How I Got Kicked Out of Burning Man Last Year

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A guest post from Kevin O’Neill.


How I Got Kicked Out of Burning Man

By Kevin O’Neill

I got kicked out of Burning Man last year. To this day, I can’t quite tell you what offense I committed heinous enough to warrant it. Neither could the law enforcement officers or rangers that escorted me out, for that matter. We were all shrugs, head nods and baffled faces, as we drove through the desert night, kicking up a cloud of dust behind us on the road to Reno.

 

It all went down the Thursday before the burn. I’d been looking forward all week to my girlfriend arriving to meet me that afternoon. Her birthday was burn day this year and she could only make it in from Chicago for the weekend. I had gotten early entry as a plus one to a veteran ranger friend of mine, who I had driven to my first burn in 2012 with. This year we were all camping together at Ranger Outpost Berlin.

 

Having rangered 5 times at the Great Lakes Regional Burn, Lakes of Fire, I thought camping with the BRC Rangers would be a good opportunity to learn from the pros, get immersed in the culture, and ready myself for my third trip to the playa, when I would finally be eligible to start training for dirt shifts on the playa. If nothing else, they had a kitchen, I didn’t really use because they kept mentioning how good the vitamix 300 vs 5200 review was and I just didn’t wan to touch anything. they had a shower, which I was able to use once to rinse off the layers of dust skin I had grown during 2 windstorm greeter shifts. I had to be presentable for my girl. After all, she was flying in from across the country to be with me on her burn day birthday at our favorite place on earth.

 

My girlfriend flew in from Chicago to Reno Thursday afternoon during my last greeter shift. I called her when I got off. She was at the airport, about to board the Burner Express Bus. We arranged to meet at the shuttle drop off location by 3 and G, a couple blocks down 3 from Berlin, which was next to the keyhole at C. Just about the only thing I was on time for during the burn was arriving at the moment the shuttle dropped her off. It was serendipity, really. While walking back to camp with her stuff, I broke the news to her that our Ranger friend, who brought us to Berlin, was still out and about with her bike. A week before, in Chicago, all three of us were loading up my bike and hers on the Cobra bus to transport them 2,000 miles to the middle of the northern Nevada desert. It was there that my friend agreed to lend her bike to our Ranger buddy for the week until she arrived. There was one explicit condition she had: that the bike be returned to her upon her arrival at camp.

 

Suffice it to say, when we reached camp the bike was not there. Having had a negative experience where her bike was stolen from her during her first burn the year before, she was disappointed by her new bike’s absence. The bike was still where it had been locked up since the day before, when we rode it to the naked greeter shift, somewhere between Rod’s Road and 5. By the time it did make it back to camp, it was dark, cold, and we were about to evicted from Black Rock City.

 

I knew my friend had a shift that night, but I didn’t know when. After asking the rangers around the outpost Berlin if they knew the whereabouts of our ranger friend or when he might be expected back, we had no answers.

My girl and I decided to go for a walk in the meantime. She had had her heart set on having a dusk bike ride out to deep playa as soon as she got there, but a stroll around the neighborhood would have to suffice. We met our neighbors at a campsite toward the keyhole at C. They asked how we were, and we told them about my girlfriend’s birthday, how she had just arrived from Chicago earlier that day, and how we were walking around until our friend got back to Berlin with her bike. They encouraged us to seek help with the rangers at Tokyo Outpost, on the other side of the playa, because they might be able to look up his schedule to see if he was working that night and when. They said the Tokyo rangers would be more helpful.

 

We, instead, returned with this idea to our campsite at Berlin. After mentioning the notion to go Tokyo to ask about our friend’s schedule, the Berliners acted like “anything that Tokyo can do, we can do better.” While my girlfriend inquired about our friend’s schedule and when to expect him back, I passed out in my tent from the exhaustion of 48 hours of no sleep, during which time I was working 12 hours of sandstorm greeter shifts. Sometimes you just gotta go to Robot Heart for the deep playa sunrise set. Sometimes you have to lay down before you collapse. It’s all about balance.

 

I woke up to the sound of yelling. My girlfriend rushed into my tent, telling me that there was a ranger accusing her of going into tents that weren’t hers. Groggy and disoriented, I staggered out of my tent to be met by a guy in a ranger outfit, accusatory and hostile in nature. With an inflammatory tone, he demanded to know who we were, and what we were doing at the ranger’s camp.

 

“I’ve been camping here at Berlin for 5 days as a guest of my friend, a Black Rock ranger of 6 years,” I told him. The ranger before me said he didn’t know my friend, and interjected his doubt of what I told him and his suspicion that I was not supposed to be here. I insisted that he leave. He did leave by the by, only to return with more rangers shortly thereafter.

By this time the sun was settling behind the mountains, the temperature had dropped. I grabbed the first shirt with long sleeves I could reach, which happened to be my friend’s Black Rock City Ranger shirt. I had mistaken it for my similar Lakes of Fire Great Lakes Regional Ranger shirt that I had gotten a couple of years before, my 3rd time Rangering there. Now I was wearing a ranger outfit too. Similar in color, texture, and size to the Lakes of Fire Ranger issue, it was an honest mistake grabbing the BRC shirt instead. But it did turn out to be a huge mistake.

When the ranger who confronted us and disturbed me from my dust coma returned with more rangers, he saw my friend’s ranger shirt and said I was impersonating a ranger. He claimed I was there to steal from the tents of rangers.

 

At this point, we had drawn enough attention asking about my friend’s whereabouts, and getting into a yelling match with an unrangerly ranger, the situation was escalating fast. Rangers were gathering by the minute, surrounding our tents. Ever been surrounded by rangers before? It’s a little threatening. I may have offered to jump kick the unrangerly ranger who started this whole defuckle. I wonder if I can even do that.

They said I was trespassing. Without my friend there to corroborate, all I could do was remind them that I had been here all week, that I had seen such and such at the Berlin Outpost party on Tuesday, circumstantial stuff. Of the few rangers at Berlin friendly enough to talk with me all week I’d been there, none of them were there right then. I got mad. They threatened to call law enforcement. I encouraged them. That turned out to be a mistake too.

 

When law enforcement got there, my ranger friend had yet to return. The rangers at Berlin proceeded to file paperwork with them to have me evicted. They told me and my girlfriend that I was going to be kicked out, but she was going to be allowed to stay. She said wanted to stay with me, sweet woman. She was filming everything at this point on her camera.

I started yelling that this was unfair, and that I hadn’t done anything to deserve this. I was assaulted briefly by a police officer who slammed into me from behind and restrained me.

They stopped short of handcuffing me.

 

I was allowed to pack up my tent and belongings under the flashlights of a dozen rangers. Right before the time when the packing began, my friend finally shows up with my girlfriend’s bike in tow.

 

He was immediately confronted by law enforcement and questioned.

“Who’s bike is that?”, the sheriff asked.

“It’s (Kevin’s girlfriend’s)”, replied my friend.

“Are these your things”, inquired the sheriff, holding up the dust-rubbed Khaki garb I had worn earlier.

“Yes”, says my friend after investigating his shirt.

“It seems Kevin here was going through your tent while you were out”, the law enforcement officer informed my friend. “Would you like to press charges?”

“Kevin is my friend, he has permission to go into my tent whenever he likes.”

The law enforcement officer then asked my girlfriend if she still wanted to press charges for bike theft.

“No,” she said. “The bike has been returned”. Albeit too late.

The situation seemed to deescalate. All conflicts were resolved.

The rangers told us that we could stay in festival but we had to leave Berlin. Gladly.

Not 20 minutes later, my Ranger friend came out with the law enforcement officer and told us that they were just kidding about us getting to stay.

“The paperwork had already been started”, he said. You know how it is with paperwork, am I right?

 

As it turns out, while the situation outside was being diffused, inside of a trailer at Berlin, the Khaki on duty made the tough decision to evict me and my girlfriend from Burning Man. They feared that if we were allowed to stay at the festival, we may retaliate or seek vengeance. That definitely wasn’t a possibility after the paperwork to remove us had been filed with the state sheriff.

The paperwork that we were given was 2 yellow carbon copies of trespassing notices, from the Nevada State’s Sheriff’s office, signed by the khaki on duty at the time. We were escorted out to the law enforcement camp, at the festival entrance, right next to where I had spent 16 hours greeting 1000s of people with hugs all week long. Now it was time for me to say goodbye. 2 hours later, my girlfriend and I, along with all of our stuff (her bike included), were toted in a white van with no windows through the dark desert toward Reno. I fell asleep. When I woke up, that dream that we all share – of making it out to the playa and having our intentions, hard work, sacrifices, resources, and time [combine] into the culminating experience of everything we each bring and believe to be Burning Man – was gone. I’ve been woke ever since.

 

I returned to the Lakes of Fire this past June, my 7th regional. I attended ranger training. I’m not sure why exactly I felt compelled, but it had to do with forgiveness and closure. A respected veteran to Lakes and Black Rock was leading the session.

 

There’s no way he could’ve known what had happened with us last year. The rangers that were there didn’t talk about it, and if you’re reading this, you’re one of a few that I’ve told the story to. Still, this veteran ranger looked me in the eye, standing in a crowd full of attendees, and gave a pretty good speech.

 

“We’re rangers. We’re not cops. We don’t have any authority over anyone else. We’re here to help”, he told us. “Part of Burning Man is radical participation. Rangering is my art. It’s my contribution to this community.”

We all give back in our own ways. While I wasn’t ready to put on a “Khaki Lives Matter” patch, I did end up taking a shift at the perimeter of our 2016 Lakes of Fire effigy burn. Rangers and FAST had to tackle a disoriented participant, who was running toward the burning wooden monster to prevent him from jumping into the fire. Other than that, it was pretty uneventful.

BMOrg vs BLM: You Took Too Much

Sally Ho from the Associated Press reports that the Burning Man Project are disputing their $2.8 million bill from the Bureau of Land Management.

From the Washington Post:

Burning Man organizers are disputing their $2.8 million bill from the federal government…The festival takes issue with the Bureau of Land Management’s discretion over the weeklong counterculture celebration, claiming that the authority has been overstaffing and overcharging without fully explaining the tab…“If they can’t explain all of it, than we’re asking for all of it back,” said Ray Allen

…the case also pulls back the curtain on the logistical hurdles and an evolving backstage power struggle behind an event once considered an extreme camping experience that has now achieved widespread popularity with millions in revenue.

The BLM said Burning Man officials were provided with a detailed summary of costs with receipts and that “(f)ederal government agencies are obligated to recover the full cost of providing a special benefit…”

The Court case is likely to take more than a year:

The festival is taking the issue to the Interior Department’s internal appeals court, where an administrative law judge will decide on the case. This arbitration process, which could last more than a year, is commonly used for challenges related to grazing or mining uses and fees.

We get an official number for BLM cops in 2015, 84. Plus Pershing etc.

BLM contends that Burning Man demands year-round planning and an unparalleled response to protect the public lands given its scope and nature. The 2015 event required 84 law enforcement officers

BMOrg thinks that’s too many cops, and wonders what they’re all doing:

The festival argues that that many officers aren’t necessary given that more than a thousand Burning Man volunteers also patrol the event and that it has a clean record of taking care of the land. Burning Man said in its appeal that more than half the BLM bill was to pay for labor costs, but that the paperwork lacked specific information about the duties they actually performed.

Ray Allen, the lawyer, seems to be working off a different set of books than the After Burn accounts:

In recent years, a more openly adversarial partnership has surfaced between the festival and the increasing number of local authorities assigned to oversee it. Allen said Burning Man has been stomaching dramatically increasing costs since 2011, when its permit was $730,000.

2011 Afterburn: $1,552,000

It’s not all bad news, things are running pretty smoothly. BLM is going down. Let’s hope this doesn’t throw a spanner in the works:

Both the federal authority and Burning Man organizers said planning for the 2016 festival has been going smoothly. The new state director John Ruhs said BLM staffing numbers are expected to go down this year because communication between both sides are now much improved.

Read the full story  at the Washington Post.

Chocotacos were too much, cops were too much, and now BMOrg are asking the Federales to explain exactly what the money was spent on. Or, to be specific, just what all those cops were doing. Maybe now they will release the arrest information like they used to in the Transparency 1.0 era.

Recent revelations in the Reno Gazette Journal have featured both Commissioner Vaughn Hartung and  Sheriff Chuck Allen taking their families on joyrides important police RAVEN missions to extravagant 18 course meals on the Playa. Sponsored by Krug, perhaps. Most definitely sponsored by First Camp, and their wealthy patrons at the Burning Man Project.

There’s no spectators, unless you’re the cops or the media, then come on in! Look at the freaks! Have some air-lifted lobster.

raven washoe 5155

Now they can cut costs and fly in on the Burner airline. 3% of the revenue from that presumably goes to the BLM too, so in the future we might get lucky enough to see how well that little sideline monopoly is doing, through the magic of FOIA.

The BLM did accede to Burning Man’s demands to increase the population size from 50,000 including everyone to 70,000 paying plus 10-15,000 volunteers or workers.This has seen revenues go from $13.5 million in 2010 to at least $37 million this year. BLM fees have increased from $1.9 million in 2012, to $2.8 million. This is about what Burning Man’s entire payroll was in 2010. To me, it doesn’t seem all that unreasonable.

This Federal take is about the same as the estimated State windfall from the 9% Live Entertainment Tax. This was imposed on all outdoor festivals. BMOrg passed it straight onto Burners. The money sits in their bank account for half a year or more earning interest, before they have to hand it over to the Government. Not to mention all kinds of weirdness with the “9% of $3 of the $7 handling fee” or whatever all that was.

Do the hundreds of BLM workers involved with Burning Man take their frustration about this complaint out on any BMOrg personnel, who are dealing through lawyers and media spokespeople? Or do they take it out on DPW and Burners, trying to make their budgets instead of getting their hours cut…with sniffer dogs and citations?

Maybe they should just let the government take their share, the same way we do when we accept the ever-increasing  ticket prices. It’s the Government’s land, in the same way that it’s Decommodification LLC’s brand. You wanna use it, you pay rent.

“Transparent” Burning Man should provide their own figures, since they are demanding the Government do the same. We want to know where the money goes too. It’s us that are funding the whole thing, on both sides. At least, it was until Flysalen…now we have very little idea where the money’s actually coming from.

Why things are so tight, when ticket prices and demand are so high, and they no longer have to pay any tax?

If only the money and energy that they put into lawyers and accountants went into waste management, reduced carbon footprint, and reforestation.

rainforest

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Image: Rescendent CC BY_SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

Sheriff Takes Family on Raven Trip to Burning Man

raven washoe 5155

Who said Burning Man is not a rave? The Sheriff of Washoe County took his wife and kid on a joyride official police business trip to Burning Man in the company chopper. The name of the military grade, electronically souped up aerial enforcer? RAVEN.

Anjeanette Damon at the Reno Gazette-Journal has the scoop:

Washoe County Sheriff Chuck Allen hitched a ride on a preplanned RAVEN helicopter flight to Burning Man last year, and brought along his wife and adult son.

Allen said he had to attend a multi-agency meeting at the annual arts celebration in the Black Rock Desert 110 miles north of Reno on Sept. 5 and didn’t want to make the two-hour drive that often ends in a traffic jam. So, Allen said he asked the department’s chief pilot if he could jump on the flight planned for that day.

“Yes, I did include my wife and son,” Allen told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Thursday. “I can do that as sheriff.”

“I checked to make sure I wasn’t breaking any of my own policies,” he added.

The policy that governs the sheriff’s office helicopter program does not specifically address civilian ride-alongs. It has a section, however, that limits “non-RAVEN affiliated personnel” who are authorized to ride in the helicopter.

“Police, fire, REMSA, (Search and Rescue), county, city, state, military and federal employees actively involved in public safety missions may be carried on RAVEN aircraft in accordance with public law,” the policy reads.

The sheriff’s office Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit was formed in 1996, when the department obtained four helicopters through the U.S. Department of Defense’s surplus program. The unit’s primary mission is to respond to crimes in progress, search and rescue operations and drug enforcement surveillance missions…

Allen said he saw the trip to Burning Man no differently than if his wife went along with him to a department function in “my vehicle assigned to me.”..

Allen said his undersheriff and a chief deputy also brought their wives along on a previous flight to Burning Man…

Allen needed to make the trip to Burning Man to meet with Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen, as well as Bureau of Land Management personnel. Burning Man staff also gave him a tour of the 70,000-person Black Rock City. Allen said he also greeted all of the Washoe County deputies working the event and attended a dinner, which included other law enforcement personnel and their spouses…

The day Allen and his family traveled to Burning Man included the celebration’s pinnacle event of the burning of the man.

Read the full story at the Reno-Gazette Journal

What is RAVEN? It’s the Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit.

In 1996, The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office was able to obtain four helicopters through the Department of Defense’s excess property program. The four aircraft that were delivered to the county were hulks that need quite a bit of restoration and overhaul before being transformed into useable assets. Building two flyable aircraft from the original four, the Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit, or RAVEN, was born. In addition to the two Kiowas that the unit operates, RAVEN is the proud operator of the very first of only 30 manufactured HH-1H Huey helicopters, originally built by Bell for the United States Air Force for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) purposes. The two Kiowas and one Huey are all in outstanding mechanical condition thanks to the dedication of the full time and part time maintenance personnel assigned to the unit, and were acquired and refurbished using drug forfeiture money rather than taxpayer dollars.

Originally staffed with part-time pilots from the local Army Guard helicopter unit, RAVEN has become a self sufficient aviation unit that has dedicated deputies assigned both full and part time to flying duties.

[Source]

The RAVEN unit operates both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. They use the OH-58 Kiowa, which is a 2 seater surveillance chopper; and the HH-1H Huey, which is a USAF Search And Rescue variant of one of the largest passenger capacity helicopters ever made. The standard model can take 14 troops as well as the 2 pilots. I’m guessing the Sheriff and his family rode in on the Huey; were there other civilians with them on this flight?

The story has this to say about the logistics:

The Reno Gazette-Journal obtained a flight log from the sheriff’s office that listed three RAVEN flights to Burning Man last year on Sept. 3, Sept. 4 and Sept. 5. However, no public records apparently exist to document the family members’ flight or whether any other civilian ride-alongs have occurred in the past.

According to the log, the helicopter departed Reno at 10:50 a.m. and returned at 11:20 p.m., reporting a total of three hours of actual flight time.

Allen said the flights were not “joy rides.” Rather, they were pre-planned missions that were able to accommodate the extra passengers.

“I would have to stress, yes, it was a scheduled mission,” he said. “I would never encourage or even allow someone to go on a joy ride.”

He said his wife and son stayed with him the entire day and did not travel to participate in the Burning Man event itself.

“My wife and son shadowed me the entire time,” he said.

[Source]

Even though they watched the Man burn (presumably from a VIP position), and attended a fully catered dinner, the Sheriff takes pains to stress that they didn’t participate in the Burning Man event. This is similar logic to BMOrg’s claim that 80,000 people sitting down to watch a 30-minute uninterruptible performance with hundreds of fire dancers, followed by an hour+ pyrotechnics show when they burn the Man, does not in any way constitute live entertainment.

It doesn’t sound like these civilians needed tickets. Glad to hear that the LEOs can entertain their families by spectating on all the participants. Hey, if they can’t have bottomless Chocotacos, at least they can perv on some titties and shirt-cockers, and laugh at all the freaks they’re looking down on.

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Read more about the Washoe RAVEN unit at Vertical Magazine.

 

Cities of the Future Could Look Like Burning Man – if BMOrg let them [Update]

Gizmodo yesterday had a fascinating story about the Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning contest to design a new layout for Black Rock City.

Burning Man is an experiment, right? So why should only Larry Harvey and Stuart Mangrum be the ones conducting the experiment, by setting the themes? Why not experiment with new ways of living together, a temporary, pop-up civilization? Personally, I always thought was what Burning Man was all about. These days, I wonder if the nature of the experiment has perhaps been different all along from the sales pitch we were given over the Kool Aid water cooler.

The Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning competition was started last year, and was quickly covered by widely read publications like VICE and ArchDaily, the world’s #1 architecture website.

Despite BMOrg coming out to say “no change, no competition”, the response has been impressive.

From BRCUP:

The Results So Far

We have been pretty amazed by the scale of the response.

Since we announced the project last fall, 1629 people and teams from 168 countries have signed up to participate.

To date, we have received 72 submissions.

Gizmodo’s story goes through many of the submissions. I’ve selected a couple of examples:

Cities of the Future Could Look Like Burning Man
This proposal offers elements for “neighborhood improvement” like the addition of designated parks and public squares that could become locations for cafes and other meeting places, by Phil Walker of CallisonRTKL, USA

Cities of the Future Could Look Like Burning ManA proposal to redesign Burning Man’s Black Rock City as a Navajo mandala, by Sergio Bianchi, Simone Fracasso, and Chiara Pellegrin of Italy

The founder is a double digit Burner and software engineer:

The competition was spearheaded by Brian McConnell, a software engineer and ten-year Burning Man veteran. The original idea was to create a site-specific installation at the festival itself presenting visionary ideas for the urban planning of Black Rock City. But as McConnell quickly realized, thinking about designing a smarter temporary city also surfaced some bigger ideas which might extrapolate into other areas of city-building. McConnell was particularly impressed by the quality and originality of proposals, he said. “There are some designs that have gone completely out of the box.”…

The submissions, as well as all the online comments, will be published in a book that will be available for purchase and will be given to the festival organizers. “The best-case scenario would be that the planners see something that’s very interesting or extraordinary and decide to use it in some way,” said McConnell. But he also loves the idea of delivering annual feedback through the competition format. “The real goal of this would be to make it part of the annual planning process and kind of a ritual,” he said. Planners could offer up concerns and ask for improvements that could be implemented the following year.

McConnell also sees the potential value of completely reinventing the city’s plan each year, perhaps with a layout that responds to the theme, which changes annually. “It’s gotten so large they can’t do radically different things,” he said. “What if each time you went it was a significantly different city plan, and you would have to figure it out?”

Read the whole story here

As someone who’s only been to Burning Man 11 times, that sounds like a great idea. They’ve already shown they can have a “2.0” of any particular theme, so we can always go back to the past. That’s part of it too. In the future we will probably have “Fertility 21”.

Phillippe Glade’s Golden Rebar Awards highlight the incredible architectural creativity of Burners. The style even has its own name: burnitecture. The Tiny House movement is starting to follow in the revolutionary footsteps of the Maker Movement, and it too has links to Burning Man.

What is stopping us from making this experimental city in the desert an actual experiment?

Is it Tradition? Ritual? A lack of ideas, vision, leadership?

Or is it the nature of the existing experiment, that is still being done on all the rats in this alluring anarchic maze without walls – who ALL voluntarily assume the risk of serious injury or death by participating ?

1998 ticket

Rod Garrett was great, may he rest in peace; David Best is amazing, and doesn’t need Burning Man to be an artist on the world stage. Let’s give the fresh, young, new, unseen and untried ideas a chance. Why should only the Medici and their bankster friends get to decide the direction art, civilization, technology takes?

If you didn’t get it yet, I think an experiment to come up with different layouts for Black Rock City is an excellent idea. Bauhaus and the Panopticon have been tried, OK, let’s move on.

3nd attempt-almost final

 

Screenshot 2016-03-23 17.20.12

[Update 3/23/16 5:53 pm – added images and link to video clip of Burning Man Founder talking about the city design]

Here’s BMOrg’s official position on trying a new city layout, or even incorporating any ideas from Burnenrs. According to them, BRCUP have started a conversation, and we’ll see what happens next. Don’t hold your breath!

We recently caught wind of a Black Rock City Street Plan Design Competition hosted by an experienced group of participants calling themselves the Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning (BRCMUP). The Burning Man organization has nothing to do with it, but we thought, hey, this could be fun to watch. And then an architecture blog called ArchDaily wrote about the competition on August 16 without doing its journalism homework, so now we have to clear a couple things up.

Burning Man is not involved with this competition, and we aren’t “select[ing] a winner”. The BRCMUP organizers never said we were, either. They say they’ll present their winner to us, and then it’s up to us what we do with it. So the ArchDaily blog post was in error, and it has since been corrected.

As for the contest itself, the official description is worded pretty strongly:

“The final choice of design will rest with bmorg [sic] based on a combination of popularity, logistics and space considerations (including the option to retain the current city plan).”

We love the ingenuity of Burners and are curious to see what they come up with through this competition. We will certainly take a look at all the top designs in this competition, not just the winner, out of curiosity and admiration. The ideas generated by this competition could also be useful to Regional Events, which are in various stages of growth and planning, each with their own location’s design challenges, and we think that’s great. But there are no plans to redesign Black Rock City.

Thanks to BRCMUP for starting an interesting conversation, and we look forward to seeing what comes of it.

[Source]

So, we started an interesting conversation. And so far 72 designs have been submitted. The designs show just how much unbelievable talent is available for BMOrg to tap into, if they truly chose crowd-sourcing, participation, civic responsibility, immediacy, and communal effort as their path.

You can view randomly chosen designs from the gallery and enter the competition at Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning. Seems to me that would be a much better official Ministry for BMOrg to have than their only one so far: Propaganda.

Let’s discuss these ideas. Many of them don’t even require the 0.666% of a circle pentagram design to change.

2013 double pentagram

Or, even better than just talking: put on parties based on those designs and we’ll promote them here and go check them out.

 

 

 

Keeping it Weird

candy van and gf

Australians. Can’t live with ’em, can’t send ’em any further away.

One enterprising young bloke from “the ass end of the world” has used his time in America and his trip to Burning Man to achieve international notoriety.

From the BBC:

In August 2015, children in a sleepy suburban neighbourhood of the Californian city of Sacramento noticed a white, windowless van parked on their street.

Across the side of the vehicle, someone had painted the words “Free Candy” in a bloody shade of red. A cluster of handprints were smeared nearby, suggesting that some candy-seekers may have come to the wrong kind of sticky ending.

A 12-year-old named Lawrence Bellow uploaded a photo that began to spread around the internet. Soon local news stations were interviewing local parents about the “suspicious van” rolling through town.

“It just felt like they were trying to attract kids, and it just gave me a creepy feeling,” Lawrence’s mum told the local KOVR TV station.

The van’s driver was Australian Ron Jacobs, 28, who had stopped overnight on his way to Burning Man, the month-long music festival in the middle of the Nevada desert.

By the time he arrived his van had already gained internet fame.

“I was just living in the van and I was just hearing it explode all around me,” Jacobs said. “I woke up one morning, some guy just screams out, ‘I saw you on the internet, I love your van!'”

Since then the “Free Candy Van”, which does actually give out free candy, hasn’t stopped getting attention.

Jacobs said the idea for the van came after his life in Perth fell apart “in a whole bunch of ways”.

“Life. Work. Family. The whole shebang,” he said. “All at the same time … I ended up picking up my savings and chasing my dreams.”

Those dreams involved a “big international adventure”, so he left to travel the American southwest and camp out while skydiving, windsurfing and attending music festivals.

Rather than live in a tent, Jacobs decided it would be better to buy a second-hand van, but knew he was trading comfort for the stigma associated with being a strange man in a white, windowless van.

Instead of shying away from the image, he decided to play up to it by going over the top.

“I was just kind of thinking, like most things in life that you can’t change … what you can do is embrace it and celebrate it,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs, an engineer who spent a year studying at Penn State University, has since given out $1500 (£1500) of free candy.

He said most of his interactions with other people involved a “rollercoaster” of reactions, starting with horror before moving to a sense of relief, and even delight.

Jacobs has been stopped by police eight times while driving the van. A friend from Perth who borrowed the van for three weeks was stopped seven times.

“I consider this van a mirror of American society,” Mr Jacobs said. “The whole experience I’ve had has just been me, a tourist, living American everyday life as their… public enemy number one, and it’s just been such an experience.

“It’s all just the epitome of absurd.”

free candy van

candy van ron jacobs

[Source: BBC]

Once again, over-protective and nervous parents found something to be over-protective and nervous about:

Here’s the Free Candy whistleblower explaining how he saved the day:

And here’s the perpetrator’s apology – in which he says that American society itself created the Free Candy Van (and its registered trademark and website):

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the idea was original:

Parents, be sure to talk to your children about “stranger danger”.

This pundit cautions us to beware of all vans:

Australia’s Edith Cowan University, in Perth – the world’s most remote city – also did a story on one of their local fellas making a name for himself overseas.

The story behind America’s suspicious free candy van

A vintage van complete with blackened windows, no number plate and branded with ‘free candy’ in blood-red writing has been cruising around the streets of America giving out free candy.

It might sound the epitome of a parent’s nightmare, yet the menacing van contains nothing more harmless than a few extra trips to the dentist.  There are more important things to focus on, like fixing that grinding you hear from yuo kid’s rooms at night. Sollution: mouth guard for teeth grinding.

Perth hippy Ron Jacobs settled on the idea behind the van en-route to Burning Man festival this year; a stop before he headed off for three months of ‘wing suiting’, a sport where you fly wearing a suit that looks like an overgrown fruit bat.

Despite the media attention he received for the van, which wasn’t always positive, Ron assured sceptical onlookers that it was nothing more than a tribute to the Burning Man’s celebration of absurdism, and a product of his own unique humour.

“At the Burning Man it’s all about the giving, so what am I going to give?” he told ECU Daily.

“Oh and I’ve got to get to Burning Man. So I’ll need transport. I’ll also need somewhere to stay there … Okay, let’s connect all of these dots: FREE CANDY starts making a lot more sense.

“It’s just going to have to be completely over-the-top and really deliver on the promise of free candy at each and every opportunity.”

He said the  joy and delight I received driving others around, while handing out free sweets, was amazing.

“I get as many of my friends and their friends’ friends to drive around in it and give out free candy too,” he said.

“It’s such a blast. The sensation of being able to take someone from immediate shock-horror all the way through to gratitude and hilarity with a drizzle of irony in less than a second is outrageous fun in my book.”

The van made American news headlines, with some of the bold statements including: ‘Free Candy van creeps out parents in Sacramento’, and ‘Free Candy van upsets Sacramento residents’.

Luckily, these weren’t the only responses.

“I only ever heard the story from other peoples’ mouths,” Jacobs said.

“One interesting example was when one morning I woke up to a man shouting out at the top of his lungs at the van: “I saw you on the internet! F*** love your van!”.

So what’s next for the wing-suited, parent-creeping-out world traveller?

Best to keep in the loop via his Facebook page: facebook.com/ron.jacobs.146.

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