The Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace

Photo via BurningSky.org

Can you see the impending doom in this photo?

The diver’s fine, of course. It’s that gorgeous city behind her that is endangered. Burning Man may have flourished for 25 years running, but it’s more ephemeral than it seems. At any point, Black Rock City could cease to exist. But thanks to you, me and 50,000 people just like us, it appears year after year. And by following the Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace, we can keep Burning Man alive and on fire for ever.

Burning Man, as you surely know, is a Leave No Trace event. That means it’s everyone’s responsibility to pick up every piece of MOOP — from couches to cigarette butts, lost pairs of pants to abandoned glow sticks. Even if it isn’t yours, if you see it, you pick it up — that’s the way this works.

It works well. We are pretty dang good at it.

Each year, the BLM inspects our site to determine whether we’ve cleaned up after ourselves adequately. And each year, thanks to YOUR efforts and the efforts of the Playa Restoration crew that spends weeks pulling up rebar stakes, we pass. (more…)

Ticket Rites

It began with the first day of sales with “Ticket-tastrophy.”
And most recently we had “The Great Sell Out.” (If I’ve learned anything from “Carmageddon” it’s that inciting panic requires a catchy name.)

Yep, the rites of passage began long before we started packing this year. And just like a crazy dust storm, each of these challenges tests us and teaches us.

In these videos I address some of the fear and anger swirling around as well as highlight some of the lessons to be found in all this.

“Burning Man ‘News'” – Aug. 2, 2011

“Sellouts, Scalpers, & Surrender” July 26, 2011

As mentioned in the 1st video, it is important to resist the urge to focus on just the negative stories. The news wants to focus on the scalpers. But there are also amazing Burners who are selling their tickets at face value…even though the market value is much higher. Why? Because their values are more important than their wallets. THAT IS AWESOME. We will survive this social dust storm just fine.

These views are solely the views of Halcyon and do not represent the opinions of The Burning Man Organization or Major League Baseball.

What Time Is It?

Photo: mkgraph

A rite of passage is an act of growing up, and I don’t just mean maturing; I mean getting older. Time, at least from our ordinary, human perspective, only moves forward.

As rites of passage go, our week at Burning Man is pretty long. That’s a lot of time to reflect, a lot of days to fill with activity. Where should we go next? What should we do? For a ritual, this Burning Man thing seems kind of unstructured. Now that we’re here, are we just supposed to wander around?

Of course, the ritual does have a structure; it’s just more complex than the structure of, say, a Caribbean cruise, where some guy in shorts and a white sun visor tells you what to do all day.

There’s the burning of the Man on Saturday night, of course, and the Temple the next night. But those are all the way at the end.

What about this morning, now that we’ve finally got the tennis balls on our tent stakes and the pink fur zip-tied to our handlebars?

I guess we’ll look in the What-Where-When Guide… (more…)

Video Call Out

WANTED: Participant Videos on Playa Preparation and Participation!
DEADLINE: JULY 15, 2011

Calling all filmmakers and benevolent Burners! We want YOUR video submissions to share as part of the 2nd Annual Burning Man Video Acculturation Series, designed to help new Burners prepare for their first playa experience!

The theme for 2011 is PREPARATION & PARTICIPATION! (more…)

DIY Your Burn: Shelter, Shade & Cool Cool Comfort

I recently met a Reno local who is preparing for her first burn. “Do I really need to get an RV?” she asked me. “My friend told me you can’t do Burning Man without an RV. I just want to bring a tent.”

This hurts me on the inside. I haven’t been around that long — my first burn was 2003 — but I’ve spent many burns in a tent, and a couple of two-month work seasons besides. One of the things I hate to see is the rapidly increasing number of rental RVs on playa. They have their place, sure. If you’ve got small kids or a physical need for top-notch shelter, you might want to spend thousands renting an RV, plus hundreds in gas to drive it to Black Rock City and keep the A/C running. But that is a LOT of money (and a fair amount of pollution), and it’s not necessary to spend that much. You can be smarter about it, and I’m about to tell you how.

It is completely possible, and pretty easy, to build your own shelter and cooling system. You can have an airtight, windproof, shaded and cool place to sleep away the day, and you can build it yourself for a fraction of the cost of an RV rental.

THE INCREDIBLE HEXAYURT – $300

Holy wow! In 2007, Treehugger and Current TV hosted a contest for the best “eco-ideas” for Burning Man. The winner was a DIY shelter that costs under $300 to build, packs up flat into your truck, and can be reused year after year. Vinay Gupta’s Hexayurt is now being tested as disaster relief and refugee shelter. Why? Because it WORKS. This is far and away the best shelter idea I’ve heard of. (more…)

DIY Your Burn!

I learned to hold a hammer at Burning Man.

Hi folks, I’m The Hun and I’m excited to be blogging for you this year. Some of you already know me from past escapades, and some know me from my current blog, Love and Trash. And some of you are my new best friends.

Back in 2007 for the Green Man, Tom Price (among others) came up with a series of useful tips for Greening Your Burn: doing Burning Man in a more environmentally-responsible manner. Four years later, environmental pressures are still mounting. Financial pressures, too, for many of us.

So I’d like to revisit the Greening Your Burn series, but with a self-reliant twist. After all, Doing Things Yourself is generally more affordable and more eco-friendly than Buying Things From The Store. It’s also more fun, as long as you plan well, and you might actually pick up some new skills.

photo by Perfecto Insecto

I’ll be using this space to share ideas, inspiration and practical knowledge that’ll help you have the raddest Burning Man ever ever, but without having to spend thousands for your gear and accommodations.

Let’s call it DIY Your Burn.

Now, I know I’m not the only do-it-yourselfer around here. So I ask you: what are some of the things you do, great ideas you’ve seen, projects you can recommend? Please leave a comment with any and all suggestions. Let’s share the knowledge and DIY this burn.

Ticket Purchase Rite of Passage

**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **

photo by Halcyon

In some cultures, a rite-of-passage involves having your foreskin ritualistically removed with a dull stone.
Suddenly the rite-of passage required to get a Burning Man ticket doesn’t seem so harsh, does it?
Was it smooth & effortless? HECK NO.  (I’m referring to the online ticketing…not the ritualistic circumcision.)
Of course, getting to Burning Man isn’t smooth & effortless, either.  Almost nothing about surviving in the desert is smooth and effortless…UNLESS you can let go of your expectations and forget your plans.
The truth is that the best things about Burning Man usually happen when things don’t go according to plan.  So consider the ticket process as a many-hour (or all-day) crash course in “Non-Attachment.”
If you can master that skill *before* the Burn, you’ll be in great shape when your trailer breaks an axle, your tent collapses, the dust storm lasts a forth straight day, your camp mate drama melts down, or any of the zillion other “adventures” that are simply a part of the Burning Man experience.

During this chapter of ticket frustration, I was reminded of some of the powerful “Lessons of Surrender” that the Playa has given me. In this video I tell the story of “The Fall of Xara” from Burning Man 2000, speak to the ticket sales frustration, & share “Burning Man & The Art Of Non-Attachment.”


** Ticketing suggestions are merely brainstorming ideas, concocted without due diligence of the challenges at hand. **

-Halcyon )’(

Gift Back to Theme Camps: Leave No Trace

Participant MOOPing, 1998 (photo by Chad Slattery)
Participant MOOPing, 1998 (photo by Chad Slattery)

MOOP, in Burning Man speak, is Matter Out Of Place.  Trash such as paper plates, beer cans, bottles, cigarette butts, grocery bags, etc. often hit the ground and become MOOP.  Basically anything at ALL that isn’t native to the playa is MOOP, doesn’t belong there, and needs to be picked up off the ground by you and me.

All are welcome at Burning Man, and in Black Rock City (our playa home), we LEAVE NO TRACE.  Each and every one of us is responsible for the impact that we leave on the Black Rock Desert. At Burning Man, there are no public trash receptacles. You take your trash with you, and you take it off the playa with you. Radical self-reliance.  This has always been at the very core of our culture.

Of the tens of thousands of citizens in Black Rock City, perhaps the folks hardest hit by MOOP fallout are the Theme Camps, those hardworking people who create those special places for you to rest, heal, eat, imbibe, dance, and party.  As you can imagine, their already-difficult job is made much harder when you, citizens of Black Rock, visit their camps and leave behind your MOOP for someone else to clean up.  So, don’t do that.

“But,” you may ask, “how do I do that (especially while I’m busy having a good time)?”  Well, I’ll tell you. (more…)