A look at 2004 shows that more volunteer coordinators are active in the Burning Man community than ever. Many departments involve two or three volunteer coordinators to accomplish their tasks. Over 4,000 volunteers are represented in our database, and surprisingly teams are more independent that they ever have been! What a success story!

One goal of the Volunteer Resource Team is to support the volunteer coordinators. Reduction in the need for individual support allowed the team to focus on training in delegation for all volunteer corrdinators, team leaders, and project managers. Over 80 people attended the training that followed the annual spring staff meeting. It was very well-received, and we hope it will spawn further trainings in the future. Later in the early summer, we offered CPR training free for anyone that wanted it.

Spark Club volunteer appreciation nights were expanded in 2004. Events included a walk through Bernal Heights, a beautiful residential district in San Francsico, and an evening of bowling at Yerba Buena Gardens near downtown, as well as the usual video night and happy hours. The change to more non-alcohol-oriented events inspired much enthusiasm.

At the spring town meeting, representatives from many volunteer teams shared information about what they do and recruited new team members at a family-style barbecue in Golden Gate Park. We decided not to have a fall post-event town meeting, considering light attendance over the past few years, which prevented the event from reaching the goal of providing a productive forum for feedback, conversation, exploration, and change. We solicited input for alternative forums via the web site and the Jack Rabbitt Speaks, and we have decided to convene the fall town meeting only if there is a need at the time. We will continue to set up an email address for feedback for 2 months after the event to determine what community issues need to be addressed and decide the best tools to address those issues.

This year most volunteer teams ran smoothly, both during the year and out on the playa. This success has happened, in large part, because many volunteer coordinators now have accumulated several years of experience. For the second year, policy about early entry allowed only previously registered individuals with specific work assignments on setup crews to enter Black Rock City before the official event opening on Monday. While many volunteers were recruited before the event, more joined up on the playa during the event. Many new volunteers went directly to specific teams to sign up rather than coming through the Volunteer Desk at Playa Info. This trend is a testament to each team’s reputation in the larger community.

Submitted by,
Kelly Saturno