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Morris Burner Hotel brings Black Rock experience to Reno

Photo by Decibel Photography from Morris Burner Hotel Facebook.

This is the first year some festival-goers can head to the Morris Burner Hotel in downtown Reno after leaving the playa to continue their Black Rock experience.

Jim Gibson, retired CEO of a micro-chip company also known by his Burner name, “Jungle Jim” bought the old, run-down hotel last year. Gibson says he has managed to revamp it by applying some of the Burning Man principles like communal effort, civic responsibility, participation and self-expression.

“I think what this is intended to be and what’s it’s going to wind up being is a nexus, a physical center, where the Burning Man vibe and the Burning Man people can come together.”

Gibson says the week-long event lasts just a short-time, so what the facility offers is a space for people to continue the Burning Man culture year-round. Just like the festival itself, the hotel features artwork and entertainment. It also aims to invite everyone in the neighborhood, including people from nearby homeless shelters and soup kitchens.

“So we're surrounded by the homeless community, which is for us just fine," Gibson says. "We get along with them really well, we help each other, and we’ve got one of the guys in here right now, who just came from the shelter. He’s in there helping us plaster some walls and he’s going to have dinner with us.”

Through donations and the help of volunteer Burners, Gibson says the community has organized coat drives and provided free haircuts to those in need.

Recently, the City of Reno granted the property legal status as a private club rather than a public hotel. Gibson is in the process of finalizing a membership plan that will feature a sliding scale for people who want to stay there, which will be based on their past contributions to the Burning Man community.

About 68 thousand people are expected to attend the event this year. 

Esther Ciammachilli is a former part-time broadcaster at KUNR Public Radio.
Anh is a contributing editor for the KUNR news team and has been with the station since 2014. She is an alumna of the Boston University School of Public Health and Teachers College, Columbia University.