Black Rock City: 100,000 or 50,000?

Are rangers really Brand Protectors? That is what is being alleged in discussions in the local community. Who should decide what is sexual assault, and what gets brushed off as “unwanted touching”? Cops? Black Rock Rangers? Ummm, here’s a thought: the victim?

BMorg wants to increase the population size to 100,000, which would bring them at least another $15 million per year. The larger population size is effectively a tax on the food and drink camps, not to mention a MOOP and abandoned bike nightmare. It is a boon for the airline and bus service, and will require even more vendors licensed to sell stuff on the Playa. The tiny Pershing County, where a quarter of the population are incarcerated, is already overloaded with the year-round burden of Burning Man. They think that a 50,000 population is more realistic.

Some of our previous coverage:

Pershing County Asks to Limit Black Rock City to 50,000

Sheriff asks Org to pony up more money and officers

Local sheriff overwhelmed by Burning Man arrests

BURNILEAKS: Sexual Assaults, Missing Kids and Violent Crime

Recent story from Reno Gazette-Journal Are Nevada’s Small Towns Ready For Burning Man To Hit 100,000 people?

Black Rock City’s Law Enforcement Liaison Roger Vind presented to Pershing County Commissioners yesterday. We are publishing his statements as well as our source’s notes on them. You can download the 2017 PCSO Post-Mission Synopsis here.


From DS:

I have attached a copy of the comments made by Roger Vind BRC’s Law Enforcement Liaison and presented to the Pershing County Commissioners yesterday.

2018 BRC letter 8-15-18

DS:

Below are my comments submitted to the LRM reporter. I expect an article in our local paper next week. I will forward a copy when available.

Please note the authorization for traffic stops on the Playa comes from BRC with the signed SRP. The 2013 Settlement Agreement specifies Integrated Command.

Prior to 2014 the BLM LEO agency(s) used the Federal Court and most of the drug citations were dismissed with a $500 traffic fee or so I believe. With the significant reduction  of fees paid to Pershing County due to the 2013 Settlement Agreement’s INTEGRATED COMMAND as insisted by BRC. Which has shifted to Pershing County the prosecution of crimes on the Playa. A consequence of Integrated Command.

I always marvel at BRC’s chutzpa  in trying to alter reality.


Here are my comments after reading the text of the statement for the record by R. Vind. I have sent by previous e-mail a copy of the BRR Manual and inserted some excerpts below.

I see the Rangers as BRAND PROTECTORs not Law Enforcement assets for either Black Rock City (BRC), the BLM or Sheriff though BRC tends to use them as though they are a Law Enforcement offset. Having read the Sheriff’s 2017 Post Mission Synopsis (PMS), the published text of the District Attorney’s EIS/SRP comments, I can find no validation of BRC’s complaints or their alternate reality unsupported by actual facts. I have included Unified Crime Report (UCR) graphs below.

 


Roger Vind (NHP Lt. ret.) BRC Law Enforcement Liaison

Emma Weisman Agency Relations Manager at Burning Man

 

In evaluations of the new SRP proposal. BLM is seeking input from interested publics and local and state agencies about the potential impacts (both positive and negative) on the resources of the Black Rock Desert environment, the social services necessary to support such a large event and economic impacts associated with the event.         Comments will be considered as part of the scoping process until August 4, 2018.

 My Itemized response to Burning Man’s concerns:

  • Pershing County has never produced the (Burning Man) Event
  • The BLM Burning Man EIS SRP public comment period was open to both the Public and Cooperators and not subject to the whims or revisions of the Multi-Million Dollar San Francisco based for profit corporation (BRC). BRC has done two Public Comment meetings in Pershing County and meets frequently with the BLM.
  • The statement “In fact there are 57 instances pertaining to Law Enforcement in the 2018 Black Rock Ranger Manual…” is unclear, confused, and needs clarification.
  • Additionally the following statement “the manual clearly supports law enforcement’s roles and our utilization of law enforcement involvement.” Is telling. (The manual is available online)
  • Unreported Sexual Assaults are a serious matter that BRC should finally address for the benefit of their participants/victims as our District Attorney suggests: “Anecdotal information from state and federal law enforcement officers suggests that the BRR encourages event participants to avoid reporting incidents to law enforcement in favor of resolving matters “in house” with the BRR’s assistance,” Shields states in the letter. “Such stories from law enforcement seem to be credible because the 2018 Black Rock Ranger (BRR) Manual contains instructions to BRRs to ‘filter’ what is reported to law enforcement.” (The “filtering” is done in part by the BRR chain of command as indicated by the manual.) And is clearly not contradicted by Sheriff Allen as R. Vind alleges.
  • R. Vind goes on to complain about the self inflicted wound from the Settlement Agreement’s Integrated Command BRC’s cost savings bonanza.
  • Then ignorantly refers to “The County also generates revenue from the convictions it secures…”
  • BRC authorizes the BLM to perform “traffic stops” in the closure area, has done so for years with their SRP.
  • BRC’s 2017 Afterburn report might be done December of 2018. It takes over a year before its available. BRC pays ONLY for an eight day event which means the Sheriff’s PMS is done at TAXPAYER expense.
  • Are the Commissioners still waiting to receive Emergency Plans previously requested?
  • Has there been ANY community involvement in Pershing County from BRC as requested by Commissioner Rackley last year?
  • This is the first year BLM/BRC has acknowledged the legal requirement for Vendor compliance with County Business Licenses.
  • Firearm(s) found in the vehicle of a BRC employee during the 2016 Coroner’s investigation. The others had been admitted to Black Rock City after the Contraband search by BRC in 2017.

 

The voters of Pershing County will hold the Sheriff accountable for the magnificent job he is doing despite the budget limitations imposed by BRC and their untrustworthy conduct, unreasonable, and outlandish demands.

BRC has a clear financial incentive to increase the “paid population” by 30,000 at the standard ticket price of $425 or $12.75 million.

Pershing County has acknowledged the actuality that 50,000 is a more viable population cap for our limited resources.


(excerpts) 2018 Black Rock Ranger Manual

Sexual harassment, as defined within the Ranger Department, may consist of, but is not limited to, any unwelcome touching, stalking, repeated requests for a date after someone has said “no,” continuing to engage in sexual discussion or banter after being asked to stop, or similar behavior. Harassment will not be tolerated, regardless of who engages in it.

What happens if I make a report?

Reports of harassment are very serious. The Ranger Personnel Manager will investigate reports of harassment and will take remedial measures when appropriate. If you have made a report and are one of the principal people involved, you will be notified of the findings when the investigation is complete.

Will my report be kept confidential?

Information about harassment reports will be kept confidential and only shared with Ranger Managers on a need-to-know basis to complete the investigation. The Rangers’ policy with regard to sexual harassment or violence in the workplace is one of zero tolerance. We strongly support and adhere to the Burning Man policy. Burning Man is founded on expectations set by the community standards inherent to it.

One such community standard is creating an environment that is free of sexual harassment and violence by volunteers, staff, or vendors. Any reported occurrences will be investigated and regarded with the utmost compassion and gravity. The investigation will follow the guidelines set by the Burning Man Board for conflict resolution. Violation of this policy may result in progressive discipline, up to and including: counseling, eviction, termination, or legal action. The full text of the Burning Man Project’s organization-wide conflict resolution protocol may be found here.

 

In approaching any situation, a Ranger’s initial default action is DO NOTHING. (The exceptions to this axiom are must-report situations [e.g., medical emergencies, lost child, etc.]). If, in the process of doing nothing, you decide that your presence would be helpful, engage by helping participants solve their own problems. If they are unable to do so, try to solve the problem for them. If the situation still needs attention, call Khaki.

Must-Reports—Situations that Must Be Called in Immediately Black Rock Rangers are entrusted with considerable flexibility in how they handle the situations they encounter in Black Rock City. Rangers are trained to rely on their own judgment and abilities, and to escalate matters (generally to Khaki who is part of the Shift Command Team) for assistance when appropriate. There are, however, situations in which the Ranger Department requires that Rangers report what they observe to the Shift Command Team immediately.

The requirement to report is in place to ensure that the Burning Man organization is aware of events that are critical to maintaining agreements we have in place with other departments and agencies, our internal reporting metrics, or legally required or advisable record keeping and reporting.

It is important to note that this policy only requires that a Ranger escalate required information to the Shift Command Team. The Shift Leads will then follow up with appropriate actions, which may be as simple as noting the event in the shift log, or may include further escalation. It is not the individual Dirt Ranger’s responsibility to contact LE or medical.

How to Report

All reports begin by calling Khaki on the radio.


Crime and Population Statistics

 

How I Got Kicked Out of Burning Man Last Year

rangers k9

A guest post from Kevin O’Neill.


How I Got Kicked Out of Burning Man

By Kevin O’Neill

I got kicked out of Burning Man last year. To this day, I can’t quite tell you what offense I committed heinous enough to warrant it. Neither could the law enforcement officers or rangers that escorted me out, for that matter. We were all shrugs, head nods and baffled faces, as we drove through the desert night, kicking up a cloud of dust behind us on the road to Reno.

 

It all went down the Thursday before the burn. I’d been looking forward all week to my girlfriend arriving to meet me that afternoon. Her birthday was burn day this year and she could only make it in from Chicago for the weekend. I had gotten early entry as a plus one to a veteran ranger friend of mine, who I had driven to my first burn in 2012 with. This year we were all camping together at Ranger Outpost Berlin.

 

Having rangered 5 times at the Great Lakes Regional Burn, Lakes of Fire, I thought camping with the BRC Rangers would be a good opportunity to learn from the pros, get immersed in the culture, and ready myself for my third trip to the playa, when I would finally be eligible to start training for dirt shifts on the playa. If nothing else, they had a kitchen with the best appliances from Zozanga, I didn’t really use because they kept mentioning how good the vitamix 300 vs 5200 review was and I just didn’t wan to touch anything. they had a shower, which I was able to use once to rinse off the layers of dust skin I had grown during 2 windstorm greeter shifts. I had to be presentable for my girl. After all, she was flying in from across the country to be with me on her burn day birthday at our favorite place on earth.

 

My girlfriend flew in from Chicago to Reno Thursday afternoon during my last greeter shift. I called her when I got off. She was at the airport, about to board the Burner Express Bus. We arranged to meet at the shuttle drop off location by 3 and G, a couple blocks down 3 from Berlin, which was next to the keyhole at C. Just about the only thing I was on time for during the burn was arriving at the moment the shuttle dropped her off. It was serendipity, really. While walking back to camp with her stuff, I broke the news to her that our Ranger friend, who brought us to Berlin, was still out and about with her bike. A week before, in Chicago, all three of us were loading up my bike and hers on the Cobra bus to transport them 2,000 miles to the middle of the northern Nevada desert. It was there that my friend agreed to lend her bike to our Ranger buddy for the week until she arrived. There was one explicit condition she had: that the bike be returned to her upon her arrival at camp.

 

Suffice it to say, when we reached camp the bike was not there. Having had a negative experience where her bike was stolen from her during her first burn the year before, she was disappointed by her new bike’s absence. The bike was still where it had been locked up since the day before, when we rode it to the naked greeter shift, somewhere between Rod’s Road and 5. By the time it did make it back to camp, it was dark, cold, and we were about to evicted from Black Rock City.

 

I knew my friend had a shift that night, but I didn’t know when. After asking the rangers around the outpost Berlin if they knew the whereabouts of our ranger friend or when he might be expected back, we had no answers.

My girl and I decided to go for a walk in the meantime. She had had her heart set on having a dusk bike ride out to deep playa as soon as she got there, but a stroll around the neighborhood would have to suffice. We met our neighbors at a campsite toward the keyhole at C. They asked how we were, and we told them about my girlfriend’s birthday, how she had just arrived from Chicago earlier that day, and how we were walking around until our friend got back to Berlin with her bike. They encouraged us to seek help with the rangers at Tokyo Outpost, on the other side of the playa, because they might be able to look up his schedule to see if he was working that night and when. They said the Tokyo rangers would be more helpful.

 

We, instead, returned with this idea to our campsite at Berlin. After mentioning the notion to go Tokyo to ask about our friend’s schedule, the Berliners acted like “anything that Tokyo can do, we can do better.” While my girlfriend inquired about our friend’s schedule and when to expect him back, I passed out in my tent from the exhaustion of 48 hours of no sleep, during which time I was working 12 hours of sandstorm greeter shifts. Sometimes you just gotta go to Robot Heart for the deep playa sunrise set. Sometimes you have to lay down before you collapse. It’s all about balance.

 

I woke up to the sound of yelling. My girlfriend rushed into my tent, telling me that there was a ranger accusing her of going into tents that weren’t hers. Groggy and disoriented, I staggered out of my tent to be met by a guy in a ranger outfit, accusatory and hostile in nature. With an inflammatory tone, he demanded to know who we were, and what we were doing at the ranger’s camp.

 

“I’ve been camping here at Berlin for 5 days as a guest of my friend, a Black Rock ranger of 6 years,” I told him. The ranger before me said he didn’t know my friend, and interjected his doubt of what I told him and his suspicion that I was not supposed to be here. I insisted that he leave. He did leave by the by, only to return with more rangers shortly thereafter.

By this time the sun was settling behind the mountains, the temperature had dropped. I grabbed the first shirt with long sleeves I could reach, which happened to be my friend’s Black Rock City Ranger shirt. I had mistaken it for my similar Lakes of Fire Great Lakes Regional Ranger shirt that I had gotten a couple of years before, my 3rd time Rangering there. Now I was wearing a ranger outfit too. Similar in color, texture, and size to the Lakes of Fire Ranger issue, it was an honest mistake grabbing the BRC shirt instead. But it did turn out to be a huge mistake.

When the ranger who confronted us and disturbed me from my dust coma returned with more rangers, he saw my friend’s ranger shirt and said I was impersonating a ranger. He claimed I was there to steal from the tents of rangers.

 

At this point, we had drawn enough attention asking about my friend’s whereabouts, and getting into a yelling match with an unrangerly ranger, the situation was escalating fast. Rangers were gathering by the minute, surrounding our tents. Ever been surrounded by rangers before? It’s a little threatening. I may have offered to jump kick the unrangerly ranger who started this whole defuckle. I wonder if I can even do that.

They said I was trespassing. Without my friend there to corroborate, all I could do was remind them that I had been here all week, that I had seen such and such at the Berlin Outpost party on Tuesday, circumstantial stuff. Of the few rangers at Berlin friendly enough to talk with me all week I’d been there, none of them were there right then. I got mad. They threatened to call law enforcement. I encouraged them. That turned out to be a mistake too.

 

When law enforcement got there, my ranger friend had yet to return. The rangers at Berlin proceeded to file paperwork with them to have me evicted. They told me and my girlfriend that I was going to be kicked out, but she was going to be allowed to stay. She said wanted to stay with me, sweet woman. She was filming everything at this point on her camera.

I started yelling that this was unfair, and that I hadn’t done anything to deserve this. I was assaulted briefly by a police officer who slammed into me from behind and restrained me.

They stopped short of handcuffing me.

 

I was allowed to pack up my tent and belongings under the flashlights of a dozen rangers. Right before the time when the packing began, my friend finally shows up with my girlfriend’s bike in tow.

 

He was immediately confronted by law enforcement and questioned.

“Who’s bike is that?”, the sheriff asked.

“It’s (Kevin’s girlfriend’s)”, replied my friend.

“Are these your things”, inquired the sheriff, holding up the dust-rubbed Khaki garb I had worn earlier.

“Yes”, says my friend after investigating his shirt.

“It seems Kevin here was going through your tent while you were out”, the law enforcement officer informed my friend. “Would you like to press charges?”

“Kevin is my friend, he has permission to go into my tent whenever he likes.”

The law enforcement officer then asked my girlfriend if she still wanted to press charges for bike theft.

“No,” she said. “The bike has been returned”. Albeit too late.

The situation seemed to deescalate. All conflicts were resolved.

The rangers told us that we could stay in festival but we had to leave Berlin. Gladly.

Not 20 minutes later, my Ranger friend came out with the law enforcement officer and told us that they were just kidding about us getting to stay.

“The paperwork had already been started”, he said. You know how it is with paperwork, am I right?

 

As it turns out, while the situation outside was being diffused, inside of a trailer at Berlin, the Khaki on duty made the tough decision to evict me and my girlfriend from Burning Man. They feared that if we were allowed to stay at the festival, we may retaliate or seek vengeance. That definitely wasn’t a possibility after the paperwork to remove us had been filed with the state sheriff.

The paperwork that we were given was 2 yellow carbon copies of trespassing notices, from the Nevada State’s Sheriff’s office, signed by the khaki on duty at the time. We were escorted out to the law enforcement camp, at the festival entrance, right next to where I had spent 16 hours greeting 1000s of people with hugs all week long. Now it was time for me to say goodbye. 2 hours later, my girlfriend and I, along with all of our stuff (her bike included), were toted in a white van with no windows through the dark desert toward Reno. I fell asleep. When I woke up, that dream that we all share – of making it out to the playa and having our intentions, hard work, sacrifices, resources, and time [combine] into the culminating experience of everything we each bring and believe to be Burning Man – was gone. I’ve been woke ever since.

 

I returned to the Lakes of Fire this past June, my 7th regional. I attended ranger training. I’m not sure why exactly I felt compelled, but it had to do with forgiveness and closure. A respected veteran to Lakes and Black Rock was leading the session.

 

There’s no way he could’ve known what had happened with us last year. The rangers that were there didn’t talk about it, and if you’re reading this, you’re one of a few that I’ve told the story to. Still, this veteran ranger looked me in the eye, standing in a crowd full of attendees, and gave a pretty good speech.

 

“We’re rangers. We’re not cops. We don’t have any authority over anyone else. We’re here to help”, he told us. “Part of Burning Man is radical participation. Rangering is my art. It’s my contribution to this community.”

We all give back in our own ways. While I wasn’t ready to put on a “Khaki Lives Matter” patch, I did end up taking a shift at the perimeter of our 2016 Lakes of Fire effigy burn. Rangers and FAST had to tackle a disoriented participant, who was running toward the burning wooden monster to prevent him from jumping into the fire. Other than that, it was pretty uneventful.

Burning Man Now Starts at 00:01

bm line

BMOrg have announced a change to the gate opening time. It’s now  12:01am Sunday August 28. Unfortunately Burners who do manage to beat the traffic and get in before the “official” opening time of 6pm are now expected to put Civic Responsibility ahead of Immediacy, Radical Self-Expression, and Radical Self-Reliance.

Here’s what they said:

In a move designed to alleviate the crush of traffic on Gate Road at the start of the event, Burning Man and the Bureau of Land Management have agreed to begin allowing vehicles to enter Black Rock City at 12:01 am Sunday, August 28.

The official start of the event is still 6 pm Sunday. We’re asking everyone to use the extra time to focus on getting your camp set up, and to refrain from getting your freak on until the official start Sunday evening.

Keep in mind traffic on Highway 447 is heaviest in the early afternoon and evening. (Think about it: You wake up, grab a leisurely breakfast, do some last minute shopping and then hit the road — just like 49,999 other people who show up on Sunday and Monday!)

Help us help you by timing your arrival “off peak”. We promise a good time will be had by all (starting at 6 pm Sunday).

I say, let your freak flag fly! It’s Burning Man, FFS. “Official start”…who writes this stuff? What, is a horn going to sound or something…”now, Burning Man can begin! You may leave your camps, go forth and be freaky!”

Image: Eric Cheng

Image: Eric Cheng

Art Cars: Now Chosen by Curators

M&R Photography

Image: M & R Photography, Flickr (Creative Commons)

Over at eplaya, Trilobyte has posted the new rules for Mutant Vehicles.

Have a cool art car? That’s no longer enough. In order to bring it, the Art Czar will have to decide that it fits the aesthetic they desire for the year’s theme – and if you are in good enough standing in your sucking up to BMOrg.

Burning Man 2.0 is about pedestrians and bicycles, not Art Cars and DJs.

2016 MUTANT VEHICLE PROCESS CHANGES

The Department of Mutant Vehicles is moving to a new system for processing Mutant Vehicle applications in 2016.

THE SHORT VERSION
The increased volume of Mutant Vehicle applications (nearly 1000 in 2015) is requiring the DMV to be more selective than ever. Having a vehicle on the playa in the past is no guarantee of
being invited in the future! Put your best foot forward in your application and give us a reason to invite your vehicle to Black Rock City. The Mutant Vehicle application form will be closing earlier than ever this year: Noon (PST) on April 13.

THE WHOLE STORY
In past years, the DMV has invited every vehicle to the playa that met the published Mutant Vehicle requirements. We strove to have an objective process to evaluate each application, focusing on level of mutation – not on quality of the art. It’s important to know that if you think it’s a good idea to art up a Car Leasing from ICL that you catch on the way, think again.

Each Mutant Vehicle application is reviewed by a committee of DMV Hotties, and we strive to reach a consensus agreement on whether the vehicle has met the criteria. Historically the DMV team has reviewed each application shortly after it was received, and responded to the vehicle creator as quickly as possible. Over the years, the Mutant Vehicle Community has steadily “ratcheted up” the bar a vehicle must pass, and we’re now at a point where we require vehicles to be completely mutated – showing little or none of the original base vehicle.

In spite of the stricter requirements, the number of applications has steadily grown, and the number of thoroughly mutated vehicles now exceeds what we can accommodate on the playa. Burning Man is primarily a pedestrian and bicycle city, and only a fraction of burners can bring a vehicle before the playa becomes too crowded with them. Our goal is to enable our creative community of artists making mutated vehicles to show off their creations, while balancing the needs of playa preservation, visual stimulation, and safety.

In response, the DMV is revising how we evaluate applications to bring a Mutant Vehicle to the playa. Rather than considering each vehicle on its own merits, we’re moving to a “curation” model, wherein we will consider each vehicle within the context of all the qualified applications we receive. A vehicle will still be required to meet the published Mutant Vehicle criteria, but that alone won’t guarantee an invitation to bring it to the playa. We will also be looking to invite a balance of different types of vehicles on the playa: large scale sound vehicles, flame effects focused vehicles, small artistic vehicles, large transport vehicles, highly participatory vehicles, etc. We are dedicated to licensing vehicles from projects of all budget levels, not just the most expensively built ones.

We will be looking for vehicles that have good execution of their design concept. We will also be evaluating the originality of a vehicle. There are already quite a number of bar-cars, furniture cars and boats, for example – and that might not be the best design choice for a new vehicle you’re considering. When it comes to larger vehicles, we will be favoring vehicles that have a sterling record for inclusivity when it comes to offering rides to the public.

So…what can you do to maximize the chance of being able to bring your vehicle to the playa this year?

  • Fill out your application thoroughly. Including more detail is better than less.
  • Make sure your application gives us a very clear vision of your vehicle.
  • The application should clearly describe the concept for your vehicle and what you have done or will do to realize that concept.
  • Good photos of both the day and nighttime appearance are necessary – If you’re building a new vehicle that isn’t complete yet, then detailed design sketches are a good alternative to photos.
  • Vehicles desiring a night license need to be detailed about the lighting plan for the vehicle.
  • Mutant Vehicles which align with or comment on Burning Man’s annual theme will be given greater consideration.

Please recognize not every vehicle will be invited. Having brought your vehicle to the playa in a prior year is no guarantee that you’ll get invited again. Your application will be considered in comparison to the other applications we receive. Make sure your application conveys what excited you about building the vehicle in the first place!

In past years, we’ve allowed vehicle creators who were not selected to appeal our decision, and offer up additional details about their vehicle, or change some part of their design. Our new process eliminates appeals, so it’s more important than ever your application be filled out clearly and completely!

Lastly, the deadline for submitting an application will be noon PST on April 13. In past years, we’ve been able to accommodate vehicles that missed the deadline. Because of our new evaluation system, we can no longer do that. So get your vehicle application in early!

Thanks for your time, and we look forward to seeing all of your amazing creative vehicle designs this year. If you have questions, please get in touch with the Burning Man Department of Mutant Vehicles at dmv@burningman.org.

RESOURCES

  • The main DMV webpage is available here
  • The DMV Mutant Vehicle criteria are available here
  • DMV Information on Vehicles for People with Disabilities is here

[Source: ePlaya]

In 2014, the last year we have an AfterBurn report for, there were 600 Mutant Vehicles in Burning Man. So 1000 applications means if you made an Art Car, you have a 60/40 chance of getting it to Burning Man. Basically, flip a coin.

Another Org decision that is just going to make it harder for Burners to plan and get excited about the Burn. They don’t know if their whole camp can go, and now they don’t know if their art car can go either.

It calls into question the entire idea of raising money to invest in an art car, if there is no guarantee it is even going to be permitted at Burning Man – or if it can be turned away on the whim of some faceless groupthink influencer at BMHQ. No appeal, no oversight. That’s it, done – and if you ever want anything approved by them again, placement or an art car or an art project or early access passes or even (gulp!) tickets – you better just shut up and take it.

The series of ticket crises and systems has ended the idea of a camp of friends who would all get together every year at Burning Man; or people arranging to meet each other at a future Burn. Now, it’s pot luck. A lottery. Planning goes out the window, when it all becomes so arbitrary. Unless you have some juice inside the Org, of course. You know people who know people – and they’re the right people.

BMOrg are still trying to figure it out. Hate to break it to ’em, but 10 tickets are really not enough to organize a camp. 5 couples is a pretty small camp – 2 RVs or ShiftPods. I have people contacting me chasing 300 tickets:

Screenshot 2016-01-29 17.48.38

Prepare to get your participation forms in, folks. In about a month, you’ll be able to fill out online questionnaires and applications, so that your process of bring art to Burning Man may finally (possibly) begin…

Heads-up, folks! The various participation forms for the 2016 event will go live on February 24th at noon PST. At that point, you’ll be able to start filling out the questionnaires and applications for your projects. The deadlines vary by project, and are listed below. You don’t have to scramble to get them in the minute the forms open, but you DO need to make sure you fill it out and hit the final submit button BEFORE that deadline.

  • Camp Placement Questionnaire – February 24, 2016 – April 28, 2016 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time
  • Mutant Vehicle Application – February 24, 2015 – April 13, 2016 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time
  • Disabled Persons Vehicle Application – February 24, 2016 – August 2, 2016 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time
  • Art Installation Questionnaire – February 24, 2016 – June 14, 2016 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time
  • BRC Media Application – February 24, 2015 – July 21, 2016 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time

[Source: ePlaya]

U-Haul Introduces Burning Man Kit [Updates]

Screenshot 2015-07-28 10.28.34

Burning Man will not allow any trucks with commercial logos, says U-Haul. Luckily, they have come up with a Burning Man kit they can sell you to cover all the decals – including Ford and General Motors logos.

Purchase your kit here, it costs $25 and takes an hour and a half to apply, you will need to remove it after the event also.

Is this yet another rule? An unwritten rule, now being more publicly enforced, complete with extra things to buy? What if you have an El Monte RV? All these questions answered on The Car Starter,a specialty blog, tune in!

From uhaul.com/burningman:

Covering U-Haul® Logos

Per Burning Man rules, trademarks and logos are not permitted at the event. In order to safely cover the logos and markings on a U-Haul truck or trailer, you can purchase a U-Haul decal kit. This covering material will allow you to easily cover all logos for the duration of Burning Man. When the event is over, the decal can come right off without leaving any residue or damage behind. Using any other covering material can damage the truck or trailer and result in additional fees, as well as costly repairs to the truck/trailer.


[Update 7/28/15 12:14pm]

There’s nothing technically in BMOrg’s official rules that force you to do this, it’s more of an “unwritten rule” like DJ Lineups. The way U-Haul present the information, though, makes it sound like this is a requirement of Burning Man, that you won’t even get through the gate if you don’t do it.

U-Haul are using BMOrg’s reputation for setting lots of rules as a tool to make money off Burners. They can charge $25, and point to the Ten Principles. “Pay us for Decommodification“. It’s commercial genius: I predict we will see this revenue stream replicated by many other service providers.

Watch how many Burnier-Than-Thous will now come out to support this and say “yeah! it’s the rules! Everyone must do this!”, thus helping U-Haul sell even more Decommodification Kits™. Great viral marketing.


[Update 7/28/15 5:58pm]

Halcyon thinks this is a way to follow the Principles, not someone selling a Burning Man product which presumably is against the Principles.

Clearly people have been duct taping over their truck logos for years. This is a way to follow the principles and avoid damage/fees. I think this is a great example of corporations working *with* the community.

He has gone further, publicly endorsing U-Haul with a very favorable post over at burningman.com titled Corporate Courting.

He, and some others commenting, feel that charging $25 for a kit to assist with your Decommodification is more helpful than ironic. A kind gesture, rather than something to link U-Haul with Burning Man in commercial sponsorship, transactions, or advertising. Well, the web site ain’t called uhaul.com/tenprinciples

So, let me get this straight.

“Buy this Burning Man kit for $25”: totally fine with the Decommodification Principle.

“download my track for free”: against Decommodification.

Decommodification
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.


[Update 7/28/15 11:25pm]

Stuart Shoen, EVP U-Haul

Stuart Shoen, EVP U-Haul

Stuart Shoen, Executive Vice President at U-Haul and a third generation member of the billionaire family behind it, has left a detailed comment at burningman.com. It seems they tried to work with the Org, but hit a brick wall of stony silence. They persevered and went it alone, coming up with this offering as best they could to fit within Burning Man’s rules (written, unwritten, and “just guidelines”). The objective is reducing damage to their vehicles, not making money or exploiting Burning Man for their marketing. He sounds pretty sincere to me and I commend U-Haul for making this happen despite zero support from BMOrg.

Thanks to the author for your initial assessment. I understand your suspicions, but I would like to assure you that you are reading us correctly in that we are not trying to pander or exploit. We’re just trying to be helpful. The following statement is 100% correct:

“I don’t see this as an attempt to sell you on a U-Haul, but to have a harmonious experience bringing a U-Haul to Burning Man.”

The truth is: misuse of our equipment by Burners or anyone else diminishes our ability to serve our intended customer: the DIY Household Mover. When our trucks are misused, they require added costs to return to service and while getting fixed, they are out of service and unavailable for other customers to use. I assure you, there is no event on the North American continent that has a comparable effect on our equipment. There is nothing like the Burning Man festival as far as impacting large amounts of our trucks in a deleterious or potentially deleterious way. [So much for Leave No Trace! – Ed.]  This content’s purpose is, 100%, to mitigate the damage, not to increase the income related to these rentals. After years of trying various behind-the-curtain tactics (all unsuccessful), we decided to try to simply talk to our customers about it.

That said, a few things:

First off, U-Haul attempted to contact the organizers of Burning Man in an effort to publish this content in a way that they would have preferred. Our attempts to communicate were never answered or even acknowledged. We would have liked some guidance along the way and we never got it. Please accept my apologies for not having better etiquette. This isn’t our turf and this was our best shot. We will take down the term “Barter Supplies” and just call them “supplies”. Obviously, we got that wrong. Happy to change it.

Second, Tanner’s comment represents a great deal of misinformation about the structure, operation and procedures of U-Haul. I won’t dignify or try to talk him out of his opinion about our equipment, but his misstatements of fact are just that, and not relevant to this conversation. For example, Ryder is no longer in this business and hasn’t been for years. Also, I’ll kindly ask everyone not to hit anything on our equipment with a wrench. I wouldn’t do that to your car even if I paid you to borrow it, so please don’t do it to ours.

Now, I’ll try to let everyone down easy here: U-Haul is a for-profit enterprise. It pays a lot of salaries and plenty of good things flow from them. So I won’t apologize for it, and likewise I won’t ask anyone to apologize for embracing the values that the festival embodies. I have no social agenda except to try to help all our customers do what they want to do in a way that doesn’t prevent another customer from doing what they want to do. Maybe you disagree, but I think it’s totally appropriate and within bounds for my team and I to try to talk to our customers about how to use (or how not to use) our equipment.

We’ve been in business for 70 years, and we know where our bread is buttered. Our bills and salaries are paid by the DIY Household Mover, and we’ve earned their business by offering them products, services, and help in a chaotic time (moving) that is worth paying for… and not by conning them on a one-time basis. Our Company’s business model is the “specialization of use and the division of ownership”. Our business is dependent on being part of a community, not fleecing it. We’ve lost customers when we’ve screwed this up; we win customers when we get it right. This, not the expenditure of an advertising budget, is how our business lives and dies. I would also like to categorically state that U-Haul is spending zero advertising dollars behind this communication. The only people that have been sent this message are individuals who have already rented equipment. If this were an ad campaign, this one would fail in epic proportions.

As I said, this content is sent to existing customers according to very specific parameters that have nothing to do with piercings or hair color. We put videos on YouTube for the exact same reason individuals put their cat videos on YouTube: so that people looking for this content might actually find it. This is also the reason that we use the festival’s name instead of referring to it generically. We didn’t see the point of trying to provide information to a very specific group (i.e., individuals considering taking U-Haul equipment to the Burning Man festival) and not mention specifics about that group. And yes, our legal team made sure we only use the name in a legal and permissive way.

Of course, some people are incredibly and incontrovertibly suspicious of anyone in business. I’m not here crusading to change any of that. I’m here to clear up our intentions, and respect all the perspectives out there. All I ask is that you respect ours, which is simply: if you’re not going to use our equipment in its intended use case scenario (DIY Household Moving), then please don’t make it hard for other customers who do. That’s all our content is about.

Thanks for your time.

Stuart Shoen
Executive Vice President, U-Haul International


What do you think, Burners? Is U-Haul being a good corporate citizen, helping Burners to avoid fines and respect Burning Man’s Ten Principles at the same time? Or are they yet another big corporation cashing in on Burning Man?