AFTERBURN REPORT 2003
A total of 108 staff and volunteers worked 608 worker-shifts (number of workers per shift times the total number of shifts) with the Gate and Perimeter crews between August 15 and September 2. The Perimeter staff grew by 300 percent from 2002, while the Gate staff grew by 50 percent. This is the first year that Gate and Perimeter staffing was not supplemented by Rangers or Echelon, except those who volunteered between duties with other departments. While Perimeter staffing is at an acceptable level, Gate still needs volunteers to help make the inbound process a smooth and pleasant experience.
First, the news many participants are curious about: Pre-event warnings regarding vehicle searches at the Gate seem to have reduced the number of stowaways (individuals without tickets found hiding in vehicles). Only 87 were caught in 2003, down from over 300 in 2002. Most of these individuals did purchase tickets at premium prices (ticket price plus a "fine" for attempting to sneak in).
Some bad news comes along with the good, though: The Perimeter crew apprehended over 290 people attempting to circumvent the gate by foot, bike, or motor vehicle. Those caught within the permit area (the area surrounding Black Rock City that was designated off-limits by stipulation of the BLM permit) received citations for trespassing from law enforcement agencies. The individuals who still desired to attend Burning Man purchased tickets at a premium rate.
Moral: Buy a ticket! It's cheaper for you in the long run, and you feel good beginning your journey knowing that you're contributing to the community by helping to pay the expenses to make the event happen..
This year, a new procedure required department heads to submit lists of staff and volunteers arriving before the event start date to assist with building the City. This change accomplished its goal - to keep the pre-event population of Black Rock City down so the City could be built with minimum distractions. However, we did identify opportunities for improving the early arrival list. The lists were printed as received by department heads, but some were incomplete, and some were submitted late - after the list manager was already on playa, so they were not available for use until after the event. Gate is working with other departments to refine the process for 2004. We're looking at making a single location where department heads will submit the lists, and they will have opportunities to update lists well before the event. Each list will be organized by real name, playa name, manager, and department to make referencing the data quick and easy for early arrivals.
In 2003, another new procedure affected production of laminate badges for staff and volunteers, in an attempt to minimize wear and tear on electronic equipment on playa. The goal was to have 70 percent of laminates produced prior to the event. We almost reached the goal, making 60 percent ahead. Special thanks to DPW, who produced their department laminates internally this year. We did accomplish the goal of zero downtime for laminating equipment during the event. We identified some areas of concern, including office hours and the procedure for producing laminates for our local guests. We are examining both areas and will make adjustments in 2004.
Each year, the Gate and Rangers (with the Emergency Services Department and Box Office in supporting roles) "sweep" the City when the gate and box office open to ensure that all participants already present have tickets. This year's sweep occurred 2 days later than in previous years and found only four non-ticketed individuals in Black Rock City. Of these, two purchased tickets, and two left the premises. This experience revealed that an improvement in coordination and training between Gate, Rangers, and Box Office would clarify the process, thus reducing the time dedicated to the sweep.
DELIVERIES FOR PARTICIPANTS
Another new procedure in 2003 was to charge the full ticket price for any drivers and passengers entering Black Rock City only to deliver materials for participants (primarily art projects and theme camps). Once the delivery was completed in a timely manner, the vehicles returned to the box office and those ticket charges were reversed.
This procedure helped to ensure that delivery drivers did not stay in the City for an extended period without buying tickets. In previous years, tracking deliveries to participants placed a burden on our limited, overworked staff. We appreciate participants' support and cooperation in accepting the responsibility of coordinating deliveries for their projects. While the procedure accomplished its goals, both participants and Box Office staff expressed concerns. This input is being addressed by senior staff members for refinements in 2004.
If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding Gate and Perimeter operations, please write to: gate(at)burningman(dot)com
Brian Garmire (aka Shiloh)