Preparing the playa | SierraSun.com

Preparing the playa

Ryan SalmSierra Sun

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunBuilding the man.

Hammers pound and drills whine.A blazing sun beats down on dust and sand… What has for eons existed as a dried-out lake-bed is being transformed into an artistic mecca.Hundreds of volunteers and paid hands have come from all over America and some from abroad to transform what is known to Burners as The Playa into Nevadas eighth largest city a city that grows from the desert sands in a matter of weeks.Long before the Black Rock Desert becomes home to one of the nations largest art festivals, artists, carpenters and welders have been sweating the bone-dry desert heat, setting the stage for Burning Man. Artists started even earlier, sometimes years before, to bring a well-crafted project to the Playa to be finalized and erected. Along with the many art installments, all on temporary display in the Nevada desert, Burning Man also has other projects that create a unique surrounding all its own. Through its 21-year history, one of the major differences between Burning Man 2007 and Burning Man in years past is this seasons theme of The Green Man. Making the Burning Man environment almost completely green this year took a lot of planning, said Tom Thumper Price, the environmental manager of Burning Man. The environmental committee began preparing for this years event last September. We looked into everything green for this years event. It is going to be the eighth largest city in the state and we want it to be unique from the ground up. Here are a few things that made Burning Man 2007 a greener place.

All lighting used by the festival will come from biodiesel and solar-powered generators. 90 percent of the generators were switched from regular diesel to biodiesel by a station in Minden, Nev. The Man which is an 80-foot (approx.) wooden sculpture and the centerpiece of the festival that lights up every night is being powered this year by 30 kilowatt solar power. This will reduce its power usage by 50 percent. A festival-wide composting program will manage food waste from the Caf, commissary and 50 to 100 theme camps. The organizers have also instituted composying in the San Francisco Burning Man office. All plastic utensils are also being replaced by corn-based products. Seven Albertsons in the Reno/Sparks area will be setting up 24-hour recycling stations for people leaving the Playa. 1000 shared yellow bikes (funded by a generous Burner) are available this year, painted green with red flames. This gift created the highest per capita municipal bike use in the United States (1 bike per 35 people). Burning Man also sponsored the design and installation of a 120 kilowatt solar array in Gerlach, Nev. and a 60 kilowatt solar array in Lovelock, Nev. A 30 kilowatt solar array will be used to help power the festival and will be gifted to Gerlach after the event. This project will generate $3 million of electricity over the next 20 years at no cost to Gerlach/Lovelock residents.So how difficult is it to coordinate all this in the middle of a remote desert?Its like being an air traffic controller at OHare on a snowy night. There is so much going on in so many ways it is our job to figure it all out… said Price.