There Goes the Neighborhood: Oh No, Not Burning Man!

Ben Brown unpacks the components of polarization. Recognizing some people are really pissed off for some really good reasons doesn’t seem to help us make better decisions, whether we’re talking about electing a president or planning a park.

1 minute read

September 27, 2016, 6:00 AM PDT

By Hazel Borys

Burning Man

Michel Piccaya / Shutterstock

"Reprising: 'Can’t we all just get along?'”

"Answer: Probably not. And we should be thinking about why and how that informs what we do to help neighborhoods and cities adapt to change."

"Let’s pick an example unlikely to trigger the usual arguments over race, ethnicity and inequality, yet one that might be more helpful because of the absence of those factors. I give you Burning Man, the annual event in the Nevada desert where some 70,000 folks gather to test the limits of art, collaborative culture and diversity. On that last count, the one about tolerance for differences, a line was apparently crossed a few weeks back when one set of Burners decided others didn’t belong in the neighborhood."

Brown goes on to examine our tendency to disagree, with or without histories of exploitation and abuse. And how that mucks up the machinery of civic life.

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