Another Playa Adventure?

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Spreadsheet and Frank the Tank retrofit the Bamboo Temple. This would be the Temple's 4th installation, and its first on the playa. The joints, previously held together with rope lashings, were upgraded to use bolts and threaded rods.

Table of Contents

The Everywhen Project team, after returning home and dusting off their things, were faced with a cumbersome question: do we go back to the playa in six weeks? If we did, what would we need to do differently? What problems did we have? With the seed planted, Bureaucracy organized a call with the Juplaya campmates, along with some of our newly made friends, to ask one simple question: “Do we do it again?” The answer was an exhausted, but emphatic hell yes.

In a critical retrospective, the Everywhen crew discussed the transition from scaling a small art camp to a larger community, and the growing pains were becoming apparent: bio-waste, community harmony, and planning for growth. Our bathrooms were sufficient for capturing the wastes of all the visitors and walk-in campers, but taking them on the road fully loaded was… another story. The several dogs present didn’t always get along. Conflict arose between campers and visitors. Where to place the walk-up campers became a recurring topic of debate. It became clear that some central planning and minimal coordination was needed.

Over just three planning calls between the campers, an intention was set to have a distributed, organized camping trip. Everywhen, as the central camp who would bring the bigger art installations, invited five additional camps to create a vibrant community: Echma, which ended up becoming the basis for a full-blown Russian sector later; Time Bandit Camp, with our favorite time traveler and his steampunk copper/purple art car; Shady Groove, an entourage of talented, odd-ball musicians in a big school bus; Cowtown, representing the Children of When, a kid-friendly camp; and Sound Garden, a supreme ambisonic experience.

Each camp agreed to be fully self sufficient, independently responsible for their area, and open to all visitors. They would manage their own meals, provide their own protection from the elements, have their own power strategy, maintain a 200’ minimum distance between each camp’s placement, and have a population cap of 25 per camp. However, the five camps agreed on a common set of shared resources and ideas:

- Bathrooms: bring 3 sets of four toilets and locate them behind the main arc of camps. Keep 50% locked for those who donated funds toward the bathrooms; leave 50% open to visitors and non-donors. The drivers who volunteer to transport them will split the net amount (donations - rental cost).
- Create pre-determined walk-in camping lots, to quickly direct strangers into a position that is socially distanced within the community.
- Select a standard radio technology, handset and channels for cross-camp communication.
- Community safety patrols, operating on shifts, intended for conflict resolution and village safety.
- Appoint a community mayor, serving as a central escalation point and greeter to walk-ups. (Oops.)
- Maintain an open space, devoid of campers, to place art.
- Bring your drama to the Drama Bar. Don’t let your personal problem become a community problem.

With a few weeks left until the Seplaya (September Playa) camping trip, the camps began their excited preparation for our next desert trek. The bathrooms were reserved and their pickups arranged. The Time Bandit was tuned up, sound system upgrades in place. Everywhen readied their installations by triple-checking hardware, lumber pieces, and needed bits and tools were all on hand. Others installed solar arrays onto their trailers to power more toys, like their new slushy machine. Cowtown began their cross-country drive from the east coast, with the excited kids in tow.

Our Mayor— being on a first name basis with the local authorities from our prior playa mischief and misdemeanors— informed them of our intent, provided GPS coordinates and our camp map, and the duration of our stay. After receiving their blessing, Act Two was about to begin!

Aftermath diligently paints the Everywhen sign, which was the top ornamental sign on the post in the center of the Promenade, that has now become iconic for the Seplaya village we built!

Continue to the next story: Chapter 5: Everywhen and the Seplaya Village

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