• From wood blocks to 'poop buckets,' how Burning Man organizers told fes

    From useapen@21:1/5 to All on Tue Sep 5 07:36:15 2023
    XPost: alt.burningman, talk.politics.guns, alt.society.liberalism
    XPost: nv.general

    The first time Masha Maltsava attended Burning Man – the annual “ephemeral city” that attracts thousands of free-spirited revelers in the Nevada
    desert – she over packed.

    “I prepared for maybe three months,” she recalled in an interview with
    CNN. “And I read all the packing lists, all the Reddit threads, all the WhatsApp chats, preparing for Burning Man last year.”

    But this year – when heavy rain transformed the remote venue into a muddy
    mess that forced attendees to shelter in place and conserve precious
    resources – Maltsava wasn’t as prepared.

    She became one of about 70,000 people stuck at the event when Black Rock
    Desert received over two months’ worth of rain in just 24 hours. The
    storms, which started Friday and continued through the weekend, turned the desert sand into a sloppy, slippery clay that made it impossible for
    drivers to enter or exit.

    “I was overly prepared last year – but I think that’s the right way to do
    it,” she said.

    While pictures of Burning Man’s elaborate art installations and people in intricate costumes might make the event look glamorous, the weekend’s
    severe weather has emphasized the challenges the experience poses.
    Attendees spend seven days in an isolated, harsh desert environment with limited access to outside resources and infrastructure.

    And “self-reliance” is one of the event’s core principles, with organizers emphasizing participants are ultimately responsible for their own health
    and safety.

    The event’s website advises attendees on how to prepare for the seven-day festivities – including in the case of extreme weather. Here’s how
    organizers suggest getting ready for the unique experience.

    ‘It’s one of the most strikingly beautiful and utterly ethereal locations
    in the world that will ever try to kill you’
    The yearly celebration takes place in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, a remote
    and isolated area where the roads become unreliable in difficult weather conditions. The closest settlement is Gerlach, a town of just over 100
    people; Reno, the nearest city, is 93 miles away.

    “The Black Rock Desert is a huge, flat, prehistoric lakebed, composed of a hardpan alkali, ringed by majestic mountains,” says Burning Man on its
    website. “Daytime temperatures routinely exceed 100°F, with extremely low humidity.”

    Organizers are blunt about the location on the event’s website: “It’s one
    of the most strikingly beautiful and utterly ethereal locations in the
    world that will ever try to kill you.”

    Burning Man advises attendees that “ultimately the responsibility for your personal health and safety falls to you,” part of the event’s “spirit of radical self-reliance.”

    While the festival provides “essential safety infrastructure” including
    porta potties, ice for sale and on-site first responders, amenities are
    few and far between. Revelers are typically reliant on the gear they’ve
    brought themselves. Facilities for handwashing and showering are the responsibility of individual camps.

    The festival suggests a long list of gear for each attendee, including
    food and beverages, an “extensive” first aid kit, warm clothing and fire extinguishers.

    Additionally, “Burners,” what the event dubs attendees, should bring a
    “poop bucket,” especially in case rain makes porta potties inoperable. The website recommends a 5-gallon utility bucket with a lid and garbage bag

    And the list goes on: Attendees are urged to bring a portable shower, waterproof protective bags for any electronic gear, a battery- or solar- powered radio and warm clothing since temperatures can drop by as much as
    50 degrees when the sun goes down.

    In the case of rain, Burning Man emphasizes the importance of wood blocks
    to help keep generators and other electronic devices dry and electrical
    tape to seal off connections.

    Nicole Gallub, who has attended four Burning Man events, said despite her
    prior experience and serious preparations, she still wasn’t ready for this year’s intense rain. “I don’t think anybody was really prepared for what
    we experienced,” said Gallub, who left the event during a pause in the downpour. “Typically, it rains, and it stops – but it just didn’t stop raining.”

    Amid the difficult weather, the atmosphere was “peaceful” when she left,
    she said. “Everybody else was pretty calm and helping each other,” Gallub
    said. “I would have felt actually okay if we stayed, too, even though it
    would have been very uncomfortable.”

    Like Maltsava, Gallub said preparing for the worst is a crucial part of
    the Burning Man experience. “You have to basically plan out the next seven
    days on your own in the desert,” she said. “It takes quite a bit of
    planning to get it right.”

    And despite the organizers’ best efforts to prepare and warn attendees, “there’s always people that are not that prepared,” she said. And as the
    event has grown more popular, it has attracted participants who might not understand the “self-reliance” ethos.

    “You get a lot of people that are just coming to party and they just think
    it’s like a big festival,” she said.

    Still, Burning Man veterans are supportive of these newcomers, according
    to Gallub. “When people do need help, people are here with open arms
    trying to help each other,” she said.

    Omar Sedky, another of this year’s attendees, likewise said more-prepared participants helped compensate for those in need.

    “We’re overly prepared,” he said of his own group, who rented an RV for
    the event. “And we were also able to bring others in when the rain

    Participants who chose to camp in tents on the “playa,” the usually dry
    lake basin where the event is held, were in some of the worst positions
    when the rain started, he said.

    Sedky said one of the main challenges at the site has been limited communication on the radio station, as well as vehicles getting stuck in
    the mud and creating traffic jams. He’s planning to drive a woman who is
    seven months pregnant out of the area in his RV, he said.

    “One thing you’ll see a lot here is the sense of community,” he said. “So,
    if someone needs help, there’s plenty of people offering it.”

    ‘I almost had FOMO leaving’
    While the photos of muddy campsites and flooded streets may look daunting, attendees said collaborating to survive a difficult environment is part of
    what Burning Man is all about.

    Maltsava, who left the venue Saturday for a work engagement, recalled, “it
    was so beautiful to see people helping each other out and sharing supplies
    and batteries and power and water and food and shelter.”

    She walked 10 miles to get out of the site, crossing knee-high waters in platform boots that slowly broke due to the thick mud. But still, she
    said, she “almost had FOMO leaving,” or “fear of missing out.”

    Attendees were still partying and spending time together when she left,
    she said.

    “To be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing,” she said. “I would still go,
    even if I knew it’d be such a mess.”

    For Lubna Sharief, a six-time Burning Man attendee, the difficult camping conditions are part of what makes the event so special.

    “The challenge and the survival skills and the preparation – this is a big
    part of it,” she said.

    Sharief, who didn’t attend this year’s celebration, said that like
    Maltsava, she prepared extensively for her first Burning Man experience in 2011. Still, she said, she “didn’t really get it right.”

    “You need help,” she said, emphasizing the crucial role that community
    plays in Burning Man. “We are all in the desert together, sharing what we brought together.”

    Sharief said in previous years, she’d prepared for rain by bringing duct
    tape and trash bags to cover her boots if needed. “One of the good mantras
    to have is you can’t use it if you don’t bring it,” she said. “You can
    bring the extra canned food and you can bring the extra zip ties and rain supplies if it doesn’t rain and you know, kitty litter for a bucket toilet
    even if it doesn’t rain.”

    The event’s emphasis on community balances its focus of self-reliance, she said.

    “Reliance – bring everything you think you need,” Sharief said. “But also,
    if you have a problem, self-reliance is also going to find the person who
    can help you.”

    https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/04/us/burning-man-heavy-rain- preparation/index.html

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