A New Team for Preserving Burning Man’s Volunteer-Driven Culture

The Community Services team (photo by John Curley)
The Community Services team (photo by John Curley)

Burning Man is launching a new all-volunteer team designed to preserve and support Burning Man’s essence as a volunteer-driven organization and to teach those values and practices. I sat down with Burning Man co-founder Harley DuBois to learn more about Burning Man’s volunteer spirit and how this new group will carry it forward.

JM: What is the new team, and why is now the time to create it?

Harley DuBois: We’re in the third phase of volunteerism at Burning Man. We’ve written a manual that distills what we learned in the first phase, as we built the event and its culture. The second phase was about succession planning for the founders, bringing in new blood, not being ossified. But now, becoming a nonprofit changed the landscape. With our expanded, global scope and mission to create positive cultural change beyond the playa, we’ve grown so much that we need to recommit to who we are, and who we are is volunteers. Every one of us was a volunteer at the beginning, but the organization is evolving quickly. We have to infuse the spirit of volunteerism into everything we’re doing. It has to remain part of our DNA, or we’re going to lose our identity.

Volunteerism was never hardwired into the organization itself, because the spirit of it was so innate to the founders that we all had our own ways of doing it. Now that we’re reorganizing, we can hardwire in volunteerism. This new team is our first effort to do that.

What better way to do it than to create a strategic body dedicated purely to that thinking? That body can advise any branch of our internal workings. Once we’ve got that down, we can export those concepts to anyone who finds themselves in similar situations.

We’re starting with seven people. We wanted to have it small enough that it could be flexible. I’m going to chair the first four meetings just to get them going, and then they’ll be deciding their own governance. If they want me to be engaged after that, they’ll decide how they want that to work. They’ll decide on the processes, how often they meet, what the term is, what the scope and mission are. I don’t want to come at it from my perspective as a founder. They won’t have any paid staff on the team. That changes everything. It gives it a different flavor. Since this team is here to represent the truest flavor of our organization — which is volunteer-driven — they have to have that.

Update 11/19, 2:50 PM: some people wrote in asking for more info about who is on this team and how they were selected, so I got more comments from Harley and am adding that in line here:

The first members of this group will establish what the process for future selection to membership will be. To find them, we put out a call to all managers for the entire organization, and they gave us their best candidates, who were then vetted by the Volunteer Squad and selected by staff. This first group is: Witchy, Helen Hickman, Jocko, Maryann “Orange” Hulsman, Robin “Affinity” Mingle, Sarah “Sabwafaire” Turner, and Stacy “Keeper” Black.

The staff members who were involved in this process will go to the meetings and be the team’s bridge to the office. We don’t have a name for them yet. It’s Vav from Tech, DA from DPW, Marcia from the Café and Special Events, and Stuart Mangrum the Director of Education. It’s their job to transport information between the team and the office staff to help jump-start this.

At the 2015 event, at the gathering at First Camp early in the week, all the co-founders were honored for their first Burning Man volunteer jobs. It was amazing to hear how you all got your start and imagine the path from that volunteer work to where you are now. Can you tell us about your volunteer path?

I ended up at Burning Man in 1991 at the very last minute, not totally prepared, but I knew vaguely what I was getting into. I was the “nutritional consultant”, and I had the morning shift of feeding the crew. Since I was up at sunrise, I had coffee, so I met everybody and got all kinds of gifts, and I met everyone I should have met. After doing that for a while, I started organizing all the volunteers for the Café and for the Gate. I’ve never really been to Burning Man, I’ve always worked it. I was a volunteer for eight years, and I was the last founder to leave my other job.

In 1994, I came up with the idea of placing Theme Camps, and in those days, when you came up with an idea, you had to do it, so I became the city planner. In 1997, I came up with Greeters and Playa Info. Everybody thought Greeters was the stupidest idea they’d ever heard, and I said, “Screw you, I’m doing this anyway.” Then the next year, they all had opinions about it. Then the third year, they all liked it. That process became known as the Three Year Rule of Burning Man.

Also that year, when the event was on private land, Marian and I together came up with Earth Guardians. Before you knew it, I was running this whole department called Community Services, which is still mostly volunteer-run to this day. That’s the department that includes Airport, Arctica Ice Sales, the Burner Express Bus, the Department of Mutant Vehicles, Center Camp Café, Earth Guardians, Gerlach-Empire Shuttle Bus, Greeters, Lamplighters, Placement, Playa Info, Recycle Camp, and the Volunteer Resource Team. Terry “Retro” Schoop, Marcia Crosby and Audrey Whaling manage the thirteen Community Services teams now.

So volunteering is clearly the core of how this whole Burning Man thing happened and continues to happen. But now we have this big year-round organization and even outside partner organizations with whom we work. How is the volunteer path different now?

The first kind of help that an outside entity asks us for is advice on life safety issues, then they ask us for Ranger training, and then, once they’ve had a successful event, they ask us how to recruit volunteers. We don’t need to refer to our Volunteer Coordinator Handbook ourselves anymore, but all those people out there need it. We’re really good teachers about that. We’re ready to help people scale, modularize our information and give it out to people.

Sometimes, people have tried everything we’ve ever tried and still can’t find their answer. I tell them, ”Clearly we don’t have the answer for you, but I’ll bet you there’s a Regional Group out there that does.” So after we get good at teaching volunteerism directly, networking everyone together is the next step. Then it becomes people finding their own solutions.

The only thing that’s changed about getting bigger is that we have to do work to stay closer to our roots and not forget who we are. And that’s what this new team is about.

Some volunteer teams, like Lamplighters, have a dramatic, ceremonial role. Other teams, like Gate, are totally nuts-and-bolts. Most are somewhere in between. How does someone who wants to volunteer find a fit?

Some volunteer opportunities are just really easy to engage with. They’re fun, easy beginner-friendly, feeder things. That’s things like the Greeters. They are our feeders. Without the Greeters, we wouldn’t have our Gate, our DPW, our ARTery volunteers. Low-barrier-to-entry volunteer opportunities can help you decide what your next level is, which could of course be staying a Greeter for life. Once a team is established, they decide their own nature. It took Lamplighters about seven years to find that ritual feeling. DPW took no time at all to find their hard-working, hard-playing spirit. You want people to be able to wonder whether they’ve “got that in them” and want to be a part of it. And it has to be permeable enough for people to move from one opportunity to the next.

Do you think there are differences between volunteering with participant-run teams versus staff-run teams? Are all Burning Man volunteers part of the same community? Are they all a part of this new meta-team?

You can slice it and dice it however you want to. You can quantify all the departments and say there are almost 10,000 volunteers. You can say it’s 70,000 people. You can say it’s everyone related to everyone touched by Burning Man, and it’s hundreds of thousands. Why draw a line? Some people like to. We draw lines when we need to Whatever feels good.

So I also got my start as a volunteer and was one for five years, but the nature of my work with the Communications Team meant I could participate from anywhere — which was great — but I didn’t have the camaraderie of an in-person team. How will the new program serve people who volunteer remotely as the scope of what Burning Man is and does spreads across the globe?

It’s a double-edged sword. Many years ago I took a course in volunteerism by Betty Stallings at the Volunteer Center in San Francisco. She’d become the first person I hired to teach volunteerism to our entity. It was so clear that I was operating on a higher level than the other people in the class. Afterward, she said our organization was on the cutting edge of volunteerism. Most people she dealt with felt like volunteers just created more management issues, but not so with us. But also, we already had remote volunteers then, which was cutting-edge. The technology is better now, obviously, and we have a little budget to support those relationships better. We’ve gotten more successful at it, and we have a lot of it happening. I can’t think of a team right now that doesn’t have somebody in a different time zone.

The issues are still the same: the person feels disconnected, it takes extra effort to keep them in the loop. Whatever they’re doing is sometimes off the mark because of a cultural difference or something. But everyone’s willing to accommodate that. We have such amazing quality of people that we want to accommodate that, and it just feels good. It will never be perfect, but it’s very satisfying.

About the author: Jon Mitchell

Jon Mitchell

is the publisher of the Burning Man Journal, the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter, and the Burning Man website. His playa name is Argus. He co-wrote a big story about spending 24 hours at the Temple of Juno in 2012. He’s been a Burner since 2008. Email: argus@burningman.org

38 Comments on “A New Team for Preserving Burning Man’s Volunteer-Driven Culture

  • Dale (Stroker) Weber says:

    So I’m curious. Is there an application/interview process or have ‘the seven’ been selected already? Is this blog an ‘all call’ for interested applicants or an after the fact interview? Burning Man is perhaps the best example of ‘volunteerism driving the vehicle’ that I’ve been exposed to. (Nine years running and always getting deeper.)

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  • Chrigi says:

    I am Chrigi, Ranger of the San Clan, our Africaburn.
    We are a young and growing Burn, and has to guard against straying from what the Burn really is. We have 11 principles, being the last “Each one teach one”
    To ‘volunteer’, to ‘gift’ you skills, time and effort, that is the soul of a Burn.

    To the Faithful of the Burn:
    I will quietly listen to you And
    pass no judgment, Nor will your
    spoken words be repeated for I will
    remain ever silent, Ever vigilant,
    ever loyal. And when our time
    together is done And you move
    on in the world, Remember me
    with kind thoughts and tales,
    For a time we were unbeatable,
    Nothing passed among us undetected.
    If we should meet again on
    another Burn or Playa, I will gladly take
    up your fight, I am a Ranger
    of the San Clan and together We
    are guardians of the Burn.

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  • ClassOf98 says:

    Burning Man is not the same financially struggling company it was in the beginning. Nowadays people pay up to $400 to attend, while the event earns up to $25 million for the company. Not all volunteers get comp tickets — so BM effectively wants (some) people to pay $400 to work for free. Do you think we can’t see who’s profiting and where the money goes? Give BWB a few million to do good in the world, then we can talk about volunteerism and the need for free manpower.

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  • IFellFromTheSky says:

    b mAN should be paying ALL of their employees , voluntold or not with the cash flow their sporting these days

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    • The Hustler says:

      I haven’t been on the playa without volunteering for Media Mecca (and I did one or two off-playa things), 2016 will be my fifth burn. It can be a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun.

      The people I meet, both in Media Mecca (and the greater communications/media teams) and the members of the media (and, oddly enough, Grover Norquist) add a tremendous amount to my burn, and I can’t imagine not being a part of that. As a Mecca volunteer who probably spends too much time in and around Media Mecca, (I try to balance being a pain in the ass with being useful) I get a pretty in-depth look the behind-the-scenes and beyond the trash fence. Volunteers and staff know other volunteers and staff … to me, its great fun and I try to bore deeper into the Borg every year.

      And, as Harley said, more or less, being in the loop can be difficult. Media Mecca is close-knit and I still sort of feel like the FNG (although I can go on forever about copyright, usage and all sorts of other questions that come up, many of which can be answered with: “read the back of your ticket: you may be photographed and you may die at Burning Man. Do you want a beer?” ) but no one has ever brushed me aside or made me feel like an outsider. It’s Burning Man, which requires a sense of humor and a thick skin.

      As she said, it’s not perfect. There are hiccups in communication, which can cause some frustrations. But, in person on the playa, one of the seasoned Mecca volunteers (or staff? I’m not sure, I never asked — it’s difficult to tell) whom I love dearly, pulled me aside on the roof patio to say they had the same struggles at first, and that I’m doing OK. That made my year.

      I find some of the comments above irritating. (I imagine it’s the same troll, who probably has never been to Burning Man) I never understood the conspiracy theory that we volunteers were somehow duped into volunteering, or that we don’t know what we’re doing.

      I know damn well what I’m doing. I what I can to arrive as early as possible and stay as late as I can. I still pay full price for a ticket. I arrange my own way there. I also help out in my camp, and other people’s camps, and all of the other Burning Man community things.

      Burning Man is not perfect. The machinery for volunteering is not perfect. No event is ever perfect. Things will go wrong, things that are doomed will work spectacularly.

      See a problem with something? Come up with an idea and fix it. Don’t like the idea of volunteering? Don’t do it. Don’t want to spend $380 on a ticket? Don’t go. The rest of us will be having one hell of a good time figuring out how to make this burn a little less imperfect … after the white-out clears.

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      • Err says:

        “Don’t want to spend $380 on a ticket? Don’t go.”

        That’s not listening to volunteers Or planning and safeguarding the future.
        Just because you are okay propping up a multimillion dollar business on your dime doesn’t mean others are, or that it should be acceptable.

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      • The Hustler says:

        [I meant for my comment to be under the general comments section of this thread and not as a reply here. Oops]

        Err – So, you don’t have a choice and are somehow compelled to go to Burning Man and volunteer? The rest of us are not in captivity and are free to leave whenever we want.

        No one is forcing me to volunteer; I have mixed feelings about the Borg, but I volunteer for myself and for the people or community.

        I don’t shop at Walmart and have to be dragged into Target or other national chains. Those are multi-million (or really, billion) businesses propped up by nearly slave wages, sucking tremendous resources and money from local economies. The same can be applied to alcohol and tobacco companies and firearms companies.

        This is also going to sound strange, but I’m not religious or any sort of follower. I swear off Media Mecca every year except this last one, I make plans to not volunteer at all, but I always end up back there.

        Saying “don’t want to spend $380 on a ticket? Don’t go,” illustrates the fact that people who volunteer are (hopefully) aware of what they’re doing. All those volunteers in BMIR, Center Camp Cafe, DPW … I’ll bet with absolute certainty they know what they’re doing, how much work is involved, what they could be paid, and I imagine they’re all happy to do it.

        If you ever eat in the commissary, you’ll get it. Aside from being hungry and tired, the people I run into are generally stoked to be there. They have a deep camaraderie that I only saw when I was a bike messenger in NYC (but not in the Air Force, mostly).

        Maybe you never built anything, or were part of something. Maybe you never did anything. Maybe you’re just some Internet troll fucking with people (I wholeheartedly approve of that).

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    • Dale (Stroker) Weber says:

      But BM does pay their employees. There are dozens of full-time year-round staff on the payroll. There are many others that are paid too. However, if all volunteers were paid (they wouldn’t be volunteers then) ticket prices would reach into thousands of dollars instead of hundreds of dollars.

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  • Dustin says:

    I’ve been volunteering for several years and am now a Volunteer Coordinator. It’s made my experience so much richer and fun, I recommend it to everyone after their first year on playa.

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  • Burnt Out "Local Leader" says:

    Uh yeah, whatever Harley. Your regional support system is a sham that hasn’t offered much actual help. “Hold a town hall” is not strong advice. Selecting cronies as RCs does not build community.

    The “We’re changing the world” mantra is a lie. We’re throwing parties. They’re terrific parties, but they aren’t changing the world.

    I learned my lesson about volunteering for you a few years ago.

    Tell you what BMHQ. I’ll volunteer again the moment you offer actual, real transparency about your nonprofit, and list your incomes and expenses in a non-obfuscated manner. Until then – I’ll attend your big party, and have a great time.

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  • Peace says:

    I honestly think the volunteer culture of Burning Man is vitally important. As you point out, it has grown organically, and I’m afraid that might give the impression you do it well. This is actually an example of where you repeatedly go wrong. What this article should have been is an announcement that this group was going to be formed and a call for those who are interested in volunteering for the group to submit applications. What you’ve done here is once again give a slap in the face to thousands of Burners who are just waiting to be asked to help. Most charitable organizations use volunteers more effectively than Burning Man. It’s tougher to get someone to volunteer to care for a dying person than it is to build a structure you are going to party on. Rather than presume you should teach others about handling volunteers, maybe you should take a little time to learn what others are doing to build and honor their volunteer core. I don’t even think you are aware how insulting what you’ve done here is. I love you guys. You can do better.

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  • Broken Burn says:

    The regionals are collapsing because no good people will work very long for free, just like the main event wouldn’t happen if every manager and supervisor were told to work for free. Do as we say, not as we do.
    It’s okay, just repeat the mantra about how your drugged up dirt rave is going to change the world, with $400 tickets and unpaid volunteers killing themselves to make it happen. The dream may not be dead yet, but your patient is waking up and drinking coffee.

    So hurry, because before more of us figure out how the business model works, you need to find a new team willing to risk a quarter million dollars of debt to build your temple again.

    Because that’s “gifting”.

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  • Too bad about all the negative energy – above. I like volunteering at Burning Man! It’s fun and rewarding!

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  • IFellFromTheSky says:

    scott the “negative energy” comes from folks who see how things really work with the BMORG…glad to see you are still on the kool-aid…they need folks like you

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    • RaceAgainstTime says:

      It’s a race against time for the org. Most burners burn out on volunteerism and making things happen, and as they see behind the Burning Man Curtain and see it’s not all puppies and bunnies back there.

      Can the org recruit new kool-aid chugging believers faster than its volunteer base wizens up and quits? that’s what this committee is about.

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      • The Hustler says:

        Volunteering can be a lot of work. You wouldn’t know of course.

        Some do it for a week or few days, others for decades. No one is compelled to volunteer, because it’s … (wait for it) … volunteer.

        Maybe you should give it a try. With your proven expertise in accounting, human resources and mastery of language I imagine there is a job that needs to be done.

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      • Nomad says:

        Some of us DO volunteer, and if you don’t see a theme camp or MV as volunteering, you are lost in the Borg’s unnecessary corporate structure. And some of us do volunteer for logistics and support but now do it for different burns. It feels so nice to do it, particularly when the thanks come from volunteer management who don’t need you to be there to pay their rent.

        BTW, there are lots of other burns, including some regionals, that do post their full financials. Their success is based on a volunteer business model, not an exploit-the-under-informed model.

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      • Nomad says:

        As for volunteering for tickets, note that at Transformus you can’t volunteer until you get your ticket, and volunteering not only does not get you a ticket, but does not improve your chance of getting a ticket. You wait in line online like EVERYONE else, including the BoD, in hopes to get a ticket before they sell out. And they do sell out in less than an hour. Oh, and same if you are doing a theme camp or art. You are equal to everyone else. EVERYONE is there as a volunteer one way or another, and EVERYONE pays for their tickets. …Yeah, they seem to be doing something right.

        Also note that Figment and Night Market don’t even have tickets – they are open to all, and are all volunteer. And they don’t seem to have problems getting volunteers. For an answer to your questions, “follow the money…” and then don’t go there.

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  • The Hustler says:

    Speaking of imperfect, I meant to post my comment in the main comment section, not in reply to a troll.

    Ah, oh well.

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    • IFellFromTheSky says:

      oh BTW “the hustler” where is media mecca again?
      right next to the BMORG’s airsteams….

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      • The Hustler says:

        It’s right next to First Camp. I watched the man burn from the yoga platform, looking through Larry’s head.

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      • The Hustler says:

        First camp is near a few offices or functional camps or whatever one calls Census and Media Mecca. It also borders that camp with the big, green parachute canopy and I believe one more on the Esplanade.

        Oh, right, it’s on the Esplanade, on the Center Camp keyhole.

        I’m one of many volunteers, staff, First Camp guests and members and other passers-by. Do you know how I acquired such prestige (if you only knew how much of a joke that is)?

        I volunteered.

        However, the other 99.96% of Burning Man is beyond that.

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    • Opinions aren't Trolling says:

      You’re the troll, hustler.

      Disagreeing is not trolling. Having an opinion is not trolling.

      You are just calling names because it makes you feel better.

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      • The Hustler says:

        Interesting.

        I can point out a few trolls here, of whom I don’t think I am one.

        I was going with the conspiracy theory that all of we volunteers are somehow duped into servitude by an evil global corporation. If you read other blog posts here, it’s a common theme, typically with the poor grasp of reality and English one expects.

        I read a thing recently in the New York Times or Guardian or something saying how Millenials are moving toward oppressing freedom of speech on college campuses, and have little in the way of tolerance or ability to communicate.

        So, if trolling trolls is trolling, then I guess I am trolling, except for my non-trolling comments, which you haven’t read because they’re too long.

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  • Bobo says:

    First time Burner (it was great :). I just have a simple question – why wasn’t an open call for participation posted for this volunteer committee?

    Second, are there already open calls for participation for other volunteer opportunities? Where can we find them?

    Thanks!

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  • Camp Mom says:

    I have Volunteered at Burning Man for five years. I believe the Volunteers should be shown they are appreciated. We have to work a set number of 8 hr shifts & one Burn shift to be Gifted a Ticket. I believe this is a fair system. My husband works with another Department & although I know he loves working with them. He does not feel appreciated. He works multiple hours pre-event- on line & is given no credit for those hours.Than he works the same Department at the Burn & he can not combine his time. He is not even Gifted a Half Price Ticket. I know he loves working DMV. Now he does not want to go to Burning Man. He says it will be too expensive & he does not want to Volunteer any more. Ending Comment “Love Your Volunteers- If they help you out enough .. Gift Them Tickets” .

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  • Nomad says:

    How to manage volunteers… Maybe by volunteers? Maybe have everyone be volunteers! Even the BoD. And have an open call for all positions, from BoD to parking staff. Oh, and a web site listing all the jobs and shifts so people could sign up – but only after they got their tickets, since everyone would be equal. If only… that might TRANSFORMUS. A mythical ORG.

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    • Nomad says:

      “Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.”

      ― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

      Not so much to question the volunteer team itself, but that you would need one? Pretty sure the Borg has the whole “volunteer” thing wrong, in contrast to the all-volunteer Transformus. This new Borg “volunteer team” should be focused on the BoD and their NPD business model, not the participants. As Transformus proves, if you put in place motivated and ALREADY inspired people, and just get out of their way, things work pretty well. A lot of that comes from the all-volunteer culture, and what that does to the Transformus BoD and “management,” and implicit understanding that no one is here to pay their rent. And that there is simply no over-class of “those who are paid” to lord over the volunteers – avoiding the coinage and control that is part and parcel of NPD culture.

      While some might observe that the NV burn is 20 times the size of Transformus, that should make it easier, not harder – unless the Transformus participants have a higher rate of effective volunteering or the NV burn participants are harder to manage.

      I am sure the Borg will consider a “Team for Preserving Burning Man’s Volunteer-Driven Culture” as enfranchising the burners. Not even close, but their goal of keeping the free labor that they rely on to create the event (as entertainment for their CCamp customers) is obvious; yet they treat it as an afterthought, on par with the “Team for Improved Porta-Potty Placement.”

      It’s obvious they are in trouble on the volunteer front, perhaps not satisfied being “stuck with whomever’s left.” Too bad they are again doing it entirely the wrong way, but their NPD won’t let them do it right: empowering the volunteers who create the event is against their seven NPD principles, as outlined by Vaknin:

      1. Shamelessness. Inability to process shame in a healthy way.
      2. Magical Thinking. See themselves as perfect using distortion and illusion, and dump shame on others.
      3. Arrogance. Elevate selves by degrading others.
      4. Envy. Use contempt to minimize others.
      5. Entitlement. Consider themselves superior.
      6. Exploitation. Using others without regard for their feelings or interests.
      7. Bad Boundaries. Others are extensions of themselves, and exist only to serve their needs.

      What’s funny is the Borg could claim all was well before coming up with this “volunteer team” idea. It now admits that there are problems with keeping the volunteer resource on tap and under control. They can now use this “team” as a lightning rod to attract and discharge complaints from the revolting peasants, as well as to provide a focus group to test the efficacy of future propaganda plans.

      Aside from the usual “if you don’t like it don’t come” shilling, I am amused at the comments here from people falling all over themselves to be part of the volunteer side of the “team.” Notice that the character and breadth of experience of the volunteer side of the “team” is not explicit, with no requirement for representing artists, theme camps and MVs. Instead they kept the selection in-house: “To find them, we put out a call to all managers for the entire organization, and they gave us their best candidates, who were then vetted by the Volunteer Squad and selected by staff.”

      I am sure the managers are the best source. Gods forbid the revolting peasants choosing their own representatives! After all, they are only a necessary evil anyway, right?

      In case the post does not make the “us vs. them” hierarchy clear, just consider this early part above:

      “The staff members who were involved in this process will go to the meetings and be the team’s bridge to the office. We don’t have a name for them yet. It’s Vav from Tech, DA from DPW, Marcia from the Café and Special Events, and Stuart Mangrum the Director of Education. It’s their job to transport information between the team and the office staff to help jump-start this.”

      Got to keep them volunteers at arm’s length with some staff to insulate/blame!

      But most important, notice that they are NOT seeking creative input for the event from “the volunteers,” only what is needed to keep them volunteering.

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  • Gary Landis says:

    I was at the 2015 BM, for a week, and I have listened to hundreds of Participants agreeing with me about adding a couple of “SHOWER” areas …… By adding $20. To the ticket price, with 75,000 Participants in Black Rock City, you would have More than One Million Dollars to set up Three or four LARGE SHOWER FACILITIES, So We All can Be Reasonably Clean Everyday At Anytime ! I Believe Most People Would Agree With This. The very limited access to “Pyramid Saunas” and “Foam Baths” are nice, But Totoally Inadequate under the Circumstances. We All Do Not Arrive In RV’s That Have Built-In Showers. All Participants Would Be Happier, Healthier And Cleaner If This Could Be Done For 2016. $20. More ? YES !!!

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    • Nomad says:

      Not much for “Radical Self-Reliance” are you, Gary. If two people get together you can use that $40 to buy a shower-tent, with a solar-heated shower head. Bottom is a kiddie pool, or even a wash basin. Just spread the wash water on a plastic tarp and it evaporates nicely. Besides, I have tried the RV-with-a-shower thing once, and trust me, you get just as dirty after being outside for 10 minutes.

      I doubt that a community shower would draw any more real volunteers, just people who think they need a shower.

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    • roissy says:

      Dream on, $20.00 is not nearly enough to do what you are asking for…

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  • Nomad says:

    Got this in an email today. Maybe it is a hint, as others have suggested here, on what you might do to retain volunteers, if it’s not too painful to do:

    Re: The 11th Principle‏

    Dear Friend —

    Several years ago as the concept of FIGMENT was maturing, a number of us were discussing the 10 principles that we had adopted from other community art events. We quickly realized that we had missed something: Gratitude.

    Now, as we celebrate this holiday of Giving Thanks, it’s important to remind ourselves of the importance of gratitude. FIGMENT events and experiences are fueled by people – producers, curators, artists, participants – whose only payment is the gratitude and satisfaction they receive from being involved.

    When we take a step back from a sense of entitlement, what is left in its place is gratitude. As community members, it is so important to have gratitude for each other and for the freedom and space in which to create and experience. Once we stop believing that we deserve something, we begin to appreciate it. With that appreciation comes value. What is worth protecting? Something that has value.

    There are two types of things in the world that we value. First, there are material objects; these are finite. We value them and protect them, and so we take them out of circulation and prevent other people from experiencing them. Second, there are immaterial qualities; these are infinite. We value them and protect them, and so we add them into circulation and try to help other people experience them.

    At FIGMENT, we focus on the latter. We value creativity, expression, innovation, passion, playfulness, equality, collaboration, and community. For each of these things, I have eternal gratitude.

    FIGMENT is nothing more, and nothing less, than the energy and dedication of the people involved. FIGMENT happens because of you, because you want it to happen, and because you want to help make it happen. I am so grateful for you, today and every day.

    Thank you so much for being a part of FIGMENT,
    David Koren
    Executive Director

    P.S. I am filled with gratitude each time I think about how many people volunteer their time and energy to create FIGMENT. Please rest assured that all donations to FIGMENT are used to cover our basic operating costs. From keeping our website going to event insurance and volunteer t-shirts, we run lean so that your tax-deductible support goes further. You can make your year-end gift on our website here.

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  • lifeisshort says:

    Curmudgeon alert! I will volunteer NO MORE…… This was my ten year and with each passing year I found this thing, that was once fun loving and free form was morphing into something rigid and overly formalized…….LIKE A JOB. Fortunately, anyone coming on board will know no difference, as they have no previous experience to compare it to. Good Luck with this New Team!

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    • Nomad says:

      lifeisshort brings up a fundamental choice: does the Team try to recapture the old volunteers, or instead focus on the new ones. No, you can’t “do both,” as lifeisshort’s comment shows. The event has changed as so have the volunteers. But though the Borg would like to see this as a ancillary issue, it speaks to the core of the event, because theme camps, MVs and playa art are all volunteer efforts. How you decide to “encourage” volunteers in an environment where many are jumping ship, defines the event. You are making a choice regardless if you are aware of it.

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  • Dnt kilthemesenger says:

    I did rogue volunteering every year for many years , only recently found the “golden ticket ” Working a certain number ofshifts gets me : A guarunteed ticket, parking pass, commisary, shower pass… Yes i must work hard for certain hours. The trick was finding a team where my limited skill set would fit their needs, they are not age/gender biased, and I would enjoy. AND could geton the team … Certain crews are nearly impossible For example, DPW…even after blowing the ” right ” people , actually recieving an email back from a team lead is… A fantasy .
    .. It is soooo interesting when you do know the truth , to observe the bullshit… Girl friends and sluts seem to get jobs which were not advertised Then suddenly full. (Fluffers)
    Many of us can see behind the curtain know that the elite are having a good time at the volunteers expense … Just look at this years theme . the funtion of the few is to provide the ART-o TAINMENT for the elite party goers. L u m p It . It gets better. Paid nannys with children running around the commisary. Hello , if I have to leave my dog for two weeks, surly you can leave your brats with the nanny back in san fran.
    Spoier alert: what ‘s up with kids under 11 getting in for free.? And how are children radically self reliant ?

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    • Nomad says:

      At the Transformus “regional,” all ticketing is equal, no cuts, and you have to have a ticket before signing up to volunteer. They have no trouble getting enough volunteers, in fact, ALL are volunteers, including the BoD. Check out their online financials – something that the Borg requires of them, but the Borg never seems to provide themselves.

      Oh, and they have a separate event weeks before, called “Ignite,” for families. Transformus is for 18+ only, and those under 21 get their hand UV-stamped.

      Wonder of the Borg has ever heard of them….

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