by Whatsblem the Pro
There are a lot of concerns involved with the constant upward growth of the yearly Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, and not least among those concerns is the well-being of burner culture. Burning Man isn’t just an annual festival, it’s a way of life, all year long, and if the ability of burners to transmit their culture is overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of new people, the culture will be shoved aside to fade away, or be replaced by some lesser, diluted version of itself.
Today, the Org released information on a new volunteer team that you can join – the Leave No Trace Outreach Team – if you want to do your part and make your mark, and you care about things like the environment, or securing BLM permits for the future of Burning Man. The outreach program is intended to spread both the concept and the techniques of “Leave No Trace” and take some of the burden off the Playa Restoration Team, who stay on-playa an extra month to pick up every cigarette butt, every bit of paper and styrofoam and fabric, every feather, every discarded cup, can, and glowstick, every playa poop and every pee puddle.
It’s always tempting to say that maybe the Org should think about throwing money at a problem instead of relying too much on volunteers, and there is an argument to be made that the Playa Restoration Team in particular might be a good place to sink some fresh cash. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for the caliber of volunteerism that Resto draws and tempers, for the kind of burner pride and character building it offers, for the camaraderie it breeds, and even for the groundscore opportunities it sometimes affords. As the population increases, though, the Resto team may need to grow quite a bit, and/or transition away from volunteerism toward more dedicated crew being paid reasonable wages.
Should the Org rely on paid hands to clean up our messes? Maybe, maybe not.
No matter how critical of the Org you are, you just can’t have it both ways: if it’s burners who make the party (and not the Org), then burners should get the credit (not the Org), and burners (not the Org) should clean it up, no matter what objections to unrelated profit motives we might have. Hopefully, there would be a Resto crew even if there was no Org at all.
Let’s not forget, too, that “Leave No Trace” was a Suicide Club/Cacophony Society value before it became one of Burning Man’s guiding principles. Those of us who lean toward the Cacophonist streams of burner culture should strive to be doin’ it right in the aftermath of our shenanigans, or at least, to support other people doin’ it right if we happen to be well-occupied with other things, like more shenanigans.
We’ve already got the Earth Guardians, of course, with lots of experience at doing outreach on the subject of LNT and playa preservation/restoration. They do outreach before, during and after Burning Man, have special teams to handle different aspects of LNT and playa stewardship, and even patrol the nearby hot springs. Are they not handling it, or is this the Guardians moving to the next level with a new campaign? Why is this LNT Outreach Team being touted as such a new thing? Is this a cooperative expansion of the Guardians’ own outreach efforts, meant to cope with the influx of new burners. . . or is it the Org shouldering the Guardians out of the way? We don’t know, but maybe our readers can tell us more in the comments.
Here is the scoop on the new LNT Outreach Team, straight from the Org:
The Leave No Trace Outreach Team is a newly formed team and they’re ready to recruit!
WHAT: Join the LNT Outreach Team
WHERE: Burning Man, Black Rock City
WHEN: 9am – 1pm shifts during Burning Man event. Sign up now!
HOW: Follow instructions at the end of this announce to sign up for a shift
CONTACT: audrey.whaling (at) burningman (dot) com. Include “LNTOUTREACH” in your subject line
We are launching a new volunteer program for environmentally minded folks:
The LNT Outreach Team – Leave No Trace on the Playa
Interested in protecting the playa surface? Want to teach BRC citizens how to do so? This year BRC is launching a new initiative to raise the bar on protecting the playa surface DURING the event. We’re looking for a few experienced, outgoing, morning volunteers to ride along with BLM scientists and talk to citizens about protecting the playa surface from “problems” such as burn scars, leaky fluids from vehicles and RVs, and improper waste removal. Change the world, one briny shrimp at a time, and feel good while doing it.
*Mission:* LNT Outreach Team will work with BLM scientists to assess and document playa problems and then teach participants HOW to fix them. We will not FIX problems for participants (ahem, radical self-reliance), but we will teach them HOW to FIX it for THEMSELVES. For instance, we might suggest they get a shovel and a bucket to scoop up their RV leaks, or point out where they could find some carpet or cardboard to put under their oil-dripping car. Outreach Emissaries will be trained in how to “fix” typical “problems” before going out into the field.
*Follow Through:* Each team will take pictures with fancy GPS for our long terms records (so we can show what we fix). Each afternoon, the data we collect will be passed along to Rangers and ESD/Fire Safety –who will make sure participants fix the problems that we can’t resolve during our morning shifts. After the event, Playa Restoration will visit all of our GPS records to make sure that we Leave No Trace. The idea is that by working together, we will protect the playa from inadvertent and additional surface damage that happens during the event.
· Monday- Saturday of the Event
· 9 AM -1:00 PM
· Everyday (9:00-9:30 will be prep meeting at Earth Guardians in Center Camp- then we will travel 9:30-1:00 PM)
· 7 teams each day – need back-ups on each day.- have 9 slots available each day.
· Lunch afterwards, pogs for all participants.
· Request that volunteers sign up for 2 shifts (you can do more), but contact us if you are interested and can only do one shift.
· We require a 2-hour Outreach Team Training on Saturday, pre-event, or Tuesday, during the event (1-3 PM), in order to participate.
· Veteran or experienced Burning Man volunteers are preferred.
*To sign up*
– If you haven’t yet created a Burner Profile or have not submitted a new Volunteer Questionnaire:
* click on Register to create a Burner Profile http://profiles.burningman.com/participate/
* click on Volunteer Questionnaire to fill out and submit the form. Check Earth Guardians on the form to get access to Shiftboard.
* sign in to Shiftboard and look for Earth Guardians, “Outreach Team”, pick a shift.
– If you are already on shiftboard, look up “Earth Guardians”, and see if you can join our group directly. “Rosalie” is the Manager’s name. “Outreach Team” is the name of the shift.
– If all else fails, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org using “LNTOUTREACH” in your subject line. Include your full name, interest and experience. We will add you to our shiftboard team where you will be able to sign up for a shift.