Responsibilities for Members of the Black Rock French Quarter
The following guidelines outline your responsibilities as a member of the Black Rock French Quarter. Please keep in mind that you are responsible for yourself and your actions, at all times, in every regard, in any way you are involved with the village. Your membership in the Black Rock French Quarter is a privilege - any violation of the requirements below could result in ejection from the village.
- Read the Survival Guide. The Burning Man Survival Guide summarizes the official rules and practices of Burning Man. Most of what it covers is fundamental to the event. Some of what it covers is more about how the organization that hosts the event envisions Burning Man, and that may not match how veterans of the event envision Burning Man. That said, all of what the Survival Guide covers is stuff that you should know backwards and forwards to ensure that you do not make an ass of yourself, and that your camp is not denied placement or tickets in future years. You think you already know all the rules of Burning Man? If you can explain right now what kind of digging you are allowed to do on playa to secure a post in the ground, and what you need to do in order to burn a small sculpture in your camp, then you may be right - but if you cannot explain these things, then you should reread the entire guide this very minute.
- Subscribe and pay attention to the event, village, and camp announcement lists. Jack Rabbit Speaks, Black Rock French Quarter Announcements, and the Camp Discussion Groups are how our community makes sure everyone is informed and able to participate fully. The combined traffic on our various announcement lists is maybe 50 posts per year, and it takes about 2 minutes to read and comprehend any given announcement, so we are expecting you to devote 100 minutes over the next year to listening to the folks who spend hundreds of hours to make it all possible. We do understand that some people have not quite mastered email, but in a world where email is so ubiquitous that the Maasai and the Bedouin have it on their smartphones, it would probably be a good idea for you to catch up.
- Bring everything you need for your survival and comfort. You are responsible for bringing all of your own food, shelter, water, fuel, and anything else you need to be happy and healthy for at least one week in the middle of the desert. As a general rule, none of the camps in our village provide showers, or power, or shade, or meals, or kitchens, other than as options that you may buy into or help organize with other members. Mind you, all of these services do exist within our village, because members like you step up to organize and participate in them. Even if you do participate in one of these plans, you are still entirely responsible for all of your own supplies and basic needs - this includes survival rations for the duration of the event, just in case something catastrophic happens to your kitchen or vehicle transporting it. This especially means you must bring any medications you may need to thrive under extreme conditions. If you aren't sure what to bring, check out Crunchy Mama's Packing List, or ask the veterans in your camp discussion group.
- Assume full responsibility for your own health and safety. By participating in Burning Man you acknowledge that you are assuming the risk of serious injury or death! It is up to you to make sure this doesn't happen. This means you must carry water with you at all times - consider a canteen or hydration pack. It means you must be careful when embarking and disembarking vehicles. It means you must wear lighting at night so that nothing runs into you in the dark. And it means showing good sense and restraint when consuming alcohol or other substances.
- Assume full responsibility for your own happiness. Nobody knows what you truly value or what your personal limits are but you, and nobody is ever going to be as focused on maintaining your happiness as you. Hence, it falls on you to seek out the experiences you want, ask questions or seek guidance when you don't know how to proceed, keep an eye on your own property, and bring to Burning Man only those things that you willing to risk losing amonst the confusion and extreme conditions. The willingness of village members and other Black Rock citizens to help each other have a good time is a wonderful thing, but should never be imposed upon, or interpreted as lessening your own personal responsibility to look out for the things that you consider important.
- Mean what you say. Burning Man may be a big party in the desert, but it is also the culmination tremendous amounts of time, energy, and money that everyone pours into their projects in an effort to have the maximum amount of incredible peak experiences they can in one week - and that means that it is also damn serious. You never never never want to leave one of your villagemates hanging on something you promised or be the reason they lost a day of fun taking care of something that you said you were going to take care of. This means you always want to be clear with your peers, and in your own mind, on whether you are in fact going to deliver on the commitments you made. Whenever it looks like you aren't going to have the time, or you are hitting a wall, or your interests have simply changed and you want to do something different than what you agreed to, its important to communicate very clearly and well in advance so that they can get to work on a contingency.
- Know what you are saying. Consider one of the most common yearly announcements on every Burning Man theme camp mailing list: "I'm bringing plenty of coffee for everyone, so consider that base covered!" in making that announcement, you just took personal responsibility for meeting the coffee needs of everyone in the camp, however many are in the final count, at whatever level they choose to expect, and you have told all the other coffee afficianados to go look for something else to contribute - if that was your intent, and if you are actually going to find the headcount, do the math, check with your peers to make sure everyone is cool with your numbers and coffee choice, then its all good - but perhaps what you really meant was: "I'm bringing 5 pounds of institutional blend coffee from Costco, so I've got about 20 people covered for 1 cup of decent coffee per morning! Any of you gourmets want to bring something exotic to share?"
- Step up. If someone is carrying something heavy, lend a hand. If there are dishes that need to be washed, wash them. If a trash bin is overflowing, ask one of your camp directors how the trash is supposed to be dealt with, and take care of it. If you spot something potentially dangerous, like exposed rebar or a loose gas valve, find a way to secure it and let one of your camp directors know about the issue. If you spot someone you don't know wandering through the village, ask "May I help you?", and confirm with one of your camp directors that this person really is supposed to be where they say they are. If you need guidance, ask one of the camp directors. If you need additional hands, ask one of your villagemates, or one of the folks being served by your camp, to help you out.
- Help build the village infrastructure, pack and unpack the vehicles, and assemble and disassemble the camps. There are about 20 days of welding, carpentry, painting, decorating, planning, and design that go into creating a village like ours. There are about 7 days packing the vehicles, 5 days of unpacking the vehicles and assembling the village before the festival starts, 4 days of disassembling the village and packing the vehicles at the end of the festival, and 2 days of unpacking the vehicles after they arrive home. The more hands we have, the faster it goes. To truly be a member of the village, you need to do your part in at least some of this work.
- Help with cleanup of the village. Part of the leave no trace ethic of the event is that we are each individually responsible for our entire village space being immaculate throughout the week and after we leave. This means that you are responsible for picking up any trash or other evidence of human habitation that you encounter anywhere in our village space. You are also responsible for spending as much time as necessary walking our space after the village has been packed up, and picking up any trace of human habitation - this includes feathers from boas, staples from packaging, cinnamon dust from kitchens, etc. In fact, most Black Rock citizens will pick up any trash they find out blowing around on the open playa, to do their part in keeping the desert clean.
- Pay your camping deposit. Every member of the village puts up a $75 deposit to ensure that, in the event they need to leave on Sunday, or during the day on Monday before all of the packing and cleanup is complete, there are resources available to help the sorry folks left behind to do that work, or at least to buy them champagne and dinner in Reno when they finally leave the event on Tuesday. Deposits are waived for some members, based strictly on them having been heroic in the loading or cleanup in the previous year, but that is a very small club, like the dozen hearty souls who cleaned up for the whole village to ensure a green rating on the MOOP map in 2013. If your plans make it impossible for you to stay through Monday night cleanup, you just let us know in advance, and your $75 will be forfeit, but you will still be in good standing with the village. If you do not let us know in advance, such that we count on you being there on Monday but you are gone, you will not be invited back. Camping deposits can also be forfeit for willfully ignoring the responsibilities on this page - so if you are pouring out your grey water on the playa, leaving your trash behind, failing to properly secure your tent or cap your rebar, expect to lose your $75 deposit. All of this preparation, and packing, and cleanup is a necessary result of that party in the desert that you are participating in, and these are parts of the experience, the "Radical Self Reliance" and "Leave No Trace" parts, that real Burners are actually going to the event for.
- Pay your share of camp and village expenses. It costs a mountain of money to create, transport, power, and maintain all of the infrastructure that makes the village and its camps possible. It costs an additional mountain of money to purchase all the food, liquor, and other consumables that we gift during the festival. Each member of the village contributes their fair share to their chosen camp, which generally ranges from $100 to $250 depending on the camp and its expense structure - camps that run heavy infrastructure or give away costly gifts generally have higher dues. In addition, there are village dues, around $100, paid directly to the village on top of your camp dues. Starting in 2016, a major portion of these village dues will be used to purchase land near Joshua Tree, on which we can start building a permanent community in which to express our talents and work on our Burning Man projects. To be perfectly clear, all of these dues are to create those magnificent buildings and kitchens and alleys and gifts that make our village so wonderful - you are not paying for services provided to you as a member - you are paying to make the Black Rock French Quarter village and its member camps possible, such that we can all take pride in what we have contributed to Black Rock City.
- Remove your own trash, and one bag of camp trash. We are each responsible for protecting the environment. This is a "Leave No Trace" event, which means you are responsible to leave no trace - not ashes from your cigarette, not mint sprigs from your drink, not a green bean from your dinner. Please take everything you brought to the event back home with you, and be ready to take one bag of random trash that accumulates in your camp from all those visitors as well. No trash receptacles or bins will be provided, except in some camps that are collecting their own trash from their own functions, such as bars collecting the bottles they empty in serving drinks. Placing trash, or even asking to place trash in a receptacle belonging to another camp is considered deeply offensive by many veterans of the event. Burning Man will provide only portable toilets that will be emptied on a regular basis. Do not empty trash in the portable toilets.
- Bring a bucket with sealable lid to remove your own grey water. Part of leaving no trace means carrying out your own grey water from cooking, brushing your teeth, or whatever else you do. Every member of the village should bring with them a 5 gallon bucket with secure lid, to collect whatever grey water you produce, and haul it back out. Our various camps sometimes have their own grey water tanks, but those are strictly for the grey water produced by their bars or kitchens or showers in serving the public. If you want to set up your own shower or evaporator or other such facility, you must let your camp director know, and you must have the facilities to dismantle and haul out the resulting stinky mess and leftover grey water yourself.
- Properly secure all of your structures. If you are going to build any form of shade or shelter at all at Burning Man, where winds can reach a sustained 70mph, you must learn how to do it so as to minimize the risks that A) the structure blows away and hits someone, B) the rebar or stakes used to secure it impale someone, and C) the guy lines bracing it against the wind trip someone. This means studying how to secure your structure, perhaps learning from the ancient masters, using rebar toppers like you find at any hardware store, placing solar lights to mark where the stakes are, and placing some form of lighting on the guy lines. This will protect your shelter from having some idiot come tumbling through it in the middle of the night, and will also protect that idiot from being injured by your shelter.
- Do not exchange money. No vending or other use of money is allowed at Burning Man. Black Rock City is a place of sharing and free exchange within a gift economy. This means you do not buy or sell anything. Sales of handmade items and food items "in order to cover costs of the trip" are not allowed. The only exceptions to this rule are the Center Camp Cafe, which sells espresso and a few other beverages, and CampArctica, which sells ice - the proceeds from both ventures go to the town of Gerlach that so graciously hosts the Burning Man festival each year - and crotchety Burning Man veterans still hate this outpost of commerce.
- Do not display or distribute commercial names, logos, banners, or promotional items. This includes the name and logo of your home business or the record label you run out of your bedroom. It doesn't matter if you're a good person or if your company donates to charities. Some people go so far as to remove the tags from their jeans and to cover the Ryder logo on the side of their rental trucks.
- Limit sound to a level that does not cause serious disruption to adjacent camps. The city sound policy limits large sound systems to the streets 2:00 and 10:00 at the far ends of the city. The maximum power amplification within the city is 300 watts, provided there are no substantive complaints from the neighbors. If a problem with sound levels continues after sufficient warning, the source of power for such a device or system may be disabled.
- Drive no faster than 5MPH when entering or leaving the city. Anything faster than this produces huge clouds of dust, and endangers the lives of your fellow citizens. Remember that pedestrians and bicycles always have the right of way over motor vehicles.
- Do not drive cars in the city. Be prepared come to Black Rock City and anchor your vehicle at your campsite. No cruising! Black Rock City is designed for pedestrians and bicycles. Except for public agencies, specially marked Black Rock City service vehicles, and Art Cars licensed by the Department of Mutant Vehicles, no cars or motorcycles are allowed to drive in camp or on the open playa around it.
- Observe fire rules. The city fire policy prohibits fires on the unprotected playa surface - burn scars must be prevented. Aerial flares, rockets and explosives are prohibited in Black Rock City and could result in a fine. Hay bales are not allowed. Respect art works - if an artwork is to be burned, ONLY the artist who created it may do this.
- Be respectful of other camps. Most camps have public spaces connected to the main roads through the city, and more private spaces within. It is safe to assume that you can enter, pass through, or crash in the public spaces whenever you like, but you should absolutely ask for permission before passing through anything that may be a private camping area. You must also be very careful when traveling the narrow pathways between the tents within a camp - they are frequently tangled with guy lines and exposed rebar that are invisible at night and can injure you severely.
- Be respectful of private kitchens and residences. Many members of our village have open kitchens or dining halls in our residential space, and it is obviously cool for you to pass through and say hello, but the fact that their dining area is open does not mean that everyone is welcome to free food. Being invited to dinner is a fairly common experience at Burning Man, and its even more common if you introduce yourself to your neighbors and share whatever snacks or booze you happen to have with you at the time, but you do need to be invited. All of the kitchens in our residential area are private spaces, so you should treat them with the respect you would show a neighbor's home.
- Comply with county, state and federal laws. This means you should comport yourself, with regard to these laws, as you would in any municipality. Burning Man does not promote or condone the use of drugs or public sex acts. If you commit an illegal act in public, it is entirely possible you will be caught - and keep in mind that the handful of law enforcement officers who volunteer for duty at Burning Man would probably rather not have to haul you off in irons, but if you flaunt the law right in front of them, they're going to do it.
- Bring your ticket. Your ticket is a revocable license. Violation of Black Rock City rules, or violent or anti-social behavior, can result in revocation of your ticket and ejection from the event without refund. No one under 18 will be admitted without a responsible adult. Tickets run about $400, depending on when you purchase them - they must be purchased in advance - no tickets will be sold at the gate.
- Respect public boundaries. The boundaries of Black Rock City are clearly marked and established within an area of the playa that is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for purposes of public recreation. The BLM will establish a buffer zone on the playa around Black Rock City. No camping is allowed in this area. The marked area immediately fronting our city is reserved for works of art. Do not drive or camp here. A specially marked area is reserved for Walk-In camping. No automobile traffic or motorized vehicles are permitted inside this area.