Every year, more than 70,000 people gather in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada for Burning Man, a “counter-cultural” festival of art, music, self-expression, and communal living. A city rises from nowhere, amidst decidedly harsh conditions, to include massive outdoor dance venues, elaborate art installations, and outrageously “mutant” vehicles. These large and public displays of creativity are shared, appreciated, documented, and remembered by participants, and by those who see images from afar.
But traveling the back streets of Black Rock City reveals an extension of this energetic creativity that includes the campsites of many residents. The investment that residents pour into building their homes — homes which will exist for 10 days at most — is no less affecting than the more dramatic public creations. Perhaps more so, knowing that they will only be shared with a few friends and neighbors who stumble by. They are, in many instances, the ultimate act of generosity: a symbolic gesture that calls out to strangers, “Welcome home!”.