A lot of drama coming out of the Gerlach Regional (aka Burning Man) this past week. If you missed it, a larger, more funded camp was the victim of vandalism. A lot of finger pointing has been made, but the truth is there isn’t any. No arrests have been made, no motive has been released. Everything you hear is speculation.
What isn’t speculation is a vocal portion the burnersphere has jumped on the opportunity to point the finger at those who have more of the one thing that doesn’t buy anything in Black Rock City (except iced
lattes, of course). I’ve seen richer celebrities blamed for everything from ruining the burn to avoiding the exodus. (I’d also like to point out for you that haven’t been to an airport lately that planes wait in line, too.)
I also sat with a guy on the bus coming in from the airport who wouldn’t have been able to experience the burn (his first) any other way. He lived in South Bay five years, had immediately drunk the Kool-Aid and was finally making the journey.
If you’re sitting at home talking about whether Burning Man is inhabited by the proper ratio of rich and poor people – the have and have nots as I’ve heard them called plenty in the last few days – then you’ve completely missed the point.
Burning Man (and burner culture, which I’ll use synonymously from here out) isn’t about what you have, it’s about what you bring. I’ve seen huge contributions this year from those with very little, and clever, subtler conversations from those who had quite a bit more. Both of which we among my favorite additions to the burn.
Much of the art comes from smaller groups, and even a lot of the bigger art is volunteer based – the majority of those building volunteering. From deep playing pieces to the temple itself, it’s a labor of love.
Many of the biggest camps are out there to create the party. To bring something bigger and better to the burn. One of my favorite things about theme camps, art cars and art pieces is competition to out clever and out do the next piece. To bring the biggest plane, or the lighthouse with the most character.
Burners need only look to their neighbors to set the next bar, which is what we should be doing. This world spends too much time focusing on what we have and what we don’t, lets leave that out of the place where we’re all much closer to equal.
In Black Rock City, or whatever regional you may reside on a given weekend, we’re rich in so many ways that matter so much more – in cleverness, in ideas, in inspiration, in happiness, in love. Remember these are the things that are invaluable even in the places where money exists.
I'm Dr. Yes, a 10 year burner. I run this site, was on the '15 Temple team, lead a theme camp called Friendgasm, and make Burning Man videos. Just say yes, folks, and help keep Burning Man weird!