Mud Bluff Policy
Beyond principles, below are some management guidelines which we will initially use. They will evolve along with the project.
As a Guest, you should first just enjoy the experience. If you choose to help other Artists with their projects, ask yourself, will other Bluffers appreciate your contribution? If so, they may give you Happy Hearts.
Once you acquire 400 Happy Hearts and become an Artist, you are invited to propose and manage your own projects. This is when you should ask yourself, will your project make Mud Bluff a better place? Will it be the highest and best use of the resource in question? It’s best to post your plans to our Facebook group or website to get feedback. Each project will have an Artist, Lead or Manager directing the effort but anyone may express their opinion of the process.
For instance, if your project involves the property itself, before you take out a bush, change or create a new path or move a lot of dirt, will most Bluffers appreciate what you’re about to create? If you have doubts, ask a Lead. Artists, Leads, and Managers are listed on the Happy Heart page. Leads also need to be consulted about any projects or performance involving fire. If concrete is part of your plans, find a Manager to review the project.
Sadly, yes. Mud Bluff’s management will need to rely on zoning in order to achieve the highest and best use of resources. I’ve asked many others what they would do with the land. The answers range from a racetrack to runways, to not disturbing the ground at all, (except, of course, for their little spot). It’s just human nature. One man’s art is another’s abomination. Also, the smaller the fish tank, the more aggressively it has to be managed. Zoning will be important.
Most communities in the U.S. use zoning to various degrees. Houston, Texas is the rare exception where scale helped most things find their place. Even Burning Man is zoned. In some respects, aggressively so. It’s something they learned early on because of the range of expression and personalities. Sound camps go here. Art goes there. Kids go here. Clubs go there. Plus, Burning Man gets to rezone each year using camp placement. It’s become highly refined.
At Mud Bluff, we’ll have to be more careful as more projects will be permanent. Mud Bluff has multiple types of terrain, access, visibility, and features to protect. This is one area where contribution and participation will have a larger voice. Get involved early if you wish to express your vision on this important topic. To begin, I’ll keep things flexible and see what forms. But some things can’t be restored, such as a hundred-year-old cottonwood tree, or the bluff itself.
Mud Bluff has three distinct areas, the Oxbow area at the river, the mostly flat desert above, and the alluvial area between, bounded by Rock Dam Ditch and the bluff. These last two can also be split both east and west of the north/south center road, creating a total of five zones.
The desert above can be seen from Highway 50, so we’ll initially reserve these two zones for interesting homes or large art projects, with perhaps a dedicated art garden toward the west end.
The river area will be reserved for a park and camping with RVs limited to the higher ground above the oxbow. Parking RVs in this area will be limited to when they are being actively used, but not more than 90 days per year, conforming to Churchill County ordinance.
The west bluff, being the most visually distinctive, will be preserved using fences above and below, with perhaps one trail down the bluff near the center. The alluvial area on the west can be used for orchards and RV camping overflow.
The alluvial area farther east is less visible from Highway 50, so will be where everything else goes, including, well, pump house, corals for horses, cold storage, stored RVs and stored art projects.
Other zoning provisions will evolve over time.
Property and space at Mud Bluff can be shared or private. Private property and space will be secured with locks. Shared spaces will be unlocked or noted with a Happy Heart symbol. Private RVs in the park need to be used at least once a month or be moved to the storage area to the east. Stored RVs or other private property to the east should be used at least once per year or be removed from Mud Bluff. Shared RVs in the park may remain indefinitely and be locked when occupied. All property and spaces, shared or private, need to be managed by someone as assigned.
Artists (or higher) may propose art installations that will materially alter Mud Bluff, or that will exist for more than 90 days. These proposals will need to be posted on our website both for funding and review, in the same way as the Mud Bluff project itself.
Mud Bluff is not a commercial business. Inviting any groups to use Mud Bluff for an event will be a gift to that group, and must conform to all local Churchill County ordinances.
Children are part of the Mud Bluff experience, perhaps a critical part. They are better at playing than adults, so may become our teachers. They are Generously Included and accumulate Happy Hearts like anyone else, but the parents or guardians remain responsible for their actions until their legal age of majority.
Dogs are people too. At least they are to some. Unlike Burning Man, we make an exception and they too can be Generously Included, but the owners remain responsible for their dogs. And their dog’s actions. Dogs will have their own account on the website and can accumulate Happy Hearts like anyone else. To avoid dog conflict which seems to focus on food, we ask that dogs be excluded from some special events, potlucks, and other gatherings.
Both open and concealed carry is common in this rural environment and so are allowed at Mud Bluff. The only exception will be at larger events where alcohol is served. Lock up your guns before you party. As for shooting, Mud Bluff is surrounded by thousands of acres of public land. A mile to the east on BLM land might be a better place to shoot than on the property when others are present.
One of the things I heard at an early Burning Man Summit was, “Don’t let a meth-head in your build space. You’ll regret it.” At the time I’d hadn’t managed a project that included anyone with addiction issues. Later I did, and it’s good advice. But it’s not addiction you have to watch out for. It’s actually the negative social impact of certain substances, for some people. Not all drugs have the same social impact. Not all addicts are fiends.
For instance, tobacco is one of the most addictive substances generally available but has little negative social impact. So I don’t want to condemn all drugs or all drug addicts. Some of them can be quite effective. Examples are Winston Churchill, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Tom Petty. We just have to be careful how we Generously Include them. Alcohol, laudanum, and even heroin are manageable in moderation for some people, but with others, they create drama. Drama is our test.
Also, Civic Responsibility requires we not allow any illegal substance on the property. Tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana are all legal (with various restrictions). Of all the fiending drugs, alcohol is the most likely to cause problems. It’s the most pervasive in our culture, and for some, the cause of substantial negative social impact.
Alcohol is another one of those issues which can be dealt with for a week in the desert but problems can blossom long term. So, don’t let your addiction become a source of drama. And don’t let meth-heads into your build space.
No, it’s not a new principle, but it can happen. Everyone (except Trustees with their names on the deeds) is an invited Guests at Mud Bluff. This means it is possible that you may be asked to leave. Reasons this might happen include flagrant violation of Mud Bluff Principles, substance abuse issues, or not conducting oneself according to local, state or federal laws. For instance, if someone creates enough drama that the local police have to be called, the person involved will be reviewed by the Trustees for exclusion. Or if someone consistently disregards safety instructions of any Artist or Lead regarding their project, this too may be a reason for Radical Exclusion. There may be others.