One thing that keeps me coming back to Black Rock City each year is the ART.
It has been said many times that the playa is a blank slate, a tabula rasa, a seemingly infinite empty space that all of us who are the Burning Man community fill up for a week with so much art that it is bursting at the seams, and seeing how the playa challenges artists is a thing of beauty.
Our artists are playa hardened. They are well aware of how a massive, not unexpected dust storm affects agility of machinery and mechanics. They know how a rain storm stops all forward momentum and that a wind gust can topple the mightiest monument. In the environment of Black Rock City, just spending months building an art piece and transporting it is only a small part of the challenges that artists face to fill up that space. They are planning for an art show at the edge of the apocalypse, with insidious alkaline powder invading every electronic device, with huge and heavy sculptural forms being moved across the soft packed playa surface all using an infrastructure they and Burning Man set up for only a few weeks a year.
Our artists are aware of the vastness of the space they are attempting to fill up. I believe they are basically mad to even attempt to do what they do every year and those of us who are not building art out there are so fortunate to be at this point in history; to be a part of this thing we call Burning Man.
Sometimes on playa, we can take the art for granted. You will always stumble into something wonderful on your journeys to and fro and that is indeed planned. But for you art junkies out there who want to see it ALL each year, the ARTery is Black Rock City’s portal for Art Tours, and this year there is a panoply of options to explore.
A web page with all the information you need is in the works, but here are some details for now. You should stop by the ARTery at 6:30 and Esplanade, next to Everywhere, if you are interested in any of these tours. The ARTery’s hours are 9am to 6pm every day (closed for lunch from 1-2pm) and they would love to see you! Keep reading for all you need to know about Art Tours this year.
The last time a debate about children at Burning Man flared up, I asked one of the people I knew who had grown up as a “burner kid” what she thought about the question. Electra Carr went to her first Burning Man when she was 11. Now 21, she sent an eloquent response to my question … which got lost between inboxes for a year-and-a-half because I really am that bad at getting back to people sometimes.
So this is a horribly late addition to the debate, but is still worth reading.
Other kids of burners want to weigh in? Leave a comment at the bottom, or if you had a growing up experience at Burning Man and want to write a guest essay about it, send me a message. (Caveat at BurningMan dot com). I’ll try to get back to you a little sooner. I swear.
From here on, the words you read are Electra’s.
There has been endless discussion about the subject of children attending Burning Man. I have heard the many opinions scattered across the board, from people who do take their kids and think its vital part of their childhood and parents who can’t imagine bringing their children into the desert. People who think it should be each person’s choice, others who rally for a committee to decide. There are those who are uncomfortable with the thought of a kid wandering past while they may be doing something they deem inappropriate for young eyes and people who are fine with having kids attend as long as they’re cordoned off in Kidsville. And of course, people who really don’t care and wish everyone would just stop talking about it.
However, at the focal point of this topic there is an opinion that has been greatly overlooked. What about the children themselves who had grown up amongst the culture? It is a voice worth exploring, and as no two experiences are ever the same at Burning Man, I’d like to encourage everyone to talk to a Burner kid about it. I was such a child and while I’ve grown away from the Burning Man culture and rarely make the pilgrimage out to the Playa, I was there, I experienced, and I was changed.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas Edison
Now that we’ve reminisced on all the great times, dissected the State Of The Man and searched for videos of our favorite art in action, I’m wondering: What did you try to do that didn’t work out?
People pull off some amazing feats in the desert. Fellow burners inspire and encourage us to dream big and go big. But sometimes things just don’t work out. Sometimes we have too much to do and not enough time or help. And sometimes, well, who knows what went wrong.
For years I’ve wondered what was intended for the piles of lumber and building materials way out in open playa, roped off but obviously not complete (and sometimes not even started)? There are the partial domes, crossed-out cardboard signs and piles of “camp stuff” off to one side. What were you supposed to be, towering stack of palettes and rope lights? (more…)
As the Department of Public Works toils away building the infrastructure of Black Rock City, the law enforcement agencies who patrol our fair metropolis are also on site now, setting up their own infrastructure.
These law enforcement agencies — BLM Rangers, Pershing County Sheriffs Office — are there to enforce the Federal, State and Local laws that apply to us on the Black Rock Desert — yes, these laws still exist at Burning Man. While Black Rock City is certainly a remote and freewheeling place, it’s also a functioning metropolis. And just like in any other city, law enforcement patrols BRC day and night to keep the city safe and compliant with the laws that allow us to have the event in the first place. So yes, any illegal action on your part can lead to a citation (more common) or your arrest (rare).
The Burning Man organization works hard year-round and on playa to establish a solid working relationship with these agencies, and while there are always growing pains in a new year and with a new BLM crew, we’re committed to cooperative collaboration to create a workable and sensible environment for everybody to enjoy. To that end, we encourage participants to report all interactions with law enforcement — both positive and negative — by filling out a Law Enforcement Feedback Form at Ranger HQ, so we can use that information in our daily on-playa meetings with law enforcement.
Law enforcement officers have a difficult yet important job, both on and off the playa. Please respect the valuable work that they do. It is the duty of all law enforcement personnel to enforce the law, and they are there to help protect our citizenry.
That said, you should absolutely know your civil rights, as they are still in full effect on playa as well. For more information, please watch this video from the ACLU about protecting your civil rights at Burning Man:
On Wednesday, August 21st, a very powerful wind front blew through the beginnings of Black Rock City. There was some warning from weather services, and the staff communicated what was coming to artists and staffers. Most art crews were prepared, and afterwards the ARTery conducted a survey of the art projects for damage.
Many staff camps dove into action in the initial whiteout, strapping down tents and shade structures, despite the fact that most were secured the previous night. But this very powerful storm had higher winds and bent structures that only shook before.
So here’s the lesson: plan carefully for the prevailing winds, and use very long stakes and more strapping and ropes to secure your structures than seem necessary. You’ll be glad you did.
The full moon is Wednesday, Aug. 21. This is great news for people who are out doing early set-up for the event. But as the burn approaches, the moon gets slighter and slighter. By Wednesday, Aug. 28, the moon will be half. Burn Night the moon will be a crescent.
In other words: It’s going to be dark out there. I’m no astronomist or astrologer but I did check the lunar calendar.
You probably don’t need any of this info. You’re reading the blog which means you are a smarty. You’ve got lights to spare.
Headlamps and bike lamps will help light your way. Clip-on LEDs and EL Wire will make you more visible to other people, bikers and art cars.
I mark my tent with some groovy solar-powered lights I bought at the hardware store. They look like flowers and change colors. Battery-operated Christmas lights are another good option.
Around camp it’s nice to have more than just a headlamp. A lantern for prepping a late-night snack or brushing your teeth is super helpful.
Don’t forget spare batteries or an extra flashlight. You will be sad and scared (and likely scarred for life) entering a dark port-potty.
And don’t get me started on people in all-black riding bikes on the Esplanade with no lights save for a dying glowstick dangling from the handlebars.
A bit of etiquette: It’s easy to forget you’re wearing a bright headlamp. When you head into a theme camp or art area please turn it off. It makes conversations unpleasant when there is a blinding LED shining in your face.
Participants flying unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones, RC airplanes, etc.) have developed a set of best practices for flying at Black Rock City this year.
The best practices came out of a July 17 “Drone Summit” at Burning Man headquarters that had 40 in attendance and an estimated 100 on a teleconference. Burning Man organizers arranged the summit following participant complaints from BM2012 that included UAVs flying over crowds at the Man burn, one UAV flying at the Temple burn, and a concern that UAVs with cameras were invading peoples’ privacy.
The best practices developed by participants were modeled on safety guidelines adopted by the Academy of Model Aeronautics and updated to address the unique environment of Black Rock City. The entire list of guidelines is here, but the highlights include:
All UAVs carrying cameras will register with Media Mecca and each UAV will carry a unique registration number on a small decal on the vehicle.
Operators will avoid flying over crowds and populated areas.
Operators will avoid flying during the Temple burn.
No flying near the Black Rock City airport or helipads.
No flying near the Man any time Saturday the day of the burn.
Anyone with a concern or question can report it at Media Mecca in Center Camp. If the concern is regarding a specific vehicle, it will help to get the vehicle’s identification number (UAVs typically have very short flight times). Burning Man organizers will be assessing how well the guidelines were followed and participants’ concerns as part of a post-event review.
Did you know that Black Rock City has a bikesharing program?
For the past few years an independently funded, DPW-organized fleet of “Yellow Bikes” (conveniently painted green) have been provided for community use. They’re easy to spot: Bright green, spraypainted with the words “Yellow Bike,” and usually left unlocked at the side of the road. That’s how it works: You ride it until you get where you’re going, then you leave it for the next Burner.
It’s a concept that our community is still catching onto, so the Yellow Bikes Crew Facilitator, Ballyhoo Betty, has put together a wealth of propaganda for your ingestion. Read on: (more…)