JRS VOLUME #8; ISSUE #37b
Today would have to be the best day I have felt since I arrived in the Black Rock Desert nearly 4 weeks ago.
I came at the end of July to watch and help and guide as is my role. I’ve worked in the sun and late at night in the office. I’ve watched a small plot of land (smaller than a city block) we’ve rented in Gerlach with 10 single wide trailers grow into the “Gerlach Estates: a Gated Community” with a momentary maximum population of 120 people before it poured onto the desert and took up residence across the surveyed playa streets we know as Black Rock City.
A determined DPW staff headed into 2004 faced with many challenges to overcome. However, they put their heads into the wind, chose managers and foreman they trusted and with whom they wanted to work. Infrastructure was overhauled, and roles defined. It’s been a slow and very painful process for more than just the year-round staff.
This Monday morning, August 23rd gave us a partly cloudy, windless and chilly 54 degrees at 7:30 am. DPW Crew stood around with coffee and cigarettes in hand as project lists were called out, a missing compressor was found, the volunteer coordinator led a round of applause for the volunteers, and the meeting broke up as the sun tried to warm the air into the low 60’s. Weather conditions like that made it already a great day to work.
Representatives from all departments are now on site, artists and large theme camps are arriving. The energy in Black Rock City is growing each day. It’s been a challenging year for me this time around with an expanded set of responsibilities. This will be my 10th Burn, and in some ways has been the hardest to reach. I’ve not always been certain I really wanted to be on the playa this year. However, I’m fortunate enough to be working with committed people willing to treat this experiment in temporary community as an opportunity to help guide an organic process. We’re learning and teaching as we go and applying those lessons to the next round. Sometimes it’s a gut feeling that guides us. It’s not that there isn’t fear, we’re more determined than afraid. I’ve more than once imagined I was on a diving board high above a dark cold pool of water, and my only path was to jump. Why not.
Today, my day had less structure to it than usual. Instead of heading right back to the office after the morning meeting I remained on the playa to help move cones on Gate road. I found myself doing what needed to be done at that moment, which typically led to the next thing I could do or help to solve. Measurements were right, equipment showed up just when we needed it, lunch was satisfying, the first playa Sr. Staff meeting moved along with laughter and no issues, i traveled to Gerlach in my friend’s new car blasting a great stereo, my hand-held radio was fixed, and when it rained several of us stood on the porch of the Gerlach Office and laughed.
The air was damp and electric.
At 6 pm. I made a mad dash from Gerlach to BRC and morphed into the PBR-fairy, flitting from DPW camp to camp bearing cold gifts. The last were distributed as the troops trudged to dinner.
The sun was heading over the mountains, grey clouds in the sky, sheets of rain in the distance, sun peeking through cloud openings and shining a bright spot of light on the eastern mountain range. My handheld radio crackled as DPW Dispatch called out to everyone to check out the fat double rainbows firmly planted in the ground north of the Man reaching into the clouds.
I have been attending Burning Man for 10 years, and organizing for 8 of those years. I can say without being over-dramatic that the energy I felt this evening as I left the playa with Massive Attack’s Teardrop playing full blast… that I have never seen the city look so good, building happening so quickly and smoothly, and people so happy and connected to one another.
The momentum is building. I don’t guarantee an easy year, but…..
If you attend Burning Man 2004 you will certainly be fortunate enough to create and experience the magic of moments like those of today which still resonate within me 4 hours later.
alone in the Gerlach office… compulsively playing Massive Attack: Mezzanine over and over and over and over again.
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