AFTERBURN REPORT 2009
SAN FRANCISCO OFFICE
The big news about the San Francisco office in 2009 is that we have a new office! After seven happy and creative years at 1900 3rd Street we moved about a mile south to 3450 3rd Street - which truly old school burners will remember also housed Burning Man's first real office in the late nineties (there must be something about Third Street, right?). UC San Francisco (UCSF), our landlord at 1900, has long-standing plans to build a hospital on the site, and as these plans are now reaching the construction stage, we were given a deadline of May 2009 to find a new home for Burning Man HQ.
"Move" is such a short and simple word that does not remotely capture the logistical challenge posed by the office relocation. We looked at over 70 potential sites before selecting 3450 as the right combination of price, practicality, and location. Once the lease was signed, we had less than a month to pack and move a LOT of stuff. Over the years, we'd managed to fill 1900's 20,000 square feet and it all had to go - somewhere. Everyone did their part but the lion's share fell on the broad shoulders of the hard-working Facilities Manager.
The new office has required many changes that the office staff have embraced - or endured - with their customary aplomb. Doing our part to meet the demands of leaner budgets during the "Great Recession," the rent at 3450 is lower than the already good deal we had at 1900, in part because it's a noticeably smaller space. Many staff who once had a designated desk are now working the majority of the week from home and the remaining full-time office staff are working in, shall we say a "cozier" environment. To keep communication and a communal atmosphere ticking along, we've added more meeting spaces, enhanced the office phone system, and beefed up the office social calendar where possible. We are also renting a warehouse in Oakland to help store additional furniture and supplies. In addition, Sports Basement and the Mission Rock Cafe both graciously offered to host staff meetings that would not have been possible in our new office. In short, the office staff, true Burners all, thrive when facing a challenge.
Nevertheless, the current conditions are far from ideal - and were never meant to be. The Burning Man Board members, recognizing that the affordable properties did not meet our evolving needs, decided to turn vexation into virtue. Opting for 3450 as an adequate temporary home has allowed the Board to continue to search for the ideal "urban center" - without the proverbial gun to its head. The goal is to find a building that allows Burning Man to fully express its collaborative and artistic vision in the city where it all started. Expect exciting new developments in 2010!
Black Rock Trucking, The SF Office based transportation division, had a very busy year in 2009 beginning in January with the Burning Man office preparing for a move. The first task was removing all large items from the 1900 3rd Street property and the building that was home to the Burning Man Project for over seven years. We had accumulated quite a bit of stuff in that time and finding new homes for things that Burning Man no longer needed to store was a top priority whenever possible. Many things found their way to the large artist collectives of the East Bay. In April, the actual move was on and the transpo team was integral in meeting the deadline to be out of the building by the end of the month.
The event season began on schedule in early August with transpo runs to Nevada scheduled for each weekend. The final run arrived on the Playa August 22nd, the Saturday before the main set-up week. Special props go out to our volunteer Assistant Manager of Transpo for really stepping up this year and taking on the responsibility of all the e-mail traffic and scheduling for each run. This was extremely helpful as 2009 brought with it a few changes and a big challenge for the team.
The first change was also our big challenge: having no loading area to stage semi trailers or other trucks at the new Burning Man Headquarters. The team had to come up with a whole new strategy in order to work around this inconvenience. The Burning Man departments staged their stuff in San Francisco at BMHQ just like years past, while a shipping container and a semi trailer were staged in two separate yards in the East Bay. To help the process, a 24' moving truck was loaned to us by Black Rock Solar to use to shuttle the stuff to the East Bay. A cool new crating system was discovered and employed, and this allowed for easier forklift loading in SF as well as transferring of the loads in the East Bay. It also kept each department's stuff together, making unloading on the Playa much smoother. The transpo team will definitely implement more of this time saving solution in the future.
The next change was the developing of relationships with two new professional truckers throughout the year on different projects. This proved to be very valuable when we got closer to the event. When the team was asked to transport an art installation from a workshop in Petaluma to the Man Base in Black Rock City, we ran into a bit of a snag. Unfortunately the art was too big for the truck that went to pick it up. No worries, with a phone call to one of our professional truck drivers on call, we had a larger trailer on site within two hours, the art was loaded and on route to BRC an hour after. Go teamwork!
Lastly, it was decided that we would use a dedicated trailer for delivery of the Greeters Pack materials to the Playa. This was done for a number of reasons and it proved to be a good change. The publications made it to the Playa safe, secure, on time and ready to be collated without delay.
Black Rock Trucking has a simple mission: to be there, whenever needed, to safely transpo extremely important stuff that makes The Burning Man Project happen. Thanks to everyone that participated & especially the volunteers that ROCKED!!!
Mission accomplished in 2009!
Zabed Monika and Paul Schreer