The Black Rock French Quarter is a village at Burning Man in its second year, consisting of a bakery, a voodoo botanica, a live jazz band, a coffee house that roasts raw beans on playa, a gumbo cookery, a vineyard, a brewery, a supper club, a bathhouse, a wine cellar, a ramshackle whiskey bar, an elegant cocktail lounge, a farmer's market, and a hotel.
Within the back alleys of the French Quarter is another village, Black Rock Asiatown, consisting of a tiki lounge, a shibari teahouse, a dojo, and twisting streets covered in black light reactive artwork.
Most importantly, the Black Rock French Quarter is an experiment in collaboration, decentralization, and organic growth, designed to connect the citizens of Black Rock City in relationships extending far beyond the boundaries of the village itself. In addition, the Quarter is the launching point for events such as Mardi Gras at Burning Man, the Jazz Funeral for the Man, and the 10th Anniversary of the Golden Cafe that involve the members of dozens of other camps and villages.
What Are The Details?
We founded the Black Rock French Quarter in 2011, in thanks to Burning Man for the profound contribution the festival has made to our lives - it was my 10th year on playa, and I felt the need to share something special. The core vision of the French Quarter was to create a dynamic community that takes on a life of its own, and inspires the people it touches to create their own extraordinary experiences to share. To this end, our aim was not on scale but on wonder - rather than trying to throw the biggest party in town, we wanted to gift experiences that expand the horizons of what a temporary city can offer - we wanted to make the city real. And so our bakery gifts fresh baked pastries and breads to unsuspecting camps, our botanica casts spells and crafts voodoo dolls that visitors can customize to match the object of their desire (or ire), our gumbo cookery brings together recipes and cooks to share their art, our bathhouse gifts tickets for showers (and even baths in a clawfoot tub!) in an elegant setting with infused soaps and salts, our coffee house roasts raw beans on playa, our bar serves delicate champagne cocktails and fresh mint juleps, etc, etc, etc...
Every aspect of the village is designed for organic growth and collaboration:
Firstly, the buildings are based on easily available components, and plans have been published - allowing other camps to construct and customize their own buildings, so that the village can grow in unexpected ways. Perhaps next year there will be a cathedral, a square, a theater, alleyways, a book store, or a street car?
Secondly, the buildings are designed to assemble and disassemble easily, and multiple times - so that rather than being a momentous structure that appears on playa for a single year, the Quarter will be able to return and evolve for many years to come. In this second year, we are putting that principle to the test.
Thirdly, the camps themselves are actually metacamps - each camp has a small dedicated team of members who live in the village, but most of their participants are from other camps and villages throughout the city. For instance, the brewery brings together brewers from all over BRC and hosts tastings and contests involving other brewing camps, the bakery brings together bakers from all over BRC and supplies wedding and birthday cakes and challah for shabbat dinner to other camps, the wine cellar offers refrigerated storage for wine drinkers from all over BRC and hosts tastings where they can share their selections, etc.
Fourthly, the camps are structured to connect with each other and with camps outside the village. The supper club has already made arrangements to serve breads from the bakery. The coffee house is working on having a newspaper rack installed by one of our daily papers, etc...
What Is The Money For?
The target for this project has been set to cover the $3500 it costs to have our trailer full of gear shipped from LA to BRC and back again. On top of that basic expense, we will need to purchase a new flatbed trailer for an additional $4500, ship it to and from BRC for an additional $3500, replace many of the plywood walls and floors of the French Quarter buildings for an additional $2000, enhance the steel supports for an additional $1000, and replace broken equipment for an additional $2000. In total, we would like to raise $16500 after the fees taken by Kickstarter and Amazon, although we'll make due with whatever funds are available. This is a TOUGH year for us, because of the ticket catastrophe and how it impacted our team, our infrastructure, and our funding - we can overcome it and make 2012 EXCEPTIONAL, but we really REALLY NEED YOUR HELP like never before.
What Is The Bang For The Buck?
One of the most exciting aspects of this project is that everything we build can return to Burning Man year after year - your contribution is helping to grow a part of Black Rock City that started in 2011 and will be bigger and better in 2012 and beyond - if we can raise the funds to get to the playa this year, we already have plans with another awesome group in another city to add a second row of French Quarter buildings in 2013.
Most importantly, the target we set is only a fraction of the actual costs of creating a thriving village of interconnected camps like the bakery, coffee house, and gumbo cookery. Not covered here is all the equipment already purchased or donated by our members, including propane ovens for the bakery, a refrigerator and generator for the wine cellar, sound system and generator for the jazz band, stoves and prep areas for the gumbo cookery, etc. Also not covered are the wines produced by our vintners, the brews produced by our brewers, the ingredients used by our bakers, etc. The money raised here to return the French Quarter to playa makes it possible to bring all these other contributions together.
Do We Have The Reward System Together This Year?
Last year I just plain tried to do too much, and the chaos of the playa overtook me. Although most of the folks who came for their medallions and other rewards received them on playa, lots of folks didn't get them on playa, and it took me about 9 months to finally get them out to people - there are even one or two stragglers left who are getting their medallions this week, or have requested to have them delivered on playa. This year we have the medallions in hand and ready to ship, and a protocol department for the village to make sure everyone gets their rewards in a timely fashion, even given the entropy of Burning Man. In fact, medallions will be shipped with Delivery Confirmation as soon as this campaign ends.
Do We Need Help In Addition To Funds?
We need all the help we can get!
1) PLEASE SHARE THIS PAGE ON FACEBOOK!
2) TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT IT!
3) If you live in the LA area or can get there for a weekday or weekend, swing on by to join us for some painting or carpentry or welding or decorating or recipe testing!
4) If you can't make it to LA, you can paint canvas for Asiatown, bring fake ferns for our balconies, rally musicians for Mardi Gras and the Jazz Funeral, or help us run the camps on playa!
- (21 days)