Make your Burning Man Experience Count – Complete the BRC Census!

Census Action!, 2014
Census Action!, 2014

You can help shape the development and future of Burning Man — on and off the playa — by taking a few minutes to share your experiences and opinions with the Black Rock City Census.

How does the Census help Burning Man? It is one of the primary ways the Burning Man organization tracks changes in population, behavior, and attitudes of event participants. The more we understand the makeup of Black Rock City and the diverse kinds of Burning Man experiences, the better equipped we are to meet the needs of the community and help Burning Man culture continue to flourish.

Data from the Census also helps the organization represent the Burner community in conversations with local, state and federal  agencies and elected officials. In 2013, the Nevada State Legislature passed a bill allowing Burning Man to continue operating in Pershing County. Census data was used to demonstrate who attended the event, where they were coming from, and the economic and cultural impact that we have in Northern Nevada.

Census data is also used to understand the impact we have on the environment. Ultimately, we want to reduce our carbon footprint and make the event more sustainable. In the last few years, the Burning Man organization has rolled out several programs (like Burner Express) to encourage these efforts and the Census is one way that we track the year-to-year impact of those measures with information like the number of vehicles on the road, the number of people per vehicle and the increased use of the Burner Express.

More importantly, however, the Census is about YOU. This is your chance to have your presence in BRC counted and to learn about our community. It gives Burners the ability to understand just a bit more about the city that many of us call home. It is a chance for us all to learn who our neighbors might be, what brings them out to Burning Man, and what changes are taking place in BRC from one year to the next. Don’t dally. You have until October 15 to complete the census.

Want to go deep on how we collect and analyze the data? Read on…

The Census, which got its start in 2003, is a multi-part collaboration between the Burning Man organization, some nerdy Burner scientists, and the fine citizens of Black Rock City. Census volunteers include professors, students, and researchers from universities in Canada and the United States representing a range of disciplines. Census data has been used by researchers for articles published in peer-reviewed journals and academic presentations, and by the Burning Man organization and social scientists to depict the variety of participants that make up Black Rock City. There are three components to the project:

1. RANDOM SAMPLE The Census team randomly samples Burners as they enter Black Rock City – participants are asked to answer 10 questions, mostly focusing on age, sex, and other key demographics. The information gathered here is used to adjust, or “weight”, the online survey data to create the most accurate representation of the citizens of Black Rock City.

2. ONLINE CENSUS The bulk of the data is collected via the online Census at the conclusion of the event each year. More than 11,000 Black Rock City participants completed our online census in 2013. That’s 1 in 5.5 citizens! This year’s we’re hoping for an even higher participation rate, and our most complete Census yet!

3. ANALOG CENSUS Our analog Census consists of open-ended questions on a range of topics, from Culture, Happiness, and People, to Burning Man of course! Blank notebooks are placed in locations where people used to fill out the paper Census form — like the Census Lab, Center Camp Cafe, and other camps hosting Census kiosks. Here is a visual depiction of some of that qualitative data:

Confidentiality is highly important to the Census. Participation is anonymous and optional, and since 2004, the data collected has been held in university files associated with scientists who run the Census project. Summaries of each Burn’s Census data are posted online in the AfterBurn section of the Burning Man website and on the independent Census blog.

Once again … now is the time! The Census closes. Make sure to complete out your Census, and tell your campmates to do the same! If you have additional or specific feedback that you would also like to contribute, you can submit it through the BRC Feedback Form.

About the author: Burning Man

Burning Man

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man's Communications Team.

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