MOOP: the word of the week

Burning Man calls out a camp on one of the first renditions of the MOOP Map published on their blog and it is spawning a lot of discussions that are very important for the future of Burning Man. Is Burning Man devolving into a Coachella? Oh, that there is still icing for that cake!

MOOP: Matter Out Of Place: LNT: Leave No Trace: 1 of the 10 Principles

It does not happen very often, especially in these later Burner years, when the Borg calls someone out for their ultimate fail. Gypsy Flower Camp run by John Moonshine (whose profile says he is from Gerlach but it looks like he was from San Francisco?) left behind one of the largest messes seen on the playa.

Not only with MOOP, but it seems there was some unseemly behavior by the camp coordinator for his bad

Gypsy Flower Power abandoned moop, Burning Man 2014
Gypsy Flower Power abandoned moop, Burning Man 2014

attempt to create a plug and play (pnp) style camp that fell way short of it’s promise to people who bought into the camp.

Failure of the plug and play scenario seemed to be the permission needed for people who ended up camping there to leave the trash and other items behind. Read the comments on the September 19th post from The Hun (a member of the Playa Restoration Team) because there were people who made sincere efforts to make up for the failure of camp leadership but there is a stink going on here that is not just trash.

Poo? Human Poo? In bags left to be picked up by other people? Yes… shocking as hell to think about it. We have used pee-bottles casually enough and a whole new level has been reached.

Burning Man 2014 Highway CleanupThe article posted today sites trends of found items. They track these things in order to address them in future conversations:

  • bags of poop. That’s human feces, in bags, undoubtedly left behind by the people who were forced to camp along the embankments [quote]
  • arge numbers of broken hexayurt panels wound up littering the highway, scattering little bits of styrofoam through the sage. [quote]

180 miles of Deluge

garbage_final1Leaving the Burn every year there was clearly abandoned bundles of garbage left all along 447 heading into Wadsworth, running through Gerlach, Empire, Nixon that made one’s stomach turn. In our minds we may chose to believe that these were accidental, but the deluge was shocking.

Highway cleanup reports picking up “24 pickup beds’ worth of roadside detritus”. While the blogs give out props to some people for making strong efforts the results of humans invading the desert are creating an impact that is disastrous.

“My truck alone picked up 64 contractor bags of trash, 30 tires, 20 yurt panels and a bunch of miscellaneous stuff,” Ninjalina says.

~ Leaving No Trace ~
The Burning Man community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.


Leave No Trace is one of the fundamentals that allow us access to the Black Rock Desert and if it were not for the playa restoration team our access would have been withdrawn a long time ago. Seems like in 2014 patience was running thin, at least according to the Sept 20th blog post by The Hun, when “Highway Cleanup began out of respect for local communities, who were tired of their environment being littered with Burner detritus” and with good reason.

The argument of PnP camps impact on the community is an argument for another post. The failures at Gypsy Flower Camp is not especially shocking in the scope of things though the September 19th blog post seems to imply it was the most shocking ever seen. Witnesses in the comments section share similar failings of other camps, but anyone who stayed late on the playa will tell you (including this author) that Leave No Trace and self responsibility is waning.

4 thoughts on “MOOP: the word of the week”

  1. I wanted to add my own comments to this… yes, I am the writer of the article, but I am also the lead on a camp at Burning Man from 2013 and 2014. I have no sympathy for this guy Moonshine at Gypsy Flower Camp because this guy sounds like a real crook… but managing trash after the burn is hard. Everyone has to help out.

    I struggled with trash myself and struggled with people taking their share at the end, too. Burner Express people were generally willing to take 1 bag of recycling and one trash but unless they stepped up I would have never known that was available.

    As the lead for Sun Guardians it was still my responsibility to make sure the standards of managing a theme camp were met. In the end, it was my name the Placement Team would be looking at.

  2. I’ve found one of the best ways to limit the amount of trash you haul out is to limit the amount of packaging you bring in. Food can be broken out of original packaging and placed into reusable ziplock bags more efficiently. Likewise with anything that comes packaged (batteries and other small items). I’m also careful to examine my clothing for any pieces that might detach. If I can’t secure them, I leave that item at home. Too many items in the C&J drag closet had spangles on them and it was hella difficult mooping all those tiny plastic circles off the playa floor.

    In addition to “Leave No Trace,” one of the other principles is “Community.” If we see a camp that’s not pulling its weight during clean-up, as a community we need to communicate our expectations and guide the clueless to “right behavior” in those areas where bad behavior affects us all.

  3. “With some spectacular exceptions, the city has been turning out very green this year (yay you!). Even D.A. said it was the cleanest he had ever seen the city, at least to that point. Ironically, though, this had brought new challenges. “When it’s really green,” Starchild said, “it makes it really easy to start missing things. Once you see moop, you’ll start to see moop everywhere … but with these big green blocks, it’s really easy to zone out. … You look up for three or four steps and you miss the hot spot. … I tell my line to not use the moop sticks, to bend down just to keep the blood flowing.”

    – an exert from

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