2017 Admin Hub

The YOUtopia 2017 Admin Hub was comprised of 4 departments:  Communications Department, Media Department, Please Department and Volunteer Coordination Department.  Each department under the wing of the Admin Hub performed certain specific tasks in order to maintain and manage the flow of information, resources, people and data.  For purposes of this report, the Hub Lead role and each department will be highlighted to include the respective department’s mission and to highlight successes and opportunities for improvement going forward.
2017 Admin Hub Lead Mission:  The Admin Hub Lead provided administrative, contract administration and risk management (insurance) support for the Producers, Logistics Hub, Safety Hub, and In & Out Hub of YOUtopia.
2017 Admin Hub Lead:  Cassy
2017 Successes:

  • The Admin Hub Lead was new to the role in 2017.  As such, there was a steep learning curve but things went fairly smoothly.  Department leads were kind and understanding to the number of questions and learnings that occurred.


  • In 2017, a new Google email system and Google drive were created in order to capture all communications and information for the event into one place, owned by the San Diego Collaborative Arts Project (SDCAP).  In the beginning, it was somewhat difficult to get some department leads to use the email created specifically for each person as it was habit to use their personal email. But, through repetitive process and reminders, by the end of the season leads were using the correct email. This ensured that the YOUtopia proprietary information owned by SDCAP is contained in the systems owned by SDCAP.


  • Outside of the monthly all-leads meetings, in order to ensure the success of each department under the hub, the Admin Hub Lead conducted monthly meetings with the leads of each of the respective departments under the hub.  The meetings created a synergy and flow of information.  After each meeting, there were action items for the leads and, for the most part, each lead handled their tasks efficiently.


  • Each department under the Admin Hub Lead did a great job in 2017 and were often self-managed. There was not a lot of hand holding.

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • Throughout the season, often there were staff/leads changes but such information was not shared with the Admin Hub Lead. Additionally, at times the Producers did not seem to be on the same page regarding a staff/lead issue.  This created administrative issues for the Admin Hub Lead.  Going forward, there could be improved communication.


  • In past years there was one Admin Hub Lead for all departments. This year the Admin Hub Lead role was divided.  This year the Content Hub had their own admin as the Content Hub requires heavy information management. Additionally, there were certain departments that were previously under the wing of the Admin Hub which were altogether eliminated.  Further to that, the other departments supported by the Admin Hub did not really utilize the role in a manner that was anticipated by the new Admin Hub Lead.  As such, it is the opinion of the 2017 Admin Hub Lead that the role was not really utilized in the most efficient manner. As a result, there may be opportunities for the role to be re-visualized or for other departments to be educated on the opportunities and availability of assistance.  Alternatively, perhaps the Content Hub should not have its own admin and the role should be centralized as in previous years or perhaps the ‘general’ role eliminated altogether and each department can handle their own administrative tasks.


  • Communications Department and Media Department as separate departments: Maybe not?   Being new to the Admin Hub Lead role there were some ways of doing things that did not seem logical.  There seemed to be a disconnect between the 2 departments but, in reality, they should be more collaborative and work together.


  • Leads Binders: Why?  Each year, a binder for each department lead is made to use at the event.   There is so much waste not only from the amount of printed paper but also the monetary factor due to purchasing plastic binders (each year) and printing out the information (each year).  A lot of leads don’t even look at the binders or the lead only uses a couple of items in the binders.  There simply has to be a better way.  In this electronic age, there should be some sort of way to get this information into a system that can be accessed by an offline phone.


  • For unknown reasons, certain vendor contracts were not buttoned up early on on the season. In addition, there was misinformation or unshared information.  This created communication issues.  More importantly, it created problems from an insurance standpoint as certain insurance was not obtained until the week of the event. This was a totally avoidable problem as the Logistics Department and the Producers should’ve known what equipment was needed based upon previous year’s information.  For future years, it should be a requirement that all required vendor contracts are negotiated, finalized and signed before Burning Man.

Department Mission:  The primary mission of the Communications team is to spread the word about YOUtopia as an official regional Burning Man event by promoting and encouraging Burning Man culture in the form of the 10 principles of Burning Man.   The Communications team accomplishes this task by utilizing various social media outlets and e-mail list blasts to promote YOUtopia, the 10 principles, YOUtopia art grants, ticket sales, and much more.
2017 Communications Department Leads:  Nicole, Matt and Pei J
2017 Successes:

  • YOUtopia 2017 was gifted with a brand spankin’ new website, thanks to the efforts of two San Diego community members, Tim and Cecile. The beautiful new website was a key element in promoting all aspects of YOUtopia in 2017.


  • This year the Communications team was fortunate to have a lead (Matt) with social media expertise.  Thanks largely to Matt’s efforts, all of the 2017 YOUtopia Facebook posts contained fun and informative information about YOUtopia. In order to entice and satiate the new and veteran YOUtopians, the YOUtopia Facebook posts not only contained very informative general information, but also participatory teasers, inviting YOUtopians to share favorite experiences, share favorite costuming photos and even play a video game (designed by Tim and Cecile) to delight and invite players into the mad world of a power-hungry-gone-mad YOUtopia Producer who refused to consider “Taco Space Cats” as the theme for the 2017 YOUtopia event.  Additionally, the Utah regional event, Element 11, generously granted permission to allow the YOUtopia to embed E-11’s 10 principles videos into the YOUtopia Facebook page.


  • As a direct result of the Communications team’s efforts, YOUtopia realized an increased reach on social media based on a well thought out social media strategy.  In combination with well timed social media posts in conjunctions with email, Tier 1 tickets sold out in record time:  2 hours!  Additionally, Tier 2 tickets sold out in 2 days!  YOUtopia 2017’s lightning quick ticket sales created an energy and excitement not previously experienced by a YOUtopia lead’s team.

Opportunities for Improvement:
One of the biggest challenges each year for the Communications team is to create fresh content about YOUtopia. It is very important to the Communications team and the event itself not to over saturate the public with posts about ticket sales as “sales fatigue” is a real thing.  It is also important to the Communications team to promote acculturated participation at the San Diego regional. In order to accomplish this task, it’s necessary for other YOUtopia departments to share their knowledge and content.  As such, it would be extremely helpful if content submissions from other YOUtopia lead’s teams were timely submitted to the Communications team. Ensuring that the public is made aware early on of information about theme camps, awesome opportunities like art grants, volunteer opportunities and other general information details are really key.  That said, under no certain terms is the Communications team saying this year’s need for content 411 was a total bust, but a more concerted effort to coordinate the information early on is something to strive for in future years for the Communications team.
Department Mission:  The Media Department is the visual documentation department for YOUtopia and captures the magic of the event through photography and/or videography. Through the efforts of the Media Department volunteers, the community is able to see YOUtopia from “behind the scenes” as the event is built by amazing volunteers and also the beautiful displays of artwork on the mountain created by YOUtopians. The Media Department also has the responsibility to archive media shared by the community and to address and educate the community about photo consent matters.
2017 Media Department Leads:  Brigid and Sammie
2017 Successes:

  • Media ran pretty smoothly on mountain this year.


  • This year Media was allotted a Kubota from noon to midnight on Saturday.  The use of the vehicle, even for the short amount of time, improved Media’s productivity.  Media used the vehicle time to go on 2 art tours (one during daylight, one after dark) with 2 different groups of volunteers.  Doing it at different times allowed to get both day and night photos of the event.


  • Media collaborated with the Fire Safety Department to cover the conclave show on Saturday night. Collaborating with the Fire Safety Department worked great and should be implemented/coordinated in coming years.

Opportunities for Improvement:

  • Due to some miscommunication between the Media Co-Leads there was confusion about who was/was not volunteering for the Media team.  Additionally, the Media Co-Leads were unable to go over expectations with the Media volunteers as the volunteers didn’t show up (even though an email was sent out to the volunteers with a date, location and time on site to meet up and discuss).  Lastly, 2 volunteers dropped out last minute leaving only 3 volunteers, and one of the remaining volunteers shattered a camera lense on Friday night rendering them unable to use their camera for the rest of the event.   Future Co-Leads for this department should communicate more often prior to the event in order to ensure they are on the same page regarding volunteer management.


  • Although the Media team was thankful for the use of the Kubota, the team only had it 12 hours on Saturday, which made it difficult to take pictures of everything.  If a vehicle had been made available for more than one day (say 2 days for 12 hours) Media would’ve been able to get more variety in the collected media.


  • Thankfully the Media team received a list of the granted art from the Art Curation team; however, it was difficult to locate all of the granted art. In the future, the Media team and Art Curation team should partner at least twice on-site (one during daylight hours and one at night) so that all of the granted art is documented.


  • There were 2 unapproved drone flights. After both incidents were reported to Media, a search commenced for the operator(s) but no one was able to find the drone operators.   Going forward, Media should regulate drones just like Burning Man and make the community more aware of how the process works so that we reduce the possibility of more rogue drones.


  • Although photo/video consent did not seem to be a problem this year, Media should continuously educate the community about consent/photo consent guidelines. There should never be a time when to stop reminding people they need to get consent before taking a video or photo of another person.

Department Mission:  The primary objective of the Please Department is to take care of the hard working department leads and volunteers during the event.  The Please Department is the bringer of good news and smiles!
2017 Please Department Leads:  Kara and Keno
2017 Successes:

  • Please Deparment volunteers roved around the event and made sure event volunteers were fed and hydrated.  Please Department volunteers also did their best to help keep volunteers in good spirits.


  • One of the jobs of the Please Department is to send Please Department volunteers to fill in the gaps for short-staffed departments. This year the Please Department provided more than 15 volunteers to other departments in need.


  • Coordinated well with other departments to send official “floater” volunteers as needed.


  • It is also common for the Please Department to perform random tasks to support the needs of volunteers. For example, this year Please Department volunteers drove another volunteer to the gas station and back as their vehicle ran out of gas during ingress.


  • This year the Please Department operated for more hours than in past years.


  • Based upon prior years information, this year the Please Department increased the pre-event comfort products.


  • Coordinated well with Commissary to deliver extra meals to volunteers for lunch and dinner.


  • Coordinated well with onsite coffee/ice sales to pick up and deliver ice as needed.


  • Overall, the Please Department more effectively covered the entire span of the event.

Opportunities for Improvement:
YOUtopia provides an on-site Commissary in order to feed on-shift volunteers and all event Leads.  Often there is leftover food from the meal service.  Although there was better coordination to deliver the leftover food this year, the process could improve so all or most leftover food from the Commissary could be delivered to on-shift volunteers.  Otherwise, food that is thrown away results in a waste of community funds.
Department Mission:  Without volunteers, we couldn’t make this wonderful event happen!
As such, the mission of the Volunteer Coordination Department (VC Department) is to recruit, manage and allocate YOUtopia volunteers.  The VC Department somewhat functions like an human resources department to ensure ensure every department is staffed, communicates en masse to the entire volunteer pool with mission critical updates, tracks volunteer attendance, hours and performance.  The VC Department also collaborates with the Ticketing Department to issue volunteer tickets.
2017 VC Department Leads: Kim and Sarah
2017 Successes:

  • In 2017, the VC Department recruited and allocated 400+ volunteers across 20+ departments (managed by 40+ dept leads).


  • This year the VC Department expanded its offerings to the leadership team and volunteer pool. In July, the VC Department held a Volunteer Fair to expand outreach to local burners who weren’t previously involved.  The Volunteer Fair was a big hit and we sourced lots of enthusiastic newbies!


  • In August and September 2017, the VC Department leads facilitated training for the leadership team on “Giving and Receiving Feedback and Rewards & Recognition – in the Burning Man style” (we were inspired by pods at the GLC).


  • From the administrative side, the VC Department made huge improvements to data collection and reporting.  The VC Department leads streamlined information down from 30+ Google Drive files to about 5 files for the department.


  • At the event, the VC Department created signage and written instructions, which eliminated some volunteer positions. By doing so, everyone who worked had meaningful work to do.  Additionally, this increased the ability to reward volunteers through special pins reserved for rock stars who went above and beyond.

Opportunities for Improvement:
As we were new to the role of being VC Department Leads, we were unaware that not all Leads utilized e-mail or the Google drives created for event administration management.  Additionally, this year we purchased volunteer management software which was not properly utilized by all department leads. As such, it was almost a waste of community funds.  The lack of email knowledge or use came as a big surprise to us.  As the event grows, we believe it is important to utilize tools created specifically for volunteer management and we would like to see future Producers require that all department leads not only be required to use email and Google Drive, but also the volunteer management software. It really needs to be mandatory, not optional.   Finally, there needs to be a better system for issuance of volunteer tickets.  We believe that the VC Department and the Ticketing Department should coordinate early on in 2018 to figure out a more efficient system regarding volunteer ticketing.  Presently, all the systems we have in place for both of the expressed concerns get the job done, but they’re inefficient and frustrating for a lot of people.