Burning Man MOOP map, 2006 – 2013
Burning Man is the world’s largest Leave No Trace (LNT) event. Each year, after the attendees depart and go back home, a crew of people scan the entire 5-/6-square mile space, a person’s-length apart from the next, and they pick up all leftover trash … including sequins, feathers and plywood “shards.” It’s amazing. At the end of this process, a MOOP (Matter out of Place) map is created, providing feedback to all who attended. The color coding is pretty obvious given our cultural references for what these colors mean: green, yellow, red; go, caution, stop; good, meh, no way!
It’s not just trash that’s noted and marked (and cleaned up!). Any gray water dumps are a big no-no. Divots from rebar stakes count as negative marks in a Leave No Trace environment. And small dunes and places where the surface is uneven also count against the Cherished Green Star. This year, much of what I did at the close of the event was to walk around a large area where my home village had camped, and, metal rake in hand, I smoothed out uneven playa dust. For hours. And I did so lovingly and out of choice to do my best to restore the land to how I/we had found it.
I find this collection of maps and progression fascinating and uplifting, as the increased mass of green areas shows that the values and culture around LNT is spreading, being adopted and being cherished by the community promulgating the values and principles. Seems it’s possible, indeed, for great change to occur when people care about a place.