AFTERBURN REPORT 2008
SAN FRANCISCO OFFICE
The San Francisco office continued to host an ever-growing range of events for the staff and Burner community in 2008, including the annual holiday Spark Club (a volunteer recognition and appreciation party), the pre-event Artists' Reception (an open house for artists hosted by the Black Rock Arts Foundation), and monthly meetings for Burners Without Borders.
In February, 150 Burning Man Regional Contacts and other Regional volunteers flew in from all over the U.S. and the world to participate in the second Regional Leadership Summit, a weekend full of meetings, collaboration, connection, sharing and socializing. In April, staff and volunteers came together in a cross-departmental collaboration to produce the Open House, the annual event to recruit new Burning Man volunteers in the SF Bay Area. The Open House drew the largest ever number of curious and enthusiastic attendees who had never been to Burning Man, but who where interested in finding out more, and volunteering.
In an ongoing effort to improve the Burning Man event and year-round operations, training classes were held throughout 2008 for volunteers and staff. Topics included communication, managing change and growth, conflict resolution, first aid/CPR training, and even spreadsheet skills.
The office continues to make incremental environment-friendly improvements, including expanded recycling, “e-cycling”, composting, and hosting “recycle your life” days. When practical, event preparation “work weekends” have been relocated to the Burning Man office to reduce the environmental impact of trekking to Nevada. For example, a team of volunteers constructed 25 bike racks and a new café stage in the office warehouse rather than at the event site.
Several enhancements were made to our staff communication processes, including the launch of a weekly staff bulletin and a reorganization of the staff “Extranet” (internal file and information sharing system) pages to make it easier to find procedures, tips and resources. The office team also worked with department managers to streamline and clarify the seasonal hiring process, allowing managers more time to prepare for the event.
The SF Office is also home base for Black Rock City Trucking, the crew responsible for the transportation between San Francisco and Gerlach, Black Rock Station, and Black Rock City. Building on the success of the 2007 season, our new plan to utilize semi trailers and professional drivers certainly contributed to an even smoother run in the 2008 season. BRC Trucking coordinated with other teams in an effort to conserve and share resources to get a multitude of tasks accomplished. A lot of time and money was saved by combining transpo runs with trips being made by other staff members, consolidating runs, and eliminating the need for expensive moving van rentals.
The main run of the event season goes to the playa the Saturday before set-up week begins. This truck run used two 48-foot semi trailers to move various Burning Man Departments’ essential items to make Black Rock City happen, plus all the materials that are handed out by the Greeters. In 2008, we were also responsible for getting equipment from a workshop in Petaluma to the Man Base in Black Rock City.
2008’s Trucking crew included the Transpo Manager and one seriously dedicated volunteer. A few departments were able to pack their things inside four large wooden shipping crates that were acquired in 2008. These crates made it possible for departments to pack early, and the Trucking crew only had to forklift the crates into the semi trailer. However, this proved to be a bit more difficult than the crew had expected, requiring the rental of a powered pallet jack, an amazing tool and the best money we spent all year. Of course there were plenty of random boxes and other items that had to be hand-loaded into the semi trailers, and volunteers joined the crew to work day and night, helping with that effort.
In transporting close to 50 tons of extremely important materials between San Francisco and Nevada to make Burning Man happen, we (technically) didn’t lose a single box.
In the end, the success of the San Francisco Office crew is measured a lot like that of a crew on a movie set. When things are operating well for all the staff, the volunteers, and artists, and they are all able to perform their jobs seamlessly and with little frustration, then the SF Office Crew has done its job well.