The Placement team, responsible for putting each theme camp “in their place,” worked much as it had in years past. There was once again a growth in the number of camps placed, putting us at 506 submissions of which 477 camps were placed. Things went very smoothly with tried-and-true processes and staff in place.
For the first time, we needed to exclude some camps from the placement process. There were simply too many requests for the available space. The criteria used to decide who would not be placed was clearly posted on the Web site and announced in Jack Rabbit Speaks. It was based solely on process and not on content or artistic merit. If someone did not fulfill our basic submission criteria they were not placed. This process precluded the placement of approximately 29 camps.
We also changed the way we placed villages and large theme camps. All camps with over 150 members were given consideration in much the same way villages have been in the past. Villages were still placed first, but larger camps followed directly behind. We expect to continue this placement process in the future.
The early arrival policy was enforced for the first time on the playa. Many camps were stopped at the gate if they were not on the early arrival list. Some camps slipped in by various ways, including “working the angles” on the gate crew. This will prove to be more difficult next year as we develop and tighten up the early arrival process. Yes, there were problems with the early arrival list; however, we should have the process streamlined by 2004. We apologize for any confusion participants may have experienced on arrival. A special thank-you goes out to those who respected our need to limit the number of people on-site pre-event.
Placement is also responsible for producing the maps that are distributed on arrival. We produced 34,000 maps, which were all gone by Friday, indicating that even with the tightest security (and I mean tight!), we may still have a box of maps missing in a land-sea container or in a car someplace. Uhg! We will work even harder to keep those maps under lock and key for 2004!
As always, the majority of placed camps were exemplary in their Burning Man spirit of good will. However, it does seem that there were a few more bad apples in 2003. Abuse of staff contacts with the aim to circumvent necessary systems hit new heights. Expectations for preferred placement also seemed above normal. In a couple of isolated incidents, feelings of ownership over space and expressed hostility toward Placement and other camps were more pronounced in 2003 than ever before. It may be necessary to refuse to place a camp for the first time in our 16-year history in 2004. Time will tell. Over all though, we had a very successful year!
Submitted by Harley K. DuBois