The annual pilgrimage of artists, nudists and partiers to Nevada’s Black Rock desert is underway, as the week-long Burning Man festival begins.
But what if the festival never had to end?
It’s an idea that the organizers have apparently been looking into, with a 4,000 acre property in Northern Nevada even identified as the ideal site for a permanent community where the Burning Man principles of “radical inclusion” and “gifting” could be the law of the land year-round.
The trick is getting the money to buy the property, and according to a report in New York magazine on Sunday, two deep-pocketed tech billionaires and Burning Man regulars may provide the funding to make the dream a reality.
According to the report, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Tesla CEO Elon Musk were both rumored to have gotten a special tour of the property during last year’s Burning Man festival.
The report quotes festival co-founder Will Roger saying that “tech titans” share his vision of creating an “experiment in a permanent community,” though he never specifies who the tech titans are or directly addresses the rumor about Brin and Musk being potential investors.
One of the original Burning Man architects has created plans for a “Burning Many Fly Ranch city, a mix of homes and communal spaces built to blend into the desert,” the report says.
“According to one plan, Fly Ranch buildings would be made with unpainted, rammed earth and sod. No fences would be allowed, and all members of the community, who could either build homesteads or buy into a communal village,” the report continues.
That doesn’t sound very high-tech or futuristic. But the notion of creating an autonomous enclave with its own set of rules has become a key plank in the techno-utopian worldview. Brin’s partner Larry Page once publicly made the case for setting aside "a part of the world” for technology experiments that would not be constrained by bureaucracy. In fact, he cited Burning Man as a model for such a place.
We’ve reached out to Google and Tesla for comment about whether Brin and Musk are indeed investing in the Burning Man city and will update if we hear back.