Jrs V11 I04


Jack Rabbit Speaks
Volume 11, Issue 4
December 28, 2006

Here’s a special quickie-edition JRS for your year’s end…a call for participation creating fire pits at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, an announcement about several of our staffers who are helping to increase Burning Man’s political voice, and an open invitation to join the Special Events team and have fun creating local Burning Man events in San Francisco in 2007!

We wish you and yours a very happy New Year from all of us at Burning Man.

P.S. Hey, 247 days until the burn…. 🙂



Here’s a chance to be a part of a rare and amazing opportunity to help design, build, and install fire rings/pits/structures on Ocean Beach in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco! This once-in-a-lifetime chance to help create potentially permanent fire art installations that will support community building around fires along the ocean shore.

A Little Background:

The National Park Service have their hands full, and are woefully underfunded. In San Francisco, they were spending $90,000 a year just cleaning up the mess left over from fires on Ocean Beach. The problem was so severe that earlier in 2006 the Park Service considered banning fires outright.

However, thanks to thousands of letters from people like you, they’ve changed their mind, and earlier this month announced a one year experiment with continuing to allow fires, but only in designated burn platforms/fire rings. They’ve partnered with The Surfrider Foundation (http://surfrider.org/), a great conservation group made of concerned surfers, to figure out what they should look like, and how they should be installed.

Recently, volunteers from Burners Without Borders, a group of people connected through attending the Burning Man event, dedicated to creating community through art and public service (http://www.burnerswithoutborders.org) began doing monthly beach clean ups on Ocean Beach. BWB heard about the fire pit design issue, and offered to help. (For those of you that don’t know, Burning Man began on Baker Beach in 1986, and continued access to fires on the San Francisco shore is very near and dear to our heart.)

In a meeting last week, the National Park Service and Surfrider agreed to partner with BWB, to take advantage of our expertise in both fire and cleaning up after them (Burning Man is the world’s largest Leave No Trace event) by having BWB manage the submission and award process for these fire rings. We’re obviously thrilled and honored, and happy to help, and our first thought was — let’s get as many people involved as possible.

The Designs:

There will be a dozen fire pits to begin with. No two designs need to be the same, but preference will be given to those that are artistic in nature, since people are likely to be more protective of something that’s attractive–so show us your best stuff!

A couple things to keep in mind:

They should either be too heavy to be removed (400lbs+) or anchored beneath the sand in some way. Conversely, they should be removable by Park Service heavy machinery during the big storm season of winter.

The designer should keep in mind ease of maintenance including emptying ash and debris. Surfrider has offered to help clean them on a regular basis, but making it easy to do so is key.

They should have reflective markings on them so that Park Service vehicles can see them when driving on the beach at night, and so there’s no trip/fall hazard.

They should be made of durable materials that can take the pounding from the ocean and fire.

They should be no more than six feet across, and should contain all flame and ash. (Tip: Concave designs will more efficiently burn wood and leave less debris).

They should either not trap drifting, blowing sand, or be easily dug out if they do.

But Wait, There’s More:

In our meeting with the Park Service last week, one issue that came up was concerns about the limited number of fire rings — since not everyone could light a fire, would there be conflicts over who got to use them? The Park Service figured yes, which is why the fire rings are to be installed near stairways, to facilitate access for law enforcement. It also came up that there aren’t really any iconic images of Ocean Beach, like there are for, say Chrissy Field or the Golden Gate Bridge.

However, it’s been Burning Man’s experience that fires can actually create community, rather than cause tension. In fact, around a fire is about the only place where two strangers can stand next to each other in silence, and not feel uncomfortable.

So BWB also agreed to help create design multilingual signs for possible placement on Ocean Beach, explaining that the fires are a community resource, and that everyone will be welcome around them–they won’t be for exclusive use without getting prior permits from the Park Service. Any other time–they’re open for anyone to join.

Which means we’re also looking for some designs for signage. Messages must include: Anyone is welcome around the fire–find the right vibe, contribute your fire wood, and make new friends. There will also likely be some other regulatory messages regarding appropriate types of wood. Another suggestion: Clean It Forward–people should be encouraged on arrival at a fire pit to clean out the ash from the previous user, before using it themselves. And we’re also looking for some nice iconic imagery that says “Ocean Beach.” Suggestions as to fabrication (materials) and placement of signs are also welcome; keep in mind that the Park Service is conservative about signage and generally follows the “less is more” approach.


This is going to happen in a big hurry: Initial proposals should be in by January 14th. Final designs will be chosen on January 28th.

Fire pits will be installed and lit for the first time in a community celebration at dusk, on Earth Day.

It should go without saying, but just to be clear: if you suggest a design, you should have the ability to create it, because the Park Service can’t afford to contract this out.


Which brings up the next point: some funds are available for this project, from the Park Service, other stakeholder groups, as well as perhaps Burning Man. However, there are a lot of fire rings to make, so please include reasonable expected costs in your proposal, and also remember the value you’ll get from this experience being able to create a (semi, perhaps ) permanent work of fire art in a public place.

What do I do next?

Sketch out your design ideas for signs and fire rings, in as much detail as possible, and email them to Tom Price at thumper (at) burningman (dot) com or mail them to him c/o Burning Man, 1900 3rd Street, SF, CA, 94158. Questions? Call him at 801-712-5371. Designs must be in by January 14th–so hurry! Please include estimates of cost, and obviously preference will be given to designs you can manufacture.

Thank you for your participation in helping preserve the right to fires on Ocean Beach!

-Tom Price Burners Without Borders



Burning Man is proud to announce the appointment of several of its staff members to various political boards and organizations.

Burning Man Board Member Will Roger Peterson was recently appointed to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Sierra Front-Northwestern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council (RAC). Will is representing the interests of recreational users for issues such as wildlife habitat, range permits, wild horses, mineral and geothermal rights, land issues, development problems, off-highway vehicle problems, water transfers, power plants, trash clean ups, transportation management and various other issues. Will’s involvement with Friends of the Black Rock http://www.blackrockfriends.org/ a non-profit devoted to the enjoyment and preservation of the Black Rock NCA, helped him attain his position on the RAC.

Joseph has been a Commissioner on the San Francisco Entertainment Commission since 2003 and was reappointed again in 2005 for a four-year term. As the Public Health Representative on the San Francisco Entertainment Commission http://www.ci.sf.ca.us/site/entertainment_index.asp

Joseph is heavily involved with reviewing the safety of, and permitting, events in the City of San Francisco. Joseph has been working in public safety since 1989 and has been been the Emergency Services Operations Chief for Burning Man since 1996.

Manager of Burning Man’s Information Technology Department, Heather Gallagher is helping shape the future of Treasure Island, the former Naval Station in San Francisco Bay that was turned over to the City and County of San Francisco by the federal government in 1993. As a Board Member on the Citizens Advisory Committee, Heather is advising the Treasure Island Development Authority http://www.ci.sf.ca.us/site/treasureisland_index.asp?id=265 on issues of affordable housing, recreation, arts, commercial redevelopment and other various interests.

These appointments will increase Burning Man’s voice when it comes to matters of land use in Nevada, and arts and entertainment in the San Francisco Bay Area. Congratulations to Will, Joseph and Heather!



SAVE THE DATE AND SPREAD THE WORD: Burning Man Special Events Team Open Call For Participation Meeting and Mixer Jan 8th, 2007!

Want to get involved and help shape Burning Man events in SF this year? Then join us at Burning Man Headquarters for a Special Events Team mixer and our first planning meeting of 2007!

Last year’s January meeting was FANTASTIC and completely shaped 2006 events and the 11 events currently in the hopper for 2007! We are seeking brand spanking new volunteers to add to our amazing team. If you are curious about what we do and/or know you’d like to be part of year-round Burning Man events, come on by!

Burning Man HQ
1900 3rd St – 2nd floor (between 16th St and Mariposa)
San Francisco, CA
Bring snacks and an open mind–preferably with a silly hat on top! Please RSVP to firekitty (at) burningman (dot) com so we know how many to expect

– Mission of team
– Exciting events we have planned for 2007!
– Ways you can immediately plug in and help bring Burning Man to the Bay Area!
– Open discussion/feedback, new event ideas and mixer, as time permits

If you have ideas or suggestions for new venues and cannot come in person, e-mail them to flambelounge (at) burningman (dot) com. We’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like to be added to our Special Events volunteer announce list, e-mail firekitty (at) burningman (dot) com.

Happy New Year! And thanks for keeping the fires burning all year long!

$teven Ra$pa Burning Man Special Events Team & Regional Outreach

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