Greeters are the grinning face of Burning Man, the first happy contact between participants and Black Rock City. Greeters welcome you home to the desert. This is a vital role that helps shape perceptions and expectations of both first-time and long-time participants. It’s also the one and only guaranteed chance to communicate with each participant on a one-to-one basis. In short, the mandated goal of greeting is the orientation and education of every participant before setting him or her loose to explore Black Rock City…and that which is Burning Man.
What a difference a year of learning and training makes. 2006 was more successful, and so much simpler, than 2005.
In 2005, a new Greeters council was created. In 2006, this amazing council knew what needed to be done and did it well. Whether by phone or in person at the Burning Man offices, Greeter council meetings were held on a regular basis throughout the year. Greeter trainings were held in both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Greeters began the collation and station-building process on Wednesday, August 23rd. Collation and setup teams completed their tasks in a timely manner, and greeters began welcoming participants home at noon on Friday, August 25th. The station closed at midnight on Friday, September 1st. Greeter volunteers and theme camps did an amazing job keeping the station manned and rocking 24/7.
What worked well this year:
- Collating at the Greeters Station was incredibly successful again.
- Camera tags continued to be successful. New tags were designed in 2005, and the design still works great.
- The spanking coupon that was created in 2005 worked well again this year, and the issues surrounding spanking continued to decrease.
- The beacons installed in 2004 as lane dividers were once again a beautiful and functional part of the Greeters station.
- As in 2005, many participants simply showed up at the station to help collate, set up, tear down, and greet. Some of these unscheduled folks were the best greeters yet.
- Our computer guru re-wrote the Greeters sign-up schedule, making it easier for participants to sign up and manage their own schedules. The schedule was nicely balanced between greeters and theme camps in 2006.
- Beautiful new bells were introduced in 2006 and appreciated by all. Historically, virgin participants ring the bell when entering the city. But even old-timers like to ring the bell.
- In 2005, we recognized a safety issue at Greeters Station: Staff vehicles were driving through the parking area where incoming traffic and participants were buzzing around. In 2006, an additional trash fence at the station alleviated this problem.
- Communication between teams was much better in 2006 than in recent years.
- The Burning Man placement team did an awesome job. The greeter and placement teams worked really well together.
2006 challenges and solutions:
- A common question from participants entering the city on Saturday and Sunday was “What’s up with this new early arrival policy?” This led us to consider stepping up efforts to publicize the new policy. Many people entering the city had no idea about the change in policy, which made for some drama.
- An unknown entity removed the Greeters flags and one of the greeting bells on Friday night after the station was closed. These need to be replaced for 2007. In order to alleviate the theft problem going forward, all flags and bells will be locked up before station closing on Friday night.
The list of what worked well is so much longer than the list of challenges for 2006. In all, 2006 was a big success. Our greeters, theme camps and Greeter council members should be proud of what they achieved this year.
Deb Stiers AKA Topless Deb
Greeters Project Manager