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The Assless Chapel Newsletter #37: Civic Responsibility Edition

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

The Chaplain’s Screed

I’ve saved the most boring of the Ten Principles for last. It’s funny to me to go through the Ten Principles and see Civic Responsibility there, like a teacher on the playground: Radical Self-Reliance. Bad ass! Radical Self-Expression. Fuck Yeah. Participation. I’m in, motherfuckers! Civic Responsibility… oh, yeah, that, too, I guess. Here’s the blurb about it from the website:

We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

I think of two definitions of Civic Responsibility. One is the very literal one, which is the responsibility of a city-dweller (civic comes from the Latin word for city). The other is the responsibility of a citizen. That former definition one can think of as Civic Responsibility when on-Playa and the latter as generally being a good citizen of the world, year-round. So, what does this mean for us?

Well, as discussed in The Assless Chapel Agreements, we keep each other and our guests safe and take care of each other. We:

· Look out for dangers during our daily MOOP patrols.

· Light up our guy lines and other hazards, clean up broken glass immediately, never leave exposed rebar and hammer bent rebar into the ground enough that it’s not a tripping hazard.

· We take care of one another by doing things like reminding one another to drink water, rest as needed and use sunscreen; tending to one another when sick, injured or distressed; and lending a hand to make sure no one is taking on too much during build or break.

· We take care of and respect one another and each other’s gear.

Those are the basics, but I’m going to go into much more detail in this newsletter.

Dealing With Injuries and Illnesses In Our Camp

This year, I’ve put together an extensive First Aid Kit. Everyone should have his or her own First Aid Kit. The camp kit is only for when you can’t find yours, forgot something or just don’t have the thing you need. If you end up using supplies in the camp kit, I’ll ask that you have replacement supplies sent to me after the Burn, so the kit stays stocked.

Before heading to the Playa, everyone should review this.

The Red Folder

Something I’ve been working on all year is our Red Folder. A Red Folder is basically a repository of all the information we need, with a focus on emergencies and mishaps. Ours is not red. It is white with sparkly letters that say Red Folder. It will have a booklight attached for night reading.

Everyone should know the information in the Red Folder. In many camps, all campers go through an orientation that reviews much of the information in the Red Folder. I don’t plan to do that. Instead, I’ve attached an orientation document with the most important information in the Red Folder and directions for reviewing it on your way over. Yes, the document is long, but it’s not a textbook – you can get through it quickly. So, I’m asking that everyone review it before arriving on-Playa. You can read it at home or, perhaps better yet, someone in your vehicle can go over it during the long drive to Black Rock City. You can read it in the bus or read it in a plane. At some point, you’re also going to be stuck in line with little left to talk about other than how excited you are to get through the line and to camp. That would be a good time to read through this document. Just don’t forget to print it out first!

When you get to camp, I will ask that you fill out a few forms of emergency and medical information. The medical information will be kept confidential, except per your instructions, which you will leave on a manila envelope that has the information in it.

As an illustration of why this is important, I’ll share a little story. Last year, we ended up with two separate incidents in which someone was throwing up. In both cases, I was worried, as you don’t want someone losing fluids in a desert. A neighbor provided Zofran, an anti-emetic, to stop the vomiting. This year, I asked my doctor if he could write me a script for Zofran for Burning Man, in case we needed it. He informed me that Zofran can kill people who have heart conditions. I had no idea if either of the ill campers had heart conditions before they took the Zofran.

Law Enforcement at Burning Man and On The Way In

Local law enforcement loves to ticket Burners for drugs and give them expensive-ass fines (around $2,000). They don’t always stick to the spirit of the Constitution, either. You can read more about that here.

And here are some excerpts from the Survival Guide that are worth reviewing again:

I’ve also attached two Know Your Rights brochures specifically focused on Burning Man. If this is an important topic for you, consider attending this the Know Your Rights training this Wednesday 8/16 at 5:30pm PDT / 8:30pm EDT.

Fire Extinguishers

I will bring a fire extinguisher. Feel free to bring more. Here’s how to use them:

Or, if you’re a DJ, maybe you could do this:

City Signs

Black Rock City has a long-standing tradition of people stealing the street signs. Unfortunately, as the city has grown larger, there’s been a race to take home those signs as a souvenir and they’re disappearing earlier and earlier. BORG really wants people to stop taking them. There is a camp now that will make you replicas, if you really want one.

Or you can do what Red did one year with our cousin Tzvika and my best friend Danny. In 2010, the theme was Metropolis. All the streets were named after global cities. J street was perplexingly named Jakarta. Danny felt this was a political thing, as of course it should have been named Jerusalem. So the three of them biked all of J and modified every single sign to Jerusalem. In fact, the signs looked way better. I have one up in my workshop:

Checking IDs at the Dusty Altar Bar

We are supposed to check IDs for anyone who looks like s/he could be under 21. So, let’s try to do that. It would suck to get popped by undercovers at Burning Man. I also ordered a sign to put up that says no one under 21 allowed.


From our Agreements:

· Every member of The Assless Chapel must be committed to a culture of consent

o Never take pictures of someone else, without that person’s enthusiastic consent.

o Never touch someone else in a sexual manner, without that person’s enthusiastic consent.

o Never commodify someone else’s sexuality, without an enthusiastic invitation to do so. Don’t be the creep who asks women to flash them before serving a drink, etc.

o Always take “no” for an answer and make sure you thank someone who tells you no for making his or her boundaries clear.

· Communicate your boundaries and give people the benefit of the doubt when interpreting their actions, but do not tolerate behavior that clearly should not be tolerated.

· Every member of The Assless Chapel is required to read this; it is a good set of guidelines on consent from some other camp that was shared with me.

· Now, with that all said, everyone should feel comfortable expressing his or her true self at The Assless Chapel. This means that you should expect to be sharing space with naked, intoxicated humans doing some weird shit and saying things that might not be appropriate in most off-Playa situations.

If you’re interested in doing a deeper dive into this topic, check this out.


BORG is tightening the rules around music in the city. Outside of the large-scale sound camps, music should be no more than 90 decibels at the source and 60 decibels at the border of your camp. Sixty decibels means that you should be able to hear someone speaking in a normal voice. So, let’s keep that in mind when we play music. We should also have our speakers point in directions that maximize sound in our camp and minimize them outside of camp.

Group News

No major group news to report.

This is our final group:

1. Katie

2. Seamus

3. The Assless Chaplain

4. Red

5. Curtis

6. Becky

7. Sia

8. Clayton

9. Ivy

10. Jennifer

11. Kate

12. Tanya

13. Kayla

Wedding Planning

I spoke to the lovely people at the Pershing County Clerk’s office and the legal weddings are all set. Both couples are extending an open invite to our camp. David and Meghan are camping near us at Fixed Fucked camp. I can’t remember where Michael and Ashlee are camping.

Black Rock City News

As of now, the weather forecast is showing highs between 85 and 87. Forecasted lows are between 54 and 57. Curtis, not sure if you remember, but I did predict a cooler year! So, that’s good news. I bought little digital thermometers so we can keep track of the temps during build week. I want to do a better job this year of heat safety. There will be a Blue Supermoon on the Full Moon on Wednesday of Burn Week. So, be prepared for chilly, moonlit nights.

Placement / Ticket News

Placement News

Placement is reminding us to take pictures of the camp to share. Let’s try to remember that this year so we can share with them. We want pictures of

· The whole camp;

· Our frontage;

· Weddings and, importantly, wedding receptions.

No new Placement news. Here’s the remainder of the Placement Calendar for this cycle:

August 21: Placement begins on playa; camps arrive according to their WAP arrival date

August 27: Gate Opens @ 12:00 am (midnight) — BRC begins!

September 2: The Man burns

September 5: Camps must depart BRC and leave no trace!

October 25: Post-playa Report due

November: Statement of Intent opens for 2024 returning theme camps and villages

January 2024: 2023 Camp Standing announced to placed theme camps/villages

Ticket News


Seamus desperately needs to sell a physical ticket. If you know of anyone, please God tell me now.


Curtis and I just spoke about getting on-Playa. Tanya and Kate are getting in Thursday night, as they got volunteering-related WAPs. So we should be able to get placed early in the day. We’ll all meet up in Reno: I’m really excited to see Mona. Then we’ll finalize a plan.

For now, though, I think the California crew is set on trying to get onto the Playa at the stroke of midnight Thursday/Friday to sleep under the stars and wake up with the sun. We hope to be able to start some of the building tasks, like dome construction, prior to being placed. Then we’ll just carry the dome to the right spot once we’re placed and it will give us some shade until we’ve got the big shade structure up.

Current Pre-Build, Build Week, Burn Week and Exodus Schedule

Over time, I’d like to add everyone else’s dates for when they plan to pack, head out and arrive on the Playa and, of course, when they plan to Exodus. I’ll also add in any pre-planned weddings. The gray days are Build Week and the red days are Burn Week.

Upcoming Tasks

I’d like everyone to please send me one email today or tomorrow, if possible. Below are what I need you to include in it.

· Read the Health and Law Enforcement sections of the Survival Guide. You may also want to read or attend the other resources I provided about law enforcement interactions.

· Review the Red Folder orientation file or print it out to read on the way.

· If you know anyone that needs a Burning Man ticket, please let me know, so Seamus isn’t stuck with one.

Closing Thoughts

When Jennifer (aka Noone) was first added to our camp, she shared this beautiful bit of poetry with me that I’ve been saving just for this newsletter:

"You might not have been my first love

but you were the love that made

all the other loves


Kaur, R Milk and Honey. Page 55

Takes my breath away. And it is certainly quite fitting as a description of my impressions of Burning Man after my first year.

Here’s a video of Burning Man 1991, the second year on the Playa. It’s worth watching:

I love this quote from the video:

“Everybody is coming from who knows where. And everybody is so different. And it’s just a place to come and be free, even just for a short period of time… because there’s nothing here but us.”

Build starts in 9 Days…

Gates open for general entry in 11 Days…

The Man Burns in 17 days!

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