MOOP MAP LIVE: How the Map is Made

Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where the DPW Playa Restoration team is off and running. We’re all getting excited to find out how Black Rock City did on the 2011 MOOP Map — but before the scores start coming in, let’s talk about how they’re set.

What is MOOP?

This is MOOP.

MOOP  1. (noun)
An acronym for Matter Out Of Place, meaning any thing or impact not native to the immediate environment, especially as it applies to the citizens of Black Rock City and the greater Burning Man community in regards to the founding principle of Leave No Trace.

  1. Examples: trash, bottles, cans, cigarette butts, fireworks, glow sticks, bottle caps, but can also be in the form of debris from camp fires, wood, plastic, metal, glass, and plants.
  2. Sentence: “I’m glad that everyone had a wonderful time but your camp sure did leave a whole lot of moop behind!”
  3. Moop can also be a condition not natural to the environment: burn scars, grey water, and dunes.
This oil spill is also MOOP.



Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire. The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where Burning Man is entering its final inning.

Though the festival ended weeks ago for most, the brave men and women of the DPW Playa Restoration crew have stayed behind to make sure this epic year ends in an epic win. To do that, they’re picking up every single piece of MOOP in town, making sure Burning Man honors its commitment to Leaving No Trace.

This is the crew that makes sure Black Rock City passes its annual inspection by the Bureau of Land Management, so we can do it all again next year. The stakes are high, and the standards are higher — but your Restoration team is strong and experienced, and they haven’t lost a game yet.

Like I said, this is the final inning and that inspection date is less than three weeks away. The Restoration team’s success depends on all the people who came before, all those valiant Burners who picked up errant water bottles and tucked their cigarette butts into their socks, who stayed an extra hour to MOOP their campsites.

And oh yes, the people of Black Rock City are just as dedicated to Leaving No Trace as the Restoration crew is. For proof, we turn to the MOOP Map, an annual chart showing the cleanliness of the city as DPW Playa Restoration found it.

Here’s how it looked in 2010: (more…)

Balloonatic Rides at Sunrise

This morning I stumbled out of my trailer and was treated to a true delight: The Balloonatics, AKA the Burning Man Balloon Operation (Bi.M.B.O) had rolled into DisOrient  and were filling up a couple dozen enormous brightly colored weather balloons with helium.

That’s a lot of helium….and  I thought to myself, well, this is clearly worth an extended gander. They were planning on giving people rides as soon as they had enough of them filled up. As it turns out, this is a lot harder to do that one might thinks: The balloons are huge, and if the lines get tangled they become unmanageable. But the Balloonatics make short work of it and before long they have 20 balloons filled up and took them out to their staging area to get them ready to fly.


The Playa is Really Big

As anyone who has walked back to camp after watching the sun come up out at the trash fence will tell you: the playa is big. Really big. Gigantic and huge to boot. But it’s even bigger than that. Really. Really. Big.

It’s so big the only way I can explain it is to show you a picture and hope that you click on it:

110 megapixel panoramic image of the Black Rock Desert

This is a 110 megapixel panoramic image I shot of the Black Rock desert last Wednesday. It’s made out of 42 individual images, and stretches all the way from the Temple of Transition all the way back to Gerlach. Click on the image to see the whole thing in high-rez interactive animated detail.  Requires Flash and a full water container. Extra sunscreen would be a good idea, too.

Compression! Art and Fire, this weekend in Reno

Evening crowd shot from the Cal Neva parking garage during Compression 2010. Photo by Bill Kositzky

Reno is blowin’ up. Living here right now is highly exciting, despite the recession that just won’t die. We may not be rich, but we Reno dwellers have great art at our fingertips and Burning Man culture up the wazoo. Who needs money when you’ve got art and fire?

For years now, the City of Reno has been working with BRAF to exhibit Black Rock City’s best artworks. This month, the Spire of Fire is in place and will be lighting up every Tuesday night as part of Artown, Reno’s month-long art festival. (more…)

Temple of Transition: It’s Big and It’s Happening

This is Chris “Kiwi” Hankins, leader of the 2011 Temple crew, with a scale model of the Temple of Transition. Those of you who visited the Megatropolis installation in 2010 will recognize its colorful silhouette, which should give you a point of reference. Yes, that’s to scale.

Another point of reference: three times the height of Marco Cochrane’s “Bliss Dance”.

This year, a largely international Temple crew will construct a circle of six structures: five 58-foot-high outer temples, and a 120-foot-high inner temple. The temples will be connected with 60-foot-long walkways. The entire installation will have a diameter of 200 feet, and will be taller than the Man.

To build something on this scale, as Burners well know, you need an impassioned leader. Enter Kiwi, an experienced builder who’s been constructing the Man at Kiwiburn (New Zealand’s regional burn) for several years, and who has also lent a hand to build Black Rock City as part of the Department of Public Works.

Kiwi’s latest achievement is Megatropolis, which he and the International Arts Megacrew built last year.

“Before we were even finished building Megatropolis, I was already thinking ‘what are we gonna build next?'” Kiwi says. Later, as Megatropolis burned, a friend turned to him and asked, “What do you think?”

“I think I want to do the Temple,” Kiwi replied.


Passing Through

Photo: mkgraph

How do you know when you’re grown up?

The question may strike you as trivial, but let it sit for a moment. There are clear answers to it in some parts of the world, but the part from which I hail is quite vague on this point.

All the rights of passage in my life so far have been either dully underwhelming (my Bar Mitzvah? my driver’s license? my 18th birthday?), or they’ve been sudden, shocking, and rushed (graduation, first apartment, income taxes). None left me with a sense of having transformed in any believable way. When I have felt initiated, it has typically been into something unwelcome. (Oh, boy. Now I’m a taxpayer.)

Photo: Dave Millar

America doesn’t really have formal initiations. We have prescribed achievements, hoops to jump through, but they don’t come with any kind of clarity or assurance. Our institutions offer us degrees or licenses or certificates, but it’s still up to us to figure out for ourselves what good they are.

When I think of my ideal, romanticized rite of passage I wish I’d had, I wish for two things: some kind of shared experience, in which my community recognizes the occasion together, and some set of values or principles that become mine to live by afterward, so I know what to do.

Whether I imagine some solitary wilderness trial, or a purging, cleansing ritual, or some kind of quest, or some transmission from the elders, whatever exotic, nostalgic rite comes to mind, I want this communal recognition that something BIG has happened, and I want a way to understand what it means.


Submit Your Burning Man 2011 Sticker Designs

Got some design fu up your sleeve? Submit YOUR design to our annual Sticker Contest!

Yep, your design could be the one passed out with the materials you receive as you pass through the Greeters Station upon entering Black Rock City. Other designs will become official sticker schwag passed out on and off the playa throughout the year. This is the official call for designs for the 2011 Burning Man stickers … here’s what you need to know:

  1. Your sticker designs can vary in size from 2.25″x5.5″ to 3″x3″. Round designs must measure 3″ in diameter.
  2. Please incorporate both the name Burning Man and the year 2011 into your design.
  3. Unfortunately, sticker designs are limited to only TWO or THREE colors. Please design accordingly.
  4. Round stickers are given priority for winning the coveted “Gate Sticker” spot, going out to ALL Black Rock Citizens.
  5. Whichever type of sticker tickles your fancy (or maybe you’re very ticklish and want to enter several designs), remember there IS a theme, and we like stickers that attempt to use the theme. Read up on the Rites of Passage theme (!
  6. Wondering how to get your sticker designs to us? Please send either a .pdf file OR (preferably) a color separated Adobe Illustrator (.ai) file to Whether sending your design or questions, please put your first and last name in the subject header as well as the phrase “2011 Sticker Submission”.
  7. The deadline for design submissions is Tuesday, July 5th, 2011!

Thank you and good luck!