Preparation, Social Capital, Northern Nevada and You

[This post was written by long-time Reno resident and Burner Nathan Aaron Heller, who works closely with Northern Nevada businesses on behalf of Burning Man.]

Gerlach’s new town sign, painted by Gary Mann.

On your way to and from Burning Man, whether you are traveling by auto, air or both, you will make your way through Black Rock City’s neighboring communities.

A store advertises its Burning Man-ready wares. Photo CC-BY Jennifer Morrow.

And while you’re there, most of you will spend money on supplies (of course, the seasoned among you know that doing so saves money and hassle). Did you know that your impact on local economies is HUGE? In fact, Burning Man estimates that in 2011 participants spent over $15 million in Northern Nevada, a region especially hard-hit by the ongoing recession. Many local businesses will tell you that Burning Man season is even bigger than Christmas. Pretty amazing, really.

Social Capital

The Burning Man experience has inspired many of us to take a serious look at our financial choices and relationships, including the effects of our economic decisions, directing our money towards resources and businesses that align with our values. By doing so, we invest in social capital. And because of Burning Man’s influence, many local businesses are giving additional attention to social capital and how it impacts the way they do business. (more…)

The Pffffft Principle vs. The Playa

It is so hard to explain how The Playa can change your life. For me, a huge part of it was finding a community of people who would support and encourage my creative impulses. In a world of voices that say, “pfffft” and roll their eyes at anything outside the norm, it can be downright transformative to be told, “YES! Be You… and do it LOUD.”

As we prepare for another magical year in the dust, thank you in advance for singing your heartsong, and encouraging me to sing mine.

Last year I hosted a talk about this topic in the middle of a Tuesday duststorm on the Playa:

*I’ll be hosting HugNation on the Playa this year again on Tuesday. And again, with a Pink Ride, on Thursday. Join us!

**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **

Playing In Traffic

We build Black Rock City from scratch, the myth goes. But strictly speaking, we build it largely out of cars.

Even before we get there, the playa isn’t quite empty. Trailblazers have lit the way for us, mapping out a ring of roads and staking them out with signs.

When the time comes, we saddle up our gas-powered vehicles and point them toward the desert. As the sun sets, our first wave hits Route 447, headed for Gerlach and points beyond.

We float out there in the dark, an incredible snake of red lights unfurled ahead of us, a starry, white trail behind. The flow slows down as we get closer, and then we turn off the pavement and onto the dust.

The line at the gate sometimes takes all night, maybe even all morning.

The gate watchers approach us, we roll down our windows, pass them our tickets, and we’re in. There’s a big moment after that: the traffic splits off left and right. Depending on which side of the clock our camp occupies, we make our choice and start driving around the ring.

We’re so tired, 5 MPH is about all we can muster.

But we made it. We pull up to camp, pick a parking spot that won’t be in anybody’s way, shut off the engine, and we’re there. We’re home. This is the feeling we rode all the way to Black Rock City from whatever default place we left.

The drive is vastly different when we leave.


“Black Rock Horse” Film Screening at BMHQ

Remember that giant horse burning away on the playa last year? Here’s your chance to learn more about it. “Black Rock Horse” portrays the journey of 2011’s Trojan Horse art piece from creation to destruction. The thirty minute film will be followed by a Q&A session with the filmmaker, Todd Darling, and Trojan Horse artists Dan Fox, Josh Lawrence, Ariel Sutro, and Linda Jensen Darling. Check out the film’s trailer. The film begins at 7:30pm. Light appetizers and a wine and beer bar will be open during the first thirty minutes of the event.

July 19th
Burning Man HQ
995 Market Street, San Francisco

Playa Survival Guide for Families

[Judes has been a Burner since 1999 and an advocate for playa families. She first brought her son Dexter to BRC when he was 16-months-old, who has 8 Burns under his belt. For 4 years, Judes hosted Hot Monkey Sox, a popular sock monkey workshop camp in Kidsville. In 2010, she founded the Black Rock Scouts program so kids could attend playa-cational events, volunteer with BRC Departments and learn to give back to the BRC community.]

Surviving at Black Rock City is difficult enough, and now you want to bring your kids? That’s great!

It can certainly be daunting the first time, but children actually thrive in the playa environment. It just takes some extra preparation, planning and diligence. Trying to get a toddler to drink her weight in water isn’t easy, but lots of families have found ways to not only survive, but flourish on the playa. Speaking as a parent, I truly believe that the Black Rock City experience and the Ten Principles provide an amazing educational immersion that can’t be found anywhere else.

So where do parents find the best information on how to prepare for a successful burn?

The Burning Man website’s section on Kids at Burning Man is a great place to start, but it doesn’t have all the info you may want.

That’s why Kidsville parents (myself included) have collaborated on a thorough and detailed guide for Burner families. Jesper from Kidsville has kindly put it all together into a single, helpful, and entertaining Kidsville Survival Guide.

It covers everything from child safety, playa clothes, kid food and taking the kids out of school for the Burn. While it has information specific to camping in Kidsville, it’s got a ton of useful information for all families. Check it out!

Look What Time It Is

David Best talked at the desert arts preview about what the Temple does for the community

Hi  all, and hey, isn’t the desert time getting pretty close again?

All the signs are here – everyone is having a fundraiser (and don’t you want to buy some stock in Kickstarter?), Will Chase is filling up our inboxes with vital info via the JackRabbit Speaks (and you really want to subscribe to that if you don’t already), and the Man is built. What’s that, you say? The Man is built? Yes indeed, grasshopper. The Man Crew was up on the work ranch a couple of weeks ago, building this year’s big wooden stiff. If you’re on the Instagram, which you can find on the internets, you’ll want to do a search for Sfslim and check out his great pictures of the crew that puts the Man together.

The point is, everything is moving forward. The Man burns in … what, a couple of weeks? It seems that way. But who’s counting?

Well, we’re all counting. Frankly, it’s been a long cold winter, if you know what I mean and I think you do. Keyboards have been worn smooth with the amount of … communicating … that’s gone on this offseason about … well, you know what about.

But we’re going to make a radical suggestion: Let’s put that stuff aside for the time being. It’s time to build some stuff, then burn some stuff, and get hot and dusty and sweaty and exultant in the process.

There are lots of places to vent and share and commiserate. The amazing Halcyon has written and videotaped some wonderful pieces right here on this Burning Blog about how to cope with … no, how to transcend, the ticket stuff. Whether you have tickets or you don’t have tickets, there’s a lot to think about, a lot to come to terms with. The ticketing process (and the process of dealing with it) will continue to evolve. That’s the way it works. We don’t want to dismiss or make light of the situation, but we’d like, we’d really like, to just step aside of it for a couple of minutes. We’d like to play matador – when the ticket bull rushes us, we’ll wave the cape, step smartly aside, and wave to the crowd.

So, to that end, we wandered to the gritty heart of San Francisco the other night, to get a taste of what all the fuss is about, to remind ourselves of why we go through all this – the sleep deprivation, the cracked fingers, the stuffed noses, the empty stomachs, the parched mouths, the blinding sandstorms, the wreckage of all the stuff, the dubstep … (more…)

The Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace: EXTRA! EXTRA! 24-Hour Trash and Recycling on Your Way Home!

This truck does not exist. Shoop by Loopy.

In the last edition of The Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace, you and I got knee-deep into your camp trash can. That was fun, but we don’t need to keep wading around in it, do we? So this time, I’ll teach you how to take that trash and turn it into gold!

Did you know that there is a Burning Man trash economy? Second only to the gift economy, the EXodus TRAsh and Recycling Network (EXTRA for short) is a bustling system of collection points for trash disposal, free recycling, and charitable donations, all of which directly benefit Burning Man and local communities in Nevada.

How does EXTRA work for you and your garbagio? Read on to find out.

Sometimes Special Things Happen By Chance

One day while we were branding- I think it was the next day after it opened to all -(We have early arrival for setup) Someone came to our camp and had an extra burning man ticket and asked us if we knew anyone who could use it..It was designated to me and so I got on a bike and headed out to Will Call.

They let me pass through the gate and I literally pedaled almost a mile and a half in search of someone.

There on the side of the dusty road as all the vehicles packed in inched along – was a girl holding a sign saying “Please God- help me find a ticket!” As I spoke with her, I found out that she had been there for almost two days in her hope to get into burning man.

As is with the burners we all have come to know, she had a genuine. positive and beautiful energy! So I pulled the ticket out and said, “My name is Chance – and sometimes special things happen by Chance” – and I pulled the ticket out for her.

She started crying-jumping up and down and hugged me with the love we all know from Burning Man.

People were honking their horns for her as she screamed and waved her ticket.

She climbed into a car as I pedaled back to camp to tell my Swagmart campmates about our special moment.

by Chance from Swagmart