Ties That Bind, Ties That Burn: Burning Man in the Age of Coronavirus

Like you, we’ve been watching with alarm and growing dread as the coronavirus has spread around the globe. And this week, it hit home hard for all of us at our San Francisco office, as residents of California were ordered to shelter in place for at least three weeks.

It might not surprise you though to learn that for many of us, sheltering in place wasn’t that hard of a mental reach — we already know and practice how to provide for ourselves and others. So we dusted off our playa shopping lists, hung up some blinky light strings, and got set to be home for a while.

Our extended community has in a very real way been practicing for this moment for years — how to provide for ourselves in a difficult environment, and then how to take care of each other and those in need. Just like on the playa, once you’ve provided for your own basic needs, the impulse we’re seeing so many have next is, “Who can I help? How can I contribute?”

A case in point right here in the Bay Area — Burners are RIGHT NOW organizing the collection of unused N95 masks to be donated to front-line medical workers in need, and in just a couple hours have already found dozens squirreled away in their playa bins. Got some to donate? Email tomwprice@gmail.com to arrange safe pickup and delivery. Live outside the Bay Area? Burners Without Borders is helping you with resources to reach out to your community and organize a collection on your own. Don’t wait for someone else to lead — remember we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Things like this can happen in our community because Black Rock City is a place where when someone has a bold idea, people don’t respond by saying, “Here’s why it won’t work,” but rather, “Here’s how I can help.”

The power and impact of that community-centric way of thinking is really needed right now. Many members of our community are artists, makers, and small business owners, who have watched their income evaporate overnight. They may be physically safe, but financially and otherwise are in precarious places. We urge you to reach out into your community, find those in need, and then find out “here’s how I can help,” and then we ask you to share your stories here.

We’d also love to hear about how you’re staying connected during what can certainly feel like an isolating time. How are you coming together to stay apart? This piece from the one-and-only Caveat has some great thoughts on bridging the physical gap and staying connected.

In moments like this, it can be hard to imagine a better time, one where this experience is a memory. Hard too to imagine packing up and heading out to the desert in August. And yet, we know that with enough work, we will all get through this.

Right now, countries like China and South Korea have successfully begun to “flatten the curve,” and some have suggested that here in the US this crisis will peak in the next few months, and then begin to subside. Many canceled springtime events are already re-booked for this fall, some of which are now set to happen shortly after Labor Day. The truth is, we don’t know — no one does. And yet the calendar marches on, and with it our need to plan ahead. So, until we learn otherwise, we are going to proceed thoughtfully and mindfully with preparing for Black Rock City 2020. This means we are continuing with the Theme Camp Symposium on March 28, which will be online of course, and in early April we will be distributing art grants to the artists who have been awarded honorarium. Main Sale tickets are scheduled to begin registration on April 1. This will possibly be delayed, and exact details will be forthcoming.

Information changes daily, and the spread and extent of the virus and how it could affect our gathering in the Nevada desert is largely unknown. The event is scheduled to happen in five months. But a lot can happen between then and now, so please know we will be coming back to you often as we learn more and our decision making firms up.

As for how Burning Man events might change, as always that is for us to decide together. The nature of what we co-create is a special gift in a moment like this; as a temporary community built entirely by its participants, Black Rock City is a place we collectively get to reimagine and remake literally from the ground up every year. Which means if and when we do decide to proceed, we’ll be able to examine what and how we do it, and then re-engineer our camps and art and interactions to make them as safe and responsible as possible.

To that end, over the next several months, we’ll be rolling out a series of updates, suggestions, and new tools, for how we will safely and responsibly come together at the end of this summer. (If someone has a design for a DIY foot pump hand-wash station, for example, we’d love to see it.)

Some have asked what if anything this means for our long-term sustainability plans. The short answer is we need to walk and chew gum at the same time. Climate change threatens the same scale of broad, deep impacts as the coronavirus, albeit over a longer time scale, and also offers similar choices to each of us as to how we acknowledge, and accept personal responsibility, for our role as a member of our global community to help solve that crisis as well.

We intend to make the annual event and global community an ever-evolving laboratory of innovation and experimentation, where the best ideas can be tried, refined, and shared in an open and collaborative way.

As members of the year-round Burning Man community, we’ve all had the experience of making a profound connection with someone, without knowing their background or bank account, often without even knowing their name. Yes, the art is amazing and the music is great and the experience is often overwhelming, but at its core, Burning Man is a year-round community of people united by shared values and a commitment to creating something better, together.

Those kinds of connections, our capacity to share with strangers and make moments of magic together, are the heart of what the Burning Man community is all about. And they are the exact same skills and mindset that will help us all get through the storm that is COVID-19.

You don’t need to be on the playa or at a Regional Event to have those moments of magic, of synchronicity, of wonder. We can build those moments wherever we are, when we let our guard down, open our hearts, and ask what can be. We look forward to joining you in co-creating that future.

For more information about Burning Man, Black Rock City 2020, and COVID-19, please see this related post.

(Indeed, many things take many players at Burning Man Project HQ. Today I’d like to tip my cat ears to Thumper for his support on this post.)


Top photo by Marcin Frej

About the author: Marian Goodell

Marian Goodell

Marian serves as Burning Man Project’s first Chief Executive Officer. She first attended Burning Man in 1995, met Larry and the other organizers in the fall of 1996, and in 1997 helped found the contemporary Burning Man organization. In previous roles, she was the Director of Business and Communications, briefly oversaw the Black Rock City Department of Public Works, and steered the development of the Burning Man Regional Network, which is now on six continents, with more than 300 representatives in 37 countries. Marian is currently leading the organization’s efforts to facilitate and extend the Burning Man ethos globally.

106 Comments on “Ties That Bind, Ties That Burn: Burning Man in the Age of Coronavirus

  • Meghan “Megs” Rutigliano says:

    Beautifully stated, Marian and team.

    Report comment

    • Pam Delaney says:

      Hi everyone: PLEAAAAASE. cancel–the Covid 19 virus is expected to go in waves. The last thing we need is a gathering of 60,00 people from all over the globe–We would be a giant poetry dish! It is a sad thing, but humane and responsible.. .

      Report comment

      • Emiluz Picante says:

        I like the idea of a giant poetry dish but not a petri dish growing shared virus particles with friends and new friends (aka former strangers)
        I agree that we should look forward to some sort of rebirth in 2021 with live hugs and renewed ties….but how about a virtual Burning Man celebration? wouldn’t make as much money for the Borg but could save resources and lives for many…..

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    • Rose Puntillo says:

      Could BM use our ticket money as a donation and give us donors a tax doc showing we spent over a thousand dollars?

      Report comment

    • K Sta says:

      What would help tie our bond is getting my money back on my DGS! The Org needs to directly address this ASAP! Come on!

      Report comment

    • kellie ann harte says:

      Please this year for the sake of mankind, cancel.
      Why endanger the world for one event?

      Report comment

  • pat in austin says:

    Thanks, Marian. Interesting times, indeed, and no easy answers.

    Report comment

  • Shpilkus says:

    Marian, frequent updates are very much appreciated–even if there is little or no new information to add. Silence and long gaps are very frustrating and a bit unnerving. Thank you for all you do for this awesome community.
    Hugs!!!!

    Report comment

  • Alex Domingo says:

    Well stated, Marian.

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  • john curley says:

    great job, thank you

    Report comment

  • Bertha's Keeper says:

    DIY field hand wash station

    https://youtu.be/embBA1LASpA

    Remember to bring post card stamps.

    BK, Post Master, PO@6

    Report comment

  • CampMaster says:

    Thank you. This is what I always expected.

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  • Infored says:

    I hope your risk management plan includes enough $ to carry staff for a year if cancled so at least some tix refund can be considered.

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    • Mike Chiodini says:

      Appreciate the update Marian and keeping us informed. We do have an amazing community and well prepared. Now we can help others in this time of anxiety and separation. Love that we are able to share resources and show compasion.

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  • Richard Art Felix aka Felicious says:

    Thank you Marian..
    Yes ..we have been preparing for this .. all along.. radical self reliance, civic responsibility, and communal effort.

    We will see if we can find some extra masks.

    I was thinking maybe we should / could / ask / mobilize our makers and sewer Burners and friends to make some DIY N95 Masks

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    • Nurse Bacon says:

      I am a long time Burner and an ER Nurse. Started my career at SFGH and am now in Reno at the trauma center. As I sewed my own mask yesterday, listening to a mix by a favorite camp mate/friend/DJ I knew this was something I had trained for. I always say, the most important lessons in my life have been sparked from my playa life. Now I see the skills of the playa supporting me in a very difficult and scary time in my reality. As I sewed, I felt grateful for all the gifts my experience as a Burner has given me. The heartache, the hope, the true loves are keeping me well and strong in a time like this. Wishing you all well.

      Report comment

      • Riki says:

        Thank you for your courageous wise heart of service. I have a sense that your mask is woven with powerful psychic protection like an extra skin well earned by many a playa dust storm.

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      • Emiluz Picante says:

        As a recently retired ob/gyn doctor, I have fears and maybe some hope about rejoining the frontline for healthcare providers. Since I am over 65, this seems to be more threatening and I have not yet jumped into the fray. My sewing machine is out and I wonder if the homemade mask-making project is feasible or helpful.
        Although I would be glad to use a cloth mask for BRC, and often use a scarf instead of a commercial mask, I think the commercial efforts being made to make more “official ” masks are better than what I could do. How do we provide support without sharing viral particles? Quandaries aabound…thanks for being on the frontlines, Nurse Bacon! (also I am a Reno native, graduated from UNSOM in 86)

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  • Whipping Post says:

    We too, have been preparing for this for many years, all along, radical self reliance, civic responsibility, radical expression, and communal effort.

    Report comment

  • Sulanita says:

    YES, good writing. Great job! But if BM is cancelled we we will need our already purchased ticket money refunded.

    Report comment

    • F Y B says:

      She has a 260000 salary to receive, good luck w the refund.

      Report comment

    • eric says:

      I agree! I have been saving up from my own art sales, and was able to buy my FOMO ticket. I am not wealthy, and hope and pray that I will be refunded.

      If not that, then AT LEAST a guaranteed ticket for next years burn..

      Report comment

      • Brian Beitman says:

        I have been a Burner for many years. This year is the first time we did the FOMO sale to be sure we got our tickets. Of coarse its on a card and we will pay for it, except in the months to pay now we see that it will not happen. It wasn’t an issue when we bought the tickets but is now. The “right” thing to do would be refund and or give us tickets for the 2021 Burn. I could surely be ready by then, (LOL). I am a Burner and live my day to day with all in heart but am still a man in the “not so real world” the other 51 weeks of the year. I went the long route to get tickets this year at the FOMO with the intent of the for sure, for sure facture. It wasn’t could I afford it, it was, can I afford not to go. Making the payments on the card seems a little painful now for tickets that cant be used, if you know what I mean. I wouldn’t donate to be in debt.

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  • Elliot Naess says:

    Foot-pumps, of at least two different basic types, for pumping water into a wash-basin are readily available, as they are used in RVs and boats. Simply search on “RV foot pump” and “marine foot pump”.

    Report comment

  • Pritish says:

    BM 2020: would be a Bad Idea at this time, for me and our community -given the virus science, and CA gov annc/predicted 56% very likely rate of infections in CA.

    Each mental exercise/ “table top” I can imagine, ends with that BM2020 was a bad idea, possibly much worse.

    E.g. What if a greeter gets covid19 as we don’t have a vaccine for ~12+months ( let’s call it the BM:contagion-simulation! ) – burner1 coughs in car-hugs then gate1/greeter1 (hugs, everyone) > 500 burners who hug/touch everyone in camp (yay, new arrivals!) Then they, the existing or newly infected return to their across the globe, non-vaccine-able until after Jan ’21

    Or here’s another:

    I.e. if 50% of folks had c19 before BM, it becomes 100% during or after. With no vaccine widely available till at least Jan’21 and without BM having a much larger scale medical facilities =BM is Not Safe at this time.

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    • tony says:

      Please calm down..

      Report comment

      • Pritish says:

        It is unconscionable for any leadership to get people together in any well-known life-threatening conditions (whether it be Burning Man, local, state, US or international events).

        Now is not the time for amateur hour.

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    • dead letter says:

      Oops, I accidentally hit report when I meant reply.

      Local burners say,”you’re bitter, stay home” when I bring up these issues. I don’t see the school year starting up again, much less 60,000 people being allowed to gather.

      Let’s suppose some people become feverish and need help on playa – are we going to treat them on site with a massively communicable disease? Life flight them? Will the burn be three times the radius because everyone needs six feet? It seems the height of hubris to say, “let’s all put on our can-do attitude!” while selling a lemon. How about cancelling the event and THEN talk to us about how the community should pivot it’s energies to solutions. THAT would be leadership.

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      • Inspector Patchez says:

        Dude, it is full 5 months till the BM. We can barely give an accurate weather forecast for a few days in advance, much less predict how the situation with C-19 will turn out that far in the future.
        Let’s take it one day at a time, practice safe social distancing and monitor the situation closely.
        El virus no pasara!

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      • SinglePly says:

        2019 Burning Man – Black Rock City

        Did You Know?

        Human beings shed about 8 pounds of dead skin cells each year or 0.02 pounds per day.

        If 80,000 people attended Burning Man over seven days they shed approximately 6 tons of dead skin cells.

        MOOP that!

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  • Sars says:

    This post gave me SARS.

    Report comment

  • Carbon Bunny says:

    Wait, climate change is man-made? Is that BMorg’s official position, yet continues to dump tons of carbon into the atmosphere for entertainment… Is morality a moveable feast?

    Report comment

    • Richard says:

      Climate Change is the biggest scam on the planet.

      Report comment

      • Leonardo says:

        Notice how people use the term ‘climate change’ which is quickly followed by ‘responsibility’. As in, you did it or you’re not doing enough to help out. Helping out will come in the form of a global carbon tax. The more people who accept that it’s-the-people-done-did-it the easier it will be to pass the tax… uh, they said I need to do something so I’ll be quiet and pay the tax.

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    • SinglePly says:

      2019 Burning Man – Black Rock City

      Did You Know?

      About 80,000 participants, event employees and volunteers produced approximately 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. An average of 2,500 pounds per individual.

      By comparison, the entire state of Nevada (3 million people) produced approximately 1,300,000 tons within an equivalent time period. An average of 607 pounds per citizen.

      In other words Black Rock City produced the equivalent of 11% of Nevada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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      • Richard says:

        Carbon Dioxide is FOOD for plants. Climate Change is the BIGGEST scam on the planet.

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      • Flipit says:

        How much would those participants alternately be generating during the same period staying in California, Oregon, Florida, London, or Sydney or wherever?

        Would they generate more or less traveling somewhere else for the same period and not leaving their car parked for a week?

        Not necessarily saying that the burn has no effect on greenhouse emissions, but should be measured for global impact not on total emissions but by the marginal difference per person vs alternatives.

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  • GG says:

    So do you plan on giving full refunds,including vehicle passes, to everyone if BM cancels due to the coronavirus pandemic? If not, are you prepared to deal with the blowback of ripping off tens of thousands of people and jeopardizing the future of BM? No one will ever buy tickets in the future if you rip people off over this.

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    • John Barleycorn says:

      A related question is how much can the org afford to lose before it is required to radically downsize (or simply liquidate)? I can’t answer that, but I would imagine that is part of the analysis. I expect there will be some of compromise; either the option of partial refunds, or credit toward a future event (2021?).

      Report comment

    • Megan Miller says:

      Here’s what we know so far about refunds:

      “Many of you have purchased or are considering purchasing tickets to the 2020 event and are wondering what will happen if we have to cancel. We are exploring every possible option for offering refunds if the coronavirus pandemic ultimately requires cancellation of the 2020 event. Our terms and conditions state that tickets are non-refundable “for any reason,” but we recognize the extremely unusual circumstance we’re all in. Issuing refunds would be challenging for our nonprofit organization, which supports year-round staff and programming, but we are aware of and sensitive to the difficult financial position so many members of our global community are in right now. Like you, we’re feeling our way in the dark here. We are examining all possible scenarios that would enable all of us to weather this storm while continuing to build our home in Black Rock City together, at a later date if not in 2020.”

      That’s from this post: https://journal.burningman.org/2020/03/news/official-announcements/statement-on-coronavirus/

      Report comment

      • Smarter Than says:

        Wow. Really? You’re going to reference the non-refundable term when the org has plenty of money in the bank? That’s rich. Yes these are “extremely unusual” times. And because your financials are public info, it’s going to create a lot of super bad PR for the org if you don’t refund tickets and v passes.
        (I know for a fact that companies are getting out of contracts so please don’t make the excuse that BM is already out money for contracted services. Not gonna fly.)
        It’s time for the org to reconsider its bloated staff, expenses (travel, entertainment, etc.), carbon footprint and disposable assets and practice what you preach, including *seriously* considering putting the annual event on a one-year hiatus: “You don’t need to be on the playa or at a Regional Event to have those moments of magic, of synchronicity, of wonder.”

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    • PlumLightnin' says:

      Many of us can afford to wait a year and just apply our tix then. Different sitch for some, certainly. But I would not require that all tix be refunded.
      And while it might be a stretch to have C19 under control by August, it is possible. And if not, there’s always next year. So let’s just sit tight, not fly off the handle, do our best to avoid transmitting the virus, and see how things develop.

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      • drtune says:

        Applying tickets to next year is much the same as giving a refund this year (marginally cheaper, no processing fees etc). The org has $10m in a rainy day fund, and it’s clearly raining. If they keep the 2020 DGS money to feed themselves and their supply chain this year they are prioritizing their own survival above that of their most loyal base. Saying “we are going ahead as planned” means signing contracts and writing checks every day (and I’d assume those supplier contracts will have different wording – higher nonrefundable deposits – than a month ago). There is nobody within the org or its vendors who wants 2020 cancelled; everyone wants to get paid (more than ever, right now). Sticking fingers in ears and saying lalalalala while continuing to sign contracts and write checks is the ‘heroic’ thing to do, and hey, if the event does happen, they kept the faith and toughed it out etc. If not, not their fault but oops the money is spent. Running the main sale at this point would be a bold move indeed (and may result in tumbleweeds as people stay away in droves), but not running it is conceding the event is cancelled. My hope and expectation is that we get as much of a refund as is humanly possible and the org survives on its rainy day money. Bear in mind the brand is so goddamn strong that a 2021 ticket sale (assuming panic is over) will be a sellout no question; there are millions of people around the world in love with the vision of the playa they see on YouTube. It will rain money on the org once again next year.

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      • drtune says:

        …if the main sale is delayed (as Marion suggests is possible), that is kicking the can further down the road. It avoids an embarrassing situation of a sale that sells relatively few tickets, and it avoids cancelling the sale outright which equals a cancellation of the whole event. In the meantime, because event is nominally going ahead, money gets spent. If I was a supplier to BM2020 I’d be wildly keen to get my contracts signed right now; the strong possibility of not actually having to fulfill them come August would be a windfall that I’d be quietly planning for. Wouldn’t you?

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    • FYB says:

      The majority of people who got tkts are the builders of the city, DGS tkts are allocated to theme camps.

      Way to screw over the people who actually build BRC.

      But remind me again who was a the Manish Aurora show last year?

      Oh right never mind.

      Report comment

      • Org doesn’t care says:

        This. The people being left in the wind right now are the most important to the event.

        The refunds should ALREADY be available, because the impact of this is already enough that the org leadership should WANT to provide them the flexibility to take an off year and use funds elsewhere.

        One thing the virus has done is lay bare so much of what has been obscured for so long. False pretenses, motivations, and allegiances to core values.

        The equivocation and dithering posture described in this blog entry exemplifies that this event is about the org, and the org’s interest above all else.

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      • Ted says:

        Majority of theme camps members are connected partiers that don’t build the city. Zero qualifications to get dgs other then being a Reg theme camp. Dgs is a huge scam. Would be great of dgs holders lost the money.

        Report comment

  • Freddy Hahne says:

    Marian’s sentiments for the Burning Man Communities are brilliantly espoused. It is the glue that binds us… it is stronger and more resilient than coronavirus… “who can I help, how can I contribute”.

    Report comment

  • Dustin says:

    Thank you Marian for a thoughtful post. I for one would be happy to be guaranteed tix to 2021 based on my purchase in this years DGS.

    Report comment

    • Jimmy Hat says:

      I am curious why you think that would be a likely event? I think afrikaburn explained it the best. This year’s tickets fund this year’s event. Next year’s tickets fund next year’s event. To make 2020 tickets apply to 2021, you will have no tickets for sale for 2021. That would equal a 100% refund not counting your inconvenience.

      Considering all options means nothing. I also told my kids that I would consider getting a pony. Regretfully after much deliberation, it was not possible.

      https://burningman.org/expenses/expenses-2017/
      A bunch of the expenses occurs regardless if the event actually happens or not. The money is already spent.

      Even if this could cause bad PR and a lot of anger. The event will have no problem selling out in 2021. There is nothing like it. I have never been able to get a tickets for less than 3 times what you pay for a ticket.

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  • Dr Bungee says:

    The DGS is a “reward” for those who put in the time, and spend the money to help make BM happen. Are we now the ones who will be “punished” by not getting a full refund for money already spent? After years of contributing to something we love, this would be the ultimate irony.

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  • Richard says:

    You really want to quote “China”? The country the lies and steals everything in its path? I’ll believe what the President says as well as other western countries first thank you very much.

    Report comment

    • Freddy says:

      Wait a minute… Richard, do I understand you correctly? You are trusting Donald Trump because you believe he speaks the truth and does not lie?

      Report comment

      • Richard says:

        That would be correct. I assume you are part of the far left woke who thinks 100% of what the President says is a lie? Fully open borders? Poop and Needles everywhere? Woke much?

        This “wokeness” and “hatred” of our President is the real lie. Its too bad people are so brainwashed. We are the laughing stock of the world…..you people on the left REALLY REALLY need to wake up.

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      • Sunny Day says:

        “This “wokeness” and “hatred” of our President is the real lie. Its too bad people are so brainwashed. We are the laughing stock of the world…..you people on the left REALLY REALLY need to wake up.”…

        I didn’t smoke or ingest anything, I promise, but nevertheless I am hallucinating reading this post from this person. We are already living in a parallel universe from the one before with no CoronaVirus , in which multiverse are you living friend? FoxNews one?

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      • Richard says:

        “I didn’t smoke or ingest anything, I promise, but nevertheless I am hallucinating reading this post from this person. We are already living in a parallel universe from the one before with no CoronaVirus , in which multiverse are you living friend? FoxNews one?”

        I rest my case…..the “woke” community is why the US is the laughing stock of the world. Well done wokies…..

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    • XX says:

      It appears to me that the stable genius with great and unmatched wisdom recruits his supporters by tapping into their anger and the fear of others. Your posting here clearly supports that observation.

      Report comment

      • King Richard says:

        Donald Duck said that CORVID 19 would not be a problem in America, then it was and he said he never said it wouldn’t be a problem. Last night Donald Trump said the economy is more important than the people that may die from this….Don’t be a Richard…..Richard.

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  • River_Chainwax says:

    If we calm down and *stay home* until the burn, we wouldn’t have a problem. See you on the playa.

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  • Rita Volkland says:

    My husband and I have discussed it and if it has to be canceled we’re okay with having our tickets held over until next year. Thanks for addressing the issue. Love, peace, and well-being to all. <3

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  • Papa Penguin says:

    Going to the playa is but an interruption to the year-round planning to go to the playa process.

    Now don’t get me wrong, it is a VERY welcome interruption and I will be highly disappointed if there is no home to go to this year – but I would be even more disappointed if we as a collective group of humans put our desire to get dusty before the health and safety of the whole of humanity.

    That being said, thank you Marian, thank you for the information, please keep the channels open, sharing knowledge of what is happening is key to keeping a community together. Not just for the sake of getting dust in curious places, but for our neighbors, friends, family and those who will never meet I hope we get this virus beat soon.

    PP

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  • Purell MV says:

    There’s a bit of chat about refunds on the thread recently, but personally I find it hard that that thing in the desert is gonna keep us in isolation and away from on another in five months time.
    Maybe the special recreation permit is expanded from 13% of the Black Rock Playa to 39% and we do a redesign on BRC. Anything can happen, so I woudl say let’s share the best way to protect one another if we feel it is safe enough or downsizing the event(s). Could be a fun experiment.. Stay safe and thanks Marian and BMP.

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  • drtune says:

    My co-camp-organizer’s sister died on Friday. Flu-like symptoms last monday. No test results yet, but it’s academic now anyway. She was in her 30’s, two kids. When someone you know dies, talk of “maybe 2020” will seem as absurd to you as it now does to me. I know you don’t want to believe this; neither do I, but this is Not A Fucking Drill, she’s dead. She won’t be the last. I won’t include a hard link to the gofundme because I don’t want it to look like I’m trawling for donations, but you can go look it up if you like. Her name was Katie Hutchens, and she was a schoolteacher. When we next have BRC, she’ll be one of hundreds – …more? of people being grieved in the Temple. Let’s hope it’s a beautiful structure. Am in tears.

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  • Wrangler says:

    The river community has had a hand-wash station for years that uses a pump and two buckets (one with clean water or river water and one for soapy water from hands). An example of one is here: https://www.nrs.com/product/71208.01/down-river-hand-wash-station

    We use one at Black Rock City Supper Club and have all of our artists and crews wash before eating.

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  • Magnum says:

    It is a fools notion to think that the org is driven by anything other money. Given the large salary earned by each member, cancelling the event hurts no one but themselves.

    The event needs to be canceled today. Not next month, not next week, but now.

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  • b* says:

    Can you share what the impact on BMORG would be of receiving no revenue from ticket sales this year with a canceled event?

    Trying to understand what worst-case projections look like so that as a community we can donate funds if needed.

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  • Diane Strada says:

    Regardless of what Burning Man decides to do….I think that the BLM or the state of Nevada could cancel the event at any time. Thoughts?

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  • Julie Kenworth says:

    We keep hearing the term “social distancing” but those of us in the mental health field prefer “physical distancing”. We need to be social more now than ever, just not face to face.
    To that end, a lot of my clients are having a hard time dealing with all that has come with the shelter in place directive, including the idea that BM might not happen. If anyone is struggling, therapists are here to help. With many telehealth and reduced rate/pro bono options, we can support each other in a very real way.

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  • Teal says:

    Is the main sale going on April 8th? Wouldn’t it be wise to postpone it until we see what the future brings with this virus. Why sell all these tickets now if the event has to be postponed or cancelled? I think we all need to face that fact that it may not be allowed to be held at the end of August.

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    • broom says:

      well, 20 000 tickets equals 9 m USD?. BMorg already hints that they need cash for all the staff that is on the permanent contracts at BMOrg.
      They will not postpone the sales, because the game is to sell before the event is cancelled

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  • Charles says:

    My first burn was 2019. Solo adventure.
    The tone I hear in these post sounds nothing like what I saw , felt or heard.
    Be civil.
    Love one another

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  • It Was On Fire When I Got Here says:

    POSTPONE THE MAIN SALE

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  • Michele says:

    My darling hubs and I were just talking about the risk of attending this year, and we go home every year to contribute and participate on the playa. Risk Analysis: I studied statistical epidemiology and lots of Public Health in college recently graduated too. The risks to public health now today, according to PHS, are very high, and the same risk level is expected for the next 30 days, as of today, 03/20/2020. We will know if “the curve” flattens in about 3-4 weeks, per PHS. In case the curve does not flatten sufficiently in 4 weeks, BM is 4 months away. The longer it takes for the curve to flatten, the higher the risk of incidence of COVID infections for several months following into June/July/August, the risk of serious symptoms on the playa may be higher due to the individual’s health status, lung health (smoker vs. non-smoker), dry dust conditions on the playa, along with the overall lifestyle while on the playa. There is also a risk of pre-event builders to be contagious to others while on the playa before and then after event opening, it could spread. This means the rampart and EMS may not be able to handle several respiratory issues. Overwhelming the health care system with respiratory infections and acute patients with chronic illness is Public Health’s biggest concern.

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  • Elexis mendoza says:

    This virus is expected to come in 3 waves with the first one dying down in June, and the second raging back with worse than the first September – December. Keeping this event is extremely dangerous, and to all of us that fact is heartbreaking. This whole thing is heartbreaking. I wish it wasn’t so. We all want burning man to happen, but I’m just putting in my two cents—that like the summer Olympics, trying to move forward with this is dangerous. And it’s more important to protect our community. ❤️

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  • ClownPenis says:

    Bla bla bla, just tell us if you are cancelling the event or not. We have a ton of work to do, one way or another. Everything else is regurgitating info we’ve hear elsewhere.

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  • hafdef says:

    I have already given up. Circumstances forced me to miss 2015. Looks like a repeat to me. Beating this pandemic is #1 priority.

    That said, if it does happen, YAY, I’ll be there and cherish even more than ever.

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  • Lisa Baumgartner says:

    Tippy taps! We use them in water,sanitation, and hygiene promotion in sub-saharan africa.

    Super simple and effective. Modifications could be made with materials to strengthen the device and of course, at the base something would have to be added to catch the water.

    https://youtu.be/C4d1nLpqx0M

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  • Lacey says:

    This was beautifully and soulfully written! I love all of the points you covered about our contributions all year round and how we can be proactive not reactive. Thank you for your words of encouragement and inspiration!

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  • Mandeep Singh aka Nudeyman says:

    This would be my 26th Burn, so BRC has been an important part of my life. Cancelling 2020 seems unbelievable to me, but actually going ahead with it in these unbelievable times seems even MORE unbelievable. Even if BLM and the State of Nevada let it happen, (which seems unlikely), I’m ready to throw in the towel and surrender to caution and common sense. Let’s have some small, local beach burns if it is safe to by August.

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  • Eric says:

    Thank you Marian!

    As much as it pains me to say, I believe the prudent decision would be to cancel this years Burn.

    I hope and pray that those who have already purchased tickets, such as me, get refunded. I am by no means wealthy, and sacrificed to be able to purchase a FOMO ticket… If not that, then AT LEAST a guaranteed ticket for next years burn..

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  • DAVID ERNEST BOYER says:

    I have been listening to NPR non stop during this crisis, and am well informed on what to expect with regard to the current pandemic. I am definitely up for Burning Man this year if it happens. That said, I will be surprised if it actually does. Assuming all this social distancing works and we manage to slow down the transmission, as soon as we ease restrictions, the virus will come raging back. Burning Man is a densely packed community hug with mixing from every part of the world. This does not bode well. Additionally, right now is when large groups of people usually get together to build the monumental art that makes Burning Man. Is this happening. If the event does go on by some miracle, the art will surely be diminished.

    I hope I am wrong about all this. I would hate to have to wait another year to party with my good friends in the desert…damn. I’m Keeping my fingers crossed.

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  • I Ching says:

    Earth over Mountain. “Restraining our egos and refusing to be seduced by pride, we are well place to work well with others, regardless of position, age or gender. We may, however, need to watch out for people who try to take advantage of our humility for their own ends.” Changing line in 1st position – “The truly successful do not sully themselves with arrogance.” If we listen to this teaching we get Earth over Fire that reminds us “that darkness is as inevitable as the dawn.The wisest course is to hold back, restore energy, and patiently await sunrise and continued progress.”

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  • Jode says:

    Even if the Black Rock gathering is not canceled. The artists that are the bulk of the magic could be unable “financially “to compete their dream for us. BM org. Can provide just so much. Usually artist need to find the majority of funds outside BM. Or so I understand.

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  • drtune says:

    The main sale is so far still scheduled for April 1st. They should stick to this date, because anyone who buys a nonrefundable ticket for an event of 80k people mingling together with minimal onsite sanitary facilities, communal food and bars and a hundred miles from the nearest hospital is indeed an April Fool.

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    • Night Train says:

      But what about the impact on the Reno Gaming Industry?! Or Uhaul? Or Walmart! Stop just thinking about yourself! True Burners are community minded!!

      WE can do Anything We want! Burners are the Answer to save the world with our thoughtful acceptance of everyone!!

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  • Rodney Leist says:

    Marian…. we made some great foot pump hand wash stations for Poly Paradise and used them for several years now. Be happy to put together a PDF with plyboard cutsheet, parts list, instructions and pics if you can use them. Scotto will vouch for them :)

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  • Jay L says:

    Thanks for the great message! it would be wise to cancel this year’s event, comp the tickets that were already purchased for next year’s burn, and keep the Multiverse theme, because who says we have to live in the present?

    cheers!

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  • Ben "Cha Cha" Jansen says:

    Hi. I love Black Rock City. And, I find the casual approach to the COVID situation by Burning Man appalling. I’m not panicked, I’m not crazy. And, the economic impact affecting Burners alone is reason to reconsider this year. The underlying lack of acknowledgement of privilege in this article is, well, typical of privilege. We are facing an economic uncertainty that may eclipse the current health crisis, and Burning Man could be part of the solution beyond our own precious little experiment. Please, someone in the organization address this. Going ahead like “nothing’s wrong” won’t cut it. It also shows the world a lack of critical thinking that is un-Burning Man like.

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    • tony says:

      Sit down with your “Privileged” nonsense already. So over that bullshit.

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      • Night Train says:

        We Need to ALL come together for LOVE! We can show the World how to do it! Theme Camps could raise money for those victims! WE need the Temple to Mourn!

        We need to spent the next 4 months building a huge hospital! To Burn!!
        HAHHA! It’s fun at Burning Man!

        Default World just fades from memory on the Playa! And that what WE NEED NIOW!!

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  • Mog says:

    Theme Camp Organizer and healthcare worker here. Just got off a hospital-wide telecon. The peak of the surge in hospitalizations in California is expected in May. March, April, May. I **beg** you to delay the Main Sale to June.

    Black Rock City 2020 in late August may not need to be postponed, but massive outlays of money in April surely can be.

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    • Mog says:

      I’m replying to myself.

      The peak in hospitalizations is expected in May. Please don’t sell any more tickets until the effects of that peak are better understood in re: event logistics.

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      • Dave (25 year Burning Man veteran) says:

        May may be the peak, but that in no way means we will done with the pandemic. That peak assumes we continue to do social distancing for months after that. How do we build art, theme camp infrastructure, etc., while social distancing? I agree, better put off the general sale until we understand the course of the pandemic.

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  • SKIPPING THIS YEAR says:

    Sticking it out to “see what happens” is a fools errand.
    Building camps takes months of preparation.

    I’m NOT GOING this year, even if BM2020 was not cancelled.

    It’s too risky and stressful to figure out *if* we’d be virus-free to gather.

    Has anyone considered the impact on the sweet spots we all converge upon as we journey to reach and depart from the playa?
    It would be beyond awful… to even ponder the idea that due to “the burners”, the virus makes another round, hitting hard the sleepy towns we trounce through. In good conscience, I can’t do it.

    I’m choosing NOT to impact anyone else’s home for the sake of my desert enjoyment for one week.

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  • Ready! says:

    Handwashing station: Two types

    Thanks, Marian, for starting a conversation. I’ve ordered a poly utility cart like you would use to move bus trays around. $65. I’ve also ordered a plastic rv bathroom sink, $25 and a gooseneck cold water only faucet for $19. I bought a little whale foot pump for $44 because those marine pumps are uber reliable. The top tray becomes the sink. The faucet mounts in the handle. The water drains to five gallon buckets below. The soap dispenser is in the sink. Just need to add a couple of drain/draw tubes. Simple, and I can roll it around from our hospitality area to the street to offer it as a service. Soiled water can go into our tank or the porties.
    Second idea is that Porties can install a sink at every bank, with the first porto being the receptacle for all that gray water.
    I’m also making and bringing more masks.
    I do think it is reasonable that we may have folks get sick. It is not unreasonable to have, in each camp, a designated tent for them to quarantine.
    We just need to plan better. I will make sure i AM READY for 4 full weeks.

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  • elizabeth a varon says:

    You are basically saying you’re taking money from burners regardless of what the future holds. Pay yourselves off first before making the dreaded “conscious decision” Grab as much as you can before the local gov’t/feds shut it down. Then apologize because (after all) it’s a non-profit arts community…wouldn’t it be selfish to expect a refund????
    You’re saying yes to potentially screwing people over, OR saying yes to the risk you are imposing on the outlying communities.

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  • Peter Blitz says:

    I haven’t seen any official announcements about “The New Way to Burn” conference scheduled for May 6–9, 2020 in Reno. I’m certain they will cancel it, but I haven’t seen any mention of it in any communications. Has anyone heard anything about that? Any plans to make it virtual?

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  • Jim Speers says:

    I have been to Burning Man 1 time and booked my second time for the 2020 Burn.

    What Burning Man Stands for, from my perspective, is to simply “Make the World a Better Place”.

    We can all say for certain that this virus will not be eliminated in the next number of months, at very best we will flatten the curve.

    So please ask yourself, is having Burning Man this year “Making the World a better Place?”, the answer can only be No, it would not.

    Is forcing people to go when they know it is the wrong thing to do as if they do not they will lose their money, “Making the world a better Place?” No, it is certainly not.

    Let’s suppose the Government allows this event but most other countries will not let people Fly to the USA, so they are forced to lose their money, is that the right thing to do? Again, No.

    Right now people are losing their Jobs, many people will lose their business, but they are doing what is needed to stop this virus from crashing not only the country but the world.

    The fact that this event is even considering doing something that could easily jeopardize everything that all these people lost their Jobs or Businesses for is truly NOT what I thought Burning Man Stood for.

    Please do the right thing, give people at least part of their money back and postpone the event, as if you do not do the right thing, myself and certainly many others will see that this event is not what we signed up for and will not continue to support Burning Man in the future.

    Do the right thing, do what Burning Man should stand for, “Making the World a Better Place”

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