It’s a Dusty One, Folks

Pop quiz: what makes for a solid playa conditions? Answer: A winter season full of precipitation, which compacts and solidifies the playa surface.

Whiteout Inside a Tent, photo by Joseph Pred, taken August 13, 2012.

Well, folks, due to one of the most anemic winters the west coast has seen since 1977, this promises to be one of the dustiest years ever in Black Rock City. If 2011 was your first year, YOU WERE BLESSED BY UNBELIEVABLY GOOD WEATHER AND PLAYA CONDITIONS. It was an anomaly at best, and it won’t be like that this year, no siree. Veteran Burners will tell you that dust is always an integral part of the experience, and it’s so very true … but as much as we revel in and love its alkaline awesomeness, it’s much less fun when you’re not prepared for it. (more…)

The Guide to Getting Into and Out of Burning Man

I’m just another Burner like you, but I’ve done this a few times. After a couple years, you start to hash out a game plan for getting in and out of Black Rock City. Arriving and leaving always rank among the hardest things about the trip. That’s true for emotional reasons as well as practical ones.

As far as the feelings go, that’s all you. But here’s what you need to know about the down-to-earth part of going to and coming from Burning Man.

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Playa Preservation Tips

Our man Dave X, who manages the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) and all the awesome pyro stuff you see on playa (yay fireworks) wrote up a great post about taking care of the playa, and what you can do to help … a lot of stuff you are likely not aware of that makes a big difference. Take it to heart, and your planning process! Dave X says:

When I first came to the Black Rock Desert (in 1992) for Burning Man I was amazed at the place. ”NOTHING” in any direction: no plants, no rocks, no people and no rules. The place seemed indestructible and the perfect place for all kinds of jack-assery.

MOOP Map 2008, photo by Jay Longson

Well, over the years (as I returned over and over) I started to notice (when I got there early before anyone else) that I could find here and there old Burning Man trash: a piece of firework cardboard, some odd, burned gravel, or something shiny…

I also learned that a slow leak of RV juice or fuel made small spots on the Playa that can, like the tip of an iceberg, represent a huge area that is soaked just below the surface and that is hard to dig out. (more…)

Handy Round-Up of Preparation Tools

Preparation: It doesn’t have to be like this. Photo by Steven Fritz.

As we hurtle headlong on the downslope towards Burning Man 2012 (woot!), here’s our round-up of some of the helpful tools available to smooth your preparation process:

Burning Habits in 30 Days

Newsflash: Burning Man is soon. (Cue panic…go on, panic. I’ll wait. Ok? Are you back? Great, read on.) A quick spin through the internet will tell you that it takes approximately 21-30 days to create a new habit. Even if you procrastinate for a few days (oh, you), there’s still time to get in the groove of some useful habits before the gates of Black Rock City (metaphorically…no actual gates, but lots of Gate) swing open to embrace your soon-to-be-dusty butt.

For what things should I be developing a pattern of behavior, you might inquire? I’m glad you asked.

Image by Olga Degtjarewsky

Ride Your Bike
That aforementioned butt will thank you. Begin by riding down to your locally-owned bike shop and getting your trusty steed a tuneup. Make sure you have an extra tube for on playa, while you’re at it. Then, go ride your bike, a little bit every day! Roll down a street you’ve never explored, run some errands, obtain a baguette and pedal home with it sticking out of your bike basket. If you don’t get used to riding your bike now, your first few biking days on playa will be sore ones. There should be certain cuss words reserved specifically for the feeling of mounting your bike first thing in the morning after riding a lot the day before, if you’re unused to being in the saddle. I bet there’s a German word for it. (more…)

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…)

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!

What’s Up With Traffic at Burning Man?

[Kristy Evans is a senior manager in the Gate, Perimeter and Exodus Department, where she has helped manage the task of getting people in and out of Black Rock City since 2007.  The logistics of traffic, people movement, and staffing a huge department still fascinate her, and with an ever growing city there is always more work to do. She first made the trek to the Black Rock Desert in 2003 and began volunteering in 2005 with Gate. She is a member of the Burning Man Leadership Forum, and you can read the rest of her bio here.]

Exodus Traffic, 2004. Photo by Jocko Magadini

Getting participants in and out of Black Rock City is one of our greatest challenges, and we figure it’s high time to share our ongoing work on the traffic front with you. For most Burners it isn’t the most vibrant topic, except for some of us nerdy types who like to think about systems and logistics (which is probably how we found ourselves huddling around fire barrels drawing traffic scenarios in playa dust for fun).

After the 2011 event, we received more responses (through our Feedback Loop process via feedback here: feedback (at) burningman.com) about traffic and wait times than any other topic. And we are listening. Those of us in the Gate, Perimeter & Exodus Department have been reading your feedback for years and have carefully considered the many suggestions put forth by the community. (more…)