Pubdate: Wed, 17 Sep 2008
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Charles Shaw


I'm responding to Travis Kavulla's "Desert Wanderers Find Their
Promised Land" (Taste, Sept. 5), an ostensible review of the Burning
Man festival.

Being a newcomer to the festival as well as to the culture of Burning
Man, it is not at all surprising that Mr. Kavulla sees Burning Man in
terms of affluence, conspicuous consumption, decadence and hedonism,
for Burning Man does indeed, unapologetically, contain all of those
things. But had Mr. Kavulla probed just a little bit deeper than the
surface of things -- had he, for example, taken just a few more steps
around Entheon Village, which he criticizes, and asked just a few
questions, he would have understood that there was so much more going
on than "just a party."

Our camp infrastructure was built out of repurposed shipping
containers specifically designed for use in disaster relief efforts
anywhere in the world, so that first responders and relief workers
would have a ready-made base camp from which to operate. This project
is a collaborative extension of the work that was begun in 2005 by
Burners Without Borders, a social-change/service movement that was
born out of the aftermath of our government's total failure with
Hurricane Katrina. Just this week, we at Entheon Village received a
call from the Louisiana governor's office asking for our kitchen to be
sent down to Baton Rouge to help feed some 100,000 people displaced by
the recent flooding.

Mr. Kavulla characterizes my presentation on "The Secret History of
the War on Drugs" as a series of "witless one-liners" and "a
preposterous conspiracy theory that blamed every evil on, and
attributed every power to, the American government." This wasn't my
intended message. Based on extensive research, which I thoroughly
documented and provided to the gathered audience, I focused on how the
American government has created many of the drug problems it claims
the war on drugs is supposedly designed to address.

Within and among the miasma of hedonism Mr. Kavulla chronicles are a
committed core of individuals and tribes building the foundations for
the communities of tomorrow, evolving our purpose to meet the demands
of a changing, resource-challenged world.

Charles Shaw

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