Why I Haven’t Written Off Burning Man – Yet

Burning Man has changed in the last 5 years, and according to what seems like a majority, not for the better. In the last 10 years it’s changed more.

And, well, 20 years ago there were no roads or services and you could shoot guns from the back of a pickup doing 80 mph across the desert. For most attendees of that era, Burning Man is completely ruined.

Burning Man has opened it’s doors to some very questionable commercialization, such as exclusionary Kickstarter perks. The images that spread across the internet widely make it look like Coachella but with hotter girls, and the culture we know and love is difficult to pick up in a photograph.

I love our little corner of Burning Man that we call OtherWorld. It’s great for people who are limited in their cross-border travel or for monetary reasons. It’s wonderful to bring art self-expression to a corner of the world that we live in, with the people we see year-round. But there are reasons not to write off the big burn just yet.

– Life imitates art and the regionals are an imitation of the Big One. It will be a lot more difficult to produce a good imitation on the island (and make improvements to the model) if a substantial portion of the population hasn’t been to the desert. Some of our regional-only attendees can name all 10 principles and some of the Black Rock attendees can’t name a single one, but awareness is higher for those who have done the original.

– Lessons from the direction that Black Rock City is taking can inform the direction that the Vancouver Island region should take. The fact is that moochers exist now. They can pay $10,000 or $20,000, and fly in to a set-up RV with personalized meal service, art car rides, etc. What if someone wants to pay $big bucks$ to come to OtherWorld and not contribute? We can try to shut them out, or try to acculturate. We can also learn lessons on scale, growth and safety from how Burning Man handles everything. For example, how is mental health handled between Rangers, Emergency Services Department and projects like Zendo?

– If you have never been, it will literally blow your mind. There are art pieces at Burning Man with year-round build teams the size of the entire population of OtherWorld. Camps serve food and drink on an industrial scale. It has inspired me not only in the content but in the scale of the regional art that I bring (or as some might consider it, “art”).

So save your dollars and suck up the fact that you might see a good old unwelcoming wall of RVs or two. Come to Burning Man.

Heather, aka, She who Has Strong Opinions about her Very Expensive Vacation

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