"Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

No matter your skills or interests, there's a way for you to participate in the creation and manifestation of Black Rock City, both at the event and year-round.

"Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby BeyondIndigo » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:46 pm

Hi guys. I'm reading through some posts in this forum and trying to reconcile the whole participation ethos with the advice everybody gives to newbies not to commit to anything in their first year.

While I can very much see the logic behind advising newbies not to commit (apart from anything, I suppose you don't know how you'll cope with the physical environment until you get there, never mind anything else. As an English girl, from a verrry damp country, heatstroke does worry me somewhat) I really am keen to embrace the idea of participation and am wondering about ways to do this that don't involve making a definite decision...if anybody knows what I mean?

Like if I don't volunteer for anything, how am I going to get really, truly involved and contribute to this community?

This is really important to me, because one of the reasons I feel I need to attend BM is to do with a LACK of participation in my general life. Ugh, it's kinda emotional for me to talk about. I feel very strongly that this is something about myself which I need to challenge, and BM seems the perfect place to do it. I've always been kind of a spectator, and I don't wanna be that anymore. This is one of the big driving reasons for me wanting to attend this year. I need to be challenged and pushed beyond my comfort zone in this sense. Need to stop being a wallflower! So, yeah...how do I make sure I'm participating without making definite commitments?
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby trilobyte » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:59 pm

Just worry about getting there, and being there. No matter how hard you think it's going to be right now, it's actually going to be harder than that. As a first-timer, your presence is a gift to the community.

One of the biggest, and I do mean BIGGEST mistakes that I see first-timers make is over-committing in their first year. The result is that some project ends up having work that doesn't get done or shifts that don't get covered, and it's a ton of stress and anxiety for the poor first-timer who only ever had the best of intentions. So don't fall for the trap. So as I explain to newbie campmates, come to the playa without added burdens and responsibilities, just worry about getting there and back safely. It's our gift to you, please accept and enjoy it.

Now, if you end up getting out there and everything's going great and you've got the time and the energy to help out, go right on ahead. Help your neighbors and help your campmates with little things that pop up. If you're feeling more helpful than that, there are plenty of 'walk-up' opportunities on the playa - post office, lamplighters, and there's usually some sort of 'job board' over at/near playa info you can check out.

If it turns out this crazy thing in the desert ends up being everything you hoped for and more, pay it forward to the new folks who join you in future journeys. :)
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby lemur » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:07 pm

trilo nailed it.


new people to the event tend to be excited to take part....... this has burned many camps as sometimes some of these people people find out how fun it is to do other shit.. its hard for some people to want to work when they can do so many other things

..it is hard enough for even experienced people to survive the week without some kinda medical/mental breakdown.. for the new people (even those experienced with harsh climates elsewhere) the fact that just living there is hard can sometimes be missed in the enthusiasm to take part.


you only have one first time as well.. seeing lots of stuff is good.. get an idea of whats out there etc..

this isnt to say that new folks havnt kicked butt and been some of the most involved workers and done some awesome stuff and had lotsa fun doing it..

but, i think the experience on whole.. in my time at the burn dealing with volunteers, is that at times the new folks tend to not realize the harsh climate is a pain in the butt, and that theres so many things to do.. they can be a strong pull!! (and sometimes they dont realize how 'important' it is to actually show up to that shift they signed up for) ... one doesnt want to be that person flaking out sitting in their RV recovering from last nights drinking binge as someone is walking around looking for volunteers to get shit done..
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby BeyondIndigo » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:12 pm

I definitely won't be the hungover person. I don't drink a lot due to a medical issue. Plus, sense of responsibility, I haz it. :mrgreen:
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby ragabashpup » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:16 pm

Drunk isn't the only thing that can give you a hangover out there.
Very good advice above. Help out if you choose to while you are out there your virgin year. This will be my 5th year I have learned what I can and can't handle in the way of a schedule for the most part. Each year is different but your virgin year just enjoy it. Camp by yourself and make a new group of friends around you or camp with a small group of friends. If you find the spare time and want to help in some way you will be able to.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby BeyondIndigo » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:23 pm

ragabashpup wrote:Drunk isn't the only thing that can give you a hangover out there


I'm curious as to what you mean by this? Please explain.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby lemur » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:28 pm

LSD
PCP
Mushrooms
etc.

use yer imagination!
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby BeyondIndigo » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:33 pm

lemur wrote:LSD
PCP
Mushrooms
etc.

use yer imagination!


Yeah...not gonna be a problem for me, I don't do drugs either.

I was just hoping the other poster didn't mean, I dunno, some horrible playa disease that I have yet to hear about. There seem to be so many of them.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby tamarakay » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:41 pm

2011 was our first year, we volunteered within our home village (barbie death camp), I painted boobies in the body shop, Ken helped put up shade structures, we both worked on the mutant vehicle, we served 200 or so naked people wine during the naked bike ride. That was all the volunteering we could handle our first year. What I WANTED to do before we got there, greeter, gate, exodus. Man, I don't think I could have made a shift had I signed up. It was really wonderful just take it all in the rest of the time. It can't be stressed enough how much it is to try and absorb your first year. We got to observe, see, feel, help, think, and enjoy freely. Participation isn't limited to the kind of volunteering you are talking about. It's much much more than that.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby Eric » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:42 pm

BeyondIndigo wrote:I was just hoping the other poster didn't mean, I dunno, some horrible playa disease that I have yet to hear about. There seem to be so many of them.


There is always heatstroke or dehydration. Trust me- you'd rather have a hangover!
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby ragabashpup » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:56 pm

Watch out for playa foot! Take good care of your skin out there..
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby BeyondIndigo » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:21 pm

ragabashpup wrote:Watch out for playa foot! Take good care of your skin out there..


Yeah, WTF is up with that? I keep hearing about playa foot. Apparently I need some vinegar? What's the deal with the dust? Someone told me it's "caustic." :shock: Just how caustic is caustic? *head scratching*

Tamarakay, you painted boobies? Hee Hee. Mine would need a lot of paint. I've seen photos of barbie death camp, I would love to stop by and pay a visit if that's ok. :mrgreen: If I get a ticket.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby lemur » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:33 pm

http://burningman.com/preparation/event ... _foot.html

its not only hands.. but anything.. theres tons of info about it here on the forum..


i wear shoes and socks, not so much of a worry for me if i put on new socks every day

but it KILLS my hands, the playa dust.. to the point of my first clueless year by wednesday/thursday all of my cuticles on all of my fingers were scabbed up and bloody. and burned constantly. it was painful, it sucked and i couldnt stop it.. it didnt stop until i left..

vinegar as an acid kills the very alkaline nature of the dust..

the alkalinity is literally OFF THE CHARTS..





check out this helpful video:

"Senior Exploratorium scientist, Paul Doherty, unlocks the mystery behind the corrosive dust that coats the Black Rock Desert."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htKnGcpdBrQ

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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby wh..sh » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:33 pm

I think the easiest, nicest way to "achieve" a sense of participation during the first year is through gift giving. Nothing big... something small, cheap (handmade, or something you put together) that you would like to share with people you meet. People always love that.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby Bob » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:40 pm

wh..sh wrote:...People always love that.


No. No, people don't always love your shitty little trinkets or food items shoved at them at a leave-no-trace campsite. Grow the fuck up.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby wh..sh » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:57 pm

Bob wrote:No. No, people don't always love your shitty little trinkets or food items shoved at them at a leave-no-trace campsite. Grow the fuck up.


I was going to gift you some Ez sliders, but I guess I won't.

---
BeyondIndigo - Most people like getting gifts, of course make it tasteful, moop free, and easy enough that even naked ppl can store. You can gift it to people you meet and happen to like.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby Bob » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:18 pm

Amber flip-up sunglasses, those are always chock-full of taste.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby danibel » Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:29 pm

I volunteered to work in Arctica my first year and my third year. I loved it. I was a slinger on a team with a cashier and another slinger. It was only three hours and it was fabulous to be in the cool shade by the ice trucks in the middle of the day. I got gifted all kinds of nice things and we were fed and watered the whole time. I agree that you should arrive, get settled, help some neighbors... and then if you decide you have the energy to help the community at large - sign up for a shift somewhere. There are lots of opportunities to help, even after the event starts. Walk around handing out the newspaper in your 'hood. Sling some ice. Whatever floats your boat. Just be sure to show up for your shift if you sign up. I only did one shift last year because I know there is so much to see and do.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby thisisthatwhichis » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:52 am

One thing not to forget..... All the newbs really need to do, to participate, is open your mind. Leave your expectations. Enjoy the senses and sensations. Experience what it's like, not to be judged or have any kind of social status. Start becoming comfortable in your own skin, once again.
The look of awe on your face is a gift back to us old Burners..... It brings back the memories........ :)
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby MyDearFriend » Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:26 am

thisisthatwhichis wrote:One thing not to forget..... All the newbs really need to do, to participate, is open your mind. Leave your expectations. Enjoy the senses and sensations. Experience what it's like, not to be judged or have any kind of social status. Start becoming comfortable in your own skin, once again.
The look of awe on your face is a gift back to us old Burners..... It brings back the memories........ :)


Thank you so much for this. You capture the reality of my first Burn in a few wise words. I have passed them on to my newbies... 8)
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby BeyondIndigo » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:14 am

lemur wrote:http://burningman.com/preparation/event_survival/playa_foot.html

its not only hands.. but anything.. theres tons of info about it here on the forum..


i wear shoes and socks, not so much of a worry for me if i put on new socks every day

but it KILLS my hands, the playa dust.. to the point of my first clueless year by wednesday/thursday all of my cuticles on all of my fingers were scabbed up and bloody. and burned constantly. it was painful, it sucked and i couldnt stop it.. it didnt stop until i left..

vinegar as an acid kills the very alkaline nature of the dust..

the alkalinity is literally OFF THE CHARTS..





check out this helpful video:

"Senior Exploratorium scientist, Paul Doherty, unlocks the mystery behind the corrosive dust that coats the Black Rock Desert."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htKnGcpdBrQ



Thanks for that lemur. I vaguely remember studying PHs. It was a few years ago now though. I love the guy's nail varnish!

So, shoes and socks, got it. What's the remedy for dusty hands though? I'm a bit concerned about this as I already get dermatitis on my hands and it HURTS. I really don't wanna spend my time at BM with painful, stinging hands. Did you find anything that worked for this, lemur?

I'm taking on board what everyone is saying about gifts. What, in your opinions, are some of the best things to gift? Someone in another thread mentioned torches on strings for anyone who's not lit up at night, I guess they might be quite useful? It wold be great to give things that are profound and meaningful, like handwritten poems or something, but in reality how many of those are going to end up being thrown away and end up as a MOOP menace? Maybe it's best to give practical gifts that people will use and not discard. I dunno. I've also thought about bringing things that have the British flag on them or sommat...badges maybe...because I know I would definitely like that, if someone gave me something from their country that I couldn't get at home. What do you guys think?

What I'm also coming to understand about gifting is that it doesn't seem to work like a regular transaction. As in, it's not "someone gives me something therefore I have to give them something." It seems to be more about when you feel moved to gift. Giving in a true sense, because you WANT to give, not because you wanna get something back. Sincere gifting. Like Christmas. :mrgreen:

Thisisthatwhichis, thank you for your post, it was beautiful :)
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby AntiM » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:35 am

Sometimes just being at the altitude messes with "low-landers". The playa is not truly high altitude, but high enough to mess with people. Heat and dehydration are ever present, even to old timers. Your system may act up, constipation or loose bowels can and do happen. (I normally tolerate coffee creamer, but not on the desert, huh?) You may forget to eat and faint (saw that once). You may get over-stimulated, or frustrated with a task in the heat, and bam! have a crying jag. I do that once a year, 11 years in a row. Don't be hard on yourself if it happens, find some shade, drink some water, ask for help if overwhelmed. Or none of that will apply. You just don't know.

MyLarry gets playa paws, so he wears gloves nearly constantly. I have a couple pairs of soft leather garden gloves, and I wear them often. We wash using cooler water with a bit of vinegar, and put bag balm or another "greasy" salve on our fingernails. Badger Balm is one, there are tons of them out there, people even make and gift them. I have Surfer Salve, and Beauty Way, and something or other from Burt's Bees. You can get the travel sizes easily. That anti-bacterial hand sanitizer makes our paws worse.... I wish they could make it in a lotion. Aloe is great too if you can't find balm.

As suggested, it isn't difficult to find volunteer opportunities.

Small useful gifts are great. Lip balm on a string is one of my favorites (buy cheap lip balm, punch a hole in the top, add cotton string. If you're fancy, slap on a label with a fun or profound saying). Badges/pins are a special favorite of mine, as are embroidered patches. I do have necklaces I don't/can't wear, but they have become art, or my skeletons wear them, and I want to make a gran chandelier from schwag some day. I have a gifting project, I give away art, but that has developed over the years.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby Bob » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:25 am

Only time I appreciated a "gift" was when a car waiting next to ours at the Gate gave our young daughter a spinny blinky thing, thereby proving to me that gifts are for three-year-olds. Don't pack gifts, pack extra rope and stakes. Unless you intend to run into a lot of three-year-olds.

Neutrogena hand cream on the hands and feet works as well as anything for me. Sponge off with plain branch water, apply unguent of choice. Spend a week out there and you're guaranteed to experience some drying effects, mostly from the climate and contact with the clay-silt soil. I've spent weeks to months out there, and always have had to take a break for a few days every couple of weeks and return to moister climates.

One Exploratorium video calls the playa barren and lifeless, and another Exploratorium video finds it teeming with life. That's the beauty of science, I guess.

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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby illy dilly » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:33 am

I would say that everyone has covered this topic perfectly!

Like a lot of folks have said, contributing to the logistics/infrastructure isn't the only way to participate. Like everyone has already said, one of the best ways to participate is be in the right place at the right time to help someone do something, or give/share that one thing they really need.
And you don't need to "try" to be in the right place at the right time, it will happen, and when it does just be ready to help.
A couple years ago, one night, some folks were carrying some large mechanical piece of an art project back out to the art piece after repairing it. They said it was some sort of laser/projector. As they were carrying it 3 people on each side, they started to sorta loose it and almost drop it. A couple of us ran up and grabbed the front and back, holding it up long enough for the folks to regain control and get better handling. By simply taking 2 minutes to help balance and hold this really heavy electronic light thing from crashing to the ground, we 'saved' them from having to do all sorts of repairs.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby BeyondIndigo » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:45 am

I'm not gonna be able to help so much with practical hands-on things as I have serious tendonitis issues in both of my arms. Anything that puts more than a little weight or pressure on my hands and arms is painful. The doctors say there's noting they can do about it.

I worry about not being able to help with lifting/carrying/etc and people thinking I'm just being a douche or unwilling to help when the truth is that I CAN'T help...

:-/
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby Bob » Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:50 am

Greeting requires no effort at all, mental or physical.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby BeyondIndigo » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:27 am

Bob wrote:Greeting requires no effort at all, mental or physical.


Do you mean official greeting, Bob? Or the more informal kind?
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby Bob » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:39 am

With all due respect, some new comers remind me of scouts expecting to earn all available merit badges before their first scout meeting. Just relax and cover the basic Survival Guide requirements first and get your camping gear in order so you don't end up in the med tent on your third day.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:49 am

If you really *are* ready and able after a couple of days there is a desk in center camp where you can sign up. Or you can do Potty Patrol with Robbidobbs. Or you can moop, whereever and whenever you feel like it.

I don't like handwritten poems. I do like at least some wacky crap from China. I'm a loner on this, I know. What I don't like I can give to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, and someone else can make art from it. (Hm. I could make "gift" art for AntiM... Must consider.)

So, don't stress, you can't please everyone, and you're going to have to take care of yourself.
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Re: "Participate" versus "don't commit your first year"

Postby ygmir » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:54 am

theCryptofishist wrote:If you really *are* ready and able after a couple of days there is a desk in center camp where you can sign up. Or you can do Potty Patrol with Robbidobbs. Or you can moop, whereever and whenever you feel like it.

I don't like handwritten poems. I do like at least some wacky crap from China. I'm a loner on this, I know. What I don't like I can give to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, and someone else can make art from it. (Hm. I could make "gift" art for AntiM... Must consider.)

So, don't stress, you can't please everyone, and you're going to have to take care of yourself.


the wise Fish knows.........this is good advice.
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