There’s nothing like a good pounding

continuing adventures in making a city out of the dust

Well, first of all, greetings from a high speed wifi Internet cloud in the heart of Black Rock City. The fact that I am writing to you from the back tables of our staff commissary means that a lot of things have been locked down since my last post. Buildings placed, generators distributed and fueled, towers erected, and a few dozen miracles with a sprinkling of playa magic. Everyone has been rocking and rolling, but I have to give special props to the playa geek squad for giving the city a strong technical infrastructure with increasing demands and complexity. It seems like a crazy thing to have technology in the middle of a dust bowl, but having a little thing like occasional email access and a printer on site can help to save hours of wasted time that would otherwise be spent trekking back and forth to Gerlach or tying up communication channels. I remember when I would come out to the desert for a month to unplug.. but this is good too and as a bonus, it has given a few of us a chance to blog for folks like you. We are working hard and eager to see you all.

intersection signs before installation
intersection signs before installation

Geeky things aside, the city is really starting to take shape. To me it really seems like a city once the street signs are up, and we have addresses and roads and a bearing on where we are in the middle of nowhere. Until then, we’re mostly just swimming in a sea of survey flags.

More friends are arriving daily and breakfast each morning is like a family reunion. In addition to the DPW, the community services and art groups are starting to arrive, settling their own camps and preparing for the influx of citizens.

Cogs for the Machine
Cogs for the Machine

The group building the The_Machine have been on site for a few days and never have I had such cog envy. They had several large trucks of heavy parts, including a few piles of custom crafted gears and mechanics. They say Burning Man is about community or art or expression… and it is, but behind most of that is some really hard core engineering, planning and logistical dynamics, and elegant execution of these feats under the worst possible conditions. It’s so inspiring to watch people dedicated to a task and then to watch it become a reality.

early mousetrap
early mousetrap

One or two days ago (it’s hard to keep track of time by this point – nor the number of tissues and wet wipes that have been used, but I digress) another exciting art project team arrived. this project is called the Mouse Trap, modeled after the kids game with all kinds of contraptions designed to catch a mouse. This project came out to Burning Man years ago and never quite worked (or worked just once). The Mouse Trap recieved an art grant from the Borg2 group (which is a whole other story that many of you may be familiar with) and no matter which organization you call home, we are all very excited to see it come back to the playa.

Work continues building the city and I recently spent a day with the fabulous sign crew and ended up leading a crew for the afternoon. Lots of excitement in the hot sun, as my truckload of eager manflesh, I mean pounders, waited patiently while we tried to dial in the location of the themecamp signs. This year the themecamps are being placed extending out the 4:30 and 7:30 streets and it’s always interesting to do something complicated in the hot sun for the first time… at some point, we realized that the map we were working from was wrong and a few stakes had been pounded into an incorrect location. Math is sure hard in the heat of the afternoon and it sure felt good to finally hit a stride and pound in a few dozen stakes. Ok, I only did a few of those, but we all earned a cold beer that evening.

About the author: CameraGirl

Heather Gallagher aka CameraGirl is a recovering corporate IT consultant with a Master's degree in Computer Science tucked under her rhinestone-studded belt. Heather first stepped foot onto the playa in 2000 and, in many ways, has not left it since. CameraGirl was born in 2001 as the Documentrix for the Center Camp Cafe and CampArctica, where she got hooked on Burning Man imagery, joined the web team and eventually became the Photo Editor for burningman.com. Since 2003, she has produced each of the Burning Man Wall Calendars. In early 2004, she began managing the Burning Man Technology Department.

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