How It All Comes Together at unSCruz

The 2024 unSCruz production organization is a many faceted structure containing numerous production teams that work in coordinated and organized conjunction to put on one of the West Coast’s most well-regarded Burning Man Regional Burns, Santa Cruz’s own unSCruz. Have you ever wondered about the infrastructure of this event’s production? How is it all organized? How does the event come together? How does the volunteer structure come to be? 

The whole event is overseen by its board of directors who belong to, and exist as a non-profit corporate board under “SBC CA,” a 501c3 non-profit organization. The members of the Board are all festival participants and local Santa Cruz County burner-community members. Santa Cruz Burners (SBC CA) is the ultimate originating source of unSCruz. It gives birth to the event and sets up its basic business structure.

Once the event is set in motion, the unSCruz Board of Directors recruits a cadre of volunteer event producers who organize the festival further, using the structure represented by those previously mentioned production “teams,” each one of which is led by a team manager. 

Photo by: Jon Chown 2023

Once the event is set in motion, the unSCruz Board of Directors recruits a cadre of volunteer event producers who organize the festival further, using the structure represented by those previously mentioned production “teams,” each one of which is led by a team manager. 

Here follows a list of the current unSCruz production teams:   

Commissary – This team runs the kitchen where meals are prepared for the volunteer staff. Various duties include working with food and washing dishes. This team works hand in hand with the Fluffers team, which delivers meals and snacks to staff members and volunteers while they perform their duties.

Creativity Grants – This team accomplishes much in pre-production, where grant monies are given out to various artists and theme camps. Once the event gets underway, this team also helps to place the art installations on site, and helps with the Leave No Trace inspection at the end of the event.

Department of Mutant Vehicles a.k.a. DMV – All art cars and other artistically designed theme vehicles are processed through this team.

Department of Public Works a.k.a. DPW – The DPW builds and maintains any infrastructure needs of the event. 

Effigy – Another pre-production oriented team that designs and builds the “man” to be burned, or more accurately, the effigy of some sort of figure to be burned as the centerpiece to the Fire Conclave celebration on the Saturday night of unSCruz.

Fluffers – This team works very closely with the Commissary team to actually deliver the food prepared by the staff kitchen for the staff members and volunteers while they work.

Headquarters – All things related to the operation of unSCruz, from a staff standpoint, are directed from here. Lost & Found is located at HQ. 

Illuminaughty a.k.a. Lighting – They keep many areas of the unSCruz event well lit during the hours of darkness. 

Leave No Trace a.k.a. LNT – This team helps educate the festival goers about the Burning Man principle of “Leave No Trace,” while simultaneously manning the recycling effort across the festival site. They also manage and coordinate the Leave No Trace inspection at the end of the event.

Legal Team – unSCruz’s legal team of attorneys, lawyers and other legal professionals deal with contracts and other routine legal matters that any successful event may need to attend to. 

Lost and Found – The gatherer of all things lost, misplaced or accidentally left behind. 

Off-Playa Info – This team is all things information oriented. They disseminate information to the masses of the festival population and set people straight on whatever questions they have or missing information they need. They are also the keepers of ice.

Photographer – This team takes a visual record of the unSCruz event.

Placement – This important group now encompasses other formally separate teams, such as Gate Greeters, Ticketing, and Art/Camp placements. They are in charge of creating the physical location of all camps, art displays and other event areas, long before the event begins using modern cartographic tools and based on the accepted camp and art installation applications. They also ensure that once you’ve reached the front gate, they get you to where you need to go.

Rangers – Playa Rangers organization. Here is a wonderful description about the Burning Man Rangers:

Photo by Jon Chown 2023

Restoration a.k.a. Resto – This team is a post-event crew whose volunteer time does not begin until the festival is over. Their biggest responsibility is the post-event “moop” removal to help restore the venue to its pre-event status, or perhaps leaving it even better than the producers found it.

Sign Shop – The sign shop creates and maintains every manner of sign that can be found on site for the event. Much of their work is pre-production, but they are called on during the event to repair or replace signs that need some TLC or have failed all together.

Silent Disco – The after hours alternative to live sound is the silent disco and they keep the dancing going albeit in your headphones.

Social Media – This team does much in the off-season and production run-up to the event. They are also busy during and after the event. 

Stage Management – The team that makes sure everything runs as smoothly as possible on all the event’s stages.

unSCruz News – this team writes The Redwood Barks blog in which helpful blog posts (such as the one you are currently reading) are written about various aspects of the event and public service announcements for high traffic issues.

Volunteer Coordination a.k.a. “Volunteerism”– This team does a lot of pre-production information gathering so that when the call for volunteers goes live in March, each and every other production team has already submitted their volunteer needs to this group. The Volunteerism team then keeps track of all volunteers and their contributions to unSCruz from beginning to end by organizing volunteer signups before the event; coordinating volunteers and where they should be at what times during unSCruz; and maintaining a log of who has volunteered and how much. Should you have any further questions, please submit your query to the production team.

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