Why do over 50,000 people gather every summer for one week on one of the most inhospitable deserts in the world to gift each other with their own radical individual expresssion while cooperating in community and, when it is over, leave no trace?
Co-Founder Larry Harvey:
“Real community issues out of shared struggle to survive. Not just kumbaya and love.”
“The gift has a power to generate a new kind of wealth. The gift flows through people. It has enormous power, not only to create serial communion but to generate resources.”
And what would it take for us to move towards the organically emergent Burning Man Ethos in our daily lives?
From an interview with Larry Harvey . . .
Host of Europe’s “The Sharing Economy:”
“Burning Man is “the gift economy in action for a week. Because there is no money.”
“Easily 80% of what happens is provided by participants, as a gift to everyone there.”
Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regionals Network. They were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception.
Larry Harvey: “The principles are not prescriptive. They describe the actions, and the feelings that emerge from action. Ours is a community that is notoriously anti-authoritarian. Autonomy is big on our list . . .
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
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.
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.
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.