The bulk of San Francisco’s creative social scene revolves around the monumental once-a-year event known as Burning Man. This year, Burning Man will have a “Green” theme which expands their already strong environmental policies to try to become a closed-loop event. Nonetheless, there is also great controversy this year, as Burning Man will feature a “worlds fair of clean tech” wherein companies have been invited to show off their wares.
Since its inception has been explicitly non-commercial in spirit (commerce of most kinds is banned at the event, logos banished, and a ‘gift economy’ proclaimed) so the invitation to corporations has many long-time burners seeing red.
The fear is that this act will be quite literally a death blow for the event – that corporate interests are so inherently contradictory to the philosophy of Burning Man that they simply can’t co-exist. On the other hand, with a logo ban still in effect, and companies required to turn over their products to artists who will have free reign over how and where the items are displayed, perhaps it’s not that big a deal and it’s the corporations that will really be changing for the better – or, more specifically, ideas that will be changing and evolving for the better into new and different kinds of companies.
Here’s what Money Magazine says. and here are two discussions about it  that take a different view.
On another note, I think the Green Man theme is not without irony. Burning Man always had a “leave no trace” policy which is a very green philosophy, but at the same time, Burning Man is about indulgant celebration and the dramatic banishment of past troubles, and involves the burning of a huge amount of fossil fuels and other material… much like a Nascar event for a more erudite demographic. The point has never been conservation, but rather momentary excess, the temporary freedom to completely release one’s sensibilities, inhibitions, and cares. I think that’s a good thing, and it would be a shame to lose track of it.
Anyway, what do you think? Is this remotely a big deal at all? Are you a burner who’s also in business? Leave your thoughts in the comments…