Progress Report Burning Man Journal

When we touched base last time, the crews had just finished the nine-mile trash fence around the perimeter of Black Rock City. There was nothing else here. Just a fence, a bunch of trucks, a few containers maybe, but that was about it. After the big opening Fence day, the daily grind sets in, and, emotionally speaking, there seems to be a bit of a lull in the air.

The closer you look, the more staggering the logistics become. Think of it: workers are staged in sleepy Gerlach as the closure order draws near (the date that the BLM allows the transformation in Black Rock to begin). They bunk in town at the trailer park and the Showers property, nose to nose, face to face, all tight and cozy. In addition to space, they need food, water and power. (They don’t actually NEED a bar, but they’ve got one anyway, the Black Rock Saloon.)


Over the course of the past seven days, not only has the workforce successfully relocated to the desert, but they’ve also begun to build the city. The gigantic Commissary tent is up, the Heavy Equipment and Machinery yard is brimming with gear, and the skeletons of the Center Café and the Artica ice house have risen, as if by wizardry. The Depot is buzzing, the radios are crackling, and the IT teams are putting up towers to bring connectivity to the city. Water trucks are dampening the dust, the Metal Shop has its plasma cutters, and the Auto Shop is transitioning from the ranch to the playa. The HeAT crew is raring to go

Alipato was telling us the other day about the time that he had his dad come out for a visit, to see what his son was working on at that Burning Man thing. “Now my father wasn’t all that happy with some of the life choices I’d made,” Alipato said. His father was an Air Force guy, and you can imagine his skepticism about Burning Man and the desert hippie ravers.

Somehow, Camera Girl has managed to keep coming out to the desert at the beginning of the build, even as pressures have mounted for her to stay back in the city and keep the paperwork moving. DA mentioned the same thing, that as the organization grows and responsibilities get larger, you find yourself spending more time in the glow of a computer screen, rather than in the glow of a desert sunset. Camera Girl at Point One

It’s not easy here. It’s hot. Your stuff breaks. Sometimes YOU break. But you keep moving forward, a step at a time, an hour at a time, a day at a time. But you don’t move forward robotically. The differentiator here is the emphasis on fun, on creativity, on expression. And it puts the responsibility on us to examine our experience here, and perhaps curate it appropriately, as we search for an antidote to 21 st Century-style isolation. [Editor’s Note: Put down your phone.] [Editor’s Note 2: Your Facebook life is not your real life.]

And finally, a word about conditions. You already know that it’s hot. Even the vendor truck drivers piloting the big diesels are complaining about the heat. You know it’s been hot when only the smoky haze can keep temperatures below triple digits. Remember too, though, that we routinely get 40-degree temperature shifts over the course of the day, so if the weather changes and we start out cooler, the nighttime can get chilly. Fine white powder has been blowing steadily