Mars Rover Art Car and Inclusion

by Phoenix della Mare

Burning Man is an interesting experiment in temporary communities. Each year creates a new and unique community structure. While the community itself is both temporary and amorphous, there are a set of rules referred to as “The Ten Principles”. Primary on the list is the idea of “Radical Inclusion”. In short, it means that anybody can take part in Burning Man.

 Not all theme camps are as inclusive as others. It’s rare to find a place that’s willing to be open enough to allow people in. My experience with the Mars Rover Art Car is much different feom those I have experienced with other theme camps.

I should probably start out with a little self-history to explain where I am going with my tale.

I attended my first Burning Man in 2004. I went with a group or people who thought the only correct way to Burn was to do it like them. For them it was about the party and not necessarily about the community. At least that’s what I got out of their experience.

I approach Burning Man differently. I enjoy working and gaining the experience through interpersonal interaction. There’s nothing wrong with either way, they’re just different.

My first year I wound up hooking up with a theme camp that’s local to me (the San Francisco Bay Area). I thoroughly enjoyed the years that I had with them.

In 2009 I had no job and couldn’t afford to go back to Black Rock City. It was at that point that I stumbled upon a brand new online community of fellow Burners and those that wanted to make the journey to Black Rock to be known as Camp Envy. We envied the experience that everyone out on the Playa were having.

It was through Camp Envy that I met some of the crew of the MRAC, many of them being in Los Angeles.

As you’d expect, it would be difficult for me to participate with actually building the car. It’s more difficult for me to take off for a work weekend as I’m about 5 hours (depending on starting point) north of them.

Regardless of locale, I was accepted with arms open. It’s an inclusion that I felt my first year when I found the theme camp that I wound up with for 3 years. It’s an inclusion that they continue to exceed at now. I may not be able to have a physical presence at work weekends or on Playa, but they have accepted me all the same.

A good theme camp or mutant vehicle crew or art crew, in my mind, treats all its members like family… and not just the red-headed stepchild. This is the inclusion that I found at Burning Man in 2004. This is what inclusion should be.

I may not be able to go to every work weekend. I may not be able to be a part of the flight crew at Burning Man. I am still a part of the crew.