In 2008, United Site Services (USS) continued to bring professionalism and performance to the playa. This marked year three of Burning Man’s contract with USS, which runs through the 2010 event. As the Burning Man event grows and changes, our sanitation needs change, and USS has been instrumental is assessing, planning for, and meeting those needs. This year their operations were split up a little differently between key managers: one person was designated to handle operations and another to handle logistics. This separation of duties, together with the large number of returning drivers, helped with their overall operations… and that means cleaner potties for all of us.
This year we had more potties than in any previous year. The totals topped out around 1,300 units. This was only a slight increase over last year, and by most accounts was adequate to the increased sized of Black Rock City. There is no industry template for us to follow, since the existing models don’t take into account our unique site layout and event duration. This means that we’re always trying to tweak numbers and placement to maximize coverage and minimize walking distance.
Although there were early reports of heavy amounts of garbage in the potties, the volume dropped as the event progressed. Unlike in previous years, there was no point at which trash in the potties reached crisis levels. This is very refreshing and a testament to the shared values that so many folks bring to Burning Man. We may have hit record population in 2008, but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten the important things like keeping garbage out of the potties! Keep that idea alive and pass it along: If it wasn’t in your body, don’t put it in the potty! (Yeah, yeah, single-ply toilet paper is cool.)
Again, a special thanks goes out to the volunteers who help to bring awareness and toilet paper to the people of Black Rock City. There were several theme camps who made it their business to monitor their local banks and in one case offer concierge service. This participation brings much needed attention and whimsy to a thing that, while not always pleasant, is necessary to us all.
Matt Morgan and RobbiDobbs