In 2010, the Community Services Department more than met the operational challenge of the largest population in Black Rock City’s history: 51,454. This population bump prompted the activation of our contingency expansion plan, as two new streets, London and Mumbai were added to the 2010 city plan in the middle of the event week. These new roads went from the 6:00 and 10:00 radial streets.
Late in 2009, we were approached by a vendor who offered to provide free emergency road assistance on-playa to our participants, if we could allow them to stage a self-sufficient station at our event to serve both their member-participants, as well as anyone in need. Careful negotiations were made to honor our decommodification principle. The mutual goals here were to assist participants with lockout needs, increase highway safety, and reduce wait time for emergency road assistance. This pilot program was by-and-large successful, with notable appreciations from the Gate manager for making their job easier. We clearly made some new alliances, and plan to refine the process for next year.
A Vendor Subcommittee was formed to look at better ways to manage vendors who serve, among other parties, placed theme camps. The goals were to find a better balance between decommodification and radical self-reliance, encourage communal effort, lessen the overall environmental impact of our event, lessen the impact on our staffing resources, and reduce everyone’s wait times by expediting vendor access at entry. A Placement volunteer was right at the core of vendor on-playa management, evaluating and troubleshooting issues. It was a rough first year up-scaling vendor management, and our biggest obstacle to success was communicating out policy changes to all stakeholders late in the year.
It’s important to carefully evaluate the impact of the 2010 shift of supervision and authority, as managers and volunteer coordinators took more of the reins this year with the expansion of resource requests through festival management software.
The year-round Airport project manager transitioned to event-specific operations manager, and the Finance department has stepped up to support and manage more Airport budgeting operations. There is new enthusiasm from the ranks of Airport volunteers poised to transition and step up to management roles. The 2010 Lamp Lighter Volunteer Coordinator brought a team together to resurrect the long-languishing team manual, and also produced a monthly email newsletter for that team. Placement did a major re-write and organization of their website camp planning resources. The team recruited several new associates – all from established theme camps – who provided assistance and potential insurance for succession. Theme camps had a venue to tell their story over the months leading up to our event, courtesy of the Metropol Blog. Placement is well underway to provide more planning assets via a dedicated web sub-domain.
In response to a timely call from our Volunteer Coordinator Liaison, a Volunteer Squadron was formed in 2010, returning our focus to volunteerism in our 25th year. We have our work cut out for us,but the first steps have been taken.