Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
A 300-mile wall to exile Burners from the Bay Area is perhaps an idea whose time has come.
A MegaGogo campaign to erect an enormous wall around the Bay Area during Burning Man—and therefore keep Burners out of San Francisco forever—has garnered more than $2 billion in short order. With 24 days left in the campaign, the founders are well on their way to their $7.3 billion goal.
The crowdsourcing effort’s success starts with its sensible appeal. “The week of Burning Man is the only week that the rest of us don’t have to hear about Burning Man,” says the affable host. “But what if that week could last forever.”
At the time of this writing, it’s gained 726,499 backers—equivalent to more than 80 percent of the population of San Francisco. Give me a minute, please, I need to enter in my credit-card information.
San Francisco's increasingly tortured relationship with Burning Man (and vice versa) is well documented. Last August, after all the Burners left the Bay Area for wherever it is this dirt-fest is held, Eater SF published a guide to the “SF Tables Worth Snagging During the Burning Man Exodus.” In a followup, The New York Times reported that Mission residents swear up and down that life gets a little bit easier, once all the #entreburneurs skip town.
The 300-mile wall, which will stretch in an arc from Point Reyes to Santa Cruz, would make that vacation permanent. “If this project is about anything, it’s about bringing people together,“ says the host. “Together, to lock other people out.”
The campaign is offering some sweet swag to donors, from “I [Wall] SF” t-shirts (for pledges of $100) to an hour operating a cement mixer (for $500). At press time, 16,775 donors had pledged more than $1 million, which nets them their own quarter-mile stretch of the wall. I think these guys’re gonna need a bigger wall!
The wall is an elegant solution to several issues affecting the city. As the campaign notes, with all those Burners gone for good, tolerable residents may finally see some tolerable rents. (Kidding! The Wall of Jericho couldn’t make housing affordable in San Francisco.)
There’s only one problem with this scheme, which is being organized by the comedy group Cultivated Wit: After the wall goes up, and those Burners finally give up on returning to their lives and lofts in the Bay Area, they might not slink back to the gifting economy of the desert. They could move to other cities. Maybe even yours.