Burners vs Bureaucracy

In the wake of the Santa Rosa fires, many Burners wanted to do whatever they could to help. The shelter situation was dire, with 3000 homes destroyed (5% of the total housing stock) and 100,000 people displaced.

Advanced Shelter Systems of Napa stepped up with SHELTERPODs for first responders.

Burners from Camp Epic raised $30,000 to bring their camp accommodation to Santa Rosa to create Oasis Village. 40-ft shipping containers decked out with power, lighting, insulation, and climate control. They got some land donated from a local weed medical marijuana grower, and shipped the containers out, set them up in a village ready for fire survivors to occupy.

And that’s when The Man stepped in to kill it.


Burner-Tainers

Danger Ranger brought the first shipping container to Burning Man in 1997, a military psyops unit used during the Vietnam War.

Burning Man 2008

Since then, containers have become part of the fabric of Burnitecture.

ian ross container 2012

ekoVillages.com upcycled art container

We contributed several containers to the Burner-founded [free|space] project in SF, earning a commendation letter from the Mayor’s Office. However we were very careful to ensure the containers were not used for residential purposes.

freespace mission2

Thanks to Tim Lipton (pictured) for bringing this sad story to our attention

freespace missionst

ekovillages.com up-cycled art containers at [free|space]

 Read more about the [Free|Space] project here:

Temporary Autonomous Zone: Proof the Model Still Works (2013)

 


No Gifting for Santa

Shipping containers are heavy, expensive to move, and in many ways impractical forms of shelter. But they are solid enough to withstand windstorms, and much more comfortable for a family than sleeping in a car.

So what was the problem in Santa Rosa? They were fitted out in Nevada, not California. And they didn’t have windows. So the city said “no way”, leaving the Burners with a foul taste in their mouth, swearing to never do anything in California again – and leaving the families who’d lost their homes still sleeping in their cars. “Cars have windows”, said the building inspector.

Communal Effort and Gifting means Burners want to help others. This is why Burners Without Borders was formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Many Burners went to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake in the same spirit.

More recently, Burners have created a cryptocurrency for disaster relief and are rebuilding Puerto Rico as a crypto-Utopia.

Unfortunately it seems that in Burning Man’s home state of California “Civic Responsibility” is a buzzkill for the other Principles.

The project was initially lauded in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and USA Today. Burners Without Borders promoted the fundraiser. Appeals to previous Burning Man supporters Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown fell on deaf ears.

Here is the full story from the SF Chronicle (hat tip to Tim Lipton from Black Rock City’s Volunteer Response Team for bringing this to our attention).


Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.57.52

Screenshot 2018-03-14 15.03.02Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.58.09Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.58.16Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.58.23Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.58.28Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.58.34Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.58.57Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.59.03Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.59.11Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.59.18Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.59.24Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.59.34Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.59.39Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.59.45Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.59.49Screenshot 2018-03-14 14.59.56Screenshot 2018-03-14 15.00.06Screenshot 2018-03-14 15.00.13

Screenshots from SF Chronicle, Feb 25 2018

Read more:

Exclusive Interview with SHELTERCOIN Founder Christian Weber

Burners Building a Crypto-Utopia in Puerto Rico

Burning Man’s Gift Economy and its Effect on Mainstream Society [Update]

Festpop has an article by Karli Jaenike about how Burning Man is changing the world. I’m re-blogging it here so we can then discuss it. Emphasis ours.


re-blogged from FestPop

gift5-640x480

It’s no secret that most festivals are a huge moneymaker for large corporations. North American companies are projected to spend $1.23 billion to sponsor music venues, festivals and tours in 2014. That’s a 4.4 percent increase from 2013, according to IEG, LLC. IEG also charted out the most active companies sponsoring music festivals in North America with Anheuser-Busch topping the list alongside PepsiCo, Inc. and Coca-Cola Company. Microsoft Corp. (in what’s said to be the company’s first deal with a non-endemic property) sponsored Coachella Music Festival on behalf of its OneDrive storage service, while Samsung and Honda are among the sponsors for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. These corporations will undoubtedly receive a huge return on investment given the growing popularity of music and arts festivals around the world.

Burning Man, an annual arts festival and temporary community based around radical art, radical self-expression and radical self-reliance, stands in stark contrast. Participants who attend this event provide everything they will need for their weeklong adventure except for the main infrastructure. Infrastructure includes necessities like port-o-potties, medical tents, the effigy (which is burnt to the ground at the end of the festival), center camp, land and insurance. Organizers and participants intentionally succeed in creating a setting where decommodification and gifting are part of the core principles of the event.

Decommodification means absolutely no corporate sponsorships of the event, no advertising allowed, and definitely no transactions. Commodification is viewed as exploitation of the Burning Man culture and is frowned upon by most people involved, while at the festival. Many burners (people in the Burning Man community) believe that in many developed countries commodification has gone too far, has reduced people to abstractions and is taking away part of what makes us simple and human. Members of the community are very protective of this principle and will try their best to wipe all corporate influence from the event. This includes covering any visible brand names on the side of box trucks, bicycles, and… well, anything. People at Burning Man want to forget about branding, business, money, and the greed that comes along with it… and just for one week create a space where our humanity is not divided into “quantifiable bits suitable for trading”. What do people do when they want to exchange goods or services? Enter “gifting”.

Seva Cafe DMP2_Page_07

Gifting is the act of giving a gift out of the goodness of ones heart, and not expecting anything in return. The Principles Guidelines page of their website says that, “Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.” Gifting is such, such an important part of what makes Black Rock City (the city created during Burning Man) such a magical place. When gifting is the currency, rather than money or bartering, a strong sense of community evolves. Think about how you feel when you receive an unconditional gift. You feel an instant connection to that person, and a sense of gratitude. You feel loved, because you know that that person is giving you the gift because they appreciate you as a person, not because they are expecting anything in return. It also feels satisfying to give unconditional gifts. “’Gifting with nothing in return’ I feel, is impossible. Only those who have not felt the satisfaction in making someone’s day [with a gift] could say there is nothing given in return” said Domo Delacy, a veteran burner. Domo has received and seen people receive all sorts of amazing gifts on the playa. “I’ve been gifted tickets. I’ve also gifted a couple back to will call. You know someone loves you when they gift you a ticket” said Delacy. “My good friend Capt. Jim was gifted an art car! Under the Oasis was a 67 GMC with brand new running gear… is that a good one or what? Another friend got a naked plane ride.”

Playa gifts can come in many forms, which don’t necessarily have to be physical. “[I received] the gift of expansion and compassion from my fellow camp mates my virgin burn. They taught me what the 10 Principles were with love and compassion,” said Starfire Serendipity Jones, a 10-year burner. Other gifts have included, “bacon, grilled cheese, ice cold melon and fresh espresso from the coffee stand across from camp (fucking heaven), homemade absinthe and banana booze… YUMMMM!” Jones goes on to explain, “I loved & shared many things openly in love [on the Playa]. It was primarily things I could use on Playa or things I “needed”. The people that ‘get it’ are so free and in-flow that we share with out even thinking, it is just part of us. The most beautiful thing is that there is no “us and them”. No scarcity, just sharing… because it is truly a gift to the giver to learn that frame of mind. Giving something just to give it. Not because they expect something in return.” She says, “It breaks the old adage of ‘you can’t get something for nothing’. It also creates a new paradigm for being in the universe and here on terra firma. That off Playa we can live like that in our daily lives. There is enough for everyone to share.”

dustcitydiner

 

Another way gifting enhances the experience at Burning Man is that it acts as social lubricant. It gives you an excuse to walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation when you otherwise wouldn’t. Walking through the streets of Black Rock City it’s common to be pulled aside and invited to partake in a cold adult beverage, a game, a tarot card reading, a meal, or a hug. That underlying fear of rejection that most of us unconsciously harbor isn’t a factor at Burning Man because it’s unlikely that anyone would reject a heartfelt gift. Burners feel safe and confident interacting and building connections with others through this system that serves to further strengthen the sense of community.

“The Burning Man Community is […] inspired to create, participate, and celebrate in the world without many of the conventional restrictions of the modern paradigm,” says Zac Cirivello, Burning Man Media Relations Coordinator. “Through exploring the values of our 10 Principles, the Burning Man Community has become a “do-ocracy” where the individual is empowered to directly participate in their surroundings to make the world the way that they want it to be, whether that world is our longtime home of Black Rock City, or the urban environment in which they live.”

This is where radical self-reliance plays an important part. While food, drink, shelter, and friendship are given freely in most cases at Burning Man, all participants are expected to also provide enough for themselves for the week (and maybe enough to share!) Those who show up expecting gifts, or expecting to be ‘taken care of’ are frowned upon. Buying or trading at Burning Man is also extremely taboo, and those who attempt to are reprimanded. “A critical part of the gift economy is how it differs from a barter economy. A barter is still a direct transaction: it assigns a value to an object or act and in turn commodifies it. A “thing” will still then have a “value”. At the core of bartering is the attempt to still create an exchange of equal value. This is the same as “default” world transactions but only with cash removed from the equation,” says Cirivello. “Gifting, on the other hand, is an unconditional offering – an offering with no expectation of return. This removes the assignment of traditional object value (or “price”) and instead puts the emphasis or value on the act of generosity itself. It becomes part of a circular abundance loop where Burners provide for others without the expectation of return because they know that others are there to support them in kind.”

bm2010-vegcamp-sign-and-crowd

In reality, the gifting economy at Burning Man is not an economy at all, and is somewhat of an oxymoron. Economies are generally self-sustaining and generate wealth for a population; this is not the goal at Black Rock City. The gifting economy at Burning Man is more of a “gift culture”. A gift culture that actually supports and depends on the economy outside of Burning Man. Zac Cirivello states, “While the culture of Burning Man puts a lot of emphasis on our principals of gifting and decommodification, that does not make it a world entirely free of commerce. We have some very real costs associated with the creation of Black Rock City each year including permitting fees, staff support, and a long list of resources required such as vehicles, porto potties, lumber, signage, fuel, etc.” The festival stimulates Nevada’s economy by contributing millions of dollars to rent the land and use the facilities for the festival. Additionally, visiting burners stimulate the economy from which they buy the food, drink, and materials to make their Playa gifts. They also support the economy of the cities surrounding Black Rock City when they purchase their last minute items, gas, and food before the burn.

This culture works at Burning Man because the community makes it so. All participants willingly take part in gifting because they understand it’s part of what makes Burning Man different from everywhere else. There is no need for organizers to enforce or police a gifting economy, because the people uphold these values on their own. “One of the great things about the Burning Man Community is that Burners are incredibly passionate about preserving the integrity of our culture. We, and BMORG, do not have to run around policing our values because they are ones that are strongly shared by a vast majority of citizens in Black Rock City,” says Zac Cirivello. “The gifting economy is a demonstration of a shift in conventional thinking away from a “scarcity mindset” towards an “abundance mindset” – where people recognize that they have enough and want to put their energy towards a betterment of the community as opposed to a betterment only of the self.

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While creating a temporary utopian community in which a gifting culture flourishes is an accomplishment in itself, Burning Man and it’s supporters are always looking for ways to share this abundance mindset with the masses. “There is certainly a lot of potential for the Gifting Economy to start impacting the ‘default’ world, and there have been a number of projects that are looking to spearhead that change,” says Cirivello. “One of those projects is [freespace], an experimental project looking to see what is possible with the gift of a physical space to a community, and [this] is also the recent recipient of a financial grant from Burning Man.” [freespace] began in June 2013, and started with a two-story building that was donated to San Francisco’s creative community for a dollar. Since it’s inception, [freespace] has hosted over 300 free events including free bike shares, maker classes for people in homeless shelters, and a community garden.

Nation wide corporations are catching onto the popularity of the gifting mindset, with Panera Bread launching “Panera Cares”. This campaign consists of opening “pay what you can” Panera Community Cafés in Saint Louis, Dearborn, Portland, Chicago, and Boston. These cafes offer dignified dining experiences, without judgment to customers who may not be able to pay. While companies like this are obviously getting publicity and public favor in return for their gifts, it’s definitely a start!

The Internet has made it easy to gift in modern society with online resources such as WikiLinks, Wikimedia Commons, and Creative Commons. People from around the world share their functional work, artwork, or other creative content with others. Participants can use and benefit from shared work, study this work, make and distribute shared content, or build upon shared content to create something new. On the Internet one can also find free and open-source software, free or donation based music, art, and collaborative works. Creative Commons, a non-profit organization founded by Lawrence Lessig, has released several copyright-licenses free of charge to the public. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights to their content they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of other creators. Many times, the only stipulation involved with the use of this shared content is that works created from said content must also be shared freely.

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Burning Man Organization spreads the message that a gift culture promotes through its many regional burns. “The Burning Man Regional Network is a global network of Burning Man inspired events that help to promote the values and ethos of Black Rock City throughout the world,” says Zac Cirivello. “One of the things required to be included as an Official Regional Event is having an event that embodies the 10 principles, including that of gifting. In much the same way that folks look out for and support each other in Black Rock City, the participants of these events have the opportunity to practice a decommodified existence for a few days at a time and participate in a world where generosity and unconditional gifting are core components.” More than 75 regional burns are held throughout the world at different times of the year. These events change the lives of people who may or may not have been to the “big burn” yet. Regional burns allow people to experience the selfless beauty of a Gifting Economy, and the freedom of decommodification if only for a long weekend. Many burners are inspired to attend the larger Burning Man in Nevada after years of experiencing the positive affects of these local burns on their communities. Zac Cirivello says that one goal of the regional events is to share the Principles with others “Through these events, as with Burning Man, folks are taking the spirit of gifting home with them and promote the global spread of the Gifting Economy.”

Would a Gifting Economy be sustainable in everyday culture? Society would need to experience a major shift in attitude. Many say humans are inherently competitive, egotistical, and even greedy. Problems could arise with determination of value: what may be valuable and a wonderful gift to one person may not be as valued by another. Humanity would have to get past their learned ideals of worth, value, and fairness in order to genuinely place others before themselves. While this kind of economy might seem idealistic to most, the idea is very real for many. The Internet is full of writings on the subject, many of which call for major change. However you stand on the subject, there is no denying that what the Burning Man Organization creates out in that Nevada desert is a beautiful thing.


Back to Burners.Me writing now.

I have no problem with the ideals of Gifting and Decommodification. They’re part of what makes Burning Man special. As the article says, it’s hardly a sustainable economy, it’s more of a culture.

What I do have a problem with, is BMOrg claiming credit for the effort and expenditure of others, and telling the media they’ve done something which they haven’t.

The mention of [freespace] here particularly rankles me.

Burning Man takes in $30 million a year from all the things it sells: tickets, vehicle passes, ice, coffee, scarves, bus rides, aircraft landing fees, gasoline, propane, calendars, photos, movies, soundtracks. They also accept donations, which they accumulate in the bank account of their tax-free non-profit subsidiaries. These 501(c)3 non-profits are required to file public financial statements, called IRS Form 990. You can view them at Guidestar.

From the most recent filings (2012):

Burning Man Project took in $591,672 of donations, kept $368,249, and paid $36,378 in grants. They spent $259,925 on overheads.

Black Rock Arts Foundation took $621,359 of donations, kept $560,917, and paid $114,449 in grants. They spent $477,525 on overheads.

The two organizations have now been merged, to create a tax-exempt powerhouse with about a million bucks of assets (mostly cash).

How much has Burning Man actually given to [freespace]? $0.

I can’t speak to what Burning Man has done to support the Panera bakeries, but I bet that’s $0 too. The idea was shelved in mid-2013. I can definitely speak about [freespace], though.

[freespace] is not actually an organization you can donate to, it is a project of Reallocate – a registered 501(c)3 non-profit started by Burners. Reallocate is a great organization run on a shoestring budget. It’s a genuine charity, they definitely don’t hoard money from donors. When Dr Mike North founded Reallocate, I was the first person he asked to be on its Board of Directors. I am the largest financial contributor to Reallocate. I am also the second largest financial contributor to [freespace]. As well as a pretty significant amount of money, I have given both organizations time – my own, and that of my employees. I have provided expensive resources like decked out shipping containers to support their projects, and covered the related logistics costs. I have also promoted both charities on this web site.

ekovillages.com up-cycled art containers at [freespace]

ekovillages.com up-cycled art containers at [freespace]’s Mission St location. Art by Ian Ross Gallery

freespace mission2

Some of these containers have been to Burning Man too. After we deployed them here, [freespace] got a commendation letter from the San Francisco Mayor’s office, and a trip to the White House.

 

What did BMOrg do, in a year+ of [freespace]? Nothing. Nada. No checks. What little promotion they did, was of themselves first, and the charities they claim to support second. Here’s the entire extent of it:

Global [freespace] movement to hack the World Cup

How [freespace] challenges Burning Man’s emergent principles

Burnerhack at [freespace] SF?

Burners Discuss Community Building in San Mateo

Their story about “emergent principles” sums the situation up well:

In San Francisco Burner circles, close to the source, I often hear the Burner’s Dream expressed thusly: Our dream is to bring the principles we embody out on the playa back to the default world….Sounds like that Burner’s Dream come to life, right? Naturally, Burning Man got involved. But what does that even mean? Who is this “Burning Man?” Is it the Burning Man organization? is it the fledgling non-profit Burning Man Project? Is it Burning Man participants acting of their own accord?

Yes.

...[the BurnerHack] was organized by Micah Daigle, a Burner who travels in circles close to the Org, but who isn’t officially involved. He’s a participant. He’s also one of the creators of BurnerMap, a Facebook app that allows you to create and print maps of where your friends are camping, and arguably one of the most successful participant-driven Burning Man projects in the event’s history.

BurnerMap has tens of thousands of users. It’s a participant-driven project on the scale of the whole event itself. And yet the Org is not involved. That can make the relationship weird at times. That weirdness extends to physical events like BurnerHack, and even to independent cultural movements like [freespace] itself.

And as Burning Man tries to grow into a year-round culture, we have to figure it out.

…when BurnerMap has reached out to the Org for help, asking to pre-fill the map with official placement data, for instance, the efforts have fizzled out. Priorities are so different on either side of the bottom-up, top-down divide that it can hinder collaboration.

“We need the Org for Burning Man to exist,” Micah says, “but is it Burning Man? No. Burning Man is an emergent event.

The challenge of figuring out how capital-B Burning Man can be productively involved with emergent events like BurnerHack and [freespace] is the domain of the Burning Man Project, the new, nonprofit side of the Org that aims to be the future of year-round Burning Man culture.

Its representative most involved with [freespace] is James Hanusa, who is responsible for the Project’s new initiatives. He knows the [freespace] organizers and believes in them, and he was Micah’s closest point of contact in the planning of BurnerHack. He knows the Project should support initiatives like these, but he says, “We’re still figuring out how.”

The will is there, but the way is not yet clear. The Burning Man Project is busy enough figuring out its own job, so working with spontaneously organized participants is yet another step ahead. 

Here we can see that even by their own admission, BMOrg don’t provide much, if any, help.

The above was written in June 2013. Since then, [freespace] extended its initial lease for 3 months – not for $1, and funded by us – then relocated from Mission St to Market St, where it ran for a further 6 months this year. It closed in August, before Burning Man. So what have BMOrg been doing? Still figuring it out, a year and a half later? How much time do they need to figure out how to write a check to a charity that they tell the media they’re supporting?

We provided a comprehensive overview of everything the Burning Man Project has done since it was announced in early 2011 in The Art of Giving: it’s pretty disappointing, especially given the amount of money they’ve raised in that time, and how much they’ve spent on lawyers and accountants.

It seems like one thing they did figure out, is how to take credit for [freespace] and Reallocate in the press and in their panel discussions.

Here’s some of Burners.Me’s promotion of [freespace]:

[Temporary Autonomous Zone] – Proof the Model Still Works

Bring Something New Out Into The World

Collaborative Coding in [freespace]: Burnerhack

Burners Collaborate to Bridge SF’s Homeless/Tech Divide

Civic Responsibility Hacks the White House

From Central Market to the White House: Taking Burner Values To The Top [freespace] live 7am PST

What’s missing from these stories, compared with Burning Man’s coverage? You won’t find any examples of me talking about how great I am for donating my time and money to these charities, or taking any credit for their efforts. Indeed, I’m only bringing it up now because I am sick and tired of Burning Man boasting to the media about things they haven’t done, while hoarding the cash that was genuinely given to them in good faith by their donors.

I used to drink the Burning Man flavored Kool-Aid, before I did the homework, crunched the numbers, and compared their statements with the truth. Calling their secretive, for-profit royalty company Decommodification LLC was the last straw for me – they’re laughing at us, all the way to the bank. It came as no great surprise to Burners.Me that some of BMOrg’s Board of Directors are now selling Commodification Camps and making commercial videos at Burning Man to promote their brands.

I asked [freespace] founder Mike Zuckerman for comment, and he responded today – see below. Reallocate’s CFO confirmed that neither they nor [freespace] have ever received any grant from Burning Man. He believes Zuckerman earned $2000 personally for working for the Burning Man Project, but the guy appears to have pocketed the money himself, since it has not gone through the charity’s books.

Please, Burning Man. These are charities. Non-profits, trying to help the world. They need our money and support, not just to be used for shameless self-promotion. If you want to use them as examples of how your culture is saving the world…then put your hands in your oh-so-deep pockets, and write a fucking check. Don’t keep the money piling up in your tax-free bank accounts, while telling us how great you are, how you’re all about Decommodification and Gifting. Decommodification doesn’t mean earning royalties, Gifting requires you to actually give more than you take, and Radical Self Expression shouldn’t mean suing other charities.

What else are you doing with that big pile of cash we all gave you? Sending your founders around the world for speaking engagements? Is that what the half a million dollars a year of travel expenses are for?

Put Money Where Mouth IsI know there’s nothing in the Ten Principles about honesty, integrity, conflicts of interest, or the truth. But there should be – some of us do care about these things, more than we care about the almighty dollar. Deceit is not cool, and justifying it in the name of charities that you only pretend to support is pathetic. The Burner community are amazingly talented, creative, and generous – we want to associate ourselves with positive, uplifting things. Lead by example, don’t let Burners take the lead and the risk and spend all the cash, while you try to claim the credit. Step up and put your money where your mouth is.

Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, and Burning Man can produce some evidence of their financial contributions to [freespace], Reallocate, and Panera Bakeries. I’d happily eat my words. The ball’s in your court, BMOrg, and our money is in your pocket. Just Do It.


 

[Update 10/15/14] Mike Zuckerman, the founder of [ freespace ], emailed me today with this:

To answer your question, Burning Man has been a supporter of [ freespace ] in that they have covered us in social media, their blog and maybe a Jack Rabbit mention (I can’t remember). More than that they included us in their regional network gatherings both in Berlin at the inaugural European Leadership Summit and in SF at the Global Leadership Conference. The [ freespace ] concept is a bit foreign to most newcomers so working with Burners has been super helpful in many of our locations including SF, Paris, Philippines and Detroit as well as a few other cities that haven’t figured out their own locations yet, but I’m optimistic they will. They have also helped by introducing their regional contacts to anyone within the [freespace] network wherever they may be in the world. 
.
As far as money goes, the BMP gave me $2000 directly to purchase equipment to document the progress of [ freespace ]. I got this cool set up that mounts to my iPhone that I saw a kid with at SXSW. I consider myself an iPhoneographer, but the iPhone sucks in low light, wide angle, memory capacity, recording sound and holding it steady. So I got all of those things added externally. It looks kinda crazy but is pretty amazing quality for a phone and can be broken down to fit into my pockets. Im not a pro videographer, but there has been a lot of exciting developments and I’m grateful to have captured a lot of it. There wound up being 9 [ freespaces ] in our 1st year. The second location in SF did close just before Burning Man, but the movement is still alive and there is a constant stream of inquiries from all over the world. We are planning to go again for National Day of Civic Hacking in June of 2015 or other cities may do their own thing if they want. I don’t remember exactly when they gave me the $2K, probably in May. 
.
So there you go – Burning Man did not give [freespace] any grant. They gave an individual $2k to buy video equipment for himself, which presumably he can also use to document Burning Man and anything else that takes his fancy. That is 3 VIP tickets – hardly a significant grant to help a charity. I don’t need to get into specifics, but I gave them MUCH more than that. And I don’t make $30 million per year, or have a charity which takes in $1.2 million+ a year of donations.
“Promoting [ freespace ] to their Regional Network” is the same as “promoting themselves to their Regional Network”. The more videos they have to show, the better they look when claiming credit for the idea. Burners gift the work, BMOrg takes the glory.
This [ freespace ] video from July 2014 has 3 views on YouTube:

Bring Something New Out Into The World

freespaceball-482x481Here is the full video of Burning Man’s presentation at San Mateo, including a complete panel discussion with:

 

14_1crude_awakening__dan_das_mann__karen_cusolito__burning_manThese Burners are doing terrific work in the community, with nowhere near the multi-million dollar budgets that the Burning Man Project has access to. Burning Man could do much more to support [freespace] and Reallocate than just introducing panel discussions.

American Steel make the amazing giant statues like 2007’s Crude Awakening.

[freespace] is a great place to go to see the World Cup.

1011 Market St (and 6th) 

Building The Community We Envision

reallocate_logoThe Burning Man Project are attaching themselves to other successful, Burner run non-profits like Reallocate.org and [freespace]. They’re hosting a free panel in San Mateo, to show examples of how Burner values are changing the world.

It’s good to see the Burning Man Project getting involved with charities in the Burner ecosystem that are actually doing meaningful stuff. Now let’s hope they put their non-profit foundation millions where their mouths are, and help these charities out with some hard to come by donor dollars! Without this, the link to Burning Man is tenuous at best, and BMOrg are just riding off the coat tails of others’ largesse and dedication. Reallocate and [freespace] are out there making the world a better place, not just hosting panel discussions.

Come to San Mateo on May 14 for an event hosted by Danger Ranger called “Building and Inpsiring the Community You Envision”. From the official blog:

On Wednesday, May 14, Burning Man founder Michael Mikel and a few other Burner artists and organizers are coming to San Mateo, CA for a panel entitled “Building and Inspiring the Community You Envision.” The panel will discuss how Burner values can guide and inspire urban life and growth on and off the playa. The City of San Mateo invites the community to participate as part of San Mateo Innovation Week from May 12-16. It’s the first city on the Peninsula to partner with the Burning Man Project.

The panel also includes Karen Cusolito, Oakland artist and founder of American Steel Studios; Dr. Mike North, host of the Discovery Channel’s Prototype This! and founder of ReAllocate; and Ilana Lipsett, co-founder of Freespace. Stuart Mangrum, Education Director of the Burning Man Project, will facilitate.

Building and Inspiring the Community You Envision
Wednesday, May 14
6:00-8:00 PM
Joe’s Garage, 308 E. 6th Avenue, San Mateo

Registration is free, but space is limited. You can register to attend using Eventbrite.

Check out San Mateo Information Week on the web or on Facebook for more info!

Reallocate founder and double-digit Burner, Dr Mike North

Reallocate founder, double-digit Burner: Dr Mike North

Burners Collaborate to Bridge SF’s Homeless/Tech Divide

Reallocate and [freespace] are two non-profits made up almost entirely of Burners, and we’re proud supporters of both of them. These are Burners with civic responsibility, gifting their time and energy to do good, using their blessings to help others.

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We’ve covered some of their activities before:

[Temporary Autonomous Zone] – Proof the Model Still Works

Civic Responsibility Hacks the White House

Reallocate and Burning Man in Fast Company

Hack for Good for Christmas

Lately there has been a lot of talk in San Francisco about the tech industry moving out of Silicon Valley’s leafy suburbs and into the hustle and bustle of the city. San Francisco has the second highest income inequality in the United States. This divide between rich and poor is nothing new, the same debate went on in the 80’s. Some techies, though, don’t want to just sit back and watch an argument. They want to use their skills and talents to contribute to making the world a better place. You don’t have to be a Burner to get involved in helping, but many of the helpers are Burners, and many Burners do want to help.

At the end of this month, Reallocate is hosting a weekend-long Hacktivation for the Homeless, at [freespace]’s new location.

  • HACKtivation for the Homeless

    Hack with Purpose on March 28th-30th, 2014. Join the HACKtivation and use your skills to address homelessness in San Francisco.

    Bring your skills and help your neighbors

    HACKtivation for the Homeless is an opportunity to join partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors to collaborate on civic issues and address homelessness. This is just the beginning of a series of events for ongoing civic participation to create lasting impact and build a stronger San Francisco together.

    HACKtivations are NOT just for developers. If you want to help make San Francisco better, this is the event for you!

    Join
    for 3 days of fun, hacking and learning.

These events are a chance to do good personally, but also to meet other people on your wavelength. So far Reallocate’s Hacktivations have attracted some very smart, talented, and positive people.

[freespace] is blowing up right now with events all around the world, such as a recent one tied to Paris Fashion Week.

Creativity, fashion and good energies in a very playfull and multicultural atmosphere. That’s how I’d describe the Freespace fashion event of yesterday night. Several designers took part in a fashion show in a very relax state of mind, unveiling inovating and funny pieces in a unique place

They just got a grant from the San Francisco Mayor’s office, and are opening a new space in the Tenderloin.

In a short amount of time, both Burner-supported charities have been able to start from nothing and do a remarkable amount of good. The Burner ethos of gifting time and attention, sharing skills, being playful and making it fun, and inclusivity to those who want to contribute, are all fundamental parts of their success. 

Reallocate is adding new members every day, putting on regular Hacktivation events, and building an online collaboration platform to accelerate social entrepreneurs. Membership is only $5 (a tax deductible donation), and is open to anyone who thinks they have skills and ideas to contribute to solving society’s problems and helping other charities with technology.

Burning Man, and any other non-profits who are interested, would do well to use Reallocate’s (free, open source) platform, rather than trying to build their own proprietary masterpiece. If you’re interested in this email Kyle Stewart.

Shareable has just published an excellent interview with Reallocate’s Executive Director and [freespace] founder Kyle Stewart, and [freespace] co-founder Ilana Ipsett.

Top image credit: michael+yan / Foter.

Supporting the needs of San Francisco’s homeless population has been a constant challenge for decades. There are thousands of volunteers and scores of nonprofit organizations dedicated to addressing the problem, but a disparate ad-hoc network of support means that large gaps in service continue to exist.

Meanwhile, the growing disconnect between the city’s new wave of well-paid tech workers and its more vulnerable residents is most profound when it comes to San Francisco’s homeless population. Last year, a Facebook post by AngelHack CEO Greg Gopman further exacerbated the tension when he wrote that the homeless “act like hyenas” and that “in other cosmopolitan cities, the lower part of society keeps to themselves…They realize it’s a privilege to be in the civilized part of town and view themselves as guests.”

Recognizing that many people who work in the tech industry don’t share Gopman’s views and that thousands of people across the city would like to contribute to finding solutions, the San Francisco nonprofit ReAllocate is organizing a HACKtivation for the Homeless event on the last weekend in March to connect existing nonprofits with new solutions to their challenges and the resources necessary to implement them.

Shareable had a chance to ask the organizers, Kyle Stewart and Ilana Lipsett, about the upcoming HACKtivation.

Please introduce yourself for our readers and tell us a little bit about who you are?

Kyle Stewart: I am the Executive Director of ReAllocate and a cofounder of [freespace]. My background is in operations, logistics, and supply chain management with a degree in marketing from the University of Colorado. I’ve been in San Francisco for two-and-a-half years and moved here to run the customer service division for a small software company. After a few different tech jobs, I found myself volunteering with ReAllocate and realized that I wanted to be doing more meaningful work. It’s been a trial by fire and a lot of fun connecting with and helping to build a community of supporters who are using their skills for good.

Ilana Lipsett: I’m a Bay Area native and have been working in the mid-market community since 2010. I’ve worked with nonprofits, tech companies, and the city of San Francisco to bring people together to make the community stronger through events, pop-ups, and [freespace], a community cultural and arts center I co-founded with Kyle and handful of other engaged organizers.

What is ReAllocate and what has your organization done previously

KS: ReAllocate helps nonprofits and social entrepreneurs connect with volunteers, mentors, and resources to turn their ideas into reality. Our past projects include the ReAllocate Online PlatformHactivations, and [freespace]. Early on in our history, ReAllocate was working on hardware technology-focused projects including the creation of a new bracing system to treat kids with a clubfoot and a mentorship program called “Printing the Future” that helped at-risk high school girls learn the print-making process and create prints of their own.

Most of us probably know what a hackathon is — a sort of marathon session that started with programmers cramming to develop software solutions that has since been applied outside of software development — but what is a hacktivation?

IL: Hackathons are great for getting people together working on solutions for a defined amount of time, but historically there is little follow-through for the projects that get started.

KS: Hacktivations work with established nonprofits and social impact projects, before the event, to identify their needs. The ideas come from the community we are serving (in this case, the nonprofits that already serve the homeless) and projects are presenting real challenges so that teams have the best opportunity to create real solutions.

IL: In fact, [freespace] was inspired by the National Day of Civic Hacking, a nationally sponsored hackathon in June 2013, when its organizers saw the value in providing a longer runway (and physical space) for projects to manifest. The idea behind a hacktivation is to “activate” participants and encourage longer commitment to a project and issue that is addressed during the weekend.

KS: We recognize that hackathons do not create change themselves. It’s the sustained efforts of people working together for long-term solutions that will have an impact and we are committed to helping select teams that come out of the HACKtivation continue to develop their projects.

HACKtivation kick-off and planning event at [freespace]. Photo credit: Josh Wolf.

Tell me about the previous HACKtivations that ReAllocate has produced and a little bit about the outcomes.

KS: Past events have been more broadly focused on social impact and taken place over one day instead of three. Even with a shorter period of time, we have seen mobile app prototypes built to process payments for an alternative currency called Bay Bucks; built a new parallax website for Stop the Pity; and built, launched, and funded a crowdfunding campaign for two returning female veterans with homefrontfan. More than 2,000 hours of skilled volunteers’ services have been provided to 21 different social impact projects.

Why homelessness?

KS: While running the last HACKtivation in December, my Facebook wall started exploding with some poorly thought-out comments about the homeless people in San Francisco. The conversation focused around tech workers and tech employees not doing enough to address homelessness and poverty in Mid-­Market. At the HACKtivation, I was surrounded by coders and designers who were using their skills to help each other. Rather than placing blame and fueling the fire, we set off to do what we can to help.

IL: We thought we could bring people together to do something about it. We saw, with [freespace], that bringing together people from different backgrounds is conducive to finding new solutions. We saw homeless and formerly homeless people coming into [freespace] literally rubbing shoulders with tech workers, and saw the positive impact that could have — on both groups of people.

Is homelessness really a problem that’s lacking adequate creative solutions? Or is there simply a lack of adequate funding to address the problem?

IL: I think the answer is yes to both. We want to acknowledge that there are organizations who are doing incredible things for the community — all of our partners have been around for years providing vital services to the homeless community. And they need to keep doing what they are doing! At the same time, there are new opportunities that tech and non-tech present that can address homelessness from a different angle. For example, our good friend Marc Roth, who is formerly homeless, is starting a program to teach homeless individuals skills in the maker movement. That was what got him out of homelessness.

KS: More funding for these organizations to grow their capacity and hire new staff will always be helpful. Many have seen their budgets cut over the years and are trying to address growing challenges with less resources. We want to help bring in new energy and ideas. Creative solutions come with creative people and it’s those people getting involved that can have impact in new ways. Homelessness and poverty are not technology problems, they are people problems. Caring people participating in civic issues can make an impact.

IL: We are not going to try to make the argument that tech can solve homelessness; it can’t. But if tech (or marketing or social media help) can get a nonprofit from serving 50 clients per day to 500 clients per day because they are that much more efficient, that’s a huge step in the right direction.

There are many organizations in San Francisco that have been providing vital services to the homeless for longer than any of us have been alive? Can you describe how receptive these organizations were to your proposal and whether some organizations responded different from others?

KS: The response has been mostly positive and the kickoff meeting on February 13 really showed the level of excitement that is being shared by the partners who have signed up to participate. There are opportunities for technology to help inside these established organizations and between the different groups with similar missions.

IL: Based on the work we’ve done in the past, we had existing relationships with many of the organizations who are partnering with us, so they were very receptive to us and to this idea. With all the tech companies moving in — regardless of if they have a community benefits agreement — everyone is trying to figure out how this new ecosystem of companies, people, and nonprofits will work. Given that we kind of straddle all the worlds, we are in a unique position of being able to reach tech, nonprofits, and the government. We don’t work in tech, and we also understand that tech won’t solve everything. But we do see the importance of people talking to each other, and in providing avenues and venues for them to do so. We don’t have the answers. Going in with that humility and respect for what existing organizations are doing has opened many doors. We are more about connecting people to potential resources than we are about telling them what they should do.

HACKtivation kick-off and planning event at [freespace]. Photo credit: Josh Wolf.

Tensions between tech companies and the rest of San Francisco are higher than ever before. John Oliver joked at this year’s Tech Crunch awards that Google is going to tint the inside of the bus windows so their workers won’t have to see those outside the tech elite. How do you see this HACKtivation affecting this growing cultural divide?

KS: I wish it were a joke. I know people who take a taxi three blocks down market from the bus stop to their office so they “do not have to see homeless people.”

IL: These tensions are rooted in real, deep-seeded issues about growing inequality in our city, and are manifesting in conversations about who “deserves” to be here. I think a big problem is that, for the most part, people on different sides of the debate are talking at each other, but not necessarily with each other. When they do come into contact, it’s at a point when tensions have already escalated. We want to offer a space that is comfortable to all sides, neutral, and also productive, so that people can come together, share their stories and passions, get to know each other as humans, and then start to work toward solutions.

It’s clear that there are many people in the tech community who honestly care about improving the lives of our most vulnerable, but others have suggested that those who can’t afford to live here should just leave and that the homeless should stay outside of downtown and remain invisible. How will you differentiate between solutions to help the homeless versus solutions to help diminish their impact on the rest of the city?

KS: There are so many faces of homelessness that people never see. We want people to get involved and learn what homelessness really looks like, how they can help, and who they are helping. We are providing opportunities for people to get closer to the issues not to hide behind technology.

IL: By pairing volunteers directly with nonprofits who are working on solutions to help the homeless, we are ensuring that people will be working on projects that will positively impact the lives of homeless individuals. We are working with our nonprofit partners leading up to the event itself to help identify their challenges, so that the solutions participants work on will be actionable and relevant.

What do you hope to accomplish with the upcoming HACKtivation?

KS: The HACKtivation is a starting point for ongoing civic participation. We want people to come to the event with an open mind and work on projects that address the needs of the nonprofits that already serve the homeless. We want people to learn what homelessness really looks like and show them ways they can improve peoples lives.

IL: We want this to be the first of ongoing conversations between the tech world and the rest of the city, introducing people to each other as fellow humans with a common interest in making this city livable and better! We are partnering with the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation which is working on facilitating ongoing collaboration between companies and nonprofits, and we want to show how this can be done — that there is a way for companies to engage in their communities that is positive and constructive. We believe there are, as you said, many people in the tech community who do care about the rest of the city, and we want to provide them with opportunities to get involved. We also want to make sure that our nonprofit partners get results to the challenges they articulate. Last, we want to help facilitate ongoing conversation between the nonprofits themselves. Sometimes a solution can be found in an allied organization who you didn’t know existed or what they did.

Register for the upcoming event here.


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