The Black Rock Gazette trimmed down in 2005, as the Project analyzed its purpose and budget, including soliciting feedback on how the daily newspaper was read during the event. This analysis led to a realization that the BRG had come to serve different needs from the newspapers original intent. Opting instead to produce just one issue at the gate, the Black Rock Gazette-ette provided participants with a single dose of BRC news upon entry to the city. Those who had volunteered for the BRG remained eager to continue contributing to a daily newspaper in Black Rock City, so they raised funds for their project independently and created a successful new daily, unaffiliated with the Burning Man Project, called The Black Rock Beacon.
The role of the Video Documentation team was also re-analyzed in 2005 and placed in a holding pattern in the Projects bigger picture. While still photo documentation of the art and other features of Burning Man continued, a reduced budget in this area allowed for focusing some financial resources elsewhere. Centralized video documentation of the art of Burning Man will continue to be a consideration in 2006 and beyond.
A change in leadership for the Media Team meant an opportunity to re-analyze and enhance systems, create and modify roles, and streamline the approach to greeting media representatives at Burning Man. With around 200 press people registered to attend in 2005, including crews from Discovery Times, ABC News, and many international channels and publications, the Media Team kept busy with its task of acculturating these special new participants, a task that took on an entirely new meaning when Hurricane Katrina wiped out the Gulf Coast in the middle of the week-long event. Quickly mobilizing and leading the effort across departments (including DPW, Rangers, PlayaInfo and Arctica), Burning Mans Media Mecca in Center Camp became the Hurricane Katrina Relief Center, an axis of information, assistance, drop off for goods and donations, and aid for those affected by the disaster. Combined with the already complex tasks of the on-playa process, the Media Team and its subteams kept busy working to coordinate responses to the devastating storm.
The Regional Network never stops growing as more and more people participate in Burning Man activities year-round. Regional contacts keep the connection going between these smaller groups and the larger Burning Man culture—no insignificant challenge for a group of volunteers who operate as individuals completely geographically separate from the other volunteers on their team. Through lively conversation on the Regional contacts discussion list and various face-to-face connections throughout the year and on the playa, this team of nearly 100 people is at the organizational core of the greater Burning Man community. As the Burning Man Project races to keep up with the needs of this Regional Network, ever-larger pools of resources support these volunteers. Representation by full-time staff on the Regionals Committee has expanded. The Regional groups face increasingly complex issues in their own development, so more and more Burning Man departments are finding themselves involved in the organic growth of Burning Mans worldwide community.
The Web Team leveraged improvements in infrastructure and procedure gained in 2004 to implement some significant changes to the Burning Man website for 2005, while maintaining responsibility for regular day-to-day updates. Of particular note was the implementation of a new blogging system, allowing for dynamic, real-time reporting of specific staff member and volunteers’ activities both on and off the playa. The feature will likely become a cornerstone of future digital communications efforts.
The Print Production team implemented changes to workflow processes and timelines that enabled them to generate engaging, high-quality printed materials from the Survival Guide to stickers, from the Burning Man Journal summer newsletter to the WhatWhereWhen, more efficiently than ever before. And some new design energy was brought into the mix, making for some truly beautiful printed materials.