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The Assless Chapel Newsletter #36: Leave No Trace Edition

The Chaplain’s Screed

Before I get to the meat of this newsletter, I wanted to share with you a thought I had. I love watching my children be children. The way they can find such joy just in running around in a field; how they play imagination games for hours and laugh at inside jokes that exist in their own reality; how the shine of the sun and the leap of a bug invigorate them so; of the magical healing that the attention of their mother has on them – how her presence soothes like nothing else can, how her voice cheers them beyond any sound, no matter how beautiful. It brings me such happiness to see them experience this.

But it’s bittersweet. Because I can remember the sunlight coming through my bedroom window when I was 4 and it was like nothing else. My mother never had a singing voice, but when I was 3, everything she sang to me was like the sound of ice cream, if ice cream had a sound. I remember loving imagination games with my cousins for hours on end. I remember the wonder of ants, the unbridled excitement of sunshine and green grass and the way the breeze would embroider the air on my skin with a feeling like fairy dust must feel, if fairy dust were real.

But, of course, I’ve grown up. As a kid, one day you learn that people deceive you, sometimes even your parents. You experience the helplessness of people being unjust and, worse yet, learn that life is circumscribed by the irrevocable injustice of mortality. Over time, you come to understand that sex and money and power and ego intrude not just on the purity of human intent, but, perhaps worse yet, on our play time, until there’s no real play time left.

This is the Leave No Trace edition of the newsletter for 2023. LNT, as with many of the other principles, is one of the things that makes Burning Man an even more “grown-up” activity than the default world. But for all of our striving for higher consciousness, a refined sense of ethics or self-actualization, Burning Man is also, it seems to me, an attempt to reclaim the joys of childhood. No one you run into on-Playa is going to have a voice like your mother did when you were a baby, the sun will never be quite like it was when you were a child and the only imagination games you’re likely to play will be very adult. But here and there, we’ll get a bit of that feeling of running in a field, of innocent laughter and, maybe, just a hint of fairy dust.

OK, onto the brass tacks:

We are going to do a great job with Leave No Trace. Nine of the 10 Principles are more descriptive than prescriptive: they explain Burner culture, not dictate behavior. LNT is the big exception: it is a rule. Without LNT, Burning Man could not happen. And, unlike all the other principles, you really are an asshole if you don’t follow it.

Similarly, it’s non-negotiable at The Assless Chapel. If there is one thing you can do to lose respect in the eyes of your campmates, it’s to do a shitty job with LNT. In addition, we made some commitments to Placement regarding LNT. We will stick by these commitments because it’s the right thing to do and, if we don’t, we will not be placed next year.

Please read below to understand the camp’s LNT expectations:

Before Even Getting on the Playa:

· Practice the 6 Rs:

o Rethink what you bring;

o Reduce trash when packing;

o Reuse;

o Recycle;

o Restore;

o Respect.

· Make a written plan for dealing with MOOP (this newsletter is my version of that and it will be available in the Red Folder).

· Make arrangements to haul all trash away.

Everyone needs to always keep an eye out for things that are MOOP or are set to become MOOP. Never let it hit the ground or blow away! We will conserve energy, use renewable energy sources and minimize waste. We will properly store all fuel. We will try to leave our infrastructure in good enough shape to reuse every year.

Each person needs to drain his or her cooler(s) daily. If the water is clean enough, it can go into one of the water coolers for drinking, into my big spritzer or your own spray bottle, or can be used for shower water. If it’s grey water, it can go into the large sprayer I have for spraying down the dust. Under no circumstances will we dump water into the ground. It hurts the native fairy shrimp, leaves marks that could ruin our good standing and is completely avoidable. We also won’t truck our water to the Port-a-Potties.

In addition, every day I’m going to ask for 6 volunteers for MOOP-related chores.

· Two people to go for an ice run each day so our food does not turn into MOOP. I have a tricycle for this task.

· Two people to inspect the whole camp for MOOP in the morning. These two people should also inspect the integrity of our infrastructure and look out for hazards that need to be fixed.

· Two people to do the same inspection before sundown or after our wedding events.

Waste Sorting

We have committed to sorting our waste into various streams. I will bring sufficient trash bins to do this.

· Glass: should be kept to a minimum when packing.

· Aluminum cans: should be crushed and then emptied by taking them to Recycle Camp.

· Organic waste: I’ll bring a bucket with a perforated lid for this and take it home with me.

· Burnables: wood can be burned in our burn barrel or a public Burn Garden; cardboard can only be burned in our burn barrel.

· Mixed recyclables: everything else that is recyclable.

· Trash.

Final LNT Sweep

When we break camp, we’ll do a final LNT sweep to leave our spot better than we found it.

· Before break, a team should run the aluminum cans to Recycle Camp.

· We’ll all do a grid sweep together in one direction and then the other.

· We will do a sweep of appropriate areas with the telescoping magnet.

· We will use a rake and/or broom to capture small MOOP.

· We need to keep a count of stakes so that we don’t leave any in the ground. I left two in the ground for lighting last year and the MOOP team sent me pictures. They totally got lost in the dust, so now I plan to count them.

· After the sweeps, we’ll put a stake in the ground, tie a 38’ string to it, draw a circle and test to see if the total MOOP in that area is less than required to cover the palm of a human hand.

· We have also been asked to MOOP sweep the road in front of our camp.

· Finally, before each vehicle departs, the person who packed it will ensure everything is well-secured. Then someone else will give it another once-over.

· This year, the last thing we’re supposed to do is remove the placement flags and take them with us.

Group News

No major group news.

This is our final group:

1. Katie

2. Seamus

3. The Assless Chaplain

4. Red

5. Curtis

6. Becky

7. Sia

8. Clayton

9. Ivy

10. Jennifer

11. Kate

12. Tanya

13. Kayla

Wedding Planning

I got the 50 Married ‘Til Monday marriage certificates printed. I’ve also put together a rough template to guide the impromptu weddings during our events.

Black Rock City News

I’ve attached the Placed Camp Handbook. You don’t need to read all of this. I did and that’s enough. But… if you’re bringing sound equipment (pgs 17-18) or a generator (pg 11), please read the relevant sections. And if you’re coming in on a WAP, please read and print out the early entry instructions (pgs 5-8). Also, keep in mind that Burning Man Information Radio is on 94.5 and Gate Advisory Radio Station is 95.1 on your FM dial.

Placement / Ticket News

Placement News

No new Placement news. Here’s the remainder of the Placement Calendar for this cycle:

August 21: Placement begins on playa; camps arrive according to their WAP arrival date

August 27: Gate Opens @ 12:00 am (midnight) — BRC begins!

September 2: The Man burns

September 5: Camps must depart BRC and leave no trace!

October 25: Post-playa Report due

November: Statement of Intent opens for 2024 returning theme camps and villages

January 2024: 2023 Camp Standing announced to placed theme camps/villages

Ticket News


I think everything with tickets is taken care of. Let me know if I’m wrong.


[Redacted]... we’re getting in on Friday.

We should be fine, if we can get placed in the morning. Last year, placement took forever. So, we need a plan. My current thought is that we get there 12:01a Friday, get in and sleep under the stars as long as we can, hoping Placement gets to us early (they start work at 9a). Will Call is open 24/7 even during Build Week.

Another option would be to sleep in Reno or at Pyramid Lake and get to the gate at like 6a. I think the former plan is better, though. Whatever we do, I think it’s worth meeting up in Reno first.

Curtis, why don’t you talk to Katie and Clayton and then give me a call.

Vehicle Passes

I have a vehicle pass for my vehicle. Everyone ensure that you have one pass for your vehicle and sell the rest. Red, that means try to sell yours.

Current Pre-Build, Build Week, Burn Week and Exodus Schedule

Over time, I’d like to add everyone else’s dates for when they plan to pack, head out and arrive on the Playa and, of course, when they plan to Exodus. I’ll also add in any pre-planned weddings. The gray days are Build Week and the red days are Burn Week.

Upcoming Tasks

I’d like everyone to please send me one email today or tomorrow, if possible. Below are what I need you to include in it.

· Everyone:

o If you can bring a MOOP-free rug or a Playa-appropriate shade structure, please let me know.

o Please let me know now if there’s anything you’ll need help from me with for your RSR.

· If you have a paper ticket, please send me your ticket number.

· We need to make a decision on when to show up on Playa.

· Read and/or print the sections of the Placement Handbook that are relevant to you.

· Sell vehicle passes.

Closing Thoughts

In past newsletters, I’ve written about my broader interpretation of LNT. That we should strive to leave the people and places we come into contact with better off than when we found them. This is a Golden Rule of sorts for how to behave in the world – how to lead our lives.

It’s also a good mantra for how to comport oneself in Black Rock City. In fact, I think this is one of the things that makes Burning Man so special: you have interaction after interaction in which you and the other person are bettered in some (usually small) way for having met each other. Certainly, the point of Playa weddings is to leave other burners with new memories that make their lives that much more fulfilling and joyful.

Even more specifically, it’s what I look forward to experiencing with all of you. I think of my lovely memory of microdosing while Sia played handpan and Lishy plaited my hair; of Squid treating us all to ice cream topped with whiskey and peaches; of Curtis spurring inward-looking conversations about Burning Man-inspired self-improvement; of Red’s unwavering acceptance of all my weirdness to which he had a 24-hour front row seat. It’s the caring for each other and making sure that we each leave one another better off than we found each other that makes a camp.

A post shared by Burning Man Project (@burningman) on Aug 18, 2018 at 4:56pm PDT

The Man burns in 24 days!

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