Posties Go Postal!

A Nevada postie travelled back from the future to chastise us for promoting this young up-start:

going postalJust reading an article you have here on Nick Farr’s Playa Postal Union. This confuses me! He says it’s Black Rock City’s functioning postal system!? First of all there is NO FUNCTIONING POSTAL SYSTEM in Black Rock City! They are all THEME CAMPS. The Gerlach Post Office has been working with the Black Rock City Post Office in Center Camp for many, many years. It has become very overwhelming but we have managed and I think we do a good job. We have a good system going. I am so unhappy about this ‘other’ post office. I work at the ‘real’ post office so I guess this is my personal rant for the day! :0/

I searched and searched for the article she was talking about, and couldn’t find it. So I thought I’d better write one, to avoid a rift in the space-time continuum.

Playa Postal Union wants to raise the postage required for everyone on the playa to send a postcard back to the default world.

playa postDid you know that Burning Man has a fully-functioning postal service?

The Playa Postal Union is a collaboration between two individual theme-camps, BRC3PO and PO9, which act together to provide unofficial, volunteer-powered postal services in Black Rock City. We are the team that lets you send mail to and from Burning Man. 

This year we’ve decided to offer something really extraordinary. Possibly the most ambitious, universally participatory and postal-y aggressive project attempted at Burning Man yet. 

Our goal is to make it possible for every participant on the playa to gift a free postcard to anyone, anywhere in the world. 

This will entail printing and providing postage for 70,000 postcards!

polaya post boothWhat does one postcard for every participant look like? Stacked, they would be 93 feet tall, 3 feet higher than the Man! Laid end-to-end, they would stretch 6.63 miles or 4.4 times the diameter of the playa! 

But you know what’s even more impressive than that? Ensuring that 70,000 people out in the default world get a beautiful, dusty postcard from Burning Man.  70,000 dots on a global map, each one a person holding a bit of the burn in their hands. 

So what can 70,000 postcards do? They can do more than carpet 1/3 of Black Rock City; they can reach past the trash fence and open the world to Burning Man.

Since there will be sufficient postcards to carpet 1/3 of Black Rock City, a lot of unnecessary MOOP will be created if Burners don’t take up this free offer. Not only can the postcards reach past the trash fence, they can blow over it too.

This sounds a bit like a class action lawsuit – the lawyer wins a $1 billion settlement on behalf of 10 million people, if they don’t all submit the necessary paperwork to get their share, the lawyer keeps the proceeds and interest in a “trust” account.

post-office-at-burning-manPossibly, each one of 70,000 Burners will go and send a postcard. Assuming the Black Rock City Post office keeps the same hours as my local USPS, and is not open after The Man burns, they would have to process 1628 Burners per hour, which is 27 per minute or pretty much one every 2 seconds. In my local post office, if there are 5 people ahead of me in the queue, I’m probably gonna be there for 15-20 minutes – definitely not 10 seconds. Maybe they are using this new space-time distortion technology I alluded to in the introduction. If you grab a postcard from a big pile, grab a stamp from another big pile and affix it yourself, then drop the card in a slot attached to another very big pile, the processing effort will be less – but then, of course, you would be trusting bike-thieving newbies to treat free stamps with respect rather than contempt.

The problem with that theory, though, is that apparently many newbies don’t know what a postcard is or how to send one. Is there an App for that? What’s this “writing” you speak of? So radical self-reliance is being addressed with this educational program.

postal cartoonAfter we gave BRC its own zip code (89412-0149) in 2013, the plaza post offices noticed an distinct uptick in incoming mail and a distinct downward tick in outgoing mail.

It turns out that many first-time (i.e. virgin) participants have never sent a postcard, nor do they know how to write one! 

Through this campaign, we hope to raise awareness for the post office, as well as participation and filthy money. We want other Burners, theme camps, and art projects to know about us, as well get more people involved with the mail

Every Burning Man theme camp is always in need of cash, but this year we’re pushing above and beyond anything we’ve ever attempted before. Plus, unlike the some of the other camps that offer services, like the Airport, Earth Guardians, Greeters, Lamp Lighters, Placement, Playa Info, Recycle Camp, or the Shuttle Bus, our services are entirely self-funded. 

Except for the bit about killing trees, generating MOOP, and making filthy money for the organizers…I like this idea. Philatelic performance art – people writing, and adding stamps, with a quirky twist (BYO twist). Read all about it at their IndieGoGo page.

Whether you contribute to their crowd-funding campaign or not, Playa Postal Union lets you mail things to people at Burning Man. Anticipating Burners questions, I checked the mandatory-memorizing Survival Guide to see if drug sniffer dogs hang out at the Post Office, but I couldn’t find the answer…

SEND MAIL! You can send mail to specific people at Burning Man, or just send a postcard to any random burner you can think of! Delivering your mail is the best way we have of spreading the mission of the Playa Post and getting postcards into the hands of participants. Just use this as the address:

(Default World Name/Playa Name/Description of Random Participant)
(Camp Name)
(Address as a Time + Letter Street Intersection / Man or Mountain Side)
Black Rock City NV 89412-0149
Disorient – Hack Rock City
2:15 and A / Man Side
Black Rock City NV 89412-0149