Burning Man 2015 By The Numbers Part 2 – Census Highlights

random number dilbert

Along with the 2015 Afterburn report, BMOrg released the results of their 2015 Census. I’ve had a chance now to go through this in a bit more detail. Some highlights:

There are a lot of dudes (60%) and it’s pretty gay (1/3rd LGBT) and pretty white (86%).
The minorities at Burning Man these days are double digit Burners (just over 5%).

“40% Virgins” is still about right, which is really still about 68.9% newbies, as only 31.1% of Burners had been to Burning Man more than twice prior to 2015 – our previous definition for Veterans. It’s up slightly from 28% the previous year, it is remarkable how these virgin and veteran percentages remain about the same, year after year. Coincidence? Random chance? Or the result of Burner profiles, ticket lotteries, and all the other socially engineered ticketing hoops Burners are forced to jump through?

 

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20% of Burners are aliens, about a third of those from the biggest country, Canada
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Scalpers are not a problem, and STEP is not very useful.
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Burners are very affluent. 44.1% have an average household income of US$100,000 or more.
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About 7% of Burners are in the 1% – and we even have some in the 1% of 1% of 1% of 1%, the 62 people with as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the planet combined.
We’re smart, too. 77% have a college degree, 6.1% of Burners have a  degree in healing or beauty
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Despite the vehicle pass scheme, 10% of Burners still arrived alone. A third used a plane in their journey to Black Rock City.
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Although 17.9% arrived in an RV, 26.2% ended up staying in one.
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Only a third of those RVs got pumped – incredibly disappointing, given the amount of money being spent across Black Rock City on site services – and BMOrg’s intervention to make it hard for camps to make their own deals with vendors of their choice.
35.9% had access to some form of renewable energy – iPhone charging, perhaps?

69.7% of Burners were connected to electricity from generators – not exactly “off grid living”.

It is, however, a great place to go to get away from conventional forms of religion. Only 5.4% of Burners identify as religious.
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How many of those are Satanists is unknown, but let’s call it 5%: 3.2% of Burners worship “other” and 1.2% are Pagans.
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Download the full Census from their new home within the borg. Here are the team credits, thanks to everyone who participated:

Principal investigators and project coordinators: S. Megan Heller (Countess), Dana Lilienthal DeVaul (DV8), Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost (Hunter), and Kateri McRae (Variance)

Data analysis: Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost (Hunter), David Nelson-Gal (Scribble)

Report coordination, graphics, layout & design: Rebecca Mason (B^2), Aaron Shev (Murse), Dana Lilienthal DeVaul (DV8), David Nelson-Gal (Scribble), Jason Lankow, & John Nicholson

The 2015 Census Lab: The project also involved more than 150 volunteers whose contributions were essential in many ways: research collaborators, volunteer coordinators, statisticians, camp builders, gate samplers, keypunchers, census lab hosts, graphic designers, and many more. These contributors will globally be referred to as “the Census Lab”. We would also like to thank the Burning Man organization for the resources that they provided both on playa and off playa and for believing in the project.

Burning Man 2015: By The Numbers Part 1

SR-71 Blackbird using Afterburner. Image: Wikimedia Commons

SR-71 Blackbird using Afterburner. Image: Wikimedia Commons

BMOrg have just released the Afterburn Report for 2015.

Some information that used to be provided, is now hidden. Here are some of the key details missing:

  • medical services visits, nature of injuries
  • arrests and citations
  • number of vehicles
  • number of aircraft at the airport
  • entry and exodus times
  • volume of ice sold
  • number of people watching live video stream

All of this was freely available in the past; it’s hard to see how BMOrg can claim to be “more transparent”, when they are sharing less information. Maybe now that they’re down one Minister of Propaganda, there will be a reduction in the Orwellian double-speak. One can only hope…

 

Here is a summary of what was released in the report.

 

POPULATION

67,564 paid participants. In 2014 this was 65,992 and in 2013 it was 69,613. The definition of “paid participant” seems to have changed between 2013 and 2014. In 2015 there were 68,000 tickets officially sold, so 436 people managed to get a ticket but didn’t show. Or, something went wrong counting them – however, the report says Ticketing and Will Call went super-smoothly last year. The Box Office line was never longer than 30 minutes.

There were 1150 placed camps, out of 1300 applications. What was wrong with those 150 camps? We’ll probably never know, which is a pity – because if we could all learn together, we could reduce the amount of mutual time wasting between camps, volunteers on the placement team, and BMOrg’s holocracy of a hundred-plus full-time busy worker bees. Assuming that some of the camps get rejected for some of the same reasons, that is.

ART

BMOrg granted $1.2 million cash to more than 100 art projects on the Playa. They also provided in-kind support in addition to this $1.2 million.
This works out to $17.76 per ticket , or about 4.5% of $390. Seems like an increase from previous years, and we should know in a year or so if it’s true – when the IRS returns for the Burning Man Project in 2015 are released.
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The Artery handled 1139 service requests on playa from art projects, a 50% increase over the previous year.
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There were 326 art pieces; 75 of them incorporated fire art. There were 210 self funded projects and 56 “walk in” projects. Presumably this means the remaining 60 were the ones BMOrg had any involvement in: 18.4% of the total.
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In 2014, The Man was 105 feet tall, and took a long time to Burn. In 2015, it was reduced to 60 feet tall.
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There were 33 regional midway projects, with participants from 16 countries.

TRANSPORTATION

The Burner express brought 3,884 people in, and took 3,334 out. 250 people camped in the Burner Express bus camp.
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No word yet on if there will be any price hikes on bus tickets, additional luggage fees, or bike fees for the 2016 Medici theme. But it looks like this service is bringing in close to a million bucks.
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There is also a Gerlach-Empire shuttle bus, though usage was modest. Total shuttle bus ridership increased 45%, from 85 passengers in 2014, to 123 in 2015.
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17,000 Burners flew in through Reno airport.
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88NV, the Burning Man Airport, saw a 30% increase in traffic. 2,330 Burners arrived this way – at $40 per head landing fee, that’s about a hundred grand. At its peak, the airport was handling 210 landings per day.

BIKES

Image: Phillipe Glade, burningman.org

This year there were 631 yellow bikes. Someone donated 180 huffy bikes to the total.

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527 came back like they were supposed to. 56 had been painted and 28 had been decorated. The bikes are supposed to be free for all Black Rock City citizens, not just free bikes for you to grab and claim as your own for the whole Burning Man. 20 of the bikes were stolen outright.
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There were a total of 1,625 abandoned bikes. This works out to 2.4% of the population – about the same ratio as the portapotties. For each portapotty you see, there is one Burner MOOPing their bike.
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How many of these were stolen? How many were from Burners leaving in the Burner Express, planes, or car-pools, with no room for bikes and no spare $50 for the transporation fee?
Fortunately, 200 of the retrieved bikes will be recycled back into the Yellow Bike program for next year.
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AUTHORITIES

This year there were more than 700 rangers – a veritable army battalion.
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BMOrg worked closer than ever before with the Feds, achieving “Unified Tier 1 inter agency integration”:

BRC has relationships with Federal, State and County agencies including Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Highway Patrol, NDOT, Washoe and Pershing County Sheriff’s offices, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, and Nevada State Health, amongst others.

BRC works year-round with these agencies to ensure legal compliance and public safety at the event. In 2015, BRC led joint training and table-top exercises to further align operational process and interagency communication.

Also in 2015 BRC updated the Unified Command to a Tier 1 management process, joining all the bodies (both event and agency) together, ensuring safer management in the event of unplanned incidents. This system was tested thoroughly during the repeated whiteout conditions of 2015, and proved to be highly effective for event operations emergency management.

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You may have seen the news this week about Apple fighting the Federal government over unlocking an iPhone related to the San Bernardino alleged terrorist attack – even though they were happy to hand over details at least 70 previous times. It doesn’t sound like BMOrg are going down the route of Just Saying No to the government, preferring total co-operation and integration of systems, Burner profiles, and databases.

VOLUNTEERS

The Playa Information tent had 130 volunteers, supporting 30 computer terminals.  There were 2,299 visitors to the V Spot, and 1,117 of them were connected with volunteer opportunities. 794 went to Burning Man teams, 155 to theme camps, 158 to art projects, and the rest were assigned MOOP duty.
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The total number of Greeters was 850. 325 were pre-scheduled general Greeters, 50 or so were “walk-up” volunteers. 18 theme camps greeted as a group(425 people).
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210 volunteered to be Lamplighters – 130 of them camping in the Lamp Lighter Village. They report that “the interdepartmental communication and cooperation is the best it has ever been”. There were 319 lamp spires and 917 lanterns total.
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Tips from Arctica were donated to three worthy causes: Polar Bear International, the Gerlach Senior & Community Center and the Washoe County Family Planning Clinic. No information about who got what is available.

SANITATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

50 dump trucks working 24/7 serviced 1600 porta potties. That’s one WC for every 42 people, in case you were wondering (I was!) How does that stack up against Defaultia?
Screenshot 2016-02-19 10.54.53

Source: American Restroom Association

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We’re about the same as a nightclub in Florida, and doing better than your average stadium.
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At the company ranch in Gerlach, they stored 300 containers, 120 vehicles, and 30 semi trucks. The property operates entirely off the grid.
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30 yard dumpsterThe recycling camp processed 5000 lbs of aluminum cans, 2 30-yard dumpsters’ worth. This was approximately 170,000 cans. Recycling them resulted in a $1500 donation to the local school.
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The city burned through 20,020 gallons of propane. 17,673 gallons were used for flame effects in Mutant Vehicles, theme camps, and art projects. The other 2,347 gallons were used for infrastructure, utilities, and cooking.
According to the US Department of Energy, burning a gallon of propane produces 12 lbs of CO2 emissions. So that’s 212,076 lbs, or 106 tons of greenhouse gas generated – just for the art. And that’s not even counting all the non-propane burning, especially The Man and The Temple.
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BMOrg did bring us exciting new news just over two months ago that they had listened to the community based on a petition last year to make Burning Man greener, and were starting a new chapter. This doesn’t merit a single word in the Afterburn, perhaps it is still “coming soon”. Maybe some of that $2 million a year vehicle pass windfall could be reallocated to habitat preservation or re-forestation projects.
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Read more at burningman.org

Over at the Reno Gazette-Journal, staff Burning Man reporter Jenny Kane reports that the Medici VIP tickets sold out in less than a day.
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The first 500 da Vinci tickets, a new tier of tickets that are three times the cost of the main tickets, were sold out as of Thursday morning, according to Burning Man spokeswoman Megan Miller. An additional 4,900 $990 pre-sale tickets, which were $800 last year, also were sold out by Thursday morning.
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No comments on what happened to the other 100 of the $990 pre-sale tickets.  Jenny asks the question “will any of this windfall money go to art”? The claim is made that $1.5 million was handed out in art grants in 2015, compared to $800,000 in 2014 (actually, $911,955). Corporate PR supremo Megan Miller says:
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“There’s definitely money from those revenue streams going to art grants,” she said, noting that Burning Man distributed $1.5 million in art grants last year, compared to $800,000 the year prior.

Part of the increase in net revenue may go toward another increase in art grant spending this year, although the organization has made no final grant decisions yet, Miller said.

Continue reading at Part 2 – Census Highlights

[Spoiler Alert] Burning Man 2015 Construction Photos

Hey all! Dave “Rabbitt” LeClair here! Setup at Black Rock City always excites the hell out of me, so I thought I’d share these Instagram photos from the hard workers out in the desert already! I understand that some of you consider this stuff to be spoilers, so proceed with caution!

The head goes on the Man today! Photo by @gregvnielsen

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The latest large-scale steel sculpture by Marco Cochrane. Photo by @kunstarchitekt
<UPDATE: Photo removed per request from the team>

Photo by @crone_up

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Photo by @crone_up

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If you have more details on these projects, or you simply enjoyed these photos, please comment! I’ll try to post some more soon. Happy packing!

Who Is Your Cop Whisperer?

Even the sniffer dogs turn into Burners on the Playa Image: Simon Pearce/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Even the sniffer dogs turn into Burners on the Playa. Image: Simon Pearce/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Summer Burkes has written a really good article at The Ladies Guide to the Apocalypse about the interactions between law enforcement and Black Rock City. The general consensus for Caravansary seems to be that Burner/LEO relations greatly improved after BMOrg settled their lawsuit against Pershing County.

From summerburkes.com:

We’re proud of our Gate and Rangers for offsetting so many of the more minor duties police are forced to deal with in the real world but not here, such as traffic control and too-drunk people. This shows the real world a different model of non-interference and enhanced social contracts… Law enforcement is certainly enforcing the law, but with an enhanced understanding between the parties. The XRT (External Relations Team) has been working all year with Burning Man’s police and BLM, and no jinx, but our relationship seems to be better than ever

Cop Whispering is a thing in the Cacophony Society, and a very important thing at that. Cop Whispering is a cute name for a serious skill requiring a sober person with a competent and respectful attitude.

In the Cacophony Society and its outlying (and sometimes unwitting) spokes-shows like Cyclecide and the Life-Size Mousetrap, we always designate a Cop Whisperer. This person is THE person who talks to the cops…

Imagine you’re a police officer answering an unknown-intruder call in San Francisco in the ‘90s. Scenario one: You walk into an abandoned building, where crazy freaks seem to be dining in full formal attire at a candlelight banquet, the contents of which all seem to have been carried in by hand. You, policeperson with off-the-chart adrenaline washing through your system as always, are ambushed by most of these kooks, who all get up from the table to start speaking to you at once, making jokes and snapping flash cameras. Some drunk idiot starts yelling platitudes about knowing his rights. Cringe and duck, right?

Scenario two: You, policeperson, respond to the call in the same abandoned building, where amidst the dust, broken glass, and a strange full-formal banquet table, a group of weirdoes are calmly and quietly sitting in a circle on the ground, with their empty hands resting visibly on their knees. One of these people is in a gorilla suit, inexplicably. You, cop, are approached by one person — the designated Cop Whisperer. You, cop with heart pounding and adrenals pumping, not knowing what you were just walking into, are overjoyed to see a circle of weirdoes? maybe art students? or whatever, AND a gorilla suit guy, sitting in a circle why? are they a weird religion or … ? and for heaven’s sake you, cop, may even be laughing by the time the Cop Whisperer talks to you.

See the difference?

Cop whisperer? (1997, photo by Lenny Jones)

The rules for Cop Whispering are simple. Realize that most cops are sometimes-scared, sometimes-vulnerable, flesh-and-blood people doing their best to serve and protect society. One person talks to the law enforcement and others do NOT gather around — a crowd makes anyone feel outnumbered and threatened. Don’t lie to law enforcement, don’t be nervous, and don’t taunt them (doy). Treat them like humans, not Terminators…

As we continue our policy of being friendly and open to law enforcement out here, let’s not forget to invite them to participate as well. The BLM and local officers are as much a part of the Burning Man community as they want to be. Those who are a part of this community, and not on the outside looking in, are protective of this community…

we — all of us — have been practicing building a brand new society and interaction-based reality out here. What we do and learn and make up at Burning Man radiates out into the larger world, and we’ve got a real chance to show everyone how we shine together. We all want to make America mean something great again.

We know, what lamely sappy notion, but we’re feeling it. Dusty punk rockers, techno-ravers, and machine-art freaks are out here working on it.

Read the full story at summerburkes.com

It’s probably not a bad idea for every camp and every party to designate a Cop Whisperer or two…just in case.