Google Earth Brings You Burning Man 3D

Google Earth For Pirates

Google Earth For Pirates

This is pretty cool. You’ll need to install Google Earth, and enable 3D buildings. Then open this KML file.  Zoom in to ground level and hold down the arrow keys, you can walk through Burning Man in 3D. You really get a sense of how vast it is when you see The Man in the distance and head towards it. It is from Cargo Cult, Burning Man 2013, although the particular day the image was taken is unknown.

From the Google Earth Blog:

Burning Man goes 3D

Over the last week or so, Google have pushed out a significant amount of new 3D imagery. If you don’t have it already, be sure to grab our our map of areas covered so far.

One of the most interesting new additions is Black Rock City, Nevada, location of the Burning Man festival that we covered back in August and later saw animated gifs of that Skybox Imaging created. The actual festival only lasts a couple of weeks each year and is in a slightly different location each year, with different street layouts and physical structures. The imagery was essentially out of date just days after the photography was captured. There was a lot of movement, with many cars, trucks, caravans and even light aircraft moving around. There were new structures going up, tents and other structures with moving coverings and intricate shapes. All of this causes problems for the technique used to capture the imagery, which involves imagery captured from multiple angles during several passes, that works best on solid, unmoving structures with no overhangs.

To fly to Black Rock City in Google Earth, open this KML file. Be sure to turn on the 3D buildings layer.

[Update: As pointed out by Ron in the comments, the 3D imagery is from the 2013 event.]

Black Rock City tent
One of several structures with intricate detail that Google must have put extra effort into modelling.

You can also type “Black Rock City NV” into Google Earth’s search (no need for any KML file). The satellite imagery is becoming more detailed every year, and this is just what is being released for free to the public.

Creepily, all the people are missing from the city. Wonder if there was some behind the scenes facial recognition going on, as all the Burners were slurped out by the Artilect in between its trippy dreams.

deep dreams animation

Radio Interview With BMOrg’s Jim Graham on ChocoTacoGate [Update]

choco_taco

KPNR has an interview with Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham about the latest controversy in the Burnerverse.

.

The Twitter-verse was abuzz over the weekend in Nevada over Burning Man.

You all know Burning Man as the Labor Day week no-holds-barred celebration in the Black Rock Desert in the far reaches of northern Nevada.

The buzz was over the perks that the Bureau of Land Management is seeking from Burning Man organizers. The federal agency oversees the week-long event.

The agency’s list of desires reads like something a celebrity might request backstage, including soft-serve ice cream 24 hours a day, seven days a week; steaks, hamburgers, the ice cream treat choco-tacos, and a list of condiments and items that number well more than 100.

Not only that, but the Bureau wants VIP quarters, flush toilets and more.

We requested an interview with Bureau of Land Management officials but received no answer.

[Source: KPNR]

Jim revealed some hard numbers for 2014 costs.

BLM Fees were:

$2.75m cost recovery

$700,000 commercial use fees – BMOrg see this as a tax on top of the ticket price. If this is 3% of the gate then ticket sales were $23.3 million.

$600,000 infrastructure

Total $4.05 million

2011 BLM fees $1.4 million, population 54,000

2015 BLM fees $4.9 million , population 70,000

Jim said that this is a substantial increase in fees, for only 16,000 more population

Of course, the 16,000 extra population is worth $6,544,000 in bonus ticket revenue to BMOrg (at $409 a ticket).

Expected population this year is now officially 70,000 – so there could be an extra 2,000 tickets floating around, to be added to STEP or OMG. This weekend I heard a rumor of 25 tickets being available for $1500 each, but you had to buy the whole 25. Not quite sure how something like that comes about…

Jim said that the $1 million cost figure being bandied around is not just for the Blue Pit Compound. The million dollars is the sum total of all of the requests for infrastructure this year: radios, catering, flush toilets. He said their catering requests were not that unusual…“We feed more than 50,000 meals during the week – our staff and volunteers.” So it looks like the BLM are asking for an increase in the infrastructure budget from $600k to $1 million.

Burning Man are not sure who the VIPs are for the 8 designated containers in the Blue Pit.

Jim said “We house all the BLM agents in the town of Gerlach, we rent out the hotels. Vast majority of them stay there, 14 mile drive from the town out to the site – we feel that’s pretty reasonable…We don’t begrudge anybody how they’re going to live when they’re out there. ”


[Update 6/30/15 1:45pm PST]

Did I say 2,000 extra tickets? How about 12,000?

At The Hill, the Deputy Director of the BLM seems to be giving a green light to 80,000 people this year. An extra 10,000 tickets to sell will certainly pay for a lot of chocotacos.

On Monday, BLM Deputy Director Steve Ellis said the agency should “take a fresh look” at the requests. 

“I am concerned about the reported costs associated with supporting the Burning Man festival. I have directed that BLM staff take a fresh look at the initial proposals for food and facilities at the event,” Ellis said in a statement.

“Our priority is to provide for participant and employee health and safety, sanitation, and environmental compliance at this unique event that is attended by up to 80,000 people in a remote part of the Nevada Desert. I have full confidence in BLM staff and their ability to develop a plan that is cost efficient and ensures public health and safety.”

That sure would be a win/win/win compromise for everybody. Burners would win 12,000 more tickets. BMOrg would win another $5 million revenues. BLM could get a nice VIP compound and increase the infrastructure budget $400k. Looks like a pretty good deal all around, let’s hope it works out that way.

From Canvas Cubes to Containers

2015 burner bungalow

Business Insider has yet another “the rich are taking over Burning Man” story, this time focusing on a company that will deliver a ready-made “Container Camp” for you on the Playa. Who needs Radical Self-Reliance, when someone else can do Leave No Trace for you?

From Business Insider:

Gene Temen, president of Quick Space, has been supplying the Burning Man event with office trailers for the event’s hospital and administrative buildings for seven years.

Three years ago, the team at Quick Space realized they could repurpose the trailers as living quarters. The units come with insulation, air conditioning, lights, and flooring, Travis Lekas, the operations manager for Quick Space, told Business Insider. This makes them perfect for campers who would rather not deal with the realities of living in the desert for seven days.

They call them “Burner Bungalows.”

Burners can paint and add onto the trailers however they wish, for an additional fee of $300 for the exterior and $200 for the interior. So instead of building a camp ground from scratch, they can either use the trailer as a shelter or build around it and use the trailer for storage.  “You can paint it if you want to paint the inside or the outside — whatever you want to do,” Lekas told Business Insider. “It also comes with three five-gallon bottles of water, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and a garbage can along with additional garbage bags.”

This might not sound like the whimsical and artistic camps that Burning Man is known for, but the idea is to give campers the base on which to build their dream camp, Lekas explained.

And although they don’t look like the typical Burning Man structure, which can range from a yurt to a tent to an RV, the trailers are practical. The ready-made storage units come with necessities like water, insulation, and air-conditioning, and can be used for storage both during and after the event.

The company will also come and remove the trailer after the week is over, fitting with Burning Man’s “leave no trace” policy after the seven day event is over, which is included in the price. You can store your Burning Man gear in the trailer until the next year and not worry about shipping it or needing to fly back with all of your stuff for $750 per year of storage. [Source]

These containers are actually a pretty good deal.

The cost for the trailers is about $3,745 plus a $1,000 security deposit — more if you want to decorate the interior and exterior and store the unit all year. Generators also bear an additional cost of $250 [Source]

It would cost you way more to buy your own container, deck it out like this, and transport it to and from the Playa. These things weigh 6,000 lbs empty, meaning that mid-sized forklifts are usually required to move them around. It doesn’t come with a bathroom, but it does come with water, a trash can and air conditioning. Power is available for limited hours, or you can purchase 24/7 juice with a generator upgrade. You better hope that A/C works well, because these steel boxes BAKE in the desert sun. Yes, even if they’re insulated.

You can find out more at the Burner Bungalows web site.

I’m all for containers at Burning Man, if they’re painted. It should look like the world’s craziest city of art, not Iraq or Afghanistan.

ekoVillages.com upcycled art container

ekoVillages.com upcycled art container. Artists: Ian Ross & Eon 75/Ian Ross Gallery

This Business Insider article is an amazing example of BMOrg’s propaganda machine at work. Their confusing language and misinformation gets picked up and promoted as gospel by the mainstream media:

The trailers might also be a good compromise for burners who were previously planning to rely on the fully-furnished luxurious camping options, or “turnkey camps,” that have been recently banned from the playa.

That means no more built-in personal chefs, sherpas, or other luxurious features associated with concierge camping. But with the trailers, tech millionaires can still have air-conditioning in a pinch and protect their belongings from the sand and dust. [Source]

Here's what the world's last Minister of Propaganda was all about.

Here’s what the world’s last Minister of Propaganda was all about. There hasn’t been one since – until Burning Man.

Business Insider perpetuates the myth that BMOrg heroically banned Commodification Camps, concierges, and sherpas, after listening to all the community feedback last year.

In fact, what happened is BMOrg just re-iterated the same policy that was already in place last year – that camps that get placement must have an interactive component. Similarly, despite BMOrg’s recent blog post Kicking Concierge Caboose at Burning Man, accompanied with a hearty “LOL! Nope!” on Facebook…Festivals Concierge Service are still happily in business helping their VIP clientele prepare to fly in to a pre-packaged Burning Man experience, complete with custom costumes and chauffeur driven art cars.

rolls royce art car source unknown

Concierge services such as FCS are not breaking any laws, Burning Man does not have jurisdiction over global commerce and their Outside Services contractors have a literal license to make money off Burning Man from the Federal government. If these services don’t accept cash on the Playa, then it’s hard to argue that they are even violating any of Burning Man’s Tin Principles – which we’re told are “just guidelines” these days.

I guarantee you that there will be even MORE sherpas at Burning Man this year, not less.

Screenshot 2015-06-11 04.09.04

Expect to see more Burner Bungalows too:

Lekas told us that the company currently has 50 orders for units this year, and if the rise in interest over the past few years is any indication, they could double their orders by 2016.

“Our first year we started off, we just built a camp,” Lekas said. “The next year and the second year, we started off with five bungalows, and then our next one went to 40 bungalows. We’re hoping next year to supply 100 bungalows.” [Source]

According to Reddit, the Org are running one of these businesses too, and there is a 3 year waiting list to get a container:

Screenshot 2015-06-11 04.12.05

How many bungalows does the city need to host, before last year’s ironic timeshare sales become a money-spinning reality?

The Occidental Oasis Econopod, marketed at the Caravansary Souk with brochures and sales assistants collecting email addresses

The Occidental Oasis Econopod, marketed at the Caravansary Souk with brochures and sales assistants collecting email addresses. A big farce? Or seeding the idea?

Burning Man’s official web site recently published an open letter to luxury vacation tour businesses, which stated quite clearly that none of the luxury services offered by Caravancicle in their $16,000 canvas cubes was considered out of line:

Screenshot 2015-06-11 03.47.43

burningman.com also promoted a Case Study of “how to do it right” for Safari Tour profiteers, which lays out how they’re taking a hard line against the practice,  by publicly endorsing it. Maybe someone can help explain that one to us! It seems to me more like a nice (free?) advertorial for a commercial tour package operator, a chosen one that BMOrg give tickets to every year for them to re-sell for profit.

Meanwhile, at the exact same time that Business Insider publishes the latest “rich Burners” article, VICE brings one of their own out promoting private aircraft travel to Burning Man. Mixmag also had a story about $15,000 plane rides to Burning Man.

Coincidence? Or PR campaign?

Tickets might be “sold out”, but the marketing to the elites is just getting started…

 bm shark jumping

Dream Big, Or Go Home

So far the most exciting announcement about Burning Man 2015 is not the $800 VIP tickets, or the “chumps and suckers” circus theme…it’s Big Imagination, who are going to bring a 747 Jumbo Jet as their art car.

747 cad drawing

This is surely the most ambitious project ever on the Playa. As we were packing up at the end of Cargo Cult, I heard a rumor that there was a plan to bring an art car that required 100 crew. I dismissed it at the time as bullshit – “what art car needs 100 crew? A cruise ship?” – but some rumors are indeed true, and this is very real.

3 stories tall, 4 buses wide, half a football field long, on 18 squishy wheels, able to carry more than 300 people. And it moves.

747Ken is one of the main instigators of the vision, and he’s someone who knows what he’s doing. He designed the very popular Charlie the Unicorn art car, and was part of the Robot Heart team.

I’m the knucklehead who dreamed up this crazy idea.

My Playa background was being a workerbee on Robot Heart from 2008-11, then I designed and built Charlie the Unicorn (with a lot of help). In the default world I have a varied background but experience in managing large, complex projects from aerospace to film.

Charlie The Unicorn. Image: Jun/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Charlie The Unicorn. Image: Jun/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Big Imagination Foundation is a arts and education non-profit. Specifically, the mission is to incubate and support projects that bold, inspiring, and visionary. We’re purposely trying to stay flexible on our first project.

As for why this big thing? I sketched this out on the Playa dust in 2009. I swore I would never do another art car after Charlie unless it was truly epic. When I found out we could get our hands on a scrap 747, welllll, it was just too good of a chance to pass up. Once in a lifetime, right? I’m not necessarily shooting for the “biggest” just because. We could do a plane-oriented project much easier with a smaller fuselage. However, the 747 is iconic, and that upper deck is spectacular. When this baby rolls down the playa, peoples minds are going to melt. [Source: Reddit]

Truly epic is right – my mind has melted already. If you have the resources, better to do something like this and share it with everyone, than sell exclusive hotel rooms with porcelain toilets to VIP guests who hand out a few popsicles.

The top of the plane will be cut open to make an outdoor lounge.

The latest design...the "mohawk look" is gone

The latest design…the “mohawk look” is gone

Despite what some Internet armchair pundits have speculated, they will not actually be flying a 747 onto the Playa. The aircraft will be chopped up and moved by truck from the Mojave Desert airplane boneyard. The route has already been surveyed for the length they are considering.

A couple of years ago, I stopped to get gas in Inglewood, Los Angeles. If you’re familiar with LA, or hip-hop music, you know that Inglewood is not exactly Beverly Hills. “The hood” would be one way to describe it. So when I saw 3 helicopters hovering above me, I was somewhat concerned. A crazed shooter on the loose, perhaps? Then I noticed thousands of people lining the freeway overpasses. What was going on? As it turned out, the Space Shuttle had been retired, and Endeavour was being towed through the streets to its resting place at the California Science Center. How did they get the Space Shuttle to LA? On the back of a 747. That’s how big this aircraft is, Space Shuttles ride on top of it.

Space Shuttle Endeavour being carried to LA on a 747. Image: Nasa HQ / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Space Shuttle Endeavour being carried to LA on a 747. Image: Nasa HQ / Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Space Shuttle caused quite a scene on the streets of LA. Image: J Jakobson/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Space Shuttle caused quite a scene on the streets of LA. Image: J Jakobson/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A full size Boeing 747 is 231 feet long, and its wings are 196 feet wide. Its fuselage is 32 feet high and the tail section reaches to 63.5 feet. The aircraft weighs just under 200 tons without fuel or passengers – more than enough to sink into the Playa.

This is not quite full size. They are not bringing the 4 engines, the wings, or the tail section – not to mention all the wiring, hydraulics and seats that will be removed. They will chop the Jumbo’s fuselage at 120 feet, about half the total length. In the future they may turn the tail section into another art car, able to move independently and perhaps “form like Voltron” when the 2 art cars get together at the same event. The cut-down Jumbo will weigh 55,000 lbs, which is about the same as a semi-trailer. The fuselage width is 21.3 feet, as opposed to a standard semi-trailer width of 8.5 feet and a road lane width of 12 feet. The 747 will take up 2 lanes of road for the nearly 500 mile journey between the Airplane Boneyard at the Mojave Air and Space Port (CA) to Black Rock City (NV). All care and consideration is being given to the necessary permits for transportation, and minimizing impact on the Playa. They have a moving company that has been “hauling big ass structures for years”.

A 747 dwarfs regular commercial airliners

A 747 dwarfs regular commercial airliners. Image: Airliners.Net (via Kampungkai)

Big Imagination are considering a variety of options for moving the thing around at Burning Man, including towing it behind an aircraft tug. One spokesperson for the DMV has said that the tug needs to be a mutant vehicle too, it can’t just be a stock airport vehicle. Safety third! It would be a shame if this wonderful project was green-lit by the BLM but got killed by BMOrg’s bureaucracy. Big Imagination have been speaking to the DMV and seem to have support at the right levels.

An airport tug is not exactly a small vehicle. Image: Christian Junker/Flickr (Creative Commons)

An airport tug is not exactly a small vehicle. Image: Christian Junker/Flickr (Creative Commons)

I have complete faith that these guys know what they’re doing and can pull this off. Hat’s off to Big Imagination: it will undoubtedly be the greatest thing Burning Man has ever seen, and will be the place to party at Carnival of Mirrors. Expect massive amounts of press coverage – it has started already, with stories in Mixmag, Gigwise, Bangin Beats,  Music Times, Cool Hunting, YourEDM, Dancing Astronaut, EDM Tunes, Less Than 3, EDM Nations, EDM SaucePulse RadioFestival Sherpa, Fest300…and skeptics at Airliners.Net and Yahoo Answers.

They are looking for volunteers in LA (and possiby Tucson) to help them out – that’s the “100 crew”. Get involved at bigimagination.org. Support the project with a donation.

The non-profit Big Imagination arts foundation has a broader vision than just a week’s partying in the desert:

YOU CAN CREATE ANYTHING IN YOUR MIND WITH YOUR IMAGINATION.  OUR QUESTION TO YOU IS WHAT HAVE YOU DREAMED OF?  WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BUILD?  HOW CAN YOU MAKE IT A REALITY?

WE BELIEVE YOU CAN. WE BELIEVE IN YOU! HUMANS ARE INCREDIBLE.

OUR MISSION IS TO INCUBATE AND SUPPORT PROJECTS THAT ARE BOLD, INSPIRING, AND VISIONARY. THESE PROJECTS INCLUDE A WIDE RANGE OF DISCIPLINES; FROM THE ARTS AND SCIENCES TO ENGINEERING AND HUMANITIES, AND SHOULD ALSO INCORPORATE COMPONENTS OF COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY.

747 pic 3

Here are some further comments from Big Imagination about the project:

Zero wristbands…We are focused on “radically inclusive exclusivity”. Everything will be First Class and top shelf, and everyone is invited. No private events, no “hot chicks only”, no “we don’t know you”. Hey, we WANT to know you. As long as we’re safe and not too full, everyone is welcome. And we should have plenty of space…

I spoke with the BLM this morning.  They said there are zero restrictions on weight and as long as the DMV/BORG give us the green light, we’re fine…this plane has been completely gutted.  No seats, no hydraulics, lots of wiring out, I could go on and on.  The heaviest parts left are the wingbox and and the rear landing gear.  I’d be stunned if we tip the scales over 70,000 lbs. Just to give you an idea, when the front 80′ are scrapped (section 1200 forward, I believe), it comes out to about 30,000 lbs of aluminum and such.  We’re going to section 1480, which includes the wing box and gear.  

We won’t be leaving marks any more than anyone else…

We’re aiming to drive around deep playa but could come into closer to the space between center camp and the man if a single spire of each 3,6&9 o clock trail is removed. That way, we could have a path to drive into the circle…

The 747 is a substantial upgrade to previous aviation-themed art cars.

Black Rock Air Force F-15. Image: Fest300

Black Rock Air Force F-15. Image: Ranger Twilight/Fest300

 

Playa One. Image: Sick Dog/Facebook

Playa One. Image: Sick Dog/Facebook

Playa One at sunset. Image: James Santos/Facebook

Playa One at sunset. Image: James Santos/Facebook

Does Commodification Matter?

bm shark jumping

If you think Burning Man is just a big party in the desert, then no – it doesn’t matter. Who cares? Just go and have fun. Avoid articles critical of BMOrg’s management, just pretend everything is great. We have more than a thousand happy, positive articles about Burner culture on this site alone that you can read, and there’ll be many more to come. You can start with these ones about Burners trying to end poverty and bring peace to war zones.

If you think there’s something unique and special about this temporary city made by all of us, then keep reading. Because this isn’t over yet.

burningman.org’s post this week of the apology from Jim Tananbaum has brought Commodification Camps back to the fore of Burner dialog. I know that some Burners would like to give it a rest, and say nothing more until Burning Man 2015. Other Burners still feel upset, betrayed, and disillusioned. JT’s statement received 217 comments in 2 days at the official site, almost all of them negative.

This is about more than just one camp. BMOrg placed between 12 and 25 Commodification Camps, by their own differing accounts. They even created a name for the area they put them in, “Billionaire’s Row”.

This is about the future of the event, and the integrity of our culture. It’s about Selective Rule Enforcement, more than equality. Do the Ten Principles still matter at the Nevada event? Or are they just some catchy marketing speak, used to promote the brand expansion into new market segments like education and commerce?  Are they even relevant to where Larry & Co wants to take our culture in the future? Burning Man has jumped the shark, and is embracing the mainstream. Happy Days went onto its greatest commercial success, after Fonzie jumped the shark.

Do Burners even care? Do Veterans even matter…or is it all about indoctrinating the 40% virgins now?

Should we just shut up and take it, be good little Burners and only say happy things, keep any negative comments to ourselves? Or is it OK to talk about it, express our frustration and discontent?

Image: galleryhip

Image: galleryhip

If there are problems in the event, and its leadership, will they magically go away if we all just shut up about them? It seems like things have been getting worse, not better. Larry and Marian said in the Spark movie that they were giving up control, but they didn’t do that. They’re still there, trying to control a very different corporate beast – and it seems like things may be unravelling. Nobody wants that. We all want Burning Man to be awesome forever, to be true to its values and get better and better with age. I’m not writing this blog to facilitate the unravelling – it’s the decisions being made, and the spin being fed to us, that is doing that.

Larry likes to say “people have been saying Burning Man is dead since we started”, but I’m not saying Burning Man is dead. Now that they’ve been on The Simpsons and all over the mainstream media, telling the world it’s full of billionaires, celebrities, politicians, Mistresses of Merriment, and free drugs, there will be plenty more people who want to visit. It’s the Bucket List/Selfie destination of the EDM Generation.

The culture may not be the same, though. And that’s the thing that I think is worth speaking out about, and fighting for.

The thing about PopsicleGate that is particularly jarring is that JT is a Director – and was only just appointed to the Board a couple of weeks before Burning Man. At that time, they were well aware of the kind of camp he was bringing to Caravansary. A healthy civilization gets positive, inspiring leadership from its rulers. As well as ethics, the Bylaws of their 501(c)3 public benefit corporation specifically require Directors to uphold the Ten Principles. Larry can say “they’re not rules, just an ethos”, but it’s there in black and white – they’re rules now. BMOrg can say “the Directors have no influence over the event”, but if that’s true – then who is in charge? Should Directors be able to just ignore the Principles, because they have no influence? If so, why have them? What value do they add?

Image: Charis Tsevis/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Charis Tsevis/Flickr (Creative Commons)

In the typical Silicon Valley startup story, some founders get together with a cool idea. The pioneers on the fringe of society like to try new ideas, they don’t care that they’re boldly going where no man has gone before. They bring their own flavor and personalities into it, and a little community of early adopters emerges. The founders grab the first people they can find to help them out, building a team based on accessibility rather than merit. Existing relationships with people they like and trust are favored over strangers and qualifications. Fun rules the day, not money. Doing something new is exciting. Some of their early customers go above and beyond, and become evangelists for the New Thing. As the New Thing catches on, the organization grows, the money comes in, and with the money come the suits. Doing something new is less exciting and more risky, than expanding the existing thing into new markets. Eventually, the Founders are in the way of the growth of the business, and it’s time for them to step aside or assume figurehead roles, while professional managers focus on the job of taking the business to the “next level”. Then the whole thing goes public or gets sold, and the culture gets blended into the general corporate culture of the Fortune 500.

The examples of a start-up growing from a few inexperienced people, to a large global organization, with the same few people in the same roles, are few and far between. Usually, growth brings change and strains relationships.

burning_man suitsI see parallels today with BMOrg. The lawyering, the brand-building, the media blitz. These are all suit things, not pioneer things. I see Commodification Camps being run by Directors, who blame others for MOOP and a failed build. I see a focus on pushing the safari tourist experience to an ever-increasing pool of newcomers, while they turn their backs on many who’ve been there for the long haul. Where is the retirement plan for long-term DPW crew, and others who’ve dedicated their lives to Black Rock City?

For all its aspirations of changing the world, Burning Man is, at its core, still an arts festival. That’s what their paperwork says, that’s the trademark they own.

Yes, there are many aspects of it that make it interesting, different, more than just a festival. But its essence is art, and entertainment. Fun. “Saving the world” is to my mind an unproven proposition from this party. Even if people have had transformative experiences there, fuelled perhaps by mind-expanding drugs and liberty and surviving outside your comfort zone – is this scaleable internationally? If so, how?

Looking at Burning Man as a startup wanting to grow to the next level, it’s not clear that they’ve solved the scaling issues. And it really doesn’t look like the leadership team who got us to where we are today, are the right people to fulfil the corporate mission of global growth over the next century.

Sometimes it seems like Alabama St live inside a bubble. To get close to the core, you have to LOVE Burning Man, and as a result, yes-men seem to get favored over straight-talkers. They employ a Minister of Propaganda, and pass it off – like so many other things – as an ironic joke. And yet, there is no better word to describe the type of corporate spin that consistently comes out in the Voices of Burning Man, the Jackrabbit Speaks, and their TED talks and panel discussions.

“Fuck you, it’s our business, you’re not part of it!”, they are probably tempted to cry. But it’s not that sort of corporation. Burning Man is a community. We’ve all built this city together, and destroyed it, again and again and again. Some have participated more than others, some have yet to contribute. The special thing about Burning Man is that it’s a pop-up city made by its citizens, and shared with each other – one free from commercial transactions, advertising, cellphones, TV, class and racial divisions, and the other commodities of Default society. We can go there and be Burners together, and express ourselves the way that amuses us the most. For fun.

I get that some people go to Burning Man and it changes their lives, sure. But not everyone. Many of us go to Burning Man and just be ourselves – and love meeting other like-minded people, and doing all kinds of entertaining and silly things with them. If you take it too seriously, you lose sight of that. It’s about FUN, and ART. We put the ART in pARTying.

If you create great art at Burning Man, should you be able to trade off that to build your default world career as an artist? Absolutely! Should Burning Man get a cut of your sales? Absolutely not! Should they sue you because you put a picture of your amazing creation on your web site? Fuck no! Should you be able to sell your art AT Burning Man? Fuck no!

Burners should be able to make money any way they want off the Playa, and if they want to use examples of what they’ve done at Burning Man in their fund-raising, fine. If they want to sell hoodies for their camp, fine. If they want to charge camp dues, fine. If they want to make money AT Burning Man, that’s not so good.

Ignoring and dismissing these problems won’t make them go away. An effort needs to be made to fix the things that aren’t working. Shooting the messenger might feel good in the short term, but it’s not helping their credibility, and it’s not solving any problems.

The response we waited 3 months for, really doesn’t seem like it’s going to alter anything. BMOrg told us they were listening, then they told us they didn’t want to rush the changes they knew they had to make, and then they told us that they’d made them. VIP Donation tickets got stopped. And…? And nothing. Commodification Camps have to have an interactive component, and be placed by the volunteer Placement team. This was already the policy, according to Answer Girl in How Turnkey Camps Get Placed. They told us they’d ban Commodification Camps in 2012. The Directed Group Sale – aka the World’s Biggest Guest List – is still opaque. If Caravancicle appears under another name, and wants another 200 tickets, will they get special privileges to obtain them? Will they get a ton of Early Access passes? We don’t know, but my guess is, yes.

The next Burning Man is 8 months away, so there’s still plenty of time. What else should we talk about, if not the future of our culture? Let’s be open and honest about what’s been going on, and as a community, let’s continue to be vocal about what we will and won’t accept.

The solutions are simple. Stop with the lies and spin-doctoring. Give us the transparency we’ve been promised for years. Open the books, and involve the community in the operations of the charity. Get rid of Directors trying to link the Playa with commercial activities. Keep the Playa free from Commodification. Sell tickets to everyone the same way. Apply the rules the same way to everyone.

Long live Burning Man! Long live Burners!