Q: I attended for the first time in 2001, and thought I’d never return because of the dust. However, last year, I went ahead and braved it. Wow! What a difference? Why was there so much less dust this year than in 2001? Did Burning Man water the streets more?
A: The incredible amount of dust in 2001 was a result of that year’s dry weather. After the frozen winter, during which the playa freezes and thaws into a fluffy, dust-producing cruft, a good amount of spring rain is needed to transform the surface into the crackled, hard-packed earth that we know and love. Weather patterns in 2002 were much closer to normal, which meant enough rain to pack the fluffy surface back down. When coupled with participant adherence to the 5 MPH speed limit in the city, and Burning Man’s usual efforts at watering the streets, the result was a significantly less dusty Black Rock City. Much better, right?
Q: When walking past the burn platform near my camp one night, I saw a group of burners pull up with a truck, unload a couch into the flames, and take off into the night. I wasn’t sure at the time, but I thought that burning couches made toxic fumes? Should I have said something to them?
A: Absolutely. Burning carpets, couches, mattresses, or similar items is toxic to the environment and is forbidden at the event. We attempt to educate the public about this issue each year through the Jack Rabbit Speaks, the website, and the Survival Guide. This communication effort is up to every one of us. If you see someone trying to burn toxic materials, please help the community by reminding them that such burns are not permitted. Your local Black Rock Ranger is the one to ask for help if your fellow participant fails to realize that couches are definitely on the “pack it in, pack it out” list.
Q: It was a serious bummer last year when my really expensive bike was stolen as I watched the Temple burn. I thought I could trust everyone in Black Rock City. Do I really have to lock my bike at Burning Man?
A: At times, Burning Man really feels safer than anywhere on earth, but the fact is, you’re still in an urban environment, and just one lone bike thief or a case of mistaken bike-identity can ruin your good time in a flash. The community-at-large is BRC’s best defense against theft, and that means that we can all help create an environment where thieves can’t succeed. So, be very aware: Get to know your neighbors, and help keep an eye out for one another’s camps throughout the day and night. Know where to find a Ranger if you see anything that raises your suspicion. Also, don’t bring a nice bike to the playa in the first place. Get a thrift-shop beater that won’t be a temptation to anyone with a nefarious agenda. And yes, lock your bike when you walk away from it. If nothing else, it will keep some dreamy-eyed burner from innocently making off with your trusty steed in the dark, thinking it’s her own.
Andie Grace, aka ActionGrl