AFTERBURN REPORT 2006
Q and A
Thanks to everyone who replied to the Burning Man Project's request for feedback. We received over 150 suggestions, praise, criticism, and inquiry emails. Volunteers, Board Members, senior and other staff sifted through the comments and we are implementing a number of your good ideas for 2007.
Some folks received direct responses, but the large number of responses prevented direct replies to everyone. Since many comments touched upon a few common themes or issues that are probably of interest to everyone, this report addresses these issues, by category. If you submitted an idea that is not addressed below, please don't fret. We did review and consider ALL ideas submitted.
Q: Can ticket prices be raised so that the money could be used to fund even more art?
Most of the art on the playa is NOT funded by the Burning Man Project or ticket prices. It is 100% funded by the artists themselves and their extended communities. Even artists whose art is funded by the Burning Man Project receive only a portion of its total cost and the artists make up the rest of the funding on their own. Sure, we could raise ticket prices and sponsor more art, but that would go against the idea of Radical Self-Reliance—one of Burning Man's Ten Principles. Radical Self Reliance, translated simply, means maximizing your experience with your own resourcefulness. Also, we are committed to keeping ticket prices where they are for as long as we are able.
Q: Can the Burning Man Project sponsor more smaller art pieces instead of all mega-sized works?
Each year the Art Department funds as many works as possible, which includes artwork of all sizes, shapes and budgets.
Q: Why was the Yellow Bike program started? Why do you encourage something that does not foster radical self-reliance? My bike happens to be yellow and it got stolen—probably by someone who thought it was one of those community yellow bikes.
For years we've been asking everyone in our community to lock their bikes and to make sure that they take their bikes with them when the leave the playa. Despite all of our efforts, each year there is a massive pile of bike MOOP leftover, post-event. When a community-minded group of volunteers proposed an idea that re-used leftover bikes, minimized the number of bikes brought to the playa, and created more transportation for the community, we gave them our blessing.
In 2006 there were less bikes reported stolen and less bikes leftover than the year before. After the event we corralled all leftover bikes and organized them by color to make it easier for participants who had lost bikes to locate them. Interestingly, there were no more yellow-colored bikes than any other color. In fact purple was the most common leftover bike color in 2006 — go figure! Just for the record, the official "Yellow Bikes" were actually green last year, with the words "Yellow Bike" painted in red.
Since there were less reports of stolen bikes in 2006, and since there were no more yellow-colored bikes leftover than other colors, we cannot conclude that the Yellow Bike program led to more theft. It's also worth mentioning that not every bike taken was stolen. We have received reports over the years of people accidentally taking someone else's bike because it looked like theirs. Probably the most important information to take away about bike theft is to LOCK YOUR BIKE, which we hope more people will do in 2007.
Q: Why was the Temple torn apart before it was burned? It would have been more beautiful to burn it as it was. And why did the pavilion (at the base of The Man) close on Friday?
Major burns have to be done in accordance with guidelines developed jointly by the Burning Man Project and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to ensure that we Leave No Trace. Larger structures need to have certain non-burnable items removed. Also, burns that occur on the playa surface require an expensive Kevlar burn blanket underneath them to ensure that the playa surface will not be scarred. Since the Temple's structures were spread out, some of the smaller pieces were moved onto the burn blanket before they were ignited.
The Man Base has to close on Friday to remove the art and non-burnable items, and then the Man is prepped for the burn – a process which begins late Friday night and continues all throughout Saturday.
Q: Why can't people sit down and be quiet during the burn?
Some participants prefer to sit quietly and watch the burn, while others see it as a time to celebrate boisterously. One thing is for sure: we're not going to get into the quagmire of telling people how to enjoy their individual experiences. We've seen and heard about some small pockets of disagreement in the crowd over the years, but for the most part, there seems to be room for all the different ways to enjoy the burn.
Q: When the Man burned, it was kind of anticlimactic compared to everything else I experienced during that week. What's up with that?
Welcome home! Burning Man is about so much more than burning The Man. If your week was filled with experiences more beautiful than the ignition of a 40-foot effigy packed with more pyrotechnics than a Fourth of July celebration then we're ALL doing something right.
Q: Why is vending allowed at the Café?
We're glad you asked because Larry wrote an article about that very subject in the 2006 Summer Newsletter.
Q: Why do they take dance breaks in the Café?
That's a good question that cannot be easily answered in words. Here's what we suggest—volunteer for a shift in the Café in 2007 and try it. Then, if you still want to know the answer let us know and we'll do our best to try and explain it.
Q: The event seems to have changed quite a bit since I first started coming several years ago. Why can't it stay the way it was?
We received a couple of comments from people who have been coming for three to four years, stating that the event has changed so much that they don't want to return. On the other hand, we have also received numerous comments from participants who have been coming for over ten years and say they like the event better now. What is the difference between these differing opinions? One group has embraced change while the other has resisted it. Also, one group has a predetermined idea of what Burning Man is, while the other group allows the concept of Burning Man to evolve organically. Here's a rule of thumb to live by: Burning Man was better last year, it will be better next year, and this year it was absolutely the best. Apply that rule to any particular year and you'll never be wrong.
City Design & Location
Q: Why was the city moved last year?
In 2006 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) relocated Black Rock City to a site approximately one mile farther out (which overlapped with the site that had been used since 2000). The reasons were two-fold: first, the BLM was concerned that having the city in the same location would have long-term effects on the playa surface, and second, if the city size ever needed to grow the city would need to move to a wider part of the playa. Since then, the BLM has determined that there are no detectable long-term effects of having the city at the same site and since then, we have requested to increase the size of the city to accommodate our growing population.
Q: I heard that the city was oriented to avoid dust, but there was still a lot of dust last year. How come?
Rumors abound in our community, so beware of claims that seem too good to be true. Black Rock City is in the middle of an alkali desert with high winds. Other than dust abatement efforts, minimized driving, and low speed limits, there is not much we can do to prevent dust. No matter where Black Rock City is on the playa, we recommend bringing goggles and a dust mask.
Q: Why is there an orange trash fence? It feels constraining and it's not aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
There are several reasons for the fence. One is to demarcate a legal boundary for the event as required by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Everything inside this border is subject to the BLM's stipulations. Another reason is for safety. Both law enforcement and the Perimeter Crew patrol the area just outside the fence to ensure that vehicles trying to sneak into the event with their lights off don't run into pedestrians. Finally, the trash fence is to stop trash from blowing away. It makes it easier to Leave No Trace when any leftover MOOP is contained within Black Rock City rather than elsewhere on the playa. We encourage you to visit the Black Rock Desert during other times of the year in order to fully appreciate the playa in its natural state with an unobstructed view. It's breathtakingly beautiful.
Q: Why not orient the city so that the 6 O'clock street runs north-south and the 3 and 9 O'clock streets run east-west? Wouldn't that make it easier to orient in the city?
Due to the shape and size of the desert, the city simply will not fit this way. That's one of the reasons why the radial streets are numbered like a clock to help orient Black Rock City's citizens. Oh, and don't forget to carry the map that the Greeters gave you when you arrived.
Q: Was the event perimeter smaller in 2006?
No, it was exactly the same size as it has been since 2000. However, in 2007 it will be larger in order to alleviate some of the population density of last year.
Entrance & Exodus
Q: Why is there a $20 In/Out Fee? Why wasn't I told about this beforehand?
Black Rock City is a pedestrian city. Driving is not allowed for safety reasons and for dust abatement. The only exceptions are arrival, departure, staff and emergency vehicles, and mutant vehicles. We encourage participants to bring everything they need to survive for the duration of the event. However, sometimes it is necessary for participants to leave Black Rock City during the event. We charge $20 as a way of discouraging participants from leaving the city and adding to local traffic. Another alternative is to take the Black Rock Shuttle Bus, which only costs $5. All of this information is found on our website and in the Survival Guide.
Q: Can you put more porta-potties along the route during Exodus?
Absolutely! This is a great idea that we plan to implement in 2007.
Q: Why was Exodus so long last year? I waited in my car for several hours to get out of Black Rock City.
This is a great question that requires a lengthy answer, which can be found in the Exodus Report. Please accept our condolences to everyone who waited excessively. We appreciate your suggestions and are incorporating ideas for next year. Kudos to the participant who critiqued the process, offered suggestions, and said that he would volunteer for Exodus next year in order to make it better. THAT'S THE BURNING MAN SPIRIT!
Q: Will there be more ice stations in 2007? I'm a senior citizen and it's hard to get around.
As a matter of fact there will be! In 2007 there will be ice sales at more than one location. Check your map for the new satellite Ice locations in the 3 and 9 o'clock plazas.
Q: Why do you allow kids at Burning Man? Is this the right environment for them?
Kids have been welcome at Burning Man since the very first burn, when Larry Harvey brought his 4-year old son. While some may feel that Black Rock City is not a place for children, many believe strongly that it is the best place to educate youngsters about creativity, art, Leave No Trace, diversity, acceptance, gifting, civic responsibility, and participation. The organization does its part by zoning family camps away from adult camps, sponsoring art tours for kids, and helping to locate lost children. But ultimately the choice to bring a child to Burning Man belongs to the parents. For more information about the organization's commitment to families with children, see the article in our 2004 Summer Newsletter.
Q: Why was there so much MOOP at the end of the event?
Matter Out Of Place, otherwise known as MOOP, is still a problem. This is everyone's responsibility. All participants should review our trash removal guidelines at least once a year and also help to educate everyone in their camps—especially newcomers.
Music & Sound
Q: Why don't you ban electronic music? It all sounds the same anyway.
That's a loaded question. Some people like electronic music, while others don't care for it. Everyone has his or her own individual musical tastes. We are not going to police aesthetic preference.
Q: What should I do if a camp is repeatedly violating the sound rules and I can't sleep?
The first thing to do is to try and work it out with your neighbors. If that is unsuccessful then get a Black Rock Ranger to assist as a mediator.
Q: I'm a commercial photographer in the default world, and although I've taken lots of pictures at Burning Man over the years, I've never tried to sell any of them. Recently I saw someone else's Burning Man photos being sold at a gallery. Is this legal, and if so, how could I sell my prints?
In order to protect participants' privacy rights, all video and film cameras must be registered and tagged at Playa Info. Still photography cameras do not require registration unless you plan to exhibit your photos publicly in a commercial context. For inquiries contact press(at)burningman(dot)com. If you see Burning Man merchandise being sold that you suspect has not been licensed by the Burning Man Project, please let us know by contacting press(at)burningman(dot)com. Thank you for helping us protect the trademark from non-authorized use.
Q: I took some cool photos at Burning Man last year, do you want to put them on your website?
Everything you ever wanted to know about how to submit your photos to our image gallery can be found there.
Q: How are you going to "Green the Burn" for the 2007 theme?
We're glad you asked that because we have a whole bunch of things that we're doing for 2007. Check out our Environment section.
Q: Why was my Theme Camp placed somewhere other than I requested? Why didn't I get as much space as I asked for?
Space for Theme Camps is limited, and there are more requests for space than there is space available. We try to honor requests for space when possible, but due to numerous variables such as project planning, adherence to deadlines, sound, project interactivity, and past project history, we cannot guarantee everyone's first choice for placement.
Q: Why are there different ticket prices and deadlines? Why can't they all be the same price?
We offer lower-priced tickets early for those participants who have lower incomes to give them the ability to experience the event. Tiered ticket pricing also encourages earlier planning, which encourages longer-range and more ambitious (and fully more awesome) playa projects. We would also have a tough time planning Black Rock City if the whole budget came in on August 1, which is very likely what would happen in a non-tiered system. Most of all, this practice of selling the first tiers at below cost is designed to make for a fairer playing field for those whose incomes may be challenged by the higher priced tickets.
What, Where, When
Q: Why were there events and camps listed in the What, Where, When that did not exist? I spent a lot of time in 2006 searching for things that couldn't be found, or just simply didn't exist.
Black Rock City is the canvas; YOU supply the art, theme camps, happenings and culture. Hence, you supply the camp and event listings; we just compile them. In order to have the What, Where, When guide ready in time for Burning Man, we solicit for submissions in the summer months. Unfortunately, some participants submit events and either don't make them happen, or choose to do them in a different location. And often times this is no fault of theirs. Sometimes participants have car troubles that prevent them from coming to the playa, or family emergencies. Due to the sheer number of happenings there is no way we could ever guarantee that every event is going to happen when and where it states in the guide.
If you really want to be sure that you will find an event or a camp then we encourage you to look it up in the online version of the What, Where, When before coming to the playa, and send an email to the event's contact person. As a consolation to anyone who couldn't find something in the What, Where, When, here is what one participant wrote to us:
"The What, Where, When is cool, but there is just way too much to see, do and experience. I always have more fun just wandering around and letting cool things happen to me. Then I just consult the guide after the event, as a way of remembering all the cool stuff that I experienced there."
Q: Why isn't Burning Man longer? One week each year is much too short!
Well for one thing, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will only give us a permit for one week due to infrastructure limitations. But more importantly, although the Burning Man event is only one week long, we invite all participants to take their experiences at Burning Man back to their local communities for year-round enjoyment. There are lots of ways to stay involved all year-long. You can volunteer for Burning Man, or for the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF), or become involved in your local Burning Man Regional Community (if there isn't a Regional near you, you can even start your own, which is how all of the Regionals began). Or, you can volunteer for Burners Without Borders; in fact you may already be a member.