A comparison between Burning Man’s Black Rock City and the Greater World Earthship Community

The American West is blessed with two modern utopian communities — Burning Man’s Black Rock City on a high desert playa in northwestern Nevada and the Greater World Earthship Community located west of Taos, New Mexico. As Burning Man/Black Rock City 2022 gets underway today (August 28th), this blog author thought that a basic comparison between them would be an interesting topic for posting and consideration. Since the author has not had to privilege to visit either site as of yet, the comparison is solely based on the established principles of each, as well as their relationship to one another in size, scope, design, etc. As can be seen by the list below, the similarities between Black Rock City and Greater World Earthship Community exceed the differences.

Black Rock City from above – Source: soundcloud.com


  • Utopian ideals are a part of both organizations
  • Both are located in rural areas of the high desert
  • Both were started as a vision by one or two people
  • Both have established a basic set of principles/philosophy, as depicted below

(List continues after the two philosophies)


Greater World Earthship Community Treatise

Ten Principle Ethos of Burning Man

Source: sarahahoward.com


  • Both believe in radical experimentation
  • Self-reliance is an important component of both groups
  • Community, harmony, and peaceful unison are important to both groups
  • Civic responsibility is important to both groups
  • Both are committed to protecting the environment/nature
  • Both are opposed corporate sponsorships and commodification of their principles and activities
  • Each project community has been primarily developed using circular formations
  • Both projects draw from urban planning and sustainability principles
  • Both have spiritual aspects to them, but not tied to any specific religion or orthodoxy
  • Both are seeking immediacy of change through their actions, though via differing scales and scope
Earthship – Source: taos.org


  • Black Rock City is a temporary community that is created annually, while the Greater World Earthship Community is a permanent settlement with full-time residents.
  • Attendance at Burning Man is enormous (70,000+), while Greater World Earthship Community is limited in size and scope (130 dwellings on 600 acres upon completion), though visitors and guests are welcome to stay and/or tour the Greater World Earthship Community throughout the year.
  • Black Rock City is primarily based on artistic and societal freedoms while Greater World Earthship Community is principally based on living in unison with the Earth.
  • Greater World Earthship Community received necessary permits and approvals before being established in New Mexico, while Burning Man’s initial “spontaneous expression” was met with resistance in its birthplace of San Francisco. Since relocating to Nevada, the applicable permits, etc. have been secured.
  • Gift-giving is an important part of BurningMan/Black Rock City.
  • Due to cost and time necessary to build a Earthship, it cannot be all-inclusive in the ways that Black Rock City is, though transportation/setting/remoteness may play a factor in limiting full participation in Burning Man.
  • Greater World Earthship Community emphasizes biotecture in its design and development.
  • A minor difference is that Greater World Earthship Community is committed to the reuse of waste/trash, while Black Rock City is committed to the full clean-up and proper disposal of any and all waste/trash from the event.



This entry was posted in adaptive reuse, Advocacy, Alternative energy, architecture, art, branding, cities, civics, Civil Rights, civility, climate change, Communications, culture, deregulation, deserts, diversity, economic development, energy, entertainment, entrepreneurship, environment, food systems, fun, futurism, geography, government, health, history, Housing, human rights, humanity, inclusiveness, infrastructure, land use, literature, Maps, marketing, minimalism, nature, peace, pictures, place names, placemaking, planning, politics, product design, recycling, Renewable Energy, social equity, spatial design, sustainability, technology, third places, tourism, Trade, Travel, urban design, urban planning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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