Re-Writing History for the Banksters

Art historian, PhD student Stephen Mack, has written an excellent de-construction of the Burning Man 2016 art theme at The Daily Dot. The Medicis had a unicorn horn in their art collection. Who knew! And BMOrg are playing fast and loose Lorenzo Mediciwith history. Who’d have thunk it!

Please read it in its entirety – here’s the conclusion for TL;DR:

There actually is something about this period of the Florentine Renaissance thatwould appeal to the Burning Man crowd: The Florentine art patrons believed genuinely in the idea that money could be spent virtuously and they felt that spending on art was virtuous. Several scholars have gone into this idea in some depth. I think that many people in the Renaissance looked to art to engage them in learned discussion—perhaps to contemplate morality, to visualize and understand religious concepts, and even, I think, to contemplate on the ideas of nature and of representation. Spending money on art wasn’t virtuous simply because it provided the masses with beautiful objects, but because, in the Renaissance (as in most periods), to engage with a work of art was, in effect, to seriously contemplate both the world they lived in and the spiritual world beyond this one.

I imagine that the organizers of Burning Man had this type of contemplation in mind when they conceptualized the “Turning Man.” I’m sure many bros will have wonderful acid- and shroom-induced journeys staring up at Turning Man, and may indeed come out of it with a challenged view of the world. This is a great thing. And, ultimately, it is for exactly this reason that we should spend money on art in the first place. (Well, not so much the drug-culture part, but the challenging-our-view-of- the-world part. Not that the drug part is so bad, either.)

But the fanciful utopian history Burning Man has written to underpin this journey is an utter farce. And rewriting history to our own ends is never a good thing. 

That said, the Renaissance did their own rewriting of history, too. The learned elites idolized Classical Antiquity in much the same fanciful way that Burning Man now idolizes the Renaissance. In this way—though it was likely unintentional—Burning Man actually has done a decent job emulating the Renaissance. 

Read the full article at Daily Dot.

In the last year the non-profit Burning Man Project – which we’re told was created as the ultimate gift to us, giving Burning Man back to the Burners – has assimilated other charities BRAF, Burners Without Borders, and Black Rock Solar. Control of these networks is now cemented in the grip of the Project and the Ruling Group behind it. The Rulers get to play Medici in the economy of Black Rock City. They bank all the money from the Gerlach festival ($34 million), tax free (even though it’s not a tax deductible deduction for us buying tickets). They take a gallery commission on art sold outside the Playa by Burning Man artists. They get a share of the revenues of more than 100 licensed vendors approved to sell things at Black Rock City. They grant about $800,000 in cash and a couple of hundred thousand “in kind” in their patronage of the arts. Most artists are expected to raise two-thirds to three-quarters of the project costs themselves. And work for free.

My sincere hope is this “creative Maker artist” theme flavor will signify a new era from Burning Man’s owners founders controllers. Let’s hope for much more generous patronage of Burner art from the Medicis Ruling Group, both visible and invisible. 10% of revenues would be a great start – and let the artists pay themselves.

We will get a hint of the direction we’re heading soon, when the long overdue IRS public filing for 2014 for the Burning Man Project is made public. Perhaps we will get to hear soon about some of the activities and achievements of the Burning Man Project in taking our contributions to execute its mission.

 

 

Where Did The SHIFTPOD Come From?

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

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

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

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

SHIFT is based on the following ideals

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

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

This is not just another weekend at the disco.

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

SHIFT supports art and outreach projects all over the world.

How can you make your own SHIFT experience?


by C W:

Where did the SHIFTPOD come from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets have fun and make a difference!

Christian
#SHIFTPODS


Burners.Me:

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

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

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


shift pod mommy

Wanted: Someone To Make The Whole Dream Come True

robin-hoodhigh engagement philanthropy

Remember when BMOrg wanted to become a non-profit, raising funds from Burners to further its mission of spreading Radical Self-Transformation throughout the world?

Well, guess what. It’s still happening. And now, you could be the actual one to make it happen. Yes, one lucky Burner gets to be responsible for manifesting this entire vision of BMOrg, the Borg, Larry & Co, McLarry, and everyone else in the hierarchy of inclusion that is Burning Man 2.0. The rainmaker! The funds taker! The gifting staker!

From Painter Executive Search (emphasis ours):

Burning Man

Director of Philanthropic Engagement

Position Description

 Painter Executive Search is supporting Burning Man in their search for an experienced and entrepreneurial fundraiser to help shape and execute a fundraising strategy that honors Burning Man values and invites the whole community to share and spread Burning Man culture around the globe.

Burning Man Project (Burning Man) is a 501(c)3 public benefit corporation whose mission is to facilitate and extend the culture that has issued from the Burning Man event (AKA Black Rock City) into the larger world. Burning Man is committed to nurturing Black Rock City as the seminal manifestation of the 10 Principles-based culture, while developing a support infrastructure to connect, celebrate and facilitate the sharing of the culture in communities around the world. Based in San Francisco, California, Burning Man employs a diverse staff of creative professionals with extensive knowledge of art, civics, and community building who seek to bring experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring and joyful ways that lift the human spirit, address social problems and inspire a sense of community, culture and personal engagement.

Burning Man exists and grows from the vibrant and creative contributions of a largely volunteer community. “Burners” who are transformed by their experiences in Black Rock City and embrace the 10-Principles culture, seek to contribute to the social good “off-playa” when they return to their home communities. Burners gift their personal resources in a range of ways, through financial support, labor, creation of artwork, public art, community building, civic action and other forms of participation. It is this gifting culture that fuels the community’s creativity and powers the social transformation which has led to the dissemination of 10 Principles-based work in the world.

The Burning Man organization seeks to be a node in this highly dispersed network by facilitating learning, sharing ideas and technical knowledge, developing resources to seed and foster grassroots work and by celebrating the culture and gifts that flow from it. Burning Man supports this diverse community by awarding grants for art and civic engagement projects, producing interactive art exhibitions and events, offering fresh and unique interactive public art and performance experiences, as well as providing technical, operational or administrative support for efforts to influence social change in local communities. They also share their values and ideas in public speaking engagements and connect leaders, informal groups and like-minded organizations who are working to develop a vibrant, life-enhancing world of civic participation. Burning Man’s community of artists, event participants, and volunteers spans the globe and includes over 60 community produced regional celebrations and gatherings as well as civic engagement work in more than 24 countries.

POSITION SUMMARY

Working in collaboration with the leadership team, the Director of Philanthropic Engagement (Director) will lead the development and execution of a fundraising strategy which celebrates a culture of gifting and extends the opportunities for those who embrace Burning Man’s mission to participate fully in support of that work. Reporting to the CEO, the Director will provide strategic and operational leadership and manage the department staff and programs including annual, major gift and capital campaign initiatives while continuing to nurture and celebrate the unique and vibrant volunteer culture.

This role is highly creative and calls upon an experienced fundraiser to establish sound fundraising practices which embrace 10 Principles-based culture. Deep experience with fundraising mechanics, including clear policies, infrastructure and process development, as well as substantial experience in donor engagement and major gifts is critical. Engaging with donors of a wide range of means, including volunteers whose gifts of time, expertise and passion are essential to the culture will be highly important. Working through ideas and programs that develop a range of opportunities aligned with donors’ and volunteers’ interests and celebrating all contributions with equal enthusiasm is critical for this role.

ORGANIZATIONAL VALUES, HISTORY AND PROGRAM

10 Principles and a Gifting Culture

Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey wrote the 10 Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed regional network. Importantly, they are descriptive rather than prescriptive and are a reflection of the Burning Man community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception. Understanding these 10 Principles will be critical in developing a culturally sensitive and effective fundraising program. While these principles rose from the experience of Black Rock City, they define Burning Man culture on and off the playa–how they inform the work of Burning Man continues to be explored and evolved as the work of the community moves off-playa and around the world.

…Burning Man both raises funds for programmatic needs, core initiatives and grantmaking programs, and distributes a range of support grants for arts, civic engagement and training.  Burning Man also highlights and supports other mechanisms that fund and support artists, celebrations or civic efforts—elevating multiple channels for support. Challenges to fundraising methods will arise when philanthropy seeks to influence in ways that are contrary to other Burning Man values such as Decommodification or Radical Inclusion; where contributions can be seen as class-driven, transactional or as a shortcut for personal participation. Maintaining an even playing field, where people are treated and thanked with equal care for their unique contributions–regardless of background or level of personal wealth–are important to members of our community.

…In 2011, they recruited a Board of Directors and formed the nonprofit organization, The Burning Man Project, in a formalized effort to extend the principles, creativity, and culture of Burning Man into the world, year round. The nonprofit received its 501(c)3 status in May 2012. In order to more fully realize the vision of the new nonprofit, the Board of Directors and Burning Man’s leadership developed a strategy of aggregating the programs and organizations into a single entity. This strategy ultimately brought together Black Rock City LLC, the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) and Burners Without Borders (BWB) under the umbrella of the Burning Man Project nonprofit. Today the Burning Man Project, simply known as Burning Man, is positioned to support these key programs through its focus on three core areas of work; The Event, The Culture and The Network.

In the past, the LLC raised nearly all of its money from ticket sales to the annual event in Nevada, but that alone cannot support the flourishing global expansion of Burning Man culture. In order to seed and support the dreams of inspired Burners year-round, the organization needs to grow charitable contributions from the community to help support this important work.

The mission of Burning Man Arts is to change the paradigm of art from a commodified object to an interactive, participatory, shared experience of creative expression.

In the Fall of 2014, all art initiatives, were joined to create a single, robust program that strives to provide more streamlined services to artists, produce more interactive, community driven art and inspire more civic engagement projects. The Burning Man Arts program supports artists on and off the playa, and is exploring an expanded range of offerings, including increased collaborations and partnerships with like-minded organizations and additional support services for artists, including fiscal sponsorship.

Burning Man Arts provides a range of grants focused on Black Rock City, Global Arts and Civic Arts. This year Burning Man provided more than $1 million in grants to artists. In the previous 13 years, the Black Rock Arts Foundation had funded 149 projects worldwide, providing more than $2,500,000 in grants and support to artists and more than $430,000 through its Grants to Artists program and installed or otherwise supported 38 projects (with direct grants of $770,000) through its Civic Arts program...

DIRECTOR OF PHILANTHROPIC ENGAGEMENT

RESPONSIBILITIES

The Director of Philanthropic Engagement will build a sophisticated and sustainable fundraising program that seamlessly integrates into Burning Man’s programmatic initiatives to advance the organization’s mission. The role focuses on both fundraising program development and relationship building, including identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of contributors to Burning Man from individuals, foundations and companies, public agencies as well as a large number of volunteers including artists, regional leaders and event participants whose creativity and participation is the cultural capital upon which Burning Man is built.

Goals for the Director include establishing a culture of fundraising that invites broad participation in the development of leadership and major gifts and ensures that all gifts are welcomed with a spirit of gratitude. The Director will also create systems and processes that enhance the ability to deepen relationships with donors and volunteers and that effectively acknowledge their contributions in a timely and affirming manner. The Director will be responsible for increasing both the base of individuals and foundations contributing to Burning Man annually, and in deepening the support through effective storytelling, engagement and participation. They will lead the efforts to creating an increasingly healthy and dependable annual fund, as well as prepare the infrastructure for a future capital campaign or special project need.

Specific responsibilities include managing a portfolio of leadership donors and prospects, supervising staff and participating as a member of the leadership team. The department is being constituted by existing staff members from other departments, but the Director will have the opportunity to hire as needed. The current department is envisioned as a Major Gifts Officer, an Individual Gifts Officer, a Fundraising Grants Officer, an Information Systems Development Assistant, a Special (Fundraising) Events Manager, and a Stewardship and Volunteer Appreciation Programs Manager. Aligning the existing fundraising efforts and building understanding and consistency across all fundraising programs will be an important focus for the position.

DUTIES & ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS

LEADERSHIP, STRATEGY AND COMMUNICATIONS

  • Support and partner with the CEO, Board members and other key leadership to develop and execute a fundraising strategic plan;
  • Actively work across the organization to set and communicate specific fundraising objectives, strategies and goals in support of the mission and strategic plan;
  • Work with the CEO to engage and activate Burning Man’s Board of Directors, including establishing a Fund Development Committee and supporting, motivating, training Board volunteers in their fundraising efforts;
  • Actively understand, reflect, and promote Burning Man to the public, effectively and joyfully sharing the fundraising opportunities and needs of the community;
  • Engage with volunteers in a manner that affirms their importance and value to Burning Man culture and both facilitates and celebrates their personal contributions of creativity, participation and time;
  • With the CEO and leadership team, steward the strategic vision of the organization, participating in weekly leadership team meetings, communicating priorities and goals, and building a positive team culture that reflects the organizations values;
  • In consultation with others, craft organizational messaging about Burning Man’s programs to communicate and motivate current and prospective donors to strengthen their organizational and philanthropic commitment;
  • Working across the organization, help establish an awareness and a vocabulary for communicating outcomes of Burning Man’s highly diverse and creative work;
  • In coordination with Burning Man Communications, drive development-related content in such publications such as Jack Rabbit Speaks, newsletters, annual reports, fundraising appeals, e-mail, and other communication channels;
  • Engage in positive leadership development within the team to advance Burning Man as a great organization;
  • Play a leadership role in capital campaigns and discussions that ensure the long-term sustainability of Burning Man and its programs.

MANAGEMENT AND PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT

  • Manage the day-to-day responsibilities of executing the development program;
  • Identify, develop, and mentor the development team; promote professional development of the staff and creatively organize them to maximize their effectiveness and clearly define their roles, relationships, and expectations;
  • Collaborate with the Finance Director to develop and implement Burning Man’s financial strategy; oversee the development and monitoring of the annual budget for the department;
  • Oversee research of funding sources and trends, with foresight, to help position Burning Man ahead of major funding changes or trends;
  • Oversee development and execution of all fund development proposals with a long-term relationship-management approach;
  • Monitor donor and fundraising information; regularly provide and present data and analysis to the board and senior leaders, reporting progress and challenges to fundraising efforts;
  • Develop and implement a stewardship program aimed at cultivating deeper ties with donors;
  • Oversee and provide supervision for hands on/engaged experiences, receptions and events;
  • Assist in the creation, publishing and maintenance of process documentation.

INDIVIDUAL FUNDRAISING

  • Manage a portfolio of leadership gift prospects ($25,000 and above) contributing to achievement of the overall fundraising goals for Burning Man;
  • Regularly meet with the CEO to review the fund development prospect pool and devise specific strategies for individual engagement and solicitation.

EXPERIENCE

A successful candidate will likely have:

  • Ability and successful experience in conceptualizing a comprehensive strategy for institutional advancement; possess a deep command of the fund development body of knowledge;
  • Demonstrated success in identifying, cultivating and soliciting individual donors which resulted in a robust pipeline of new relationships and significant increases funding;
  • Experience building and/or significantly growing a sophisticated, complex development function, ideally within a visual arts-related organization or cultural institution;
  • Excellent relationship-building skills and agility to build rapport with internal and external stakeholders around innovative ideas and programs;
  • Able to work effectively with artists, board members, donors of all financial capacities and colleagues across the Burning Man community;
  • Experience fostering deep relationships with volunteers and valuing their contributions of time expertise and passion as equal to any financial contribution;
  • Ability to both motivate and engage volunteer leaders in fund development activities, including making ‘the ask’;
  • Exceptional communication skills; articulate, with proven ability to write effectively and speak persuasively;
  • Superior organizational skills, with a strong sense of detail-orientation and excellent time management skills;
  • Demonstrated success in working with a diverse volunteer leadership; donors and donor prospects; and corporate, community, and government leaders;
  • Demonstrated leadership skills in order to establish and build a finely-tuned fund development department;
  • A bachelor’s degree, preferably a Graduate Degree;
  • Valid Drivers’ License and a clean driving record;
  • Direct familiarity with Burning Man as a result of participating in the annual Black Rock City and/or official Burning Man regional events in other locations;
  • Ability to adjust work schedule seasonally and work away from home (on playa) for up to 10 days during the months of August and September.

ATTRIBUTES

  • Dedicated to principles of behavior and ethics of the Burning Man organization; able to embrace the organization’s evolving mission and the sweep of its vision, and will fit well within a culture of impassioned, driven, creative, and dedicated professionals;
  • Dynamic, highly organized, and strategic individual with a deep understanding of their personal value and a commitment to express that value creatively and with passion;
  • Inspirational, able to bring out the best in others and joyfully approach challenges as opportunities for growth and learning;
  • Ability to think on his or her feet, problem solve, critically think, and remain calm under stress;
  • Friendly, personable demeanor conducive to effectively presenting information and responding to questions from executives, managers, staff, vendors, artists, local community members, participants, BMP board members, and the general public;
  • Ability to prioritize tasks in a fast-paced environment along with the ability to accept interruptions as part of the routine; confidence in managing multiple projects and deadlines;
  • Exercise a keen sense of organizational diplomacy, able to maintain personal integrity and uphold high standards of confidentiality;
  • Committed to building a responsive, efficient, and highly lucrative fundraising program within a dynamic cultural enterprise;
  • Possesses a high degree of emotional intelligence, self-awareness and fortitude.

 

For additional information or to be considered for this role contact:

Nancy Painter

Nancy@painterexecutivesearch.com

(415) 202- 6240 [Source]

If you know anyone who you think might be suitable, please suggest them to Nancy. I can definitely think of a few candidates.

The stakes are high: if this person does a good job, then the entire Burning Man Project vision of the past 30 years could actually be achieved.

Anyone care to venture a guess as to what happened to the last person in this role?

High Engagement Philanthropy: taking it to the next level. $25k and up.

High Engagement Philanthropy: taking it to the next level. $25k and up.

Source: Columbia University

Seems like a positive career trajectory. Source: Columbia University

Unlikely Leader in Transparency

Image: The Reno Gazette-Journal, Andy Barron (via LA Times)

Image: The Reno Gazette-Journal, Andy Barron (via LA Times)

Philanthropy.com has an article “Burning Man Becomes Unlikely Leader in Financial Transparency“. It proves what I learned studying accounting in college: professors don’t know what they’re talking about.

This guest post from our reader A Balanced Perspective is commentary on that article.


 

Might you have viewed the next article of utter PR rubbish, penned by Assoc. Prof. Mittendorf, of Ohio State University, within the Chronicle of Philanthropy of Burning Man Becomes Unlikely Leader in Financial Transparency? Assoc. Prof. Mittendorf misses numerous items of much importance:

a) The important financials, of the owned subsidiary corporation, Black Rock City LLC, dba Burning Man, the Burning Man event, are hidden from donors of art, labour, cash, and stock. The 990 form of 2013, of the Project, does not include the financials of the BRC LLC.

b) Prof. Mittendorf misses of that Burning Man is a crowd sourced event, much information is owed towards the awesome Burners whom provide the entertainment, the EDM sound camps, the Esplanade camps, the mutant vehicle owners, the artists, and the numerous volunteers, none of whom are paid from the $31.5 million of ticket sales for their labours.

c) Prof. Mittendorf misses of the numerous millions, hidden from donors, paid towards the pockets of the six prior owners of the BRC LLC, prior of their honourable donation of the BRC LLC to the Burning Man Project.There is $4 million missing from their accounting, within the Afterburn Reports, of each year of 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, a sum of $16 million. Might any person desire to dispute of this, please state of the rationale of why the payroll raised from $2.8 million within 2009, to $7.2 million within 2010, with solely 30 employees, and contractors and consultants upon other lines within the ledger, and temporary labourers paid little cash. Where is the missing $4 million of cash, within the payroll line upon the ledger, might the cash not have been directed towards the pockets of the six prior owners of the BRC LLC in the manner of salaries and benefits paid towards them?

d) The payments for the Burning Man(TM) name and trademarks, owned by Decommodification LLC, of which, it is owned by the six prior owners of the BRC LLC. There is a contract, hidden from donors, stating the amount of cash to be paid to them, within 2018. In addendum, what is the deduction upon tax levies that is to be permitted towards them, within 2018, upon this?

e) Images of the art at Burning Man is owned, in parts, by the BRC LLC and Decommodification LLC. The photographers pay a licence fee upon publication of the images, zero dollars of the cash of the licence fees, is paid towards the awesome artists. Whom takes the cash towards their pockets, the BRC LLC, or Decommodification LLC? Whom is taking cash from movies in the manner of Spark A Burning Man Story, and what occurs with this within 2018?

f) The information stated with the 990 form of the project might have been stated near to one year prior of when the information was finally released within January 2015.

g) Larry, within his role of Chief Philosophical Officer of the Project, evaluates, and proposes towards the Project board, many ventures, some ventures of which might be joint ventures. The conflicts of interests are stated towards the Project board, but the conflicts of interests are hidden from donors.

h) An audit was completed, within the prior month, upon the financials of the Burning Man Project, and upon the BRC LLC, upon the years of 2013 and 2014, thus the financials are signed by the auditors, in addendum to being signed by the Burning Man Project. The Project board is of the power to vote to publish the detailed 2014 income statement and 2014 balance sheet, of both the Project, and of the BRC LLC subsidiary corporation, at the present time, in place of hiding the financials, from donors, for near to yet another year upon the release of the 990 form of 2014 within January 2016. Burning Man requires this transparency of all regionals, to publish their ledgers of when the ledgers are signed, it is most hypocritical of the BMOrg to hide this information from donors for near to yet another year.

i) Prof. Mittendorf compares of Burning Man, a crowd sourced event which has had many changes within the ownership structure within the prior brace of years, to the big Red Cross, and other organizations, whom have operated for numerous years; his comparison is utter rubbish.

j) Prof. Mittendorf misses of the outage, of the Burner community, upon his statement of ‘ … has also played out in astounding ways, such as billionaires spending their fortunes to create elaborate tents featuring top chefs and sleek models being paid to provide entertainment.’

j) Prof. Mittendorf misses of how little cash is paid, from the $31.5 million of ticket sales, towards the crowd whom sources the Burning Man event. My belief is of the BMOrg owes transparency, and cash, in support of their efforts and labours. Of the $390, or $450, or $800 of the cash paid towards each ticket, solely

– EDM sound camps – $0 in addendum, they must buy their own tickets. It might be most fair might the BMOrg gift several thousand free tickets, towards them, towards the camps whom provide entertainment, and towards mutant vehicle owners, in support of their efforts and labours.
– Esplanade camps, and other camps whom provide entertainment – $0 in addendum, they must buy their own tickets
– Mutant Vehicle owners – $0 in addendum, they must buy their own tickets
– Artists – $13 within 2014, lower within 2015. Art grants are for solely near to one third of their costs, $0 for labour, and are solely for a small number of artists whom sign a most horrible hidden contract
– DPW labourers, whom construct the city – near to $10, many are not paid
– Gate labourers – near to $3 for food, their tickets, might they have laboured for numerous hours the prior year, are not counted within the paid population cap of near to 70,000 of Black Rock City, thus are not paid from ticket sales.
– BRC Rangers – near to $3 for food, their tickets, might they have laboured for numerous hours the prior year, are not counted within the paid population cap of near to 70,000 of Black Rock City

My belief is of Prof. Mittendorf must retract his rubbish PR article upon transparency in due of his utter cluelessness upon these matters.

[Read the original article at philanthropy.com]

“Failure!” – Tananbaum Gets Called Out by BM Director

Image: Beverly & Pack/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Beverly & Pack/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A couple of days ago, BMOrg finally posted their response to the many concerns raised by our community after this year’s event. You can read our analysis here: BMOrg Hath Spoken.

Many Burners felt that this whitewash of the major issues didn’t go nearly far enough. The only real policy change was to stop their VIP Donation Tickets program. They completely ignored whether any of the 25 12 Commodification Camps were also offered invitation-only tickets in the Directed Group sale, and whether that might happen again in the future. “Commodification Camps will be held to the same standard as theme camps” – but that was already their policy. Stating what the rules already are is not the same as changing the rules.

Something that has particularly rankled many Burners was the involvement of one of the Burning Man Project’s Board of Directors this year in running the most notorious 50-sherpa Commodification Camp, Caravancicle – which was also ignored in BMOrg’s post.

It seems that at least one Burning Man founder felt the need to single Tananbaum out for his actions. Michael Mikel, who goes by the pseudonym “Danger Ranger”, took to his Facebook page with a late night rant sharing his personal views on the situation to his 1000 followers. As well as spreading a bunch of lies about myself and this site, which he had no interest in correcting before he blocked me, the knives were out for Jim Tananbaum.

Here are some excerpts from his lengthy diatribe.

MM:

BURNING MAN BROKE CARAVANSICLE

The post-burn forensics of this internet-fuled drama of rumors on top of rumors has been challenging and time consuming…We are now at a point where there is enough information to answer some of the questions that have arisen. Larry, always the consummate lucubrationist, has posted to the Burning Man blog about this issue. I have also conducted my own personal investigation into this matter and have come up with answers that may be more specific than some of those presented thus far.

“Lucubrationist” means some who speaks pedantically or overly elaborately.

Why do there need to be “separate investigations” within BMOrg? This is an annual party that goes for a week, put on by Burners. It’s supposed to be all in good fun. If it is so hard to get to the truth that 3 months of “forensics” are required, shouldn’t the forensic investigation at least be co-ordinated? If these people can’t even trust each other, why should we trust them?

MM:

My conclusion is that Burning Man broke Caravansicle. I might add that the individual who profited from Caravansicle will not be allowed back into Burning Man.

Many Burners will be disappointed to learn that the individual he’s talking about is not Jim Tananbaum. He remains on the Board, and it looks like they are absolving him of any responsibility for commodifying Burning Man with a multi-million dollar for-profit camp – despite the requirement in their Bylaws that all Directors must uphold the Ten Principles.

MM:

When I was finally able to confront Mr Tananbaum face-to-face, my first words to him were; “You really stepped in some shit.” I believe that he truly regrets the wreckage in the wake of his camp. Mr Tananbaum started out with the best of intentions. Caravansicle was not intended to be commercial in nature. His goal was to fund and produce a large camp for friends and associates, much like the camps that he had done in the two previous years. But this year it was going to be grander and larger. His first mistake was to hire a professional camp producer from the commercial EDM world with no Burning Man experience. This is what brought in the sherpas and wristbands.

A camp with 120 guests and 50 employees that charged $17,000 per person was not intended to be commercial in nature? You really expect us to believe that?

The first time we saw public use of the word “sherpa” in relation to Burning Man was in a New York Times story before the Burn which had nothing to do with Caravancicle. They were far from the only camp or art car at Burning Man to have wristband-only VIP sections.

MM:

His second mistake was having a bar so big and so public that it ran out of liquor. Nothing is worse than a half-drunk lynch mob. 

This is the first account I’ve seen of Caravancicle having a large, public bar. It differs remarkably from what Burners have been reporting about Caravancicle. “A bar so big and so public that it ran out of liquor”? Where does Mr Mikel get his facts from? We are relying on whistleblowing testimony from one of the sherpas employed by the camp, as well as comments from other Burners who went there. Here’s what the sherpa said:

Popsicle camp advertised to customers and to Placement that they would build a lounge out on the street in front our walls that would be cooled to 45º and contain a bar inside where hot and dusty passers by could enter to cool down and indulge…The front of our camp was advertising that a second  iced tea/water lounge would be on the street and all of our customers would be there from 2-4pm every day passing out even more popsicles to people.

Neither of these structures had been built. There just happened to be more important priorities, which revolved around making sure that the paying customers never needed to use a porta potty.

The bar that was built did not run out of liquor to serve the public; rather, it was fully stocked, but wristband-only from the very beginning.

The sherpa:

We had a massive dome built that would be open for the public to enjoy. There were specialty drinks, music, dancers, couches, coffee tables with Alex Grey paintings, snacks, and much more. This we did have, and it was BEAUTIFUL.  I only ended up bar tending one shift…While serving our guests, there were random visitors and the folks from the missing motel. I was told that only our members that had paid to camp there were allowed to have drinks. Considering that we had a visible full bar and a menu containing our specialty cocktails, you could imagine the embarrassment I felt when telling some people they can not have those advertised drinks, and telling others they can. Suddenly our public dome contained some VIP options. “Only those with the VIP wristbands can have a drink, can I offer you a peanut?”

MOOP #fail

MOOP #fail

Doesn’t sound like a large public bar with no booze in it to me.

Apparently, all the MOOP of the combined Caravancicle and Lost Hotel camps was the fault of the one scapegoat, and nothing to do with any other camp organizers, or Mr Tananbaum.

MM:

And I’m sure that the professional camp producer was surprised to discover no trash dumpsters at Burning Man. None-the-less, the camp producer took the money and ran.

Most of the MOOP at Caravancicle was actually left by the Lost Hotel. The Lost Hotel built 90% of the structure of Caravancicle, and seems to have profited by renting the rooms for Tananbaum’s camp to sub-let.

The sherpa:

The building crew for the neighboring camp was in collaboration with our camp. 90% of our camp had been built and designed  by the neighboring camp. Lets call this camp “the Missing Motel” The Leader of this camp is a brilliant visionary that seemed to be very passionate about inspiring creativity with his own art. The Missing Motel rented our camp these extremely unique and beautifully constructed canvas “rectangles” that would be homes to myself and guests included. Missing Motel Build lovingly crafted every single detail of  popsicle camp. Everything from our private bathrooms, our rectangles,  and every piece of furniture in it,  the lay out of the camp itself and a majority of the beautiful details

Photo: Lost Hotel/Facebook

Aerial Photo: Lost Hotel/Facebook

The Lost Hotel were experienced Burners, and were surely aware of the requirement to Leave No Trace. Mr Tananbaum as a Director of Burning Man, is required by their Bylaws to uphold the Ten Principles, so he could not have been unaware of this either. Mr Mikel says he had already put together 2 major camps at Burning Man before, so the idea that no-one there knew they had to pick their MOOP up is unlikely.

MM:

The truth is that Mr Tananbaum lost tens of thousands of dollars on this failed project. That is not to say that the captain does not carry ultimate responsibility for his ship. While he has been quite capable of amassing a fortune in the world of venture capital, it does call into question if he is ready and able to help navigate the Burning Man ship. Then again, there is nothing like failure to add to ones experience. I think that having an 18-person board of directors is good in that it allows a larger pool to maintain overall management and guidance, which is certainly an improvement over the past when there were only 6 board members.

Barking up the wrong tree. Image: Ralph Hightower/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Barking up the wrong tree. Image: Ralph Hightower/Flickr (Creative Commons)

There’s a difference between “lost tens of thousands” and “gifted tens of thousands”. The former implies a profit motive. So basically, he’s saying “hey, Tananbaum tried to profit from Burning Man, and didn’t succeed because the guy he hired to manage it ran off with all the money. No problem, maybe he learned something that could help us – carry on”.

The “Turnkey Camps” blog post said that none of the Commodification Camps tried to make a profit – which flies in the face of logic, as well as contradicting Danger Ranger’s statements based on personally confronting Jim Tananbaum. Mr Mikel’s forensic investigation seems to have shown that Mr Tananbaum only failed to make his intended profit because the funds were embezzled by one of his paid employees. The camp charged $17,000 per person, so if Tananbaum is only out of pocket by “tens of thousands”, how much did this un-named lackey actually steal? It seems like keeping the cash from only 2 of his 120 guests would’ve been enough for Tananbaum to break even.

MM:

Bmorg is instituting new procedures/policies next year, which will bring all non-infrastructure plug-and-play camps under the theme camp registration process and hold them to the same standards.

This is exactly what they said in 2012, about the same issue. In fact, their own post of just 2 days ago explaining the Commodification Camps said that they were already required to be held to the same standards. More on that below.

MM:

The transition of Burning Man from tontine to non-profit organization has taken more that six years. Thru all of this, no one in the organization is getting rich off of Burning Man. That will become apparent after the numbers for the non-profit are published. It’s been a very complex process with many moving pieces, some of them not quite in place.

Perhaps no-one in “the organization” is getting rich, but what about “the owners”? Our reader A Balanced Perspective has calculated their take via this Decommodification structure to be somewhere between $35 million-47 million dollars, and so far no-one has been able to provide any evidence or argument otherwise. We also exposed a million dollar plus discrepancy between what BMOrg were saying they were paying the BLM and what the BLM were saying they got paid, which on an annual basis could increase this take even further.

Here’s Danger Ranger’s “tipping tweet” of November 21, 2008, which he credits with starting this whole “non-profit transition”

danger tweet 2008 nov 21

 

Others might argue that Harley Dubois’ surprise resignation was actually the event that triggered the process of unravelling their corporate structure, more so than this tweet.

How much longer will all of this take, before we get to see what’s actually going on? 6 years, and nearly $8 million on lawyers and accountants over that time, isn’t enough to open the books to the public? We still don’t have the 2013 IRS filing numbers for the Burning Man Project, and it’s not looking like we’ll see any 2014 numbers until 2016.  What exactly are these “moving pieces” that are still left to work out before the community gets the transparency we’ve been promised for so long?

The sole purpose of Decommodification LLC is to protect the Burning Man name and I’ve programmed it to automatically dissolve after its mission is completed.

I believe he is talking about the “Dead Man’s Trigger” clause he boasted of inserting into Decommodification, LLC.

MM (in March 2014):

Larry has the last word on the Transition discussion. (But I am pleased to note that I am the one who programmed the deadman switch into Decommodification LLC.)

This clause apparently says that ownership of Decommodification, LLC will revert back to the Burning Man Project in 3 years, unless all 6 Directors vote to stop that. As far as I know, this clause is not tied to “completion of the mission” in any way, it’s time based. If Decommodification, LLC was bought by another entity (eg, Foresight Capital, or LiveNation), then different directors could be appointed and this wouldn’t happen. Or if the existing Directors decide they like the royalties that are pouring in to this private, secretive company, they might well vote in their own interests to keep them coming.

It’s hard to see what Decommodification, LLC specifically are doing to protect the Burning Man brand – especially when it seems like the Tin Principles are being chucked out the window now as “an ethos, not rules”. The lawsuit they have been pursuing in Canada lists the plaintiffs as “Decommodification LLC, Black Rock City LLC, and the Burning Man Project, doing business as Burning Man” – so what does Decommodification, LLC really add to the mix, that Black Rock City LLC and the Burning Man Project couldn’t have achieved on their own? Which of the three entities is footing the legal bills in this case?

As for the sole purpose of Decommodification LLC? Article 5, Clause 1 of the Bylaws about sharing of corporate profits prevents the Board of Directors of BMP from profiting from the event, except specifically through the Founders  ownership of the intellectual property which is via Decommodification, LLC:

bylaws article 5

If profiting from this arrangement was not part of their purpose, what is the need for this exemption?

MM:

Today Burning Man is an eight hundred thousand ton gorilla with many mouths to feed. It’s a network of departments and people, sometimes with competing interests. It’s still evolving. It has lost much of its agility, but there are some advantages to size. We are now having an impact on the world at large and we have the power to change that world for the better.

What are the competing interests here? Who’s competing for what? What impact is it that Burning Man is now having on the world at large? Marge tripping on acid and Maggie playing with a syringe on The Simpsons? An art car going into Zappo’s HQ? Grover Norquist and Denis Kucinich using it to appeal to new voting blocs?

Time will tell, and so far in 4 years the Burning Man Project seems to have not accomplished very much at all, let alone changed the world for the better.

BMOrg have admitted in their blog posts here and here that they were fully aware of the for-profit Commodification Camps, and gave them preferential placement, while refusing 58 Burner-operated Gifting-based theme camps.

Initially, in this post, they said that they had placed 25 Commodification Camps; by the time they had “listened to all the feedback”, this was whittled down to just 12.

On October 28 Answergirl said:

We define Turnkey camps as those that offer a public space and interactivity in addition to private spaces for larger groups and are typically built by a producer, rather than a traditional camp lead.

On December 3 BMOrg said:

The term “turnkey” has been used to describe camps with paid teams that set up infrastructure before other camp members arrive. This general definition could be applied to many camps, including many well-known, beloved and highly participatory theme camps…

On the other end of the spectrum are “plug and play” or “concierge camps” (A.K.A. hotel camps, resort camps, commodification camps), where vacation-type experiences are sold in package deals at exclusive prices, often with no expectation or commitment by campers to contribute to the larger community.

These camps have not been banned, or even censured.

petit ermitage

Petit Ermitage, a trendy boutique hotel from West Hollywood, are promoting the pop-up hotel they did at Burning Man with Cirque Gitane – who at least scored Green on the MOOP map, and by all accounts shared professional theatrical performances with the public.

 

BMOrg said:

These concierge or commodification camps undermine the social fabric of our community, which is unacceptable.

Commodification camps are not only in direct conflict with our culture, they are also not allowed by the terms of our permit…A commodification camp operating without a permit risks citations and fines from the BLM. The Burning Man organization is exploring ways of monitoring this more effectively in the future

Not “this won’t happen again”. Just “they need a permit and we’re investigating ways to monitor this more effectively”.

All camps that receive resources from the organization must demonstrate their contribution to the broader community. For 2015, all camps (other than infrastructure support camps) will be held to the same standards in order to receive placement, early arrival passes and access to the Directed Group Sale

Rather than “Commodification Camps won’t get early access passes and invite-only tickets”, this statement really says the exact opposite. In some sort of black box process without oversight, BMOrg will work out where to put them and how many tickets they can have.

What’s the bottom line? Tananbaum gets to stay, just with some public shaming from one of the founders. His employee is made the scapegoat, and accused of embezzlement. Commodification Camps have to go through the Placement team, just like they did in 2014, and the other years before that. All they need to do is say “we’ll have a bar”, and it’s business as usual. If the bar doesn’t materialize? Whoopsie-daisy. If they leave a bunch of MOOP? Naughty, naughty. All the owners have to say is “I didn’t make any money”, and they can continue as before. The VIP Donation tickets program will be discontinued, but the World’s Biggest Guest list  goes on, without any oversight. Transparency? 7 years isn’t enough, they need more time. “Coming soon”.

 

radical inclusion cult