Everyday, Burners Without Borders transforms communities through innovative disaster relief programs and community initiatives that make a lasting impact. 



Mobile Resource Unit (MRU): A Maker Container

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The MRU on its way to Burning Man 2016


About the Mobile Resource Unit Prototype

In 2016, Burners Without Borders created their first-ever mobile makerspace called the Mobile Resource Unit (MRU). The MRU is a 20-foot refurbished shipping container filled with basic tools, advanced manufacturing equipment, and supplies for making prototypes and art that can be easily shipped into areas of need, such as disaster relief zones, impoverished neighborhoods, or refugee camps.

The MRU provides the following support to communities in need: (1) acts as a tool lending library and a place to repair machinery parts to build infrastructure or art, (2) provides opportunities for skill-sharing and learning, and (3) creates a makerspace for engaging in self-expression, art, and other “Cultural Relief” activities. With the right tools, technology, knowledge, and manpower, recovery of infrastructure and cultural connection can happen more quickly, and can also pave the way for self-perpetuating development in areas where it is greatly needed.


The First Deployment

Burners Without Borders prototyped it’s first Mobile Resource Unit and previewed it at Burning Man 2016. The container was internally refurbished with walls, a ceiling, and a floor, as well as electrical wiring, work benches, and whiteboards. It was then filled with basic hand tools, machinery, and other practical- and art-focused tools (e.g. 3d printer, a metal chop saw, a CNC cutter, electronics repair tools, screen printing stations, large format printing, and sewing.) After a successful preview in Black Rock City, the tools from the MRU traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal for the world’s first humanitarian maker faire where they were then donated to Nepal Communitere‘s new Maker Space to continue helping the community recover from the 2015 earthquake devastation. The refurbished container is currently being stored in San Leandro, California.


The Maker Space @ Nepal Communitere

For the last 30 years, the Burning Man community has practiced building a temporary urban center (Black Rock City) in challenging environmental conditions that has focused on the communal aspects of the space. Given this experience, we are well prepared to help global communities who have been affected by disasters, poverty, and the loss of their homes, and to do so in a way that combines it with “Cultural Relief”. In many cases, the people impacted have skills but lack the tools for improving their communities. The MRU’s lending library and accessibility to tools, resources, and educational materials addresses this issue.


The MRU would not be possible without the massive collaboration from multiple partners including ReAllocate, Communitere, The Gate 510, The Art Crawler.  We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped make this a reality and look forward to working on more going into the future.

MAKERS OF BLACK ROCK CITY (2016) from Profiles In Dust.  **MRU Highlights Start at 4:57**

Photos from Black Rock City 2016:


The MRU at the Burners Without Borders Camp 2016



Allen Larson teaching a ‘Laser 101’ Workshop


Our first ‘customer’ on playa



Sean “Jinx” Pace (Art Crawler) uses the CNC-Router at BRC 2016


Our Workshop Schedule


Electronics Repair Workshop


Setting up the WiFi signal


Jinx teaching the CNC Design Workshop


The Mobile Resource Unit Maker Mastery Series

Curated by Cheryl Edison & Produced by Sam Starzynski 

~ 3:15 & Esplanade ~


Monday, Aug 29th

2:00 PM – CNC Demo

Makers Jinx and Melissa demonstrate how to operate a CNC machine and discuss how this high-tech tool can be used for robotic precision in art and manufacturing.

Tuesday, Aug 30th

2:00 PM – Laser 101

Allen Key trains a class of makers to use a laser cutter for cutting and engraving designs in wood. Participants will learn the basics of using a laser cutter and make laser cut keepsakes.

Wednesday, Aug 31st

2:00 PM – Essential Knots for Building

Tired of pounding rebar into playa? Jack Allen & Tres Fontaine teach participants how to functionally replace rebar with stakes, rope, and elegant knots.

Thursday, Sept 1st

2:00 PM – Build Your Own Solar Bottle Lamp

Founder of Liter Of Light, Illac Diaz, partnering with Ami Valldemoro, teach participants how to build solar lamps out of plastic bottles and locally sourced materials.

Friday, Sept 2nd

2:00 PM – Lighting Up The Man
Legendary neon artist, Nick Radell aka “Smoke Daddy,” shares his process for designing the neon for The Man and delivering options each year to Burning Man Founder, Larry Harry.   From concept, to color, to tube-bending production and then personally driving the precious cargo onto Playa to outfit The Man with his stalwart team of five, Smoke Daddy has lit The Man for 20 years.

4:00 PM – Using 3D Modeling to Design The Man

“Design Steward of The Man”, Andrew Johnstone, shares how he uses 3D modeling and design to develop and deliver each year’s concept for The Man to Burning Man Founder, Larry Harvey.  This year’s DaVinci has a special story that includes engagement in the renaissance of art as we know it, and Andrew Johnstone’s masterful trompe l’oeil for the pavilions.

Burners Without Borders (BWB) Mobile Resource Unit (MRU) Tool Drive Information

Our current tool needs list is here:  http://bit.ly/2rALFvE

Please choose needed tools (not highlighted in blue) on list and bring to the BWB Booth at the Decomp. Thank you ! 


In 2016, BWB created their first prototype mobile makerspace called the Mobile Resource Unit (MRU) with the goal of assisting artists on playa, while also experimenting with its usefulness in the field. After a successful experiment in Black Rock City, many of the tools from the space were packed up and donated to one of our sister organizations Communitere, and their Makerspace in Nepal, for the first ever Humanitarian Maker Faire.
We are now in need to restock the MRU, and to have a successful activation in Black Rock City in 2017 we are hosting a tool donation drive— this will allow us to have a fully functioning makerspace that can be utilized both on playa, as well as in emergency situations. Please check our tool list below to see what is needed. Thank you for your donations. Any extra tools collected will be donated towards developing Makerspaces and Tool Libraries.
Check out the tool list here: http://bit.ly/2rALFvE
Questions? (bwb@burningman.org)

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