Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey, wrote the Ten Principles of Burning Man back in 2004 as guidelines for the famous annual gathering in the Black Rock Desert. 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.
We’ve listed all 10 but the one we love – natch – is “Radical Self-reliance.”
The 10 Principles of Burning Man
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. NOTE: Radical Self Reliance is a very important part of the Ten Principles. The Black Rock Desert is an arid, alkaline salt flat 3,907 feet above sea level. It is an extreme environment. There is no water, and no chance of finding food or shelter. To survive, you must bring everything: water, food, shelter and a strong constitution, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
At Burning Man, you need to be Radically Self Reliant. You need to be prepared for this intense, unyielding habitat. You must bring everything you need – and you must be prepared to share.
“Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.” Because of the event’s harsh environment and remote location, participants are expected to be responsible for their own subsistence. Since the operation forbids most commerce, participants must be prepared and bring all their own supplies with the exception of the items stated in Decommodification.
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.
Dust storms are common at Burning Man, so many come prepared with appropriate provisions, such as goggles and masks to reduce dust inhalation.