2018 After Burn Report Tapping the Dream Tree

The Gateway Burn 2018 (“Tapping the Dream Tree”) was held from June 7 through June 10, 2018 in Belle, MO. This is the third consecutive year that Gateway was held at this site – Water Mountain, a Burner owned venue – and we will likely return next year.

I. Tickets and Attendance

A. Once again, we utilized BurnerTickets.com as our ticketing system. Matthew Hand has made this valuable resource for our community that removes many headaches for many regionals. Even with our experiments in tiered tickets release (and the growing pains that come with such an experiment), BurnerTickets.com was accommodating and efficient.

B. We sold out. Gateway has capped ticket sales at 500 for the past few years. This is the first year that we sold all available tickets.

C. Ticket Experiment. Largely due to the limited size of our community, Gateway is consistently struggling with finding enough volunteers to cover the shifts necessary to successfully produce the burn. As such, for the past two years we have been experimenting with ticket release as a method of assuring volunteerism.

1. In 2017, we initially released only 300 of the 500 available tickets. With that release, we made it clear that the other 200 tickets would only be made available if we were able to fill 75% of volunteer slots for the Safety Departments (Rangers, Medics, Sanctuary, Principles Office). This experiment was wildly successful as we did fill those slots and were eventually able to release all 500 tickets. However, this process did nothing to address the continual problem of people not showing up for their shifts. So while we had all shifts covered on paper, we were still scrambling to cover necessary shifts onsite at the event.

2. For 2018, we attempted a different experiment. Following the lead of some other regionals, we attempted a tiered ticketing system — Tier one was for those that have volunteered in the past 3 years, Tier two for those that are volunteering this year, and Tier three for the general community. This experiment did not work very well – partially due to our oversights but also partially to an inherent flaw in this type of motivation.

a. We limited Tier 1 and 2 to those that volunteered within the past 3 years. This is mainly because we don’t have accurate records of who the volunteers were prior to 2015. As such, many long-standing community members (and founders) were unable to get in on the first Tier (as they have been enjoying their well deserved retirement).

b. We also limited Tier 1 and 2 to volunteers. Those that volunteer at least 2 shifts for official Gateway Departments. Many integral community members tend to participate in non-official methods – Theme Camps, helping the landowners prior to the event, art. It was our oversight to not include these categories into the top two Tiers. However, we were able to work with any such community members and make sure our essential community members were able to attend.

c. This experiment did nothing to help our primary concern – making sure that the Safety Departments were at least 75% full. We had particular difficulties filling Ranger slots this year. (More on Ranger organization below).

d. It is undetermined whether this experiment had any effect on volunteers actually showing up for their shifts. We are working with department leads to determine that impact and make a plan for 2019. 3. From these experiments, it seems prudent to abandon the Tiered system and reinstate the process of releasing tickets incrementally based upon volunteer numbers. Further consideration is being given to the question of making sure volunteers show up to their shifts.

D. Attendance: We currently do not know the actual attendance. That information was mistakenly placed in our storage locker and has not been retrieved at this time. Most estimates suggest that attendance was the same as in the past couple of years, so between 430-450.

1. Note that the 500 tickets sold and the estimated attendance does not include Burners under 13 years of age, as they don’t require a ticket.

II. Theme/Effigy

A. As mentioned above, the Theme this year was “Tapping the Dream Tree.”

  1. “What are dreams? Who can we tell them to? How do they branch out, take root, blossom, hibernate, get reborn? What happens when a community and the world shares and taps into a tree full of dreams?”

B. Effigy — From the initial artist description: “…Based on the concept of a banyan tree, a place in many cultures that is sacred, holds the spirits of our ancestors or lives to come; is to be revered, sometimes feared, and celebrated. It is a tree that springs from a central core and can plant numerous roots, then spreads and grows from each new addition, taking on new life and direction with every branch. The singular becomes a grove. As both this tree and our dreams are multifaceted, there will be areas of differing dreams.”

1. Gateway prides itself on interactive, social, well-constructed, and beautifully burning effigies. This tree was no disappointment.

a. The interactivity and social nature of their effigy were amazing. Multiple climbing locations, multiple hang-out spaces, a cuddle pit, hammocks, art of all sorts, Sharpies for tagging. There were a number of scheduled events that took place on the effigy (a classical guitar performance, a “Bohemian Rhapsody” sing-along, A treasure hunt, etc)

b. Construction was, as always, astounding. The build adhered to Gateway’s high standards of being well conceived, planned, and executed. It was estimated that the effigy could hold 65 participants.

c. The Burn was beautiful and safe. Some flame effects were utilized to experiment with color. The structure fell with elegance and precision.

d. The only negative was that this was a particularly wide effigy, which necessitated a particularly larger perimeter. Being that our site is limited in available real estate, this perimeter required some participants to move their camps prior to the burn. No future effigies (on this site) will be any wider than this.

III. Art

A. Gateway began to overhaul the Art Grant process in 2018 in an attempt to increase the amount, quality, and diversity of our art.

1. We revised the Art Jury process so that Burners make up the majority of the jurors. In years past, we had default world artists who rejected funding projects that failed to meet their rigid definition of art. Gateway is willing to expand that definition.

2. In total we spent $6,343.46 on 21 Art Projects that ranged from a water wagon (for hydrating participants) to a 20 ft tall propane powered flaming windmill.

IV. Department Experiments

A. Concierge – A merger of three previous departments: Gate, Greeters, and Parking.

1. This reduced the amount of volunteers and infrastructure needed. Thus providing access to those resources by other departments.

2. Streamlined participants entry experience.

3. This was a success. We will continue this in the future.

B. LEAL (Zebra) – Inspired by BurningMan’s LEAL team, we created a team to reach out handle all interaction with Law Enforcement, Emergency Services, and neighbors.

1. The team communicated with local Law Enforcement prior to the event to establish a relationship as well as provide a direct line of communication for any issues that might arise during the event.

2. The team communicated with Law Enforcement when they did follow up on a noise complaint during the event.

3. The team followed up with Law Enforcement post-event and have now established a relationship built out of mutual respect and understanding.

4. We will keep the LEAL team. However, we will be restructuring departments so that this will be under the umbrella of Ranger.

C. Effigy Burn Management — We created a position to oversee all aspects of the effigy burn — rangers, sandmen, perimeter, effigy team, FAST, timeline, fueling, safeties, fire procession, burn, clean-up. This was incredibly helpful and will be expanded next year.

D. Junior Rangers – We began a process to allow our burners under 18 to get more involved in significant volunteering. Experienced Burner kids were allowed to shadow their parents on Ranger shifts. There were about 5 such junior rangers this year.

1. We are reaching out to other regionals to see how they have approached this idea and intend to expand the concept. V. Principles Office — The Principles Office is Gateway’s department for investigating threats to the safety of our community or violations of the Principles. Generally, the majority of their work involves consent violations, accidents, and education. There were four minor incidents that have been resolved to the satisfaction of all involved. There were zero reports of sexual assault!

VI.Other Issues

A. We had significantly more RV’s this year. Unfortunately, our land is not well suited for a large number of vehicles of their size.

1. Discussions and plans are in process to determine sizes and numbers of RVs that the property can accommodate. As well it has been decided that on-site water will not be available for RV usage, therefore participants will have to arrive with their water tanks filled so as to not stress the landowner’s water supply

B. We were graced by the presence of a gaggle of Beekers (the muppet). Five such Beekers terrorized our field and brought mirth and joy for all. Performance Art at its finest. They even competed as a family in “The Burner Family Feud.”