The Gate department experienced yet another amazing year in 2006.  The Gate saw some minor changes in organization and overcame some obstacles through experience, creativity, and cooperation.  The ease of operating The Gate to Black Rock City in 2005 was contrasted by a variety of new challenges in 2006.  The Gate took on several new responsibilities this year, including more restrictive early arrivals and new census processes.  Through it all, The Gate crew surpassed all expectations and smoothly filled Black Rock City with thousands of citizens returning to their home away from home.

The Gate and Perimeter departments have steadily improved over the past several years due to the commitment and experience of the core crew and an impressive group of motivated hard-working volunteers.  The department leads were amazed by the speed that search teams learned and adapted to on-playa procedure changes.  The Gate maintained a steady traffic flow for the majority of the event, except for a few snags here and there.  And The Gate staff had a blast doing what they do best through the harsh elements and long hours!

Beware the clowns at the Gate.

The early arrivals process change caused some confusion at The Gate before the event.  The obstacles taught volunteers and staff a lot, and we’ve planned several improvements for 2007.  The vast majority of participants took delays in stride, and through it all we kept the lines short and traffic flowing while Black Rock City grew.

After pre-event obstacles were overcome, the only difficult moments were due to traffic holds that were necessary to maintain the safety of participants.  Traffic was held at The Gate on Wednesday due to a lack of visibility when a dust storm caused a sustained white out.  During the Exodus, participants heading out of Black Rock City demonstrated patience and understanding during a brief traffic hold while a youngster was located by her parents.

Scarecrow keeping the Gate and Perimeter safe at BRC.

Many of the crew have 4 to 8 years’ experience working the Gate and Perimeter.  Once volunteers work with the Gate and Perimeter, they keep coming back.  The Gate and Perimeter team implemented a new scheduling process this year that improved the utilization of our volunteer crew and reduced confusion.  On-playa training was changed significantly and the results surpassed anyone’s expectations.

Every year, stories of previous years’ experiences intrigue a new group of volunteers.  In 2006 the Gate had more volunteers than ever before — The Gate is fortunate in attracting staff who are capable, consistently unwavering, assertive when necessary, and friendly whenever possible.  There was no shortage of work for all, newbie and veteran.

A huge bus coming through the Gate.

The art car challenges of previous years seem to have generally faded into memory.  Many more members of the city’s vehicular sculptor population were familiar with the Department of Mutant Vehicle registration process.  Almost every vehicle that arrived at the gate came along with either the appropriate paperwork (or an understanding artist left us an interesting piece of artwork to decorate The Gate).

A great achievement in 2006 came unexpectedly, and as a byproduct of some of our obstacles.  Specifically, The Gate and Perimeter had excellent interactions with the other departments of Black Rock City.  The Placement team, the ARTery, the Box Office, and a host of other departments came together to amaze us all.  The cooperation and mutual understanding was a beautiful thing to see.

The Perimeter team also had a good year.  Several Perimeter crew members who have been unable to attend the event the past few years returned in 2006 to a warm welcome back.  Their expertise, hard work, and dedication led to over 225 successful intercepts.  While the Gate crew keeps tight control by catching stow-aways, the Perimeter seems the more popular vector for attempting to have a less-than-responsible Burning Man experience.  The Intercept teams again proved that the 7.5 miles of trash fence is much more difficult to breech than it looks.  With added activity over the last few years, the Perimeter crew proves to be an exciting and fun volunteer opportunity, maintaining the safety for participants inside the fence from those without common sense.

The laminate office again proceeded with early production and manufactured only a limited number of staff laminates on-playa.  They also, as usual, made laminates on-playa for local residents.  The guest registration deadline encouraged locals to get their laminates early again this year, which helped to reduce the load on the staff during the busiest periods of the event.

2006 was a triumphant year in the battle against illegal ticket scalpers overcharging participants for tickets into Black Rock City.  Support from Law Enforcement personnel, combined with some creative techniques, skillful execution, and a bit of luck, allowed The Gate to strike a meaningful blow to a (somewhat poorly) organized illegal scalping operation.  In 2007, continued efforts are required to keep ticket scalpers from profiting illegally, at the expense of the community.

Again this year; through days under a cruel sun, high winds and low-visibility nights, The Gate and Perimeter staff worked hard to make sure that everyone who entered Black Rock City participated in the simplest way — and the only required way — by sharing the burden and purchasing a ticket.  Crews searched dusty shipping containers, tore tickets, talked a good talk, and caught those testing the rules.  They moved cars, trucks, vans, and RVs through the process, but more importantly they ushered their neighbors through the last steps of the real world and into the desert reality that tens of thousands call home for a week, and all had a damn fine time doing it.

Submitted by:
C Load, Spider, and Entropy