The 29th annual Burning Man festival held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada has just concluded in spectacular fashion. This year there were an estimated 70,000 participants from across the globe, each wanting to experience this once-in-a-lifetime combination of culture and art.
In 2004, Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey proposed the ethos of the Burning Man festival. To achieve this, Harvey compiled the following 10 main principals which I’ve depicted via imagery. This possibly explains a rationale as to why the Burning Man festival continues to grow each year.
“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 organise 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.”
For outsiders who have only seen imagery of amazing artwork and the happy faces of the temporary residents of Black Rock, who knew such a deep philosophy was at the heart of the festivities? I sure didn’t, but I can see the attraction. Obviously next year’s 30th annual Burning Man festival will certainly be something to keep an eye out for.
Images via businessinsider.com, allnewshd.tk, theatlantic.com, ignitechannel.com, eventerprise.com, alexinwanderland.com.
Kim is a writer and SHESAID's resident psychologist. A self-proclaimed tomboy who understands more about relationships and men than she ever will about glitz and glamour. Follow Kim on Google+.