Everything comes to an end. Each year, with columns of smoke still rising from the ashes of our shared experience, we pack our dusty belongings, dusty bodies and dustier dreams for our return to civilization. It can be an enlightening, contemplative, or even challenging experience—but however we feel about leaving, our homes, jobs, and people are calling us back.
But what happens when you can’t leave?
You may have experienced something like this: When Burning Man is over, you find yourself with more possessions than you can carry out. Camp members depart early, leaving shade structures and kitchens for their friends. Cars break down. Plans fall through. Sometimes, the stuff that packed so neatly in the dust-free world just doesn’t fold up very well after a week on the playa.
This is where the Leave No Trace principle gets sticky. When it’s time to go, and you can’t take it all with you, what can you do? Your neighbors can help, to a point—but their vehicles are packed to the roof, too. With no trash collection on playa and no easy way to make multiple trips, sometimes things just…get left behind.
Traditionally, we haven’t talked much about abandoned moop on this blog. As a community, Burning Man does a fantastic job of Leaving No Trace. The DPW Playa Restoration crew has immense respect for each Burner’s contributions, and we understand how and why things get left behind. But we do keep track of what we find, and where—and we do add large abandoned items to the Moop Map.
This year, for the first time, we’re releasing the map of abandoned moop.
We’re not posting details of what was found in each spot. If you are a theme camp, your Placement representative may have more detailed information for you in a few months (when the entire Moop Map is finalized). Please be patient: these are simply the results of our very first sweep through the city, and we have much more work to do before we can pass detailed information along.
So what does each of the red X’s represent? It could be garbage bags. Could be a greywater jug, a couch, a tent or just the tent stakes. Or it could be something worse. The X’s don’t represent the size or impact of the abandoned moop—just its location.
When a camp’s moop plan fails
Campers at Gypsy Flower Power International (a theme camp at 4:20 & Haifa) seem to have found themselves in an extraordinarily moopy situation, when their planned infrastructure apparently failed. As a result, the camp abandoned a 4-foot-high “mountain” of trash; a broken shade structure; a rolled-up tent; a dirty mattress; burn barrels full of ash; lumber; big oil and greywater stains; jugs of mystery fluids; and an array of smaller items.
It may be the worst impact we’ve ever seen a camp leave on the playa.
We don’t know why or how this situation got so out of control. So, we’re asking: What happened? Why did Gypsy Flower Power abandon its moop on this scale?
We do know that some camp members reached out to the community, to the 4:30 neighborhood, and to DPW for help. What we don’t understand is why their plans failed so completely. How did they wind up abandoned in Black Rock City with more moop than they could possibly pack out?
Gypsy Flower Power: the Playa Restoration crew respects every Burner’s efforts to Leave No Trace on the playa, and that includes your efforts. Nobody in the Burning Man community likes to see something like this happen, and we certainly don’t want to see it happen again. If you’re out there, please enlighten the people of Black Rock City. What’s your story, and what can we all learn from your experience?
That’s all for now. Very soon, we’ll post the first Moop Map scores. Stay tuned to find out how your camp fared.