How to recognize a Black Rock City Census volunteer


Census Volunteers after sampling traffic in 2013

Hint: It’s the lab coat


As we get ready for the playa, our sampling pencils ready, our data entry fingers limber and our lab hosting notes perfected, we must remember one of the most important components of being a Census Lab volunteer…


Census Volunteer Ruby Laser Jules at the Tuesday dawn sampler shift in 2012



Traditional white lab coats are our uniform! White lab coats are how everyone on the Playa knows we are traffickers in important data; scientists busy at work in the laboratory of the demographic; Burners on a mission to learn the who, what and why of BRC residents.


Census Volunteer Annelise sampling in 2013



Indiana sporting the traditional Census Sampler fashions in 2013

In the spirit of radical self expression, this is also an opportunity for Census Lab volunteers to augment their own white lab coat with some personality. Each coat gets the always classic, BRC Census iron-on patch. But for the truly creative, our guidelines are simply that it must be, at its core, a white lab coat. Hot pink and black are acceptable colors for accents. No other hue is allowed.


Anna accessorizing with eyewear and a fetching cap in 2013








Look out for us in the entry lanes at this years event.  Or swing by the Census Lab to see data from prior years.


Scribble after a dusty sampling shift in 2012

Scribble after a dusty sampling shift in 2012

Or volunteer by filling out a Burning Man Volunteer Questionnaire and check the box for “Census.” We still have a few slots left for Random Sampler’s, Fun Interactors, Data Entry Wizards and Lab Hosts. If you like data, if you like helping out Burning Man, if you like interacting with arriving participants, if you like freaky-geeking your style, come join us on the Playa!


Core Crew shows off 2013 fashions

Core Crew shows off 2013 fashions


Comparison: Voting Burners

Something that makes me proud to call myself a Burner is the participatory aspect of the event – from planning and transportation to building and removing all evidence of Black Rock City after the event. I would venture to say that these data further support my belief that Burners are citizens who turn their ideas and beliefs into actions.


In comparing the 2012 and 2013 Burners, there was a very small increase in those who are not eligible to vote in the United States (US). My assumption is that most of those not eligible would be from another country, so the increase of over 12,000 Burners between 2012 and 2013 may very well be American citizens.


The trend seems to continue as around 12,000 more Burners in 2013 have also voted in at least one election, though this doesn’t imply they vote regularly – the following graph shows US voters who voted in any of the last four elections.


Between the 2012 and 2013 Burns, the largest growth was in voters participating in all four of the last elections (9,000+)! The only decline was in those who voted in only 1 of the last 4 elections. Overall, most Burners in both years displayed voted in all four of the last four elections (the number of people voting in none of the last 4 elections remains the same as the graph above).


So does this mean Burners are also activists? What about their political leanings? Personally, I feel that a trip to the playa is the best rejuvenation for political disenfranchisement, so I would explain the increase in US voters as a need for a temporary Utopia and escape. What do you think?

Written by: Tabicat
Edited by: Wendi Corbin Goulette

Comparison: Peak Populations in 2012 and 2013

Each year, Burning Man draws more and more attention. As a result, Black Rock City has seen a drastic increase in attendance almost every year. As shown below, the increase in attendees from 2012 to 2013 was nearly 24%, over thirteen thousand more Playa inhabitants from one year to the next! 


Though I have no doubt every Burner would love to arrive on day one and plant roots in the dust until they’re forcefully booted, many times Burners’ default lives prevent such a long excursion. The vast majority of arrivals occur on Sunday and Monday, slowly diminishing through Friday, with a few lagging far behind and coming in on Saturday. Departures begin ramping up on Friday, with a larger occurrence on Saturday, but then jump to peak immediately on Sunday, continuing through Monday, during what is referred to as “exodus.” In 2012, more people left on Monday than on Sunday, and the reverse was true in 2013. I’m curious to see what 2014 brings and if that ratio will become a trend or if we will even see an increase in “early” departures.


Now that we’ve looked at how many people are coming to Burning Man and how long they are staying, let’s take a peek at how they are arriving. Are people ride sharing, picking up passengers, or loading their cars full of food and sparkly things instead people? 


Our data shows that the vast majority of folks are carting in only themselves and a bestie; this is true for both 2012 (blue) and 2013 (pink). Chances are they needed the space for their evaporation equipment, their yurt, and their costume closets – don’t judge – a Nissan Cube only has so much space! My most favorite fact in this graph is that 1,686 people came through the gates in a vehicle carrying 20 or more humans. Hats off to you all and your busloads!

Written by: Wendi Corbin Goulette
Edited by: Tabicat