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What Burning Man's 10 Principles Can Teach You About Building Community

Written by Gabrielle Wathen on November 29, 2018 at 8:55 AM

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Some people might be nervous to tell their employer that they’re jet-setting to the desert for Burning Man — because, wait, what is Burning Man anyway? The answer is not a simple one.  

A festival? Nope. A Mad Max-esque utopia? I’d say so. A party in the desert? Sure, but I’ll get back to that. The largest Leave No Trace (LNT) event in the world? You betcha. A new trend? Nope, this all began (on a much smaller scale) back in 1986 when friends Larry Harvey and Jerry James built an 8-foot tall human effigy and burned it on Baker Beach in San Francisco (population: 35).

The Burning Man organization has been an active community for 32 years and counting, and it’s a community unlike any other I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of.

Whether you’re a community builder or a community member, online or in person, I truly believe we could all stand to learn a thing (or ten) from how the Burning Man community operates. But I won’t lie – it’s incredibly daunting to write about. I don’t know a single soul who can confidently capture its essence with mere words, because it’s very much a “you had to be there” kind of place to understand. Alas, as your resident ‘Burner,’ I vow to do my best.

What is Burning Man? A Temporary City in the Black Rock Desert

At its core, Burning Man is a temporary city (with a population cap at 70,000 paid participants) that has forged a permanent community of people who are dedicated to celebrating creativity, self-expression, cultural differences, knowledge sharing, releasing social stigma, and so much more. All to create this massive, sustainable, eco-friendly, self-aware, amazing...experience, smack dab in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, for one week, once a year.

In the words of the Black Rock City Guide:

“Burning Man takes place in Black Rock City, a full-fledged, thriving temporary metropolis. Like any other city, it has essential infrastructure and community services — including city planning, emergency, safety and sanitary infrastructure — to keep it functioning.

These are primarily volunteer-created and run services, and provide just enough structure to support the survival of this civic organism — the rest is up to YOU.”

It’s not an easy place to get to, it’s not easy to get into, and it’s certainly not a walk in the park to leave (since what comes in with you, must go out – all of it). But the people that are willing to make the arduous journey do it because they want to be there, fully immersed in the community.

When the event is over the desert returns to its natural state, no trace to show of the bustling city that once was, and the Burning Man Regional Network works to play a vital role in the year-round extension of the Burning Man experience, supporting it as a global cultural movement.

Fun fact: If you go to the Burning Man organization’s ticket portal you’ll promptly be quizzed on your understanding of the event, in an effort to weed out misconceptions and boost clarity about participation.

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The Ten Principles: Clearly Define Your Community Expectations

When organizing a community, it’s important to clearly define what you expect from your members if you want them to be willing and active participants and advocates. Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey, who passed away before this year’s annual event, wrote the “Ten Principles” in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regional Network. According to the organization:

“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.”

The Ten Principles include radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy. Let’s dig into these guidelines and explore how you can apply them to your role in building and strengthening the communities you participate in.

#1: Radical Inclusion

“Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.”

If your knee-jerk reaction to the first sentence is, “Yeah right! Maybe ‘anyone’ with loads of cash laying around… not I,” I can’t say I blame you for making the assumption that you can’t afford it.  

Once upon a time, I thought the same thing. However, to be honest, the Burning Man organization’s Low Income Ticket Program opened the doors for my participation, accepting my application and awarding me a discounted ticket. According to the organization:

“We offer tickets at different prices to allow participants to support Burning Man at the price level which is most appropriate for them. Our highest priced tickets offset our lower priced tickets and ensure Black Rock City is a vibrant and diverse metropolis accessible to those with varied socio-economic circumstances.”

So, great news: this community encourages attendance from all different folks. When I made the assumption that the Burning Man community wouldn’t welcome someone in my financial situation, the organization proved me wrong. That was only the beginning.

Fast forward. When my friends and I * f i n a l l y * got to the gate to officially enter Black Rock City, another nod to inclusivity was the highly personal, high-touch nature of our arrival. We were greeted with such an attentive welcome by the volunteers running the gates. “Hi! Welcome home! What took you so long? We’ve been waiting for you, I’m so glad you’re here!” one girl said, before prompting us to get out and make dust angels (don’t get married to the idea that you’ll stay clean, they want to make that clear off the break). We exchanged hugs and warm-hearted welcomes and throughout the week I really felt as though the inclusivity, and thus diversity, of the community was palpable on the playa.

Wait… what’s the playa?

  • Playa: “The Spanish word for beach, also used to describe dry lake beds in the American west such as the Black Rock Desert.” (I.e. this is how participants refer to the event's desert landscape) 

Gabrielle Wathen _ www.higherlogic.com (4)

The product of this inclusive environment? When you bike around the playa and start talking to soon-to-be friends and neighbors, you are utterly clueless about the state of their finances. Imagine a scenario in which what you do for a living never comes up first in conversation. It’s a glorious change of pace and opens the floodgates for meaningful interactions with people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. I have learned so much from people I may have never crossed paths with outside of the desert, and I continue to engage with the community in various spaces online to further explore that growth.

So, how can this inform how we run and participate in our own communities?

Lesson: I’ll bring Albert Einstein in for backup here when he said, “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” Never discriminate. Celebrate diversity as a means of growth to strengthen your community, welcoming and treating each fellow member with equal respect, inclusion, and excitement along the way. Each member has something unique to offer.

In terms of finances, we don't always have the flexibility to change or lower our membership fees or product pricing. It's also important to remember not every member or customer has the extra cash for in-person events. This doesn't mean you can't provide value to everyone. You can still ignite a sense of inclusion by giving them access to a space like an online community that demonstrates value and makes their membership worth their while by allowing them to join you in welcoming new members, forging connections, contributing to discussions, and tapping into what they might have missed (live a live webinar or event recap, for example). 

Read: Building Inclusive Online Communities

#2: Gifting

“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.”

Let me be clear – at Burning Man, your cash is only good for commodities like bags of ice and coffee at Center Camp. Otherwise, the entire economy operates on this gifting notion. Prior to my first “burn,” research led me to believe that it was more of a bartering economy. That’s not what I found when I got there.

My friends and I made homemade jewelry, and I brought my Instax mini-polaroid camera to offer strangers photos as a gift (among other things), but never, at any point, did I give someone a gift and expect something in return, and vice versa. When you maintain this mentality, it is more rewarding than you could ever imagine. Last year someone gifted me a hand-scooped chocolate ice cream cone on day three. Let that sink in.

Can you imagine a stranger offering you a fresh ice cream cone and a smile in the middle of the scorching hot desert where you’ve been wandering for three days?! Magical. It was exactly what I needed, even though I wasn’t expecting it. A lot of other camps gift memorable experiences through their own art or knowledge. The possibilities are truly endless.

What people typically don’t do is gift you something that they haven’t put thought into. The meaning can be personal and situational, but when the shared intention is to gift something that is practical, thoughtful, or unexpected, it furthers the devotion to this act and strengthens the community.

Lesson: Incentivize your community to offer what they already have to each other, meaning knowledge sharing, mentorship, a really good story. Do your best to eliminate the “what’s in it for me?” attitude and celebrate what happens in its absence. If you’re using gamification in your online community or marketing automation to target your members and offer something to them, do it strategically. More on that in the next value…

Read: Motivate Members [Intrinsic Rewards That Actually Work]

#3: Decommodification

“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.”

You’d be surprised how immersive an experience can be in light of this value. Okay, so your community might not be able to nix advertising and sponsorships (for example, at Burning Man you are encouraged to cover up any sort of branding on your vehicles or otherwise to minimize the consumption of this, so you can see why people do not gift branded items unless they are branded in relation to the event itself), but bear with me here. I know this can be a complicated and controversial value on the playa, but off the playa…

This type of value is often important in perpetuating value. It’s not always about stuff, people – it’s about people. The Burning Man community could delve into this topic all day, but put simply:

“When we commodify we seek to make others, and ourselves, more like things, and less like human beings. ‘Decommodification,’ then, is to reverse this process.  To make the world and the people in it more unique, more priceless, more human. We are not objects, you and I.

We are not apps, we are not code, we are not commodities. Nothing that we are can truly be bought or sold, and we are more important than things. The principle of Decommodification is a reminder of that, and a challenge to bring that insight into our lives.”

Lesson: Balance is key. In regard to both gifting and decommodification, ask yourself: Are you offering something of value to your community that is unique or priceless? Or are you constantly bombarding them with sponsored ads and meaningless swag? You might be really excited to gift some fun branded swag to your members or implement gamification tactics in your community, but that doesn’t mean you should double down on that strategy or assume it will work every time. Are you treating your members like real people? How can you start?

Read: Proof You Can Design a Giveaway that Supports Community Growth

#4: Radical Self-Reliance

“Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise, and rely on his or her inner resources.”

When you come to Burning Man, you are expected to arrive with absolutely everything that you could possibly need while you’re there…and then some, for the community. Does every single attendee do this? Of course not, but the vast majority do. The person who opts to bring themselves to the middle of the desert with no resources, better known in the community as a “sparkle pony,” will get along just fine depending on others (due to the immense gifting culture), but may be frowned upon for failure to embrace this principle.

I’m talking water, shelter, a First Aid kit, food, beverages, LED lights (the desert is DARK at night), apparel to accommodate extreme and unpredictable weather, batteries, a bicycle (it’s a must), a bicycle repair kit (what if you get a flat?), a mask (dust storms are real), trash storage, the list goes on. Still, we’re humans, we forget things (20/20 foresight is a big ask).

In fact, my friend’s father who joined us this year (yes, Burning Man is family friendly) ended up with a flat tire on his Greaser electronic bike early in the week. Black Rock City is massive, and he didn't have the right repair tools on hand. So he got on foot to chat with neighbors and quickly found a fellow Burner who was a bike repair aficionado, happy to come over with the tools he brought (specifically for an instance like this) to fix it. Voilà!

Lesson: Make it clear to your community members that they are in the driver’s seat of their own experience. You can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do, but you can encourage them to get the most value out of your community by emphasizing the importance of preparation and participation. Empower your members to rely on themselves and the resources available to them to seek solutions within the community (for example, turning first to an online support thread to resolve a common IT hiccup that has been repeatedly discussed, rather than calling the IT department for a busy representative to tell you what you could have figured out yourself, likely faster, with a little effort).

Understand that this lesson applies to each of us, as community members, too. Show up for yourself, and you’ll be better equipped to show up for others.

Read: How Online Communities Ease the Pain of Tech Support

#5: Radical Self-Expression

“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.”

With a principle like this, it should come as no surprise that Burning Man is overflowing with artistic expression. Countless participants express themselves through extravagant art projects, workshops, costumes, accessories, camp themes, and bike decoration. Others might take on a “playa name” that suits them, rather than being called by their “default world” name (you know, the name they go by when they’re anywhere else in the world but Black Rock City).

I believe The Man (which burns the second to last night of the event) and the Temple (an incredibly beautiful and significant structure, built by volunteersthat Burners attach personal photos and mementos to throughout the week in the spirit of remembrance) offer supportive modes for other types of expression and creativity. Because, to me, radical self-expression can also peak in the form of emotional freedom, when we, as people, let our guards down.

Photo Credit_ Gabrielle Wathen _ higherlogic.com (1)

For example, on any visit to the Temple (pictured), you’ll likely notice people weeping inside. As a participant, you aren’t spectating, you aren’t judging, you’re presently reflecting, empathizing (and if you’re me, also crying). The best part? On the final night of the event, us Burners gather to watch our collective tributes to love and loss collectively go up in smoke. It ignites a compelling sense of connection.

The community’s support of this principle helps everyone participate in their own way – so at Burning Man, that can be crying, laughing, building, exchanging silent hugs of support, performing art, hosting an educational workshop, making friendly eye contact, wearing an outfit that expresses your individualism, you name it. The significance of this value to me lies in the abundant spirit of acceptance and encouragement when it comes to self-expression, and the diverse and encompassing authenticity that is born from it as a result. Give it a try.

Lesson: A thriving community has active unique participants, but everyone expresses themselves differently. Is there room for lurkers? It’s something every community wrestles with. Don’t try to mold your community members into who YOU want or need them to be, they joined your community for a reason, and they each have something unique to offer that will help your community grow. It’s your community’s job to be radically authentic in the experience and value you’re delivering, while fostering an environment that allows people to express their individual contributions in an honest and productive way.

Read: Do’s and Don’ts for Engaging Lurkers in a Community

#6: Communal Effort

“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.”

Like any other city, Black Rock City is made up of several (read: thousands) of diverse communities. Each camp is a community and social network of its own, working hard to produce and protect the unique experience they’re offering and participating in, all while striving to keep their members and visitors engaged, safe, and happy. This year, I had the honor of joining the Black Rock Roller Disco theme camp, an established community, in its 18th year on the playa.

Our camp consisted of nearly eighty people, mostly local to San Francisco, working all together to deliver a unique gift to the community – a 24-hour roller skating rink in the middle of the desert, complete with a sizeable rack of used skates, a free bar for visitors, and themed music and events throughout the week (like skate lessons, a roller derby competition, or our DJ’s throwdown for Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday, to name a few). Near the end of the week, I met one of the Burning Man co-founders who stopped by our camp to give a certificate to our founder David Miles, aka the “Godfather of Skating,” awarding us “Best Theme Camp” for 2018. As you can imagine, pulling this off didn’t happen on accident – it took a LOT of organization, preparation, communication, teamwork, shared responsibility, and communal effort.

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In the weeks leading up to the event, we all coordinated within a Facebook group and detailed Google sheet that served various purposes, including assigning each camper to a crew with specific responsibilities and shifts to work throughout the week. At the event, if one camper missed a shift, others willingly stepped in (kudos to all). Each member of the Black Rock Roller Disco showed up ready to work, paid camp fees to help fund the materials to build the skate floor, brought extra booze to keep the bar stocked at all times, and worked together as a community to welcome anyone and everyone to our camp and send them away with a smile and a story (celeb Nick Kroll even shared his story of visiting our camp on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert).

Our camp, like any other, had its hiccups along the way, but I think it was so successful because it consisted of a community of people who were willing to work together toward the common goal of delivering the best experience possible. Demonstrating communal effort at this camp didn’t just boil down to one area of need, it was all about:  

  • Accountability 

  • Organizing and delivering on tasks like finance and physical labor

  • Providing emotional support

    • Be it a hug, a smile, an ear, a fellow tear, a fresh perspective, a chocolate chip cookie (the ultimate mood booster)

  • Post-event community engagement

When all was said and done, the shared experience was incredibly rewarding, and we had a heck of a lot of fun.

Lesson: Give your community a home (online, in person, or both) where members feel empowered to actively show up for each other and contribute to a greater goal. When your fellow community members post questions, answer them. When they ask for help, offer it. When you can facilitate a valuable connection, like matching up mentors/mentees or volunteers, do so. When challenges arise, keep working hard and never lose sight of your community’s overall mission. Your people are your people for a reason. Recognize who your superstars are and foster those relationships.

Read: Community Empowers Brand Ambassadors

#7: Civic Responsibility

“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.”

While Burning Man is an incredibly freeing place, a common misconception is that it's a total free-for-all environment void of rules. Some key takeaways on this principle:

Laws

  • The Pershing County Sheriff and BLM are on site at the event to enforce all applicable federal, state and local laws.

Guidelines

  • Prior to the event, every participant is strongly urged to read the Burning Man Survival Guide online and download a PDF to their device for offline browsing and reference (as desert cell service is mostly nonexistent). It is dubbed essential for first-timers and veterans alike, and a print copy also comes with your ticket.

Events

  • When you arrive, you are welcomed with a book that details a serious variety of events throughout the week (it’s nearly 200 pages with an 11 category index)

    • On the first page, the Burning Man organization makes it very clear that they are not responsible for organizing or producing these activities, your fellow Burners are, so you should assume civic responsibility and self-reliance when opting to participate (ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety).

Census Participation

  • Participants are encouraged to fill out the BRC Census, which is one of the primary ways the organization tracks changes in the population, behavior, and attitudes of event participants.

    • This collaborative research project is the effort of volunteers who conduct random samples of Burners entering the event, then collect online survey responses, reminding participants, that, most importantly, “The Census is about YOU.”

    • Collecting and analyzing this data ensures that the organization is better equipped to meet the needs of the community, while allowing participants to learn more about their neighbors and what changes are taking place in BRC annually. 

By the time you’re really there, you know what rules you’re expected to follow. For example, if you built an interactive art structure, you know it’s your job to make it as safe as possible because people are likely going to climb all over it. If you choose to climb on said structure, you know that you assume full responsibility for yourself in the event of an accident (and they do happen, “safety third” as the common playa saying goes). If you show up to join a city of 70,000 other people traveling through the desert primarily on bikes, by foot, or by “mutant vehicles,” you know it’s your job to seriously pay attention, wear lights at nights, be safe and avoid collisions.

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Lesson (#1): Maintain a rule book. When members join your community, have them agree to your code of conduct or terms and conditions up front. Clearly define your expectations so there is no confusion about what a role in this community entails.

Of course, not everybody is going to play by the rules, so it’s the community’s job to hold its citizens accountable. It’s no secret that it’s our civic responsibility to vote on societal issues that impact our communities outside of Burning Man, so why should this community be any different? When the event is over, the organization continues to reflect, research, seek feedback online, and collect data on its members in a constant effort to protect and strengthen its culture.

Lesson (#2): Collect data, collect data, collect data. It is your responsibility to make a continuous effort to better understand your community’s members, impact, and future trajectory. Administer surveys and polls, pull and analyze behavioral data, and encourage radical participation. With better data, you can offer a better experience, whether it’s a desert event or an online forum.

Read: Member Feedback is Critical to Online Community Success

#8: 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.”

Since Burning Man is the largest Leave No Trace (LNT) event in the world, it should come as no surprise that the community prides itself on this massive example of shared respect and responsibility for the environment and each other. Without a strong commitment to sustainability and communal effort, how else could a city of 70,000 people leave no physical trace of their massive desert community? Black Rock City wouldn’t exist.

To break it down, Matter Out of Place (MOOP) is the term used to define anything not native to the immediate environment (litter, essentially). If you see MOOP, you pick it up, and you take it out. That’s right, there are no public trash cans in Black Rock City. You see, any MOOP that you bring in, create, or pick up while you are there, is your responsibility to leave with and dispose of properly outside of the event. Seriously, envision me and my campmates on our hands and knees in the desert heat dismantling a skate floor while making sure that no single piece of abandoned glitter was left behind (PSA: Do not wear glitter at Burning Man, please).

Once the event is over, the Playa Restoration Team meticulously sweeps the desert floor a final time and creates a MOOP Map with a color-coded legend to reveal who left MOOP behind and who truly left no trace. They hold participants accountable by making this map publicly available and denying future camp placement privileges to those who didn’t abide.

Lesson: Encourage your community to leave it in a better state than when they found it, even if its a community that exists solely online. How? Strive to leave behind only useful resources and comments that add value to the community, rather than littering discussion boards and forums with meaningless information for others to sift through. Hold members accountable for conversing with respect when using your platform and hold moderators and community managers accountable for revoking privileges and promptly cleaning up the conversation when someone doesn’t abide by the rules (trolls will try to win; stop them).

And please, for the sake of all humanity offline, pick up after yourself. Recycle. Try to minimize your carbon footprint.

Read: Moderation 101 [6 Tips to Help You Toe the Community Line]

#9: Participation

“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.”

How amazing would it be if every member of your community was an active participant? If they eagerly showed up for each other and said, “What do you need?” or “This is how you can help.” Burning Man’s culture has fostered an incredibly engaging and participatory spirit, and it really shows through the unique large-scale artwork and camp contributions. No one person could bring some of these ideas to life – it truly takes a village.

When you bike through the camps, it’s totally common to hear someone shouting from a megaphone in your direction asking you to participate in whatever experience or gift their camp is offering up. Let the party begin. Sure, you can smile and keep pedaling on your merry way, or you can stop, see what happens next, and maybe learn something new.

Imagine if someone encouraged you to:  

  • Stop and make fresh s’mores with them (they were melty and delicious)
  • Zipline from atop the 50 ft. structure their camp erected (first timer here, no regrets)
  • Ride your bike over the wavy looking ramp they built (I was almost victorious, then I fell)
  • Wander around the desert trying to deliver a stranger’s postcard to another stranger (apologies to “Cush,” I never did find you, but I made a lot of new friends in my pursuit)
  • Throw on skates and hit their camp roller rink (okay, I had the megaphone for that one)

The point is: when your community asks you to participate, even in potentially unfamiliar and unconventional ways, consider saying yes before habitually saying no. It might just be fun.

Lesson: The more you participate in your community, the more you stand to gain. Louder now for the ones in the back…this applies to everyone, in every community. Get excited about stepping out of your comfort zone – this is where the magic happens, where you learn and grow. Encourage your community members to volunteer, and don’t hesitate to lead by example. If you need help, ask for it. People can’t provide you with what they don’t know you need. You also can’t gain new insight from offers you don’t accept. Not only do you stand to diversify your skill set and forge new connections, but volunteering to participate in something greater than you is incredibly rewarding.

Read: How to Increase Participation in Your Online Community Using Social Psychology

#10: Immediacy

“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.”

Immediacy is an evolving and complex concept that can be incredibly powerful in practice, challenging and liberating each of us in different ways. If you don’t make a continuously active choice to be a present participant at Burning Man, to embrace each unplanned moment or encounter and allow it to guide you, you risk the magic of the whole experience passing you by (and in my experience, “playa magic” is definitely a real thing). Like life itself, the nature of the event is transitory, making each fleeting moment ever so worthy of exploring and celebrating.

If you spend the entire week with your smartphone in hand, searching for the nearest cell signal, trying to frame the perfect Instagram photo, avoiding eye contact with your neighbors, or denying new opportunities because you’re strictly adhering to a schedule you made for yourself on day one, most will argue that you aren’t embracing the immediacy and impermanence of the experience. That you’re depriving yourself of the rare opportunity to let your inner compass guide you, by not paying attention to what’s happening in the now.

For a veteran’s insightful perspective, check out Immediacy, Smart Phones, and the Death of Magic

Be present. If you dare to make plans, plan on them changing. For example, when you hop on your bike in the morning with an intention as simple as riding to the bathroom a few minutes away and returning promptly, you must embrace the fact that you might not make your way back for hours (really, it happens). Why? How?

Lesson: It all circles back to the power of the people, of the active participants in a community who feel empowered to engage with others in real time for the mere chance that they’ll experience genuine connectivity or growth. In my experience, practicing immediacy has the power to shake your world up, and it will, if you allow it. There are valuable lessons on the other side. As a human, consider making a conscious effort to be a present, self-aware member of the communities you belong to. Watch what happens. If immediacy isn’t the right course of action for your specific community, ask yourself: what’s the best mode of encouragement into action?

No Spectators, at Burning Man or in Your Community

If you are a spectator in your community, I challenge you to become a participant. If you made it through this piece, know that I appreciate your time. My hope is that you’ll walk away with a greater sense of appreciation for the Burning Man community and even the slightest uptick in inspiration to grow into the best community member or builder that you can be.

Interested in experiencing a taste of Burning Man’s principles, without hauling to the Black Rock Desert? Visit No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. before January 21, 2019 (ahem, another example of radical inclusion here, allowing public access to a piece of the experience). Call me biased, but I think you’re in for a treat. Enjoy!  

Read: Renwick Storytelling Day: The Art of Connection, Community and Change

“‘No Spectators’ is a long-standing saying on Playa. You are encouraged to fully participate. It’s all about being there, being fully present, and not just observing. Two of the ten principles of Burning Man are radical participation and radical inclusivity, meaning that there are no outsiders. Everyone is part of the experience.”

–Nora Atkinson, Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft

Gabrielle Wathen _ www.higherlogic.com (2)

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