A few weeks ago, the guy in charge of theme-camp siting, Michael 7.0, contacted me, and with a subtle mixture of flattery and menace, asked me to come to the next work weekend at Flat Creek—although he never said it in so many words, the underlying message was something like “It would be really helpful to have you out there to make sure your camp gets a good spot, and you’d better come if you know what’s good for you.” So how could I refuse?
I got back from the work weekend a couple hours ago, and I am wiped out. Unlike Flipside itself, which is a “leave no trace” event, this was a “leave no tree” event. Tree less than 10′ tall (and some larger that were in the way) were cut down with chainsaws or uprooted by a bobcat. We had two woodchippers going, and when they both broke down, we started loading the cut brush onto trailers and dumping it off cliffs. I dug a couple of holes trying to find a water line that wasn’t there. I tried to groom what will be the fire circle, with modest success. I dug up cactus, broke rocks, etc. So it was sort of like being on a chain gang, but without the chains and with beer. I also hashed out Circle of Fire’s exact location with M7 (as he is called). He refers to the problem of camp placement as “Tetris,” but while Tetris is a problem in two dimensions, he’s dealing with eight or more variables.
Saturday night there was a big fire fueled by some of the trees we cut down, barbecue courtesy of Rob and Niki, and a curious mix of Beatles and Nine Inch Nails blasting from somebody’s van. Sitting by the fire, we discussed how many people were at WWIII, and came up with 50 as a likely sounding number. In one sense, this is discouraging—it’s 2.5% of total Flipside participation. In another sense, it’s impressive—the first Flipside had about 25 people, so we’ve got double that now just to get ready for the event.
Despite the fact that it was a metric assload of work, I’m glad I went. Aside from the fact that I’m doing my bit to make the event overall better, I had a chance to improve the land at CoF’s site, making sure that trees that should come down did, and those that should stay up did, getting rid of cactus, smoothing out the fire circle, etc. More than that, though, it’s important for the community aspect on several levels. While I know kinda-sorta know some people in the burner community, I don’t know a lot, and this was an opportunity to meet some and get some face time—and while politics aren’t a big problem at Flipside, I did get some info on the political problems that might come up. Some of the people I met are people who I’d want to call on (or who would want to call on me) at the event, and knowing who’s doing what ahead of time is especially helpful. It also scored some cred for me, and some brownie points for CoF. I’m sorry I didn’t encourage more people to go more forcefully.
I was taken aback at the amount of work being done to the site—for example, they’re putting in a fire hydrant up on the plateau. This is a pretty big undertaking, involving a lot of machinery, labor, and materials. Stuff like that and the land clearing suggest to me long-term plans for the site and for Flipside that make me imagine the event getting much, much bigger.