You know how every year when you leave Burning Man after partying your butt off, interacting with amazing art, seeing your friends and making new ones, and wandering around an amazing city unlike any you’ve ever encountered that magically rises up out of a prehistoric lakebed; you go home and take a shower and maybe have a beer and think about how great that was? Well, there are people still out in those dust storms and that searing heat making sure everything is torn down, stowed and shipped and any little bits of trash you possibly, accidentally were inconsiderate about not taking home with you are being all picked up so we can throw this little event again next year.
I was talking with DA who runs the Playa Restoration (or Resto) Crew and he told me how when the event is over they spend weeks tearing down Black Rock City’s structures and then walking miles each day in the sun over grids, making sure to pick up every last bit of trash that may have made it to the playa floor. The goal is to leave the playa as clean as it was before the event and it is hard, grueling work. They start early in the morning and DA tells me that around 3:15 in the afternoon someone will invariably yell “Morale!” and the crew will stop, go to the shade and drink a couple cold beers and eat some snacks. This makes the remaining two hours go by faster.
That beer and snacks are donated by you, kind citizen of Black Rock City.
We wanted to get this to you before you leave to meet us out here to let you know that as you’re packing up to come out to Black Rock City, it would be real nice for you to bring something to gift these hard working folks on your way out this year. You‘ll see signs at Greeters and Gate as you’re leaving and those are the official places to drop stuff. There have been scoundrels in years past who’ve set up along Exodus to shake people down for gifts, but they aren’t donating to the DPW.
Today I had lunch with Ms. Nipps who tells me that Collexodus wants unopened things like: beer, liquor, mixers, fruit cups, electrolyte drinks, beef jerky and any salty snacks. They do not want anything that’s opened, including liquor, nor do they want the two gallon water containers (small single water bottles only) mostly because the big waters can be wasted. They would appreciate no perishables, like the veggies or meat you brought with you but forgot to eat, and obviously, no garbage. Pack that stuff out with you.
Ms. Nipps has run the Fluffer crew since 2006. Fluffing is an idea that happened organically and she first came out and delivered ice and water to the survey crew who were out on the playa when there was no infrastructure at all. She’s got a spirit that cares about the people out here and she knows how hard they work. As time went on, she got to know other crew leads in the DPW and started bringing them necessities also and eventually Burning Man outfitted her with some vehicles and a crew. The Fluffers are pretty awesome, and Ms. Nipps told me they are all about the “Health, happiness and making people secure. We can be moms, cheerleaders, counselors.” Once other non DPW crews saw what she and her people were doing they got jealous and Fluffers now exist for everyone who sets up the city she told me with a large smile. Fluffers are by nature, friendly and full of goodness.
Work out here begins long before the event, with crews staging in Gerlach. Campers are moved out for the first line of builders to live in and the timeline both on and off the playa can be; from pre event to the end of Playa Restoration, approximately the end of June to the end of October. That’s a long time to be out here in this punishing environment. There’s a place in Gerlach called the Black Rock Saloon that caters exclusively to the DPW when work begins and all the liquor, beer and mixers there comes from Collexodus. Additionally, Ms. Nipps says they appreciate you leaving things for personal hygiene at Collexodus like shampoos, soaps, medical supplies and even pillows and blankets. Anything you would bring with you to Burning Man (other than things on the NOT list) is something Collexodus could use.
So this year YOU KNOW what you can do before you’ve left. Bring them something good and let these insane workers know you appreciate all they’ve been doing and will do post event. They deserve it and if everyone who attends just remembers to save one thing and gives a little, we should keep those DPW and Restoration folks in good shape for the entire season.