Building the Revolutionary Community (Again)

“Take a moment to drop in, and imagine the world that you want to co-create.”

That’s the Burning Man 2.0 message, sent to me today by Social Alchemist Bear Kittay. He’s just given a talk – combined with escalating soothing live backing rhythms of digiridu and Ableton to emphasize his Esalen workshop-honed points – to the techno-hipster elite of Berlin at the 2016 Tech Open Air Inter-disciplinary Technology Festival

No offense to Bear, but the backing music reminds me of the Wayans Brothers movie I’m Gonna Git You Sucka


Bear says:

Creating physical spaces to prototype the design of our new civilization…That’s what we’re doing at these conferences and these festivals. We experience these immersive ways of life and we re-imagine who we are, what’s most important to us, how we should be reallocating our resources – through experience, through art, through participatory culture

Hmmm…so we’re not just tripping out and trying to find Dancetronauts?

BMOrg told us they’d bought Fly Ranch on June 10 2016.

6 weeks later, on July 21, they revealed some of the donor names:

The individuals that contributed funding for the purchase have one thing in common: they have been deeply moved and changed by their involvement in Burning Man, and they are invested in the future of this culture. One of our early supporters and driving forces behind this project is Burning Man Project Board Member Chip Conley (AirBnB), who has shared his motivations for contributing to this project on Fest300. Another is Ping Fu (3D Systems), who, like so many of you, is a dreamer and a maker. Her reasons for giving inspire all of us, and we have been working with Ping, Chip and others to share the reasons they felt called to contribute to this project.

Other donors you may hear from in the coming weeks and months include: Joe Gebbia (AirBnB Chief Product Officer), Bill Linton (ProMega – therapeutic magic mushrooms), Rob and Kristin Goldman (Facebook VP Product), Guy Laliberté (Cirque du Soleil), Farhad Mohit (Flipagram) and Nushin Sabet, Alex Moradi (ICO Group – Real Estate), Graham Schneider (Real Estate)  and Jonathan Teo (Binary Capital: Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat). A handful of donors have asked to remain anonymous, and we absolutely respect that choice. Just like in Black Rock City, we also celebrate and honor anonymous giving.

Thanks to everyone who donated. 12 names. Did they all give half a mil each, leaving 1 slot unaccounted for? Or did they all kick in $100k, and some Anonymous group wrote a check for the remaining $5.3 million?

Screenshot 2016-07-29 22.39.17

For all we know, El Chapo, Google or the Rothschilds are funding it.

Who pays the utilities and operating expenses? What’s the business model…or is it all just donation-supported, like public access television and radio? We’re coming up on two months since the big announcement – with Burning Man looming, and now opening earlier than ever – and this is the first we’ve heard of what they actually plan to do with the joint. We’ll probably have to wait til 2017 now for further details.

Bear described the vision:

bear canada

Image: Facebook

The overall valley is roughly the size of Manhattan – 20 square miles. Our property is 3800 acres, it includes beautiful hot springs, hot lakes that hundreds can swim in, and geysers, and a very very large Playa, this open tabula rasa, this context for re-imagining our civilization.

So now we own this property year round in the non profit organization. It’s really a gift for the community by the community. It’s been funded completely philanthropically by a group of Patrons who believe that the process of us coming together as a community and experimenting with what could happen there isn’t just something that’ll happen at this site at Fly Ranch, but ultimately that having these semi-permanent locations that are owned by community groups so that year round iterations in the same template much as we develop these technology tools that we can get one step closer, bringing more and more people into the experience of co-creating and manifesting what will work as we re-imagine and re-invent our civilization. Welcome to Fly Ranch. This is a new era for Burning Man. This is a gift from the Burning Man community as a social experiment for humankind in the 21st century.

I have to say I’m not really enlightened much further about what exactly will be going on out there in one of the most remote parts of the United States. OK, some rich people bought the pitch and ponied up the $6.5 million. Now what? Will there be art cars? DJs?

As fun as Burning Man is, I am still waiting for them to explain how living in the desert with porta-potties but no showers or clean drinking water on tap, no money and no trashcans is the new model for humanity. There are already billions on the planet living in those conditions, and I think we would be better served directing our energies towards helping them rise out of it, instead of turning our civilization backwards so we can join them!

What are the gifts that the Burning Man Project will bestow upon humankind from their desert base? Neo-feudalism? Blowjob Workshops? Group masturbation to childrens cartoons? Black Lives Matter?

Some of the many events on offer in the 2016 Playa Events Guide

Some of the many events on offer in the 2016 Playa Events Guide

Screenshot 2016-07-29 21.56.37

2015 black lives matter

2015 black rock lives matter

thanks to Parker for this photo

Image: Parker; from a prior year. Is she doing the devil horns? What’s up with that extra hand?

childrens story time vibrator

I mean, I’m sure this is fun and all…but is this really the next evolutionary step for civilization? Humanity depends on this? The future of Burning Man is to have all this sort of thing going on year round?

Today I was also lucky enough today to attend – if only for a short time – WIlliam Binzen’s exhibition at the Smith Andersen gallery in San Anselmo.

Screenshot 2016-07-29 22.11.01

Marin County is old timers like me (43). The Mission and 666 Alabama is where the young hipsters like Bear and the BMOrg 2.0 coterie hang out network. Tonight’s crowd skewed more towards hip replacement than:

man bun fedora


…but having said that, we were among the last to arrive and first to leave. Anyway, I managed to catch an equivalent segment of the talks in length to Bear’s presentation. It felt like the guts of it, if anyone who was there has a better video or recording please share. [Aside: As always at these things, like with my shaky phone recording of Eric Schmidt at Further Future 2016, there are dozens of professional looking cameras filming it but nobody ever shares, even on commercial videos. So who are all these people? And why are they recording?]

chris radcliffI couldn’t see the stage but I believe this is William Binzen talking and then John Law. They mention Chris Radcliff “imposing fellow with an SKS”…a name that has been erased from the official Burning Man history. You will hear about Cris(tina) in a future Shadow History episode. Part 4 is being edited now, Part 5 is coming soon, here’s Parts One, Two, and Three and my debunking of the first challenge to my research.

It is interesting to hear the similar words and themes between the Burning Man 2016 future vision and what was going on at the Playa before Black Rock City LLC and The Burning Man Project ™ showed up. One of the many tributary streams that flowed into the city that was created for BMOrg to take over and steer toward the future. A future of ever increasing ticket prices, vehicle permits and monetizable transactions. It’s not just the future of Burning Man…it’s the future of civilization itself. That’s what these people are going to be designing at Flysalen. No votes. No transparency. No details. No plans. No vision. Anonymous donors giving untold millions. Unknown names making the list of items to check off. Details and vision not made up as we go, but “coming soon” once they’ve been cleared by the suits…

I wish I could have stayed longer tonight and mingled with what looked to be an amazing crowd. The real people who built Burning Man. I wish it was that crowd that was steering our culture towards the future, not a bunch of starry eyed Millenials with 3 Burns under their belt. Maybe I’m just getting old…



hero's journey

21 comments on “Building the Revolutionary Community (Again)

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  6. In my Marine Corps boot camp we could not use the word “I “we had to speak in the third person “this recruit” that was many years ago. “This virgin burner” will likely losse a 20-year marriage to his high school sweetheart for going to BM 2016. My Marine Corps has made many changes in the last 20 yrs some good some not so much. Yet we are still the leanest meanest fighting machine the world has ever seen. Why because we have a rite of passage more so because we demand entry-level leadership E-4 ( on average lass than 4 years) Corperals are the back bone of the USMC they are “young dumb and full of cum” with a passion you can’t buy.
    No way in hell I would buy my ticket off the above speech. But I value a recruiters. If my Corps was only a good old boys club it would surely die… quickly.
    PLEASE stop by the 7:30 portal Beers and Gears to share the “when I was your age stories ” all sarcasm aside “this virgin burner” would truly love to hug your neck.

  7. Also, that postcard of Chris Radcliffe with “Greetings from Burning Man” is exactly the kind of thing that DID attract me to the event. Like a weird dispatch from some alien freak outpost where time, money and laws do not apply. THAT is Burning Man. I still find that kind of thing on the playa, it’s just not the main thrust of the event anymore, nor is it the reason most newbies attend, they’re there for the thing you, Zos, enjoy. Namely, the goddamn sparkly rave parties, ha. Rave culture has consumed Burning Man culture. Thanks a lot! Ha.

  8. I break out in a rash every time I accidentally watch Bear Kittay (for chrissakes I almost couldn’t type that ridiculous name) speak, so I’ll have to take your word for what he said here. He is the prime example of where I think the BMORG is taking Burning Man in the wrong direction. He’s the living embodiment of the corporatization, denaturing and (shudder) TEDx-ing of the event. He’s Burning Man as PowerPoint presentation at a marketing meeting where half the attendees are either playing on their phones or fighting sleep. He’s Burning Man as youth minister at a religious summer camp. If I was unfamiliar with Burning Man and my first engagement with it was him, I never would have become interested. He’s the BMORG’s avatar for making Burning Man palatable to everyone. He sucks.

  9. I once met the man wearing the Gold Mask in the above photo at Robot Heart’s Further Future. He was definitely Cobra Commander of the Anonymous movement for sure….. Hence, why only he could wear the gold mask. When you would hear the guy talk about the Anonymous movement, he knew some crazy shizz. The fact that prominent members of Anonymous are enmeshed in the Burning Man community, leads me to believe that Fly Ranch is MORE than what they are telling us it will be.
    On that note, I once heard Larry Harvey give a speech and in it, he told “people to go to Burning Man and wash their own brains” there…. Is this some sort of “re-education center”. Hmmmmm… Starting to sound like the beginning of Scientology and their “donated” compounds.

  10. Yes… One has to wonder where those so called “millions” are coming from. Due to the Org’s new “non-profit” status, similar to the way the Clinton Global Initiative has laundered Saudi money, Burning Man could be washing money for some questionable people.

  11. “Take a moment to drop in, and imagine the world that you want to co-create.”

    What I see is a new oligarchy. Same arrangement as the rest of the country – imagine that. How do you co-create anything in an oligarchical system? …Unless you are an oligarch.

    As they say, “If you have to ask….”

      • “At least the oligarchs have some competent people running their empires…”

        I will let you make that comparison, since you are closer to being oligarchical, getting Borg private invites, tours and such. But if what you say is the case, it just shows that the bush-league Borg is being manipulated by the BoD oligarchs. Pretty funny, given their NPD MO. I suppose the Borg can make much of their events being more compared to regionals and other burns, but the secret sauce is nothing more than capital and all that comes with that, good and bad.

        Still, no more than a soap opera now to the typical veteran burner. We don’t have the time, money or patience for the Borg’s games, wherever they are played. They are left with virgins and unthinking followers. But from talking to “people with comped tkts,” that is their plan anyway.

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