MOOP Map 2016: Day One – The Bodies and The Gears

“Killin’ time ‘til Resto.”

It’s a phrase often used in the DPW, or the Department of Public Works, Black Rock City’s builders and tearer-downers and cleaner-uppers. City superintendent Coyote likes to say we in the DPW build the first piece of art out here at Burning Man — the town grid and all the infrastructure upon it.

We build a boundary (the trash fence) and stretch a 9.5-square-mile city canvas for Burners to paint on.

As you know, all this has to disappear after Burning Man is over. Welcome to the realm of the Playa Restoration crew.

MOOP buckets are best made from 2-gallon water jugs with half the top cut out. Here they are on day one, up for grabs under the Resto trailer on the shoreline. DPW workers will personalize and mutilate these over the coming days.
MOOP buckets are best made from 2-gallon water jugs with half the top cut out. Here they are on day one, up for grabs under the Resto trailer on the shoreline. DPW workers will personalize and mutilate these over the coming days.

Burning Man didn’t get to be the world’s largest Leave No Trace event for nothing — the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, decides every year if we did a good enough job on the restoration to be permitted to do Burning Man again the following year. So we make sure we do.

Black Rock City’s 2016 BLM Site Inspection is slated for October 3. Since the Burning Man event ended and up until this past weekend, the DPW has struck the city and put everything back where it goes for the winter.

Dirty Bacon from Highway Cleanup (pictured) reports HALF the trash left or blown on the side of the roads as compared to last year. That's huge, people! Good work is happening all around the Burning community -- and radiating outwards -- because of good messaging and good will.
Dirty Bacon from Highway Cleanup (pictured) reports HALF the trash left or blown on the side of the roads as compared to last year. That’s huge, people! Good work is happening all around the Burning community — and radiating outwards — because of good messaging and good will.

Now, as of yesterday, Playa Restoration has started. Cue cheering and applause! This is the event some of us in the DPW have been waiting for all year. And you, Burners and MOOP enthusiasts at home, you’re eager to see how your neighborhood did on the MOOP map, aren’tcha? Hang on a sec. Let’s huddle for a recap of what Resto is.

Resto crew gathers round for the first time in 2016 and gets valuable advice: Watch your MOOP buckets so they don’t spread MOOP or let it go. Be here for roll call, and be close enough to hear your name. “The faster we move, the more we can clean,” line boss Starchild says. “It’s the only reason I agreed to go to Burning Man in the first place, that this happens afterward.”
Resto crew gathers round for the first time in 2016 and gets valuable advice: Watch your MOOP buckets so they don’t spread MOOP or let it go. Be here for roll call, and be close enough to hear your name. “The faster we move, the more we can clean,” line boss Starchild says. “It’s the only reason I agreed to go to Burning Man in the first place, that this happens afterward.”

We used to call it “cleanup” but that’s not specific enough. What the Resto team tries to do is to pick up every wayward wood chip, cigarette butt, and fleck of glitter on this otherwise immaculately clean-for-an-event-site piece of public land — and then to fluff, buff, and level out dunes so the playa itself can heal for the winter.

We got to the shoreline on Resto's first day and looked down at our feet. And there he was: The first piece of MOOP this writer scored for 2016 (lighter added for scale). A good sign, we'd say.
We got to the shoreline on Resto’s first day and looked down at our feet. And there he was: The first piece of MOOP this writer scored for 2016 (lighter added for scale). A nice sign, we’d say.

We do this gargantuan task in about two weeks, with Line Sweeps, with Special Forces, and with dunebusting — assisted by the auto shop, commissary, ranch, shoreline crew, office, housing, saloon, fluffers, and several other crews which keep the DPW cogs moving in the Playa Restoration machine.

Gather round, Resto leader DA says: There are 156 million square feet in this former city and we are about to walk as many of them as we can, unearthing and picking up tiny things, so the event can happen next year. There are 135 people on line sweeps this year, and this is the first time we’ve ever had four teams. We’ve had three teams from 2009-2015. Movin' on up.
Gather round, Resto leader DA says: There are 156 million square feet in this former city and we are about to walk as many of them as we can, unearthing and picking up tiny things, so the event can happen next year. There are 135 people on line sweeps this year, and this is the first time we’ve ever had four teams. We’ve had three teams from 2009-2015. Movin’ on up.

Playa Restoration Manager D.A. says that Black Rock City ‘is lookin’ pretty good’ this year. He says he saw more line sweeps, landscape rakes, shovels, and MOOP buckets in theme camps and camps in general at Burning Man than ever before. He’s not the only one. We see you, and we’re winking at you.

Because what we gather from that is: LEAVING NO TRACE IS UP TO ALL OF US. You all worked to make an effort to help Burning Man 2017 happen, and this is how you did it — by knowing the drill, packing it in, packing it out, and leaving no trace.

Stuart from Gerlach (standing on the right, with Resto boss D.A.) works with Willie Courtney to use his heavy equipment to deal with the decomposed granite generated by Burning Man's large burns. Decomposed granite, or DG, is local to the area, and was suggested by the BLM as a heat-absorbing way to protect the playa from burn scars. DPW pulls the MOOP and metal scraps out of the cinders; the DG gets scooped up, cleaned, and reused.
Stuart from Gerlach (standing on the right, with Resto boss D.A.) at the site of the Man Burn removes the decomosed granite that protects the playa surface from burn scarring.

Ever been a part of a line sweep before? It’s impossible to get an above-average picture of them at 2016’s Resto ops, because the sheer scale of it makes folks look like ants trailing off into the distance. So here’s some video D.A. took of the first line sweep of the year.

Burning Man’s reputation and practices have changed the way people use the Black Rock Desert in the off-Burning Man months, too: Now, when they come out and light things on fire and shoot at them, or shoot at their bottles, they might be laying down protection for the playa (and easier cleanup) first, because we don’t find a lot of trash on the desert any more. See? What we do affects what other people do.

Burners, give yourselves a preliminary round of applause. We’re looking good out there in 2016, knock on wood, and it’s all because YOU know how to spread the word.

and that's when the dust storms started to roll in. Soon after this photo, the entire playa turned to a swirling bowl of white. Observe how our dust tends to display an affinity for wrecking the west side of the playa with rolling brownouts in the post-Burn season. That’s the ancestors, doing their part to help us bust the fence dunes before any wet weather comes. Sailing the high seas of Lake Lahontan in high winds may be exhausting, and we're already getting pushed to the shoreline again today, but we’ll take all the help we can get.
… and that’s when the dust storms started to roll in. Soon after this photo, the entire playa turned to a swirling bowl of white. Observe how our dust tends to display an affinity for wrecking the west side of the playa with rolling brownouts in the post-Burn season. That’s the ancestors, doing their part to help us bust the fence dunes before any wet weather comes. Sailing the high seas of Lake Lahontan in high winds may be exhausting, and we’re already getting pushed to the shoreline again today, but we’ll take all the help we can get.

 

Now, if it’s your first time following along on the MOOP Map, green means good clean playa, yellow means some uh-ohs, and red means something went sort of badly as far as cleanup goes. Judge not on burniness, lest ye be judged on thy burniness, and all that. Stay positive; we’ll handle what you missed.

The important thing is to look at all that green, and realize it’s already as good or better than we’ve ever done. The Resto crew itself is moving at a speedy clip — although the crew got blown out by a masssive whiteout by 3pm yesterday, they covered almost as much ground as they expected to by 5. Today, if the dust would stop blowing, we could move even faster … but the wind’s picking up again.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for: Here are Day One’s MOOP Map results.

Read 'em and sweep!
Read ’em and sweep!

Follow Summer Burkes on Twitter.

About the author: Summer Burkes

Summer Burkes has been rousting about at Burning Man since 1998. She first met her dusty DPW / Cyclecide / Bike Club fam-dambly on the back of The Bucket. A Cacophony Society enthusiast, Summer loves explosions and cake.

40 Comments on “MOOP Map 2016: Day One – The Bodies and The Gears

  • QD says:

    To the Resto Crew,

    Thank you so much for all of your hard work. The Build Team cooks and the Resto Team does the dishes.

    I was curious if there is any documentation out there as to why some of the areas on the map are red?

    Thanks for everything you do,
    QD

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    • Ric (without the k) says:

      Big thanks and big love to all DPW. Every year we come back it’s because of your hard work the year before. Thank you

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    • QD, this is all we’ve got at the moment! The final map won’t come out for a while, but this is the first draft.

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      • Prize says:

        Oh My Gosh, how embarrassing – I’m afraid we left a piece of MOOP! That little wire man pictured next to the orange lighter belonged to my husband. It was given to him on his first burn 7 years ago. He has worn it every year since. Well, you know what happens to string on a sweaty neck in the desert after all that time? It breaks, and you lose your little man. We searched our camp and art car high and low to no avail. He was very bummed, but chalked (sp?) it up to, “the playa provides, the playa takes away”. What a treat to see this picture!! We sincerely apologize for leaving it, but hope it was pocketed and not thrown away. It could be a powerful talisman for someone, because for 7 years it’s been hanging over a big ol’ heart of gold.

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  • anon says:

    Love the moop map posts.

    I’ve heard about the decomposed granite underneath the various structures that get burned (and it was unclear if this was fact or rumor), but never seen any photos or videos of it being installed The moop map, at least in the past, only shows the camp areas and not all the burn areas in the playa, and there was (at least last year as I recall) a big red spot where the Man had been located. Are you able to post any photos/videos of the decomposed granite installation and more details of how it gets done (who digs, how deep, who pays, etc)—it would be interesting to see how it gets done and then how it gets uninstalled so it meets LNT principles.

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    • samson says:

      I’m no expert, nor am I on the crew for it, but DG is like gravel. It’s not installed it’s dumped and spread out.

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      • anon says:

        I am aware that decomposed granite is like gravel (thanks Google!), but how far down is the hole (I’ve heard stories from a 6 foot hole to just spread on the top of the playa) and how wide (again, varying stories) and some burns require decomposed granite while others don’t. Perhaps I’ve missed it, but I really like the how to posts on how the playa and facilities are created, but haven’t seen this issue, and how it relates now to cleanup/LNT, which is why it is done in the 1st place.

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      • Simon says:

        I ran the burn for a piece called the Sisya this year.

        Art teams pay a fee for the DG required if they’re planning to burn a piece. The Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) will deposit the DG at your build site before you begin construction, and (although they don’t promise to do this) in our case they also helped us spread it out. Thanks for that, FAST!

        Maybe the method is different for larger burns, but in general digging huge holes in the playa is a no-no, and for our (relatively small) piece the DG was just spread on top of the playa.

        Individual art crews are also responsible for cleanup of all ash, embers etc before the art support teams move in and remove the DG. There’s an additional deposit that won’t be returned if you fail to LNT your post-burn properly.

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    • Eric says:

      Hot fires on the playa surface produce a kind of fused playa akin to pottery. It’s called a burn scar and under the leave no trace doctrine must be removed. The decomposed granite and [i’ve seen in the past] sheet metal laid down minimizes this.

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      • Anon says:

        I was on Man Watch this year and someone told me they dig down four feet, keep that playa and fill it with the DG. You can tell from the consistency and the big rocks scattered around, where it ends and the playa begins. Then they scoop it out and return the playa that they saved. It’s not just dumped on top, as it is definitely level with the playa. All the burns I witnessed(most of them) had DG as a base.

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    • Dani says:

      I have seen plies of playa that were scraped up and moved over, under tarps and such, to make room for the DG under the man and the temple sites. I think it’s 2 or 3 feet deep, but to get a real answer, ask the Artery. They are the ones that would know. The big red spot at the man was moop.

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      • We never dig into the playa to make burn platforms. In fact that was a misleading name so they stopped calling them ‘platforms.’ The DG is spread on the playa for the burns, then cleaned up by the local-business vendor whose DG it is. They take the DG back to their home base, clean it, and reuse it; the DPW picks the playa clean afterward.

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    • Reddick, from Seaweed Artist Collective says:

      All burns need to be on a burn platform. The most common form of burn platform for large scale installations is DG. The ARTery works with the Artist to determine the scale of the platform, taking into consideration the size of the Art, the anticipated intensity of the fire and other factors. The cost of the DG is calculated into the total budget for the Art (basically the Artist pays), however ARTery provides a whole lot of pro bono assistance in securing, delivering and removing the DG. Extremely large scale projects get heavy equipment assistance in spreading the DG, smaller scale projects rely on their support crews to manually spread the DG.

      When we installed Mt Infinity (2014) we had a 60’x40′ platform at a uniform depth of 3″. It took 2 men 6 hours to get it spread properly, with 3 inspections before we got the OK to start building. Turns out we could have gotten away with at least 10′ less on all sides, as the mountain did a beautiful straight-down collapse, with virtually no spill-over, but the platform does need to be wide enough to catch any burning material that might topple over sideways, and Mt Infinity was 3 stories tall.

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      • Reddick says:

        After the burn dies down, it’s time for the Burn Watch and LNT crews to do their part. Burn Watch tries to get every bit of burnable material consumed in flame. After the coals cool off, LNT moves in to collect all metal and plastic, along with any bit of unconsumed wood and coals larger than a quarter. Once all of that foreign matter is removed from the entirety of the platform (and ARTery signs off on the LNT), Heavy Equipment moves in to remove the DG.

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  • The Hun says:

    Yeah RESTO!!!!!!! Yeah SUMMER B.

    Great blog and I’m missing you all something fierce. Keep walking the good walk. xo

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    • Thanks, The Hun! We miss you and your voice too!

      All yall go on back thru The Hun’s writing to see what’s been happening with the moop map and Resto for the past four years. There’s more info about the entire Resto operation, greening your burn, and Leave No Trace on The Hun’s pages than you can shake a moop stick at. You’ll be so educated on Resto afterward you could help us with the comments lol.

      http://journal.burningman.org/author/thehun/

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  • Captain says:

    Hi folks- THANK YOU for all you do!!

    Is there a larger/more hi-res version available anywhere as you go along?

    Thanks again

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  • Cecil Gohard says:

    KICKASS!! GREAT WORK!!

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  • Dani says:

    Would love to see one of those moop buckets after it’s been personalized. Thank you Resto!!!! XO

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  • Annelise says:

    I would love to see Leave no Trace connect with Zero Waste so that burners don’t clean up the playa, just to dump it in a landfill.
    Thanks for all your hard work!

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    • MataHari says:

      I was pleased to only have 1 bag of garbage this year – about the same as we would have produced back in Defaultia – including the extra moop I found. (Wet winter = lots of old stuff coming to the surface.) It really is possible. Buy smart: look for packaging that’s recyclable and leave that stuff in the recycle bin BEFORE the event; pare down; use Thinx if you’re on your period; buy bulk food that uses less or no packaging and use reusable packaging that can double for packing stuff (not just garbage) back out again.

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    • Jess says:

      I 100% agree, I can’t feel like I’m leaving no waste and decommodifying if I spend thousands on stuff to just dump it on the way out. What about a donations camp that brings in shipping containers and takes tents, socks, basins, tarps, furniture- anything useable but useless to the burner, cleans it, sorts it and partners with Salvation Army or the like in Reno for distribution/or sale for proceeds. Plus anything left over comes back next yeah to be gifted for any one lacking supplies. Net Zero your burn!

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  • Bright says:

    Thank you so much for taking such good care of that special piece of our earth.

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  • Thank you Resto Team! Your dedication and hard work inspires me to be a better Burner.

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  • Makfly says:

    Billions of thanks for your energy and help to maintain the playa virgin and help BM happen again. You’re doing an awesome job. I love you all. Best way to support you is trying harder to keep it clean before leaving. Respect to all teams working hard on it.

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  • Concerned says:

    Leave No Trace…except CO2, cuz that’s not important in today’s day and age right?

    Nonetheless, Thank you resto crew for all your hard work.

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    • Corvus says:

      Far more CO2 is created by the fuel used to get to the playa than all of the fires on it combined. If you’re truly concerned about Burning Man’s carbon footprint, stay home next year.

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  • Stephen Fosdick says:

    This was my second burn, and I was really disappointed by all the MOOP in the city this year, especially near porta-potties. Just carry a bag and pick it up … it’s not hard to do. Pay it forward, cause any of us can drop something without knowing.

    Lets cheer when we see a fellow burner pickup someone else’s MOOP, and call out those who step over MOOP rather than picking it up.

    And in my neighborhood, there were two locations were MOOP was tied to fishing line, and when you tried to pick it up, the jokesters would pull the line and then laugh at you. All this did, really, was reinforce the idea of “It’s not my MOOP, so someone else can deal with it.”

    Thank you, Resto Crew! Maybe, some day soon, every burner will do such an amazing job that your efforts after the burn will be so much easier.

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  • Savonnette says:

    A big heartfelt THANK YOU to the Resto crew!

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  • Darian Shapiro says:

    Bless you thank you all!
    Love ,gratitude and dusty hugs!!

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  • G says:

    Two things, and I really hope for an answer to the first one.

    What do they do with the used DG? If it is taken to a landfill, I am curious as to what and where that landfill is if I man ask?

    The playa surface was the best it has been in years. Yay for wet winters! I saw standing water there from a flight into Reno last February, but the water was centered, rather than edge to edge, but it did extend down to where BRC is. (we need a wetter winter!)
    When I pedaled out to the Catacomb of Veils, I could tell that the water had not reached out there because, big dunes! I am seriously hoping the dune busters pay attention to that area.

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  • Snarky Bastard says:

    Thank you DPW resto crew for all you do. Please tell me you didn’t any fuckin’ 747s left on the playa this year.

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  • toddball says:

    To whomever left 3 bean bag chairs hidden behind my RV wedged between it and the shipping container: you suck.

    D and 9:00 on border of outpost Tokyo. Lame!

    Thanks DPW.

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    • Gatt / The Green Hour says:

      Hey! That was our camp. We were your neighbors, The Green Hour. We didn’t have any bean bag chairs in our camp (moopy if they bust open!!) That doesn’t sound like they randomly blew in, it sounds like somebody stuffed them there. We raked our camp and everything. I’ll ask our last-departers if they saw them.

      It was a pleasure camping next to you folks again this year. Sorry this happened to you. :(

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