In 2004, Gazetteers returned to the playa with a mix of newbie and veteran volunteers. During the “Vault of Heaven” year, we produced a Gate Edition of the newspaper and five on-playa editions.
Some of the desert team members also collaborated to create the off-playa version of the paper, the Blacktop Gazette. Editions were timed to coincide with the Town Hall Meeting and Decompression, and copies are mailed to each regional contact to share a little piece of Black Rock City throughout the year. Our team is committed to bringing Burning Man news to our community, both on-playa and off.
We covered some amazing stories in 2004. The VoterDrive Bus was a great “get out the vote” outreach project that visited Black Rock City on its way from New York to San Francisco. Our story showed that citizens are taking BRC home, as the event encourages participants to become more involved in the world around them. As usual, we made use of opportunities to have some fun with our content, including publishing a story about new constellations discovered by participants in the night sky.
The BRG was a voice for public information. We campaigned to keep people off wet roads, and reiterated in almost every paper the importance of leaving no trace, especially in the port-a-potties. We even encouraged citizens to give beer and clean socks to the Exodus crew on their way out of Black Rock City. For our final issue, the Exodus Edition, we published another beautiful photo essay on the back page. This series of photos is the first still imagery that many people see from Black Rock City once they leave the event.
We were not without our challenges in 2004, as is the nature of Burning Man every year. We lost about half of our computers during power outages, and we will need to rebuild our forces in order to resume operations in 2005. We learned — a little too late — the importance of uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) to protect us from surges in the sometimes-unpredictable grid that serves electricity to the city’s infrastructure. Running computers without UPSs is a mistake we do not plan to repeat. Still, overall, we met each challenge with our developing problem-solving skills, while managing to produce a paper representative of our city’s culture, filled with the fun and foibles of our temporary community.
The Black Rock Gazette is one of the participation options in BRC where truly anyone who wants to participate can simply walk in and find it easy to make themselves useful on the spot. Many of the faces we saw returning this year got their start doing just that. Meetings are at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. We hope to see you out on the playa.
BRG/BtG Publisher 2004