Finally, the weather cleared up and Resto got in a full day’s work. The line sweep crews made their way towards 10 and beyond, finshing the four back blocks of the city they started the day before, advancing from 9:45 to 10:15. They then lined up at 10:15 and worked Esplanade to C, back to 6:30. Last, C through G streets got swept from 6:30 to 7:30 before quittin’ time.
At the end of the day everyone was pleasantly exhausted and satisfied from completing a whole day’s labor on the lines.
Just a quick recap on what MOOP is: It’s a word in Burning Man culture that means ‘matter out of place.’ MOOP is anything and everything that’s not native to the immediate environment. And since our environment at Burning Man is the flat blank ancient alkali dust bed of Lake Lahontan, MOOP is literally everything.
The MOOP picked up by Resto and marked on the MOOP Map is often clear evidence of whatever happened in that spot. We find bits of food near what looks like a kitchen. Beer tabs, bottle tops, lime wedges, broken glass? Probably the bar … Firewood near the burn barrel; cool shit by the Rave Zones. But mainly, it simply looks like Burning Man happened. People had a good time and may have missed a spot during cleanup after 70,000 of their new friends danced over that MOOP and trampled it into the dust, only for it to be uncovered by the wind weeks later.
Resto is like a 130 person CSI MOOP army unearthing the forensic remains of Black Rock City. We enjoy leaving the Black Rock Desert beautiful. This is a prototypical site out here for a way of life, and Resto strives to ensure the worldwide Burning Man community can continue fostering temporary autonomous zones in which to build and burn — and do it again and again, to whatever end.
In case you were curious, the most commonly found MOOP is wood: Wood chips, firewood bark, splinters, and sawdust. Use tarps for wood-cutting construction areas and firewood in your camps — and clean those tarps daily and often, because dust storms could be coming to blow the chips off the tarp and bury your MOOP in labor-intensive dunes.
As far as large trash goes, we’ve got good news there: Three years ago, the DPW collected five dumpsters full of abandoned items. Two years ago, we had four, on the post-event special DPW op we lovingly call the Trash Train. And this year we — Black Rock City — reduced our abandoned-items waste another 30-yard dumpster to three. Only THREE dumpsters this year, people, for a city of 70,000 and change.
“There’s usually a couch mountain every year, too,” Jedi says, “and there’s NO couch mountain this year.” ::applause::
MOOP is also down. 2016 appears to be one of the cleanest years ever (knock on wood because you never know what’s out there). Highway trash for the Litterati is also down by half. HALF. That’s good burnin’. Community cleanup effort means everything to us. We can’t do this without y’all.
We need to stay this Good At It and get better — and the best way to do that is MOOP and clean when you get to BRC, throughout the week of Burning Man, when you’re out in the city with your special little good-citizen MOOP bag … and again as you’re packing for home. Think of the dishes in the sink metaphor — do you want to rinse them off now while they’re freshly dirty, or wait ‘til they get all crusty and piled up? Yeah.
What about the people who believe some MOOP flew away down to the open playa? Well, we’ve heard that one before, and here’s the deal: By the time Resto begins (two weeks after Burning Man ends), most any MOOP light enough to blow around the playa floor has made it to the trash fence and is cleaned up there. The DPW leaves the trash fence up until every bit of infrastructure is gone. Then on De-Fence day, we take the fence down and kick through the dunes and MOOP them at the same time. There’s usually not much MOOP in the fence dunes.
Why wouldn’t there be much in the fence dunes? All the windblown MOOP during Burning Man already made it to the trash fence long ago, and got scooped up on a daily and maybe hourly basis by either the Earth Guardians, DPW Fence crew members, or the numerous volunteers in the community who walk the trash fence when Black Rock City is in operation. We thank you for that!
Collectively, after De-Fence, the Resto crew does enough random-location driving on the city site to spot and collect the errant pieces of larger (two-three-inch) MOOP, which are easily visible now in the harsh sunlight on our blank desert canvas. One of D.A’s jobs is to get eyes on the playa, and be everywhere before the crew is. If he doesn’t catch it, one of the Special Forces, Rangers, Medics, or Fluffers crew will get it on their missions ’round the city site.
There’s a reason we keep passing this BLM Site Inspection test — and it’s not an easy test. It’s not about us in the DPW, it’s about the community. If Burning Man weren’t this arty enlightenment apocalypse training city, and just a regular ol’ festival with 70,000 people not committed to Leave No Trace, our record wouldn’t be anything like this. We wouldn’t be allowed to play here.
We can look at the MOOP map and understand exactly what kind of time we’re having with a section of town: If Resto progressed quick and easy, we call the area green. Sure, there’s still MOOP here and there, but nothing enough to break our stride.
If Resto’s progress is stop and go, we call it yellow. Proceed with caution. If Resto’s progress is slow-going and sluggish pace or at a dead stop, we call it red. Then we mark it on a map.
The city intersections and flags are all still up, so we know exactly where we are at all times. Additionally we have GPS units that we use to make waypoints, photos, and notes to support our coloring process. To the Resto crew though, the MOOP map is less about which camps did well or poorly in the cleanup game, and more about the pace we’re going through the city — where we’re cruising and where we hit a brick wall.
The MOOP Map isn’t rocket science. It represents Burning Man’s cleanup effort and Resto’s progress through Black Rock City as we pick up what everyone else missed. We’re not about shaming people or camps — only showing the map so everyone can see how much green there is and talk about making it solid green everywhere in the future. The important thing to remember is: Each year the map gets greener.
Here’s the MOOP Map for Day Four.
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