One inspiration for Mud Bluff was PermaBurn (2008 to 2013). The most common question I used to get asked about PermaBurn was, “What’s the deal?” People wanted to know what it cost, and what they got for that $200. This, of course, reflects our expectation of a ticket representing a transaction, quid por quo. At Mud Bluff, there is no ticket nor transaction. The deal is a paradox. There isn’t one.
Instead of a deal, Mud Bluff is a gift. If you’ve been invited to Mud Bluff you’ve been casually included or given some virtual Happy Hearts. Each Happy Heart represents the opportunity for a good day at Mud Bluff, but only the opportunity. To experience it you need to participate.
Either way, simply relax, explore the project and seek the nature of what you might wish to express. This may involve art, gardens, music, landscaping, dance, food, construction or things I haven’t imagined. Discover your gift, then contribute only as you are inspired. Be the change you wish to see at Mud Bluff. Others may appreciate your contribution and give you more Happy Hearts, extending your invitation.
The Mud Bluff Project is in no way commercial. And though we apply some of the ideas from Burning Man, Mud Bluff is not part of the Burning Man organization, nor do we commodify, advertise or promote Mud Bluff in any other fashion. Transactions are decoupled into underlying gifts. Mud Bluff itself is a gift. The property was a fortunate discovery for me, and one I wish to share with other Burners. My hope is this gift may inspire you to share your resources, arts, and talents with the project.
No Requirements, Few expectations
One of the nice things about Burning Man is that once you get through the gate, there are no requirements, and few expectations. Sure, there’s an assumption of honoring the Burning Man principles, but beyond that, you can pretty much do what you want. It’s one reason for the profound sense of freedom that permeates the experience. And it’s one of the more important aspects I wish to capture with this project.
There are no requirements and few expectations at Mud Bluff. Any gifts are freely given, without recourse and without refund. Nor is there any expectation that you or anyone else will continue to provide that gift. The amount you contribute will reflect your interest, conviction, and participation at that moment. Like Burning Man, the only expectation is that you will let Mud Bluff Principles guide your actions.
As for management structure, I’ve defined a hierarchy of titles reflecting participation as measured by virtual Happy Hearts. This too may change at any time. These titles do not indicate any particular rights. They only help channel communications and control, which ultimately flows from the land and the Trust. These roles are not a requirement. This management effort is also a gift freely given. If you take on a role, there will be the expectation that you will perform that role in good faith and to the benefit of all who participate.
This structure provides the freedom for you to be the change you wish to see at Mud Bluff. If you wish to see more development, you may choose to contribute more time and resources. You may then be offered a role in that development. If you wish to do less, that is fine too.
All gifts to Mud Bluff must be gifts freely given. There are no refunds and no recourse. A gift is where a gift economy starts. The gift can be in the form of cash, property, or effort. Contributions can be formal or casual. But not all gifts are accepted. Only gifts that will benefit the project will find a place at Mud Bluff.
Yes, it’s possible that a few Burners won’t bring anything, but as long as they are a small minority they won’t eclipse the generosity of the majority. In time their Happy Hearts will decline as they are burned and dedicated to the memory of their experience at Mud Bluff. When their count of Happy Hearts reaches zero, they may then be asked to leave. Or not.
We need to find that sweet spot between cash and effort, giving and self-reliance, sharing and selfishness. This requires the freedom and flexibility to explore our generosity.
Anyone may apply to be a Guest of Mud Bluff. Simply post a description of the change you would like to bring to the project. Artists or higher may Casually Invite you to the project for a few days or you may attend one of our Open Weekends.
Guest may remain at Mud Bluff for as long as their host is present. Guests may participate in the casual gifting of performance, goods, or services, but not formal gifting to the Trust. That is reserved for Artists or above. This means Guests may bring things to share, work on projects, or Radically Express themselves in any way they choose. If others enjoy these gifts, they may show their appreciation by giving that Guest Happy Hearts. Or not.
Yes, this is a popularity contest of sorts, but only those who hold little conviction for the project are likely to not acquire Happy Hearts. This makes them self-selecting. If you enjoy sharing your gifts at Mud Bluff, it’s likely you will be appreciated by someone who will Generously Include you with Happy Hearts making you a Bluffer.
Bluffers may remain at Mud Bluff for as many days as they have Happy Hearts in their account. As a type of demurrage, one of these Happy Hearts is metaphorically set on fire each night at sunset and becomes a virtual “Flame”. These Flames will also be used as a management metric. If a Bluffer’s Happy Heart count falls to zero, they may be asked to leave Mud Bluff. Or not.
Bluffers may participate in the casual gifting of performance, goods, or services, but not formal gifting to the Trust. That is reserved for Artists or above. This means Bluffers may bring things to share, work on projects, or Radically Express themselves in any way they choose. If others enjoy these gifts, they may show their appreciation by giving that Bluffer more Happy Hearts. Or not.
If you enjoy sharing your gifts at Mud Bluff, it’s likely you will be appreciated by someone who will Generously Include you with more Happy Hearts until you become an Artist, and can formally contribute.
An Artist is any Guest or Bluffer who has accumulated more than 400 Happy Hearts and Flames.
Artists may make formal contributions to the Trust in amounts greater than $1,000. These contributions may optionally be allocated to specific projects or resources. The Trust may give virtual Happy Hearts in recognition of these gifts. Or not. Even for the Trust, giving Happy Hearts is optional, and the number may vary widely.
These additional Happy Hearts may be dedicated to the Artist’s time at Mud Bluff and become virtual Flames, or optionally gifted to others to create Generous Inclusion.
Artists may also Casually Include a couple of Guests for a few days, no Happy Heart gifting required.
A Lead is an Artist who has accumulated at least 4000 Happy Hearts.
A Lead may nominate one new Guest each per thousand Happy Hearts and Flames in their account. The Lead Generously Includes someone and then guides their experience at Mud Bluff until they become an Artists or all of that Guest’s Happy Hearts have been converted to virtual Flames and they have been asked to leave. Leads may also propose and take responsibility for minor art projects not involving concrete.
A Manager is a Lead who has accumulated at least 40,000 Happy Hearts.
A Lead may be asked to manage a resource at Mud Bluff. Or not. Managers may propose and take responsibility for major art projects involving concrete.
A Director is a Manager who has accumulated at least 80,000 Happy Hearts.
A Director may be asked to be on the board of the Trust, Capitalist Art. If not, they will be a Director without portfolio. There will always be an even number of Directors on the board. In case of a tie, no action is taken.
A Trustee is a Director who may be asked to see that the trust is executed in the interest of the participants. There will always be an even number of trustees. In case of a tie, no action is taken.
OK, what’s with all the casual exception at the end of these descriptions? Just that – casual exceptions. “Or not” is there to remind us, these are not transactions, terms of a contract, nor rules. They are not even Mud Bluff Principles. Titles are only a way to loosely link participation and contribution with management control.
The land belongs to the Trust. In most ways, we are all simply Guests of Mud Bluff. Any of us may be asked to leave at any time for any reason. Though rare, this remedy needs to remain available to the Trustees, as it would for any host.
So where does authority come from? Ultimately, and because the Mud Bluff property is part of Churchill County in the State of Nevada, authority flows from those Trustees whose names are on the deeds.
Within the bounds of Mud Bluff authority generally flows from the hierarchy of participants, and occasionally from the Trustees if an issue is escalated to that level. Issues may be resolved based on what is best for those who participate in the project.
See the Manifesto for more details.