We've covered lost flashlights, but thanks for your input.
And now, the 2005 Final Wipe-up.
*Participation and volunteerism.
*What hit the fan this year.
*Getting our shit together for next year.
*Fundamentally changing the way we as Participants approach the Festival.
Greetings fellow Poopers,
It was an ugly year for shit this year. We fucked up in a major, expensive fashion. Catastrophically bad newbie behavior and sabotage happened again this year.
I arrived on Playa on friday prior to the Event, fully prepared to put up signs. I was anticipating getting volunteers and duct tape thru DPW as was the case last year. Nope. No duct tape, and no volunteers. I didn't get any duct tape from DPW until Monday morning. Instead Regyna, Fishy and I put them up with Regyna's nifty-cool florescent duct tape. Very eye-catching. Next year I'll be purchasing my own duct tape and adding it to the requisition bill. I'll go with florescent too. I liked the effect.
Because of the duct tape snafu, I didn't get DPW volunteers. I spent a good chunk of my time during the sign installation process soliciting the help of passers-by, training them, then watching them leave after a couple banks. This cycle was simply exhausting. We accidentally broke Fishy due to a bad dirt-storm. She weathered the remainder of the Event stoically and with her usual grace. Next year I'm asking that Pottie Project be put on the list of volunteer options on the Volunteer Questionaire.
On Tuesday, JotS found "many" rocks in the 3:30 and 4:00 banks. These jacked two valves ($250 each). I still have one of the rocks that was pulled out of the deep blue by the pump truck driver. It is the type found on Gate Road. Definite sabotage, no question that the fun was about to begin.
I immediately kicked it upstairs. Getting the crisis-management motor running was excessively slow. In short, I badly needed a radio. I felt handicapped w/o one this year. The shit-storm had begun, and all I had was my mouth and my brain. I've since made an important connection with the Yahoo Vengeance Task Force under the gentle hand of Spaz of Gigsville. This is an outstanding crisis-management machine that can only get better with time.
On Wednesday, things got weirder. I was notified that the Centrifuge was down. Special thanks to Sensei for providing safe-haven during this shocker. It stayed inoperable for the remainder of the Event as far as I know. This machine separates the solids from liquids, and the liquid is them shipped to the garlic farms in the region. What killed the Centrifuge was not sabotage, but baby-wipes, which seized it up so hard, the JotS workers had to pick baby wipe debris out of the gears with needle-nose pliers. They also were literally shovelling shitty baby-wipes for disposal.
Wrap yer brain around that, kids.
Zubee of DPW got me a megaphone and then jumped on a megaphone-equipped art car. The City got hit with the "NO BABY WIPES IN THE PORTA-POTTIES" message hard. Everyone I ran across who had access to amplification was solicited to put out PSA's on the issue. Cafe was a major help on this. Thanks Trish for your help. I will own a megaphone by next year.
The baby-wipe problem is definitely about education, so we can address this problem firmly next year. There has been a direct relationship between education and shit-quality. The owner told me that in 2000, things were ugly, then in 2001 we had clean shit. Over the next several years, the garbage in the units incrementally increased, until this year we had as bad of shit as in 2000. It is in my educated opinion that the quality diminished as a direct result of the incrementally reduced LLC support. The LLC needs to re-visit this problem, but I don't believe a media campaign as in 2001 will be sufficient. More later.
While I was talking to the JotS' 2nd in command, the valve on the main storage bladder pump got so plugged up with clothing they were unable to free it with a steel pipe. Also, the sludge was so saturated with baby wipes and clothing, they were unable to pump it. Both the retired former owner and the second in command independently told me that the sheer quantity of clothing pointed absolutely to sabotage. One citizen reported to me that he saw a complete men's suit in the camode. It was as if someone would go into the potty, strip, shove everything down the hole, and walk out naked.
Next year, acording to JotS' owner, not only will the price tag for JotS go up another $200K (for a total of $500K) but the LLC will be required to obtain a Macerator. And you can bet the ticket prices will be affected. A Macerator is a machine generally used on ships to literally grind up sewage before it goes into the Centrifuge.
I'm actively looking for researchers to help us obtain one before next year.
The cheapest solution for this problem is getting one thru salvage from a decommissioned ship. One year is *nothing* for this kind of equipment, so we need to get cracking asap.
I believe we need to fundimentally change our approach to how we as Participants approach the Festival.
A "neighborhood watch" system might cure us of sabotage, this requires self-organization however. We *can* do something about education pre-event however.
Over and over I heard department people complain about how the newbies were a burden on the system because they had either not read the Survival Guide, or had not taken it seriously. One citizen reported that their newbie friend blithely said they'd scanned the Survival Guide while waiting to get thru the Gate.
This will not do.
Here's my proposal: Instead of "buying a ticket", all must "apply for citizenship". The concept is by BlueNiteOwl.
All ticket sales are to be thru the web-site or over the phone. They are non-transferable. A ticket or laminate will be issued with either their playa-name or their real name on it. Also an indexed number will be assigned for tracking purposes. Those under 18 must either take the test, or by proxy, puting the onus of responsibility for behavior on the parent/guardian.
All potential citizens must take a 20 question objective test (t/f, multi-choice, fill-in). Questions will be based on the Survival Guide. There will be 5 different tests that are randomly selected and graded by an administrative bot so that couples will have differing tests. One must get 100% to pass, and you can take the test as many times as needed to do so. The goal is to not only require that all ticket holders have read the SG, but the fact of a test as a condition of participation just might make everyone take it seriously.
Gate ticket sales will either be eliminated or a process in place to take the test prior to obtaining a ticket. The added labor involved should be offset by the expected pre-event marketing information imploring that everyone get a ticket prior to arrival to avoid waiting time. Gate tests would be on paper and hand-scored to avoid using valuable computer time out there. An old Scan-tron machine is another option. Final score entry and indexed number would be assigned using a password protected "test administrator" entry before a ticket is issued at Gate. There would virtually be no reason for waiving the test, so no override system would be put in.
Black Rock City is a dangerous and fragile place. My hope is that thru improved accountability by the citizenry that there will be a marked improvement in participant education and lowered burden on the departmental infrastructure as a result.
I've given you the facts as I know them, now it is up to us to resolve the problem. I welcome your thoughts.
DPW Volunteer Coordinator
Chief Poopervisor of the Pottie Project