2023 Results

Embark on a journey of discovery as we unveil the intricacies of Mosaic 2023’s experimental findings. In the spirit of transparency, we present a comprehensive exploration of each experimental area, delving into the Hypothesis, Results, and Conclusions/Takeaways.

Areas of Experimentation

1. Application Process
2. Attendance
3. Creative Contributions
4. Financials
5. Land Preservation
6. Marketing and Outreach
7. Safety
8. Waste Diversion

Understanding the Numbers

While we provide precise figures, it’s crucial to acknowledge a margin of error inherent in any experimental endeavor. Our commitment to meticulous accounting and documentation remains unwavering, ensuring a foundation for even more insightful experiments in the future.


Join us in reflecting on the valuable insights gained from our 2023 experiment and the exciting developments on the horizon for Mosaic. Let the journey into transparency and discovery continue with Mosaic 2023’s Experiment Results.

The Application Process


We aimed to establish a method for receiving, evaluating, organizing, and understanding the contributions offered by our community members to the Mosaic gathering. Simultaneously, we sought a deeper understanding of the participants and their motivations. Our goal was to create an application process that provided prospective participants with a clear understanding of the kind of gathering they were entering. Instead of aiming for a high number of attendees, our focus was on fostering a high level of intention. We preferred 50 intentional participants over 500 unintentional ones. The application process inquired about participants' intentions, planned contributions, whether they needed assistance or could offer it, and how they heard about the event. Our intention was not to create a participation barrier but to gather information that would make Mosaic a successful gathering.



The response to the application process was mixed. The majority of feedback was positive, with several participants expressing comfort in knowing that everyone in attendance underwent the application process, stating their intentions for the gathering. While there was little criticism, a sparse minority found the question about contribution plans intimidating. Some felt pressured to present a specific talent, show, or musical act, or share wisdom on stage. The need to apply for participation in an intentional gathering was challenging for some, with one person remarking, "What? I have to fill out paperwork to come to this?" Well… yeah. You do. And here’s why:


Throughout the entire weekend, there were zero security issues, consent violations, notable medical events, or substance overuse problems. Zero. Well, the medical team did report that one participant asked for some acetaminophen to help with some cramping. 



The application process has proven to be an overwhelming success in maintaining the intentional nature of the gathering, ensuring participant safety, and facilitating the inclusion of valuable content and exciting performances that might otherwise have been overlooked in a typical festival curation. The positive outcomes have reinforced our commitment to the application/registration process for Mosaic. In fact, the Sondering organization has adopted a similar policy for all of their gatherings, experiencing a similarly remarkable record of safety and well-being, along with heightened collective intention and purpose among participants. We remain dedicated to refining and improving this process to enhance the overall Mosaic experience.


So, yes, the application process worked. But like most things, there is room for improvement. In response to the Mosaic 2023 feedback, Mosaic 2024 introduces two distinct and vital participant roles: Creators and Catalysts, each holding unique significance yet harmonizing in our collective purpose. Creators, orchestrators of scheduled participation, infuse the gathering with planned artistry, performances, and immersive contributions. In response to 2023 feedback, where some felt the need for a more inclusive approach, these roles were born. Creators, while still submitting applications for approval, can now offer a broader range of contributions beyond traditional workshops and performances. Catalysts, the heartbeat of spontaneous magic, absorb the shared wisdom of the gathering and take it home, creating positive ripples in themselves and their communities. Both roles are integral, contributing essential threads to the rich tapestry of Mosaic, ensuring that every participant is a valued contributor to this intentional gathering.


Creators - Craft the Experience 

Are you ready to curate, staff, and run an unforgettable experience for fellow participants? Mosaic Creators are the artists, DJs, musicians, or anyone with a vision that requires an audience. If your contribution needs a spot on the lineup or the gathering map, this is where you apply. Bring your presentation, interactive art piece, performance, musical act, DJ set, or any other immersive contribution to make Mosaic a vibrant, transformative, and memorable experience for fellow participants.


Note: There are limited Creator slots available. We recommend applying as soon as possible to ensure the greatest chances of your contribution being accepted.


Apply as a Creator


Catalysts - Soak up the Magic, Spread the Joy

Catalysts at Mosaic are not merely participants; they play a vital role beyond planned presentations or performances on stage. They are the heartbeat of unscheduled magic, the creators of spontaneous surprises, and the essential volunteers shaping the essence of Mosaic. Eager to absorb the energy and knowledge within the gathering, Catalysts are the contributors to unscheduled magic, the creators of spontaneous surprises, and essential volunteers shaping the essence of Mosaic. Eager to absorb the energy and knowledge within the gathering, Catalysts are the unsung heroes of Mosaic, ready to transform their experiences into positive ripples that resonate in themselves and their communities.


Note: There is a limited supply of 222 Catalyst slots available. We recommend registering as soon as possible, before space runs out.


Register as a Catalyst



There's a distinct magical energy that can only be felt at small, intimate, intentional gatherings. While the exact number of participants that captures that magic energy is unknown to us, we decided to experiment with a cap of 222 participants for Mosaic 2023, staff included. Our hypothesis was that this number would strike the perfect balance—cultivating an intimate atmosphere while ensuring a robust audience to support the creative contributions at Mosaic.



A total of 131 individuals applied to join Mosaic. Out of these, 8 applications were either canceled by the applicant, or a refund was granted, leaving us with a final count of 123 participants.


The organizing team meticulously reviewed each application, and ultimately extended invitations to everyone who applied.


Including staff, there were roughly 150 total participants at Mosaic 2023.



Based on feedback from participants, staff, and organizers, the energy certainly felt magical at Mosaic 2023. While we didn't reach our target of 222 participants, the enchanting atmosphere was unmistakable. Having 150 total participants at Mosaic 2023, given the sheer amount of scheduled creative contributions, left some of the audiences for those offerings feeling a bit empty. The overwhelming feedback highlighted the need for a more balanced participant-to-schedule ratio. If we had met our original goal of 222 participants without adding additional scheduled offerings, or if we had maintained the same number of participants with fewer presentations, performances, round tables, speakers, and workshops, it would likely have mitigated this issue.


In response to this valuable feedback, we're taking steps to enhance the participant experience for Mosaic 2024. We'll be intensifying efforts to promote Catalyst registration and will limit the number of Creator applications accepted. This strategic approach aims to strike a better balance between the number of participants and the array of scheduled offerings, ensuring that each contribution receives the attention and engagement it deserves.

Creative Contributions


We believed our community would respond enthusiastically to the opportunity to share their gifts, talents, skills, wisdom, knowledge, and artistic expression with fellow community members.



The community's response exceeded our expectations. In fact, our ambitious goal to fill the entire weekend with community contributions was almost too much to handle, for the Mosaic team and for the participants. Here's a quick breakdown of the creative contributions. Keep in mind, this list only reflects the scheduled content. There were even more unplanned and unscheduled breakout discussions, interactive art experiences, bodywork offerings, sound healing sessions and rogue performances that are unaccounted for here:


Total performances, speeches, and presentations: 85

· Performances: 37

· Speeches: 26

· Presentations: 6

· Events: 6

· Workshops: 8

· Discussions: 2


The total duration of scheduled content was roughly 42.5 hours, crammed into a 72-hour weekend gathering. That's insane. We accepted every application for a creative contribution that was submitted. Due to the incredible gifts, knowledge, and astounding performances offered in the applications, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to cutting anything. Check out some of the highlights from last year's schedule.



Frankly, the ratio of performances, presentations, and artistic contributions to audience participation was off. The challenge was not with how the community responded but with how we set up the application and contribution process. More details about this can be found in the Application Process section. This feedback was a prominent piece of input from Mosaic 2023 participants. The abundance of offerings made it challenging for people to decide between supporting friends, attending a desired workshop, or even getting some sleep. This feedback led to the creation of two distinct types of participants for Mosaic 2024: Creators and Catalysts. This year, we are accepting a limited number of Creator applications and encouraging more people to register as Catalysts. Our aim is to eliminate competing presentation creative offerings, concentrating participation on a handful of offerings. Although we are reducing the number of scheduled performances, workshops, and presentations on the official schedule, we're experimenting with introducing a new 100% community-curated section of Mosaic called the Hypothesis Stage:


The Hypothesis Stage is a collaborative space, alive with the eclectic spirit of our Catalysts and Creators. Curated entirely by the community, the Hypothesis Stage offers a haven for free-spirited creativity, radical expression, and collaborative innovation. Mosaic participants are encouraged to claim a time slot and exhibit their unique expression, whether through music, presentation, or another form of artistic brilliance.


From first-time performers/speakers to seasoned pros, the Hypothesis Stage will be a vital ingredient in shaping the community-led experiment of Mosaic. We encourage Catalysts and Creators alike to step into the spotlight, share their gifts with friends, and let their creativity run wild—each contribution is key to the vibrant tapestry of Mosaic 2024. Let's see how it shakes out.



We set out with the intention of establishing a not-for-profit gathering that prioritizes accessibility and encourages active community contribution. Regarding the financials, our hypothesis rested on the belief that, by embracing complete transparency and openly communicating the expenses tied to orchestrating an event like Mosaic, our community would rally together, contribute, and collectively support the essential services crucial for the gathering—covering production, security, harm reduction, medical support, fuel, power, and more. The Sondering organization took the initiative to front the costs associated with essential services and extend financial assistance to those in need, in hopes that the community's financial contributions would eventually offset these costs by the conclusion of Mosaic 2023.


We also experimented with providing financial assistance to help ease the practical costs incurred by participants who wished to contribute their unique offerings but faced financial constraints preventing them from doing so as a donation. This effort was crafted not just to aid individual contributors but also to align with our accessibility goals, empowering participants to share their talents, skills, and creativity. It aimed to foster a diverse and enriching Mosaic experience for all involved.



We embraced an open-hearted approach, welcoming every contribution and accommodating every reasonable request for financial assistance. Additionally, we honored all appeals for complimentary admission from those who requested it.


In line with our commitment to accessibility, the 2023 application process began by posing a straightforward question to applicants: "Can you help, or do you need help?" Applicants were then presented with two options: "I can cover the cost of my attendance" or "I need help covering the cost of my attendance." A significant number chose the latter, underscoring the diverse financial circumstances within our community.


Despite the considerable time donations and substantial discounts from our production partners, the total hard cost of bringing Mosaic 2023 to life amounted to $10,850.21. Considering the high production standards, the value of the scheduled content, and the remarkable energy we collectively experienced, this achievement is nothing short of incredible.


Participants who were able to financially contribute generously donated a total of $5,855, averaging $47.60 per participant. Originally estimating a cost of approximately $79 per participant, we found the actual cost to be $88.21. While we weren’t far off from our estimated cost per participant, the reality of hosting 123 participants (not including staff) resulted in a net financial loss of $4,995.21 for Mosaic 2023.


Notwithstanding the invaluable contribution of countless donated hours, effort, and supplies, here’s a concise overview of the actual costs incurred:


Total Costs Incurred: $10,850.21


Production (lighting and sound production, generator rental and fuel): $7,452.35


Essential services (security, harm reduction, medical, and programming costs): $800


Venue expenses: $1,362.86


Financial scholarships: $1,235


Total Participant Donations: $5,855


· 64 applicants attended for free, some of which received additional funding to support their contribution

· 11 applicants donated between $1 and $50

· 36 applicants donated the suggested amount of $79

· 15 applicants donated $100 or more


Note: The discrepancy in the total number of participants and total amount of applicants/donations is due to canceled orders and refund requests.


Mosaic 2023 Net Loss: $4,995.21


Disclaimer: In the dynamic and vibrant tapestry of Mosaic, the Financials section reflects our commitment to transparency while acknowledging the inherent challenges of event execution. In the midst of orchestrating the gathering, there were instances of spontaneous, last-minute purchases, equipment donations, personal cards swiped, and a few elusive receipts. The hustle and bustle occasionally led to nuances that slipped through the documentation cracks.


We wholeheartedly embrace this opportunity to enhance our accounting and documentation processes. Your understanding and patience are invaluable as we strive for precision and unwavering transparency. The Mosaic journey continues, and your support propels us toward even greater clarity and insight.



While we are still committed to providing assistance to those who need it, the reality is that we simply can’t provide free entry for everyone that asks for it. Unfortunately, it just isn’t sustainable long-term. As a result, we are allocating 5% of the total financial offerings and donations to the Mosaic scholarship fund, and limiting our free admission scholarships to match the amount of contributions to the scholarship fund that we receive from this year’s participants. We are aiming to allocate at least $750 to this scholarship fund, to cover the attendance costs of at least 10 participants.


Taking last year’s results into account, we’re increasing our estimated cost per participant to $100. However, in order to maintain our commitment to accessibility, we’re implementing a sliding scale financial offering for entry between $75 and $125, allowing participants to contribute to the project based on their means. Of course, additional donations exceeding $125 will be graciously accepted, and a portion of the excess will be allocated to the Mosaic 2024 scholarship fund to provide access to those who are not able to financially support the project.


To ensure the longevity and sustainability of the Mosaic gathering, we're committed to recovering the losses from 2023. Surplus financial offerings and donations from the generous community for Mosaic 2024 will play a crucial role in balancing the overall costs incurred during Mosaic 2023. Any additional funds beyond the required amount will be prudently saved and earmarked for the next exciting installment of Mosaic in 2025.


Your ongoing support and understanding are invaluable to us as we embark on this collective journey. Together, we're not just building a gathering; we're shaping an enduring experiment that thrives through openness, community, and shared commitment.


Land Preservation


We anticipated around 70 cars based on the number of accepted participant applications, though we didn't make a specific calculation. Gateway Ranch, our gracious land donor, requested that vehicles and foot traffic stay on existing roads and pathways, navigating consciously around delicate plant life. Our hypothesis was that by incorporating this request into participant guidelines, attendees would understand and comply.



While the fragile ecosystem at Gateway Ranch sustained no irreparable damage, both venue management and event organizers acknowledge areas for improved land preservation. We lost a bush or two, and a few patches of grass sustained damage that would take a while to naturally heal itself without assistance. For the most part, participants complied and were extremely respectful of the land, staying on existing pathways when possible, and carefully avoiding damage to plant life while getting to their camp site. 



We can’t expect everyone to inherently understand our definition of “delicate plant life.” The fact is, almost all of the plant life out here is very sensitive and takes a long time to recover from damage (except tumbleweeds, unfortunately. Feel free to run over as many of those as possible). After Mosaic, Gateway Ranch invested in creating more clearly defined car paths through the campsite, to concentrate impact. For Mosaic 2024, we’re also going to personally guide each vehicle to their campsite, spending more time with each participant, helping them navigate the landscape responsibly, answering questions about Gateway Ranch and creating an opportunity to provide more information about the plantlife.


We’ve concluded that the primary impact on the land does not come from foot traffic. It comes from personal vehicles, RVs, and travel trailers. To encourage carpooling and mitigate the impact, Gateway Ranch introduced an Environmental Impact Mitigation Fee.


While Gateway Ranch will continue to donate use of the land for free to Mosaic, a nominal Environmental Impact Mitigation Fee of $30 for vehicles under 24' in length and $60 for vehicles over 24' aims to address event-related environmental consequences. This fee promotes sustainable practices, such as carpooling, minimizing individual vehicle impact on the delicate ecosystem. 100% of the proceeds go directly to Gateway Ranch to support environmental sustainability goals. This fee is mandatory for each event vehicle, reflecting a shared commitment to responsible environmental practices and the preservation of Gateway Ranch's natural beauty.


In response to Gateway Ranch's call for increased attention to environmental consequences, Sondering hired an environmental conservation consultant. The consultant guides both organizations in understanding and limiting long-term negative environmental impacts at Gateway Ranch, Mosaic, and future Sondering gatherings.

Marketing and Outreach


We hypothesized that dedicating $1,100, coupled with the donated collaborative efforts of the SPOTLAB and Sondering teams, would sufficiently cover the essential expenses for our marketing and outreach initiatives. These efforts encompassed developing Mosaic's theme, acquiring a domain, hosting and designing the website, creating social media content, graphic design, and producing printed promotional materials. Our hypothesis rested on the idea that this collective approach, combined with the promotional expertise of our community, would effectively enhance our outreach, reaching a broad audience interested in supporting and participating in the gathering. From concept to gate opening, Mosaic was planned, organized, and executed in less than three months—an ambitious experiment.



We successfully achieved all our production goals related to marketing and outreach within the limited timeframe our community had to receive, engage, and spread the word about Mosaic. Despite the short preparation period, we were pleased with the results. While the event saw many familiar faces, including long-time friends and supporters of Gateway Ranch, Sondering event regulars, and SPOTLAB fans and followers, it also attracted individuals unaffiliated with these organizations. Mosaic 2023 marketing attracted and unveiled some incredible gems; however, we acknowledge areas for improvement as we plan for Mosaic 2024.



To enhance our preparations for Mosaic 2024, we've extended our planning period to eight months, compared to the eight weeks we had for 2023. The Sondering team has expanded, adding a graphic designer and brand strategist to craft and distribute the message and mission of Mosaic more effectively. While community support remains integral for spreading the word, we are slightly increasing our marketing and outreach budget for 2024, allocating a portion to promote Mosaic through additional channels such as social media promotion, increased distribution of printed materials, and seizing unique promotional opportunities as they arise. With one successful year under our belts, our new hypothesis is that word will travel fast and far about Mosaic 2024.



By creating intentional promotional materials, removing profit as our primary motivation, implementing a comprehensive application system, prioritizing the careful review of every participant application, directing resources towards security, harm reduction, and medical services, and instilling a sense of shared responsibility for safety among participants, we aimed to significantly reduce harm and establish a secure container for radical expression, inclusion, and transformation.



The system we created successfully achieved our intended goal. Rather than serving as a barrier to participation, the application was designed to provide applicants with a clear understanding of what they were joining. Given that Mosaic externally resembles a typical festival, it was crucial to communicate its deeper purpose. The intentional efforts of organizers, staff, and, most importantly, participants, contributed to a safe environment where radical self-expression, mutual encouragement, consciousness, and authenticity thrived.


Remarkably, Mosaic 2023 experienced zero security issues, consent violations, notable medical events, or substance overuse problems.



Organizing festivals and events presents a universal challenge — inviting diverse individuals with varied backgrounds, perspectives, and languages to engage in open connection, radical self-expression, and, often, mind-altering experiences without causing harm to themselves or others. Achieving a flawless result is rare, yet Mosaic 2023 accomplished this elusive goal. We couldn’t be more proud of our organizational team, partners, staff, and especially the participants who actively contributed to the safety and well-being of themselves and their community.


While celebrating this success, we acknowledge that maintaining peace is an ongoing effort. For Mosaic 2024, we are actively committed to enhancing collective participation in the pursuit of total safety. This entails providing more opportunities for education, discussion, and action to collectively foster a culture of vulnerability within a secure container — THIS is Mosaic.

Waste Diversion


As a self-reliant pack-in-pack-out camping event embracing Leave No Trace principles, our hypothesis was simple – people would pack in and pack out their stuff. We expected that the vast majority of participants would understand the meaning of pack-in-pack-out, which, of course, is where each participant is responsible for containing and appropriately disposing of their waste. 



The waste inadvertently left behind likely wasn't intentional, but also didn't align with our expectations. This provided a significant learning experience. Anticipating the majority to responsibly pack out their waste, Mosaic organizers and venue management weren't fully prepared for those who didn't quite grasp the concept. Whoops. 


On the second day of the event, a noticeable amount of waste was left scattered. Our staff and MOOP sweep volunteers made valiant efforts to tidy up, but, given the challenging wind conditions at Gateway Ranch for lightweight items, we strategically placed general waste collection bins around the property to give people more convenient disposal options. Unfortunately, without separate bins for landfill waste, recyclables, and compost, everything ended up in the same containers. The introduction of trash bins led to a gradual disintegration of the pack-in-pack-out intention throughout the weekend. After the dust settled on Mosaic, we found ourselves with an 8ft truck bed full of garbage bags with various types of waste, and lacking adequate waste diversion staff for sorting and proper disposal. We aren't proud to admit that a significant amount of unnecessary waste ended up in the landfill due to insufficient preparation and action by both the organizers and the participants.



Staff and organizers could have done a better job at communicating the importance of pack-in-pack-out and Leave No Trace principles before and during Mosaic, and participants could have done a better job of picking up after themselves and others. As a result, Gateway Ranch has partnered with the Sondering organization to contract a waste diversion expert to help us implement better practices for management and education regarding waste diversion for future events both at Gateway Ranch and future Sondering events.


Improvements for Mosaic 2024 and beyond:


1. As a venue, Gateway Ranch has invested in permanent waste diversion bins for separating landfill waste, recyclable items, and compost.


2. Gateway Ranch now has a thriving vermiculture composting system, with tens of thousands of happy little red wigglers joyously munching on the compostable waste from their events and their kitchen, year-round.


3. We’re diverting more volunteer resources into MOOP sweeps and waste diversion volunteers.


4. Sondering and Gateway Ranch are putting more effort into educating our participants on waste diversion. This is the real long-term plan. Knowledge is power.


5. We’re asking participants at Mosaic 2024 to “see something, do something”. We already know that everyone participating in Mosaic has bought into the collective intention to contribute to the betterment of themselves, the community, and the environment. So, if someone accidentally leaves a paper plate behind, drops a candy wrapper, or the wind sweeps items away from their campsite, we are all going to pitch in to leave no trace on this pristine high desert landscape. We, as the Mosaic organizers, vow to do a better job of reminding people of that mission.