On playa, 2013 was another smooth year for Arctica. We have such an incredible crew and so many long-time volunteers that rock the igloos with their gifts of service and enthusiasm.
With another population increase expected, we planned and staffed our teams to handle the extra load. We always had a constant flow of ice coming into the city, without ever a threat of running out.
2013 was the fourth year four of offering ice sales pre-event. As the pre-event sales have been heating up the past two years, we stuck with last year’s increased hours of operation and are happy to report we were busy the entire time! We intend to continue the pre-event sales moving forward and will keep the longer ice hours to accommodate everyone. Pre-event ice sales are Thurs-Sunday, 9am – 3pm.
Our vendor, Crystal Ice, is every much a part of our success as our volunteers are. In an effort to secure an event’s worth of ice (about 55 trailers), this year they leased an additional warehouse to store the ice. Our ice comes from Sacramento, and transportation of it to Reno and on to BRC has been a problem in the past. Traffic and wrecks along I-80 have delayed ice deliveries many times over the years. Now that the vendor has a place to stock up in advance, we don’t have to worry about delays. We also worked with them to be overstocked on playa before the event starts. This allows the truck drivers to be off the roads when the heaviest of the traffic is entering the city and we never have to worry about running out of ice.
We have noticed a trend for the past few years of more block ice selling for the first few days of the event. This year, we ordered an additional pallet of block ice on each trailer until Wednesday of the event. This worked out great, and kept us from having to crack a fresh truck just for blocks. We will continue this in 2014.
In an effort to make the scheduling of our teams more efficient, we implemented Shiftboard as a scheduling tool. We had a rough (and very late) start, but once we worked out the issues, we had all of our scheduling done in three weeks. The best part is, we didn’t burn out one person trying to schedule 1,300+ shifts! We will use Shiftboard again for 2014, and will do our best to work out any kinks prior to opening it up for use.
With a larger population comes the need for a bigger crew to effectively manage it. We moved two of our hard working polar bears up to Assistant Operations Managers this year.
This is our second year to have our own dispatch, and this position has become the heart of our organization. What did we ever do without them? The dispatcher’s job is to manage the moving of trucks/people and keeping up with hourly pallet counts, fuel and temp checks on all trailers, as well as managing the office inventory, signing in/out radios, carts and equipment. Our dispatch basically runs the show and has made us so much more efficient in our operations.
To keep our participants cool in the afternoon heat, we added a larger shade structure to our Center Camp location for those standing in line. This year we had a 24’x48’ shade, twice what it was last year and it was well received. We also added small structures to the Ice Cubed and Ice Nine locations. The plazas don’t allow for much space, so that was the best we could get in there.
Bikes were a problem for us this year. Though we had plenty of bike racks, they were not being utilized. Many bikes were left on the ground or in the street, blocking emergency vehicles. At our Ice Nine location, we were placed right next to Playa Bike Repair, and that compounded the problem. There were bikes everywhere! We will ask Placement not to put us next to any large bike camps and we will be rearranging our bike racks and possibly our crew to help manage it better if necessary.
Participants often leave tips for our crew when they are purchasing ice. These tips are split equally between the crew on that shift. Everyone is given the opportunity to keep their share or donate them. Many of the crew choose to donate their tips. This year we collected just over $13,000. These collected tips were then donated for the benefit of arctic animals and big cat rescue.
As always, we want to thank the participants in the city for helping us make this another year without any safety issues. The camps along our truck paths help us keep the roads clear and made our drivers and escorts feel welcome with cheers and cool drinks. It requires a ton of patience for our truck drivers and the truck escorts to move the ice around the city. Having that extra help from participants keeps them moving and boosts their spirits. Thank you Black Rock citizens!
Finally, we want to acknowledge our DPW crew, Black Ice. This team builds all of our structures and they are as much a part of Arctica as all of our volunteers. These folks work so hard and we appreciate everything they do for us. This year, despite the weather issues during the build, they delivered our finished structures in record time.
Looking forward to a great 2014!