Twenty Shrines inscribed a circle around the Man base, known this year as the Temple of the Golden Spike, with an additional ten Shrines in the city Plazas, five in the 4:30 plaza and five at 7:30. Of the 30 Shrine projects, nine came to us from different U.S. states and seven from countries that span the globe: Argentina, England, Estonia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. Six of the Shrines were from recognized Regional Groups, seven were represented by returning groups, and four of the Shrines were brought by members of our own Department of Public Works
The Man Base was graced by 12 lights and a lot of niches built by Jack Haye, Mike Hollibaugh, July Young, Lena Brigmann, Taya Young and Claus Brigmann.
The event in Black Rock City was indelibly affected in 2017 by the death of Aaron Joel Mitchell, a first-time Burning Man participant who ran into the fire during the Man Burn, evading the perimeter volunteers who tried to stop him. Black Rock City Emergency Services personnel pulled him out of the fire and evacuated him by air for treatment, but he died later that night at a regional burn trauma center. The incident shook our community, but the outpouring of sympathy for Joel and his friends and family, and gratitude for the ESD workers who tried to save him, immediately initiated a process of healing.
The Temple Burn, a perfect ritual for representing that healing, was still carried out the following night. It took intense negotiations with law enforcement officials to even allow the burn to go forward, and the compromise resulted in a heroic effort by BRC personnel to build a perimeter fence in a matter of hours. The Fire Art Safety Team’s resounding call for more perimeter volunteers in the wake of the tragedy was answered by more than 700 people. The gorgeously minimalist Temple by Marisha Farnsworth, Steve Brummond, Mark Sinclair and crew could not have been a more poignant symbol of loss and renewal.
In 2017, Burning Man Project turned from expanding our scope to deepening our work. We held our largest-ever Global Leadership Conference, built out the content of our conference for Theme Camp organizers, and held the first-ever Philosophical Center Symposium. We awarded our first Land Fellowship to study the ecosystems of Fly Ranch, and we expanded our Fiscal Sponsorship program to virtually any kind project aligned with our mission. The Art Team launched a new multi-year grant process for building the Temple in Black Rock City. We also began the 10-year Environmental Impact Statement with the Bureau of Land Management, as our partners at Black Rock Solar pivoted to become Black Rock Labs, an accelerator for clean-tech projects born in the Burning Man community.
The “Radical Ritual” theme turned out to be far more subtle — and powerful — than people expected. Unspecified fears about what would happen with the Man housed inside a structure turned out to be unfounded. Indeed, it was arguably the most significant Man build in many years. The roof over the Man’s head was the heaviest piece ever lifted in Black Rock City, a sign of the incredible level of engineering and coordination we’ve reached out there. Yet the Man was standing on the ground, and the crew raised it with the classic rope lift for the first time since 2000, a moving show of the centrality of tradition in our culture, no matter how snarkily and irreverently we treat it.
As always, though, there wasn’t much time to rest. During the Burn, powerful hurricanes struck land and upended the lives of countless people, creating eerie echoes in BRC of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in 2005, which led to the founding of Burners Without Borders. Even before the end of the event, BWB volunteers had sprung into action to provide relief and help rebuild communities in the hurricane zones. Our work is never over.
Man in the Temple of the Golden Spike Man Base. Photo: Leori Gill
We hosted the 11th Annual Global Leadership Conference in Oakland, the biggest event yet in terms of attendance. A portion of the programming was open to the public. We increased visibility of the Global Network through speaking opportunities: $teven Ra$pa at the Moscow Urban Forum on the Power of Community and How Cities Should Complete to Attract the Most Talented Workforce, and Megs Rutigliano at the Nevada Museum of Art on the Global Growth of Burning Man Culture.
In 2017 there were 278 Volunteer Regional Contacts and Meta Regional Contacts in 37 countries. We added one new region, Hungary. There were 85 unique official Regional Events ranging from campouts to single day/night urban events in 18 countries; there were three canceled regional events: Moscow Decompression, Wonderburn, Alberta Burnal Equinox. There were 10 official events that were either new or became official for the first time: Hyperborea, Constellation, Lithuania Decompression, Venice Afterburn, Microburn, To the Moon, Modifyre, HullabalU, Boulder DustOff, Creme Brulee.Regional Afterburn report
During Build Week, those of us building Black Rock City and installing art took a moment to appreciate the Eclipse on the Playa.
The dangerous trend line of increasing MOOP year over year was dramatically reversed in 2017, thanks to more education and messaging prior to and at the event, and surely thanks to better acculturation and participation of Burners Like You™. Not only did 2017 have one of the cleanest and greenest MOOP Maps we’ve ever had, the Playa Resto sweep was also accomplished in record time, which shows how little MOOP there was out there to pick up. High Resolution MOOP Map.
The Placement Team placed 1,395 camps with 18 volunteers in 2017 and had a transition in leadership in 2017. Answergirl — who started as a volunteer and ended up as Placement Manager for five years — decided to retire. Trippi Longstocking was hired to fill the role in March 2017.
This may be the essential genius of Burning Man:
Out of nothing,
We created everything.