AFTERBURN REPORT 2004
Once again Community Services had a mellow and successful year in 2004. Individual reports will illuminate each department’s successes and stresses, serving to strengthen their teams and missions. As expected, a team that lost key players or changed leadership felt the most strain on and off the playa. Nonetheless, processes and services stabilized in all departments. Growth was measured. Teams grew in size only where necessary due to the demands of a growing and changing population in Black Rock City.
For the first time in 2004, every department met with representatives from the Department of Public Works (DPW) before the event to work out details on what materials, labor, and equipment each would need and when the resources would be needed to create infrastructure. These meetings were an attempt to make an “integrated plan” for the whole organization to cover setup, event operations, and tear-down. The cooperative planning process was met with great enthusiasm and much success. One outcome was limitations on the use of electricity from our power grids. Only increases necessary to the mission or safety of a department were allowed. Another pleasant and unexpected outcome was pinpointing sources of some of our yearly “budget creep.” Lastly, the face time between departments proved to be a very useful and satisfying exercise for all.
DPW’s reorganization allowed an opportunity to examine what departments were integral to their operations and which might work better elsewhere. The airport moved from DPW to Community Services in 2004 for this reason. Upon examination, the airport clearly operates more like a theme camp in some instances and an information resource in others.
Our efforts of many years to manage our organization's growth continued with a vigilant effort to examine what workloads should be managed by whom. In 2004, the placement team separated off on their own and were no longer managed directly by a board or Senior Staff member. The team of long-time placers developed a new method of sharing responsibilities and workloads that met the demand of our participants, for a nearly seamless handoff.
A desire to focus in on what is really important was the common thread that joined every group. Overall, the teams were very successful. No new ambitious structures or processes were attempted, except with the goal of streamlining or improving an existing process. For 2005, Community Services will show a continued effort toward streamlining to better meet the demands of the city.
Harley K. DuBois