I’ve received a number of concerned emails from virgins over the last month. They heard about this magical place of acceptance in the desert and set out to make a pilgrimage. As instructed, they tried to learn whatever they could online so they could be “Radically Self-Reliant.” But along their path of digital research, they stepped into some online Burner dialogues thick with snark. Without knowing anyone and without the benefit of eye contact/body language/etc., the newbie gets the impression that this tone of joking disdain means that they are not welcome.
I try to let people know that Burning Man is not a love fest. It is a fertile ground for expression of every sort. It is a place for harmony and chaos. For cuddle piles and Thunderdome. For heartfelt expression and snarky insults.
And you are welcome there.
Admittedly, I am on the “sparkle” side of the spectrum (and I receive my share of disapproving snark.) So, yesterday I discussed the issue of Snark, Sparkle, & Radical Inclusion from my fuzzy pink perspective.
And here’s a fantastic (unofficial) Message from The Man reiterating that you are welcome in Black Rock City:
This is a re-post of my most frequently shared Playa video. Plus a new “10 Commandments of Gifting” at the bottom.
As people begin to check-off their pre-burn packing lists, many are puzzled by the same question: “What should I bring as gifts?”
But Gifting is about much more than brown paper packages tied up with strings. In fact, Gifting is one of my favorite things…
The (non-official) 10 Commandments of Gifting:
1) Gifting is a physical demonstration of Love.
“I want you to have this because it makes me happy to see you happy.”
2) Gifting dissolves separation.
When you Gift, you are breaking down the wall between me and you/ us and them. If you EXHCHANGE, then you are re-enforcing the separation. But to GIFT is to say, You and I are one.
When I understand the interconnectedness of all things, then Gifting helps to show that I cannot ever lose anything. If I gift you something, I am only transferring it from one part of the One to another. There is no loss and no gain. We are just shifting possession to an aspect of the whole that will appreciate it more. Think “Osmosis of Material Goods.”
3) A Gift can be ANYTHING.
It can be a song, an idea, a massage, a sculpture, a compliment, a sticker, a shoulder to lean on, a wet-nap, a walk home, or a hug.
4) Gifting eliminates hoarding and creates abundance.
When we allow ”stuff” to flow more fluidly between one another, ALL stuff becomes an available resource to ALL people. Gifting breaks down attachment.
5) Gifting helps dissolve the Ego.
When we become less connected with owning and having stuff (even our skills and talents) then we identify less with our physical selves. We take less credit for things and less blame. Who we are becomes more about our divine seed than our story or physical form.
6) Gifting breaks the commerce paradigm.
Traditional commerce = an even exchange. You get one, I lose one. You pay one, I earn one. Sum total = Zero (0). But in a gift, You receive the gift (+1) AND I feel good for giving the gift (+1). Sum total = Two (2).
7) Gifting releases the flow of energy between people.
We are hardly even aware of the energetic walls that we maintain to hold on to our stuff and keep out yours. The more we gift, the less those barriers hold.
8) Gifting opens up the world.
Making a habit of gifting allows you to see every interaction as an opportunity for increased Joy – even if there is no benefit to you specifically. If I have something (a bite of food, a word of support, a warm hat) that can make your life better, then I can make MY life better by helping YOU. That means there are billions of opportunities in every moment to make the planet more joyful. On the other hand, if the only way to increase joy is by helping out my specific individual self, then the opportunities are few.
9) Gifting is never required.
A feeling of obligation cancels out the Gift. (This type of “Barter” exchange is often confused as gifting.) But if you expect anything in return – even the elimination of guilt – then the magic of Gifting has been compromised.
10) EVERY interaction can be seen as an act of Gifting.
These views are solely the views of Halcyon and do not represent the opinions of The Burning Man Organization.
Jungle Jim in front of the Morris Hotel (YouTube screen capture)
If you’d like to see Burning Man’s 10 Principles in action in the real world, just head down to 4th Street in Reno, and have a look at the Morris Hotel. Recently purchased by Jim Gibson (aka Jungle Jim on the playa), The Morris will be the first Burner hotel in the world.
Communal effort, radical inclusion, radical self-expression, gifting, civic responsibility, participation, leave no trace, immediacy — they’re all here in spades, and in a way that makes for an inspiring alchemy.
The hotel boasts 43 rooms, each of which will be designed and decorated by Burner artists. There’s a back lot for fire performers to practice and hone their craft. There are hopes of establishing a community garden to support the local homeless population. And of course, as happens with Burners, there are a slew of other ideas percolating. While the hotel is technically open right now (and will be hosting a small number of international Burning Man artists before this year’s Burn), Jim hopes to have it all spit-and-polished by the end of the year.
They have a long way to go, but Jim sure seems like the kind of guy — together with the incredible Reno community — to make it happen. Jim says he’s fallen in love with Reno and its artists, and we suspect that love will not go unrequited. We’re excited to see how this experiment unfolds.
Here’s a video from Ky Plaskon, where Jim talks about his vision for the Morris Hotel:
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the Burning Man regional event. By working with authorities to override a long-term population cap, Burning Flipside organizers have successfully rewritten the rules!
Photo by Mark Kaplan.
In order to increase the event’s capacity, State regulations required Flipside organizers to provide potable water, daily trash service, trash receptacles, cups, napkins, lighting and other services. But Flipside is a Leave No Trace event based on personal accountability; participants are expected to bring in everything they need and pack it out when they leave (sound familiar?).
The vast majority of large-scale events and festivals do provide trash cans, based on the assumption that attendees are not interested in picking up after themselves. Leave No Trace events like Burning Man and Burning Flipside have a different ethos. The latter trust that community members are not only perfectly capable of cleaning up after their own wild rumpuses, but that they feel satisfied and self-reliant as a result of doing so.
We come together, build something amazing, burn it to the ground and then pick up every last cinder. It’s an achievement we’re proud of, and it’s part of what defines us as a community rather than merely an event. We do it because we respect the land and the right of others to enjoy the land once we depart.
Incorporating trash services would change the very nature of what Flipside is about and Austin Artistic Reconstruction (AAR), the organization running Flipside, wasn’t willing to subvert the community’s values just to sell more tickets.
Faced with a choice of either going against our community’s values by providing trash cans, or limiting the population, AAR did what they had to do:
In a lecture at Stanford University on January 14, 2011, Fred Turner (Associate Professor of Communication) discussed his opinions on the social phenomenon of Burning Man and how he thinks the ideals of the festival apply to the marketplace that is evolving in our society, specifically in the Silicon Valley.
It’s a fascinating talk, filled with interesting insights … watch for yourself, and share your thoughts in the comments below:
In the middle of all the physical and metaphorical dust storms, The 10 Principles keep the beautiful chaos on track. Some are pretty clear, like “Leave No Trace.” Others are more tricky to get your head around. As a long-time Burner, I am sometimes asked to clarify or explain the Principles as I understand them. Read the official explanations here, and then check out my thoughts in the video above.
These views are solely the views of Halcyon and do not represent the opinions of The Burning Man Organization.
This “adjusted” list of the 10 Principles of Burning Man was written by Melinda Green for the 2012 Boston-area regional, where I understand they were part of an art exhibit.
They’re funny enough to repeat. So, with Melinda’s permission, I present (just in time for Burning Man’s Global Leadership Summit): the 10 Principles – as we really live them.
Remind you of anybody you know?
We want to show you how welcoming and open we are as a community, how much we accept and love everyone. Oh crap. We don’t want all these people here.
Only one letter separates gifting from grifting. R you in? Everyone loves getting things from others, so do as little as possible and take as much as you can at all times.
Sometimes, all of us want things manufactured and/or sold by corporations who offend our sensibilities. When this happens, just steal. And then remove or conceal any identifiable branding so none of your radically-inclusive friends will know you like new items with brand names. Read more »
In a recent Io9 article, futurist Jamais Cascio says that Burning Man “is often the ‘default’ scenario for tomorrow’s culture among many futurists.”
It’s taken a over 25 years for a small organization to build an annual event that attracts some 60,000 people, and they’re still struggling to build a non-profit cultural movement out of it … but now there’s a group of “visionaries” who consider the culture we’re building together to be the “default scenario” for the future of mankind.
Hey look, everybody: we’re inevitable!
I suppose that’s a compliment. But … hey, what kind of future is that exactly anyway?
“It’s one of ‘expanded rights,’ with mainstream acceptance for everything from gay marriage and group marriage, to human-robot romances and even more unusual relationships. It would also involve ‘acceptance of cultural experimentation, and the dominance of the leisure society [where] robots do all of the work [and] humans get to play/make art/take drugs/have sex.’”
Are we sure that’s us?
The writer’s sure, going on to compare the “Burning Man default scenario” for the future with Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”
In some ways, this vision hasn’t changed much since Aldous Huxley wrote about a hedonistic pseudo-Utopia in his 1932 novel Brave New World. Freed from necessity, humans can experiment with new kinds of social arrangements and turn life into a game.
Is that really what we’re like?
It’s hard to tell, at least going by the things Burning Man is compared to. Which is to say, just about everything. Read more »