Burning Man seeded a unique culture that exists in full force during the event. This culture also extends into the so-called default world in ways both predictable and unintended.
Some people adore Burning Man, others attack it with disdain and vitriolic fervor. Those who adore it are easy to identify: they’ve attended before and some of them work for the organization as staff or volunteers.
Some people love the idea of Burning Man. They’ve heard about it and added it to their bucket list of things to do before they die. Every first-timer is known as a “virgin.” Afterward, they are considered a veteran and if they enjoyed the experience enough to consider returning, they affiliate as “Burners.”
As a whole, Burners are a plausibly rowdy group that rarely agrees. This mindset is an extension of radicalized self-reliance juxtaposed with a penchant for self-expression. The influx of virgins is a challenge, especially when dealing with the Bucket-Listers (a term invented here for purposes of exposition, meaning anyone attending Burning Man with no intention of returning). In a pop-up community that requires tremendous resources and experience to implement, clueless arrivals lacking assets, wisdom and dedication consume disproportionate resources and time. Nonetheless , it is important to churn new attendance in order to indoctrinate new and diverse ideas and compensate for burnout.
A significant number of Burners harbor a love/hate view toward Burning Man. There are some things they love about it that keep them in the fray. They hate the way things have changed over the years, sometimes have serious issues with management and event growing pains. More than anything, they hate what ticket scarcity has done: locked them into a cycle of participation often beyond their means. Like any addict, they need the rush but loathe the consequences.
The bulk of those who hate Burning Man have never participated. Others are victims of negative impacts from the event, such as residents in the nearest community of Gerlach who are held hostage when the event is underway. This is well beyond a a mere inconvenience to them. There have been emergencies when people suffered greatly when they couldn’t get medical care they needed in Reno due to gridlock caused by Burning Man. They don’t appreciate the garbage and the flies that linger for months because of that. Other haters include various levels of government that grandstand in order to extort funds from the event. A small percentage are disenfranchised Burners and service providers who felt exploited or victimized by the systems involved.
This website is for everyone except the haters, for whom exploration and discourse would be a moot endeavor. Let’s not confuse enlightenment about frustration and barriers, which could be construed as complaining as hate. Hate is easy to identify: its unrefined, narrow, without insight, research, or reflection. That’s not what this site is for.
In the default world, we regularly witness local governments, especially city and county councils build walls against citizen complaints. In their myopic missions aligned with the solidarity of their power, they grant hearings in order to shut down discourse. They miss the point of what is happening. Nobody wants to complain for it requires far more effort to do than nothing. Complaints arise from pain and anguish; from a sense of injustice. What a tremendous waste of resources to shut out someone who is passionate enough to risk such fallout to express their views about barriers and solutions. They should empower these people to tackle the solutions to problems they care so much about instead of sidelining them.
This site isn’t into absurd conspiracy theories, nor is it prone to candy-coat issues to curry favor, nor shy from important issues for fear of retribution. The majority of people working hard to keep Burning Man and related projects going are doing so with good intentions. Though they mean well, they are not always aware of downstream impacts and the nature of middle-management is a closed system that is far from perfect. Sometimes broader awareness is required to compel upper management to “adjust” their organization accordingly. Other times, broader external awareness is required to influence departmental silos to alter their track.