A Call for Feedback: Burning Man’s New Five-Year BLM Permit

One side of the Burning Man world that participants rarely have a chance to …well…participate in, is the permitting process we go through to have our event on federal, public land.  Well, here is your chance.

2010 marks the last year of Burning Man’s current 5-year Special Recreation Permit from the Bureau of Land Management. Currently, Black Rock City, LLC is applying for a new five-year permit to hold the event from 2011-2015. The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comments as part of the process of issuing the new permit. A record of documented, positive and constructive comments from persons or organizations within the Burning Man community will help BLM in reaching its decision.

In particular, as BLM’s role is to protect public land and those that use it,  the positive impacts of Burning Man on the greater public, such as economic benefits to Northern Nevada, or  education about Leave No Trace and other environmental messaging, would be most helpful. So if you’re part of a charity, business or other organization that benefits from the Burning Man event, then we encourage you to contribute to the decision-making process.  Also, if you’ve learned environmental stewardship, the value of volunteering, or any of the other infinite ways that Burning Man changes people’s lives positively then please let your voice be heard. Please note that though we wholeheartedly agree, comments such as “Burning Man is cool,” or “I love Burning Man,” won’t really add much to the information, and will inadvertently cause more work for BLM in the public comment process. In addition, this is not the right forum for commenting on BLM Law Enforcement at Burning Man, but if you would like to do so, please email legal@burningman.com.  We want everyone’s voice to be heard, but we also want to be efficient about getting the right kind of information to the BLM. Please respect the valuable time that BLM is putting into this formidable project, in an effort to listen to the voices of the people we have affected.

If you would like to submit a written comment then please do so by December 13th. Letters can be sent to:Cory Roegner, Attn: Burning Man Permit Renewal, BLM Black Rock Field Office, 5100 E. Winnemucca Blvd., Winnemucca, NV 89445-2921. Or via email to wfoweb@nv.blm.gov.  Please be sure to put “Burning Man Permit Renewaql (Roegner)” in the subject line.

There will also be three public meetings in Northern Nevada, hosted by BLM. For more information on the meetings, as well as the permit process in general please visit: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_information/nepa0/recreation/burning_man.html

Fire in the Heart of Black Rock City

[MachineGun Lily (aka Lily Rasel) works on Burning Man’s Government Relations, Legal Affairs and External Relations Teams, and (because Burners are nothing if not versatile) lays out the Black Rock City plan in CAD. An accomplished fire performer, she publishes Kindle Magazine, and will attend UC Berkeley’s Boalt Law School in the Fall of 2010. This post is part of the Metropol Blog Series.]

With the ability to control and harness its energy, both physical and spiritual, humans see fire differently than the rest of the animal kingdom.  We do not run away from it, but often gravitate towards and congregate around it.  We use it as a tool, and some of us like to use it as a toy.  We see it as both dangerous and comforting, painful and powerful.  But what is it that draws us to flames like moths to a lantern?  What is it that makes us, as Burners, surround ourselves with it, play with it, and revere it as we do in Black Rock City?

The truth is, humans have had a close relationship with fire for many hundreds of thousands of years, over a million years by the count of some scientists.  Some even speculate that harnessing fire and using it to cook food may have been key to our evolution.  Not only were we able to eat a wider variety of foods made softer and safer after cooking and potentially gain more rich protein from cooked meat, we had more time to spend together as people, preparing meals and eating them around the warm fire.

As our earlier selves sat around the protective flames in the dark night, we began to share ideas, stories, and art.  We drew on caves and invented language to communicate the burning complex ideas trapped in our brains, all while enjoying the warmth of what we once feared and fled from like the rest of the animal kingdom.  We began to ritualize the use of fire, like the forests around us, in cycles of life, death, and rebirth.  Fire is a primal element of our nature as humans, and perhaps that is one of the reasons it is so celebrated in Black Rock City.


Merry KISSmas! …and More Ways to Bring Radical Self-EnFUNment to the Workplace

It doesn't get much merrier than this
It doesn't get much merrier than this

Here at BMHQ, the year is winding down and we have only a few short hours until we lock the doors and say goodbye to 2009. I’m spending my final moments archiving last year’s files…including all of the pictures we took at and around the office last year. Looking back, it was a momentous one. Full of great achievements as well as some setbacks, enormous gains and sad losses. But one thing is for certain, no matter the pain or the strife, the thing that makes any day bearable is that we ALWAYS remember to have fun! Some people say “Well of COURSE it’s fun, you work for Burning Man!” but let me tell you, doing budgets and making copies and having meetings is no different here than any office. Granted, once in a long while a marching band may sneak attack us during an office staff meeting, but more importantly, what we DO have here are open minds, open arms, and a readiness to have fun. Those are things that only come with more practice! Below are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the past couple years that can be used in any workplace to bring at least a smile and certainly some fun to any day.

1. Try to make the fun something everyone can enjoy

Everyone's cookie cutters are welcome, here!
Everyone's cookie cutters are welcome, here!

Well, we didn’t want to pick any religious holiday in particular, so when Frog and I were talking about what we should do on December 22nd, which we knew would be a slow day at the office, we decided on a religion just about everyone could agree to….Rock & Roll! We called it Merry KISSmas Tuesday, and encouraged everyone to dress as the KISS army of elves and stop by the kitchen where we were making cookies. Frog was awesome and made the sugar cookie batter (vegan, so everyone could have some) the night before, so all we had to do was show up as our fabulous selves and start rollin’ in the dough! Err…rollin’ OUT the dough.

YES, I decided to be Peter Criss and no one forced me to, why does everybody keep asking that? Point is, we took an hour or so mid-day to wear platform boots, paint our faces, and try to salvage the feet that kept breaking off the clown cookies. In short, it was a success.