Imagine an hourglass (filled with playa dust, of course). Now imagine that during most of the year, the dust remains in one location. Once a year, a magical force spins the hourglass upside down, and the dust slowly flows from one side to the other. This analogy approximates what happens to the administration of Burning Man when it leaves San Francisco in the summer and reconfigures in both Gerlach and Black Rock City.

The San Francisco Office is the year-round home of Burning Man operations. That’s where board meetings, Senior Staff meetings, other staff meetings, and every other kind of meeting take place. Beginning in 2005, when the Burning Man Project expanded its office space, it’s also a place for select SpArK cLuB celebrations, Fire Conclave practices, and work by artists on their projects.

When operations move to Nevada at the end of the summer, First Camp and the Gerlach office jointly become the administrative home of Burning Man. First Camp earned its name, because initially it was the first place built in Black Rock City. However, full office resources including internet, fax and phones are available in Gerlach and until the internet and IP phones were installed in First Camp, it’s only a living space. As staff arrive, it’s transformed into an embassy for external relations. The lighting design of 2004 for First Camp brought about the nickname “Tutti Frutti Camp”, which was used for the map of 2005. Home to most of the Burning Man board members, some Senior Staff and long-time friends and family, Tutti Frutti had three meeting spaces (i.e., shade structures) where daily operations were conducted on playa.

The External Relations team (XRT) met daily in Tutti Frutti Camp to discuss government relations and tours for outside visitors. In 2005, this activity included planning for visits from and meeting with over 50 politicians. Each politician was personally greeted and given a tour of Black Rock City by XRT members.

Burning Man’s various legal activities continue throughout the year in the default world. But occasionally, events on the playa require a bit of legal advice. Burning Man’s volunteer attorneys are available on playa for just such emergencies.

Intertwined with the Accounting Department, are the Box Office and the ticket process. The accountants pay the bills year-round (and on-playa, because the bill collectors don’t go away when the Man burns). The ticket process is a year-round activity active from September through September. Work with the ticket vendor focuses on minimizing the difficulty of purchasing tickets online, designing tickets and the ticket mailer, and, of course, selling a whole bunch of tickets. Most of this work goes on in the San Francisco office. By the time operations move to the playa, the ticket process has been funneled down to just ticket sales and will call, both conducted in the on-playa Box Office. In 2005, the manager of the ticket process also became the manager of the Box Office. The second year of the electronic Box Office combined with the staffing change to make the ticketing process smoother than it has ever been.

One of the major concerns of the Burning Man administration is safety, which is why the 2005 Safety Committee Afterburn Report has been moved to the Administration section. Cross-departmental representation helps the committee to work both proactively and reactively on issues concerning safety at the event. Activities in 2005 included first-aid and CPR training for staff and volunteers.

After the event each year, the hourglass gets spun upside once again, and administrative activity returns to San Francisco to reconfigure once again and begin planning for the next year.

Submitted by,
Ray Allen