An Alliance of Makers Focus: Burning Man and Beyond
Burning Man is an week-long event where participants generate the bulk of the entertainment value. To manage a large mass of people, the Burning Man organization institutionalizes three project groups: Art Installations, Mutant Vehicles and Theme Camps.
There are many skills essential to more than one category. If a person volunteers to help a theme camp with advanced LED lighting and seeks to stay with that theme camp, they are pressured to go all in. They must contribute even more to help pay for the camp’s infrastructure and engage in support activities that waste their expertise. This restricts the maker’s ability to lend technical assistance to projects outside of that theme camp.
Theme camps face tremendous pressure from Burning Man to be interesting and popular. If they fall short, they are denied a permit and the perks essential to sustain their event presence. Camps compete for limited space, continuously raising the bar and resulting in some unintended consequences. Ultimately, everyone involved in bringing the event to fruition feels justified in what they are doing, but the structure disenfranchises some makers.
We recognize that rare talents are spread thin and implement specific measures to support maker autonomy. Our goal is to unite a group of like-minded makers through mutual support functions, including:
Think tank: new ideas for projects and output.
Logistical support: load balancing infrastructure hauling and storage.
Technical support: overcoming specific technical hurdles.
Assets: trust among members to share tools and common elements.
Activities: members assemble to extend and expand the support matrix.
We exist beyond small boxes. We are makers with broad skill sets, prone to engage in deep participation essential to many art installations, mutant vehicles AND theme camps. We are fluid from year-to-year in our alignment at the Burn, but remain true to our cause as a unified maker collective.
- Grow and improve the volunteer participation and support cluster at Burning Man
- Expand participation in Mohave area events
- Establish a non-profit club status for asset ownership
- Acquire acreage near Mohave for use by any Dustopia member (camping, tiny houses, workshop, storage, project staging, random private events and gatherings)
Our members aggregate in regional clusters where they share knowledge, space and gear. The regions our most active members are located (or have property assets we use for staging) and engage in regionals or alternate festivals currently include:
- Gerlach, NV
- North Bay area of San Francisco
- Mohave, CA
- Albuquerque, NM
Some of our shared assets:
Machine shop in CA, art staging and storage site in Gerlach, NV. Event support: art installation support vehicle: one vehicle shared by multiple member projects camping in the same block. Tools: hammer drill, metal bandsaw, shop vac, construction rake, generators, cordless drill, T-post pounder and puller, shovels, grub hoe, cordless power tools, bike mechanic rack.
Our collective doesn’t operate, nor is it fully responsible for theme camps, mutant vehicles or art installations.
However, our members contribute their expertise and resources to some specific theme camps, mutant vehicles and art installations.
We do sponsor a support camp each year for those who don’t align with a theme camp, but tend to support multiple builds or infrastructures. For the most part, the menu lists some project categories where our members contribute directly.
Because we’re involved in so many projects and once implemented, projects are rewarded with ticket purchase options, we typically have some overflow which we will share with those who possess the capacity (equipment and proximity) and enthusiasm, to deeply engage in adding value to existing projects and hauling infrastructure. Engagement is everything and we reward merit. Sometimes we hold tickets for “apprentices” that are willing to provide direct support for a maker that’s disabled or injured and can’t move infrastructure or assemble art and MVs.