Height of Man: 50 feet atop a 25-foot tall base resembling the double helix of a DNA strand, surrounded by a series of abstract nest-like structures of wood forming a tangled bank, referencing a Charles Darwin quote.
Location: Black Rock Desert, Nevada
Participants: Friday (September 4, 2009): 43,558
- Black Rock City saw its first-ever decrease in population and fewer artworks were presented overall, due to the effects of the global recession.
- 215 registered art projects were presented, including 24 built with grants from Burning Man
- First-time temple builders Dave Ulmas and Marrilee Ratcliffe of Community Art Makers (Austin, TX) constructed a two-story temple titled Fire of Fires out of lumber and CNC cut plywood, surrounding a central translucent fiberglass cylinder containing a hand-controlled, mechanically-generated fire tornado.
- City planners for a variety of reasons concurred with popular feedback about 2008s larger Black Rock City plan and decreased it to its pre-2008 footprint.
- The Center Camp circle plan featured two concentric service roads, improving vehicular and foot access to the busy theme and staff camping areas located there.
- The location of Black Rock City was moved a half mile southwest from 2008s location as per the Bureau of Land Managements stipulations to alternate the spot to minimize impact.
- The grassroots participant effort Lawyers for Burners once again joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada to monitor law enforcement behavior on playa.
- For the second year, at the invitation of the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Burning Man staffed the Air Playa Info informational table at the Reno Airport to help orient and direct the thousands of Burners who flew into Reno.
- Burning Man resumed selling tickets at the Box Office onsite, after not doing so in 2008.
- 749 camps, villages, and departments filed questionnaires requesting placement, and 618 were placed as part of Black Rock Citys urban planning efforts in 2009. Overwhelmed with an unprecedented demand for space and a trend in increased camp footprints, BRCs city plan could not accommodate every request for theme camp/village placement. The Placement department responded with stricter attention to its qualification guidelines, and were forced to turn some camps away; in all, 136 applicant camps were not awarded reserved placement.
- The Yellow Bike Program (our fleet of 800 shared green-painted bikes) returned for its fourth year, and was a great success, with fewer bikes going missing and/or being hoarded and reports of easier-to-find community bikes.
- The Burning Man Regional Network grew to 165 Regional Contacts in 89 locations around the globe with 54 new applicants in the wings at the end of 2009.
- The Regional Network Committee (the decision-making guiding body comprised of Burning Mans Regional support staff) added several Regional Contact volunteers in its strategic planning process, the first of several in-progress steps designed to engage wider Regional Contact participation in the guidance of the Network.
- Staff from the Black Rock Arts Foundation, Black Rock Solar, Burners Without Borders and the Burning Man Regional Network sought to increase collaboration between those entities; they joined forces to create the Culture Labs public theme camp on the Esplanade next to Center Camp. Expanding on 2008s Everywhere Lane, this collaborative environment shared art and information with participants about these and other inspiring manifestations of real-world Burning Man culture year round.
- The Burning Man Project hosted the third annual Regional Leadership Summit at Burning Mans San Francisco headquarters in February 2009. 100 Regional Contacts from around the world converged on San Francisco to share information, engage in coursework, hear presentations from local artists, staff, and volunteers, and make connections to enhance their efforts back home.
- The Burning Blog was reimagined and expanded by inviting 30 writers to offer contributions hailing from a variety of geographically- and culturally-distributed perpspectives, with subjects reaching beyond the Burning Man event and into its wider cultural diaspora.
- Burning Man’s San Francisco headquarters at 1900 Third Street was slated for demolition (as had been anticipated), to make way for a new UCSF’s Childrens and Women’s Cancer Hospital. Under force of a shrinking countdown to the desert, BMHQ scrambled in April to shuffle core functions to a temporary location in a smaller office/warehouse nearby. Staff and volunteers, also under stress of ticking timelines, packed and unpacked the core functions, wired the new building, and shuffled seven years worth of files, art, and memories into storage; afterward, many took to kitchen tables and cafés around the Bay as half of the office staff were forced to rapidly adapt to the new challenge of working remotely.
- By way of our own Evolution, the staff collaboratively identified a need for a reexamination of our business structures and operations. The six board members consulted with outside facilitators, consultants, attorneys, various levels of the staff and an internal self-assembled advocate Task Force, and set about re-imagining structure, philosophies and leadership tools that motivate us to manifest Burning Man. Ultimately, this effort assembled a new Executive Committee body, which includes all six members of the Black Rock City LLC and five members of its senior staff, and which now oversees short- and medium-term strategic planning.
- The Executive Committee created and identified a number of standing and ad-hoc Subcommittees with wide cross-departmental membership, aimed at improving the process used to make decisions and inviting a greater selection of staff and volunteers to participate in feedback and implementation of organization-wide initiatives and projects.
- The Board of BRC LLC continued to search for the next building for Burning Man to call home in San Francisco — and to explore its own evolution and the larger implications of the organizations mission statement beyond the event in the desert.