Playa Info

Playa Info continued last year’s successful model of combining all Burning Man information resources under one roof. The services included:

  • Answers to questions by our knowledgeable “Oracles”
  • Directory of participant camp information
  • Dynamic find-a-camp board, a layout of the city posted to allow on-the-fly mapping of your theme camp location
  • Burning Bell messages for campmates and friends
  • Volunteer coordinators to match participants with volunteer opportunities
  • Locksmith information-A very popular service!
  • Postings of updated news and event information
  • Found items
  • Scheduling for RV pumping
  • Bulletin boards

Playa Info had a strong team, with more than 70 on-playa volunteers. Meetings held before the event with our core volunteer group were critical venues for establishing our identity, the services we offer, informational materials, and of course the wonderful decorations and signage. Our meetings began in March and culminated with an October review meeting/barbeque followed the next day by volunteer shifts at the Decompression Info Desk.

During the event, our shade structure offered a cool meeting place in the midst of the hot days. At times, it seemed to function as an inadvertent alternative to the Center Camp Café. People just enjoyed hanging out and helping out! Some terrific volunteers suggested ways to further improve our service as they worked on wonderful projects like the laminate design, pocket-sized maps of the city, and our Red Tide cocktail party.

While we had a great year in 2002, we discovered areas that could use improvement and places where better communication with other departments will make our job easier in the future. Successes included:

  • An additional volunteer coordinator to help manage growing numbers of volunteers
  • Complaint/suggestion box
  • Self-serve, after-hours directory
  • White board listing the Top 10 questions of the day (another self-service feature)
  • Placement of the Oracles front and center in our facility
  • Volunteer lockout team offering free, continuous service on the playa
  • Comfortable environment for people to hang out or wait to meet someone
  • Floating World-themed Playa Info laminates to clearly identify Playa Info staff with “Ask Me – I Can Help” printed on the flipside
  • Re-sized Black Rock City maps that could be easily carried in a pocket
  • More leads who assumed half-day responsibility for management of Playa Info, keeping all of us sane and happy
  • Laminated map of BRC
  • Volunteer training
  • The Red Tide party!

Playa Info encountered a couple of disappointments at take-down time. Few volunteers helped to remove and store the camp materials and supplies. And once again, loss of bikes plagued many participants. The fact that we were unable to reunite most participants with lost bikes continues to fuel speculation that bikes disappear under a variety of circumstances, including organized thieves. We highly encourage everyone reading this report to check out our tips on bikes at Burning Man .

Next year we plan to work on a number of projects:

  • Decreasing the time participants spend locating desired information services
  • Providing more information about events and art on the playa
  • Improving placement of furniture/chairs for our staff and lounge
  • Improving Digital Directory as a tool for locating camps, friends, and events
  • Creating a check-sheet for daily activities
  • Composing an Oracle cheat sheet of top issues of the day
  • Developing a training manual, including job descriptions
  • Increasing pre-playa training
  • Cross-training Directory and Oracle volunteers
  • Posting more large, laminated city maps
  • Posting event locations
  • Posting/publicizing Playa Info hours of operation
  • Expanded hours of operation
  • Placing bike racks at Playa Info

Submitted by, Rob Oliver Manager, Playa Info