I’ll say it again, even though I may have worried you the first time: I need your help.
The things I’ve set out to do over the next month are among the most ambitious set of projects I’ve ever attempted, and they’re all related to Burning Man.
Unfortunately, when I say Burning Man, that’s basically when a really big chunk of my wonderful network of people ready and willing to help kind of tunes out and mentally walks the other way.
I understand that reaction. If I were on the other side of my friends feed, up until a few years ago, I’d have the same reaction. Of the folk I know, there’s basically three approaches to Burning Man:
- AWESOME YAY!
- Uh, seriously? Why?
- It was cooler back when…
Since I first heard about Burning Man in college, I more or less was in the “Why?” camp. Through a little twist of fate and some encouragement from friends, I ended up camping with Disorient a few years ago. Build week was fun, but the event itself didn’t hold much interest for me. As it actually started, I remember thinking that I was glad I came and saw the thing, but I was not finding a Burner buried somewhere in my heart.
Delivering mail is the only way to experience Burning Man. You walk up to a post office, they hand you some mail and off you go on an adventure that will take you places if your heart is open to it. I’ve stumbled into weddings, french new wave film shoots, drug busts, clandestine swimming pools and a bunch of other magical situations too numerous to recount. Most of the time, I just stumble into a nice conversation or party that I’m always welcome in. Whether spectacular, or routine, all these interactions are why I live for the mail at Burning Man.
Being me, I wasn’t happy just sitting there delivering mail. I stumbled onto one of the oldest rifts at Burning Man and, being me, I set about trying to solve it. In the process, I started the Playa Postal Union, bringing together the two “rebel” Post Offices that were being denied incoming USPS mail by the quasi-official Post Office in Center Camp. After discussing it with some friends in L’Enfant Plaza, the very simple solution of getting a PO Box in Gerlach was floated, and the 89412-0149 zip code was born. While she’s been nothing but sweet and accommodating to me directly, it seems that the Gerlach Postmaster was not amused.
The single most difficult thing I have to do in the next 11 days is raise enough money to make a crazy dream of mine come true. I’ve sent a ton of postcards over the past few years, namely because of my experiences delivering them at Burning Man. I love the magic of receiving a postcard and I love creating them to share that feeling around the world.
Burning Man has a somewhat unfair reputation as an incredibly wasteful party for a bunch of rich people who like designer drugs, tacky mutant vehicles bad dance music and orgies. Granted, that happens, but it’s a fraction of the total activity and a part of the experience I’m mostly unfamiliar with.
Getting 70,000 postcards, each with a personal message, all out to the “default world” is the best way I know of to relay the spirit of this amazing thing that happens in the desert. Why tell you when I can get everyone else to put out little bits and pieces of this, to have everyone put words to what comes of a time and space where people willingly live by a different set of principles.
That, and 70,000 postcards is taller than the man. I founded a project to build something BIGGER THAN THE MAN.
Chicken John put it best:
Promotion for events or fundraising for projects sucks. Sucks ass. Even when you achieve your goals or make your numbers and there is a bright side the promotion side sucks. This isn’t an opinion.
You aren’t good at promotion. Most of you. All of you. I see you flail, I see you stall. I see your efforts and I see the waste. I’m not good at promotion either. Anti-promotion. Whatever. It’s important to remember this. Don’t be like “These other people did it, I can do it too.”. That’s not the right thinking. “By any means possible” isn’t good either. Reaching a fundraising goal is important, and I’m a BRUTAL FUNDRAISER”, but it ‘can’ take too much. I’ve seen it. The best way to have a fundraising goal is to have a good story. A fundraising campaign is a story unto itself. Like any good story, it needs a strong ending.
The big problem here is that I launched the fundraiser without much of a good story.
70,000 postcards. From Burning Man.
If you’re not a burner, why do you care?
I’m still trying to figure that out. PLEASE HELP ME.
As if I didn’t have enough to do, I figured it would be really cool for the PPU to get into the telco game. After having fun with ShadyTel at ToorCamp, I was inspired to finally do something with the three payphones lying around in my storage unit.
I brought three of these phones to HOPE, with the thought that they’d be able to get the phone chamber and the coin vaults open. Turns out, they managed to pick only one of the locks on the phone chamber. I ended up breaking a ton of bits drilling out the rest of the locks to get them open.
Fortunately, the rest should be somewhat easy thanks to a friend I know from the BM-Wifi List. He already put together a phone for Burning Man and I’m pretty much just copying his gameplan.
After my exam and a party in my hometown, I’m flying out to NYC to build a grey water filtration solution, a sink and showers for my camp. Then it’ll all get loaded into our container and I’m off to the…
That’s what Burners call the place where Burning Man happens. (Maybe I should have led with that?)
If all this activity wasn’t enough to depress me, I’m actually a bit bummed out this year…most of my friends aren’t camping with me as I had planned for reasons that I find completely understandable. I should have probably realized that my friends are looking for a substantially different kind of burn than I am.
Oh, you’re still with me?
So, I’m taking the next 3 days off to cram for a section of the CPA exam I’m taking on Wednesday evening. Yeah, seriously.
If you don’t believe in it, tell me what you need to hear. Some of the best suggestions, ones that have really paid off, have come in from people who really loathe Burning Man.
Stay tuned for progress with the payphones and the physics.