ON THE PLAYA
Black Rock City really is a city.
It harbors all the functions of a real metropolis. It has a Cafe (serving delicious beverages and offering space to relax and to enjoy the work of talented artists and performers), a dressed-up ice sales concession (Arctica) to keep you and your comestibles cool and fresh, DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles), a Recycling Center, a Municipal Airport, a newspaper and a radio station.
Chief among these institutions are the Black Rock Rangers and the DPW, our Department of Public Works. The DPW is headquartered on an 80-acre ranch near our city. Here are housed workshops, cherry pickers, cranes, water trucks, storage containers and an ever-growing fleet of trucks and trailers. Work at the ranch commences weeks before Burning Man begins. Indeed, without the DPW there could be no Black Rock City. These workers are responsible for surveying our city, installing its roads and street signs, and erecting the built environment the buildings, trailers, trenched power lines, and communication towers that form the working infrastructure of our home in the desert. They install and repair our perimeter fence and manufacture several acres of shade in which our citizens can shelter from the sun. Rising at dawn, enduring 100-degree heat, and laboring in dust storms, the men and women of the DPW are desert-tested veterans of the Black Rock Desert. They are a breed apart.
The Black Rock Rangers are equally notable for their esprit de corps. Founded in 1992, the Rangers pursue a mission dedicated to maintaining public well being. They patrol the boundaries of our city to protect us from intruding cars, they rescue the lost, maintain our city's gate, interface with our city's fire protection service, maintain our good relations with local law enforcement agencies, and manage the exodus of traffic at the conclusion of the event.
Black Rock City also hosts many other volunteer-created public service groups who work to keep our 7 square-mile civic organism alive. Greeters welcome every citizen arriving in our town. The sign before their outpost reads: "Welcome Black Rock City, Republic of Burning Man". Lamplighters, dressed in flame embroidered costumes, march along our streets, as planes drift lazily overhead, turning for their final approach to our airport. Members of our Fire Conclave start to stoke the Cauldron kept in the Keyhole in Center Camp, as reporters, recorders in hand, spread out into our city to investigate the many unexpected corners of this great tentopolis. Members of Recycle Camp pedal bicycles equipped with recycling bins, stopping here and there to collect aluminum cans, while Rangers circulate through the city, dispensing information and helping people solve their problems. And some of these groups endure throughout the year, such as the Earth Guardians who work with the Bureau of Land Management to protect the historical, cultural and environmental resources of the desert. The infrastructure of Black Rock City is literally alive with human effort, and all of it is volunteered by those who have a passion for the Public Thing Res Publica, as the Romans once called it. Welcome to Black Rock City, Republic of Burning Man.