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Volunteering in Burn2

How It All Works

Becoming a Volunteer

The roles and descriptions of volunteers are documented in detail on this page.

Some volunteer roles do not have any prerequisites, such as Stage Crew, Greeter or Fashionista. We are very grateful for the important contributions that the volunteers in these roles provide. Lead and co-lead volunteer roles require that the person must have volunteered at Burn2 main events for at least one year including one Octoburn. In addition to that, there may be other prerequisites outlined in the various department descriptions including those for progression to a co-lead or lead role.

Generally, volunteers learn more about Burn2 over time and gravitate to the departments or teams that interest them, and become more involved. Not all entry-level volunteer roles have an upward path directly, but becoming more involved in one’s area of interest will give one the experience to expand one’s involvement. In some departments, more involvement can develop into becoming involved in leadership.

After at least a year of events (with an Octoburn) a volunteer can talk to the group lead to express interest in a co-lead position. If the lead approves, the lead can discuss the proposed co-lead with the other leads at their next meeting. The leads will decide by consensus. If the leads approve, then the candidate becomes a co-lead. The same process takes place when a lead steps down, whether or not it is temporary, and a new lead is proposed. The rationale for this is that the leads need to be able to work together effectively, and to confirm there aren't any prior concerns to address.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer in Burn2, take the first step - register - then check out the Open Roles Board.

Event specific role openings will be announced to be filled when planning gets underway for an event. These roles may be stand-alone, in a team or within a department.

Examples of event specific roles include:

  • The Burn Team (Effigy Builder, Effigy Scripter) is a team, not a department, that is event specific because they create and burn the effigy that is designed specifically for the event, such as Winter Burn. (Note: For Octoburns, each year we ask a team of two people to build and burn the Man. These are Marianne McCann and Pygar Bu. If they are not available, then we seek expert scripters and builders to replicate the Man and burn him.)
  • Artist/Builder Liaison is filled when staffing permits. This role assists the Event Placement Lead by recruiting builders and artists, helping them understand the build guidelines, and get plot assignments to assist builders in locating their build spots.
  • Stage Crew are roles that are filled when staffing permits. They support the Performance Lead and assist performers coming to one of Burn2’s official stages by making sure they follow performer guidelines and have their stream in place when their set begins.
  • Greeters are the first people visitors meet at the landing point; they welcome the visitors and share information about the event. They report to the Greeter Lead who recruits, schedules and organizes their activities.
  • Fashionistas are Burners who assemble outfits that range from the ridiculous to the fabulous, from crazy to classy, according to the Burn2 event topic and perform a Fashion show.

The prerequisite for event-specific lead roles is simply volunteering in the regional for at least one year including one Octoburn event. This ensures at least basic familiarity with the events and how they are planned and implemented. There may be additional prerequisites such as those for the Burn Team - obviously it is desirable to have someone familiar with scripting, and with building for burns.

The roles and descriptions, including the progression to a department co-lead or lead role are documented on this page.

There is a distinction between year-round department leads and event specific leads. Department leads are those who lead groups that have roles within them that are active throughout the year, while event specific leads for events such as Winter Burn or Burnal Equinox.

Event specific lead roles are:

  • Event Lead - a stand-alone event specific role, not in a department. Communicates and clarifies the selected artistic vision and theme for an event and works with the Event Placement Lead on playa layout.
  • Event Placement Lead - a role within the Placement department, which handles placement duties for non-Octoburn events, like Winter Burn.

Becoming a department lead or co-lead can involve meeting certain additional criteria, or prerequisites, that are outlined in the individual department descriptions. For some departments, the prerequisites are simple; for others they are a little more involved due to the nature of the department’s work.

After at least a year of events (with an Octoburn) a volunteer can talk to the department lead to express interest in a co-lead position. If the lead approves, the lead can discuss the proposed co-lead with the other leads at their next meeting. The leads will decide by consensus. If the leads approve, then the candidate becomes a co-lead. The same process takes place when a lead steps down, whether or not it is temporary, and a new lead is proposed. Approval of a new lead will be over a space of three meetings if not all leads are present. If all available leads (excusing those not present due to temporary leave etc.) are at one meeting, a decision can be reached. The rationale for this approval process is to allow those who may disagree ample time to explain their concerns. Disapproval should be backed up by reasoning and evidence, and time given to attempt to reach consensus through respectful discussion. The rationale for this is that the leads need to be able to work together effectively, and to confirm there aren't any prior concerns to address.

Burn2’s department leads and co-leads meet regularly to coordinate preparations for an event or to resolve issues or questions. They provide continuity of knowledge within the department, and also guide the members on how their department interacts with other departments in the regional.

Co-leads are invited but not required to attend leads meetings and can attend in place of an absent lead. The contents of Leads meetings are not shared except for agreed-upon release of information to the community. Each department gets one consensus “vote”. After a consensus is reached on a topic, the information will be made public. This can be done by announcement via an agenda item at a planning meeting, through the website and/or in group notices. A consensus of the leads avoids confusion and makes sure that the information being shared is correct.

Each department may or may not have a manual outlining procedures that the leads and teams are responsible to perform and/or how they are done. This is up to the individual departments; the Burn2 Rangers have a public version of their manual on the Burn2 website, for example.

Leaving without giving some kind of notice adds to the burden on the community and on the leads.

Any lead who leaves abruptly, without giving the minimum of one month notice, will be ineligible to be a lead for one year. Exceptions are given for temporary leaves (hiatus) due to emergencies. In emergencies, a lead can do one of the following:

  • Let another lead know so they can inform the others.
  • Send an email or a notecard stating their situation to a Regional Contact or the Volunteer Coordinator.

For non-lead volunteers, it is a much appreciated courtesy to give notice to the department or team lead in order to allow the remaining team to take up the slack. Leaving suddenly or without notice places an added burden on the other volunteers in the team or department, especially during an event.

There is no need for an exit review process for all departing members, but a departing member or the Volunteer Coordinator can request one. The impact of any member's exit will always be reviewed by the leads and any necessary issues addressed. The leads will protect the privacy of the individuals involved and determine if any of the information needs to be made public.

Removal of a volunteer in any role is a serious matter. If there is a personal or interpersonal dispute with a volunteer or between volunteers, the person filing the complaint should use the Burn2 Incident Report Form.

First and foremost, Rangers are participants in the Burning Man and Burn2 ethos, perhaps explained best by the 10 Principles. From that foundation grows the ego-less helpful actions of a BURN2 Ranger.

Burn2 Rangers are traditional guardians of the shared values of the Burner community. They are empowered by the community to address concerns, mediate disputes, and resolve conflicts if they cannot be resolved by the participants themselves and, rarely, respond to non-consensual assaults (griefing). Rangers encourage both personal agency and a community of shared responsibility and assist only as needed. The 11th principle - Consent applies here, too. Members of the community need to exercise their right to say no, not only to touch, but also unwanted conversations or discussions. The role of the Ranger has been aptly described as "riding the edge of chaos."

A public version of the Burn2 Rangers manual is on the Burn2 website.

The 007s are a team made up of the most long-standing and highly respected individuals in Burn2. The identities of the 007s are confidential. The primary responsibility of the 007s is that they perform a final review on bans. They operate on consensus. All 007s are Ranger trained and use the Rangers FLAME process. They thoroughly discuss and analyze all aspects of an issue before deciding whether an avatar should be banned.

There are several reasons for which a ban may be implemented on an avatar. The most obvious of those is that the person presents a threat or has inflicted serious harm upon members of the community or presents a threat to the regional. There is no all-inclusive list of every thing that could constitute a bannable action, but a ban is such a serious thing that it is an action of last resort; the 007s recognize that a ban excludes an avatar from participating in any and all activities of the regional.

A public version of the 007s procedure explaining the role and responsibility of a 007 will be published on the Burn2 website after it is completed.

The Regional Contact (RC) serves in an advisory capacity and participates in consensus decision making with leadership.

The RC attends the Leadership meetings, provides communications between Burning Man Organization and BURN2, and plays a large part in the development of burner culture by providing information about Burning Man participation and important information.

The RC contracts with Burning Man on specific duties and contracts with BM to make Burn2's events “official” regional events, and encourages leads to create opportunities in their departments for participation and volunteer opportunities.

As a liaison between BURN2 and Burning Man Organization (BMORG), a Regional Contact passes on information and shares guidance from Burning Man Project. For example, an RC may encourage leadership to take some of the Burning Man HIVE courses which are freely available and contain useful guidance for individuals and teams.

Lastly, an RC can and does provide conflict support, mediation and intervention when needed.

More information about Regional Contacts, their qualifications, duties and responsibilities are on the Burning Man website.

"People out here build whole worlds out of nothing, through cooperating."

Larry Harvey

"Burning Man is like a big family picnic. Would you sell things to one another at a family picnic? No, you'd share things."
Larry Harvey

"We take people to the threshold of religion. Our aim is to induce immediate experience that is beyond the odd, beyond the strange, and beyond the weird.
It verges on the wholly other."
Larry Harvey
Radical Inclusion: Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
Gifting: Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
Communal Effort: Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
Decommodification: In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
Radical Self-expression: Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
Radical Self-reliance: Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
Civic Responsibility: We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
Participation: Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
Leaving No Trace: Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
Immediacy: Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.