“What I Learned Defending Plug-And-Play”
Whew! I did not expect so much response…or so much anger. But I have been reading and listening and LEARNING. Here is are the main points I’ve gathered in the 24 hours of exuberant dialogue:
- 17 burns ago, in 1998, I showed up at Burning Man on Thursday and stayed through the Man burn. (There was no Temple.) I tried to learn what I could about the event but I was under-prepared and took WAY more than I gave. I owe much to my campmates (who I just met) and the whole city. I am so grateful for their patience and willingness to let me have a “blow my mind” year before expecting me to “get it.” When I see people now who clearly don’t get it, I try to remember who I was back then.
- We all are passionate about Burning Man and consider it sacred. It is understandable that we are moved to fight to defend it (and feel anger towards those that we feel put it at risk.)
- Plug-And-Play is not an agreed-upon definition. Selling a high priced “resort experience” or Safari Tour of Burning Man is a different thing than a plug-and-play camp option – where you show up to a pre set-up camp and meal plan.
- Many people project the actions of the much-publicized “Carivanicle” camp to the term Plug And Play. They therefore consider a defense of Plug-and-Play to be a defense of what that camp did. No wonder there is so much anger! Being aggressively flirtatious is not the same thing as rape. The first may make some people uncomfortable – but it is possible to do with integrity. The latter – always wrong. Defending a flirtatious friend is not the same as defending rape.
- Carivanicle clearly violated the 10 Principles, common decency, and labor laws. The anger (and attention) being given to this situation is justified and a positive thing for the future of Burning Man. Having specific acts (and people) to focus frustration on helps us to shape a more concrete “Best Practices” for all theme camps.
- I am not well versed on Carivanicle’s connection to a Burning Man board member. But if this is accurate, then it is understandably unsettling and should be addressed publically by the BMORG.
- I still believe that exposing people with power & influence to a Burning Man experience is good for the world. It can change people. That being said (and what I tried to say in the article), is that an exclusive, VIP segregated camp experience (aka “Safari”) is NOT a Burning Man experience.
- I think that the person who joins a Safari camp suffers a worse consequence (by missing out a possibility fantastic life experience) than anyone who is turned away from their velvet rope.
- If large chunks of tickets are being made available to these high dollar camps, that is NOT okay. Tickets are scarce and we have a very specific community rules for buying & selling tickets. The directed sales for camps and groups that have a reputation of participation is good for the event. But A turnkey camp that includes a ticket is just advanced level scalping. (aka “Pay-to-play”) Furthermore, ANY favorable treatment regarding placement, etc. is clearly not okay.
- For every professional chef , laborer, or servant that gets a ticket, is that one artist or dreamer or previous Burner who is unable to attend? That seems like an unacceptable price for creating luxury for a small number of elite.
- There are a small number of professional roles required for the event to take place. Porto Potty Emptier, Delivery Truck Driver, Police Officer, and a handful of other jobs. These people do not require tickets and are not participants. Then there is a HUGE group of people who gift their time and talent towards projects and camps. This is the heart and soul of Burning Man. But “Safari” camps introduce a middle ground of person who wants to be a participant, but also commodifies their labor. Meanwhile countless other Participants gift those same skills & time to the community. I’m still getting my head around this category, but I think if you are acting on-Playa from financial motivation, you are outside the Principles and are in the category of Porto Potty guy or Cop.
- Plug-and-play is not necessarily against the Principles. But setting up a high priced safari experience as a sort of Event Planner money making scheme is blatant commodification. I heard reports of huge profits by Carivanicle. True or not, the concept is unsettling and downright maddening if camps like this are getting preferential treatment with regards to tickets, placement, etc.
In conclusion –
I have read through and tried to respond to well over 500 comments across Burners.me, Fest300 and Facebook. Some of those words were pretty hurtful and unnecessarily personal. I get it. I put myself out there and I guess I ask for it. But it would be good to remember that we all love this thing in the desert.
And whether you like it or not, I love you.