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The Assless Chapel Newsletter #12: Participation Edition


I saved this last of the Ten Principles for this week’s newsletter. Participation, for me, would be the theme of this year’s Burn. My first year, I was not a participant. But since then, whenever I showed up to Burning Man, I’ve found my ways to volunteer, contribute to a theme camp or create my own performance art (with varying degrees of success.) This year, of course, blows everything else out of the water.

And I figured this would be the best week for the Participation Edition of the newsletter. It’s our last newsletter and soon we will all be doing our fair share of participation. Fittingly, yesterday I sent out the signup sheet. A quick aside from the screed: please do the sign up. In a few days, I’ll just start filling everyone’s shifts in that haven’t been done, but that creates more work for me, so please read the explanation and fill in your name. Also, I may need to move people’s sign ups around to make sure we have everything covered, please be forgiving of any decisions I make in this regard.

Back to the screed… I find it interesting that this principle isn’t referred to as ‘Radical Participation.’ Because the idea of showing up and doing (instead of just watching) at some event you invested so much money into… well, that is pretty radical in today’s consumerist, spectator society. Creating large scale art in the desert; putting together giant rave tents; running an orgy dome or the Thunderdome; marrying people – these require a radically participatory ethic.

So, why do we do it? Why do we act on and celebrate this radically participatory ethic? Well, I’ve had spectator experiences that were life changing – for me, ballet. But transformative change in ourselves comes more from doing than from watching others do. And transformative change in the world around us has never come from those who watch, nor for that matter, those who comment or document. It comes from those who do something. We will assemble on the Playa in just over a week to work together, to play together, to change each other and to change the world around us. When we are done, we and those around us will have important new memories, maybe some new perspectives or new feelings and most certainly new spouses! And that’s a big fucking deal. Thank you all for joining me on this journey, I really appreciate it.


I’ve been getting a lot of packages – thank you Sia and Karine – full of clothing for our wedding parties. I also got an email from BORG warning about monkeypox. Their main suggestion is not to touch other peoples’ rashes if they look like monkeypox. I don’t know if you’ve seen pictures of monkeypox before, but you won’t want to touch it, I promise.

Also, in addition to making sure you’ve packed any paper tickets and WAPs, make sure to bring your ID!


The picture below shows somebody driving the golden spike, which marks the place the Man will stand. As of now, the weather forecast for the Playa is for highs in the high 90s and lows in the high 50s, which is pretty good. However, it does look like build week will include temperatures of 95+, so let’s make plan to avoid any heavy partying before we’ve got the camp up.


Everyone should have gotten his or her Work Access Pass by now. Print it out: do not rely on your phone. If you did not receive it, let me know now! For everyone arriving early, I have attached early arrival instructions. These are really important! Read them now; print them out; read them before departing and bring them with you.

I found out that the 4:30 sector, of which we are a part, is the most populous part of the city, so be ready for a lot of hubbub and new friends.


· If you haven’t yet signed up for Playa shifts, please do so.

· If you haven’t yet sent Kim your emergency contact info, please do so.


“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill

I want to leave you all with a final thought and warning. I am really proud of you all. This is a great thing to throw yourselves into. It will be incredibly meaningful for so many people. But be warned that things will go wrong. We will find ourselves frustrated and struggling to get up our shade structure. We will drop the ball on something at someone’s wedding and have to scramble to make it right. We will get splinters and exhaust ourselves. We will miss the Playa event we really looked forward to attending and get lost from each other at 3 a.m. when we planned to meet at some amazing art piece. But, so long as we are patient with each other; so long as we accept our Burn as what it was meant to be; so long as we understand that the reason things go wrong and mistakes are made is because we’re doing something big and wonderful; so long as we remain grateful for Burning Man and each other, we will do great things and have a great burn.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. “

-Teddy Roosevelt, Citizenship in a Republic

The Man burns in 17 days! And the first of us will arrive at camp in 8!

I found this really interesting, a map of Black Rock City from 1998:

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