What's your history with burns and the Leave No Trace team?
I've been involved in burner culture for a while. I was part of a theme camp at Kiwiburn in 2009 & 2010, then part of large-scale art projects at Burning Man in 2010 and 2011. Having been exposed to the chaotic beauty of burner "do-ocracy" methods, I was keen to carve out my own path with my local burner community, wherever I was. From 2012 to 2017 that was in Australia.
At Seed 2012 I was on crew (pre-event Gate and DPI). After the burn, I noted that some MOOP was left at a couple of theme camp sites and Hippie Tim, The Karl and I went out and MOOPed it up. A few weeks later at a burner potluck, I bitched about this to Brad Ogden who was the DPI Lead that year. He looked at me and said in that very burner-like way, "sounds good – you should totally do something about that. Want to be the LNT team lead?"
I kinda walked into it, really.
I missed the burn in 2013, but in 2014 I organised a team with Elle Tiffen as my 2iC. It was a pretty ragged bunch. In 2015 we were a little more organised. 2016 never happened. In 2017 I had two 2iC's, Elpi and Nat, who were massive LNT protagonists. 2017 was super-organised and I was really happy with how things were going, so I figured it was time to hang up my MOOP-stick and leave the space open to someone else.
What skills/experience did you have that helped you succeed in the role?
The 2011 Burning Man stint was Kitchen Lead for the Temple crew. This was probably the best experience I could have to be able to form a crew elsewhere. I learned how to bring together a disparate and varied crew of people from all over the place and create a team spirit, something to bind us together with a common goal and motivation. It was pretty satisfying to see everyone getting stuck in, backing each other up, and filling in all the holes.
I've also worked in bar & restaurant management, so similar team building experience helped, as well as rostering and scheduling.
I also ran a small business as a massage therapist where I had to do all my own marketing, so I had learned how to leverage social media to get out LNT messaging and create some simple marketing assets like signage and internet memes. I am also kind of geeky and had figured out how to use Google My Maps to create and spread the MOOP Map.
Finally, having good physical fitness and enjoying the outdoors & being in nature helped me stay sane when I was out walking the lines after the burn!
What was the most rewarding part of the role? Some of the key highlights?
Definitely the 2017 post-burn sweeps. The number of community crew volunteers was off the charts and we had a rad bunch of burners get together. We smashed out the MOOP sweeps inside of two days and I got to take my crew down to the river for a swim with a few beers as fair reward. My 2iC's and I had worked really hard to get us there and seeing it all pay off was super rewarding.
It also looks pretty decent on my CV to say I was Leave No Trace Team Lead at a major outdoor Australian festival for four years for a team of up to 24 volunteers. I've had employers quiz me about it and be pretty interested in the team management and planning skills.
I want to take a second to pay credit to the other teams who enabled us -- Crew Wranglers, Yum Yums, DPI, and Engine Room to name a few. Y'all kick ass!
What were some of your key challenges in the role?
Definitely the number of community crew volunteers. In 2014 we had six people sign up before the burn, and zero showed up afterwards. We had to make do with whoever was around and I ended up doing most of the hard yakka.
In 2015 we had twelve sign-ups and six show up. Better, but still a bit demoralising. I was lucky to have some good quality help.
2017 we had sixteen sign up and – get this – twenty-four show up, due to burners signing up during the burn itself. So, the biggest challenge has been crew recruitment and retention. The more we have, the easier the job. Now the Crew Wranglers have their Part!c!pat!on Stat!on at Centre Camp, there’s a place for people to sign up onsite so we can get the numbers we need to get the job done.=
Other challenges have been organising our messaging. That is, planning and scheduling when we put out MOOP related messages through email, print media, and social media. We really could have benefitted from some more solid direction there. Education before the burn means less MOOP for us to pick up!!
Complete a crew registration form to apply for the LNT Team Lead role, or to become part of the LNT crew.