During the last five years the Greeters operation has grown into an organized and skilled group of volunteers who touch every person who comes to Burning Man. It took four years of hard work from the volunteer team to create the concept and structure of the Greeters . The creation and implementation of our training manual and our Greeter website were two important contributors in making this the most successful year yet. These resources, combined with biweekly meetings, patience, hard work, and love for the many volunteers who call themselves Greeters prepared us for 2001 and beyond.

The Greeter organizational structure for 2001 included Meta Team, Transitional peeps, Leads, Greeters, and Rousting Roosters. The Meta Team operated on a consensus basis and developed procedures and protocols pre-playa. On the playa they worked in pairs on eight-hour shifts and were available for crisis management, overseeing operations, and attending daily staff meetings.

Photo by PlayaChicken
Photo by PlayaChicken

Transitional Peeps were responsible for smooth shift changes and the physical needs of the station such as keeping track of supplies, keeping gas in the golf cart, making sure people were feed and hydrated, getting collated materials to every Greeter kiosk, and cleaning up MOOP. Our Lead Greeters were responsible for keeping the greeting process running smoothly. They managed groups of eight to ten greeters during four-hour shifts. We also had our Rousting Rooster Team who performed on-the-playa training for theme camps who had never greeted before.

Before the event more than 200 Greeters and Lead Greeters attended training sessions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Sacramento, and Seattle. Training focused on two simple guidelines:

H. is for Happy — we are well rested, ready to greet, and happy to be here. A. is for Answer questions — ask if the participant has any questions first. P. is for Pass out collated materials and camera tag forms and introduce people to the map. P. is for Participate — we establish rapport so we can relay information to our arrivals. Y. is for Your responsibility — we are responsible for making sure that all participants leave us HAPPY.

Training for Lead Greeters focused on :

L. is for having Leadership skills. E. is for Eyes in the back of your head or being able to be aware of what is happening all around you. A. is for Ability to communicate with anyone.. D. is for Direction —be able to give direction. S. is for Support —leads are there to support the Greeters.

In June, Greeters began pre-fabbing the Greeter kiosks at the Work Ranch. It took two hard-work weekends with a crew of two or three. The teams arrived on the playa on Saturday August 18 and the Greeters’ station was up and running by Friday, August 24. We added a lighting system for every kiosk and refined theme camp placement processes with the Placement Team. Greeters were somewhat shorthanded the weekend before the event and could use more volunteers earlier next year, but Greeters operate 24/7 for nine days until Saturday, Sept. 1 (burn night) and the station was torn down by nightfall on Sunday — record time.

The Greeters had many EXCELLENT volunteers step forward into positions of leadership and to them we owe the world. They had a positive effect on everyone on their shift and Burning Man as a whole. Many of these new leaders are from beyond the Bay Area so we hope to encourage and support these newcomers by holding training sessions in their towns in 2002.

We had a Greeters’ Camp for the second year and are already working on plans for a more organized home base in 2002, complete with lounge, kitchen, and an annual potluck dinner. Organizational structure will be reviewed to ensure that it is the most productive design and will be coming to a town near YOU to train the best and the brightest for 2002.