Harvesting the Urban Forest of BRC

Announcing the 2nd Annual Playa Lumber Recycling Project:
Help Harvest The Urban Forest of Black Rock City, and Help Habitat For Humanity build homes for low income families.

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-volunteers pose next to their catch: 42 units of reclaimed lumber. Photo courtesy Camera Girl.

For years one of the biggest complaints about leaving Burning Man wasn’t the drive
home, or the difficult reentry, or even the long wait until the next event.

Instead, it was “I can’t believe no one can use all this good wood!” It was usually said just before someone torched a huge pile that had been used for just one week, then discarded.

No more: in 2006 Burners Without Borders organized the first playa-wide wood recycling project, and it was a huge success! Six semi trucks of lumber left the playa in September 2006, and were delivered to Habitat For Humanity in Reno. According to their state director, it was the largest donation they’ve ever received.

Wood recycling has a rich history with BWB–while volunteering in the disaster zone following Hurricane Katrina, volunteers there recycled destroyed houses into new ones, carefully picking apart usable lumber, cleaning and sorting it, then giving it away to families in need, so they could begin rebuilding their lives.

That cycle came full circle when, in January 2007, volunteers from BWB from all over the country descended on a Habitat For Humanity job site in Reno, and helped turn that playa-donated lumber into new homes for needy families.

Now it’s time to keep the wheel turning once more: at Burning Man 2007, we’ll once again be recycling all usable lumber and building materials, and we need your help!

Starting Sunday, we’ll have recycling stations set up near 3, 6, and 9 on the Esplanade. We expect to be open from 10am-9pm, both Sunday and Monday. There you can drop off your usable lumber ( full size pieces of 2×4, 4×4, and plywood only, please; no scraps ), as well as certain building materials ( pipes, conduit, wiring, tools–pretty much anything that you can find in a Home Depot that’s not liquid ). Look for more details in this space in the months ahead. Got some time? Help us organize/clean/sort donations!

You can participate even before the event: make sure to design your camp and art so that it can be easily recycled. We’re looking for full lengths of 2×4, 4×4, and full sheets of plywood, so before you lop off that little bit, ask yourself if you really need to? And
when you’re building, use screws instead of nails–they hold better, go in easier, and are also easier to disassemble.

For more information on how you can help, contact Michelle Pariset: mpariset (at) gmail (dot) com

About the author: Tom Price

Tom Price is the former Executive Director of Black Rock Solar. Prior to that he was the Environmental Manager for Burning Man during the Green Man theme, and was in the Gulf Coast for six months during the genesis of Burners Without Borders. He's been attending Burning Man since 1997, and he's proud to say that his decade plus streak of breaking down from sun stroke on the playa on day three remains intact.

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