2013 Health Department Permits for BRC Kitchens

Dust City Diner, 2011 (photo by Christina Jackson)
Dust City Diner, 2011 (photo by Christina Jackson)

In order to fight the threat of food-borne illness on the playa, the Nevada State Health Division (NSHD) has requirements for camps preparing food including the need of a health permit and an inspection. You must apply for and be permitted as a Temporary Food Establishment by the NSHD if:

* You wish to share, cook or serve food or non-alcoholic beverages to the general Burning Man population (gifting food).

* You will be cooking or serving food to large groups of more than 125* FELLOW CAMPERS of your theme camp on a consistent basis.

(If you have a communal kitchen shared by 125 or more campers, but meals are prepared individually, or in smaller quantities than for 125 persons, a permit is not required, however we highly recommend you research and review safe food handling practices, starting with the Nevada Division of Health information).

Here are the permit procedures and deadlines: (more…)

The Desert Is Spiked

Coyote called people over to begin the ceremonies
Coyote called people over to begin the ceremonies

And so it begins again.

There was a howling wind on the Black Rock Desert on Sunday, and there had been driving rain the night before in Gerlach. But now the sun was blazing and the sky was magnificent as about 75 people gathered to drive the Golden Spike into the desert floor, the first official act of Burning Man.

It doesn’t just happen, you know. Many things must come together, many sacrifices must be made, for Black Rock City to rise. Jobs must be quit, leavings must be taken, and sweat will coat many faces before the festivities begin.

But this, this vast empty timeless place, this is what draws us first. This is the blank canvas. This is where it starts.

Like so many things about Burning Man, it wasn’t always like this. The desert is the only thing that hasn’t changed. Everything else has grown, become more ornate, become layered in ritual and remembrance. The first time a spike was put in the ground to mark the place where the Man would be built, there were only four people around. But now there were words to be said and liquor to be shared. There was a consciousness and intention about the work that was about to start, and the moments did not go unremarked on.

“Are we back here already?” Crimson Rose asked. “Did we ever leave?”

As the years seem to hurtle one into the next, it seemed indeed like we had never left. But again, just as there is sameness, there is difference, too. Last year there heavy hearts, the weight of sadness and loss everywhere. But this year, you could sense acceptance. Time has passed. Distance has been gained. Perspective, and maybe some wisdom, has been achieved.

Miss Stress gave the spike a mighty whack
Miss Stress gave the spike a mighty whack

“You are my friends 365 days a year,” Makeout Queen proclaimed as she held the sledgehammer above her head.

And even though there were laughs and hijinx, there was also a somber gratefulness that those who were out here had made it through another year. “I want to thank you all for staying alive,” someone said. “This year I dedicate this to the people who are here.”

And with that another hammer blow drove the stake a little deeper into the ground. One by one, people stepped up and said what they had to say. Some people were profound, some were sad, some were funny. But everyone seemed to respect the moment, and they were grateful. “I’ve been here a month,” Miss Stress said, “and I still look like this,” she said, pointing to her hugely smiling face.

But pretty soon it was all done.

The blank canvas
The blank canvas


Black Rock City LLC Awarded 4-Year Event Permit

Black Rock City 2011, Photo by Luke Szczepanski
Black Rock City 2011, Photo by Luke Szczepanski

The Bureau of Land Management has issued Black Rock City, LLC a 4-year Special Recreation Permit (SRP) to host the Burning Man event on the Black Rock Desert, with a maximum population limit of 68,000 participants for the 2013 event.

Being awarded a 4-year SRP is a testament to our community’s longstanding practice of Leave No Trace, enabling us to achieve and surpass the environmental compliance requirements of our event permit’s stipulations. So thank YOU for helping make this possible.

The BLM press release reads:

BLM Approves Permit for Burning Man Event

Winnemucca, Nev.–The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Winnemucca District, Black Rock Field Office, has issued a multi-year Special Recreation Permit (SRP) to Black Rock City (BRC), LLC authorizing the annual Burning Man event through 2016, contingent upon annual reviews showing BRC’s compliance with the terms and stipulations of the permit. This year the Burning Man event will be held on the Black Rock Playa from Aug. 26 through Sept. 2.

This year, the BRC is required to keep the maximum population from exceeding 68,000 people during the event. The BLM is also requiring BRC to comply with 13 standard stipulations, which are common to all SRPs, and 48 special stipulations specific to the Burning Man event. The special stipulations relate to matters such as event set-up, signage, security, public safety, resource management, debris removal, fee calculation and payment, and event take-down and clean-up.

“Our priorities in managing this permit continue to be the protection and conservation of natural and cultural resources, as well as the safety for all participants and staffs,” said BLM’s Winnemucca District Manager, Gene Seidlitz. “I feel confident the permit addresses these priorities.”

The “Burning Man 2012-2016 Special Recreation Permit Environmental Assessment” (EA) analyzes a participant population level from 58,000 to 70,000 as well as public access, traffic control, resource management, dust abatement, fire management, event security and public safety, event setup and signage, runway and aircraft, sanitary facilities, and event take down and clean-up.

The Burning Man event has taken place on public lands on the Black Rock Desert Playa every year but one since 1990. Last year more than 53,000 people traveled to the remote desert location to participate. The operations associated with the event occupy about 4,400 acres of public land for a seven week period starting with fencing the site perimeter the second week of August and concluding in late September with the final site cleanup. The major activities are confined to several weeks in late August and early September associated with final setup, the actual event, and the initial phases of cleanup. During this period, Black Rock City becomes one of the largest cities in Nevada.

The SRP Decision and associated National Environmental Policy Act documents are available for viewing at http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_information/nepa0.html and upon request from the BLM Winnemucca District Office, 5100 East Winnemucca Boulevard, Winnemucca, NV 89445-2921, during regular business hours 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for federal holidays.


BRC Drone Summit for Droners & UAV Operators

Bzzzzzzzz! (photo via Wired UK)
Bzzzzzzzz! (photo via Wired UK)

[Editor’s Note: for current information about drone operation in Black Rock City, visit our Drones and Lasers page.]

You may have noticed a proliferation of drones (those zippy little helicopter gizmos) humming around the skies of Black Rock City in recent years … or you’ve enjoyed the amazing photos and video footage they’ve shot over our fair city. Well, now that there’s so many of them, let’s make sure we’re all droning safely and in a coordinated way to avoid any mishaps, shall we? Right.

So … are you a drone or UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) operator? Or are you thinking about becoming one? Are you planning to bring one (or several) to Black Rock City? Will you be using a camera mounted on a UAV to take images in BRC? Are you looking to connect with drone operators for a playa project? Are you just interested in learning more about those flying things?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are invited to join us for the first ever Black Rock City Drone Summit. This will be an opportunity to share information about your projects and to help make Black Rock City an innovative, educational and fun Drone Zone.

WHEN: July 17th, 2013 @ 6:30PM
WHERE: BMHQ and via web-conference
RSVP: http://goo.gl/k5Z4x

Can’t make it? Please send a summary of your project and ideas to dronesummit@burningman.com and we’ll get you connected to summit notes and future discussions.

You’re Invited! TOUR de CORE – Monday 8/26/13

You’re INVITED! TOUR de CORE Monday 8/26

"The Hatchery", Dallas CORE Project, 2012 (photo by Owen Hayes)
“The Hatchery”, Dallas CORE Project, 2012 (photo by Owen Hayes)

Come one, come all to the fabulous TOUR de CORE in Black Rock City!

The 3rd Annual Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE) is comprised of wooden sculptures created by Burning Man Regional groups from around the world! This year’s configuration consists of four circles of six effigies placed around the base of the Man that will burn together on Thursday night to create the world’s largest intentional simultaneous Burn!

Kicking off the first night on playa, the TOUR de CORE will be the prime time to venture out to see the different CORE projects and to meet the creators to see what they have to share on their outstanding projects! Art cars will be on hand as hosts, to celebrate CORE, to entertain folks and to shuttle you around the circles. (more…)

BRC Census: Were You Counted? Did You Count?

The Black Rock City Census team at work, dusty.

Hey, did you notice us while you drove up to the Black Rock City gate? We were the ones wearing white lab coats, asking you questions, and having tons of fun. One of us had a fox face, one of us had glowing green Medusa hair, and several of us had bunny ears and fishnet stockings. On some days, we were all coated in a thick layer of dust.

If you met us out there, then you already know what this year’s Census sampling team was up to. We recited our informed consent scripts, and let you know that your participation was completely voluntary and anonymous. We explained how our volunteer researchers would use a few tidbits of data about you to get a sense of who, exactly, comes to Burning Man. And then you took four or five minutes to answer eight questions on a paper form, and voila!, you had given your first gift to Burning Man. The gift of data.

The backbone of this sampling effort, naturally, was our extraordinary volunteers! We had five sampling teams that covered five sampling shifts, some of them pre-dawn (we got to watch the sun rise together!) and some of them in the full blast of midday dust. We welcomed you home, and most of you were happy to help us out. Thanks! Then our datatypistas set to work digitizing your survey responses, so we could analyze the data.

But why did we do this? This year we expanded our Census project to include data collection from a randomized sample, which was a first for us. Why you ask? (more…)

Black Rock City 2012 Population Update

This guy does NOT work for us.

When the peak population for Black Rock City 2012 was announced at noon on Friday of the event, the preliminary tally was 52,385, which seemed a bit low. We suspected there were more people in Black Rock City at its peak (which was actually Friday at 6am this year, by the way). So after the event, we went back and conducted a full and comprehensive audit …

After doing some pretty significant accounting and recounting, we determined that the actual peak population at the 2012 event was in fact 56,149. (Now, that’s not everybody who went to Burning Man, it’s just the peak population … a lot of people came late and/or left early this year, having planned ahead to avoid high-traffic ingress and egress times — did you notice the shorter wait times?)

Due to some new processes that were put in place in 2012, the count released on playa was low.  For fifteen years we’ve had a great record of recording accurate population tallies, and we place a high premium on capturing and reporting this important data.  We keep count because a) it’s really important for us to know how many people are out there (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is production planning), and b) it’s required by our BLM permit requirement, as you’ve probably heard by now. Our population cap for 2012 was 60,900, and happily our peak population didn’t come close to bumping up against that total.

So there you are … we’re happy to be able to report the final population count for 2012 … and we’re glad we’ve worked out some kinks in our system to ensure proper reporting in the future.


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!