Sheriff Takes Family on Raven Trip to Burning Man

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Who said Burning Man is not a rave? The Sheriff of Washoe County took his wife and kid on a joyride official police business trip to Burning Man in the company chopper. The name of the military grade, electronically souped up aerial enforcer? RAVEN.

Anjeanette Damon at the Reno Gazette-Journal has the scoop:

Washoe County Sheriff Chuck Allen hitched a ride on a preplanned RAVEN helicopter flight to Burning Man last year, and brought along his wife and adult son.

Allen said he had to attend a multi-agency meeting at the annual arts celebration in the Black Rock Desert 110 miles north of Reno on Sept. 5 and didn’t want to make the two-hour drive that often ends in a traffic jam. So, Allen said he asked the department’s chief pilot if he could jump on the flight planned for that day.

“Yes, I did include my wife and son,” Allen told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Thursday. “I can do that as sheriff.”

“I checked to make sure I wasn’t breaking any of my own policies,” he added.

The policy that governs the sheriff’s office helicopter program does not specifically address civilian ride-alongs. It has a section, however, that limits “non-RAVEN affiliated personnel” who are authorized to ride in the helicopter.

“Police, fire, REMSA, (Search and Rescue), county, city, state, military and federal employees actively involved in public safety missions may be carried on RAVEN aircraft in accordance with public law,” the policy reads.

The sheriff’s office Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit was formed in 1996, when the department obtained four helicopters through the U.S. Department of Defense’s surplus program. The unit’s primary mission is to respond to crimes in progress, search and rescue operations and drug enforcement surveillance missions…

Allen said he saw the trip to Burning Man no differently than if his wife went along with him to a department function in “my vehicle assigned to me.”..

Allen said his undersheriff and a chief deputy also brought their wives along on a previous flight to Burning Man…

Allen needed to make the trip to Burning Man to meet with Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen, as well as Bureau of Land Management personnel. Burning Man staff also gave him a tour of the 70,000-person Black Rock City. Allen said he also greeted all of the Washoe County deputies working the event and attended a dinner, which included other law enforcement personnel and their spouses…

The day Allen and his family traveled to Burning Man included the celebration’s pinnacle event of the burning of the man.

Read the full story at the Reno-Gazette Journal

What is RAVEN? It’s the Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit.

In 1996, The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office was able to obtain four helicopters through the Department of Defense’s excess property program. The four aircraft that were delivered to the county were hulks that need quite a bit of restoration and overhaul before being transformed into useable assets. Building two flyable aircraft from the original four, the Regional Aviation Enforcement Unit, or RAVEN, was born. In addition to the two Kiowas that the unit operates, RAVEN is the proud operator of the very first of only 30 manufactured HH-1H Huey helicopters, originally built by Bell for the United States Air Force for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) purposes. The two Kiowas and one Huey are all in outstanding mechanical condition thanks to the dedication of the full time and part time maintenance personnel assigned to the unit, and were acquired and refurbished using drug forfeiture money rather than taxpayer dollars.

Originally staffed with part-time pilots from the local Army Guard helicopter unit, RAVEN has become a self sufficient aviation unit that has dedicated deputies assigned both full and part time to flying duties.

[Source]

The RAVEN unit operates both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. They use the OH-58 Kiowa, which is a 2 seater surveillance chopper; and the HH-1H Huey, which is a USAF Search And Rescue variant of one of the largest passenger capacity helicopters ever made. The standard model can take 14 troops as well as the 2 pilots. I’m guessing the Sheriff and his family rode in on the Huey; were there other civilians with them on this flight?

The story has this to say about the logistics:

The Reno Gazette-Journal obtained a flight log from the sheriff’s office that listed three RAVEN flights to Burning Man last year on Sept. 3, Sept. 4 and Sept. 5. However, no public records apparently exist to document the family members’ flight or whether any other civilian ride-alongs have occurred in the past.

According to the log, the helicopter departed Reno at 10:50 a.m. and returned at 11:20 p.m., reporting a total of three hours of actual flight time.

Allen said the flights were not “joy rides.” Rather, they were pre-planned missions that were able to accommodate the extra passengers.

“I would have to stress, yes, it was a scheduled mission,” he said. “I would never encourage or even allow someone to go on a joy ride.”

He said his wife and son stayed with him the entire day and did not travel to participate in the Burning Man event itself.

“My wife and son shadowed me the entire time,” he said.

[Source]

Even though they watched the Man burn (presumably from a VIP position), and attended a fully catered dinner, the Sheriff takes pains to stress that they didn’t participate in the Burning Man event. This is similar logic to BMOrg’s claim that 80,000 people sitting down to watch a 30-minute uninterruptible performance with hundreds of fire dancers, followed by an hour+ pyrotechnics show when they burn the Man, does not in any way constitute live entertainment.

It doesn’t sound like these civilians needed tickets. Glad to hear that the LEOs can entertain their families by spectating on all the participants. Hey, if they can’t have bottomless Chocotacos, at least they can perv on some titties and shirt-cockers, and laugh at all the freaks they’re looking down on.

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Read more about the Washoe RAVEN unit at Vertical Magazine.

 

Cities of the Future Could Look Like Burning Man – if BMOrg let them [Update]

Gizmodo yesterday had a fascinating story about the Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning contest to design a new layout for Black Rock City.

Burning Man is an experiment, right? So why should only Larry Harvey and Stuart Mangrum be the ones conducting the experiment, by setting the themes? Why not experiment with new ways of living together, a temporary, pop-up civilization? Personally, I always thought was what Burning Man was all about. These days, I wonder if the nature of the experiment has perhaps been different all along from the sales pitch we were given over the Kool Aid water cooler.

The Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning competition was started last year, and was quickly covered by widely read publications like VICE and ArchDaily, the world’s #1 architecture website.

Despite BMOrg coming out to say “no change, no competition”, the response has been impressive.

From BRCUP:

The Results So Far

We have been pretty amazed by the scale of the response.

Since we announced the project last fall, 1629 people and teams from 168 countries have signed up to participate.

To date, we have received 72 submissions.

Gizmodo’s story goes through many of the submissions. I’ve selected a couple of examples:

Cities of the Future Could Look Like Burning Man
This proposal offers elements for “neighborhood improvement” like the addition of designated parks and public squares that could become locations for cafes and other meeting places, by Phil Walker of CallisonRTKL, USA

Cities of the Future Could Look Like Burning ManA proposal to redesign Burning Man’s Black Rock City as a Navajo mandala, by Sergio Bianchi, Simone Fracasso, and Chiara Pellegrin of Italy

The founder is a double digit Burner and software engineer:

The competition was spearheaded by Brian McConnell, a software engineer and ten-year Burning Man veteran. The original idea was to create a site-specific installation at the festival itself presenting visionary ideas for the urban planning of Black Rock City. But as McConnell quickly realized, thinking about designing a smarter temporary city also surfaced some bigger ideas which might extrapolate into other areas of city-building. McConnell was particularly impressed by the quality and originality of proposals, he said. “There are some designs that have gone completely out of the box.”…

The submissions, as well as all the online comments, will be published in a book that will be available for purchase and will be given to the festival organizers. “The best-case scenario would be that the planners see something that’s very interesting or extraordinary and decide to use it in some way,” said McConnell. But he also loves the idea of delivering annual feedback through the competition format. “The real goal of this would be to make it part of the annual planning process and kind of a ritual,” he said. Planners could offer up concerns and ask for improvements that could be implemented the following year.

McConnell also sees the potential value of completely reinventing the city’s plan each year, perhaps with a layout that responds to the theme, which changes annually. “It’s gotten so large they can’t do radically different things,” he said. “What if each time you went it was a significantly different city plan, and you would have to figure it out?”

Read the whole story here

As someone who’s only been to Burning Man 11 times, that sounds like a great idea. They’ve already shown they can have a “2.0” of any particular theme, so we can always go back to the past. That’s part of it too. In the future we will probably have “Fertility 21”.

Phillippe Glade’s Golden Rebar Awards highlight the incredible architectural creativity of Burners. The style even has its own name: burnitecture. The Tiny House movement is starting to follow in the revolutionary footsteps of the Maker Movement, and it too has links to Burning Man.

What is stopping us from making this experimental city in the desert an actual experiment?

Is it Tradition? Ritual? A lack of ideas, vision, leadership?

Or is it the nature of the existing experiment, that is still being done on all the rats in this alluring anarchic maze without walls – who ALL voluntarily assume the risk of serious injury or death by participating ?

1998 ticket

Rod Garrett was great, may he rest in peace; David Best is amazing, and doesn’t need Burning Man to be an artist on the world stage. Let’s give the fresh, young, new, unseen and untried ideas a chance. Why should only the Medici and their bankster friends get to decide the direction art, civilization, technology takes?

If you didn’t get it yet, I think an experiment to come up with different layouts for Black Rock City is an excellent idea. Bauhaus and the Panopticon have been tried, OK, let’s move on.

3nd attempt-almost final

 

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[Update 3/23/16 5:53 pm – added images and link to video clip of Burning Man Founder talking about the city design]

Here’s BMOrg’s official position on trying a new city layout, or even incorporating any ideas from Burnenrs. According to them, BRCUP have started a conversation, and we’ll see what happens next. Don’t hold your breath!

We recently caught wind of a Black Rock City Street Plan Design Competition hosted by an experienced group of participants calling themselves the Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning (BRCMUP). The Burning Man organization has nothing to do with it, but we thought, hey, this could be fun to watch. And then an architecture blog called ArchDaily wrote about the competition on August 16 without doing its journalism homework, so now we have to clear a couple things up.

Burning Man is not involved with this competition, and we aren’t “select[ing] a winner”. The BRCMUP organizers never said we were, either. They say they’ll present their winner to us, and then it’s up to us what we do with it. So the ArchDaily blog post was in error, and it has since been corrected.

As for the contest itself, the official description is worded pretty strongly:

“The final choice of design will rest with bmorg [sic] based on a combination of popularity, logistics and space considerations (including the option to retain the current city plan).”

We love the ingenuity of Burners and are curious to see what they come up with through this competition. We will certainly take a look at all the top designs in this competition, not just the winner, out of curiosity and admiration. The ideas generated by this competition could also be useful to Regional Events, which are in various stages of growth and planning, each with their own location’s design challenges, and we think that’s great. But there are no plans to redesign Black Rock City.

Thanks to BRCMUP for starting an interesting conversation, and we look forward to seeing what comes of it.

[Source]

So, we started an interesting conversation. And so far 72 designs have been submitted. The designs show just how much unbelievable talent is available for BMOrg to tap into, if they truly chose crowd-sourcing, participation, civic responsibility, immediacy, and communal effort as their path.

You can view randomly chosen designs from the gallery and enter the competition at Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning. Seems to me that would be a much better official Ministry for BMOrg to have than their only one so far: Propaganda.

Let’s discuss these ideas. Many of them don’t even require the 0.666% of a circle pentagram design to change.

2013 double pentagram

Or, even better than just talking: put on parties based on those designs and we’ll promote them here and go check them out.

 

 

 

Keeping it Weird

candy van and gf

Australians. Can’t live with ’em, can’t send ’em any further away.

One enterprising young bloke from “the ass end of the world” has used his time in America and his trip to Burning Man to achieve international notoriety.

From the BBC:

In August 2015, children in a sleepy suburban neighbourhood of the Californian city of Sacramento noticed a white, windowless van parked on their street.

Across the side of the vehicle, someone had painted the words “Free Candy” in a bloody shade of red. A cluster of handprints were smeared nearby, suggesting that some candy-seekers may have come to the wrong kind of sticky ending.

A 12-year-old named Lawrence Bellow uploaded a photo that began to spread around the internet. Soon local news stations were interviewing local parents about the “suspicious van” rolling through town.

“It just felt like they were trying to attract kids, and it just gave me a creepy feeling,” Lawrence’s mum told the local KOVR TV station.

The van’s driver was Australian Ron Jacobs, 28, who had stopped overnight on his way to Burning Man, the month-long music festival in the middle of the Nevada desert.

By the time he arrived his van had already gained internet fame.

“I was just living in the van and I was just hearing it explode all around me,” Jacobs said. “I woke up one morning, some guy just screams out, ‘I saw you on the internet, I love your van!'”

Since then the “Free Candy Van”, which does actually give out free candy, hasn’t stopped getting attention.

Jacobs said the idea for the van came after his life in Perth fell apart “in a whole bunch of ways”.

“Life. Work. Family. The whole shebang,” he said. “All at the same time … I ended up picking up my savings and chasing my dreams.”

Those dreams involved a “big international adventure”, so he left to travel the American southwest and camp out while skydiving, windsurfing and attending music festivals.

Rather than live in a tent, Jacobs decided it would be better to buy a second-hand van, but knew he was trading comfort for the stigma associated with being a strange man in a white, windowless van.

Instead of shying away from the image, he decided to play up to it by going over the top.

“I was just kind of thinking, like most things in life that you can’t change … what you can do is embrace it and celebrate it,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs, an engineer who spent a year studying at Penn State University, has since given out $1500 (£1500) of free candy.

He said most of his interactions with other people involved a “rollercoaster” of reactions, starting with horror before moving to a sense of relief, and even delight.

Jacobs has been stopped by police eight times while driving the van. A friend from Perth who borrowed the van for three weeks was stopped seven times.

“I consider this van a mirror of American society,” Mr Jacobs said. “The whole experience I’ve had has just been me, a tourist, living American everyday life as their… public enemy number one, and it’s just been such an experience.

“It’s all just the epitome of absurd.”

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[Source: BBC]

Once again, over-protective and nervous parents found something to be over-protective and nervous about:

Here’s the Free Candy whistleblower explaining how he saved the day:

And here’s the perpetrator’s apology – in which he says that American society itself created the Free Candy Van (and its registered trademark and website):

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the idea was original:

Parents, be sure to talk to your children about “stranger danger”.

This pundit cautions us to beware of all vans:

Australia’s Edith Cowan University, in Perth – the world’s most remote city – also did a story on one of their local fellas making a name for himself overseas.

The story behind America’s suspicious free candy van

A vintage van complete with blackened windows, no number plate and branded with ‘free candy’ in blood-red writing has been cruising around the streets of America giving out free candy.

It might sound the epitome of a parent’s nightmare, yet the menacing van contains nothing more harmless than a few extra trips to the dentist.  There are more important things to focus on, like fixing that grinding you hear from yuo kid’s rooms at night. Sollution: mouth guard for teeth grinding.

Perth hippy Ron Jacobs settled on the idea behind the van en-route to Burning Man festival this year; a stop before he headed off for three months of ‘wing suiting’, a sport where you fly wearing a suit that looks like an overgrown fruit bat.

Despite the media attention he received for the van, which wasn’t always positive, Ron assured sceptical onlookers that it was nothing more than a tribute to the Burning Man’s celebration of absurdism, and a product of his own unique humour.

“At the Burning Man it’s all about the giving, so what am I going to give?” he told ECU Daily.

“Oh and I’ve got to get to Burning Man. So I’ll need transport. I’ll also need somewhere to stay there … Okay, let’s connect all of these dots: FREE CANDY starts making a lot more sense.

“It’s just going to have to be completely over-the-top and really deliver on the promise of free candy at each and every opportunity.”

He said the  joy and delight I received driving others around, while handing out free sweets, was amazing.

“I get as many of my friends and their friends’ friends to drive around in it and give out free candy too,” he said.

“It’s such a blast. The sensation of being able to take someone from immediate shock-horror all the way through to gratitude and hilarity with a drizzle of irony in less than a second is outrageous fun in my book.”

The van made American news headlines, with some of the bold statements including: ‘Free Candy van creeps out parents in Sacramento’, and ‘Free Candy van upsets Sacramento residents’.

Luckily, these weren’t the only responses.

“I only ever heard the story from other peoples’ mouths,” Jacobs said.

“One interesting example was when one morning I woke up to a man shouting out at the top of his lungs at the van: “I saw you on the internet! F*** love your van!”.

So what’s next for the wing-suited, parent-creeping-out world traveller?

Best to keep in the loop via his Facebook page: facebook.com/ron.jacobs.146.

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