Youtopia Census 2023 Spring

The Census

During the spring 2023 San Diego regional burn Youtopia, 206 people completed a paper census form.  After the event their responses are entered into the computer, which took volunteers roughly 40 hours! 

Entering the data is always a bit of a challenge, because people sometimes don't fill out the form in the ways we expect.

One example is the question "Is there free will?".  The form provided a single bubble to check, to indicate "Yes".  About a third of participants where seemingly unsatisfied with that option, and so wrote in their own bubbles, added comments, or drew pictures.  My favorite are the several participants who drew in a "No" option and then still checked "Yes".  Other notable answers include:

The Median Youtopian

Our statisticians and data scientists spent months debating the best way to summarize the data, ultimately deciding to take the median of every column.  You might think this technique is simple minded or even hopelessly naive, but in fact it allows us to uncover the characteristics of the quintessential burner, forming an idealized model of our most perfect attendee.

The archetype Spring 2023 Youtopia participant:

If this describes you, please reach out.  Our scientists would very much like to study you further!

The N Principles

Youtopia is a 10 principles event.  We asked folks to rate Youtopia on each principle.  Except we did a sneaky thing, and actually listed 12, adding both "gratitude" and "consent", which other burns have adopted as an "11th principle".

Funny thing - those two extras got the highest rating, well above all ten official principles.  

On the other hand, Civic Responsibility and Gifting were rated the worst.

We also asked people to pick an 11th principle.  The answers really captured the vibe of the event.  I recommend reading them all by expanding the section below.

11th Principle Responses


One Star Reviews

We asked people to write a one-star review of Youtopia.  Most folks wrote something sarcastic ("hippies keep handing me pickles", "not enough food vendors"), or just drew a star (see image).  Others complained about things beyond our control ("too hot" and "too cold" were both common!).  A few wrote scathingly accurate reviews ("It's just a bunch of weirdos pretending like they are doing something that matters", "Not at La Jolla and not 2016").

But there were some real complaints that the community could address:

Word Clouds

What led you to be involved in the Burning Man community?

What is your favorite thing you have seen or done at YOUTOPIA?

What gender Identity do you currently most strongly identify with?

There were 131 distinct answers to this question. The largest word, "Male" was chosen by 29% of census takers.

The End

We asked folks "How will you die?"  Some answers were oddly specific:

But most were old age / cancer / car accident / happy / alone / magnificent.

Roughly one in twenty suggested suicide, and about the same said they would live forever.  Maybe it's a good time to check in on your friends?