In 2010, Black Rock City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) had its strongest and most successful year yet. While each year has its challenges, 2010 went almost entirely without incident, and without any major last minute crisis or failure popping up to throw a wrench into the plans to build the city. In the face of this, the novelty of everything actually going according to plan was a new and exciting challenge both for management and for the crew.
Opening the 2010 Work Season, we trimmed our schedule down to just three Pre-Event Work Weekends, thinking that the fewer weekends we had, the higher the attendance would be. This proved correct, and the higher turnout allowed for more focused efforts on several projects at once, while consolidating our infrastructure and support. Once again a number of new faces turned up for the open call Work Weekends, and after getting their feet wet, went on to volunteer for the main DPW work season.
The main build crew was made up of 260 hands this year, about 70% of whom were returning crewmembers. The new 30% were a mix of new faces … some recruits from different regional events, and some folks entirely new to the process. DPW is extremely fortunate in that so many people want to join the crew each year. More than 500 people applied to be a part of DPW 2010. While DPW can’t take everyone, an effort is made each year to bring some entirely new blood into the mix, and to learn from their fresh perspectives and experience.
While the building of Black Rock City has a regular routine – especially when everything goes as it is supposed to – the year wasn’t without its changes. This year the decision was made to move the DPW Parade, a tradition that has been entrenched on Burn Day since the DPW’s founding in 1998. The Parade was moved to Thursday this year, which gave the crew some distance from the energy of Burn Day, as well as from the inevitable Saturday dust storm that has left the Parade in a whiteout for the last three years in a row. The result was the Best DPW Parade yet.
Another big change this year was with the DPW Ghetto. This year the DPW’s home on Playa moved from its regular location on A street to the 5:30 block, between F and G streets. This moved the crew right down the street from the DPW Ghetto, and within walking distance of the Commissary. The move gave the crew a little less exposure in the city, and a more central home base from which to stage. The Ghetto is going through a slow overhaul, and this year’s move is another step towards bringing it up to a higher standard of living space for the crew.
Like 2009, the number of people who wanted to join this year’s post-event workforce was once again more than allowable to bring on to the crew. With a full crew in the post season, there was no need to host any official Post-Event Work Weekends.
The Department of Public Works continues to improve its operations and hone its strengths each year. 2010 was an excellent example of how the job is supposed to go, and really gave the team a chance to shine.