This article was originally published on Common Edge.
Hillary Schieve, the mayor of Reno, Nevada, often jokes that she went to her first Burning Man kicking and screaming. The event—which takes place in the Black Rock Desert, 100 miles north of the city—transformed her understanding of arts and culture, and of city-building, and she became a convert. Two years ago, as the chair of the United States Conference of Mayors Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment, and Sports (TAPES) committee, she started taking groups of mayors out to Burning Man to experience the energy of the Playa (the event’s name for its Black Rock location) and learn from its culture. As with most in-person gatherings for the foreseeable future, Burning Man 2020 will be different. In April, the organization announced that it would be experimenting with an online, interactive format, looking to attract an astounding 100,000 burners. I recently chatted with Mayor Schieve about her fervor for Burning Man, its impact on Reno, urban design and planning lessons cities can borrow, and how she envisions a digital Burning Man.