The eleven Community Services Departments run the operations of Black Rock City during the event. Our volunteer-staffed playa services include: Airport, Bus Depot, Center Camp Café, Earth Guardians, Greeters, Ice Sales, Lamplighters, Playa Info, Recycle Camp, and the Volunteer Resource Team. Our Placement team comprises community planners who are responsible for the strategic location of registered, interactive theme camps, as well as all city infrastructures, forming the very fabric of BRC.
The Volunteer Resource Team (VRT) ended 2008 with an American Dream theme-inspired “Mystery Colonial Non-Denominational Space Holiday 3000” party. A mash-up, if you will, of ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire’ and the ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’. Attendance seemed to be drawn from beyond just the Project staff and volunteers, so we have tightened our invitation process a bit for 2009.
Our training schedule continued to offer volunteers and staff both playa and default-world professional skills via our own in-house talent, with the Tech Team’s Mail-List Management training and our Accounting Department’s Spreadsheet Forum.
Our lease is ending at 1900 Third Street on April 30, 2009. So, unknowingly, we hosted our last Open House at that location in April of 2008, featuring another “Ask The Man” panel comprised of Project staff and volunteers, as well as a very popular forum on law enforcement on the playa with a representative from Lawyers for Burners. “Masterful Conversations”, a new training module in the effective collaboration practices series, took place in May before the second of our all-staff meetings of the year.
In June, the Community Services Manager received an LNT trainer qualification on the Earth Guardian’s Leave No Trace training backpacking trip in the hills above Black Rock Desert, and our Emergency Services Department again sponsored their very popular First Aid and CPR certification training. The Black Rock Rangers joined ESD in presenting a primer on 911: Managing Playa Conflict, which was immediately followed by a new forum: Law Enforcement and Burning Man.
The Placement team brought on new members, and a new project manager was promoted from within its ranks, while other project managers continued to delegate to, and empower their staffs. We attribute this to the consensus feeling within Community Services that all teams really hit their stride in 2008, with inter-departmental cooperation at an all-time high. The complex redesign of Center Camp infrastructure placement no doubt played a key role in these successes, as visual prominence and proximity allowed many Project departments to really shine.
Community Services has always played an active role over the years in promoting bicycles in Black Rock City, including contributions to the design of the bicycle and pedestrian city plan, our Open House clinic on proper bike prep and maintenance, and our 2008 website posting of build-it-yourself bike rack plans. Bike mechanics are revered as gods in BRC, and we networked these folks to create the BRC Bike Guild. Over time, many bike mechanics choose to keep a lower and lower profile in BRC to avoid an overwhelming onslaught from poorly-prepared participants. In years past, if you were unfortunate enough to lose your bike at Burning Man, found bikes might be claimed at the conclusion of our event at Playa Info.
The Green Man theme in 2007 brought a new wave of bicycle enthusiasm with the debut of The Yellow Bike Program. The DPW have been running this community bike program, including the post-event collection of found bikes, and replying to reports sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The program also works with many non-profits to find good homes for unclaimed bikes. As with many things Burning Man, this transfer of bicycle management issues all seemed to happen organically.
This year, a Yellow Bike Repair Camp was placed adjacent to a theme camp, and all found bikes were collected at this new location. We will continue to place theme camps with bike repair components in locations that best serve the city. By their leave, we will also continue to give out the locations of your local velocipede deity at Playa Info.
We have come full cycle in our calendar year. In light of the global economic crisis, the Volunteer Resource Team themed the holiday-time Burning Man staff/volunteer celebration “A Prohibition & The Great Depression Holiday Box Social”. But Community Services have always been smart with our spending, and moving forward we will no doubt be resurrecting our thrifty, but fun and creative approaches to achieve our goals.