The placement team started working soon after the 2007 event, and our first goal was to replace departing team members. A veteran Community Services project manager assumed the mantle of Placement Project Manager and joined the senior staff. As the city plan for 2008 was larger than ever, it was also necessary to grow the team. We were also determined to have a more organized and dedicated presence in D-lot (where participants who arrive early to the event without an early arrival pass await entry) working with Gate, more flaggers and more back-up Placers. This turned out to be a year-long, rocky process, evidenced by our welcoming our last volunteer about week before the first of us left for the Playa. The new members of our team really had to hit the ground running.

The largest undertaking for the Placers pre-event is reviewing the hundreds of Placement Questionnaires, Leave No Trace, and Camp Layout plans that have been submitted, and then deciding who will be placed and where. (We rejected many clean-up plans, but our stern insistence on proper LNT planning looks to have paid off in a big way: the Playa Restoration Team’s reports indicate that we had a cleaner city than ever before).

2008 saw collaboration with a new city cartographer, as well as a new Placement planning process for our team, wherein we supplemented our traditional pencil plans with digital records that could be easily updated and shared. An expanded Center Camp layout proved most challenging as we revamped the traditional placement of many infrastructure camps like Medical, Playa Info, and the DMV. Logistic Coordinators were identified for every infrastructure camp to be a single point of contact for resources from DPW. A subset of the team dedicated to planning sweated publication deadlines, managed bumps in the road, and actually made it work! We do need to adopt a consistent submission style across the team in future efforts, and be sure we have Placement documents ready to support other Project teams.

We once again disseminated information and instructions through our Placement Announce email list to camps that filed a registration questionnaire. Camps asked questions by emailing, and those questions were then dispatched amongst the Placement team. Later, city sector-specific announce lists connected camps with their actual on-playa Placers before arriving at Black Rock City. Moving forward, we hope to create a Placement website to post FAQs and a guide especially designed to serve theme camp leads.

Once the Placement planning was done and our placed camp list was published in early August, we started working on distribution of the early arrival bar code passes. This year was the first year that ALL Theme Camps had to arrive and start setting up before the event opened: after midnight Sunday night. Our distribution of these early passes is currently a manual process. We hope to change that in 2009.

The first of us to arrive on Playa were the Placement flaggers, right on the heels of the DPW survey team. We carefully measured and flagged all of the Theme Camp and Project infrastructure camp areas, which took about a week. Our next responsibility was Placement and D-lot duties. We are called upon to place registered theme campers, artists, volunteers, and staff. It was our goal to keep the inner block between A & B streets open for any participants arriving after the event opens. This effort will continue in 2009, and we may create a special early arrival map to more clearly communicate expectations for open and restricted placement.

If someone from a registered theme camp arrives early and does not have the proper documents, they will interact with our D-Lot team. We encourage everyone coming into the event early to remember tickets and early arrival passes. In the event they have done their part and it still didn’t work, the D-Lot folks were there ready to help.

Once the event opened, our placer duties changed. We dropped down from a team of about fifteen to three on-call. At this time we were available for assistance and simply keeping an eye on things.

We definitely had many challenges at each turn but we overcame them and are better for it. All of the work done by our team is volunteered. What, you may ask, do we get for all this? Go to Burning Man and hang out with a rocking registered Theme Camp and know that we are smiling….

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