MOOP MAP LIVE: Results!

Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach with your first set of SCORES!

And what a great start your DPW Playa Restoration team is off to. The front line kicked off at 10:00 and Liminal, and marched through block after dusty block — passing through the entire area of Liminal, Kindergarten and Journey! Talk about a “rite of passage” for our intrepid DPW team.

Now I’m proud to announce the results of that march:
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MOOP MAP LIVE: How the Map is Made

Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where the DPW Playa Restoration team is off and running. We’re all getting excited to find out how Black Rock City did on the 2011 MOOP Map — but before the scores start coming in, let’s talk about how they’re set.

What is MOOP?

This is MOOP.

MOOP  1. (noun)
An acronym for Matter Out Of Place, meaning any thing or impact not native to the immediate environment, especially as it applies to the citizens of Black Rock City and the greater Burning Man community in regards to the founding principle of Leave No Trace.

  1. Examples: trash, bottles, cans, cigarette butts, fireworks, glow sticks, bottle caps, but can also be in the form of debris from camp fires, wood, plastic, metal, glass, and plants.
  2. Sentence: “I’m glad that everyone had a wonderful time but your camp sure did leave a whole lot of moop behind!”
  3. Moop can also be a condition not natural to the environment: burn scars, grey water, and dunes.
This oil spill is also MOOP.

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Could Burning Man be one more failed social experiment? Oh hell yes.

I did not see this art piece on the playa

A commenter named “First Timer” read my post chiding our community for the shared bicycle program, and leaped to the most pessimistic conclusions possible.

He or she wrote:

The concept of moving this (Burning Man) to the larger world seems destined to failure.

Its (sic) been tried thousands and thousands of times in the history of man.

It always works… until the group grows to the point at which there are strangers in the group. At this point the group shame that gets applied to slackers and non-contributors goes away for strangers and people start to take more than they produce or provide. This requires an organizational structure to enforce the rules. This enforcement is not voluntary cooperation so it takes an authoritarian form. As the group grows the power in this authority grows and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Can someone explain how decomdification and communal effort differs from the basic tenants of socialism/Communism that have failed over and over throughout history?

The answer to that last question is an easy “Yes.”  Burning Man differs from Communism in that:

A)  Nobody is forced to participate.  In fact, you have to pay to get in – and that’s only if you’re willing to travel to a remote and inhospitable location, with absolutely no accommodations or luxuries other than what you haul yourself.

Which is to say:  in the Soviet Union, they forced dissidents to go to Siberia.  At Burning Man, dissidents get furious that there aren’t enough tickets. (more…)

MOOP MAP LIVE 2011!

Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire. The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where Burning Man is entering its final inning.

Though the festival ended weeks ago for most, the brave men and women of the DPW Playa Restoration crew have stayed behind to make sure this epic year ends in an epic win. To do that, they’re picking up every single piece of MOOP in town, making sure Burning Man honors its commitment to Leaving No Trace.

This is the crew that makes sure Black Rock City passes its annual inspection by the Bureau of Land Management, so we can do it all again next year. The stakes are high, and the standards are higher — but your Restoration team is strong and experienced, and they haven’t lost a game yet.

Like I said, this is the final inning and that inspection date is less than three weeks away. The Restoration team’s success depends on all the people who came before, all those valiant Burners who picked up errant water bottles and tucked their cigarette butts into their socks, who stayed an extra hour to MOOP their campsites.

And oh yes, the people of Black Rock City are just as dedicated to Leaving No Trace as the Restoration crew is. For proof, we turn to the MOOP Map, an annual chart showing the cleanliness of the city as DPW Playa Restoration found it.

Here’s how it looked in 2010: (more…)

Lost Thoughts

She said she’d stepped out of the RV because her camp-mates were having a big argument on their way into Black Rock City.  She’d just intended to give them a little space … but then they’d driven away without her.

They didn’t have a pre-planned camp spot.  They could be anywhere.  They had her food and water and clothes.  It was her first Burning Man.  She didn’t know anybody else.  She came to our camp (well, my friends’ camp) because it was a radio station, and wondered if we could put out a call asking for someone to help.

But that’s not why we started calling her “Lost Girl.”

We put her on the air and she started crying when she explained what happened to her, and at that moment she was an honorary member of our camp.  (Well, technically “their” camp since I just hang around here because the couches are really comfortable.)  Everything changed on a dime.  Everyone was resting, it was the middle of the afternoon, I was flirting with Charlotte and getting somewhere for the first time – and the moment her tears hit the ground everybody had something to do.  Get her a beer;  get her blankets;  find her a sleeping bag;  put aside some food;  give her a hug;  tell her that no matter what it’s going to be all right.  I’d never seen the ranks close so quickly.

She replaced me as the camp charity case, that’s for sure.  Without even a shot fired.  But I bowed out gracefully.  I mean, come on now, she had it rough.  Especially when her people didn’t come for her.  We helped her do all the things you do:  leave a message at Playa Info, talk to the Rangers, put PSAs out over the air … but they never came looking.  (more…)

Welcome to Now Here


by Mrs. Lucky

Two dirty palms press the passenger window. Encased in the House of Balls truck, in my last clean moments, I am not about to open the door. They are the hands of a rough looking character. On his bare chest rests the skull of some animal. A chain loops his lip and dangles down to the dog collar which circles his neck. His eyes shine. “I want to give you a hug,” he says.

“No thanks,” I yank the crank and snug the window shut, latch the wing and foot vents, knowing it’s useless. In time I will be covered in dust. That’s what happens if you go to Burning Man.

“Welcome home!” my closed window muffles the chain-lipped guy’s voice. “Maybe it would help to drop and roll.”

I will not be doing that and don’t even need to say so.

I give him a forgiving look. He’s a greeter. I generally feel sorry for those who must be nice in their work. But he’s a volunteer and his chipper manner is getting to me. With my window closed I listen to him schlep through the routine; leave no trace, camp locations, speed limit. He finishes. I crack the window just enough for him to pass the map, the sticker, the schedule of events and the first edition of the Black Rock Beacon. The newspaper’s headline reads, “Welcome to Nowhere.”

At this point in the Burning Man experience I always wonder what the hell I am doing. Years ago, when other mothers were back-to-school shopping and taking their kids to meet the teachers I’d lit off for Nevada and a week of unrepentant play in the Black Rock Desert.

These years the kids are nearly grown. Now I wonder what this little adventure costs me in wrinkles and lung capacity.

You’ve seen this landscape on car commercials, it’s long and flat and white. In the ads there’s always only one car. One car leaves a decorous plume. Tens of thousands make a dust storm.

A funnel has swept the truck in sediment, following us down the entrance road, right up to the gate. Allen has turned off the engine, gotten out and is embracing another greeter. Inside, the truck is hot, and still and empty. A thread of sweat gathers at my hairline rolls through my shoulder blades. The seat is damp behind my knees and I shift to cool them in the still air. I have no choice but to be now here, where it’s hot and dirty and kind of weird.

A clean woman appears from the door of the camper next in line. A virgin probably, which is what some people call first time burners. Personally, I prefer to call them first time burners, innuendo being as tiresome as dust.

I am already thinking about the shower in the nice hotel in Salt Lake City a week from now. I am thinking about how dry my hands and my neck will be and how I will rub them with endless lotion. I am thinking about the layer of dust I’ll carry into cumulative age.

It’s the eighth time I’ve been to Burning Man. I may be jaded. But Jaded is an under appreciated emotion. People often mistake the jaded for the joyless. Veteran status is a fine thing, knowing what you’re in for and still doing it anyway. Jaded, you earn.

The chain-lipped greeter has left my window and is walking over to cheer the newbie. She’s a dozen years younger than I am. She’s got wide eyes and thick braids wrapped in a scarf. I note her flip-flops and imagine her pink lungs. She drops to her knees. Three or four people are chanting “roll, roll, roll.”

Allen gets behind the wheel and looks over at me. “It’s really cooler out there in the air.” He shifts the long lever into low. The House of Balls truck inches forward. We pass the newbie, who has rolled and come up with a smile – so genuine. The chain-lipped guy is patting her on the back, making little dust puffs rise from her shoulders, his glee downright innocent.

“You’re thinking about the shower at the Hotel Monaco,” Allen says.

“I am,” I say.

Hypocrites on Wheels

I’d like to think that a radical social movement could run a successful bike share program.

Burning Man 2011 has proven me wrong.

After a certain point, watching people horde, hide, and lock their “yellow bikes” gets downright embarrassing.  And the more “radical” their lifestyle, the worse it looks:

  • People who do an hour of yoga every morning, recycle like a socially conscious hoarder in a box factory, and visualize world peace so often it’s taken out a restraining order, will spend a week hiding a bike that doesn’t belong to them.
  • People who advocate for an overthrow of the corporate oligarchy, speak so much truth to power that it erodes the enamel on their teeth, and march with any group that has the word “anti-“ in their mission statement, will put a lock a bicycle that they’re supposed to give away.
  • People who are unafraid to walk around naked, are so polyandrous that anthropologists are studying their mating habits, and are so sex-positive that sex has asked them to tone it down a little, will clutch a yellow bike to their side all week and get offended if you look at it funny.

In some ways, Burning Man’s bike share program may be a better measure of our community than all the high-minded rhetoric and big gestures we make.  (more…)

Give Us Your Feedback

The Burning Man Suggestion Box?

IMPORTANT: PLEASE USE THE EMAIL below FOR YOUR FEEDBACK. NOT JUST the comments to the blog.

How was your experience? Let us know.

Each year after the event, Burning Man staff reflect on what we’ve accomplished and what we plan to do in the future — changes, improvements, what was right, wrong, etc. We want to include your feedback in our planning process. Due to the fact we typically get a strong response to this request for feedback, it is not practical to reply directly to everyone. Depending on the nature of the feedback, some participants may receive a direct response. If many feedback emails touch upon similar issues, then we will draft a general response that will be sent on the Jackrabbit Speaks and posted in the Q&A AfterBurn Report in early 2012. We DO promise that your email will be read. We want to hear from new and old Burners alike. Starting with the good before the bad is helpful. ;-) If you’d like to contribute, send your constructive comments to xxxxx by October 19th. [UPDATE: Feedback loop is now closed for 2011.]

Furthermore, Burning Man staff members are interested in meeting with participants and hearing their thoughts in person during their increasing number of trips to meet with Regional groups year round. We will gladly work with any Regional groups to set up gatherings with participants when Board or Senior Staff members travel. If you would like to find out more about the Regional Network and a group in your area please visit http://regionals.burningman.com.

Thanks for taking the time to contribute your thoughts. We promise we’ll read what you have to say. Looking forward to 2012!