Give the Gift of Asking: Navigating our Consent Culture

 by Captain Blood

consentlookConsent is an important discussion to have because we are generally a gifting, loving, sharing group. It is very easy to take that for granted without realizing when we do so. Generally when consent culture is discussed the focus is on sexuality, but it has a much larger scope.

So I thought I would throw out some scenarios that most of us have been probably guilty of at some point, and also potentially how to react when consent isn't given. Let’s start with the basics. Consent is about asking first. It is the participatory gift you can bring and give at any time or situation. It may not be the most heralded or recognized, but your receiver will either note it or learn from it. Knowledge and experience are the best gifts in my world.

Let’s be real, we all can work on our asking for consent. Who hasn’t just walked up and petted someone’s tail or plopped down at someone’s campfire? I know I have failed at times, but being consciously aware of it is what we are striving for. That awareness will help us develop a knee jerk "Ask First" reaction to situations.

Consent is given

Physical contact: This is the most often area that is touched on (I made a funny). Physical contact encompasses ALL touching: hugs, handshakes, kisses, groping, touching a tattoo, wig, fuzzy vest, light, etc. Any and all sexual contact, even mid-sexual encounter.

Conversations: Sharing our input and experiences is often very fluid at burns. But be conscious that in an intense conversation (or intimate one) that another person’s input may not be welcome.

Physical space: Some theme camps have all-day offerings of yummy things or fire pits or fun stuff and music. Others do not. When approaching a camp, confirm that you can have a drink, or share the fire, or have a seat or eat foods. Usually they will call you in, but theme camp people also want to do all the things and at times may have their camp unattended. Best to wait for an okay, or see if they have a sign. The same applies for anyone's physical space that is not deemed yours (or your camps.)

Others belongings/Art: Art is effing awesome. So much of it is interactive and meant to be touched, climbed on and tagged. Some is just meant to be visually appreciated. If you are unsure, ASK. Some art will have signs indicating its purpose. Please respect the time and resources invested to stimulate our imaginations and spirits. This applies to open camping, people, chairs, kitchens, all the things. Never assume it's okay. Get consent.

Photography: Not everyone wants the interwebs to see them in their awesome striplaya outfit. They chose it for themselves - not you. Ask before shooting pictures of people. When shooting pictures of camps, art, fire, etc, make sure either no one else is in the frame, or make anyone near aware you would like to take a pic of this super cool thing. If they wish not to be included, give them the opportunity to do so. When posting pictures, make sure you have gotten permission prior to posting any recognizable faces or bodies. If you are unsure, or want to give them a copy but forgot their name, reach out to Mosaic leads, one of us will be able to help you find them.

sad unicornThey said NO. Now what? Rejection sux, but we need to not take it as a personal slight. We have no idea why in that moment that action isn't okay. I have come up with a useless acronym for dealing with a NO: A.R.F. Acknowledge: We need to acknowledge we heard them. Either a “thank you for letting me know” or “have a good day” or “okay”, but just let the person know you heard them and respond with assent. DO NOT ask why. Just accept that is where they are in that moment. React: Now that they have declined your request, it’s time to react in a comfortable manner. If your long lost burner buddy doesn’t want a hug, continue the flow of the greeting, do not make it weird. Just verbally show your happiness at encountering them. If a camp has said they are not currently serving from their bar, ask when maybe you can return and move on. Follow Up: Especially when you have a pre-existing relationship with the individual, it’s good to do some follow up. Just check in and see if there was another way you could have approached them. It gives them the opportunity as well to communicate about the moment, or maybe they need to decompress about some issue. In the instance of a camp, it’s nice to go back, find out when is a good time to participate and thank them for giving when they can. Follow up can also be a time for apologizing for overstepping boundaries.

"But I know Sparkle Pony, and they always have been okay with ______, why do I have to ask now?" Have they given you blanket consent, meaning yes all the time? Even if they have, I have a large group of friends I’m close with and we all hug, kiss, pet and grope each other. We do not ask anymore BUT at anytime I am ready for someone to change that dynamic. Even for a minute or forever. I will accept that boundary and love them in a manner that honors them.

unicorn_coexistIn a nut shell, the topic of consent is growing in visibility in our community. Many feel it should become the 11th principle of Burning Man and all communities who follow the principles. In order to grow, adapt, and share our philosophy, we need to come together and install the principle of consent in all we do. Only this way will we be able to sustain as a community and educate those who desire to call our community home.

rangermeCaptain Blood, new Gate co-lead for Mosaic, lives in Chicago and is the founder of Camp Cloud City. Captain Blood has been an avid volunteer at Lakes of Fire, local burn events, local art and childrens events, and spent 7 months in Thailand involved in post disaster relief. She is passionate about the importance of regional burns and their diversity in the changing landscape of our developing society. She is also a feeder (Hungry? Go see Captain Blood), active within the Chicago burner community, a Ranger and generally open to dispensing long, sweet hugs. She also makes a mean cocktail and bakes wicked good cake.

Weather Preparedness & Self Reliance

flyaway#BRRegional burns expose us to all types of weather. Burning Man faces the unique challenge of camping in the desert -- Mosaic Experiment challenges us to be prepared for October camping in Ohio. What can you expect? Anything. That means sunny days and chilly nights, light rain, heavy rain, wind, hail, cold. One day you might be happy running free in a tank top. That night, you might be wrapped up in a sleeping bag with three layers of pajamas cuddling for warmth. One thing most burners have in common: we're proud of our ability to survive unpredictable weather, outdoors, without trips to the local store for last minute items -- and we do so with style while having a great time. Showing up prepared (and the process of getting prepared) teaches us how to take care of ourselves responsibly, so that we can make the most of our time burning together.

How can you up your Radical Self-Reliance quotient? Plan ahead for everything. Anticipate dramatic changes. A good question to ask yourself: what kinds of things do you pack beyond the obvious "umbrellas, sweatshirts and raincoats"? How are you planning to prepare for wind? Do you have good stakes for your tent and shade structures? Do you have an extra tarp? How will you survive a cold night if temps drop into the 30s?


Rain at MosaicIn 2014, we thought it would be helpful to start a thread on our Mosaic Facebook Group asking our community to share the ways in which they prepare their art, theme camps, tents, and selves for the inevitable October rain in Ohio.

Here are some of the best recommendations our community members responded with:

  • Good solid rain boots
  • Have a SPARE pair of rain boots
  • How to waterproof your boots with wax:
  • LOTS of warm socks!
  • Pack your clothing in a Rubbermaid container.
  • Pack an extra outfit inside a Ziplock bag in case your tent floods. Pack bedding in trash bags if it's raining on arrival day, so it doesn't get wet between car and tent.
  • Waterproof your tent and clothing (the spray can stuff from Shoe Carnival is said to be good enough.)
  • PREVENT TENT LEAKS: When you leave your tent, make sure nothing is touching the sides. Anything touching the tent sides creates a place for rain to gather and enter the tent rather than roll off. Pull all crap toward the center!
  • Put a ground sheet or tarp under your tent and ensure it doesn't extend past the sides of the tent. If the tarp is sticking out around the sides, it will gather rainwater and pool under your tent.
  • Better yet, put the ground tarp inside the tent under your bedding.
  • Have lots of tarps and rope!
  • Don't build art projects out of cardboard for events when it might rain. 
  • Warm cocoa, hot cider, miso soup. YUMMY during cool rainy camping adventures.
  • For cold rain and damp nights, use a light weight sheet or blanket to cover air vent under rain fly and then tarp away!
  • Vitamin C! Airbornes!
  • Extra tie downs and stakes for your tarps!!!
  • Wool, fleece, warming clothing
  • Rain suit! Something like this
  • Check out this article with tips from engineers: Storm Proofing Your Tent


Rain isn't the only likelihood. You should also prepare your structures for wind. When high winds pick up, EZ Up shade tents that aren't staked down can go flying and become dangerous. Are you bringing a dome or other large shade structure? Make sure you've researched and planned how it will stand up to wind. Some tips:

  • Make sure you secure your tent to the ground in a way that it will not come loose. Buy higher quality stakes than the simple metal ones that come with your tent.
  • Wind over time will cause your tent to move up and down and side to side, therefore your ground stakes need to be checked frequently to see if they are working.
  • pegProperly angle your stakes and guylines. If wind is up-rooting the pegs, use longer ones, and remember to hammer them in so that the point is closer to the tent than the head.
  • Keep in mind that anything lying around your camp that is not secured down, like garbage, plastic bottles, paper, art or anything else, will get blown during high wind. It is your responsibility to take back everything that you bring in, from the largest structure to the smallest bottle cap or cigarette butt. Keeping everything secured means you won’t have to spend time searching for it later.


moon-tree-wind-d-fr-mtpmcg911-sm-1413It's possible that we might experience cold weather at Mosaic. If it's cold and damp, body chill is even more likely. How to not just survive, but thrive?

  • Cold Weather Clothing: Make sure you pack the basics: long sleeve shirts, long pants, a hooded sweatshirt, parka jacket, warm socks, gloves or mittens, a beanie. Layer your clothing so you can add/subtract insulation as needed.
  • Avoid cotton materials as they trap and hold moisture close to the body, reducing any insulating value. Undergarments of polypropylene are ideal for wicking away dampness, while over garments should be made of wool. If you layer, it's easier to adjust your comfort level as temperatures change.
  • Air mattresses trap cold air underneath you. Layer a fleece or wool blanket on top of your air mattress to insulate your own body heat.
  • If you are hanging near a camp­fire, make sure that your outer layer of cloth­ing is less likely to end up ruined if struck by an errant ember.  Wool is one of the best, most fire-resistant nat­ural mate­ri­als and is great for this.
  • Hydrate, then hydrate some more: You may not feel thirsty in cold weather, but staying hydrated is just as important in cold weather as it is in summer. Drink water (warm or cold), hot tea, or hot chocolate—the latter also provides high-calorie fuel for your burn adventure.
  • Be ready for condensation: As you breathe in a warm tent on a cold night, condensation will form on your tent, even if it's a four-season model. There's not a lot you can do about condensation, but the next morning be sure to dry out your sleeping bag before using it again. To minimize condensation, you can vent your tent at night—it won't hold in heat as well, but it will stay dryer.
  • The old wisdom of stripping down before you get into a sleeping bag doesn't make sense. Put on everything you brought before you turn in for the night. And if the campfire is still going, heat some water, pour it into a heat-proof water bottle, and snuggle into your bag with it.
  • Hot Hands and Mylar Blankets are a quick lifesaver on a cold night. Open a pair of Hot Hands, shake them, and throw them in the bottom of your sleeping bag. Cover your bag with a mylar blanket. You'll sleep like a baby all night long.

rainbowtentThe key to enjoying Mosaic Experiment is to #BurnResponsibly. This means taking action before you arrive to be prepared. The time is now to get ready!

Have a comment on this list or another suggestion we should add? Let us know at info[at]mosaicexperiment[dot]com.

2015 Defying Gravity Logo

websitelogobannerIntroducing the Mosaic Experiment 2015 Defying Gravity logo! Skennedy (Scott Kennedy) of Cleveland, Ohio gave his time and talent to craft this logo for use by the community. More on his process and inspiration:

I was asked to do my part in creating a logo for this year's Mosaic Experiment, based on our theme.

We talked about Defying Gravity, and Everyman made some suggestions for how that might look, and I ran with it.

The idea here is that a person with wings has leapt from a ledge, bridge, or tree into the air, surrendering themselves to the wind just before the incredible effort of flying, of resisting the irresistible.

Defying a force of nature is hard work, but there is a joy in that defiance, in controlling your own destiny for as long as you can, even if you know that eventually you will land, and have to start all over.

To me, that is what we do when we carve a space for ourselves to experiment with art and society - often walking a tightrope of regulations designed by the rest of the world to avoid risk and conflict so that we can embrace those things, together.

Without conflict, there can be no change.

And so the Defier pushes away from the cultivated, safe farmland for something stressful, intensely joyful, and all too brief.

Sound familiar?

See you at Mosaic.


This image is available for any creative project your burny heart desires. Ideas include screen printing, stickers, etchings, engravings... anything you can imagine!  Several file types available here.

Mosaic Experiment: A burn for all ages

everyman's mother

I'm often asked why we fought so hard to make Mosaic an all-ages event, and it only takes remembering my mother to realize how important children are to the sustainability and health of our community. 

Despite it being Mother’s Day, not a day goes by without reflecting all the valuable lessons my mom taught me right up until her passing just over two years ago. I’m forever grateful because she not only allowed me to become who I am right now, but actively encouraged it. She taught me that if I felt strongly enough about something, to stand by it with all my conviction as she did with her own beliefs. Whenever I’m in great need for strength and inspiration, I need to look no further than the beautiful woman who gave me life and raised me.

At Burning Man, the greeters mantra is “Welcome Home!” When I first heard those words, I took it to mean “Welcome Home, misfit!” It was an island of misfits in the middle of the nowhere. My people were there. My weirdos! 


At Burning Man, everything you can imagine is there, and if it isn’t, it will show up years later. I ran into people in their 70’s and 80’s making art, gifting food, offering water, talking deep philosophy. I also found a village called Kidsville right next to the Alternative Energy Zone. After years of exposure to Burning Man, these children will grow up to be the future artists, greeters, rangers, First Aid workers, city builders, event planners, and event producers.

We’ve heard every argument why underage children shouldn’t attend burns, and addressed them all.

It typically comes down to Radical Inclusion vs. Civic Responsibility, instead of Civically Responsible Radical Inclusion. You can’t cherry pick one principle over another, they’re all supposed to be played in harmony.

Radical inclusion doesn't mean "everyone can go. "It means "non-discriminatory access for everyone, regardless of your skin color, sexual orientation, regional affiliation, religion, race, or age." 

Maggie, Alexa, Miles, Branden, and Trae

Civic Responsibly simply means basic infrastructure is put into place (portable toilets, event insurance, parking plans, emergency response protocols, etc.) Civic Responsibility does not mean “we are protecting everyone from danger!”

There is danger everywhere. It is the right of the parent to choose what they expose their children to, and the parent's responsibility to protect their children if they perceive danger.

Burning Man is a cultural movement, not an event. You can't change culture without breaking the traditionally accepted norms of what you expose your children to. You don't have to bring your children, but we shouldn't exclude parents who wish to.

Children will not be the future greeters, rangers, medics, gate people, and event holders if they are not included.

After last year’s Mosaic event, I saw some online discussion about the gifts we received at the event which “melted our souls.” It got me thinking of the most touching moment I had while attending Mosaic 2014. It was during the Saturday night burn, but wasn't the burn was this woman standing in front of me holding her baby. 

The woman was facing forward, fascinated by the huge burning effigy, but her baby was held over her shoulder, facing me...fascinated by the little glowing lights I had around my neck. I grabbed my lights and jiggled them which got the baby's attention. The baby looked up at me and smiled. I hit one of my light controller buttons making them blink, and the baby started laughing. Everyone was watching this gigantic beautiful art piece burn to the ground, but to this baby, there was nothing more fascinating than these little glowing lights.

Miles & Maggie (Mosaic 2014)

If that mother couldn't bring her baby, neither would have come, and I never would have had that beautiful simple sensation of entertaining the mind of a child with my little glowy $5 light string, making us both laugh, which made the mother laugh, joining everyone's laughter over the collective joyous experience.

These endlessly curious little versions of ourselves will soon replace us. Curiousness, fascination by everything, wonderment about how so many strange things are possible, how are they done, how can we make more, do more, build more, and BE more? I was moved to tears because I saw myself, asking "what is THAT??"

I mean, really, I want to know, what IS that?

That is a mother, with her child, and they're standing with you at a burn, that's what it is. The burn incinerated the childish, and nourished the childlike. Our community fought hard for that gift. Mosaic Experiment will continue to protect it.

What is a Sparkle Pony?

Sparkle PonyEver heard the term? It's a fairly popular meme in burner culture. Urban Dictionary defines it as "A high maintenance person at the Burning Man Festival who is unprepared for the harsh camping environment and becomes a burden to their campmates." That might be fine for a Black Rock City definition, but can that also apply to Mosaic Experiment? If so, how do we acculturate such a person into being better prepared and more participatory? How does a person become a "Sparkle Pony" to begin with? We asked our Facebook Community what a Mosaic Sparkle Pony would be, asked for suggestions to minimize their presence, or best practices to teach those who are already on site. Here are some of our favorite responses:

"To me it means anyone who believes in "the burn will provide" and/or is not radically self-reliant. I will always help when I can no matter if the person is sparkling like Edward Cullen in the sun or not. Everyone needs help some days... and next year, it might be you that left all your water at home."

"Sparkle Ponies are people that take all the radical self-reliance they're not doing and put it into radical self-expression. Because looking good is more important than not getting dehydrated."

"I've never heard of it in the context of burns. In previous experiences it meant someone high on their horse out of place. In the context of this, I take it to mean someone unprepared for camping/living for 4 days. I would render them aid as best I can without causing myself/my camp to also need aid."

"I had not heard the term, but as to unprepared people I'd help them to the best of my abilities without harming my own camp/family..."

"Sparkle ponies also leave ungodly amounts of inconceivably wrong and destructive moop, and have no concept of the amount of work that goes into cleaning up, let alone the build, prep, and maintenance of these crazy things we call home."

"Sparkle pony has become the hipster of Burning. Often times used beyond the intended context to express derision towards an 'other'."

"There's always more to go around than what any one person could need, so it seems to even out in my experiences. Sparkle Ponies seem to come away from it better off and better learned. I find it's more often out of ignorance or just poor planning skills (planning is tough, I'm serious), so I don't hate."

"Although the word dates back to at least 2008, it was popularized by the Sparkle Pony Corral, a theme camp present in Black Rock City from 2009-2010. Frustrated participants could drop off their camp’s sparkle ponies at the corral where they would be fed, watered, and have their egos stroked by “certifiable experts.” Sparkle ponies received much-needed attention while campmates received a much-needed break. See also: Tourist."

"You can call them tourists or accuse them of not beholden the spirit of burner culture, however sparkle pony seems to just be a burner name for a way to approach life that is cross-cultural...see user or leech. Sometimes it is ignorance and sometimes it is a sincerely planned thing. Regardless of how you love or don't love sparkle ponies, they are here in this radically inclusive society because no matter how hard you try utopia, it is still made of humans with all their glory and faults. Sparkle pony corral idea cracks me up, by the way."

"If I see someone struggling, I'll help them to the best of my ability without harming myself or others."

"There is a difference in the 'oh crap I forgot something' and the I 'I just didn't pack anything'. For the first type I help if we can spare, for the second, I will share the things we brought specifically for sharing but wont risk running out of things for me and my mates."

"If people want to dip into my supplies, I'm more than happy having them help me with our numerous construction projects...."

"I appreciate definitions that differentiate between ignorance and willful entitlement."

"I did as much research as I could before my first burn this Spring, but there were still things that I missed and probably could not anticipate before actually going to one. Self-reliance is wonderful, but everyone has to start somewhere and I don't think punishing ignorance is a good solution. The people who were most helpful to me in learning self-reliance, who I will try to emulate in the future, were the ones who demonstrated it positively in their own actions, and kindly reached out and shared that knowledge with others." 

"Maybe Sparkle Ponies could be people lacking in self-reliance, who never have any intention of growing out of it. Sparkle Foals can be people who haven't quite learned it yet, but will some day grow into Sparkle Steeds, awesome examples for everyone."

"I personally believe there is a difference between a Sparkle Pony and someone who needs help because they were mildly unprepared."

"Being mildly unprepared is one thing. That's happened to everyone at some point. Hell, my bedding was left behind when we went to Burning Man. Luckily, I was able to procure extra blankets and pillows. That's not being a Sparkle Pony. Mishaps and failed planning happen."

"A Sparkle Pony is someone who take Radical Self-Reliance and tosses it out the window. Who expects to be able to use the community as a crutch, and there be nothing wrong with that (when there most definitely is). 
As for how to deal with them, I'm honestly torn. The snarky burner in me says 'fuck 'em', but letting them starve isn't particularly nice either." 

"My experience is that Sparkle Ponies think that the burn is a big party. Everybody gives them something for nothing. They have no ideas about the principles or just don't care about them. I have seen them show up at burns and give things out expecting something in return. I have seen them show up with no food because 'I heard people were cooking for everybody'. I have helped explain moop-y activities to some of them, especially the confetti with glitter throwing, cig butt throwing, etc. I try to help them learn and if they really need something and I have enough I share."

"I agree that Sparkle Ponies can be described as those who disregard the principles, namely radical self-reliance. I think it's important to be aware of what that phrase represents and to remember to not use it loosely or in a manner that makes someone feel attacked. I know there's obvious playful attacks but I'm cautioning against using it like a derogatory insult. Sometimes a newb doesn't even realize they're offending or falling short of a standard. I like the help them within reason fix, as long as it's accompanied with an explanation (principle lesson) that isn't beating them up. I would hold off on frustration or letting the blood pressure rise until they show themselves to be a serial sparkler. Then give them shit. I'd also like to caution using that phrase for someone if you are certain it fits. One of my friends who came to an event felt very alienated because she overheard people calling her a Sparkle Pony (not sure if they knew she could hear) and it felt like exactly the opposite of what I love about and brag about at a burn or from burners. It felt like judgement and like she wasn't welcomed. Not everyone fully gets the culture yet and not everyone nails it on the first couple tries. Please stay considerate before pointing fingers. We're all growing in our storylines. Thanks again everybody!!! You mo fo's are tits awesome."

"If I know that someone is new I usually try to help and explain more. I have seen the same group of people show up more than once with nothing, wearing feathers and glitter, throwing butts everywhere and begging for food or something warm or something cold or somewhere to sleep. Those are definite Sparkleys!"

"As someone who's been around burners forever, but is not a burner yet, I'm in love with it. All of it."

"No where else in the world can I go and KNOW that I won't be responsible for everyone else. Everyone knows I'm always prepared and you can come to me if you've forgotten something, just about anything. It's become a problem, I'm suddenly feeding/watering/clothing more then myself and my kids are grown."

"For me, when i hang out with my burner friends, it's like getting to be with a group of respectful, fun, grown ups, who have all taken the time to plan (in advance even!) for the event." 

"I don't know about the rest of you, but I've raised my kids, and they were taught to plan ahead. Taking on the responsibility of another person, maybe even a stranger, is no fun. And can be extremely frustrating and a total inconvenience." 

"My point is this, respect for yourself and others is taught. Most kids and/or adults don't show respect because they've never seen it. It's shameful." 

"If you respect your peers, or in this case, fellow burner community, you wouldn't be a sparkle pony. You'd respect yourself enough to take care of you, and then respect the rest of us enough to not be a burden. As an adult you are responsible for yourself, we may understand that, but I've dealt with many that haven't learned that lesson." 

"Radical entitlement."

"Sleeping in a cold wet sleeping bag and other "environmental" problems were hardships. I have dealt with such before and I know it's just a matter of enduring them. They have little effect on my world. "Sparkle Ponyism" is what broke me. I tried to contribute to the burn... because I believe that is much of what a burn is about. Not because of fear of some label. After I arrived it seemed like there was a continual mantra chanting around me: "Don't be a Sparkle Pony.' It was clear to me that it wasn't enough not to be a Sparkle Pony. I could not APPEAR to be a Sparkle Pony to anyone. I specifically came because the tenant of radical inclusion. I quickly found I wouldn't be excluded due to my mental illness, but every time I tried to be on the receiving end of gifting... I faced people who might view my need for food, etc. as 'wanting more than I was giving'. I believe there are a lot of first time burners who've never known a burner. Whether you admit it or not, you have built a society with built-in pressures to conform. Most people don't see that because they know from other burners the difference between 'right & rude'. I had no one to teach me by example. I tried every method I could think of to convey 'Yes, you have wonderful food... but I don't want to just talk about it and look at it... I need to eat some.' It was probably just bad luck that my first attempts were viewed as 'Waiter? serve me some food.' It took a lot of passive observation just to learn that I needed to bring my own vessel and utensils. This problem of knowing how to be a burner went far beyond your traditions surrounding communal eating. I could have lived with eating my cookies and chips for 4 days. It was that I felt excluded from most burner activities (and therefore burner society as a whole) because I couldn't figure out how to not step on people's toes. I don't care if I piss off someone, but I came for acceptance from burners in general. What I found was that if I could wait for people to come to me and step into my environment; then there was no problem. When I tried to step out into your society... I couldn't tell the difference between not being liked and not being accepted. Instead of drumming in what behaviors are not okay. How about a simple course in how to fit in and what IS acceptable? My burn ended with me overjoyed. It wasn't just the outpouring of love. It's because I believe I now know the basics in how to be part of the 'all inclusive' burner society. I've learned enough of your subtle language that I can just relax and enjoy the next burn."

"To me, a sparkle pony is one who willfully disregards self-reliance, assuming others will take of the boring things. It's not someone who tries hard even while making mistakes. If once you know better, you do better: not a sparkle pony. Just a new burner getting your bearings."

"I experienced massive culture shock at my first burn as I quickly realized that I had an enormous amount of behavior to study and emulate if I wanted to be accepted. Each principle has it's own meaning for every individual but they still project a basic picture of the whole. I'm sorry you were made to feel like you stepped on toes or weren't welcome... thankfully that's something I didn't experience. No one person ever made me to feel unwelcome, but I quickly learned which behaviors or actions didn't really fly with those around. As an example, I didn't know about radical self-expression for my first burn. I just thought it was a simple camping trip so I brought the most grungy and raggedy clothes. No one ever said or did ANYTHING negative to me about it, but I quickly felt out of place. Now I'm all bright and shiny, lol."

"It's a problem with culture in general. It's a living breathing entity. Visiting a burn is like going to a country where everyone speaks the same-ish language but all the customs and practices are completely different. There can be a harsh learning curve at times, but most burners are more than willing to help educate you in a positive way... or at least a tongue in cheek-snarky one! This place really is removed from the default world."

"Stewardship! Stepping up and picking up trash because it's there (LNT), helping a child find his camp (Civic Responsibility), welcoming people home for 2 hours (Volunteering), making naked bacon pancakes for people (Immediacy, Decommodification), telling a fart joke or being a shoulder to cry on (Gifting), n etc... When you become responsible, when you think beyond yourself, you cant help but incorporate the 10 Principles. If you forget, or you are new: pick up after yourself and others, don't put it in the porto if it did not come outta your body, engage people, try new things, don't be a dick!  Oh, don't be a shirt cocker. Dudes walk around with just a shirt n their junk hanging out. That's just dumb. Unless, you are in Camp Shirt Cocker and then it would be kinda cool..."

"My first burn I was 'involved' with the effigy team but didn't do much to actually help. Why this happened is a long story for another day. I came and absorbed anything and everything people offered. I enjoyed meals in camps and they expected nothing in return. Nobody ever asked me not to do this, nor gave me a hard time because I was hungry or thirsty, or needed something. They were just stoked that it was my first time and I was trying. Maybe a little bit of 'fuck yer burn' flavor, but nothing that wasn't taken jokingly."

"By Friday night I was hooked and I got it. Walking high fives, giving of myself, reaching out to people." 

"All of us, whether we put time into the build, have been here a week earlier setting up, or even helped maintain camp and cook meals - we are all a part of this, big or small. We all play a role."

"I feel like this thread may of scared some people into asking for help when they genuinely need it. Every noob is a Sparkle Pony in their own way (including myself). We all need to remember our first time and how much you may of had planned or prepared already for you. The community helped tame my wild oats and turned me into a being that just sparkles now."

"I'm glad that others reached out to help you when they did and that overall everything was a positive. Even in this environment it can be scary to ask questions or even interact. We only bite if you consent first though. <3"

"I find burn culture so interesting because there is no one definitive authority, and yet it still functions well. There is no one right answer to any of our questions about the principles, no static definition - only a collective idea and individual experiences and thoughts that define each one. The Hive Mind in action. The more we try to get it right, the clearer the buzzing becomes, I think."

"I have learned something new from each burn I have went to. We thought we were pretty prepared but some things got left unpacked and then we figured out our structure, while seeming pretty stable, didn't hold up against high winds and hail lol. But we walked away from this weekend not upset about our tent raft, but inspired to try a yurt next year and proud to have learned even more about tarping and packing."

We love our Mosaic Community and all the insightful comments into this very engaging thread!

From an organizer's perspective, we like to remind everyone to read and share the Survival Guide, and if you know someone you suspect will be a so-called "Sparkle Pony" please send them the link and ensure they also read it. Quiz them! :-)

Your Bad Planning Is Not My Emergency

Need help packing? We got you covered!

Packing For MosaicWe've found the most helpful aid in packing for burn events is having a good checklist to go by before organizing your items into waterproof bins and placing them in your vehicle, but if you've never attended a burn before, it can be stressful trying to figure out what exactly belongs on that list! Thankfully, one of our Mosaic participants, Jessica Strong, generously gifted her own checklist of items to pack for the Reclaimation regional burn in Kentucky, whose climate and weather isn't too unlike Southern Ohio's. If you already have a Burning Man packing list, keep in mind at Mosaic you'd be more concerned about rain than dust, with more focus on umbrellas and raincoats than dust masks and ski goggles, and you'd be more likely to deal with October cold than August heat, but you never know, our very first Mosaic event in 2013 was riddled with temperatures in the 80's, so we'd advise you prepare for both extremes!


  • Tent
  • Tent stakes
  • Hammer
  • Tarps (under tent)
  • Tarps (over tent/ rain cover)
  • Ropes/ guy lines
  • Air mattress
  • Air pump
  • Batteries for pump
  • Sheets
  • Blankets / sleeping bag------ I prefer sheets and blankets. Feels like home!
  • Pillows
  • Fan
  • Batteries for fan
  • Tent light
  • Door mat
  • Hand broom and dust pan
  • Dirty laundry bag
  • Duct Tape


  • Sunshade
  • Stakes for shade
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Solar Christmas/ deck lights
  • Flash lights / Lanterns
  • Pop up laundry bin for Trash can


  • Headlamp
  • Camelback/ water backpack
  • Cup
  • Bowl
  • All in one eating tool
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen


  • Baby wipes *
  • Soap
  • Shampoo / conditioner
  • Toothbrushes *
  • Toothpaste *
  • Towels / washcloths
  • Bug spray *
  • Extra TP *
  • Sunscreen *
  • Hairbrush *
  • Hand sanitizer *
  • Ear plugs *
  • Razor
  • Shaving cream
  • Shower shoes
  • Makeup *
  • Hair ties *
  • This is my packing list for Reclamation where we have hot showers, so this may be trimmed down. I have starred the items I will bring to a burn/ campsite without showering capabilities!


  • Camp Stove
  • Propane
  • Pot (to cook in)  :D
  • Skillet
  • Silverware
  • Knives
  • Dish soap
  • Dish scrubby
  • Wash bins
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Baby wipes
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Cups
  • Coffee set ( I have a large metal cup and plastic coffee cups to boil water and make instant coffee
  • Paper towels
  • Tin foil
  • Corkscrew
  • Can opener
  • Trash bags
  • BBQ lighter
  • Pot holders
  • Measuring cups
  • Cooking utensils (slotted spoon, spatula, tongs, serving spoon)
  • Cutting board

*A note on organization. I bought a small 3 drawer organizer that stays in my kitchen bin that holds all of our silverware, cooking utensils, dish soap/scrubbies. Everything I need to run my kitchen is in one bin except the stove. It’s too big!


*Items that stay packed year round/do not spoil*

  • Cooking oil
  • Instant coffee
  • Creamer (dry)
  • Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Energy bars
  • Frequently used spices

*I keep a food bin with all of this stuff. When It comes burn time, I just refill with the perishable items. I personally like to eat well at a burn!


  • Fire Fans
  • Fuel
  • Safety blanket
  • Refueling canister
  • Small funnel
  • Trash bag to keep fans dry
  • Burn cream


  • Games
  • Book
  • RX Meds
  • ID
  • Health insurance card
  • Printed directions to location
  • Phone
  • Phone charger
  • First aid kit
  • Cigarettes

Leave No Trace!

LNT/Earth Guardian lead here. I'm calling all burners attending Mosaic, seasoned veterans to rosy-red virgins, and all the ones in between. If you are interested in keeping Reclaim just as we found it, please email at or you can im me here on the facebooks. You can sign up to be an Earth Guardian, keeping Reclaim MOOP free during the event or LNT, cleaning up Reclaim and the burn scar Monday October 6th, or both. Remember, volunteering is sexy, plus you can get some awesome swag for your help.Leave No Trace

Our Hive: Our Effigy: Communal Effort!

We're proud to introduce you to "Our Hive," Mosaic's selected effigy designed by Thom Root, an Indiana burner.

Like what you see? Consider donating to his Indiegogo campaign!

A meditation on community, transience, elegance and perspective

In the heart of the Midwest, there is a vibrant community of individuals dedicated to the idea of creating a space to enact self-reliance, self-expression, respect of the environment, and the value of the common good. These good folk will gather at a transformational festival in October, and this work will serve as the central effigy art project for the community.

Our campaign will fund only the material costs of a large-scale burnable art installation for this festival taking place in October. The structure, Our Hive, is an abstract geometric representation of a beehive. The building allows for interaction in a variety of ways. Participants can admire the structure’s intrinsic aesthetic beauty, sit or cuddle in one of the numerous alcoves, lounge in the cargo net, or scale to the top to look around. The structure will be illuminated with LED lighting systems that bring the internal design and negative space into greater conscious awareness. It will stand at around 18 feet tall with a rough diameter of 20 feet at the base.

The festival organizers have already awarded our team a $500 grant for the structure. We need your help to make up the difference in cost for building materials. Our goal of $1,190 will cover the lumber costs for the project.

What We Need & What You Get

All of the funds raised will pay for the cost of the materials to build and transport the structure to the festival site. This campaign to raise $1,190 will cover the cost of the lumber for the 18 foot by 20 foot effigy. Additional costs not covered by this campaign include $1,800 to cover all remaining construction and transportation needs (e.g. internal netting: $170, hardware: $125, lighting: $100, truck rental: $385, and burn costs) Fuel, tools and construction space have already been donated. If we do not meet our goal, all funds will still support the project, and we will have to work even harder to raise money in person…

As a supporter of Our Hive, you'll receive our sincere gratitude, plus additional perks depending on the level of your contribution. These range from handwritten thank you notes to custom stickers to patches to the chance to light Our Hive on person!

The Impact

Our Hive will be the central art piece and effigy for a transformational festival in Ohio. Dozens of these events occur across the globe, and the movement is on the rise. With roots in the dreams of activists, artists, hippies and seekers, transformational festivals create radically free spaces where participants awaken to their inner selves and experience a new way of being that springs from self-expression and community interaction.

Here in the Midwest, this “dreams made real” opportunity is rare. Opportunities to connect with like-minded folk who passionately believe in the values of radical inclusion, radical self-expression, leaving no trace, and the value of communal effort and civic responsibility are unusual. Burn festivals create the opportunity for individuals to propel the next evolution of humankind forward.

The Artist

In 2012, Thom Root attended his first burn festival. An unassuming software engineer in his regular life, Thom attended an additional nine burns over the past two years, including Burning Man 2013 and the inaugural Mosaic Experiment. Building large-scale burnable art has become a personal passion that brings him fulfillment and joy. His passion ignites a similar fire in anyone around him, bringing others into the community of transformation. A team of volunteers is already in place, helping to bring Our Hive into existence.

Thom has experience with how to design and construct an effective project. He designed the inaugural structure for the Mosaic Experiment 2013. The Dodecamosaic touched and delighted many. The structure was designed so it could be rolled around, providing an interactive element for participants. Thom also contributed to building the inaugural Indiana C.O.R.E. project, INchanted Forest, for Burning Man 2013. We are thirsting for the opportunity to create a larger scale interactive project.

What If?...

If we don’t raise our goal of $1,190, then we will focus on in-person fundraising through selling patches and stickers at other festivals in the area. Additional funds  may be donated by existing team members and through personal gifts.

The structure will be designed with the safety of all participants in mind. Walls and rafters will be reinforced to prevent accidental falls. On-site construction will include seasoned builders, including the lead builder of a 20 foot obelisk for another festival in 2013. This structure will be the most ambitious project for this festival, and we are pumped to make it happen!

Other Ways You Can Help

Whether or not you're able to donate please spread the word to everyone you know. Other burners, performers, artists, your wacky neighbor, your supervisor, that interesting guy you chatted up the other day - you know - everyone! And consider using the buttons below to spread the word online. Thank you - that is all.