Question: Who is the owner of the sim and what part does that person play in oversight?
Answer: The Burn2 sim is owned by Michael Mikel (M2 Burner) and is funded by the Burning Man Project, a 501c3 non-profit organization. The Burning Man Project produces the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City, and provides year-round support, connection, education, and grants to Burning Man communities in more than 40 US States and 35 countries under its Regionals Program. M2 sponsors the Burn2 sim under the Burning Man Regionals Program and is ultimately responsible for Burning Man intellectual property used on the Burn2 sim.
The Burn2 Burning Man Regional Contacts are 3V and myself, Miss Suzanne Super Sweet. M2 Burner is not involved in any planning of events, building or attending planning meetings. He does, however, remain a part of the committee that is consulted for restrictions such as banning or even removing someone from leadership. M2 has faith in the current Burn2 Leadership and expects us to deal with our problems internally whenever possible. For more information about the early history of BURN2, we have that on our website here.
Question: Why was Deep Hole access restricted for two months?
Answer: We stated the reasoning for the closure of Deep Hole, here:
I feel a need to clarify some things. At the time, it seemed the appropriate step to take, to pause and cool things down, and let the Burn2 leadership, in conjunction with Burning Man Network leadership, work on the issues that had arisen. For the Burn2 leadership, this was just as unexpected as it was for the community. I explained that Deep Hole was closed as an intervention to calm down the conflict which had escalated between some individuals. The plan was to provide a cooling off period and also work with our leadership, where much of the escalation was occurring. This cooling off time for leadership and intervention included blocking access to Deep Hole and canceling the next event for the purpose of providing more time to look closely at our processes and policies.
During the cooling down period and going forward, the leads worked together on specific goals. We still have a lot of work to do and we will be asking others to help us move forward. Eventually, we will be looking at our structure, improving Burn2’s culture, and strengthening the teams that help to organize events. Volunteers will have opportunities to join the teams that match their interests.
Deep Hole was reopened on the 31st of July. On reopening day, there were several people there who had resigned from their volunteer roles in protest. I issued an apology for the decision to shut down Deep Hole and how that negatively affected the community. I explained the reasons for the cooling off period and attendees shared their frustrations. The main reason given was that during the months leading up to the cooldown period, there were particular incidents that happened between individuals that continued to escalate due to offensive behaviors between those individuals. This led to many people reporting high physical and mental stress.
Question: Why were some people dismissed and/or banned?
Answer: The reasons for dismissals and bans are kept confidential, out of consideration and respect for the privacy and dignity of the individuals involved. Decisions about dismissals or bans are not taken lightly and are, for the most part, made by a committee of experienced people who have been deemed by Burning Man management as capable and with the qualities needed to make the least restrictive and most inclusive choices possible and reasonable. The committee takes care in reviewing the cases. They try to understand and deliberate before making these decisions. I am a member of this committee.
Burn2 is guided by a liberal ethos along with the 10 Principles of Burning Man. Determining the line of inclusion is a constant challenge. We strive to be inclusive and supportive of volunteers in Burn2. We also hold those in leadership to higher expectations as custodians of responsibility in Burn2.
I will refer you to this page, which talks about the rights and responsibilities of volunteers.
Question: What happens now?
Answer: I have been working with leadership during the cooling down and know that there have been many hours committed to improving policies. This includes policies governing the leadership. Several policies were developed or are being developed, such as, the Code of Conduct Policy for Leadership. We created additional policies for the Burn2 community: the Burn2 Code of Ethics, meetings policy and groups/chat policies. These are designed to foster a more positive and communal spirit in our interactions with each other. We seek constructive feedback focused on creating procedures, policies and decisions with the aim of improving the regional culture. We want to end the practice of public finger-pointing, personal accusations and allegations targeted at individuals, by defining a private complaint process. Planning for this year’s Octoburn event is getting underway, at the weekly planning meetings on Sundays at 9am SLT and Thursdays at 9pm SLT. In addition, there is going to be separate meeting time that leadership is setting up with the Burn2 community to give even more opportunity to talk about the shutdown and the work that was done with the leads in conjunction with Burning Man management during that period. I hope that we continue to take the feedback and make changes. Not all will be implemented but all will be considered. I know that not everyone is going to be content with this.. I am staying open to ideas on what to do about our problems by focusing on the suggestions, ideas and solutions that are about policy and processes that leadership and others use to operate. I look forward to that because we can always get better and improve on what we have collectively created and what we have been given to creatively express art together. This is my personal goal.