Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where the weather has just dealt us a swift kick in the you-know-what. A cold, wet storm front has descended upon us, dusting the mountains with snow and deluging the desert with rain. The BLM inspection is planned for tomorrow! Will we make it, or will we be rained out again? The atmosphere is tense, and cold, and windy.
Luckily, I’ve got good news for you. In Day 8 of line sweeps, our DPW Playa Restoration team covered the final blocks of the city grid, leaving only Center Camp, the Man Base and the Temple of Transition to be MOOPed. Working from opposite ends, the two Line Sweeps teams met at 6:00 between Graduation and Hajj for a celebratory shade break. Then they turned their sights to the open playa, while the Scribes inspected Center Camp to carefully document visible hot spots.
We’ll have the results from Center Camp soon, but for now, here’s your big green city:
Now that’s a city you can be proud to call home.
Unfortunately, today had a couple of very MOOPy spots that slowed down our line sweepers considerably. Yipes! Today’s score: 78% green, 18% yellow and 4% red. Not too shabby, but there’s definitely room to improve.
D.A. and the History of Playa Restoration
For as long as Burning Man has existed, there’s been somebody willing to clean up afterward. Over the years, the official “Cleanup Crew” evolved into something much like the line-sweeping, cone-killing hotshots you know today. But it took impassioned leadership to turn the cleanup effort into a well-oiled Restoration machine.
D.A. began managing this crew in 2004. Soon, he did away with the term “cleanup” and instituted Playa Restoration.
“I changed the name to Playa Restoration because that’s really what we do. We’re not here to clean up after people. We’re not here to take care of your trash, your garbage. We’re here to restore the playa to what it’s supposed to look like.”
Part of that changeover included defining the job, and getting more information out to the community. “Even back in the early days of Restoration, we could tell people were trying,” D.A. says. “They just needed to know what we were finding — they needed feedback from us.”
That’s why, in 2006, D.A. instituted the MOOP Map, a public record of the traces left by Black Rock City after Burning Man was over. That year, the city grid was only 40% green — but when the MOOP Map was published, its effect was instantaneous. The following year, the city was significantly greener, and it’s only improved since then.
Another important part of D.A.’s work was instilling a sense of pride in the crew. MOOPing can feel like thankless work, but every Restoration member chose to be here for a reason. Reminding the crew of the great task they’ve undertaken, making them feel appreciated and important even as they comb the desert for glitter and hairballs — well, that’s no easy job. But D.A.’s passion for Restoration is undeniable, and he continually reminds his team members of the importance of their work. After all, without this crew there might not be a Burning Man next year.
Though he’d probably prefer to be wielding a shovel and a magnet rake, these days D.A. orchestrates a complex dance of teams, vehicles, tools and information. Between dust storms and the winter rains that loom ever closer, he creates a lightning-strike team that’s more efficient and effective each year; even as Black Rock City grows, he always ensures that we’ll pass our site inspection. Burning Man’s trust in this man is nearly boundless, and he wears the responsibility well.
Riding with D.A. the other day, I asked him to share some of his thoughts on the process. Watch excerpts here:
If you’d like to hear more from D.A., check out this Worldsweeper article on Burning Man and LNT. At the end, you’ll find a 27-minute interview with lots of food for thought.
Now as I may have mentioned, it’s COLD here in Gerlach. It’s time for the Restoration crew to get out of town before we freeze. Tomorrow, I’ll share the report from Center Camp and the Cafe, and the update on whether the BLM will conduct our site inspection. For now, this is The Hun all bundled up in scarf and gloves, and signing off.