Volunteering on the playa

No matter your skills or interests, there's a way for you to participate in the creation and manifestation of Black Rock City, both at the event and year-round.

Volunteering on the playa

Postby Plumeria » Wed May 12, 2010 10:05 pm

This year will be my first burn. :)

I do want to volunteer to help out the city on the playa. Would it be best to apply for something now, or just figure it out once we get out there? What have been your experiences?

Thanks!
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Postby ragabashpup » Wed May 12, 2010 10:58 pm

Wait until you get there. Don't make any plans your first year they will get broken.
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Postby jkisha » Thu May 13, 2010 1:01 am

You can wait until you get there, or volunteer and get your shifts assigned ahead of time. We have all of our volunteer shifts already scheduled. We do most volunteering early in the week usually.

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Postby C.f.M. » Thu May 13, 2010 6:11 am

I spend half my burns volunteering, usually (mostly as a Ranger).

However, I was advised not to volunteer my first year in BRC. It felt weird, just showing up, but I was very, very glad.

I didn't make it to many things I wanted to do (like the eplaya mng), much less shifts that people would have been counting on me for.
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Postby oneeyeddick » Thu May 13, 2010 8:12 am

I agree with what they say, just go without plans on your first year.

If you feel the need to help, just walk down the street you are camping on and look for someone that is having a hard time making something come together, and stop and offer to help them work on it.

They will love you for it , and you will make friends this way also.
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Want to Volunteer, you say?

Postby Delfina » Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:15 pm

Please check out Sacred Space Holders on FB...We need drummers, parking gods and godessess, Water Naiads, Sacred Space Holders, setter-uppers and taker-downers, and much more...
The Critical Tits Ride and Ritual is at 4pm, Friday
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Postby capjbadger » Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:18 am

Come help out Lamplighters. We take anyone each afternoon. Just show up. Light the city! :)

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Postby Badger » Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:05 pm

I do want to volunteer to help out the city on the playa. Would it be best to apply for something now, or just figure it out once we get out there? What have been your experiences?


The Black Rock Rangers have a long standing policy that you must attend the event at least once before they'll even consider anyone as a volunteer in their ranks.

I've always thought this was an excellent idea.

The OP is bound to get all sorts of opinions from across the board but I'm of the mind that if this is your first time then you should grab the opportunity to experience it as a first timer and with the following year to volunteer. For many the first time is often the most memorable. There's a lot of diversions and distractions and not being bound by a schedule of any kind is one of the great things about the event.

If you do feel compelled to volunteer take Captadger up on his offer. Lamplighters are pretty low key, have a good time.
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Postby lemur » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:18 pm

capjbadger wrote:Come help out Lamplighters. We take anyone each afternoon. Just show up. Light the city! :)

-Badger


Lamplighters start doing work around 5pm.. yes, a clock will help to get there.

a little before 5pm people start working on the lanterns for the nights lantern hanging.... many hands helps this move quickly and the people around you can teach you what to do.. you can come and go at any time when helping at the tables.

if you want to commit to quite a bit more work show up around 5pm, get in line, near the white board sign up area, and if you got there early enough to have a spot youll be doing about 2-3 hours of work helping with the lanterns, being robed and walking around lighting the city.. when youre done it will probably be dark, youll be a bit tired but youll have done something cool...... it feels nice to look back at all the lanterns you just were a part of hanging.. and youll get a spiffy cool charm on a necklace to wear..... then you enjoy a drink in the lamplighter lounge.
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Postby searock420 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:39 pm

In 08 I volunteered for Artic and was soooooooooo cool!
But I would'nt do it the first year,way too much to see
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Postby geekster » Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:46 pm

I will add my voice to those suggesting that you not volunteer for anything, or at least not for much the first year. Maybe deliver some mail or something. Or take it upon yourself to perform some needed function like bitching out camps for not having a mailbox.

Take some orange cones and a shovel and perform some vital street repairs. There's lots of things to do. But what I would suggest you do more than any volunteer activity is simply get out and interact with folks.

Then you will have a much better idea of what you might want to do and how much time you might want to devote to it. Many first timers tend to bite off more than they should have to chew.
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Postby capjbadger » Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:39 pm

lemur wrote:
capjbadger wrote:Come help out Lamplighters. We take anyone each afternoon. Just show up. Light the city! :)

-Badger


Lamplighters start doing work around 5pm.. yes, a clock will help to get there.

a little before 5pm people start working on the lanterns for the nights lantern hanging.... many hands helps this move quickly and the people around you can teach you what to do.. you can come and go at any time when helping at the tables.

if you want to commit to quite a bit more work show up around 5pm, get in line, near the white board sign up area, and if you got there early enough to have a spot youll be doing about 2-3 hours of work helping with the lanterns, being robed and walking around lighting the city.. when youre done it will probably be dark, youll be a bit tired but youll have done something cool...... it feels nice to look back at all the lanterns you just were a part of hanging.. and youll get a spiffy cool charm on a necklace to wear..... then you enjoy a drink in the lamplighter lounge.

Nice write-up Lemur. Thanks. :)

Yeah, as Ranger Badger mentioned, it's pretty laid back. Most other gigs you're commiting to the whole week. We just want you for a few hours. Bring your friends! :)

(Don't forget the Blood Mary Brunch and the Sangria Soiree!)

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Postby geekster » Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:55 pm

One thing that a newbie can do if they can stay on after the event is to help dig out the water pipes for the fire hydrants. The playa must be restored to its original condition so the laying and the retrieval of the pipes that help to keep us safe in the city is a pretty important job.

If you would like to help, it's pretty easy. Just report to the main DPW area on Monday post-event and let them know you would like to help take up the water pipes. They will likely be very glad to see you and you could be quickly on your way to a new adventure.
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Postby capjbadger » Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:57 pm

geekster wrote:One thing that a newbie can do if they can stay on after the event is to help dig out the water pipes for the fire hydrants. The playa must be restored to its original condition so the laying and the retrieval of the pipes that help to keep us safe in the city is a pretty important job.

If you would like to help, it's pretty easy. Just report to the main DPW area on Monday post-event and let them know you would like to help take up the water pipes. They will likely be very glad to see you and you could be quickly on your way to a new adventure.

I hear laying the pipe is a lot more fun... ;)

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Postby geekster » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:04 pm

Yes, but as that is done pre-event, it requires early entry credentials. Anyone can help take up the pipes and restore the playa.
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Postby capjbadger » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:20 pm

geekster wrote:Yes, but as that is done pre-event, it requires early entry credentials. Anyone can help take up the pipes and restore the playa.

Zzhhtttt.. "This is Capt. Badger and I'd like to thank you for flying Joke Airlines. We're currently cruising at 10,000ft and if you look out the portside windows you'll be able to see Geekster below as we go right over his head..." ;)

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Postby C187 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:50 am

Can you cook?
Do you do well as server?
Get freaked out by wearing cult like attire while playing the role of servant?
If you answered no, I hear First Camp is looking for impressionable minds!

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Joking aside, don't do shit but enjoy the burn (if you can) your first year.
But if you feel, feeeeeel the need to volunteer, stop by playa info (or whatever the place is called) to see about working exodus. You can do that as a first timer.
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Postby Risky » Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:14 am

Lamplighter training video -
http://vimeo.com/13841632
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Go Postal

Postby dapete » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:23 pm

Be sure and stop by the post office. They're always friendly and looking for virgins.
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Postby bluesbob » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:52 pm

Although I'm a virgin, I volunteered to be a Greeter. I had a good reason for doing so. But I haven't heard from them at all, so I guess I'll go do something else.
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Postby bluesbob » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:26 pm

Anyone need a pole dancer?
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Postby dr.placebo » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:00 pm

I'm going to be a slightly dissident voice here and say that volunteering is good even for the first year, as long as it does not get out of hand. I like Lamplighters, and Ice, and others. There is a volunteer station in center camp if you want to check out the opportunities. Volunteering is a great way to make connections.

And one of the best ways to volunteer is just to keep your eyes open and offer help where it appears to be needed. There's no requirement for it to be official.
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Postby 707 » Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:24 pm

You have plenty of time to volunteer while on the playa. I wouldn't stress volunteering befor you arrive your first burn. Just go and if you find you have time to volunteer you can.

the hardest thing is getting there.
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Postby junglesmacks » Fri Sep 24, 2010 5:20 pm

bluesbob wrote:Although I'm a virgin, I volunteered to be a Greeter. I had a good reason for doing so. But I haven't heard from them at all, so I guess I'll go do something else.


Lol..
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Volunteering for first-timers

Postby AlasPoorYorick » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:00 am

I understand the philosophy of just attending your first year, and I have vowed to let it all happen and to not make any plans so that everything is part of the adventure, but for some of us, volunteering for a few hours one day CAN be part of the experience.

In all the various rock concerts and events I have attended in the past, I always felt most comfortable working behind the scenes for at least some of the time I am there. I was also raised on the philosophy that one should give when no one is looking.

So ... aside from lamplighting (which sounds very cool, by the way) and delivering mail, how else can first-timers with no training or experience make a contribution? If one is planning on leaving Monday, for example, could first-timers help with exodus? Where would one go to sign up or volunteer if we have a few hours some afternoon?

What are the most important qualities folks desire of their volunteers? (Besides "lots of water" and "good shoes," I would imagine ...)
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Postby lucky420 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:54 am

you can probably volunteer at the ice places. Just go up and ask the guy with the megaphone...
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Postby Savannah » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:03 pm

You can find the volunteering link on the left side of the Burning Man home page, but here's a direct link:

http://www.burningman.com/participate/volunteer.html

Lamplighting is a fine contribution your first time out, if that strikes your fancy, since it requires no experience, just a willingness to show up and work for a few hours (cleaning and filling the lamps with instruction/supervision beginning at about 5pm, then donning the robes and walking the route, doing the actual hanging of the lamps). People always seem happy to see the lamplighters; I imagine that's pretty fun.

http://www.burningman.com/participate/lamplighter.html

Indeed, you'll want good shoes--and have your goggles with you. One year some friends of mine hung lamps in a whiteout storm.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:53 pm

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Re: Volunteering for first-timers

Postby dr.placebo » Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:00 am

AlasPoorYorick wrote:I understand the philosophy of just attending your first year, and I have vowed to let it all happen and to not make any plans so that everything is part of the adventure, but for some of us, volunteering for a few hours one day CAN be part of the experience.

In all the various rock concerts and events I have attended in the past, I always felt most comfortable working behind the scenes for at least some of the time I am there. I was also raised on the philosophy that one should give when no one is looking.

So ... aside from lamplighting (which sounds very cool, by the way) and delivering mail, how else can first-timers with no training or experience make a contribution? If one is planning on leaving Monday, for example, could first-timers help with exodus? Where would one go to sign up or volunteer if we have a few hours some afternoon?

What are the most important qualities folks desire of their volunteers? (Besides "lots of water" and "good shoes," I would imagine ...)


If you can plan ahead enough to select a shift then more opportunities open up. Exodus, Ice, Greeters, and other areas need to have assigned shifts to make sure that coverage is adequate. Spontaneous volunteering can be done, of course. Just keep your head up to spot a need (helping a neighbor set up, tear down, clean up counts in my book).

Exodus is great to work at, although it usually requires one to sign up for a shift, and to do so before the event. One can help set up the exit lanes, or help direct traffic, or other stuff. It requires training to be a flagger, but not for the other stuff.

My own mania is the Bureau Of Erotic Discourse, a small group that does education to reduce sexual assault. We always need volunteers, and we are flexible. Check the link or PM me.

What anyone wants from a volunteer is the desire and ability to do something useful, to hang in there when there are difficulties, and a bit of skill at getting along with others (solo jobs are kinda scarce).

I hope that this helps, and welcome to the dust!
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Postby Lord Of Ruin » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:42 pm

oneeyeddick wrote:I agree with what they say, just go without plans on your first year.

If you feel the need to help, just walk down the street you are camping on and look for someone that is having a hard time making something come together, and stop and offer to help them work on it.

They will love you for it , and you will make friends this way also.


Yup. My first year....took a little tool apron and had a knife, hammer, pliers, adjustable wrench and big zip ties. Set up your camp quick on opening night and just start walking.

By sunup you'll have helped more people than you can count...and made great new friends.

EAsy to do, on your own schedule and very valuable to the community.
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