Two Ominous Side Effects Of Cannabis Legalization

By Terry Gotham

A caveat: things are heading in the right direction in places where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use for adults. We can all agree that Colorado, Washington, Alaska & the District of Columbia didn’t become the pot-drenched “Beyond Thunderdome” dystopias that pearl clutchers & puritans envisioned. My aim is not to deride legalization efforts, nor question the dedication or motives of anyone associated with the fight to get America’s head out of its ass. Because Burning Man can be seen as a laboratory for progressive thinking & ways of living, and because a lot of Burners live in states that are currently grappling with the “how” instead of the “if” of legalization, medicalization or decrmininalization, I felt compelled to mention them. We’re legalizing in uneven steps across the country, which has brought us into unknown economic, cultural & law enforcement territory and produced some worrying side effects. Continue reading

AirBnB CEO on the Sharing Economy

McKinsey and Company is an ultra-high end management consulting firm. They help set the direction for the Fortune 500, and their advice in the past has included Burning Man as an example of “how to excite your customers”. They’ve just published a video interview with AirBnB founder and CEO Brian Chesky.

Two of AirBnB’s Vice Presidents sit on Burning Man’s Board of Directors, and this year they added “Black Rock City” to the 34,000 cities in 190 countries that they rent rooms in.

In the last couple of years Burning Man has hosted panel discussions and given media interviews to position themselves as part of the Sharing Economy trend. The main difference between BMOrg’s interpretation of the model and most others, is AirBnB, Uber etc share the profits. That’s what makes it an “economy”.

Later this month AirBnB and Burning Man will be giving “mind-blowing” talks at the CMX Summit in San Francisco on “How To Build Community: Learning From Burning Man, AirBnB and NASA”:

Jenn Sander, BMOrg

This event is packed with thought leaders, CEOs, and community experts representing organizations like NASA, Burning Man, Airbnb, ProductHunt, Zynga, Salesforce, BetaBrand, Exposure and more…

Burning Man is one of the best examples we have today of a massive, organic movement with a thriving offline community. There’s a great deal we can learn from the programs that Burning Man runs to apply in our own work every day as community builders.

Jenn Sander is an innovation, communications, and engagement strategist with a passion for uniting international communities around arts, technological innovation, and physical space. For The Burning Man Project, she focuses on connecting their global networks and developing demonstration projects.


AirBnB founder and CEO Brian Chesky’s words have a timely resonance for the Burner community. Given their strong representation on the Burning Man Project’s Board of Directors, and BMOrg’s claims to be a similar example of the Sharing Economy, it’s interesting to get an insight into the way this company thinks and the language they speak.


Transcript re-blogged from (emphasis and image selection ours):


For $35, you can buy the CEO's body-building DVD photo: Gawker

For $35, you can buy the CEO’s body-building DVD. photo: Valleywag/Gawker

Since its founding, in 2008, Airbnb has spearheaded growth of the sharing economy by allowing thousands of people around the world to rent their homes or spare rooms. Yet while as many as 425,000 people now stay in Airbnb-listed homes on a peak night, the company’s growth is shadowed by laws that clash with its ethos of allowing anyone, including renters, to sell access to their spaces. In this interview with McKinsey’s Rik Kirkland, Airbnb cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky explores how the company’s relationships with cities can evolve. An edited transcript of Chesky’s comments follows.

Starting a revolution

It’s a currency of trust, and that used to live only with a business. Only businesses could be trusted, or people in your local community. Now, that trust has been democratized—any person can act like a brand.
Airbnb is a way that you can, when you’re traveling, book a home anywhere around the world. And by anywhere, I mean 34,000 cities in 190 countries. That’s every country but North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Cuba.

The reason we started was I was living with my roommate, Joe, in a NYC Sublets, and I couldn’t afford to make rent. That weekend, the International Design Conference was coming to New York. All the hotels were sold out. Joe had three air beds. We pulled the air beds out of the closet, we inflated them, and we called it the “Air Bed and Breakfast.”

The reason it’s grown so fast is, unlike traditional businesses, we don’t have to pour concrete. The infrastructure and the investment was already made by cities a generation ago. And so all of a sudden, all you needed was the Internet.

The ‘disruption’ debate

I never really loved the word “disruption,” because it suggests that maybe it’s the kid in a class who was disruptive, who probably didn’t add a lot to class. I think that we have a lot to add to society.

Over time, cities have gotten so big that the sense of community has gotten lost. And I think once you know everyone, that community can reemerge. And as far as our relationship with cities, we can’t succeed without a city. Or we can’t really thrive without a city. We don’t want to thrive in spite of a city. And I think if we work together, it’s going to be amazing. I think the people win. And I think if we don’t work together or if we fight, the loser isn’t really us or the city—it’s the people in that city.

Getting cities to embrace sharing

airbnb-coverFundamentally, the idea of the sharing economy is going to be great for cities. It means that people all over a city, in 60 seconds, can become microentrepreneurs. And they can be empowered. And they can make an income. Now, this is amazing, but it’s also complicated because there are laws that were written many decades ago—sometimes a century ago—that said, “There are laws for people and there are laws for business.” What happens when a person becomes a business? Suddenly these laws feel a little bit outdated. They’re really 20th-century laws, and we’re in a 21st-century economy.

It’s probably going to be a fair amount of work to revise some of the laws and rethink the way cities and platforms work together, but I think that work is worth it. Because what cities don’t have to do is invest billions of dollars in infrastructure to create jobs. Whereas historically, to create opportunities, cities would need massive projects and investments, these jobs only require the Internet. Now what they need to do is navigate the legal framework, which is typically outdated. We want to work with the cities. We’re not telling them that their laws are terrible. The world continues to change. Laws must continue to adapt for that world.

We want to help cities understand what our world looks like so they can modernize the laws to make sense. We’re not against regulation. We want to be regulated because to regulate us would be to recognize us.

Airbnb’s plans for growth

We want travelers to be able to book homes anywhere. Anywhere includes Asia. Asia’s a nascent market for us. Number two, we’re also looking at other use cases. Airbnb started as a way for travelers to find a budget way to vacation in a city. But now we’re starting to see people who aren’t on a budget. They want a much more high-end experience. And the third is that at the end of the day, if you’re traveling to Tokyo, you’re not traveling to Tokyo to stay in a home or a hotel. You’re traveling to Tokyo—if you’re on vacation—because you want to have an experience. And we’d love to do more to make that experience special and memorable.

The future of sharing: Your free time

I don’t think people would view the jobs created in the sharing economy as jobs. I don’t even know if they get counted as jobs when the White House has a new jobs report. They are jobs. As far as I can tell, people are working, they’re making income, and they depend on that income. Half of our hosts depend on it to pay the rent or mortgage. Maybe it’s a new kind of job. Maybe it’s like a 21st-century job. Tom Friedman talks about how in the future people may not have jobs. They’ll have income streams.

I believe that the sharing economy broadly can probably provide tens of millions of jobs or income streams for people all over the world. This is going to have a pretty big effect on the economy, mostly a good one.

The sharing economy started by democratizing and creating access to probably two of the biggest assets people have: their homes and then their cars. But I think the whole idea of ownership is changing. When my parents were young, owning things was a privilege, and there was a sense of romance to owning a house, owning a car.

Today’s generation sees that ownership also as a burden. People still want to show off, but in the future I think what they’re going to want to show off is their Instagram feed, their photos, the places they’ve gone, the experiences they’ve had. That has become the new bling. It’s not the car you have; it’s the places you go and the experiences you have. I think in the future, people will own whatever they want responsibility for. And I think what they’re going to want responsibility for the most is their reputation, their friendships, their relationships, and the experiences they’ve had.

So I think the biggest revolution will be in the biggest asset of all. The biggest asset is not a house. It’s not a car. It’s people’s time. People’s time may start with just gigs: waiting in line for you, delivering something for you. Over time, I think it’s going to move upmarket. And eventually, menial tasks become real trades, and real trades become art forms.

Somebody may say, “I cook a great brunch. I wonder if people would enjoy having brunch at my house?” And you could be able to book a brunch at someone’s house, instead of at a restaurant. That person isn’t trying to create a restaurant, they’re just allowing someone to have brunch. They build a reputation. One day, that person can be a Michelin-rated chef in their house.

how airbnb started

AirBnB 4 BRC: SK8 r GR8 – Oh No They Ain’t [Updates]

Burning Man hoodie, only $50

Burning Man hoodie, only $50

The Un-Decommodification of the event continues. You can now use AirBnB to book your Black Rock City accommodation. This one brought to you courtesy of SK8 camp, at 8:15 & Esplanade.

There will probably be others, for example Burner Joe says:

“airbnb has been awesome for making $ at burning man! All 17 yurts are rented and the money is the bank!”

…although we suspect they’re being tongue-in-cheek, it’s amazing how often “satire” turns into “acceptable behavior” at Burning Man.

sk8 camp boardFor $3000 the people claiming to be SK8 camp on the Internet say they will build you your own air conditioned yurt on the Playa – might be a cheaper option than an RV setup, which I hear can cost upwards of $20,000 these days. You can also buy merchandise like hoodies and skateboards with the Burning Man logo online. Burning Man used to strictly forbid the commercial exploitation of their logo for camp fundraisers, but this seems to be yet another selectively enforced rule. Pee Funnel camp can get kicked out for some ticketing shenanigans without even a chance to explain. Meanwhile, SK8 camp can create fake AirBnB listings (which they dismiss as some sort of bizarre prank)  and sell Burning Man t-shirts and hoodies (apparently not a prank)…and that’s just fine. Sounds like they know someone on the inside. You’re not fooling us SK8 camp, we get it: you’re selling Burning Man merchandise. Just like the Burning Man Project do.

The AirBnB-listed SK8 rooms are only $15/night – worth it just to have a discreet place on the Esplanade to do drugs radically express yourself:

sk8 8-15 esplanade

SK8 KAMP 2014 full layout. Accommodations are under decks in rear right (in front of scaffolding)

sk8 camp dayThe Space
Bed type: Airbed
Property type: Cave
Accommodates: 2
Bedrooms: 1
Bathrooms: 0
Beds: 1

Free Parking on Premises
Wireless Internet
Family/Kid Friendly
Suitable for Events
sk8 2013Smoking Allowed
Wheelchair Accessible
Hot Tub
First Aid Kit
Fire Extinguisher
Extra people: No Charge
Cancellation: Flexible
skate camp 2012Description

The Space

A one of a kind accommodation on the Playa at Burning Man. Stay in the spare room under the SK8 KAMP ramps!

1 of 4 8’X8′ ‘rooms’ available under the deck of the 32′ wide mini ramp. Private closet space under the quarter pipe. Tarped floor and wall to keep you protected from the dust.

Enjoy getting woken up to the pleasant sounds of skaters shredding the ramps on the incredibly smooth baltic birch skin, the unique grind sounds of the Diamond Grind coping, and the cheering of all the spectators. Perfect location to hear the sound, right in front of our speakers and scaffolding DJ stage.

Close proximity to street skate area with banks, hubbas, rails, and other obstacles.

Close to transportation (SK8 boards provided), many Art Cars pickup nearby, and Esplanade access, shower stall with evap pond provided (bring your own solar shower). Communal kitchen under a shade tent with stove, cutting boards, coolers, and drinking water. Warm piskey’s served daily (whiskey with pickle juice). Port-o-potties are located at 8:00 & C a few short blocks away. No bed provided, only a tarp. Bring your own sleeping bag or linens. No towels or soap provided. Pack it in pack it out all trash. Daily moop sweeps required. Be Self-reliant!!!

With vaulted 4′ or 5.5′ ceilings, its best suited for shorties. If you love to SK8 you’ll really love the close proximity to this 24hr rad ramp and the sounds of shredding will rock you to sleep! )'(

Guest Access

SK8 KAMP sk8 park, communal kitchen, communal shade areas, shower stall, VIP All Access Burning Man pass

Interaction with Guests

Hosts and Guests will frequently interact and the hosts will often be skateboarding on top of your accommodations.

The Neighborhood

Amazing view of the Man, and deep playa. Lots of dusty burners nearby.

Getting around

10 of 10 walk score. Great for biking. Art Cars frequently stopping by, but schedules are tough to figure out. Free parking onsite.

Other Things to Note

All proceeds of this rental will go to our Kickstarter campaign to build our park! If you’d like to donate directly please visit Kickstarter.


House Rules

Be self-reliant, drama free, and love skateboarding.



Minimum Stay: 1 night
View of what the accommodation will look like (note: this was from 2012, so it will not be this exact room, but very similar)

View of what the accommodation will look like (note: this was from 2012, so it will not be this exact room, but very similar)

[Update 8/3/14 11:20am] Sonja from SK8 camp claims that the AirBnB post is fake. She offers no comment on whether the $3k plug-n-play yurt offering or branded merchandise sales in their fundraiser are lies also.

sk8 logoIt’s not true that you can book brc accommodation at sk8 kamp through air b n b.  that air b n b post is fake. I think the main indicator is the idea you would be staying under the ramp. I don’t know, maybe you have never seen a skate ramp or been near one, but under the ramp is very non-habitable and is unpleasant. Also, the monthly rate is $420.

Please use a real example of being able to book accommodation at brc on air b n b for this blog post, if one exists, and not a fake example…

It’s not really available – it’s a prank listing. If someone contacted us saying, “i’d like 2 nights under the skate ramp” we would say, “i’m sorry, that was a joke, we’re not really air b n b ing the space under the ramp.”

If your point is that it’s possible to book BRC accomodations by the night via AirBnB, you need to use a different example. This is not an example of that.

So what is it an example of? A camp lying about their fundraising activities? Irony gone wrong? A funny prank on someone else’s camp, that they’re sour about because they didn’t think of it first?

sk8 or dieI’m not sure if Sonja has ever been to Burning Man, but if she had she would know that there are plenty of noisy places where people sleep. Some people actually quite like that, and find the idea of seeking a quiet place at Burning Man to be ludicrous. $15/night sounds reasonable in the circumstances, I guess it depends if people are skating 24/7 for 8 days, and how much you like skateboarding.

AirBnB is a real site. The listing is really there. So who is falsely impersonating SK8 camp? And why would they do such a thing? Be careful out there Burners, what is the world coming to these days when you can no longer trust a skateboarder…

SK8 Rnt GR8

To placate Sonja, here’s a link to someone else renting a dome on AirBnB.