Being saved


This was my first year at Burning Man, I came with the hospital staff, Rampart, to assist with some tasks and I came with my husband, who worked with the hospital.

To get to the point, after a week at burning man, I was there from thursday to thursday, Friday night my hubby and I had some time alone. Sadly some of our companions over taxed their physical bodies and were down for recovery. So my hubby who heard that the art project “wall-street” wasn’t going to be burned on friday night, thought it would be cool to ride our bikes out there. I being pleased at his enthusiasm to another bike ride was more than willing to enjoy this adventure. Since I arrived at Burning man, I have taken it upon myself to dress comfortably, but artistically to keep out excessive dust but allow my skin to breath, so I was wearing layers, of light clothes, including some rainbow knitted tights. I had my goggles, head wrap, and neck and mouth wrap, open fingered cloves, and no heels on my boots. We drank plenty of water before we left.

Wall street was impressive, so much work in so few days, I was wandering around reading the marker remarks. Acknowledging what people wished to share. When I arrived at “Golden Sucks” I thought, what would the view be like from the top story? And decided to head up. I had at this point lost track of my hubby, who was enjoying the structure his way. As I made it to the second floor, I was distracted by the moon, it wasn’t full, but it hung low and was amazing through the random dust storms rushing through the burning man city. I paused to look and to see how high up I was on just that floor.

Than I walked across the floor past the ladder heading back down towards the ladder heading up. I side stepped someone coming towards me, and stepped forward onto a plywood board on the floor which gave way under me. My foot went through the floor. Maybe I have seen Star trek one to many times, but I lurched forward to try and catch myself on the floor, and not fall straight through. I dug my fingers into the plywood floor before me and continued to slide through. Luckily the board snapped back up and caught my leg, it ripped through the skin at the back of my calf, and stopped in my knee cap. But then bent again and I fell a little more till it caught my thigh.

At this same time some of the people coming down the stairs from the 3rd floor saw me, and quickly tried to grab my arms. One person on each arm. It happened so quickly, I was more aware of the falling and trying to grab something, that I was grateful someone had caught me. He or she must have leapt down the stairs. Then someone else helped move the plywood to release my leg, I wish I could remember how many people helped and exactly how they helped me, but I was over-welmed at that point as to how I had fallen through a floor and could James Kirk have caught himself, because I only managed to slow myself down. Was my leg bleeding, or severed?? And the worse, how much attention did I just bring to myself? Who falls through floors, how far would the fall have been?

As I worried about what just happened to me, someone else was making sure they could rescue me and that I was ok. I remember sitting for little while trying to determine how injured I was. Could I walk? I was terribly shaken, and stunned. I don’t even remember any conversations with those who saved me, just that they were concerned about me, and if I needed more help. I didn’t want more help, I knew my hubby was down below somewhere, and he is a paramedic, so if I could just get to him, he could assess my injuries. So I resolved try and thank those who helped me, got up and crawled to the the stairs leading back down to the floor, and crawled down them. I was able to hold some weight on my leg and limped to my hubby. It hurt, but I am no stranger to pain. My hubby looked at my leg, said it didn’t look too bad, would he like me to have Rampart come get me. Of course not, I begged to ride our bikes back to camp and then he could clean up my leg and get a better look. Pedaling was easier on my knee than walking.

We road for about 15 minutes, and I started crying from pain and the experience. I hadn’t had much time to process it. The tears collected at the bottom of my goggles, thus it was a bit blurry. Then a dust storm kicked up through our path, and not minutes later I hit a large can full of glowing coals, I did not see the glow, but I heard the screams when I hit it. I was told the can tipped and the coals ignited, I fell the opposite way and rolled across the desert putting out any sparks that tried to ignite my clothes. Again more people ran towards me to help. Even one woman sat with me, and let me finally just sit and cry. I could really talk, it was to hard to gather more thoughts, I still wanted to get back to my camp on my own, and would need my resolve to push through the pain in my leg and the unease in my brain. This was such an alien experience for me. I did not get the names of those who helped me through the fire, and sat with me for a short cry, before I was back on my bike heading back to camp. I really wish I could give them a more heart felt thanks, and I was sorry, I was just not able reach out better, and remember them. I am glad they were there for me, and I think that there are such important times like this, where just being there and doing what is needed and wanted is all someone can do to help another.

I like to believe I am pretty self reliant. But I needed saving that night, Thank you to those who had helped me, I figure you would also have remembered such and event.

Leo Villareal & The Bay Lights: Flip the Switch!

The Bay Lights, artist’s rendering

Remember this? Well, the fundraising and permitting process was a success, and the project is moving forward!

That’s right, long-time Burner, Disorient founder and artist Leo Villareal is creating the world’s largest LED light installation on the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Workers started attaching 25,000 white LED lights to the bridge in October. The installation is 1.8 miles in length and 500 feet high; the lights will be switched on early in March 2013 and will remain for at least two years.

Leo was inspired to create programmed light installations by his experiences at Burning Man in the mid-90’s, wandering in the darkness without any points of reference. The New York Times just published an article about Leo and the Bay Lights which includes the story of Leo’s Burning Man roots … here’s an excerpt:

“Like most of the crazier ideas that come out of San Francisco these days, the Bay Lights owes its genesis to Burning Man, the end-of-summer bacchanal on the Black Rock Desert playa where overworked Silicon Valleyites and underworked counterculturalists gather to stay up all night, party and cross-pollinate. Davis is a longtime regular at the festival and says that for him it conveys “a sense of spectacle, a sense of wonder and awe, a sense of generosity and shared experience. But he was growing frustrated with the annual ritual and becoming aware of a fundamental disconnect between the magic on the playa and the drudgery of daily life. How could he bring the beauty he saw every year at Burning Man back home?”

The project’s website,, features a video animation of the project as it will appear in action. You can sign up on the Community page to receive bi-weekly updates on the project, including info on public events.

For those of you on Facebook, please like The Bay Lights page, and check it for updates.

An Evening with David Best at the Nevada Museum of Art

The Black Rock Design Institute Presents “An Evening With David Best”
Thursday, December 13, at 6pm
Nevada Museum of Art
180 West Liberty Street
Reno, NV

Temple of Juno by David Best and The Temple Crew, 2012

Internationally acclaimed sculptor and architect David Best has created seven temples for Black Rock City, including the first “Temple of the Mind” in 2000, and the “Temple of Juno” in 2012. With inspiring scale and intricacy, David’s architecturally and psychologically significant structures are striking on the vast Black Rock Desert canvas. More importantly, David’s designs serve as a monumental community touchstone for Black Rock Citizens, and for the lives they have touched, culminating in a serenely beautiful burn. As many testify, David often gives spontaneous, deeply insightful, and emotionally moving talks about the intent, meaning, and experiences of the Temples. This lecture will be a wonderful opportunity to hear David’s deeper insights and broader outlooks on these phenomenal works.

Temple of Juno, 2012

Kerry Rohrmeier, cultural geography researcher and urban planner, will also be giving an introductory presentation on “Welcome to Black Rock City”. In studying Black Rock City through varied cultural, geographic, and historical lenses, Kerry will share some emerging lessons for participants in the creation of our yearly ephemerapolis.

Museum doors open for the evening at 5pm with refreshments and socializing. Lecture begins at 6pm. Tickets are now available here.

Black Rock Design Institute, the host for the evening, is a not-for-profit 501c3 comprised of Reno-area designers dedicated to improving our urban environment. More on the Black Rock Design Institute can be found here.

(Content generously provided by Nathan Aaron Heller and Kerry Rohrmeier.)

Burning Man Hires Event Operations Director

I am excited to announce the hiring of Charlie Dolman, who very soon will assume the role of Event Operations Director for the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City.

Charlie Dolman at Burning Man 2012

In this capacity, Charlie will oversee and direct event operations and logistics, and will play a major role in strategic planning to ensure the long-term success of the Burning Man event. Among other responsibilities, Charlie will oversee management of BRC event-specific departments, including Emergency Services Department, Department of Public Works, Community Services, Playa Safety Council, Art, and Café/Ice. He will also be a member of the Budget Committee, provide leadership to the Operations Team and serve on Burning Man’s Executive Committee.

A native of London, England, Charlie comes to us with 17 years of event-production experience, 12 of which he spent producing events of all sizes across Europe and the UK (and one in Zambia!). He co-founded and later served as Financial Director of The Secret Garden Party, an annual music and entertainment festival with 30,000 attendees. Charlie has extensive event-related experience in project management, logistics, safety, licensing, marketing, budgeting, crises management, and managing and developing teams. Most recently, he served as Projects Director for the MAMA Group.

Charlie first traveled to the playa in 2006 and has hasn’t missed a Burn since. He co-ran a camp on the Esplanade (The Flying Monkey Pub) his first year and has been instrumental in the leadership of several large-scale communal camps: The Untied Nations Embassy, the UnNatural History Museum, Burningdales, HMS XS, and in 2012, Terminal Y. Charlie is deeply committed to the 10 Principles and enthusiastic about this opportunity to facilitate their manifestation in Black Rock City and beyond.

We greatly look forward to working with Charlie, so please join us in welcoming him!

Getting Dusty With Sandy

The line between light and dark. The anatomy of a New York City blackout.

At the end of October, a San Francisco-based group from the Burning Man Project traveled to New York City. We had planned four days of meetings with the thriving Burner community, and were eager to engage with new friends. What we hadn’t planned on was engaging with Hurricane Sandy. Which is how our intrepid crew from San Francisco found ourselves discovering unexpected playa lessons on a very urban landscape.

The Burning Man Project nonprofit seeks to extend the Burning Man ethos beyond the desert, and New Yorkers have some good ideas about how to do that. We had made plans to meet with regional contacts, to see Board Member Leo Villareal’s newest art installation, to host a participant discussion about the Project, and to attend a local theme-camp-inspired Halloween party.

Thrust into the eye of the storm, we found ourselves without power or water, unable to leave the City and largely unable to communicate back to California. Fortunately, we also found ourselves witnessing Burners helping each other through, conducting meetings by candlelight, respecting the resilience of New Yorkers, and affirming the importance of shawarma.

Continue reading for an account of our big learning Big Apple adventure … (more…)