Culture Notes

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Culture Survey

Name (optional):

What was your first Ephemerisle (optional)?

I want Ephemerisle to be an Event/Community where…

Any other thoughts/ideas (optional)?

alexis nelson

Never been

i can frolic with friends on the water, forge new connections w/ other nautical adventurers, and enjoy the revelry on the not-so-high seas ;)

just saying hi! i'm a n00b to ephermisle, but me and my burning man campmates (camp BUSTED!, 7:45 and F last year) are excited about this event and hope to attend the next meeting :)


Brilliant minds, creative folks, water-enthusiasts and those who wish to surround themselves with these people -of all ages- can come together to form a community to learn, share, love, inspire, teach, enjoy and create.

I suppose it's not feasible any longer with the bigger crowd, but I did prefer the greater sense of unity that the boat layout of 2011 provided, as opposed to 2012. Physically together as a whole seems so much more gratifying to me.



I have opportunities to build if I want to build, play if I want to play, dance if I want to dance, and sleep if I want to sleep! (: I'm pretty interested in seeing what happens when you get a bunch of open minded, creative people together.

Live long and prosper, yo.

James Hogan


I want Ephemerisle to be an event community/where: the seasteading vision is central to the event's evolution and values. As the organizer of the first Ephemerisle in 2009, I'm inspired by the seasteading vision. Diversity and innovation in governance is something I think the world desperately needs. The founding vision for Ephemerisle was to be an event that could be a living microcosm of seasteading ideas -- a microcosm that might someday evolve into a macrocosm, i.e. actual operating seastead cities. Picture Burning Man's evolution into a city -- but without the legal constraints stopping its growth. That's powerful shit. How many festivals can say that? As festivals go, Burning Man is at the high end of the scale of how much it impacts the world, and even there people struggle with how to bring its impact back to the real world. Ephemerisle, on the other hand, could literally grow fully into its vision. With this in mind, there are only two core cultural principles that I care about at Ephemerisle: 1. Non-imposition: Islands shouldn't impose themselves on other islands 2. Free exit: People are allowed to leave islands Those are the same two fundamental ethical principles that would govern a seasteading world. That doesn't mean there aren't other cultural values -- just that I'd like to see those two as the core, the inviolable ones. As an example, let's say a culture starts to arise of "no commercialism," until one year a group says "we want to start an island where commercialism is OK." If the community said "no, that's not OK", that undermines the non-imposition rule. It's only in our ability to accommodate diversity that the power of seasteading, and Ephemerisle, will really become evident. In my opinion, if anything about our culture, aside from those two core principles, actively discourages people from coming, we've lost what makes this event special -- and turned it into merely a festival on the water.

Victoria Parks

Never been

I feel welcome to join in :)

Zoe Miller


law enforcement doesn't bother us... I'd like for us not to be a target with a captain selling alcohol without a permit...

more Seasteading content to attract more people who want Seasteading

Jessica Lissner


Everyone is safe and prepared, feels welcome and comfortable with the environment around them- but can do what they want, with lots of activities and things going on. More art projects and universal participation would be great. Everyone should contribute something that took some level of preparation and / or works hard to develop something for the community.

Create independent islands that are conglomerations of multiple boats that support a set of ideas / culture and rules. (I am already doing that with a single (or more, if we need it) boat.) Not everyone has to agree to the same thing, but if they plan to join or visit an island, they support the ways of those people.


Never been

I can come and get lit, party, make out with strange women, and hopefully discuss the needs of society.

Dan 'terminationshok


We prototype tech for living on water. We express ourselves fully. People feel safe and welcome. No central leadership. Each 'island' decides how to have ephemerisle, and is responsible for anchoring/safety. Each boat is prepared to be self sufficient in adverse conditions.

Water taxi for travelling between islands? I would like to do a shift helping with anchoring, trash pickup, or ferries.


People experimenting with living together in adverse conditions, from a variety of backgrounds. It is a party, but also a way to develop an understanding of the diversity that makes humanity unique.



My interests are community, experimentation, and art. We seem to be on the right track for the last two. As for community, I think it's important that we stay united, and work together to make this event a success. There were reports that the West, or the North, or the South were unwelcoming last year. That needs to stop, and we need to work towards everyone feeling welcome and included. I also think that self-reliance is critical. I don't want to see this turn into an event where a core group or organization takes care of everything. I want to see it remain bottom up, where individuals, boats, and islands are self-sufficient and work together on a more or less equal basis. And finally, I also would like to see a return to Ephemerisle as a potential stepping stone toward building communities out in the ocean, but I'm afraid we've already lost that part of the event.

Christopher Rasch


I get to play with awesome, fun, responsible friends (both new and old) on the water, learn new skills, and work toward making seasteading on the open ocean a reality.

You what's delicious? Chicken burritos. Tasty, tasty burritos.

Defining our values (June 2012 worksheet)


"Ephemerisle: Building and discovering together"

Adam - Yeah!

"It's all fun and games until somebody loses an island" - Brad


"No spectators (contribute something)"

- Adam - Yeah!

"Self-reliance" or as a possible alternative "self-responsibility"

- Adam - preference for self-reliance.


- Adam - Through art, memocracy, or some other means I think it's a big positive to encourage people to express themselves.

"Helping each other"

- Adam - Yeah, but I'd like to find a better way to phrase this. And I do think this is different than communal effort since it's more on the personal level.


- Adam - I think that it is totally unacceptable that people felt unwelcome on other islands. We need to strive to do better. dave w - Was this an issue? I never made it away from the north island, but that had to do with nautical rather than psycho-social factors.

"Communal Effort"

- Adam - Yeah, that's the way we do things.


- dave w - I think "communal effort"/"helping each other" is sort of a link between "radical self reliance" and "inclusion" - we (especially those of us who have been to a few of the events now) want to be "self reliant and then some" - with enough to share, to help "pay it forward" and cover the needs of the newcomers. (e.g., bring plenty of bacon; be prepared to help things stay safe; let's get good at boat-piloting so we can help everyone get tied up smoothly; etc. etc.)

Elements of a successful Ephemerisle culture (notes from June 2011 meeting)

(Chris, Matt, Adam, Isaac, Dave, Terry, Becca, Robert, Helen, Tammy, Richard, Ulrich, Jade, Greg, Ping)

A number of ideas were thrown around:

  • Radical self-reliance
  • No spectators
  • Take care of yourself and others
  • People may offer you things, but don't expect to be a freeloader
  • Expect to work
  • Bring something to the table

We agreed on this -- all attendees should be self-reliant and should part of the community.

Also, we seemed to define what we are about as a community:

  • Building and discovering together. (Not static. It's a process.)

TODO: Before the next year's event, we need to come up with a clear set of expectations (and don't expects) for attendees. (e.g. EXPECT to be self reliant...)

Advertise to the right audience: Don't call it a party. Absolutely don't show up looking for a boat. The pictures of naked people on the boats send completely the wrong message.

Pull people in: delegate, give them responsibility, invite them to participate.

Ephemerisle 2011 was overwhelmingly white, wealthy engineers. Do we need to do something about that?

Some of us personally really like the "no vending" culture at Burning Man. But on the other side of this, there seemed to be universal agreement that 2011's ironic t-shirt sales were okay. In 2011, one boat was selling booze next to another boat giving it away for free. Our culture may simply dictate what people bring to sell, and what they don't.

For safety and emergencies, one contact per boat.

Following ancient mariner's code, every vessel needs a captain and the captains need to have sole and final say in regards to the handling of the boat (course, anchoring, tying up to the flotilla, etc.) This is critical, because the last thing you want when your boat is rapidly drifting toward the rocks is to waste time with a vote, or trying to gather consensus.

But let's not have the captains decide all kinds of things. The "council of captains" should have very limited powers.

Actively working against "entitlement"

At our recent feedback meeting, we spoke a bit about the problem of people feeling entitled. We need to make sure that people don't feel entitled to have other take care of them, and instead take on a large degree of self-reliance. True.

But after the meeting, I reflected more on my thoughts and how the problem of entitlement may be the best way to explain.

My concern, because I've seen it before, is a feeling of entitlement coming from the other side. As soon as we have official leaders, or even official roles, these people will natural have a feeling of entitlement, of being special, of having a right to tell other community members what to do.

This creates a deep division in the community, between those with the official roles and power, and everyone else. It also completely destroys the true meaning of "self-reliance" when others are in charge of various things, like your safety. So, that's what I'd caution against.

Let people take on roles as need be, and let them make things happen. But let's be sure that they (we) never feel special or different or entitled in these roles. We're simply part of the community, doing _our part_ to make it a success.

2 cents.

-- Adam 22:40, 22 June 2011 (UTC)