Black Rock City is the oldest and largest Burning Man gathering in the world. Each August, Black Rock City is briefly home to 70,000 people in northern Nevada gathering to celebrate Burning Man. The gathering has been built in roughly the same spot every year but one since 1990. In 1997, Black Rock City moved to Fly Ranch, a 3,800 acre property just north of the normal event site. For twenty years after that event, people imagined building a permanent home for Burning Man’s temporary community at Fly Ranch. In 2016, Burning Man Project—the non-profit that organizes the city—became the steward of Fly Ranch.

 

The Land

Fly Ranch is home to dozens of hot and cold springs, three geysers, hundreds of acres of wetlands, dozens of animal species, and more than 100 types of plants. The blog posts by the Fly Ranch Land Steward detail more. The land has a 10,000+ year history of stewardship by the Numu (Northern Paiute) and Newe (Western Shoshone) people. We are guests on the land, and encourage all visitors to remember this. To learn more, visit the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum on your way to Fly Ranch, read about our ecosystem restoration day, or read a book.

 

Fly Ranch & the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Vision

People sometimes ask: “what is the vision for Fly Ranch?” There is no simple answer because it is a collective dream. Thousands of people have different ideas of what a year-round platform for Burning Man could look like. Burning Man culture is unique, and brings together many visions and skills. Burning Man culture is notable for:

  • A history of rapid prototyping and design thinking.
  • Deploying infrastructure not only in Black Rock City but globally for impact.
  • A global community of diverse interests open to collaboration and cooperation.
  • Supporting daring ideas, and iterating when first implementation isn't a success.
  • A combination of STEM skills with artistic underpinnings into STEAM (STEM + Art).

The project is driven less by a single vision and more by shared interest, a belief in Burning Man culture and community, and mutual curiosity. Chip Conley, one of the major contributors and early leaders in the project summarized the vision as a question rather than an answer: “What happens when Burners are invited to co-create a space beyond the playa?”

As is, Fly Ranch is an agricultural site where the only residents are 150 cows. Over the past few years, passionate people have organized nature walks, hosted small camping trips, built art, and tested temporary infrastructure. To scale the site, more infrastructure will be needed. Everyone could bring generators, bottled water, prepared food, tents, and dispose of our waste off-site. This is how most gatherings occur. But there is a different approach, where people live in service to nature and give more to the land than they take from it.

The Land Art Generator Initiative’s design challenge, LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch, aims to move Fly Ranch in that type of regenerative direction. The project invites people to propose and build infrastructure at Fly Ranch while supporting the goals in Burning Man’s environmental roadmap.

 

LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Timeline & Process

The process of building infrastructure will play out over the next three years. From January through May of 2020, people can propose ideas for sustainable infrastructure to manage water, power, shelter, food, and regeneration. The goal is to build new, inspiring, site-specific projects, so all projects should be original works. In June, dozens of technical and subject matter experts will assess the feasibility of each proposal. The Shortlisting Committee will choose finalists in July of 2020. The panel of expert judges will each vote for their top choices in July and August. The top vote-earning projects will be announced in late 2020.

 

2021 Prototypes

Selected projects will be invited to build prototypes on the property in 2021. The prototypes are intended to demonstrate the feasibility of the ideas and their viability across four seasons, and are not intended to serve as permanent infrastructure.

Thus far, the project has $150,000 in funding to support prototypes. This may not cover all costs. Support staff will assist teams as necessary and possible to raise funds for building projects. Fly Ranch staff will help teams by partnering with them on budget planning, recruiting volunteers, and publicizing fundraisers. The do-ocracy approach is the way art is built at Black Rock City, and speaks to what Fly Ranch could be: a platform for people to test bold new ideas and build community. As is, Fly Ranch has a $350K total annual budget to support operations and two full-time and two part-time staff. Which is to say: support resources are somewhat limited but everyone will do their best to help.

Throughout this process, staff will support teams. To learn more about the process, see the full design guidelines. Land Art Generator, Burning Man, and the judges will not dictate how or what people build or direct business deals. The goal is to support teams as they partner with vendors, experts, and others working at Fly Ranch.

 

2022 Scaling & Book

After the prototyping stage, Burning Man Project and Fly Ranch will make decisions on moving forward with permanent installations and will involve the design teams in that process, which will likely include a larger team of engineers and consultants. Around this time, Land Art Generator will publish a book and promote the projects that come from the design challenge. The projects will be acknowledged in the book and elsewhere, always with attribution to the artists. The book and follow-up publications support a core goal of the design challenge: to craft a process that others can learn from and be inspired by. We are aiming to build a beautiful world of human culture and thriving that is in harmony with nature. Teams who submit to LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch own the intellectual property for their work. By entering the design challenge, teams allow images and descriptions of their work to be published by Land Art Generator and Burning Man with attribution so that the world can know about this project.

This is the first design challenge at Fly Ranch and will inform future projects. The process has been designed to be simple, inclusive, and transparent to ensure success and enable everyone to work with the hundreds of  proposals we anticipate receiving. Burning Man Project hopes that teams will choose to make their projects open-source so that others can replicate, build on, and scale the projects. When projects are open and free, everyone can help solve the very real problems humans face due to climate change. Licensing will be complex and will involve working  with teams on different models. This will be a collaboration and a balancing act.

 

Conclusion

This project, like other projects at Fly Ranch, was proposed by and will be implemented by members of the community who show up and feel inspired to act. For those inspired to propose a future design challenge or project, we welcome proposals. This project is an evolving experiment. We may adjust and change tactics as we go, but we know the general direction we’re going. We are inviting people to bring their ideas and work to Fly Ranch. We look forward to partnering with teams to build a regenerative future.

Burning man & Fly Ranch