“I know it when I see it.” Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart coined this phrase to describe pornography; good administration is the exact opposite – you know it when you don’t see it. Most people don’t realize that Burning Man has any administrative staff … which is probably a compliment. This section of the Afterburn report is dedicated to the hard-working behind-the-scenes staff who help the Burning Man organization do its thing – and do it right.
Most of the big departments operating on the playa (such as Community Services, the DPW, Café, Gate, Perimeter and Exodus, and Emergency Services) have their own administrative teams – but there are also several teams that support both the event and year-round functions of Burning Man. These include the San Francisco and Gerlach office staff, Government Relations, External Relations Team (XRT), Legal and Accounting teams. During the event, many of these support staff stay in “First Camp” – located this year in the “top left” quadrant of Center Camp.
Burning Man is always changing, but the pace certainly seemed to pick up this year! On playa, the Legal team continued working with participants, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Black Rock Rangers, and the ACLU to foster a safe, creative event and protect the rights and responsibilities of all participants. Working on a longer timeframe, the Legal team has been working with the Board and its advisors on creating the “Burning Man Project” – a non-profit with many benefits for Burning Man, including better coordination between the event, the Regional Network and related non-profits such as Black Rock Solar and the Black Rock Arts Foundation.
The Government Relations team had a very busy 2010, building connections and trust with a new team of BLM staff, and cooperating with an ever-larger body of local, state, and Federal agencies that have a stake in Burning Man. They also worked successfully on the permit stipulations that allow the event to take place. Proudly sporting a new logo, the XRT graciously welcomed a record number of newcomers to the event. As awareness of Burning Man spreads across the nation and the world, the role of the XRT is to foster good relations with those who have a potential impact on the event, including community groups, local businesses, and government officials.
Ever an efficient bunch, the Accounting team has been increasingly successful in 2010 persuading the rest of the staff to match their high standards. By pushing for more timely expense reporting, the Accounting team has been able to publish more thorough, timely and digestible financial updates. This campaign is having huge benefits for the entire organization. They have also been hard at work renegotiating key vendor contracts, streamlining the budget processes, creating an improved ticket model, and running the smoothest, most efficient Box Office operation ever.