Black Rock City: 100,000 or 50,000?

Are rangers really Brand Protectors? That is what is being alleged in discussions in the local community. Who should decide what is sexual assault, and what gets brushed off as “unwanted touching”? Cops? Black Rock Rangers? Ummm, here’s a thought: the victim?

BMorg wants to increase the population size to 100,000, which would bring them at least another $15 million per year. The larger population size is effectively a tax on the food and drink camps, not to mention a MOOP and abandoned bike nightmare. It is a boon for the airline and bus service, and will require even more vendors licensed to sell stuff on the Playa. The tiny Pershing County, where a quarter of the population are incarcerated, is already overloaded with the year-round burden of Burning Man. They think that a 50,000 population is more realistic.

Some of our previous coverage:

Pershing County Asks to Limit Black Rock City to 50,000

Sheriff asks Org to pony up more money and officers

Local sheriff overwhelmed by Burning Man arrests

BURNILEAKS: Sexual Assaults, Missing Kids and Violent Crime

Recent story from Reno Gazette-Journal Are Nevada’s Small Towns Ready For Burning Man To Hit 100,000 people?

Black Rock City’s Law Enforcement Liaison Roger Vind presented to Pershing County Commissioners yesterday. We are publishing his statements as well as our source’s notes on them. You can download the 2017 PCSO Post-Mission Synopsis here.


From DS:

I have attached a copy of the comments made by Roger Vind BRC’s Law Enforcement Liaison and presented to the Pershing County Commissioners yesterday.

2018 BRC letter 8-15-18

DS:

Below are my comments submitted to the LRM reporter. I expect an article in our local paper next week. I will forward a copy when available.

Please note the authorization for traffic stops on the Playa comes from BRC with the signed SRP. The 2013 Settlement Agreement specifies Integrated Command.

Prior to 2014 the BLM LEO agency(s) used the Federal Court and most of the drug citations were dismissed with a $500 traffic fee or so I believe. With the significant reduction  of fees paid to Pershing County due to the 2013 Settlement Agreement’s INTEGRATED COMMAND as insisted by BRC. Which has shifted to Pershing County the prosecution of crimes on the Playa. A consequence of Integrated Command.

I always marvel at BRC’s chutzpa  in trying to alter reality.


Here are my comments after reading the text of the statement for the record by R. Vind. I have sent by previous e-mail a copy of the BRR Manual and inserted some excerpts below.

I see the Rangers as BRAND PROTECTORs not Law Enforcement assets for either Black Rock City (BRC), the BLM or Sheriff though BRC tends to use them as though they are a Law Enforcement offset. Having read the Sheriff’s 2017 Post Mission Synopsis (PMS), the published text of the District Attorney’s EIS/SRP comments, I can find no validation of BRC’s complaints or their alternate reality unsupported by actual facts. I have included Unified Crime Report (UCR) graphs below.

 


Roger Vind (NHP Lt. ret.) BRC Law Enforcement Liaison

Emma Weisman Agency Relations Manager at Burning Man

 

In evaluations of the new SRP proposal. BLM is seeking input from interested publics and local and state agencies about the potential impacts (both positive and negative) on the resources of the Black Rock Desert environment, the social services necessary to support such a large event and economic impacts associated with the event.         Comments will be considered as part of the scoping process until August 4, 2018.

 My Itemized response to Burning Man’s concerns:

  • Pershing County has never produced the (Burning Man) Event
  • The BLM Burning Man EIS SRP public comment period was open to both the Public and Cooperators and not subject to the whims or revisions of the Multi-Million Dollar San Francisco based for profit corporation (BRC). BRC has done two Public Comment meetings in Pershing County and meets frequently with the BLM.
  • The statement “In fact there are 57 instances pertaining to Law Enforcement in the 2018 Black Rock Ranger Manual…” is unclear, confused, and needs clarification.
  • Additionally the following statement “the manual clearly supports law enforcement’s roles and our utilization of law enforcement involvement.” Is telling. (The manual is available online)
  • Unreported Sexual Assaults are a serious matter that BRC should finally address for the benefit of their participants/victims as our District Attorney suggests: “Anecdotal information from state and federal law enforcement officers suggests that the BRR encourages event participants to avoid reporting incidents to law enforcement in favor of resolving matters “in house” with the BRR’s assistance,” Shields states in the letter. “Such stories from law enforcement seem to be credible because the 2018 Black Rock Ranger (BRR) Manual contains instructions to BRRs to ‘filter’ what is reported to law enforcement.” (The “filtering” is done in part by the BRR chain of command as indicated by the manual.) And is clearly not contradicted by Sheriff Allen as R. Vind alleges.
  • R. Vind goes on to complain about the self inflicted wound from the Settlement Agreement’s Integrated Command BRC’s cost savings bonanza.
  • Then ignorantly refers to “The County also generates revenue from the convictions it secures…”
  • BRC authorizes the BLM to perform “traffic stops” in the closure area, has done so for years with their SRP.
  • BRC’s 2017 Afterburn report might be done December of 2018. It takes over a year before its available. BRC pays ONLY for an eight day event which means the Sheriff’s PMS is done at TAXPAYER expense.
  • Are the Commissioners still waiting to receive Emergency Plans previously requested?
  • Has there been ANY community involvement in Pershing County from BRC as requested by Commissioner Rackley last year?
  • This is the first year BLM/BRC has acknowledged the legal requirement for Vendor compliance with County Business Licenses.
  • Firearm(s) found in the vehicle of a BRC employee during the 2016 Coroner’s investigation. The others had been admitted to Black Rock City after the Contraband search by BRC in 2017.

 

The voters of Pershing County will hold the Sheriff accountable for the magnificent job he is doing despite the budget limitations imposed by BRC and their untrustworthy conduct, unreasonable, and outlandish demands.

BRC has a clear financial incentive to increase the “paid population” by 30,000 at the standard ticket price of $425 or $12.75 million.

Pershing County has acknowledged the actuality that 50,000 is a more viable population cap for our limited resources.


(excerpts) 2018 Black Rock Ranger Manual

Sexual harassment, as defined within the Ranger Department, may consist of, but is not limited to, any unwelcome touching, stalking, repeated requests for a date after someone has said “no,” continuing to engage in sexual discussion or banter after being asked to stop, or similar behavior. Harassment will not be tolerated, regardless of who engages in it.

What happens if I make a report?

Reports of harassment are very serious. The Ranger Personnel Manager will investigate reports of harassment and will take remedial measures when appropriate. If you have made a report and are one of the principal people involved, you will be notified of the findings when the investigation is complete.

Will my report be kept confidential?

Information about harassment reports will be kept confidential and only shared with Ranger Managers on a need-to-know basis to complete the investigation. The Rangers’ policy with regard to sexual harassment or violence in the workplace is one of zero tolerance. We strongly support and adhere to the Burning Man policy. Burning Man is founded on expectations set by the community standards inherent to it.

One such community standard is creating an environment that is free of sexual harassment and violence by volunteers, staff, or vendors. Any reported occurrences will be investigated and regarded with the utmost compassion and gravity. The investigation will follow the guidelines set by the Burning Man Board for conflict resolution. Violation of this policy may result in progressive discipline, up to and including: counseling, eviction, termination, or legal action. The full text of the Burning Man Project’s organization-wide conflict resolution protocol may be found here.

 

In approaching any situation, a Ranger’s initial default action is DO NOTHING. (The exceptions to this axiom are must-report situations [e.g., medical emergencies, lost child, etc.]). If, in the process of doing nothing, you decide that your presence would be helpful, engage by helping participants solve their own problems. If they are unable to do so, try to solve the problem for them. If the situation still needs attention, call Khaki.

Must-Reports—Situations that Must Be Called in Immediately Black Rock Rangers are entrusted with considerable flexibility in how they handle the situations they encounter in Black Rock City. Rangers are trained to rely on their own judgment and abilities, and to escalate matters (generally to Khaki who is part of the Shift Command Team) for assistance when appropriate. There are, however, situations in which the Ranger Department requires that Rangers report what they observe to the Shift Command Team immediately.

The requirement to report is in place to ensure that the Burning Man organization is aware of events that are critical to maintaining agreements we have in place with other departments and agencies, our internal reporting metrics, or legally required or advisable record keeping and reporting.

It is important to note that this policy only requires that a Ranger escalate required information to the Shift Command Team. The Shift Leads will then follow up with appropriate actions, which may be as simple as noting the event in the shift log, or may include further escalation. It is not the individual Dirt Ranger’s responsibility to contact LE or medical.

How to Report

All reports begin by calling Khaki on the radio.


Crime and Population Statistics

 

Pershing County Requests 50,000 Person Limit at Burning Man

reblogged from the Lovelock Review-Miner , story by Debra Reid News4Nevada

See also our coverage of the most recent Pershing County Sheriff’s report.

Ticket prices would skyrocket, the crowd would become ultra-elite, more sherpas, more MOOP…on the plus side, the queue for the Port-a-Loo would be shorter. Maybe it becomes “2 Burning Mans” like Coachella, with everybody going to Flysalen in between to chill at the hot springs…their permit reserves the area for them for much longer than the week 9-day long event. The area reserved is also much, much larger than the pentagon shaped trash fence that encloses Black Rock City.


County requests 50,000-person limit at Burning Man

Black Rock Rangers told to “filter” crime reports to law officers

Debra Reid, News4Nevada

Wednesday, August 8, 2018 12:00 AM

lovelock review-miner logoIn a letter last week to the Bureau of Land Management Winnemucca District, Pershing County District Attorney Bryce Shields recommended the BLM limit the total attendance at Burning Man to 50,000 people including ticket-holders, staff, volunteers, contractors and government officials.

The comment letter was submitted by Shields on behalf of the Pershing County Commission and the Pershing County District Attorney’s Office. The deadline for public comment on the BLM’s Burning Man Special Recreation Permit/Environmental Impact Statement was Friday.

The BLM is analyzing impacts of the event that is now allowed up to 70,000 ticket-holders plus paid and volunteer non-ticket holders who work the event. Burning Man organizers have applied for a Special Recreation Permit for the next 10 years and have requested the BLM allow them to sell more tickets meaning the total event attendance could eventually reach 100,000 people.

In his comment letter, Shields pointed out that, at its current size, the festival is already a serious drain on local resources including law enforcement, the jail, courts, roads and administrative services in Pershing County and beyond. He questioned if even the BLM could provide enough rangers to control the impacts of 100,000 participants and employees on public land resources.

“In terms of increasing the event’s size, it is doubtful that the Burning Man event can grow to 100,000 participants without increasing the number of federal and state law enforcement officers,” Shields states in the letter. “To ensure the safety of participants and law enforcement personnel, the Draft EIS should analyze the appropriate levels of staffing for federal and state law enforcement and the associated financial

burden to these agencies. As a practical matter, the analysis should include whether the Department of Interior is capable of staffing enough BLM Rangers at the event should it increase to 100,000 participants.”

Shields suggested the BLM also evaluate whether enough officers can be recruited from within the state by the Pershing County Sheriff Office to maintain public safety at the event if Burning Man continues to grow. Sheriff Jerry Allen has said that he and his staff have difficulty locating enough available law enforcement officers willing and able to help local deputies with the event.

Increased attendance means more crime and more demands on all of the county’s limited resources, Shields said. Each crime report must be investigated, evidence must be collected, suspects must be housed at the county jail and be given due process in court. An eight-day event soon turns into year-round work for law enforcement, county courts and administration.

“The volume of crimes (hundreds of misdemeanors and dozens of felonies) coupled with the impermanent infrastructure, short duration of the event, and transitory nature of most of the state law enforcement officers, renders report writing, record keeping and evidence intake a monumental task. This process strains law enforcement and prosecution resources for months after the event,” Shields states in the letter.

Shields said criminal activities at the festival may have not been reported to law enforcement officers at the request of Burning Man’s own security staff known as the Black Rock Rangers.

“Anecdotal information from state and federal law enforcement officers suggests that the BRR encourages event participants to avoid reporting incidents to law enforcement in favor of resolving matters “in house” with the BRR’s assistance,” Shields states in the letter. “Such stories from law enforcement seem to be credible because the 2018 Black Rock Ranger (BRR) Manual contains instructions to BRRs to ‘filter’ what is reported to law enforcement.”

According to Shields, the Black Rock Ranger Manual also contains a “legally inadequate definition” of “consent” for encounters such as sexual encounters.

“This woeful advice to the BRR suggests the ugly possibility that crimes at the event, including sexual assault, have been under reported to law enforcement officers in previous years,” he states in the comment letter. “In light of the possibility that crimes have gone unreported to law enforcement, the Draft EIS should evaluate what measures can be taken to ensure that crimes are accurately reported to law enforcement.”

Shields recommended the BLM investigate the screening process conducted by festival staff at the gates to the event. Gatekeepers search vehicles for people without tickets as well as illegal drugs and weapons but such contraband has been found by law enforcement inside the event.

“Is the current screening process adequate to prevent prohibited items (drugs, firearms, glitter, confetti, etc…) from entering the event?” Shields asks the BLM. “To say nothing of the copious amounts of controlled substances at the event, within the last two or three years, law enforcement officers have located firearms at the event. In one egregious case, officers discovered one AR-15 and one 9 mm handgun, along with thousands of rounds of ammunition for those weapons. In an effort to better protect participants, a more thorough screening process of vehicles and individuals should occur prior to entry.”

Shields questioned if there are adequate restrictions on minors inside the event where “adult” events occur. Rather than imposing a minimum age limit on the event, as county officials have suggested, the BLM has allowed parents to decide if their children should attend the event.

“Please include within the Draft EIS a study concerning Black Rock City’s zoning efforts in that regard,” he said in the letter. “How is the zoning enforced? How does Burning Man or the BLM ensure that minors at the event are there with the permission of their parents or guardians?”

As well as the event’s negative effects on county roads, a lesser known impact is on nearby public land users. In the letter, Shields said some of those people have had trouble accessing their private land, grazing allotments and other areas due to Burning Man roadblocks.

“Many ranchers and property owners near the Burning Man Event have expressed concerns that proposed road closures will deprive them of access to areas essential to their day-to-day business operations,” he states in the letter. “These individuals also report that, in previous years, when they have driven in close proximity to the borders of the event, they have been “hassled” by Black Rock Rangers and followed.”

Shields suggested that Burning Man or the BLM issue “visible vehicle placards” for those landowners, ranchers and other public land users who need access to areas near the event.

A lower attendance level would limit the overall impacts of Burning Man according to Shields.

“With these considerations in mind, we request that the BLM analyze the alternative of capping the event at 50,000 persons,” he wrote. “This number, of course, encompasses all attendees, including paid participants, volunteers, service providers, vendors, contractors and government personnel.”

Wanted: Burning Man Camp Lead

Someone has posted a highly accurate Craigslist Job ad. Hat tip to @defango for this.

Burning Man Camp Lead (Black Rock Dessert) 

compensation: Varies depending on experience
employment type: full-time

Job Description
Responsible for all camp planning and logistics: camp member recruiting and ticket and vehicle pass purchasing, placement application (interactivity, acculturation, layout planning, camp gifting, camp events, etc.), Bureau of Land Management permit application, fundraising, accounting, vehicle purchasing or rental, vehicle maintenance, inventory, on-Playa leadership and crew coordination (including team creation, task assignment, motivation, scheduling, etc.), clean up, social media coordination, media liaison, website development, camp communications and training, storage, travel, food and water (including Nevada state certifications), services liaison (fuel, power, and potable water, gray water, black water), engineering certifications, etc. Expect to be on-Playa counselor for members with troubled relationships, overworked setup crew, picky eaters, and members of the public that would like to complain about your camp. You will also carry the legal liability for the camp (recommend procuring insurance).Passion for people a plus, but not required. In fact, that’s just for your benefit. Cranky as F*@! may actually make you a better fit for this position. Must be able to meet deadlines. Travel required. Must maintain high tolerance for drugs and alcohol (especially in others). Must love dust.

1800-2200 hours per year. Part time November through June (about 20 hrs/week), full time June and October (40 hrs/week), double time July-September (80 hrs/week). Burning Man time commitment (including setup and tear down) is two and a half time (100 hrs/week)*. No overtime compensation.

0-5 years experience (manage teams of 3-20 people)
Compensation: First several years requires you to pay approx. $15,000 annual out of pocket. Although this cost may decrease over time (or increase).

5-10 years experience (manage teams of 20-50 people)
Compensation: Unpaid. Profit (and loss) sharing (but probably loss).

10+ years experience (manage teams of 50-100 people)
Compensation: Minimum wage. Profit (and loss) sharing. No benefits.

*Decommodification Principle disallows financial compensation for responsibilities performed at Burning Man.

  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
  • do NOT contact us with unsolicited services or offers
  • OK to highlight this job opening for persons with disabilities

 

Image: Akufuncture

wanted poster

The New Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man

Philippe Glade has been a fan of Burning Man for 20+ years. He takes time every year to travel the entirety of Black Rock City looking for amazing examples of architecture. He has brought us the Golden Rebar awards, which we covered here:

2015 Golden Rebar Awards: Pods Pervade the Playa

2014 Golden Rebar Awards

2013 Golden Rebar Awards

This is Black Rock City

Philippe finally took his work and published it as a book, thinking that others in the community would be interested in what took years of his life. We get a shout-out in the book, Burners.Me is thanked for being the “counter-culture” of Burning Man.

The book was featured in Architectural Digest, WIRED, Curbed, and CNN.

Sadly, only 289 people were interested enough to buy one. Philippe, disillusioned, plans to quit Burning Man for good and burn the remaining copies of his book. He says “as far as I see participants are not really into the fabric of their city, this is a sour surprise for me.”

Philippe wrote a sad farewell on his blog This Is Black Rock City

After 21 burns and 10 years blogging it’s time to call it quits.

This blog was created to be more reactive than my old pages
going back to 1996 and with the hope to inspire and grow
a community of like-minded participants building a functioning city
in an inhospitable environment while having fun, mostly.

Within the years I posted thousands of images of camps, structures,
along with hundreds of reliable links, which was an exhausting labor of love,
my ethereal gift to the community.

The Golden Rebar Award was created to highlight the innovative
or most surprising shelters that I considered as important
as the various art installations all along the playa.

My secret fantasy was to have an informal and zany ceremony were I could give away the physical Golden Rebar Awards.

Instead of that, I made a book.

2 years were spent on  Research / Writing / Editing / Design and Layout (which paid off with a 2017 Graphic Design Award) / Production and Problem Solving /
The result was a burner worthy book with a tactile cloth cover and blind embossing, packed with info, data, tips and, most of all, a very large visual spectrum of our vernacular architecture.

One year was spent on a worldwide promotional campaign with stellar results: features on CNN, Wired, Wallpaper (of all!!), Architectural Digest and more (not too bad for a Frenchman working alone from a tiny San Francisco bedroom)

From around the world 289 buyers daringly purchased this self-reliant project.

This dismal performance resulted in several drastic personal changes.

As for the commodification debate, the goal was with the profit,
to publish limited edition books of two talented playa photographers.

Instead of working on this exciting project, I am looking, now,
for international movers to cheaply and sheepishly
regroup and recoup overseas.
Time to burn the page.

Unable to keep a sales structure and book cases in storage,
by respect for my daring 289 buyers, the remaining books (850)
will be terminated (Baker beach style) at the end of the year
without any Black Friday, French tickler Sunday or Tutu Tuesday.

The good news is: there will be one less photographer on the playa
and one less overwhelming blog to read.

Support Philippe and buy one of the limited edition books before they are gone forever. It’s really very good, the range of Burnitecture on display is truly mind-blowing. Big thanks and much kudos to Philippe for taking the photos, and all the imaginative Burners who created the structures.

The Global Leadership Conference for 2018 has been called off, perhaps to avoid answering awkward questions raised by our Shadow History of Burners investigation. Is this it for Burning Man now? Are people just over it? Is it really a lifestyle and ideology that can change the world, or is it just a fun party for one week a year?

Will other temporary cities emerge with this kind of ephemeral architecture? I sure hope so.


Re-blogged from This Is Black Rock City

Welcome to Black Rock City 2017 Golden Rebar Awards

Golden Rebar for keeping up 
with Buckminster Fuller
Black Lotus Society Camp with true geodesic sphere of 24′ diameter
Golden Rebar for Serene Scene
Serene is the least word you would associate Black Rock City with.
Weathered burners know this place, so I will not mention it in a vain attempt to keep it as is,
an oasis of silence
Octayurts in the Mindfield
Sometimes there is a fine line between an art installation and a camp
There goes the Neighborhood Golden Rebar
Suburbia Camp 2017 once again brought tongue-in-cheek and joie de vivre with its white picket fences, plywood mansions, mailboxes, astroturf and traffic lights
Caravan of Light Camp 2017 with portal
Caravan of Light Camp with many Bell tents
Mayan Warrior Camp with Alien Buffalo Tents
Tension tent with SHIFTPODs for Serendipitea Camp

 

Black Rock City Shelter

Cloud Extruded. Courtesy of Philippe Glade.

philippe glade
Black Rock City Shelter

The Chiton. Courtesy of Philippe Glade.

philippe glade
Black Rock City Shelter

Sacred Spaces Village. Courtesy of Philippe Glade.

philippe glade
Black Rock City Shelter

Hundertwasser House. Courtesy of Philippe Glade

Read more at This Is Black Rock City.