The moment has arrived!

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We know that everyone is excited for the prospect of returning to festival life after a long year of isolation. Our community health and safety is of the utmost importance to us as we look towards the best way to host an event!

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Here’s what we need from you:

Volunteer for the
Production Leadership Team (PLT)

YOUtopia is all about YOU and requires an exceptional team of volunteers to make it all happen. We are looking for seasoned community members that are interested in creating a YOUtopia for 2021 that keeps health and safety a priority. The PLT will need to be adaptive and resilient as we all navigate the complexities of hosting a large in-person event in California.

The PLT is the core of all artistic decisions at YOUtopia. The art theme, soundscape, theme camp placement, volunteer SWAG, Commissary menu, and how many Kubotas are allocated to each department are all up to you!

Collaborate with the Board of Directors (BoD) to determine the best way to host an event: in-person, socially distant, drive-thru, virtual, etc. This will include planning your budget and big decisions that require legal oversight. Nothing is set in stone, but we need a PLT that is determined to succeed!

Our Timeline:

  • April – Recruit PLT
  • May – PLT Feasibility Study for a YOUtopia 2021
  • June 1st – Cut-off for an October 2021 in-person event decision
  • June – Department Lead Recruitment

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Does this sound like YOU?!
Join the team!

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Complete the
Community Survey

The BoD has put together the following survey for the community to gauge the appetite for an event and its nature (in-person only, drive-thru, virtual, etc.) Your input means everything to us, so please take this opportunity to tell us what’s on your mind.

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We thank you all for supporting this process and your continued interest in making YOUtopia unforgettable. We will be eagerly reviewing applications for PLT and look forward to all of the community feedback!


Shine Brightly,


SDCAP Wants You!

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SDCAP wants you to get involved! Now, more than ever, is the time to practice Civic Responsibility and Communal Effort. As you know, SDCAP is the sower of seeds for the San Diego regional event and art creation that our community so earnestly craves. We’re asking for your help in order to keep our community engaged. The Board is actively seeking those willing to serve as an SDCAP Director and help us find creative approaches and ideas for fundraising, alternative event production and keeping CoLab safe for everybody during these tricky and physically-distanced times. SDCAP is looking for practical visionaries…Burners that can imagine and recognize new opportunities. SDCAP is looking for You!  

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Selection Process for the SDCAP Board of Directors

The SDCAP Board is about to begin selecting new members for the Board of Directors (“BOD”) to begin terms in March 2021. This year, SDCAP is looking to fill at least 2-3 Director positions.  If you want to know more about what SDCAP is and the role of the BOD, keep on reading!

What is SDCAP?

The San Diego Collaborative Arts Project is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization founded in 2012. SDCAP’s mission is supporting collaborative arts in San Diego, particularly those aligned with the 10 Principles of Burning Man. Current SDCAP projects include YOUtopia, CoLab, and year-round grantmaking.


What is the BOD?

The BOD’s general function is fiduciary, legal, and operational oversight, which is required by the State of California and federal law. Due to the nature of non-profit governance, the BOD’s primary function is to protect the assets of the 501(c)(3).  We do this so that we can continue holding YOUtopia and offering CoLab as a community build resource, and give year round art grants.

Legal requirements for non-profit governance fall into 3 categories: Duty of Care, Duty of Loyalty, and Duty of Obedience. While each Director must agree to and fulfil those duties, in reality, we spend a ton of time talking about budgets, accounting, liability, safety, and insurance.  

Per the Bylaws of SDCAP, the BOD is comprised of 7-15 Directors and by law is required to have a President/Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer. Non-profit Boards are responsible for recruiting their own Directors.

All Directors are volunteers and must:

  • Serve a 3-year term, working year-round.
  • Attend 2 BOD meetings per month, from 7p-9p on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday at CoLab (via Zoom meetings during COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Attend 1-3 weekend Board retreats per year.
  • Serve sober, on-call shifts at YOUtopia.
  • Spend anywhere from 5 to 20+ hours per week working via email/phone/ad hoc meetings to conduct SDCAP business.  

Directors are eligible to apply for and receive grant funding from SDCAP for personal projects, but must recuse themselves from voting on these matters and disclose any potential conflicts of interest on an annual and ongoing basis.

The SDCAP BOD generally operates using a consensus model, which is considered a best-practice by many non-profit leaders. If you’re not familiar with consensus models, we recommend reading up on the subject if you apply for a Director position.

Does SDCAP do anything else for the San Diego Burning Man community?

In reality, not much else.  However, annually, the BOD does select the YOUtopia Production Leadership Team (“PLT”). The BOD works with the PLT to develop and approve the YOUtopia budget.  Members of the BOD will also participate and provide oversight of the YOUtopia Art Grant Committee.  During the YOUtopia planning season, the BOD will also work with the PLT to address event operations impacting financial, safety, legal consequences, or anything that may fall under one of the 3 Duties of non-profit governance.  In COVID times, this may mean working with the PLT to create something new, an alternative to an in-person event.

With regard to CoLab, the BOD’s involvement centers around financial and liability oversight.  Otherwise, the BOD leaves the daily operations of CoLab in the capable hands of the CoLab management team.

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A Burning Call: Time for Principled Action

While we are all getting our houses in order, and doing the most compassionate aide we can by closing down our social and work spaces to Stay at Home, it is becoming apparent that we have the skills and gumption at our disposal to help in the more immediate fight against the pandemic. Community members have reached out asking if there are opportunities for us to safely rally the local Burning Man community and its resources to be of service.

Our Benefactors

In forming a game plan, we have reached out to Hearth Connection, a non-profit in Minnesota that focuses on feeding Burner’s in need, to look at their model of community engagement. They have responsibly set up a network of makers to assist in creating much needed medical supplies and the means to get them distributed. We are also working closely with them to get maker resources, raw materials and funds into the hands of those here in Southern California who can most effectively use them.

CoLab is closed

This means we have effectively locked-up one of our community resources, the CNC laser, but we are working mightily on a plan to activate the community remotely. Additionally, we believe it may be possible to set up a plan for the physical use of CoLab. Regardless of the location, we are in discussion and planning to execute a plan responsibly. And we are certain that everyone can be of service, so stay tuned for Part 2, The Plan!

How you can help

So, for that mentioned call… We are earnestly seeking experienced local Burners to lead the COVID-19 Response Project. An SDCAP Working Group has already identified available resources and is in urgent need of a

  • Project Manager, 
  • Communications Lead, 
  • Volunteer Coordinator and 
  • Supply Chain Manager 

to form an elite team. This team would immediately begin the formation of a viable and safe network of community productivity.
Please reach out by email ( if you have the experience we are looking for and we will fold you into the Working Group. If you’re chomping at the bit to get involved and start working, Part 2 of this call will let you know whom to reach out to directly. We will also be coordinating town halls via Zoom in the very near future so that the community at large can stay up-to-date.

Get to work now

Face Mask Sewing Stitch-N-Bitch
Sunday, April 5th, 1p-3p

In the meantime, the Education Team at CoLab has already arranged an online course on making your own personal protective mask at home. For this class and a complete listing of all CoLab ONLINE classes offered, check
Dan Reeves
San Diego Collaborative Arts Project

Burning Questions

Hello Fellow San Diego Burners!
Dan Reeves, here, you know the Burner that took The Journey to playa in 2017. I probably asked you back then to help out. Well, I’m still asking and I also wanted to reach out to all of you to let you know…We Are Still Here…
It’s a new year for the Board and we’re gearing up amidst a climate of new scenarios and serious considerations. While the world is dealing with an unprecedented situation, we are looking for ways to keep our community engaged and hopeful. As Kim mentioned in her farewell blog, we’ve brought on four new directors and additionally I have accepted the self-flagellating role as Board President.
SDCAP is working hard to continue its stewardship of the community’s resources. CoLab is closed, but working on plans to encourage ideas of collaboration in a time of social distancing. The Board has charged the 2020 YOUtopia Production Leadership Team (the PLT is comprised of 51, Ali Smith, Aaron Ward, and Cassa Frass) with answering basic questions about planning, feasibility, and timing. We’re all frustrated with the current lockdown right now; we can’t even have our regular Board meetings in person (which doesn’t mean we aren’t encouraging virtual attendance… more to come!), but the principles still stand and we are still working in the background to uphold them.

Is YOUtopia Happening?
As mentioned, the PLT has been working for the past month to answer some of the questions we’ve all been thinking… will there be a YOUtopia given the current global crisis? If so, will it be in October, if other large gatherings are moving their postponed events until then too? Does playa dust actually preserve blueberries over 24 months? No one’s been brave enough to test the playaberry hypothesis, and the other questions are still unanswered as well.
We do have some known factors we can work with to make decisions and plan. We know that most of the functional contracts for YOUtopia do not get signed until a month or so before the event.  The Board made a decision earlier this year before the pandemic to create a cut-off of June 1st to secure a venue.  Since the pandemic and staying at home became our new normal, we’ve discussed whether or not the PLT should continue to plan for a 2020 event. Even though there are too many unknowns to make definite plans, we all have agreed to keep working until we can’t. Oftentimes, the community we build persevering together and planning for a gathering is as meaningful as the gathering itself.
If the decision is made to postpone YOUtopia until next year, it will be made as soon as is reasonable. If you have any feedback, keep in mind you can e-mail us at any time at

CoLab Temporarily Closed but ALIVE!
While we can’t work in the same physical space, we have an entire digital world at our disposal. The need is greater than ever to engage as a community in artistic expression and meaningful social interaction. The CoLab team is working on a proposal for some brilliant digital collaborations.
The CoLab management team is eager to open the workspace back-up and has plans for the near future to increase access to education and tools acquired for the community. As the pandemic recedes, in time, free classes will resume and build space will be available again.
Land Purchase & Other SDCAP Developments
As you may have read previously or engaged in discussion at recent Board meetings, we have entered into contract negotiations for land approximately 2 hours from San Diego proper. Our budget is being overhauled and reviewed constantly to ensure that we have the financial backing necessary to enter into a purchase contract. The Board works closely with the YOUtopia PLT to ensure that we will continue to have access to the funds necessary to take the financially responsible route of securing a nearby location for future events.  Furthermore, the property SDCAP is looking to acquire will make other gatherings more feasible. It has been a back-burner plan for some time to have a Spring event, and the current Board is enthusiastically poised to pursue the possibilities.
Finally, until the Governor has lifted the Stay at Home order, we will be moving all SDCAP Board meetings to Zoom. Details on how to connect to the meeting will be shared soon (along with the agenda posted on Monday). We hope that this format will actually make it even easier for the community to join in on the discussion. We’ll be back to our usual chill space soon!

In the meantime, be well and take care of each other. Hang in there and spread some of that playa magic (socially distant, of course)!
Dan Reeves
San Diego Collaborative Arts Project

Incoming 2020 Board Members

This is my last blog post, gentle reader, because my term on the SDCAP Board of Directors is coming to an end. In order to celebrate/mourn my survival of 3 years of BOD service, I’ve decided to plagiarize my own blog post from last year and provide a numerical overview of the new BOD member selection process.

  • 3 – minimum number of positions we needed to fill
  • 5 – ideal number of positions we wanted to fill to get back up to 9 members, which is our comfy zone
  • 2 – current BOD members terming out (me and Ken Simmons)
  • 1 – current BOD member who has graciously agreed to serve for another year (Cassy Haynes)
  • 4 – applications received 
  • 4 – applications received from people who were actually qualified for service and therefore invited to interview 
  • 3 – number of BOD meetings it took to interview all of them
  • 50 – average degrees Fahrenheit at those BOD meetings, meaning the candidates all learned quickly to bring blankets and hats
  • 20 – number of people who filled out the Community Feedback Survey online 
  • 4 – shiny new Board members to be sworn in on 3/11/20:
    • Alicia Smith
    • James McDermott
    • Stephanie Zierenberg
    • Rebecca Cloudy

Thanks to everyone who participated and a huge thank you to our 4 new Directors for their willingness to serve! 

‘Tis the Season: Recruitment for SDCAP Board of Directors (BOD) and YOUtopia Production Leadership Team (PLT)

It’s December and that means it’s recruitment season for the SDCAP Board of Directors (BOD) and the Production Leadership Team (PLT) for YOUtopia. Both volunteer roles have specific responsibilities and requirements outlined in their respective job descriptions and applications. The purpose of this post is to provide a little additional context about the positions, the organization, and how it all works together. If you already know the score, scroll to the bottom for links to applications and whatnot. 

What is SDCAP?

The San Diego Collaborative Arts Project is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization founded in 2012. SDCAP’s Mission is to support collaborative arts in San Diego, particularly those aligned with the 10 Principles of Burning Man. SDCAP is the legal entity. Current SDCAP projects include YOUtopia, CoLab, and year-round grantmaking. 

What is the BOD?

The BOD’s function is fiduciary, legal, and operational oversight. The BOD doesn’t initiate much, and rather serves an administrative function in terms of protecting the organization and its assets. That’s what’s required by CA and federal law. 
Legal requirements for non-profit governance fall into 3 categories: Duty of Care, Duty of Loyalty, and Duty of Obedience. If you’re thinking about applying for the BOD, we recommend spending some time reading up on these terms and thinking about whether that’s truly the role you want to play in the organization. In practice, we spend a ton of time talking about budgets, accounting, liability, safety, and insurance. It’s not everyone’s cup o’ tea. 
The BOD, per its bylaws and in accordance with the laws of CA, is comprised of anywhere from 7-15 Directors and is required to have a President/Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer. Non-profit Boards are responsible for recruiting their own Directors. 
The SDCAP BOD generally operates using a consensus model, as is considered a best-practice by many a non-profit governance guru. If you’re not familiar with consensus models, this is another thing we recommend reading up on before you throw your hat in the ring. 

Difference between the BOD and PLT

Due to the nature of non-profit governance, the BOD’s role is primarily about protecting the assets of the 501(c)(3), so we can keep having YOUtopia, keep the lights on at CoLab, and keep giving out art grants year-round, as those are the ways we advance our mission. It can often feel (to us and others) like we’re the fun police. The BOD is part of a system of checks and balances, and it’s the risk-averse side of the system. The BOD is more likely to prevent than to instigate or initiate. Again, not everyone’s cup o’ tea. 
The BOD selects the PLT, then work with the PLT in developing, approving, and managing the YOUtopia budget – including oversight of the interdisciplinary Art Grants Committee. The BOD also works with the PLT on anything within event operations that could have financial or safety or legal consequences, pose an existential threat to the event, or fall under one of the 3 Duties of non-profit governance. 
If you’re primarily interested in joining the BOD in order to have a big impact on the look and feel of YOUtopia “on the ground,” you may be disappointed. The BOD doesn’t have anything to do with the art theme, soundscape, theme camp placement, volunteer SWAG, Commissary menu, or how many Kubotas are allocated to each department. The BOD does have oversight of things like Volunteer Ticket pricing, Commissary budget, total budget for Kubotas, and capital investments to Safety equipment; those are all areas the BOD and PLT collaborate on in the early stages of YOUtopia planning, as we hammer out a budget. Execution of the budget and overall operations for the event are entrusted to the PLT… until/unless something gets escalated to the BOD because of – you guessed it – financial or legal reasons.
In short, if you want to have a big, big role in YOUtopia, consider the PLT instead of the BOD. 

BOD Selection Process 

Per SDCAP’s bylaws and the State of CA, non-profit boards are responsible for selecting their directors. BOD members are tasked with actively recruiting qualified candidates for BOD service, and we also have open calls to the community (like this one). Anyone is welcome to apply for BOD service. We review applications and invite the best-qualified candidates to interview. We also administer a Community Advisory Election, so anyone in the San Diego Burning Man community can weigh in on the candidates. Note that while the results of the Community Advisory Elections have historically aligned with the BOD’s selection choices, this is not a democratic process – the current BOD members make the final selection decisions for new BOD members. 

PLT Selection Process

The SDCAP BOD selects the PLT for the coming year’s YOUtopia. Anyone is welcome to apply for the PLT. We review applications and invite the best-qualified candidates to interview. The current BOD members make the final selection decisions for the PLT. 

2020 Selection Process and Timeline

We’re still working on the details, so please don’t hold us to this 100% just yet. The process is likely to include:

BOD Selection PLT Selection
  • Applications Open until 12/31/19
  • Applications Open open until 1/15/19
  • Applications will be reviewed to determine the Best Qualified candidates per the Job Description
  • Applications will be reviewed to determine the Best Qualified candidates per the Job Description
  • Best Qualified candidates will be invited to interview at an Open Candidate Forum held at CoLab (January)
  • Best Qualified candidates will be invited to interview privately with the BOD (January)
  • Community Advisory Election, with option to cast votes either at the Open Candidate Forum or online (January)
  • BOD finalizes selections (February)
  • Community narrative feedback via confidential/anonymous online form (January)
  • PLT starts work on YOUtopia 2020 (February)
  • BOD finalizes selections (February) 
  • New Directors begin their terms 2nd Wednesday in March

Open BOD Seats in 2020

BOD Members serve 3 year terms. We currently have 7 directors with 3 terms ending in March. That means we need to fill at least 3 spots, and could conceivably fill 4 or 5 (we like to have 7-9 people on the BOD). 

Open PLT Roles in 2020

The PLT is designed to have 5-ish members. In 2019, it was a 4-person team and that worked well. All 4 of the 2019 PLT members are eligible to reprise their roles in 2020, if they want ‘em, but word on the street is that not all of them will be returning. This means there are likely some openings for the 2020 PLT. 

Next Steps

If you’re considering applying for the BOD, the first thing to do is start attending BOD meetings. Attendance at at least 2 meetings is required prior to being considered for an interview. Attending all BOD meetings between now and March is strongly encouraged. 
If you’re considering applying for the PLT, we strongly recommend attending some BOD meetings, too, so you can get a sense of how the BOD and PLT work together. 
Beyond that, feel free to reach out to current BOD members if you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat. We’re all willing (individual schedules permitting) to talk with you about our personal experience serving on the BOD, if you want a 1:1 conversation in-person or by phone. You can reach out to any of us individually and all of us via


SDCAP 2020 Director Job Posting

YOUtopia 2020 Production Leadership Team Job Posting

YOUtopia 2019: The Little Regional That Could

SDCAP and the YOUtopia Production Leadership Team are thrilled to announce YOUtopia 2019 is Wednesday, October 23 to Sunday, October 27, 2019! The charming, gracious, unrelentingly stylish, dare-we-say-sexy proprietors of Wasteland Weekend are welcoming us to their property near California City, CA, a smidge north of Los Angeles.
We know you have oodles of questions about this new-to-us venue, and we pinky-swear promise you answers will be forthcoming. Stay tuned to your email and social media in the coming days for announcements about ticket sales and event details. In the meantime, sleep easy knowing:

  • General Admission ticket prices are staying the same.
  • The Leadership Team has revamped a number of policies to make things more enjoyable for volunteers, artists, and theme camps.
  • You’ll never again have to camp on a pile of rocks surrounded by poison oak, with your besties on the other side of a stream.
  • No. More. Hills.

We are immensely grateful for the outpouring of support, ideas, and encouragement we received from all corners of the San Diego Burning Man community. It’s been stressful being in limbo for so long, and we were able to power through fueled by the knowledge that YOUtopia is deeply important to so many people. We’re obviously behind schedule, but we have an amazing team and many years of event leadership expertise on our side. And still, we need YOU to keep YOUtopia alive! Now that we have a venue, the real work begins, and as a 100% volunteer-run organization, we always need people who embrace the 10 Principles of Burning Man to step up and participate in our do-ocracy. If you want to get involved and have the bandwidth to take on a big ol’ chunk of responsibility, email to inquire about department management roles. If regular Burner-style volunteerism is your jam, sit tight and wait for volunteer applications to open in a couple weeks and then submit your application.
Start working on your art, your outfits, your theme camp, and your LNT plan. We’ll see you in the dust!

YOUtopia Venue Updates: Renting and Buying and Realistic Expectations, Oh My!

Spoiler alert: we don’t have any earth-shattering news to share. The purpose of this blog post is to keep YOUtopians in the loop about our progress with respect to renting and/or buying land for YOUtopia. Skip to the end for the TL;DR.


After we sent out the survey requesting public commentary about land purchase, we heard from some very impassioned folks who made a great case for why we should rent again in 2019. More specifically, a great case for why we should rent our previous venue, even at their asking price. We revisited the numbers and came up with a way we could make it work. However, despite our efforts to revisit this option, it appears the tribe does not want us back. We hope we’re wrong about that, but right now it seems we’re getting ghosted like a bad Tinder date. 
We have also attempted to rent the campground down the road – the one some of you rave about (pun intended) and others of you malign because of its lack of water. It appears they are also not interested in hosting us.
In our request for public commentary, many of you extolled the virtues of hosting YOUtopia on tribal land so we don’t have to deal with issues of permitting and LEO. We could not be more aware of the benefits of holding the event on tribal land, but that is contingent upon a tribe being willing to host us. Many of you also extolled the virtues of the LALA/Bequinox property; we’ve explored that thoroughly and for a variety of reasons it’s not logistically or fiscally viable.
We’ve been exploring other rental venues in Southern CA that are capable of handling a population of 3,000+ people (100 acres) as well as smaller venues that would entail contracting our population size. We haven’t exhausted every possible option, but pickins are slim.
Our wish list is long and glorious, but the reality is that right now we’ll settle for a venue that will allow us to obtain a Conditional Use Permit, gift alcohol, and allow sound (even if it’s not super loud or 24/7). There are a great many other features we want but something, something, beggars, choosers.


Hoooboy! At time of this writing, we’ve gotten 252 responses to our Request for Public Commentary about buying land. That is far and away the most responses we’ve ever gotten to anything ever. We’re going to leave the form open indefinitely, so if you haven’t weighed in yet, you still can. Here are the results to date, with a little editorial following.


After these multiple choice questions, there was an open-ended “tell us what you think,” section. The most frequent (paraphrased) comments were:

  1. LALA/Bequinox did this and OMG BEST THING EVER!!!
  2. I love trees and water and power. You must only buy land with trees and water and power.
  3. I have concerns that if we’re on private land, we have to deal with permitting and LEO and that will radically change the nature of the event. 
  4. I love LJIC and am willing to pay more to stay there.

In reviewing all the responses, we were surprised by a few things:
Overwhelming Support for Purchase – we suspected the idea would be well-received, but we didn’t anticipate it’d be 78% well-received.
Resistance to Radical Self-Reliance – while 77% of you said you were on board with Radical Self-Reliance, the number of comments demanding water, trees, and (to a lesser extent) power was surprising. We get it, LJIC is really nice. Trees and water and power are great and they make things easy, unlike BRC. The reality is, though, that trees and water and power are really, really expensive in Southern California, and unless you’d like to gift SDCAP with several million dollars, it ain’t happenin’. If we buy land, it’s going to be raw land without amenities. And we’ll all have to be radically self-reliant.
Willingness to Pay More – we were blown away that 85% of respondents said they were willing to pay more to help with start-up costs associated with land purchase. Again, we have no (zero, zilch, nada) plans to increase ticket costs; it was truly a hypothetical question. A huge part of our motivation for considering purchase is that (if we find the right property) it should pay for itself in a year or three – meaning we could possibly, maybe, eventually even lower ticket prices. Which should please the 15% of you who were angry we even dared ask such a question.
Beyond those surprises, we were really touched by all the words of encouragement and thoughtful advice people had for us. We absolutely share all your concerns and are taking our time exploring the purchasing option. We’ve gotten the ball rolling with permitting, but that process is a marathon, not a sprint. And it’s likely going to involve an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) just like Burning Man, which is also a big deal. We have our work cut out for us, and even if purchasing makes sense, it’s not going to happen in time for YOUtopia 2019.

Realistic Expectations

We’ve had a sweet deal at LJIC for the past 9 years, but it appears that era is coming to an end. We would love to be able to rent tribal land for 2019 and more or less maintain the status quo that people have come to expect, but that does not currently seem to be a viable option. This means we’re going to have to compromise and make concessions. We don’t know what those concessions will be, but first and foremost, YOUtopia will continue to adhere to the 10 Principles in order to maintain its status as a Regional Burn.
We appreciate all the feedback and support we’ve gotten from the 2019 YOUtopia Leadership Team, survey respondents, folks who showed up at our last board meeting, and folks who’ve reached out us with offers to help. We absolutely need your help, so please keep it coming!
We’ll be discussing YOUtopia venue at our board meeting this week (June 12 @ CoLab, 7-9pm) and at every future board meeting (2nd and 4th Weds of the month) until it’s resolved. Please join us!
TL;DR: we still don’t have a venue for YOUtopia 2019. Buying land is an option but we’re not going to rush it, so it’ll be 2020 at the earliest. Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to secure a rental venue. If you can help with a rental venue for 2019, please reach out to us!

Request for Public Commentary: SDCAP Land Purchase

The San Diego Collaborative Arts Project (SDCAP) is exploring purchasing land to use as a venue for YOUtopia and other events aligned with our mission. As part of our exploratory process, we are soliciting community feedback and want to hear from you! Please tell us what you think of this idea – the good, the bad, the creative, the concerned. If you want to go straight to the feedback form, it’s here.
For additional context about this issue, read onward!

Land Ownership in General

Purchasing land is something SDCAP has been talking about for years. Our collective motivation to pursue it has been bolstered by past board members who were hot and heavy for the idea and then tempered by the sweet setup we had renting the La Jolla Indian Campground (yes, the hills are rough, but it has water and trees, and being on tribal land allowed us to avoid permitting issues).
Speaking of permitting, that’s one of the biggest driving factors in our decision making process about where to purchase, if at all. We know from other comparable events that permitting issues vary wildly from county to county in Southern California, and we want to be sure that if we do buy land it’s in a county where we will be able to get the permits we need. The other mission-critical qualities we’ve identified are:

  • Within 2-3 hours of central San Diego
  • South of Los Angeles (because it’s the San Diego Regional Burn)
  • Terrain that will allow us to burn art
  • Lacking neighbors who would be upset about sound

If you’re familiar with the rural and unincorporated areas outside San Diego, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “hey, that sounds like Imperial County!” That’s what we’re thinking, too. We’re certainly open to other ideas, but we have more concerns about permitting (and cost) in Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
Why Now: YOUtopia 2019
For the past 9 years, YOUtopia’s home has been the La Jolla Indian Campground. We’ve enjoyed a good relationship with the tribe and have taken pride in our additional donations as well as our extensive Leave No Trace (LNT) efforts, always leaving the campground in better condition than we found it. As one would expect, the cost to rent the campground has gone up significantly over the years, but it’s always been a relatively predictable increase (review our financials here). This year, when we contacted the tribe to begin our annual contract negotiation, they informed us they wanted more than double the amount we paid them last year. We attempted to negotiate and they then informed us they are considering no longer hosting any festivals at all due to complaints from residents about sound, but if we were willing to pay their asking price, they would still have us back in 2019. We reviewed our financials, and determined there is no way we can pay that amount without dramatically raising ticket prices, so we exited the negotiation.
Since then, we’ve been exploring all manner of other options for rental venues. Yes, of course we’ve reached out to the campground down the road from La Jolla. Yes, of course we’ve reached out to our regional neighbors to the north. Yes, we’ve been exploring other venues in San Diego County. A variety of options are on the table in terms of renting a venue for 2019, but none have come to fruition yet.
At the same time, we have begun talking about a land purchase. If we’re being honest, part of what spurred us on is that for the amount of money we would have to pay to rent La Jolla for 1 year, we could buy similar acreage outside San Diego and own it permanently. Pretty appealing.
We’ve done a couple scouting missions of properties in the desert, and there are some cool spots out there. They would be tremendous shifts in the look and feel of YOUtopia. It’s highly likely that any property that could truly sustain our event and allow us to burn the way we want to burn is going to be a lot more like Black Rock City than a cushy campground with amenities. We’ll be trading creature comforts for a blank canvas. In some ways it’ll be harder and in some ways it’ll be easier. We’d be lying if we told you we’ve haven’t fallen a little bit in love with the idea and believe the timing is right.
While we’re not going to rush into anything, we are quietly keeping our fingers crossed for some serendipity so we can do this in time for YOUtopia 2019. We know that’s super soon, and that there’s only so much planning the YOUtopia Team can do until we have a venue locked down.
We also know lots of folks have been wondering about the details for YOUtopia 2019. Once we have a venue and a date finalized, tickets will go on sale. We promise. In the worst case scenario, if we have to take a year off to make sure we buy the right property at the right time, we’ll make a public announcement by early August.

How Can YOU Help YOUtopia?

Most importantly, tell us what you think about land purchasing by filling out the survey.
You can also come chat with us about it in person at an upcoming Board Meeting. We meet the 2nd and 4th Weds of every month from 7-9pm at CoLab and we’ll be carving out a big ol’ chunk of agenda time for public commentary about this, at least for the next few meetings.
Beyond that, if you know of any properties for rent or purchase that meet the criteria outlined above, please let us know! We need about 100 usable acres for the whole enchilada.
And finally (shameless plug), there are ongoing opportunities to get involved with SDCAP and YOUtopia. The SDCAP board is a little light right now (we have 7 members, but prefer 9), so if you are interested in a “Mid-Cycle Appointment,” please get in touch by messaging The YOUtopia Team also still has some Department Manager positions open. Management positions are usually filled by people who have volunteered with YOUtopia in the past and have direct experience with event operations, but folks with special and specific skill-sets are always welcome and encouraged to apply. For more information, get in touch with the Production Leadership Team (

SDCAP Community Code of Conduct

Hey there, community! You spoke up, and we listened! Better yet, we followed through. After doing a ton of research on practices within other regionals and local Burning Man communities, we have drafted a comprehensive Community Code of Conduct.
Beyond our basic expectations around upholding the 10 Principles within the burner community, a Code of Conduct empowers us to facilitate healthy, constructive community behavior. Being proactive reduces the likelihood that you, or others, will become bogged down in destructive behavior and enables the community and, when under its purview, SDCAP to take action when someone does something that isn’t cool.
Outlining expectations for behavior, providing instructions for reporting incidents, and following up with enforcement allows us all to be accountable to keeping the community a strong, productive, and positive place where we can all explore, play, and create.