Welcome to Day 5 of Playa Restoration!
I woke up to find actual ice covering the windshield of my truck this morning — something I’ve never experienced during Resto before, and a sign of just how quickly and sharply temperatures have dropped out here.
Thankfully it looks like the worst weather is behind us, at least for the moment. Despite the freezing night, the skies were deep blue and mostly cloudless today, a dramatic contrast to the dreary gloom of the past few days.
While the rains may have passed, this cold snap is supposed to last for a few more days at least. During the morning meeting we were cautioned against using space heaters in our trailers due to the fire hazard they present. This led one Resto veteran to suggest a more… intimate solution to the problem of cold beds.
“Who needs a space heater?” advised Deacon, winking. “Just flirt better.”
Whatever their source of warmth during the night, the Resto All-Stars showed up this morning ready to pick up MOOP and chew bubblegum. And we’re fresh out of bubblegum. (Actually, thanks to the amazing DPW Fluffers we still have plenty of gum and other snacks. But you get the idea.)
For those who’ve asked if rain helps or hinders the work of Playa Restoration, the answer is… it depends.
Moderate rain can aid us, making MOOP more visible by clearing away dust and bringing things to the surface. This is especially beneficial after intense dust storms, like the ones that followed this year’s event. But heavier or more sustained storms can make it impossible for us to work. Since our goal is to cover as much of the event site as we can, in general we prefer to finish our work before the rains come — something that has been getting more challenging in recent years, as post-event precipitation arrives earlier and earlier.
To help us win this race against the weather, Playa Restoration created an entirely new team this year.
Called “Pre-Resto”, this 30 person crew began their work just as the event was ending—nearly 2 weeks before the start of normal Playa Restoration operations. Their target? Areas that tend to accumulate higher quantities of MOOP, such as the sites of popular art projects or along the perimeter fence.
By hitting these hotspots immediately, Pre-Resto not only lightened the workload for the main Resto force, but helped ensure that MOOP in these areas wouldn’t be missed, regardless of what the wind or weather might later do.
Pre-Resto also gives Resto newbies a chance to learn the ropes, as well as affording veterans the opportunity to tackle other roles, like Darius Humblefoot, a line sweeper who stepped up into the dual role of Roll Caller and Line Boss for Pre-Resto.
It’s also worth noting that, even though the 30-person Pre-Resto team is considered a “small” crew, that’s only in comparison to the full 180-person Playa Restoration team. During Resto’s early years, the entire crew was no bigger than Pre-Resto is now. To have grown this much is a great accomplishment, and a testament to our community’s growing commitment to leaving no trace, leading ever more people to volunteer for Playa Restoration.
If you’d like to be part of Playa Restoration, Pre-Resto, or any of our expanding cleanup and LNT operations, please contact the DPW volunteer coordinator. We’d love to have you join our team.
Now back to the MOOP Map!
We made huge progress today, sweeping a very green Center Camp and all but a few remaining blocks of the city. There’s still plenty of other areas to cover, but to be so close to completing the city grid in such a short time — hardly 6 days — is unprecedented.
What do we have to thank for this?
The greener each block is, the faster our line sweeps can move. Consequently, much of Resto’s progress depends on how clean participants leave the city. The better job that you do, the more ground we can cover, and the more thorough we can be. So to all the camps we walked today that made such a great effort to leave no trace, thank you! Your efforts mean that we’ll be able to spend more time sweeping the open playa, art sites, and areas beyond just the city grid.
We’re also seeing the benefit of our expanded crew. While the difference between ~130 people and ~180 people may not sound like much, when it comes to line sweeps every extra set of eyes helps. Not only do denser lines miss less MOOP, but they hold their shape better, requiring less catherding from the line bosses, and helping everyone maintain a steadier pace.
Experience and motivation also plays a role. We’re now nearly a week in, and by now everyone is pretty well dialed in to the weird nuances of walking an empty desert following an invisible circle. With completion of the city grid in sight, the likelihood also increases that we’ll be able to take Sunday off. (Days off during Resto are never guaranteed, and their resulting allure cannot be overstated.)
Weather is another significant factor. If it’s extremely cold or wet, the Resto lines start to lose energy and focus. Too hot or windless, and the threat becomes dehydration and heat exhaustion. In either case, our pace suffers. While still too cold to be considered “perfect” Resto weather, today was a definite improvement over yesterday, and grew steadily warmer as the day went on, leading to a day of steady, satisfying progress.
Here’s where the MOOP Map stands at the end of Day 5.
>> Remember: this map is only a rough draft. For final MOOP Map results, wait until the new year and contact the Placement department. <<