The Gate’s job is to get every inhabitant of Black Rock City in to the event safely, while looking for stowaways, potential MOOP-makers, firearms, fireworks and dogs, as well as ensuring all Mutant Vehicles entering the city are preregistered with the DMV. All this while making sure that traffic on the highway doesn’t back up. The Perimeter staff patrols the fence line looking for people trying to sneak in, and ensuring the safety of those that have accidentally stumbled out or that are just plain lost. The Exodus team facilitates the departure of tens of thousands of participants from Black Rock City on a single two-lane road, ensuring a safe and timely trip off the playa, and giving all our citizens their final farewell for the year.
This was the first year for our new management team. All things considered, it was a very successful year.
There were fewer stowaways and fence crashers than ever before. This may be partially attributable to enculturation – most people attending the event know the right thing to do, and know the Gate and Perimeter staff will catch stowaways and fence crashers. The word is out: Chances are if you try and sneak into Burning Man you are going to get caught.
The Early Arrivals (EA) process (how staff, artists, and theme camps enter Burning Man early to set up) in the past has been clunky and flawed.
For 2007 we instituted an entirely new system for the Theme Camp portion of the (EA) process. Theme Camp coordinators were given transferable, one-time-use barcodes for the allotted number of people allowed early admittance in their Theme Camp. We then scanned these barcodes at the Gate upon arrival. This new process was such a rousing success that we plan on fine-tuning and instituting it for all Early Arrivals next year.
Pre-event, the playa is under construction and is a work zone. It has always been our intention to keep anyone out of the event that was not on the EA list. In past years we reluctantly admitted a number of unregistered early arrivals before the appointed time. This year the new EA process and the expansion of the (dreaded) “D” Lot (see below), we were able to hold the Gate as planned until 12:00am Monday. We will hold this standard every year moving forward.
The expansion of the ‘D’ Lot was a success, but was not without troubles. Cars weren’t stacked as orderly as we’d have liked, resulting in a less-than-democratic entry back into the lanes. We will remedy this next year.
Law Enforcement Relations
Our relations with some of the on playa law enforcement has never been better. Individual interactions remained amiable, but we were alarmed and dismayed by the increase in participants receiving citations from the BLM this year. We will be working to remedy these relations by next year.
There was as increase in the number of complaints about Gate staff in 2007. We will always have a few complaints but we hate to see those numbers rise. We take these issues seriously, and hope to resolve them through more extensive training for our staff. While we often don’t have time for the niceties of the Greeters, we hate to hear of any participant that feels that they were mistreated.
In 2007, through the heat of day and cold of night, high winds and the increased menace of this year’s dust storms, the Perimeter team did a stellar job of patrolling an even larger fence line than ever before, and the Gate team processed a record number of participants through the Gate safely, with record efficiency and speed. We instituted a new process with new technology, and it went off without a hitch. We had more volunteers than ever before under a new management team, and collectively we exceeded all expectations. Not only that, but we had a great time doing it. That’s what keeps us coming back year after year.
See you in 2008 in the dust!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to address them to: gate (at) burningman.com.