If you missed seeing the Cafe’s Front Portal at night in 2012, you missed a spectacular light show emanating from an intricately-cut series of arches, and this special art installation marked the first year that the Art Department fully oversaw the selection and support of the Cafe Front Portal art work.

Decor by Committee’ was the surprisingly cohesive solution in 2012 when the Cafe lost a key leader to outside artistic projects, and so the community was asked to come together and co-create a decor plan – including what items to reuse from previous years. Volunteers took great pride in making suggestions where input had not been sought in past years.

The Cafe replaced a lot of rain damaged carpet in 2011 with upcycled ‘event carpet’ – which led to a 2012 donation of matching ‘drapes’ for the Coffee Counter and coordinating polka-dot couches and chairs. The Cafe embraced the circular patterns as thematic ‘ovum’; these compact and lightweight sofas replaced worn, heavy and oversized couches that did not store well, and now the volunteers don’t struggle to move them into storage post-event.Cafe Setup volunteers used to fear “carpet day”, which was really two days, and the process of storing the carpet was becoming unworkable. Two other departments collaborated on a process that radically altered the timeline: in 2012 volunteers were done in less than a day!

The Cafe Lighting Team was able to bring more light to the Cafe – because we had more lights, and the power for them! This was a noticeable improvement: we essentially doubled the number of lighting instruments reflecting colored light onto the shadecloth of the Cafe structure, and it really glowed at night.One downside of this increased amount of lighting equipment is the time needed in the scissor-lift to install it, and consistent access to one proved difficult.

New ideas! 2012 Cafe Coffee Shop volunteers who keep BRC caffeinated were given a chance to practice radical self-reliance in 2012 and a new online self-scheduling tool was rolled out for people to sign up for their own shifts, which reduced no-shows.

Yerba Mate, a caffeinated herb from South America, is converting some coffee drinkers, so in 2012 the Cafe served both hot and iced mate – organic and sustainably-grown, just like our coffee. BRC citizens continue to support the BYOC (bring your own cup) ethos, and Cafe volunteers proudly maintain the composting and recycling of the by-products of caffeinating over 50,000 Burners.

It’s not yet the common buzzword that MOOP is, but ‘Pre-MOOP-ing’ is picking up whatever is on the playa before you got there. Cafe staff camp leaders stress this the minute someone drives on playa – everything must be grabbed immediately – there is no “that’s someone else’s mess, I wasn’t here/I don’t camp here/this is open playa” – MOOPing isn’t just for post-event or ‘the daily run thru camp with a trash bag’ – MOOPing is a way of being. You will stoop many many times as a Cafe Setup volunteer if you’re truly pre-MOOP-ing. That – and our stellar Cafe Clean Up crew – is how we keep getting GREEN!For the first time in 2012 the Cafe leadership held a formal volunteer ‘orientation and welcome’ on playa that involved all the Cafe subteams (Lighting, Sound and Performance, Decor, Setup, Documentation, Coffee Shop, Admin, Cafe Village). We also created a photo who’s-who guide in the Setup trailer for volunteers to use.

Off-playa, the Cafe Craft Parties saluted a 10-year sewing veteran of the large “Crown Flags” while it welcomed newbies: these work days are mostly Bay Area-based, although the Cafe leadership is looking forward to collaborating with an LA-based volunteer group in 2013. Cafe craft gatherings are always part decor-workshop and part ‘acculturation-by-association’ and we see a healthy mix each time of seasoned playa veterans and newbies, often spanning several generations!

Submitted by,
Marcia Crosby