Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

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some seeing eye
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Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by some seeing eye » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:39 am

Burning Man has many departments to make the event happen. Most of them run on mostly volunteers. You can read all about it on the main website https://burningman.org/event/volunteering.

Some are mission critical. They only take experienced burners and require special skills. They would not be good options for first year burners. Other departments welcome first year burners!

Many of the departments are spinning up their volunteer recruitment starting now.

If you are in SF April 21 there is a great event which includes an opportunity to meet departments. See below.

If you are interested in a department, do some searching to find out what they do and who they need. Some departments operate on email lists. Many use the Burning Man shiftboard and can give you the information to use it.

Volunteering is fun. It can be hard, but sometimes easy. It's a great opportunity to spend quality time getting to know your fellow volunteers. Some volunteer jobs have a lot of interaction with other burners.

If you are a virgin this year, observe some departments at work - you will interact with many - and think about whether you would like to help in a future year. Or jump right in to a department you match. There is even a Volunteer Survival Guide in that volunteer section of the website linked above.

If you are a virgin reading this, we often say we cannot describe the event, it can only be experienced. You will settle into your own pattern of when to sleep, when / what to eat. It is not a festival. It is an extreme wilderness campout. There is a lot of dust and extremes in temperature. There are health risks just around drinking enough water and electrolytes. I brought a virgin who I had to drive out early in the week because the dust made a sinus infection unbearable. So some departments that need reliable shift work want veteran burners. Some departments have more volunteers than slots, and can be selective.

Some departments start early and some work late, like the DPW Restoration Team. The large group last year rock stared restoring the playa to its beautiful native state -https://journal.burningman.org/tag/playa-restoration/. That's a tight group and requires a month, maybe plus, of time commitment after the event. A few departments do work over months pre-post or throughout the year online.

Of course, if you are building a camp, bringing art, bringing an MV or operating any of those, you are volunteering, AKA participating!



Burning Man Newbie Orientation & Participation Faire
Burning Man Offices - San Francisco, CA
Saturday, April 21, 2018 from 11:00 AM to 2:30 PM (PDT)

No cost to attend.
Registration and details:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/burning-ma ... 4686176557

Volunteer Opportunities May Include:

Airport (BRC)
Rangers (BRC)
Burning Man Project
Bus Depot (burner express)
Center Camp Café
Census (BRC)
Earth Guardians
Fire Perimeter Support
Greeters (BRC)
Information Technology
Lamplighters
Nevada Properties (DPW)
Playa Info
Playa restoration / burn gardens / highway clean up
Temple Guardians
Volunteer Resource Team
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JohnnyA
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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by JohnnyA » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:45 pm

FYI ... "Fire Perimeter Support" is actually called the "Burn Perimeter Support Group". :mrgreen:

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Just_Joe
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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Just_Joe » Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:43 am

some seeing eye wrote:Burning Man has many departments to make the event happen. Most of them run on mostly volunteers. You can read all about it on the main website https://burningman.org/event/volunteering.
Drilling down a little further, this page provides additional info on many, but not all of the individual teams that help make this thing happen.
https://burningman.org/event/volunteering/teams/

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Token » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:22 pm

Volunteering on the Playa is like paying for a fabulous vacation way more than you can afford, then working instead of having that vacation.

Lots of folks disagree with my virewpoint, but the BORG has shown decade after decade a resigned indifference to the people that make the magic happen.

That’s all I’ll say on the topic.

Have fun in the dust.

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Ratty » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:39 pm

Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. If you aren't enjoying your volunteer 'work', change departments.
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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Captain Goddammit » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:57 pm

Token wrote:Volunteering on the Playa is like paying for a fabulous vacation way more than you can afford, then working instead of having that vacation.

Lots of folks disagree with my virewpoint, but the BORG has shown decade after decade a resigned indifference to the people that make the magic happen.

That’s all I’ll say on the topic.

Have fun in the dust.
And lots of folks are fools. This is exactly the truth. After decades of this shit I can’t agree more.
It socks to work on your vacation.
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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by AntiM » Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:49 am

I thought clean socks were a good thing?

There's a reason I do my volunteering here. I can't get on eplaya easily during my vacation ...

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Just_Joe » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:15 am

Captain Goddammit wrote: And lots of folks are fools. This is exactly the truth. After decades of this shit I can’t agree more.
It socks to work on your vacation.
For many (most?) of the thousands of volunteers with DPW, Rangers, ESD, Gate, Perimeter, Airport, ARTery, Ice, etc. , it's not a vacation.
"Burning Man is not a festival. Burning Man is a community. A temporary city."
Volunteering for a couple of hours doing something you enjoy doesn't preclude the experience, it enhances it.

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Ratty » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:26 am

Just_Joe, You are right. I can't remember if I volunteered the first year or not. (I could look it up somewhere.) I'm sure I did the 2nd and every year since. I started with cafe and greeters. Moved around to help out here and there. Settled on Census. It wouldn't be as much fun without the community involvement.
Those aren't buttermilk biscuits I'm lying on Savannah

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:07 am

For all the volunteer staff, it most certainly is their vacation.
Except its spending that vacation working, for free.
None of those departments are “a couple hours” of work.

Hold that thought while I sell this Eskimo a bag of ice...
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Savannah » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:41 pm

Ratty wrote:Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. If you aren't enjoying your volunteer 'work', change departments.
I enjoy my ESD shifts quite a bit, so that's how I feel about it, too. :mrgreen:
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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Ratty » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:51 pm

Capt. I don't understand you. At all. On one hand you run the event down continually. You say it's gone to hell because there are too many non-participants. Virgins and fly-ins that don't lift a finger for others. Yet you are trying to dissuade people from being part of the community by pitching in. How would we have MVs at the event without volunteers? Where would you get ice or your WWW book and map? Who would check our tickets on entrance and help with traffic. Virtually every department depends on volunteers. Are you going to tell us nobody should do it? Tell us your 'better plan'.

I also don't know why you frequent eplaya if the event has turned on you. You've outgrown the Burner mentality. No. It's not the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago. What is? Certainly not me and probably not you. I'm going to continue to volunteer as long as I attend. I'm also going to praise others and suggest it to everyone.
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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:09 pm

It sounds like you understand me perfectly.
If it weren’t overrun by the fly-in plug & play (or close to it) types I could see volunteering to work to build and operate BRC. I even used to do it.
With the way it is now, hell no I’m not gonna work for these people for free.
With the Org pushing riding the bus or ridesharing and flying in - and making it harder and harder to actually bring stuff - it’s well on its way down.

The more of that there is, the more spectators. The less people actually making and bringing. Everyone wants to fly in and book a camp and sign up for shifts to “help”.

It’s not totally gone to hell yet but its in the handbasket and it’s on fire.
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Ratty » Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:38 am

Capt. You and I are exact opposites in one sense. I'm nicer online and you are nicer in person.

We do agree on some things. I don't like that there are people flying in. (approximately 6,000 of them). Some of the ones coming on the bus contribute nothing. (I don't know how many arrive by bus.) But some of these people 'bring it'. They either built the giant art or they are here to burn it. Or they paid for something that wouldn't have been built otherwise. If all of these people volunteered a few shifts the rest of us could give our time to putting on the show.

You have an expensive art project that takes up your time during the event. The land yacht. You work in the off-season for a BM department. I wouldn't expect you to volunteer. Now quit trying to talk other people out of it. Recruiting is hard enough.
Those aren't buttermilk biscuits I'm lying on Savannah

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by some seeing eye » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:08 am

I see the Captain as the loyal opposition to some of the directions the event has gone, trends and their side effects,

Of course the reason for volunteering, or even going, is pleasure. But there is a lot of value and insight from veterans on how to evolve the cult event. Even Bob the Couch was grumpy at burners who did not prepare.

The economy has been on the upswing, so art and camps are doing well now on art and participation.

The census and published data shows many concerns are not that large yet. Fly in to the BRC galactic spaceport is still small - 3000? (2400 in 2016) And bus is maybe 8000 and growing. 68% of participants live in surrounding states that are driveable. 90% arrive through the main gate. 35% fly into the region - LV, SF, RNO etc. then presumably rent a car or BxBus/air and Walmort it. Of personal vehicle arrivers 15% are one participant in a vehicle, and the vast majority are 2-3 per vehicle.

Concierge camps, wild ass guess - 15 camps with 100 sparkle ponies per corral. They do get the special cultural ambassador treatment which they pay for through the outside services fees and generous donations.

20% of participants volunteer. There is a lot of new emphasis on understanding volunteering in the census.

So all may not be lost, yet!

(My personal theory of the diminishing participation culture, increasing spectators and bad club behavior is the large number of virgins - 30%. If you want to keep that percentage for business reasons, you need to find the right virgins - ones that represent the culture and return in future years. Today although 95% say they want to return, it is not happening.)
Last edited by some seeing eye on Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Dr. Pyro » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:32 am

Ratty wrote:Capt. You and I are exact opposites in one sense. I'm nicer online and you are nicer in person.
Ratty, we know each other pretty well and you're really nice in person.

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Token » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:37 am

SSE, I love you dearly but you have been drinking from the census kool-aid new maths too much lately.

Here is the old maths:

10% Do and make all that “Holy fucking shit” grandeur of the Playa. The real Villains, FKOs, and weirdos.

20% volounteer over their tenure (I.e. not every year but still do it now and again) and get a legit participation experience from it. No issue with that. Whatever makes your burn.

70% are “fuck-all, I wanna party and don’t give a flying fuck” folks, which is fine and dandy because we invented the Pants Canon, Ministry of Disinformation, BRCPO, and dozens of newspapers over the decades to poke fun at them. They pay the bills.

This is exactly why the census is absolutely worthless.

The opinions that count are with a sliver of the cult societal members.

The regionals meetings, funded artists, The in-crowd of proven builders and entertainers - that is what the BORG has an eye and ear for.

Follow the money on the grants and big installations and you will find the real census.

Glitterati Uber Ales!

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Ratty » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:44 am

Token, what a silly thing to say. Try meeting with opposition without any statistics. When you go to court the party with the most paper wins. Join us for a day in the Census lab. We'll tell you what the numbers do for YOU. And you'll have fun.
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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Grumpy Otter » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:41 am

This discussion seems to largely categorize BM attendees as a few true believers that do the work and follow the 10 principles and an increasing number of people that expect everything to be provided. My very limited experience (2017 was my first Burn) tells me that there are a lot of people in the middle ground of working hard to meet the principles and be self reliant.
We joined a small camp and the 17 members included 6 from Europe that rented an RV and bought bicycles in Reno, etc. One from Australia that arrived on the Burner Bus with a small tent, tarp and had arranged for one of the beater bicycles for the week. And the rest of us from Seattle, central California, and L.A. that drove in with everything we needed. One afternoon we hosted a bar on our corner, and in general looked out for each other and shared dinner meals.
I saw a lot of camps that looked to be similar. Along with a number of plug and play camps - that I had mixed feelings about in terms of self reliance. For me, and my daughter and niece, there was a lot of pride in being self reliant and it added to how much we enjoyed our Burn. In the future I do hope to be able to do some volunteering. I think there is a healthy chunk of current burners that fall into the same category.

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by AntiM » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:14 am

Just shoot a note to a mod, or hit the report icon, we'll get the doubles for you.

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Token » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:22 am

Ratty wrote:Token, what a silly thing to say. Try meeting with opposition without any statistics. When you go to court the party with the most paper wins. Join us for a day in the Census lab. We'll tell you what the numbers do for YOU. And you'll have fun.
Oh, cmmon, you know I love you too, dearly. Your a Pilar of this home away from home.

I just want to bring a flavor of the past and some history to the all digital, instant now universe. There is no judgement here.

I like history, and the seat-of-the pants cannot be denied. Tell me how you felt stepping in fresh camel shit on your romp back to camp and I’ll read census data beyond the pre-loaded QnA it provides.

No census ever captured the smell of Bianca’s or the buzz and energy of a TOA slave auction.

Fuck, even the lighting of the dog gone cauldron with the mirrors and our goddess of fire is absent from the statistical empire.

Let’s call it what it is; a small slice of imediacy crafted by whatever PhD student thought was sexy that year.

The annual census is the equivalent of the kid that never went to BM trying to write a paper for their class.

I still love you even though we will not agree on this ;)

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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Captain Goddammit » Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:28 pm

Ratty wrote:Now quit trying to talk other people out of it. Recruiting is hard enough.
OK.
goddammit.
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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by gaminwench » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:34 pm

Volunteering is fun and rewarding.

I'd love a year of NO stadium level sound camps/cars, which I believe would dramatically reduce the one-time bucket list tourists' interest.

Never happen, though.

Volunteering is fun and rewarding; get down in the dust with the people who DO.
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Re: Volunteering for Burning Man Departments in 2018

Post by Lonesomebri » Sun Apr 22, 2018 2:29 pm

Volunteering is just another form of networking and socializing. How else are ya gonna get a ticket? Majority of people who want a ticket, don't get one, nowadays. That's the deal.

The org as an org, not the individuals, promotes the event to literally everyone. They want more people to want to go (as a form of salvation, don't ya know), quantity over quality. They allowed the feather photo shoot and the plug and plays out on the city edge. Tickets selling out are their goal, as much demand as can be generated. And that bucketlist/festival season demand is in direct competition with nutjobs and weirdos who like fire and dust. There are only so many tickets.

Sure, if you have unlimited bucks, or are paid to be a DJ, or are low-income flying-in, or something... Hell, two years I had to beg here on eplaya for a ticket, bartering my charm, which now is not allowed... A couple times I've bought the pre-sale tickets to help out the low-income people flying in, just to make sure I got mine. My hands sure aren't clean in any of this. As most people suggest to those in the search for tickets, meet other Burners, get involved.

Volunteering, working regionals, or running a shitty little camp, or joining a shitty big camp, are some of the only avenues for small time operators to get in touch with tickets and people with tickets.

And it can be very informational and enlightening to volunteer with others, especially for someone on their first visit.
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