One of the questions in our camp questionnaire was ‘Acculturation’.  The text said:

As the Burning Man event and culture grows, we are all challenged by demonstrating our values to the newest members of our community. How will your camp meet this challenge?

‘Acculturation’ is a pretty important concept at Burning Man, and I wanted to write a little bit about what that means, and what it means to Particle Camp.

In the language of Black Rock City, ‘acculturation’ is about teaching new burners what Burning Man is all about.  That sounds simple, right?  It’s about partying! It’s about drugs! It’s about nudity!  Except Burning Man isn’t about any of that. Partying, drugs, nudity… those all happen at Burning Man, but they’re not what Burning Man is about.

That said, here is my answer to the ‘acculturation’ question:

All of the principal members of the camp are long-time Burners, and we’ve always created participatory experiences for other residents of BRC.  Particle Camp will fulfill all of the Ten Principles:

  • Radical Inclusion — Our camp will be open to all Burners, no matter how dusty they might be.
  • Gifting — We will gift the community with lectures, drinks, and ‘Particle Journey Maps’.
  • Decommodification — There is no commercial aspect to our camp.  Our support vehicles will be de-commercialized in interesting and amusing ways. 🙂
  • Radical Self-expression — We are bringing our unique talents as scientists to the playa to share with our fellow campers.  We will ask questions.  We will try to find answers.  We will lecture you.
  • Radical Self-reliance — Our camp will be self-reliant.  If our PartiScience lectures go unattended, if our fellow citizens saunter by our real-time particle read-outs with a yawn, if our stack of portable particle readers sits on the shelf for the entire week, our camp will continue to operate.  We will be sad, but we will carry on.  Because we are scientists.
  • Communal Effort — In addition to our own measurements, we are relying on our fellow burners to help us measure a wider area of the playa by carrying portable particle detection devices.  These measurements will be integrated into the larger whole to create a more complete ‘particle landscape’ of the playa. In addition, we intend to recruit science lecturers from the Burner community to give talks in our PartiScience lecture hall.
  • Participation — Particle Camp is a deeply participatory camp.  All of our campers will contribute their unique talents to creating the camp, and in addition our camp will be one that encourages participation from other citizens, as lecturers, or by carrying portable particle counters around BRC, or simply by having a drink at the PartiScience lecture hall / bar.
  • Civic Responsibility — We are scientists, but we promise to be nice.
  • Immediacy — All of our data will be visible in real-time via projections in the Particle Camp Theater.  OMG, projections.
  • Leaving No Trace — One of the most important of the Ten Principles, and we intend to be good environmental guardians of the Playa.  As in previous years, we intend to leave the not only our camp, but the Greater Playa, cleaner than we found it. Our camp from last year (Above the Limit) was left in a ‘green’ state, and we intend to do so this year.

What do you think the most important thing that new Burners need to know?  Let us know via feedback below.

One reply on “Acculturation”

  1. I think one element of radical inclusion is how we are thinking that individuals may help us gather and report data. Some awesome ideas are percolating inside our planning sessions. Perhaps you would like to join our work. Let us know, because we might take the world by storm and you could be with us!

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