Efforts continued to progress toward making Burning Man year-round operations and Black Rock City more environmentally conscious and sustainable. Interest came to a peak on this topic in very early 2006, when a small group of staff, environmentalists and volunteers came together at the Burning Man Headquarters. Through a very productive dialogue, this group reviewed the substantial progress already made, and recognized some of the many challenges also being faced. Members of the staff were determined to help like-minded participants to connect with each other, to help us all overcome these challenges while educating each other and the larger community. In March of 2006, the group was provided with a Burning Man email discussion list (the Greening Man list), an announce list, a team space on the Extranet and permission to conduct meetings at our offices. It was unprecedented to provide this level of access to a relatively unformed group that wasn’t even an official department, but providing this connective context was a natural way for the organization to demonstrate support and dedication to this important cause.

The participation on the Greening Man list started with maybe a dozen people, a few core Burning Man staffers, and many others who are quite well known in the environmental circles in the Bay Area. In addition, the Earth Guardians, Recycle Camp and the Alternative Energy Zone, groups who have long been contributing to earth consciousness, were represented. As word spread, list membership steadily grew and grew. After initial purpose, mission and guidelines were established, a kick-off meeting was held with a much larger group of participants. The initial meeting focused a great deal on the history of green efforts within the organization, and established an early approach and goals for the future. Some of those goals included providing increased education to the extended community through the web and possibly via a community environmental showcase.

About this time, a renewed effort was put into the early stages of creating an Environment section of the Burning Man website, something which had been in the works for over a year, but always had to take a back seat to other urgent projects. The website was already rich with content relating to the care of the environment, but the information was scattered through every section and a few off-site websites. One step towards sharing the organizations history in relation to environmental concerns was adding the first Environment report to the AfterBurn Report.

Before the 2006 event, members of the Greening Man group collectively designed a logo, which was turned into a limited production sticker to hand out at the event.

The back of this sticker reads:

’Greening the Burn’ is a grass roots movement that dates back to when Burning Man first adopted the Leave No Trace Principles. From this, project-supported camps like Recycle Camp & the Earth Guardians as well as the participant-driver Alternative Energy Zone were inspired. The momentum increased in February 2006, when BM staff, participants & environmental enthusiasts of Black Rock City met in the Burning Man office in San Francisco. The inspiration and energy is coming straight out of the community and is being supported by the BM Project and its organizers. It is out hope to raise the awareness of all citizens of BRC to not only clean and green our collective desert experience, but to expand this ethos into our lives beyond. To join our discussion list send an email to greeningman-list-subscribe-at-burningman.com. This sticker was made with love and care and will last for many years under normal conditions. Stick it where is counts and please recycle or burn this backing. Above all… Never let it hit the ground!

Other significant things happening on & off the playa in 2006

  • The traditional 3 “R’s” mantra, was expanded to 6 “R’s” Respect – Rethink – Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Restore.
  • A Special Interpretive Exhibit, Our LNT Past & Future, is displayed at the EG Pavilion.
  • A Special Interpretive Exhibit of a 10950’s archeological dig site id displayed at BM. Both teams of LNT National Traveling Trainers attend BM. Kids environmental activities expand at the EG Pavilion to include PEAK LNT classes.
  • Testing of Bio-diesel in the BM infrastructure generators continued after members of the Burn Clean Project, a participant created environmental group, introduced BM to Kohler Power Rentals and Bently Biofuels. Three generators, including the Greeters Station, The Staff Commissary and The Man Base were run the entire event, with the Commissary generator running for over 30 days, on 100% Bio-diesel. The fuel is ASTM certified and made locally in the Carson Valley, Minden, NV. It is made from locally collected waste vegetable oil and locally grown feedstock.
  • Solar powered Spoken Word Stage at the café. Connections were made with a solar energy company out of Pomona, CA to bring a 3500 watt solar array to the playa. The array was mounted on a structure behind the Spoken Word Stage and participants were able to walk right under it and check out the various parts and pieces that go into building a solar array. They were able to see the equipment monitoring the amount of electricity being generated and the amount being used by the stage. The stage ran only during the day with the extra electricity stored in batteries so that at night it was used to power the decorative light fixtures that hung behind the coffee counter.
  • Burners without Borders sets out to do the impossible, collect the left over wood after the event from the participants, artists and the BM organization and donate it to Habitat for Humanity. The wood collection was a huge success, In fact it was a victim of its own success. It was almost overwhelming. It turned out to be the largest single donation ever for the Habitat for Humanity in Reno.
  • Through the combined efforts of the Coolingman.org project, Burners without Boarders and the BM community, the carbon footprint for the construction of the Man, the entire Man Base and the burning of the Man & his base, was offset twice over. The offsets are being used to fund wind power generation and methane capture projects, two renewable solutions to a better future.
  • Efforts continued after the big burn with the “Greening” of both the SF & LA Decompression Street FaIRE events. The knowledge was collected and a document was started that was distributed throughout the Burning Man Regional Contacts. This was the first ever guide to greening year round regional events.

Immediately following the burn in 2006, the art theme was announced for 2007, The Green Man. This was a tremendously exciting time and the possibilities for education and action seemed limitless. The group also knew it was going to be a daunting task to identify, organize and actualize as many green efforts as possible over the next 11 months, but what a fabulous opportunity to affect positive change in (and for) the world!