2009 was much like 2008 for the Volunteer Resource Team. We produced about the same number of events, had about the same team members and had a string of successful gatherings, both on- and off-playa. The team is full of people who not only get along, but who truly enjoy each other’s company and who are excited about the work we do to show our volunteers that we appreciate them.
For the second year, Spark Events were held in conjunction with other Burning Man happenings to allow for greater participation. Our first planned event of the year was held in conjunction with the DPW. It was the last large gathering held at our old HQ and served as a ‘farewell’ to our home in SF of many years. The team also acted in a supporting role in the third-annual Regional Summit in February, lending our assistance and knowledge to help this important gathering. In April, the last Open House and volunteer recruitment drive was held at 1900 Third Street, just before the office relocation.
The BBQ is an annual event that has been held in Golden Gate Park since 2002. Burners are encouraged to bring their, “virgins, newbies and dust-free friends,”, and introduce them to Burning Man. The 2009 BBQ had the best attendance ever, with many departments participating. Rangers, Playa Info, BRAF, Exodus, Census, Greeters, Gate, and the Department of Mutant Vehicles all had booths at the picnic. These departments were there to answer questions, recruit new volunteers and represent their teams.
Participation from theme camps, musicians, dancers, jugglers and bands all added to the festivities. A gray-water evaporation workshop was held. The grills were filled with delicious food all day long and Burners happily displayed the principle of ‘communal effort’ as the potluck overflowed with people excitedly sharing their favorite dishes. As in 2008, VRT staff again scheduled ‘interviews’ with each department’s Volunteer Coordinator. Team management spent much of pre-event in meetings with staff so that we could get an idea of their volunteer needs ahead of time and draw up schedules. This streamlines the process of gathering information and allows the team to better plan for volunteer staffing.
The V-Spot is the on-playa manifestation of the Volunteer Resource Team. Our veteran pre-event volunteer wrangler returned to Black Rock in 2009 to make sure early arrivals were at the event site to work, not to party. Our pre-event presence was made possible again by the hard work of DPW, as the shade structure we share with Playa Info is one of the first public projects completed within Black Rock City. Our increased size and location within Center Camp at the Keyhole were again key components to our continued success. In this location the V-Spot was more visible and prominent than ever, because of this and our ongoing efforts to make our services known), we filled the largest number of volunteers opportunities we have ever recorded.
Our dedicated on-playa team staffed shifts at the V-Spot desk this team is slightly different than the year-round one). Our internally lit V-Spot again rose above the Information Services shade structure beckoning all participants passing by to “VOLUNTEER HERE”. Team members were quite busy facilitating volunteer placements, but they never forget to have fun. Our interaction and integration within the Playa Info/BMIR area was the best yet and staff from all three departments worked in close cooperation, with the goal of offering top-notch information and assistance to the entire Burning Man community.
In 2009, VRT added a Volunteer Coordinator cocktail party to our roster. This event occurred on the Thursday before the burn and many managers felt that they did not have time to attend. We are working on making this event more time-appropriate for 2010, maybe even holding it before the Gate opens to participants.
This ?HTHANKSZAWEENMAS? party ? a mash-up of the season ? was held about a month earlier this year, to allow remote staff in town for debrief meetings to attend, and to consolidate our appreciation events with a greater budget to produce one kick-ass party! The larger budget allowed VRT to bring in a caterer who provided a delicious buffet including a variety of soups, salads, meats, vegan options and of course) the holiday turducken. As with previous years, Santaland where participants could have their picture taken with Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick), the white elephant gift exchange, costume contest and Cookie Potluck were popular fixtures of this event. Performers and entertainers added to the festive atmosphere. W, and we added a canned food drive this year to support the San Francisco Food Bank.
Corey A. Christopher
VRT/ Volunteerism Project Manager