Greetings MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! It’s time for another installment of the Burning Man 2013 MOOP Map, our faithful record of how Black Rock City upheld its commitment to Leave No Trace on the playa.
Photo by Phoenix Firestarter!
Your Playa Restoration All-Star moopers are hard at work this very moment, braving extreme weather and mounting grumpiness on the frigid, wintry Black Rock Desert. Let’s get a big hurrah for the home team!
Photo by Phoenix Firestarter!
Today, though, I have the privilege to share some stories from just a few of the theme camps that make our city so vibrant and unique. Because let’s face it: Without the massive amount of love, time, effort and cash that goes into creating each Burning Man theme camp, our city would be a very different place. What theme camps bring to Black Rock City is absolutely irreplaceable.
Not only that, but if theme camps didn’t bust their butts to Leave No Trace, we would have a LOT more trouble passing the annual BLM site inspection. Theme camps are about the biggest gifts I can imagine, so this year I’ve asked some of them to share their own stories of Leaving No Trace.
Robot Heart participants doing a line sweep after a mobile party in the open playa
Hello MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! It is my very great pleasure to introduce the first-ever Playa Restoration Awards, aka The Restos.
D.A., Playa Restoration Manager, introduced the game-changing BRC MOOP Map in 2006, and since then we’ve seen a huge shift in consciousness about what it means to Leave No Trace at Burning Man. As the city has grown, it has become impressively green and MOOP-free — so MOOP-free, in fact, that the “red spots” really tend to stand out.
It is easy to look at this year’s MOOP Map and make a judgment about the camps, projects and parties that were scored red. But to do so would be to overlook the unique, unquantifiable and incomparable magic that so many of these groups bring to Black Rock City.
How do you put a score on the experience of watching the sun rise with the people you danced next to all night? How do you count the connections made by bringing friends and strangers together for new, mind-opening experiences? How could you possibly judge a project’s worth solely by what it left behind, without simultaneously celebrating it for what it created?
Sunrise at Robot Heart. Photo by Paretz Partensky.
The concept of a Theme Camp can be bewildering to someone who has never been to Burning Man. Deciding if you want to join a camp, start a camp, or go solo can be a tough decision. Some camps are open to anyone, others are close-knit families. Some are based on sacred service, others pour drinks, others blow minds. All give gifts to Black Rock City… and the requirements to be a part of each camp are unique.
My camp is not an open camp. Everyone has connected either online or on previous adventures. We have strict participation requirements that include: sharing a “who I really am” essay, attending meetings in person or via webcam, Leave No Trace shifts, Water Bar shifts, set-up & break down commitments, & financial contribution in the form of dues.
Occasionally I have people ask, “If I pay dues, what do I get?”
I spent a few minutes discussing the topic of “Theme Camp Dues.”
Have you come up with a theory about how Burning Man should handle ticket sales yet?
If not, congratulations: you’re the only one.
My blogging colleague Jon Mitchell wrote about a pre-Halloween brain-eating session to discuss how Burning Man should handle ticket sales to groups – if it does that at all. I attended that meeting because there was an open bar, and am pleased to report that their signature cocktail was a combination of black vodka, blue Curacao, and Sprite. It was delicious. Especially when you really stirred it around so the layers mixed.
The other thing I noticed was that of the 30-some people in attendance, there were 40-some theories about how Burning Man could best handle ticket sales – it was as though “radical incompatibility” were the 11th principle.
My impression is that discussions were equally convoluted at the Burning Man staff retreat. I wasn’t there (I’m a volunteer), so I can only confirm that while the Org staff were out talking about the future of Burning Man I opened a bottle of 25 year tawny port which had a taste of leather and chocolate on the back palate.
There are no questions in this world as inflammatory and divisive as questions of identity – which is why what should be the bland and technocratic discussion of how to sell tickets gets so many people so worked up so fast. How we handle ticket demand is widely seen as an indicator of who we are. Burning Man is the participants – and the participants are the people with tickets. Aren’t they? Read more »
Burning Man is pleased to announce the launch of Spark!
Spark is an online application designed to facilitate connections among Burners, fostering collaborative efforts related to theme camps, art installations, mutant vehicles and other Burning Man–related projects. Spark provides a secure, centralized place for people to post listings to seek or offer resources and skill sets to make projects a reality.
So let’s say you can’t possibly pull off your project without a carpenter, electrician, sword-swallower, welder, dancer, aerialist, fire performer, painter, hooper, dude with a truck, seamstress, zebra trainer, project manager, or a 6’5″ woman who juggles flaming chainsaws. Pop a listing onto Spark seeking what you seek!
Or let’s say you’re any one (or more) of those things and you want to offer your skills to a worthy project. Pop a listing onto Spark offering what you have to offer!
But keep this in mind: Spark is not intended to be a commercial connection engine — it’s about collaborations. If you’re offering commercial services, please do that elsewhere. If you’re looking to promote your fundraiser, Spark is not the place for it … use our Support a Project page for that. Take a look at our Spark community guidelines for more information.
We hope you find this to be a useful tool in sparking your ultimate Burning Man experience. Now, click the link and … go forth and collaborate!
[6/25/12 UPDATE: We've changed the nomenclature for these types of camps from "Plug & Play" to "Turnkey" to better reflect the way they function.]
We recently posted about Turnkey camping to start a dialog about this new form of camping we’ve seen happening more frequently in Black Rock City. The Burning Man organization genuinely wants to know what our community members are seeing, what they care about, and what good ideas are out there around this to create the best outcome for the community.
There have been no new decisions made about how to respond to Turnkey camps thus far. We have neither sanctioned them (and now “welcome them with open arms” as some have suggested), nor have we decided to ban them altogether. Your input on the blogs and forums, when civil, has been welcomed and appreciated, and is being incorporated into this decision-making process.
In order to facilitate this ongoing dialog, we would like to address a few key areas of confusion, so everybody’s on the same page: Read more »
Marian Goodell is a Founding Board Member of Black Rock City LLC, and Burning Man’s Director of Business and Communications.
PARAGRAPH UPDATES (2) below: 2/15/12: 9:15 PM PST
THE CHALLENGE WE FACE: DEMAND OUTSTRIPS SUPPLY
We promised we would get back to you by February 15th with our plans to resolve the ticket situation for Burning Man 2012. We all know there aren’t enough tickets for everyone who wants to participate in Black Rock City. However, it’s clear that the current situation has created holes in our social fabric. Many of the core volunteers, major interactive camps, art car projects, performance groups, and funded and unfunded art projects do not have enough tickets to bring their works to the playa. Here’s how we will remedy these challenges as fairly as we believe possible:
Burning Man organizers and staff will issue tickets to major theme camps and art projects using a process outlined below.
We will launch the STEP program on February 29th. Only those who registered and did not receive confirmation of tickets will be given access to STEP.
Low Income ticket applications will be accepted beginning February 29th.
There’s no way to sugarcoat this: the hard truth is that there are a lot of you who want to come to Black Rock City to celebrate your participation in the Burning Man culture this year, but not everyone will be able to attend. That sentence is about as painful to write as it is for you to read. We dearly wish we could just welcome everyone who feels drawn to Black Rock City. But, as we have explained in Andie Grace’s blog post: “Radical Inclusion, Meet the Other Nine,” it’s not possible to simply increase the number of tickets available for Burning Man 2012.
And unfortunately, the random draw of the Main Sale left inordinately large numbers of our core contributors — art teams, theme camp creators, mutant vehicle builders, performers, and Burning Man volunteers — without tickets. In fact, the ratio was so unexpectedly large it has punched significant holes in Black Rock City’s artistic, civic and functional infrastructure, putting the integrity of the event itself at risk. If we let market forces play out as they could with the remaining available tickets, it’s likely that Black Rock City would be functionally untenable for many of the collaborations that comprise our desert event. Read more »
Disorient's geodesic temple. Photo (c) James Addison.
Theme camps are a huge and central part of what makes Black Rock City a participatory community. And, it can be argued, theme camp members are the most dedicated Burners of all. Often working throughout the year to build and fund their camps, theme camp members continue working through the event itself, serving hundreds and even thousands of participants with music, food and other gifts.
Art cars like the Dust City Diner function as mobile theme camps, creating parties wherever they go. Dust City is a great example of a roving party that picks up after itself and Leaves No Trace. Photo (c) Mer Keen.
The result: an excellent experience, tens of thousands of happy Burners… and a whole lot of MOOP. Of the thousands who come to dance and play, how many leave tiny bits of themselves behind? How many glowsticks, cigarette butts and earrings fall unnoticed in the midst of an epic rave? Theme camps must then clean up after their guests, or risk being marked Red on the MOOP Map. Red comes with consequences, including a possible change in camp placement for the next year.
This year, the DPW Playa Restoration team performed a “MOOP Audit” of two major sound camps: Rites of Zion and Disorient, which occupied the 10:00 and 2:00 corners of the Esplanade respectively. Here’s what we found: