LSD, Burning Man, Safety & Susan Sarandon

By Terry Gotham

While there are literally thousands of sober people at Burning Man every year, and how to guides & resources for individuals who choose to not drink or do drugs at Burning Man, we can’t seem to shake the monkey on our back. The class of drugs that seem to be tethered most tightly to Burning Man (besides Margaritas & poorly rolled joints) is psychedelics, acid in particular. For better or worse, it’s as if LSD & Burning Man have become linked. There is something deeply primal about taking certain kinds of drugs and dancing to a beat in the middle of nowhere until dawn. The trope of “taking acid at Burning Man” has been so deeply embedded into the American alternative cultural landscape that there’s an extensively upvoted list of answers for the “What should you think about before trying LSD for the first time and doing so at Burning Man?” question on Quora.

Not just because of the psytrancers or the hippies either. With more and more of the tech landscape believing psychedelics can generate “out of the box thinking” or a predeliction for black turtle necks, the merging between the technorati, the 1% & Black Rock City will most likely remain psychedelic. There are dozens of trip reports from the playa and with reporters being granted expanded access to Burning Man, the potential for your private LSD-drenched art walk to make it into The Atlantic or Salon grows every year. But, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t having resonant, powerful experiences on playa consuming this stuff, or even merely orbiting those that do. Continue reading

Why We Burn: Tree (Stephan)

(After talking to two dope couples, I wanted to broaden my horizons. I met Tree at a wedding in a castle in Austria. After he helped me DJ the afterparty, we became fast friends. He agreed to speak to me and talk about Burning Man & burner culture from the perspective of someone a little farther away than the East Coast.) By Terry GothamStephan

1. How was the journey to Burning Man from Amsterdam?
Great, but BM was part of a larger road trip for us, so we only did Vegas – BRC – Vegas especially for this. It was quite the hassle though, with having to arrange a car and buy everything we had to have. It was also our first burn, so the shopping was a bit more extensive because of that I guess.

2. Are you a burner/party person by trade? Or do you have a default world day job to pay for your travels?
Who the hell is able to get paid for partying?! Anyway, no. I’m pretty picky about my festivals, and wouldn’t want to do it all the time because there’s so much more to life. So yes, I have a default world job. Fortunately I’m self-employed, so I am able to try to incorporate as much of the burn-philosophy into it as possible.

Continue reading

Where Did The SHIFT Pod Come From?

A guest post from Christian, leader of SHIFT Camp, and inventor of the SHIFT Pod. There were three hundred of these on the Playa this year, and so far reports back from Burners have been overwhelmingly favorable.

Screenshot 2015-10-11 16.20.24 Screenshot 2015-10-11 16.20.10 Screenshot 2015-10-11 16.19.24

I think it is great that Burners are innovating to make their camps better, and sharing their innovations with the rest of the community.

Here’s what SHIFT Camp (a registered non-profit) is about:

SHIFT is based on the following ideals

Walk in peace and with grace.
Do good unto others, without judgment, or expectation.
Love thy neighbor, and love thyself.
Practice forgiveness.
Leave places and people better than you found them.
Be proactive and participate in life.

The ethos at SHIFT it to provide the ‘set and setting’ for people to have a shift experience; a shift in paradigm.  How can you contribute to this effort? How can you create this for others and how can you engage and create this space for yourself? We ask you do things you would not normally do. Get dirty, get involved, participate, pick up trash, fill your own RV and wipe your own ass.

This is not just another weekend at the disco.

SHIFT brings together art and artists from all over the world, sound and stage, hosts talks, and provides fun experiences for to help foster those SHIFTs or “Ahhhh haaa” moments. SHIFT is also active in the local community and is collecting, cleaning and donating bikes to send to kids in Cuba in 2015!

SHIFT supports art and outreach projects all over the world.

How can you make your own SHIFT experience?


by C W:

Where did the SHIFTPOD come from?

I run a camp out at Burning Man called SHIFT and have been burning since 1992. 23 years if my math is right. Prior to this I threw parties in LA and the first rave parties in Seattle. I love the EDM and BM culture and am proud to have been there from the very beginning.

Last year at our camp I found myself in a friends foam yurt, on a couch, looking around it was all decked out, with A/C, refer and a bed. I stomped my feet on the ground and said “it feels really good to be on the ground”.

My first burn I slept in the van, on the van and under the van, I had only a tee shirt and shorts, some water, bread, peanut butter and jelly and a couple of bottles of Jack Daniels. Tickets were $60 at the gate, and the population was less than 5000. Things were much different then, rough and raw, I had a massive SHIFT experience. Over the years I ended up in RVs which are high off the ground, disconnected and wiggly under every step. Being back on the ground felt very good. It felt solid and I felt reconnected with where my journey started.

I thought “I want to be in a yurt next year!” I then learned of the time required to build it, to put it up every year and to store it. Not to mention the $200 in tape required every year.

There has to be a better way. I run a huge camp, I don’t have time, I don’t have space, and all that waste every year doesn’t feel right. Tents suck and let all the dust in. They don’t hold up in the wind. They take too much time to set up and most are too small. There has to be another way.

After the burn, a few months later I started working on a ideas, sketches, and prototypes, re-engineering, testing and patent work. The SHIFTPOD was born. They really do set up in less than one minute, twenty eight seconds and strike in less than 3 minutes. They are large roomy, insulated against the heat of sun, easy to store and move.

We set SHIFTPODs up as a fundraising project for camp and began the process of producing them. We distributed our first 300 SHIFTPODs to eager donors and delivered them just before and at the 2015 burn. We were supported by Millennials, Boomers, Hippies and Hipsters, Rich getting out of RVs and Poor upgrading out of dusty tents.

Because of the demand (and exposure in Burners.Me) we were also able to send 5 SHIFTPODS ($4000+shipping) to Nepal to help earthquake victims (and 5 more to be sent as we can place them), and we were able to bring back 15 of the used PODs to offer the victims of the Lake County fires. We were also able to support our camp and our bikes to Cuba project.

One of the huge bummers of Burning Man 2015 was the wind and the dust. For us it was the best possible test for the SHIFTPODs. Yahoo reported 30-40MPH sustained winds with gusts to 90MPH, other more official reports on the playa said 50MPH. In the words of one of our new SHIFTPOD owners, “My SHIFTPOD shed the wind like it was nothing”. The response has been overwhelming and positive. The size, the set up time, the durability and mobility… all confirmed.

Now, we are poised to do more for those in need. We are setting up a program to ship SHIFTPODS to refugee camps and people in need. For every 20 SHIFTPODs sold we will ship one to a family in need. Over time we hope to get this down to every 10 SHIFTPODs sold but we have to start somewhere, right?

Live your life, party in a POD and help give someone in need a home at the same time. That’s a Win/Win in my book.

If you want to help let us know! We are looking for positive, proactive people to work with as we take the project forward. If you are into getting it done and making big things happen, please get in touch.

Lasting, a big shout out and THANK YOU all in caps to BURNERS.ME for getting the story out and being directly responsible for more than 80 SHIFTPOD donations. Also, thank you to all of our supporters and people who took the risk with us. We appreciate you.

Please send photos of you and your SHIFTPODs! Post them on Instagram! #shiftpods And please like us on Facebook! Help spread the word!

Lets have fun and make a difference!

Christian
#shiftpods


Burners.Me:

Well done Christian – I get what you’re saying about the feeling of being on the Playa, instead of isolated in an RV. Sometimes I just bite the bullet and just give myself Playa foot, it’s a way of remembering…

Glad we could help and I am most happy about 20 people getting relief homes in Nepal and Lake County. This is Burners making a difference in the world, I hope BMOrg applauds and promotes it too.

Other innovations have come from the Burn already like Google, Solar City, Google Maps, Google Earth, Firechat, The Simpsons…it’s great to see some non-profit ones emerging now too. Because that’s what Burning Man is all about, right? Let’s hope some Burners.Me readers step up to assist SHIFT with this vision, there is a lot of talent and passion in this community that I’m sure would love to get behind something that is now proven and Burner-endorsed, rather than an idea written on a hipster whiteboard in the Mission.


shift pod mommy

Dabs, Wax & BHO: What The Kids Are Smoking These Days

Image via Buzzfeed

At certain points in the history of drugs, there have been pivot points. Moments in time when the way a drug was consumed changed, altering the path of the habit for those that use it afterwards. The synthesis of Crystal Meth forever changed the population of amphetamine users, as the introduction of heroin to ameliorate the morphine epidemic changed opiate users. The 80’s in America would have been very different if no one had ever thought to create crack from it. We’re now seeing a similar shift, albeit from a much safer drug.

If you live in California, Colorado or Washington state, you’ve probably heard of this stuff, but if not, this might be something new. Butane Hash Oil, more commonly known as Wax or Shatter, has replaced the Hash of your day with something a bit more powerful & definitely not sprinkled on top of your bong. This stuff is cruising past even the most potent strains of “flower” (as regular pot is now being called) in THC/potency, with some dabs containing 70-90% THC. And not only is it something you can bury yourself in a couch doing at home, but modern technology has created on the go apparatus that allows the more privileged or networked among us to vape on the go. Continue reading

Consent: Touching, Hugging & Progress On The Playa

By Terry Gotham

No discussion of harm reduction can stay on drugs forever. While we’ll continue our cavalcade of questionable substances next week, I wanted to take a quick break to chat about something that goes hand in hand with intoxication: Consent.

As we saw in the Burning Man crime reports, Black Rock City has made stunning progress on this front. More so, I believe, than any other festival or large scale music event in the world. Going from 13 to zero sexual assault arrests in 2 years should be congratulated, especially with what happened in 2012. While it’s possible that sexual assaults occurred that were not reported, that would have been true in the years with high arrest numbers as well.  To that end, it’s important to recognize when efforts are being made & good things are happening, and this is a good thing.

Consent violations, big or small, are some of the most unacceptable & problematic experiences that occur in adult environments, especially when assumed participation in radical self-reliance, potent internal & social pressures and controlled substances are present. There are a couple of different kinds of consent, so I figured just in case anyone needed a refresher, I’d go over them really quickly.

Express consent is probably what you’re thinking of when someone uses the word “consent.” It’s usually given in some confirming way, whether it’s verbal/written, or non-verbal, through hand gestures or head nods. This is not something that can be given while rolling face, tripping or drunk off your ass. This is a type of consent that’s also “ongoing.” To explain, just because someone consented to getting to 2nd base, that doesn’t mean they give consent to go any further. There’s a related, modern type  of consent that’s being used that I support heavily, called Affirmative consent. This is also known as getting an “Enthusiastic Yes” as opposed to just waiting for a no.  Consistent checking can create a comfortable & consensual crib, yo.

Implied consent is just what it sounds like. Even Wikipedia describes it as

“a controversial form of consent which is not expressly granted by a person, but rather inferred from a person’s actions and the facts and circumstances of a particular situation”

As you can imagine, this shit does not hold up at universities or in court. So, just because you think it’s been given, don’t assume. Make sure, as the absence of no doesn’t necessarily mean yes. In more clinical or formal settings, Informed Consent is used. For example, if you join a medical study, you usually sign an Informed Consent form, which details the nature of the study and any risks/rewards of participating. Informed Consent is required in environments where Express consent would not be enough. Additionally, a conversation about the study should be had before the form is given to you. Don’t just sign something if you haven’t read it. I know, none of us read the iTunes terms of service either, but this one’s important, especially if you’re in a medical or legal environment.

Finally, Unanimous consent is something you may find a little more often in groups of people who take drugs, or in other cases, poly relationship systems. There are times where consent isn’t a negotiated one-on-one thing. If you & your campmates want to get blasted on Tuesday night, sometimes it won’t happen unless everyone decides to do it. That’s a good way to think of Unanimous consent. Additionally, in sexual activities that have more than 2 people in them, or relationships that aren’t simply monogamous, sometimes unanimous consent is required before something can happen. This is a much more complex form of consent, as any one person can break it down and bring the negotiating process to a halt. There is a lot of empathy and understanding required here, because attempting to seek a “compromise” can be seen as pressuring and inherently inappropriate. Making  sure the least comfortable person feels they’re being heard is a great place to start. There’s some more information about consent violation, especially in the kink world here. For a giant resource center focused on Sexual consent violation, head here.

There’s a lot more here, so definitely hit up the 11th Principle. They’ve worked hard to make consent a visible part of the Burn. Say hi, like their page & tell them Terry Gotham and Burners.me sent you.