILE YOU SLEEP OR BREATHE) CAN BUILD UP IN CLOSED AREAS AND KILLYOU.

The SHIFTPOD stuffs the best lessons of camping on the playa for 23 years into a fast set-up and fast take down weather, wind, rain, dust and UV proof living POD.  Don’t blow the excitement of arrival on the playa with an hour or set up, aSHIFTPOD can literally be set up in ONE MINUTE and 28 seconds (not including hammering in the stakes).

Hung over and burned out after a week at a festival in the desert?  How about three weeks if you are helping build a camp?  Not to worry the SHIFTPODS can be taken down and stuffed in the bag in less than 3 minutes. Hard to imagine but very true.  Check out the video: HERE (NEW INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS COMING SOON)

The SHIFTPODS can be used anywhere.  With three layers of welded UV reflective insulated fabric, waterproof zippers, sewn in screens, “black out” sunshades, heavy YKK zippers, the PODS are ready for anything.

They weigh in at less than 65 pounds and the packed size is airline compliant so they can be taken with you on trips all over the world.  Heavy travel bags with wheels are also available.

For the burn and other hot festivals, the SHIFTPODS are designed to be used with two-tube air-conditioning units which are available at Home Depot, Lows, Walmart, and many other retailers as well as Ebay and Amazon. These units cool the inside of the SHIFTPODS without as much of a vacuum inside of the POD.  You can use the single tube systems in a pinch but it is highly recommended to use the two-tube system or make filters for the outside of one of the windows.

If you are hardcore you can forgo the AC units and the extra $400 or so for the AC.  SHIFTPODS have two 6 inch ventilation ports with filter pockets to help keep the dust out.  The windows also zip out for better ventilation, cleaning, and replacement.

The SHIFTPODS are built strong and and can be set up and taken down many many times or left up and used as a small house. We have several farmers using them as seasonal housing, we have people traveling with them and we are working with a UN group to use the PODS as shelters for the homeless and disaster victims around the world.

SHIFTPODS come with 6x 8″ STAINLESS STEEL stakes with clips and lines to hold the PODS to the playa even in the strongest winds.

SHIFTPODS offer enough room to hold a queen size bed or two inflatable couches, a small refrigerator, table, and more.  You can find these on Ebay or Amazon.

ALL DONATIONS GO TO SUPPORT SHIFT AND SHIFT PROJECTS. HELP US MEET OUR GOALS AND GET THE BEST CAMPING POD ON THIS PLANET!
I ORDERED A SHIFTPOD ALREADY!!  WHEN WILL I GET IT?
Thank you for your support! Your SHIFTPODS will be in the order currently being built and shipped.  The shipment is expected on August 10th and can be shipped directly to you, picked up in Sonoma, CA or they can be delivered to Gerlach, NV.CAN I GET IT SOONER? 
Yes.  We will have a limited quantity available June 29th that can be shipped by air for an ADDITIONAL rush fee of $250 plus US shipping or pick up fees.HOW MUCH ARE SHIFTPODS?
Right now they are available as a gift for any donations of $800 or more.DO THEY COME WITH AC, BEDS OR ANY OTHER ITEMS?
Nope.  It is up to you to outfit your PODs. The SHIFTPODScome with; The POD itself, the stakes, lines, and the storage bag. They have five windows, AC ports, power cord ports, and two doors.WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN NEPAL?
We are raising funds to take 500 SHIFTPODS to Nepal to house victims of the earthquake. We are manufacturing them at cost, delivering them and setting them up ourselves as one of our camp out-reach programs.  Interested?  Please join us.  We need funding and people.  Let us know if you have something to add to the program. WE ARE SHIPPING THE FIRST UNITS TO NEPAL AUG 15TH 2015!WHAT IF MY WHOLE CAMP WANTS SHIFTPODS? DO YOU OFFER DISCOUNTS?
Yes! It’s good to want!  Contact us for more details.  You can sign up to be an affiliate and earn money for your camp for every SHIFTPODS donation you bring.  We also offer discounts FOR VOLUNTEERS, VETERANS and on bulk orders of PODS.

Have other questions?  Let us know!

~TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK~

THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT!

If you are receiving this and don’t know why please hit unsubscribe link in the bottom left corner and you will be instantly removed from our list!
Sorry for the inconvenience.

*SHIFTPODS is/are NOT affiliated with Burning Man, Walmart, Costco, Ebay, Amazon, Home Depot or Lowes. they all respectively own the rights to their names, logos and their IP. :)

GET A SHIFTPOD NOW!

U-Haul Introduces Burning Man Kit [Updates]

Screenshot 2015-07-28 10.28.34

Burning Man will not allow any trucks with commercial logos, says U-Haul. Luckily, they have come up with a Burning Man kit they can sell you to cover all the decals – including Ford and General Motors logos.

Purchase your kit here, it costs $25 and takes an hour and a half to apply, you will need to remove it after the event also.

Is this yet another rule? An unwritten rule, now being more publicly enforced, complete with extra things to buy? What if you have an El Monte RV?

From uhaul.com/burningman:

Covering U-Haul® Logos

Per Burning Man rules, trademarks and logos are not permitted at the event. In order to safely cover the logos and markings on a U-Haul truck or trailer, you can purchase a U-Haul decal kit. This covering material will allow you to easily cover all logos for the duration of Burning Man. When the event is over, the decal can come right off without leaving any residue or damage behind. Using any other covering material can damage the truck or trailer and result in additional fees, as well as costly repairs to the truck/trailer.


[Update 7/28/15 12:14pm]

There’s nothing technically in BMOrg’s official rules that force you to do this, it’s more of an “unwritten rule” like DJ Lineups. The way U-Haul present the information, though, makes it sound like this is a requirement of Burning Man, that you won’t even get through the gate if you don’t do it.

U-Haul are using BMOrg’s reputation for setting lots of rules as a tool to make money off Burners. They can charge $25, and point to the Ten Principles. “Pay us for Decommodification“. It’s commercial genius: I predict we will see this revenue stream replicated by many other service providers.

Watch how many Burnier-Than-Thous will now come out to support this and say “yeah! it’s the rules! Everyone must do this!”, thus helping U-Haul sell even more Decommodification Kits™. Great viral marketing.


[Update 7/28/15 5:58pm]

Halcyon thinks this is a way to follow the Principles, not someone selling a Burning Man product which presumably is against the Principles.

Clearly people have been duct taping over their truck logos for years. This is a way to follow the principles and avoid damage/fees. I think this is a great example of corporations working *with* the community.

He has gone further, publicly endorsing U-Haul with a very favorable post over at burningman.com titled Corporate Courting.

He, and some others commenting, feel that charging $25 for a kit to assist with your Decommodification is more helpful than ironic. A kind gesture, rather than something to link U-Haul with Burning Man in commercial sponsorship, transactions, or advertising. Well, the web site ain’t called uhaul.com/tenprinciples

So, let me get this straight.

“Buy this Burning Man kit for $25″: totally fine with the Decommodification Principle.

“download my track for free”: against Decommodification.

Decommodification
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.


 

[Update 7/28/15 11:25pm]

Stuart Shoen, EVP U-Haul

Stuart Shoen, EVP U-Haul

Stuart Shoen, Executive Vice President at U-Haul and a third generation member of the billionaire family behind it, has left a detailed comment at burningman.com. It seems they tried to work with the Org, but hit a brick wall of stony silence. They persevered and went it alone, coming up with this offering as best they could to fit within Burning Man’s rules (written, unwritten, and “just guidelines”). The objective is reducing damage to their vehicles, not making money or exploiting Burning Man for their marketing. He sounds pretty sincere to me and I commend U-Haul for making this happen despite zero support from BMOrg.

Thanks to the author for your initial assessment. I understand your suspicions, but I would like to assure you that you are reading us correctly in that we are not trying to pander or exploit. We’re just trying to be helpful. The following statement is 100% correct:

“I don’t see this as an attempt to sell you on a U-Haul, but to have a harmonious experience bringing a U-Haul to Burning Man.”

The truth is: misuse of our equipment by Burners or anyone else diminishes our ability to serve our intended customer: the DIY Household Mover. When our trucks are misused, they require added costs to return to service and while getting fixed, they are out of service and unavailable for other customers to use. I assure you, there is no event on the North American continent that has a comparable effect on our equipment. There is nothing like the Burning Man festival as far as impacting large amounts of our trucks in a deleterious or potentially deleterious way. [So much for Leave No Trace! – Ed.]  This content’s purpose is, 100%, to mitigate the damage, not to increase the income related to these rentals. After years of trying various behind-the-curtain tactics (all unsuccessful), we decided to try to simply talk to our customers about it.

That said, a few things:

First off, U-Haul attempted to contact the organizers of Burning Man in an effort to publish this content in a way that they would have preferred. Our attempts to communicate were never answered or even acknowledged. We would have liked some guidance along the way and we never got it. Please accept my apologies for not having better etiquette. This isn’t our turf and this was our best shot. We will take down the term “Barter Supplies” and just call them “supplies”. Obviously, we got that wrong. Happy to change it.

Second, Tanner’s comment represents a great deal of misinformation about the structure, operation and procedures of U-Haul. I won’t dignify or try to talk him out of his opinion about our equipment, but his misstatements of fact are just that, and not relevant to this conversation. For example, Ryder is no longer in this business and hasn’t been for years. Also, I’ll kindly ask everyone not to hit anything on our equipment with a wrench. I wouldn’t do that to your car even if I paid you to borrow it, so please don’t do it to ours.

Now, I’ll try to let everyone down easy here: U-Haul is a for-profit enterprise. It pays a lot of salaries and plenty of good things flow from them. So I won’t apologize for it, and likewise I won’t ask anyone to apologize for embracing the values that the festival embodies. I have no social agenda except to try to help all our customers do what they want to do in a way that doesn’t prevent another customer from doing what they want to do. Maybe you disagree, but I think it’s totally appropriate and within bounds for my team and I to try to talk to our customers about how to use (or how not to use) our equipment.

We’ve been in business for 70 years, and we know where our bread is buttered. Our bills and salaries are paid by the DIY Household Mover, and we’ve earned their business by offering them products, services, and help in a chaotic time (moving) that is worth paying for… and not by conning them on a one-time basis. Our Company’s business model is the “specialization of use and the division of ownership”. Our business is dependent on being part of a community, not fleecing it. We’ve lost customers when we’ve screwed this up; we win customers when we get it right. This, not the expenditure of an advertising budget, is how our business lives and dies. I would also like to categorically state that U-Haul is spending zero advertising dollars behind this communication. The only people that have been sent this message are individuals who have already rented equipment. If this were an ad campaign, this one would fail in epic proportions.

As I said, this content is sent to existing customers according to very specific parameters that have nothing to do with piercings or hair color. We put videos on YouTube for the exact same reason individuals put their cat videos on YouTube: so that people looking for this content might actually find it. This is also the reason that we use the festival’s name instead of referring to it generically. We didn’t see the point of trying to provide information to a very specific group (i.e., individuals considering taking U-Haul equipment to the Burning Man festival) and not mention specifics about that group. And yes, our legal team made sure we only use the name in a legal and permissive way.

Of course, some people are incredibly and incontrovertibly suspicious of anyone in business. I’m not here crusading to change any of that. I’m here to clear up our intentions, and respect all the perspectives out there. All I ask is that you respect ours, which is simply: if you’re not going to use our equipment in its intended use case scenario (DIY Household Moving), then please don’t make it hard for other customers who do. That’s all our content is about.

Thanks for your time.

Stuart Shoen
Executive Vice President, U-Haul International


 

What do you think, Burners? Is U-Haul being a good corporate citizen, helping Burners to avoid fines and respect Burning Man’s Ten Principles at the same time? Or are they yet another big corporation cashing in on Burning Man?

BREAKING: Seidlitz Sidelined! BLM Temporarily Reassigns Burning Man Supervisor

Gene Seidlitz runs the Winnemucca Field Office for the Bureau of Land Management. He has overseen Burning Man successfully for many years. This year, in the wake of Chocotacogate and the ditching of Humboldt General for CrowdRX, he has been transferred to Siberia the minerals program while Burning Man happens. A former 40-year Veteran of the BLM has come out of retirement, to run what will be his first Burning Man.

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

With only a month before Burning Man, the BLM official usually tasked with overseeing the event’s permitting process has been reassigned temporarily.

Gene Seidlitz (L) talks to Special Agent Dan Love (R). Image: Boing Boing

Gene Seidlitz (L) talks to Special Agent Dan Love (R). Image: Boing Boing

Winnemucca District Manager Gene Seidlitz began a 120-day assignment as acting deputy state director for minerals in the BLM’s Nevada state office in Reno on Monday. He will return to his role in the Winnemucca office after November, according to a BLM statement early Monday evening.

Robert Towne, a 40-year veteran of the BLM, started as the acting Winnemucca District manager. He will be in charge of BLM operations outside of law enforcement at this year’s Burning Man, which is scheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 7.

The Winnemucca office each year is charged with issuing Burning Man’s more than $4 million special recreation permit, the largest in the country. The permit allows 68,000 people to attend the celebration of arts and free expression in the Black Rock Desert during the week leading up to Labor Day.

Seidlitz will continue to work on the permit in an advisory capacity. It will be the first time that Towne, who is coming out of retirement to take the temporary position, will work on the Burning Man permit and event

State BLM officials and Burning Man organizers were supposed to meet throughout July, though neither organization’s representatives have disclosed whether the state office has revised the BLM requests…

Robert Towne, coming out of retirement for his first Burning Man.

Robert Towne, coming out of retirement for his first Burning Man.

Towne began his federal career in Coeur d’Alene National Forest in Idaho and then with the Salem, Eugene, and Prineville BLM Districts in Oregon. After serving five years as the Spokane District Manager, Towne became Deputy Assistant Director for the National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships in Washington, D.C. In 2014, he also served as the interim District Manager for the BLM Eugene District.

He retired recently and since has been living in Spokane, Wash.

During Seidlitz’s temporary reassignment, he will supervise the solid and fluid minerals program for the BLM throughout the state of Nevada. BLM Nevada has the largest mining program of any state BLM office, with 49 percent of the BLM’s mining claims nationwide.

“All of us in the state office appreciate Gene’s willingness to support the minerals program,” said Acting Nevada State Director John Ruhs. “His experience will be a valuable asset as we continue to search for a permanent deputy state director. We also look forward to having Robert Towne’s leadership and expertise in Winnemucca in the meantime.

Read the full story at the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The BLM Press release suggests Seidlitz will still be keeping a keen eye on things at Burning Man:

During his assignment in the Nevada state office, Seidlitz will continue to work on the BLM’s Special Recreation Permit (SRP) for the Burning Man event, currently scheduled for late August and early September in the Black Rock Desert. Seidlitz will serve in an advisory capacity to the SRP team while Towne, as District Manager, serves as BLM’s leader for civilian operations during the event.

What the heck is going on over there?