Height of Man: 40 feet standing on a 50-foot tall obelisk (the tallest Man to date), the walls of which consisted of the flags of every nation on earth. Interactive art pavilions surrounded the Man base.
Location: Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Participants: Friday (September 5, 2008): 49,599
Theme: American Dream
- The American Dream theme represented the first explicitly political theme since 1996 (not including the political nature of the Green Man theme in 2007). It generated significant spirited discussion.
- The playa was home to over 240 registered art projects, including 37 Burning Man-funded pieces.
- Heavy dust storms on the night of the burn almost forced its cancellation, but a serendipitous window of opportunity opened, and the Man was quickly burned. Unfortunately, the Fire Conclave (fire dancers) performance was cancelled, as no one knew how long the window of clear weather would hold, and safety was a prime concern.
- First-time temple builder Shrine (Pasadena, CA) constructed a two-story temple out of recycled materials, entitled “Basura Sagrada” or “Sacred Trash”, with creative partner Tucker Teusch from Oregon.
- City planners removed 2007’s three inner blocks (Esplanade through “C”), and the streets ran A-K, adding two longer concentric roads at the back of the city. The distance from the Man to the Esplanade road increased from 2200 to 2700 feet, and the length of the Esplanade grew over 2500 feet longer than 2007.
- The Center Camp circle was expanded to include 3 concentric rings. Theme camps and service camps were placed on the outside and inside rings, “sandwiching” a middle ring of staff camping. The overall circle extended further out into the open playa than ever before.
- The location of Black Rock City was moved another half mile northeast from last year’s location as per the Bureau of Land Management’s stipulations.
- Grassroots participant efforts “Lawyers for Burners” (after the 2007 event) and the “Law Officer Oversight Program” (prior to the 2008 event) sprung up in the community in response to increased law enforcement activity the year before. Both groups, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, monitored law enforcement behavior on playa.
- Burning Man created and staffed the “Air Playa Info” informational table at the Reno Airport to help orient and direct the thousands of Burners who flew into Reno.
- For the first time in history, Burning Man stopped selling tickets at the Box Office onsite, as a way to deter unprepared participants and to monitor population growth.
- Over 785 camps and villages filed questionnaires requesting placement, and 746 met the criteria and were registered and placed, as part of Black Rock City’s urban planning efforts in 2009.
- The Yellow Bike Program returned for its third year, and was a great success, with fewer bikes going missing and/or being hoarded.
- A new moon made for very dark playa conditions at night.
- The playa conditions were the worst seen to date, with massive tracts of dunes that would stop bikes (and sometimes vehicles) in their tracks, and hard rippled “playa serpents”.
- The Artery initiated the “Eyes on Art” project, monitoring art installations at night, looking for safety issues such as insufficient lighting.
- The Burning Man Regional Network grew to 150 Regional Contacts in 100 locations around the globe, with 75 more applications waiting to be processed. The Burning Man Project hosted the second annual Regional Leadership Summit at Burning Man Headquarters in February ’08. Regional Contacts from around the world converged on San Francisco to share information and make connections.
- A new sister nonprofit was created called “Black Rock Solar” as part of Burning Man’s Outreach Network; this nonprofit’s mission is to donate free solar power in the state of Nevada to underfunded public buildings (schools, museums, and food banks have already been recipients).
- The Black Rock Arts Foundation, Black Rock Solar, Burners Without Borders and Burning Man Regional Network joined forces to create a camp called “Everywhere Lane” on the Esplanade next to First Camp, allowing these outreach network organizations to share information with participants about Burning Man’s year round culture.
- The Burning Man Regionals website was updated to better represent Regional Contacts around the world.
- The Burning Blog was launched, combining several extant blogs into one consolidated and more actively maintained blog for the Project.