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The Assless Chapel Newsletter #51: Radical Self-Reliance Edition

The Chaplain’s Screed

Self-Reliance is the first of the Ten Principles and, relatedly, the one that seems to have the most tension with the most other principles.  If you’re accepting gifts, aren’t you less self-reliant?  Doesn’t Civic Responsibility reduce the importance of self-reliance?  How about Communal Effort?

Often we resolve these tensions by remembering that the Ten Principles are descriptive and not prescriptive.  They are guides, not commandments.  And then we think of where we need to find the compromise between them in a given situation.  But there’s a stronger dynamic than that with Radical Self-Reliance. 

First, let’s define the term.  Radical often connotes (implies) extreme, but its original denotation (literal meaning) is “at the root of something”.  That is, Radical Self-Reliance is about being

fundamentally self-reliant and not extremely or absolutely so – what is your intention and what are your efforts? 

Second, and more meaningfully it’s reliance, not independence.  An ability or efforts to rely on yourself is not the same as keeping yourself apart from a community.  If we think of it in these terms, we realize that RSR doesn’t really butt up against Communal Effort, Gifting and Civic Responsibility.  It is the prerequisite for them.  But making sure we have what we need, we can comfortably give to others.  By making sure we can do what we need to contribute, we can work  together.  But learning how to do the things we do properly, we can ensure that others are safe when they, for instance, walk up onto the altar we built for their wedding.

Now to get to a practical matter: water.  I have come to believe that we should adopt Curtis’ technique of putting our ice into large, wide-mouthed plastic containers.  When these melt, they are drinking water.  This can greatly reduce our need to bring water to the Playa.  I’ll go into more detail about this in the next newsletter, but I want to talk about bringing water to the Playa for now.

I will bring to the Playa one 10 gallon water cooler (full) and a 6 gallon jug for refill.  In addition, I’ll have between 5-10 gallons in smaller containers.  This will be meant to get us through build until enough ice has melted to rebuild.  You will have to analyze your situation to figure out how much water to bring – you’ll learn more in the next newsletter. 

In the meantime, I want to share that I have made a $3,000 purchase to upgrade our camp.  I bought a badass e-trike.  I do not plan to run the battery much.  The battery will be run for only the following purposes:

·         To keep me on-time and fresh to weddings, if I’m in a tough spot.

·         To truck ice back to the camp (that is, don’t run it to get to the ice, but run it to get the ice back easily and quickly).

·         To pick up water and luggage for campmates that come in on the shuttle.

I bring this up because I want everyone who takes the BxB shuttle to get the water option.  You can come to camp, ride the trike over to the BxB station, load it up and turn on the motor to get it back without running yourself down.

I believe that, if everyone follows the Curtis method, shuttle users get the water add-on, Curtis shows up with a 5 gallon job site cooler that’s full and I show up with the 25 gallons or so, that everyone else can show up with 2 gallons per person and we’ll still have plenty of water to drink and bathe with.  Of course, if you have extra room, bring a bit more – we were tight on space last year in the truck and trailer, which is why I’m trying to go light this year.  Plus the water jugs create bulky waste to truck out.

As I said, I’ll have more details next week.

Two last pieces of advice for Radical Self-Reliance.  First, get yourself a metal mug, make a copy of your driver’s license and tape it on with packing tape.  Makes life easier at bars.  Second, look up the first 2-3 episodes of the Accuracy third podcast.  Lots of great RSR tips for those ready to go beyond the Survival Guide.

Group News

Ellie may have a guy, a virgin, joining our camp.  I’ve also been looking out for Israelis to join our camp this year.  Most so far have lacked the self-reliance necessary to fit our camp (more the Tomorrowland type than the Black Rock City type).  One young woman, however, is interested in coming with her friend and I’ll speak to her sometime soon and report back.

Current camp roster (get me your travel plans when you can):

Camp Planning

Wedding Planning

I continue to work on the logistics of this.  Our lovely French neighbors need a wedding officiated!  It’s in the schedule now for Wed 8:30-9p.

Other Camp Planning

BMIR will run our promo audio.  Haven’t heard yet on the W/W/W booklet.  You can see our online listings here (we’ve got one more coming).

Red Folder Video: First Aid Instructions

Here’s your Red Folder assignment for the week (I’m putting them on YouTube now to save my own cloud space).  If you want a podcast, download it here.

Black Rock City News and Acculturation

So, this isn’t the typical thing I put in here, but in the interest of Radical Self-Reliance Acculturation, check out these great resources from Accuracy Third:

·         Accuracy Third Packing List;

·         Accuracy Third’s Unofficial Burning Man Survival Guide;

·         Their Virgin Acculturation Guide.

Placement / Ticket News

Placement News

No new placement news.  Well, I found out we’ll be near FOMO camp, which is a mixed European camp.  So be prepared for my drunken attempts at speaking foreign languages with varying amounts of success.  Just remember that this year we’re at 4:45 and D, Sia.

·         July 10th (est.): Placement announces neighbors.

·         August 19th: First WAP entries.

·         October 24th: Post-Playa Report due (opens in September).

Ticketing News

[redacted; see emailed newsletter]

Adding New Camp Members

Seeing as it’s a reasonably easy ticket year, we can add campers right now.  If you have someone you’d like to add to our camp, let me know.  Just think long and hard whether this person is a good fit for Burning Man and The Assless Chapel.  S/he must read and sign the agreements and get them to me.  I also need to do a Zoom with any additions to the camp but am mostly relying on you to bring someone who is going to be a good campmate.  We have a couple people interested in joining our camp.  I’ll let you all know more as I find out.

Ticketing Calendar

Here is the ticketing calendar this year (these events usually occur at noon PST):

·         June 29th: Last date to make changes to WAPs.

·         July 20th: WAPs allocated.

·         July 24th: OMG registration opens.

·         July 26th: OMG registration closes.

·         July 30th: OMG Sale.

·         August 10th (est.): WAPS sent to Assless Chaplain.

·         August 12th (est.): WAPS, tickets and vehicle pass distribution finalized within camp.

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

Here is our current schedule for pre-build, build week, burn week, Exodus and post-Exodus (keep in mind there will be many changes and additions):

Upcoming Tasks

To Do in the Next 10 Days


   Send me any updates on your plans to join us or bring friends.

   Buy / sell your Burning Man tickets to one another!  Then let me know.

   Send me your travel plans.

   If you haven’t yet, please look through the spreadsheet, so you know where to find essential information.

   Let me know if you have any news you want to share.

   Let Mo know what you can do to help with Mojito Mondays.

   Here’s your Red Folder assignment for the week (I’m putting them on YouTube now to save my own cloud space).  If you want a podcast, download it here.


   Write and approve a script for Thomas and Alexandra.

   Obtain permit to marry Thomas and Alexandra.

   Schedule 2nd meeting with Jolanda and Marcel.

   Print out wedding certificates.

TAC and Stupid Seamus

   Pull out altar and old signage and spruce up.

   Spruce up the Dusty Altar Bar and consider adding wheels.

To Do in the Next 30 Days

To Do in the Next 60 Days


   Finalize WAPs.

   Tune up truck.

   Tune up/purchase bikes.

   Print wedding certificates.

   Template for impromptu weddings.

   Buy carbon offsets.

   Buy a hanging work light


   Get food permit


   Buy actual bubbles


   Get food permit

   Get champagne flutes


   Inventory EMT and shade cloth

TAC and Curtis

   Get tarps for ground cover

TAC and Stupid Seamus

   Put up shade structures

   Build mirrors for costume dome

   Obtain and fix up bikes, as necessary

TAC, Stupid Seamus and Curtis

   Create new nighttime signage

   Get earth anchors and/or spreaders


   Buy booze and mixers for the bar

   Make sure you have tickets, SAPs, VPs, wallet and IDs

   Pack a backpack with toiletries, clothes, water, food, medications, phone and charger.

   Get muck boots.

   Get all your personal stuff squared away

Closing Thoughts

I don’t know about you all, but the Radical Self-Reliance bit has gotten to be pretty easy.  This will by my 9th burn and I also run a small, working homestead.  It’ll be Red’s 5th and he was in the Israeli army.  I think it’s Curtis’s 20th and he’s Curtis.  Seamus, as we all know, can survive anywhere.  Mo is on what, here 14th and she knows what she’s doing.  Katie never got eaten alive by the one who shall go unnamed and Sia, who does not excel in typical Burning Man skills, seems to be able to use sorcery to thrive in any situation – especially those in which human males are plentiful.  I can keep going but I won’t.

What I’m driving at is that this principle is pretty easy for us.  That’s one thing I loved about the Mudpocalypse.  Gave us a real challenge.  I’m betting this year we get some very light showers and some very high heat.  So please make sure you’ve watched or listened to the Red Folder video about heat illness and pay attention to the theme of this newsletter: water.  And, for real, check out those resources from Accuracy Third (after you’ve read the official Survival Guide.)


“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”

-Hunter S. Thompson

The Man Burns in 66 days! 

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