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The 5th Annual Camping Retreat in the Black Rock Desert
by Mathew Gilbuena

Published on April 22, 2024

The 5-year Milestone

Edit: An earlier version of this article said this was our 4th year. I can't count; this is already our 5th annual event!

I’m just absolutely loving that beautiful Spring air. Can you feel it? We’re marching closer to our 5th annual event, Constellation City, and I’m very excited that we’re delivering Event Programs for the first time. The focus for the year is building community and nourishing the spirit. We’re putting extra work into making sure that our programs build deep friendships, connections, and have something to offer everyone to help build up their inner sanctuary and experience a much-needed digital detox from our heavily internet (and now AI)-driven world. Aaahhhhh.

This update is all about the two programs we’ve been working on for the past few weeks, the upcoming fundraiser, and some musing on our event’s aesthetic and the team. Let’s jump in!

Copy of the Special Recreation Permit for the Black Rock Desert
We've received our first multi-year permit! Three years!

Current work at Constellation City

Everywhen is 100% led by a volunteer community that’s passionate about camping in the Black Rock Desert. We’re drawn here due to its unique environment: it’s like living inside of a Salvador Dali painting! Vast blue skies and endless white playa tricks the senses and creates a tangible energetic vortex. Playful dust devils run and frolic across the ground and.. ok, I’m getting carried away. The point is this: we love camping out here, and now we’re focused on the WHAT. WHAT do we do while we’re out there? For one, it’s to get offline, off our phones, unplug, and to be immediately present with each other and our surroundings. It can take a couple of days to get used to it. It feels good, once that hyper-connection energy is purged away.

On defining “what the hell is this thing, anyway?” As with all things creative, ideas come through the synchronicity of creative flow that happens when we come together and we share our ideas. So far, we’ve figured out the plan and the program owner for two activities: the Star Walkabout and the Pleiades Kite Ceremony. I’m pretty excited about these events. Here’s what we’ve got:

People sitting in the desert with lanterns around a story teller.
Concept Image of a Star Walkabout Waypoint

The Star Walkabout

  • Synopsis: The Star Walkabout occurs during a New Moon, giving campers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the star-studded skies of the Black Rock Desert and to experience the brilliance of the Milky Way without light pollution. We’ll tell tall tales about the stars, myths from the Black Rock Desert, and carry lanterns as we do our walk. Imagine walking under the stars, seeing a roaring fire on the horizon with a shadowy figure beckoning you to approach. Standing by each fire is a person waiting for you. These waypoints will have a variety of activities, creating a special journey to celebrate the raw elements and tickle the senses in this special place.

  • Preparation: Preserving our night vision is key, and we’ll be issuing a limited number of oil lanterns to be carried by participants. We ask that you do not have any flashy or colored lights during this experience. The ambiance should be the stars and dim, warm-white candlelight. The walkabout will be about 2 1/2 miles, so be prepared to wear comfortable shoes, have water, and set aside two hours for the experience. We’ll be making stops at each of the waypoints.

  • How to get involved: We’re creating an amazing experience for the Star Walkabout, where people will traverse from storyteller to storyteller throughout a 2 hour journey under the stars. We are looking for people who want to lead activities at the waypoints during the event. You could be a storyteller, lead a short activity, be one of the sages that leads the group, or something else! Contact us at if you're interested in being a Waypoint Lead or a Sage.

Flying a red squid kite in the Black Rock Desert
Flying Squiddy, the floppy-eyed kite that is an Everywhen tradition

The Pleiades Kite Ceremony:

  • Synopsis: An old Everywhen tradition is flying Squiddy, a vibrant red squid that flies above the camp. It’s a festive experience, and there’s plenty of wind to keep your kite soaring for hours, if not days. We’re inviting the entire community to join us for a day of flying kites, beginning with a ceremony. This ritual will evoke a connection between the earth and the heavens. Participants will meditate on their personal intentions, then lift their kite into the sky, carrying their wishes and memories skyward.

  • Preparation: Come prepared with a fun kite, or bring materials to build your own! Pack a hat and sunblock, because we’ll be flying in the open desert. We’ll have a limited amount of material to build a kite during our kite building workshop during the event. Know that the winds at the Black Rock Desert are very strong. Help us Leave No Trace by having a solid grip on your kite, and making sure no fly-aways occur. If a kite does get loose, we ask that you monitor its flight path and retrieve the kite when it lands.

  • How to get involved: This event is modeled after the Matariki tradition that honors the rising of the Pleiades and marks the beginning of the Māori New Year. If you have insights or stories about these traditions, wish to lead a ceremony or storytelling session about the Pleiades, or you’re excellent at kite-building and wish to lead the workshop, please reach out at In addition, we are sourcing materials to be up-cycled for building kites at the workshop. Please let us know if you have material to donate.

Photo of the Mystic Metropolitan banner
The Mystic Metropolitan, a fundraiser to benefit the Tranquility Program

The May 4th San Francisco Fundraiser

We are hosting an intimate gathering, called the Mystic Metropolitan, at a secret location in San Francisco’s South of Market (SOMA) district. On the day of the event, the location will be sent to those who RSVP’d. We’ll be serving a Persian-Mexican fusion dinner complemented by select beverages, host a symposium by members of the Constellation City 2024 leadership team, enjoy the art of a live painter, and dance to fantastic musical vibes. We ask that you dress in your best interpretation of witch/wizard-chic formal, and be prepared for a cozy atmosphere. This is an intimate party, to allow everyone to get to know one another and to create solid connections.

The Mystic Metropolitan fundraiser party is on May 4th at 6 PM. Request an invite by emailing us at Dinner begins at 6:30. We request a minimum donation of $100 to attend. All proceeds will go toward building infrastructure to support the Tranquility Program (where you’ll find movement workshops, yoga, ecstatic dance, meditation, etc).

Photo of two people at a camp in the Black Rock Desert
Members of the Everywhen Crew at Temple Camp

Testimonials from the 2023 Event

YOU are the reason that we keep moving forward and continue to build the Everywhen on a volunteer-basis. Our purpose is to create and support the community. Here’s a snippet of what you had to say about Constellation City 2023:

“Absolutely magical to experience the playa in a more intimate and yet vastly more expansive way. Constellation City was a jewel of creativity and awesome energy. We felt welcomed immediately.” — Tim Warder.

“Everywhen is the place where the spirit of freedom lives on.” — Elena Livingstone.

“I enjoyed my experience. Thank you for creating an experience similar to that thing in the desert without the politics and theme camp requirements.” — Glenn Berg.

The Everywhen Aesthetic

I’ve been giving thought into our event’s aesthetic and guiding design principles thus far, the history and reasons for how we got there, and I have used our history to infuse these ideas into our website, making outfit recommendations, creating event programming, and guiding all other things Everywhen. 

This event began with a few scrappy builders from the David Best Temple Crew (folks who built large-scale Temple structures in San Francisco, Burning Man, and installations elsewhere). We camped at the Black Rock Desert to enjoy its ambiance and to celebrate the energy found at this special place. This kept going as a yearly tradition.

After camping in the Black Rock for nearly a decade, I took a trip to Taiwan and India and fell in love with the bamboo, shrines and temples found absolutely everywhere. Being Pacific Islander (my ancestors are from the Philippines), I felt compelled to begin using Bamboo as a building material, and the use of this eco-friendly wood continues to this day. Incorporating the other elements from our event, I would describe the “Everywhen style” as:

  • Wild West Meets Asian Influence: Architectural and decorative elements reminiscent of the wild west—such as wooden facades and saloon-style signage—with Asian influences, including bamboo construction and Asian-inspired motifs in decoration and layout.

  • Witch/Wizard-Chic Accents: Incorporate elements that evoke a sense of mysticism and magic—crystals, symbols, fabrics, and natural materials.

  • Electric Universe Iconography: Petroglyphs and symbols that tell the human story about our place in the larger universe.

Earth Tones and natural, flowy fabrics are perfect for Everywhen

With this in mind, how can one personally embody the Everywhen aesthetic as they prepare for the camping event?

  • Suggested Attire: Choose outfits that intersect the wild west, Asia, and witch/wizard-chic. Think flowy, natural fibers, such as linens and eco-friendly materials, like unbleached Bamboo fabric. Wear wispy outfits that moves with the Black Rock Desert winds and protects the skin from the desert sun.

  • Lighting: Use candles, lanterns, and LED lights with warm-white hues to create a soft, inviting glow. Avoid harsh or cold lighting. Lighting should be sufficient for safety and functionality but subdued to create a mystical atmosphere. And most importantly: protect our ability to see the stars! Make sure that light does not excessively spill into the night sky, and use light coverings and drapes to keep light pollution down. NO LASERS or high-intensity spotlights.

Join Us for your Digital Detox Camping Experience

Please buy your tickets and/or donate today! Buying tickets now allows us to work on the infrastructure needed to make YOUR experience more pleasant. This is the difference between a modest shade and a fully-detailed lounge experience, as we’ll have more time to build it out.

If you’re able, please donate. Ticket sales cover event expenses for the year of the event, but donations allow us to make immediate infrastructure improvements that benefits the entire community now and in the future.

The Everywhen Team is a 100% volunteer crew. There are no paid positions. All raised capital and ticket revenue are used to invest into the event (storage, shelter, food, infrastructure, etc). If this crew sounds like your cup of tea, and you want to help build a community of off-grid campers looking for a digital detox, consider joining our team by signing up here.

For the creatives, if you want to contribute to the event’s aesthetics and installations, please share your intent by visiting here. In the future, we hope to provide art grants again (like we did in our early days). For the time being, our campers in the 2023 Event Survey have requested that all revenue and donations be invested into improving infrastructure and creating programs. This allows for a superior camping experience with shade, seating, and things to do. Once these initial investments are complete, we’ll be able to have money available to provide grants. Thank you for your understanding; we are a young 501c3 organization with an extremely modest budget. We do not have any partners or sponsors, but we welcome these collaborations in order to directly benefit the community. Please contact us at with your ideas.

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