Burners Without Borders – Report from the Field

[from Stuart Updegrave]
Biloxi, Mississippi

There is still a constant ebb and flow of volunteers through the temple – ten new arrivals in the last two days, in fact. Amani (from Seattle) has returned to the Biloxi area (working with World Shelters on her first trip down) to join us at the temple. Amani’s friend Savi arrived this morning; she is 15 years old, here until at least Nov 1st, and will be receiving school credit for time spent volunteering here. Another burner crew (Chaos, Doc, Monty and Teresa) rolled in yesterday with a 24′ truck (which they bought for an art project, but decided to use to help the people of Biloxi for now) – they’ve eagerly dived in, helping out on various projects already. Richard’s friend Linda arrived yesterday morning – she’s likely to take over cooking responsibilities after I leave. And there’s another posse that came in (Ryan from L.A., Rachel and Mandy from Toronto) to help out as well, working in the free store and helping finish up the drywall effort in the temple building.

Jim left this morning to go spend some time with his son in South Carolina. While here, he talked to several bicycle shops to solicit donations of used bicycles. A shop in Ithaca NY committed to send 100 bikes down, and he is talking to a few shops in Seattle as well (including BikeWorks, which has helped many Sea-town burners find playa-worthy wheels).

We’ve made progress on getting basic services moved back indoors. Richard salvaged a stainless steel three-tub utility sink from the old Catholic church across the street; after cleaning and re-plumbing, it is now installed in the temple for us and the temple staff to use for dishes. Yesterday, Thomas moved the washer and dryer into the temple (they were previously residing in the driveway). And today, Chaos is going to plumb a sink and flush toilet in the bathroom to go along with the shower.

The cover on the large dome used for the store has taken some wind damage over the last few days. Richard spoke with Asha, the owner of Pacific Domes, who says they will fabricate and send us a new cover. This is wonderful news!

The store is still providing for at least 100 people per day, with supplies still rolling in. Occasionally, we get large resources for use by the temple volunteers and staff (such as the full-size chest freezer which arrived this morning – which will be used mainly to store ice as it comes in), but most shipments consist of food, water, toiletries and cleaning supplies for the community. Yesterday, some cots and blankets arrived, which were eagerly received given the cold nights recently. We are still working our various networks to drum up more donations of tents, sleeping bags and warm clothing. Steve and Elena (the Peace Corps / FEMA folks who stayed here a few nights) are bringing in some coats and blankets tonight, I just heard. Wonderful news!

I’m heading back to Seattle on Friday morning, with mixed emotions. I feel like I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of the work that needs to be done here, yet wonder how much difference I am making personally.

About the author: Tom Price

Tom Price

Tom Price is the former Executive Director of Black Rock Solar. Prior to that he was the Environmental Manager for Burning Man during the Green Man theme, and was in the Gulf Coast for six months during the genesis of Burners Without Borders. He's been attending Burning Man since 1997, and he's proud to say that his decade plus streak of breaking down from sun stroke on the playa on day three remains intact.