Burning Man started in 1986 when Larry Harvey and some of his friends gathered at Baker Beach in San Francisco. A wooden burning figure was part of the celebration from the beginning.In 1990 the authorities in San Francisco had seen enough and Burning Man was moved from the beach to a rather different environment, the middle of a dusty desert named Black Rock Desert in Nevada. What started off as a personal celebration among friends has turned into an annual gathering of some 70 000 people.
Our late co-founder Larry Harvey said in a recent interview with Financial Times: progress comes from struggle, shared with others, towards some common goal, it doesn’t come from love per se.
Read more about Burning Man at burningman.org.
The 10 principles
Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regional 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. The principles are the very foundation of the organisation and you are expected to read, understand, reflect and comprehend their implication on your own and other people’s actions.
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 (LNT)
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.
Burning Man, as life, is full of contradictions. What defines the experience is the attitude one takes towards it. One thing is certain: places like this do not exist in large numbers, and once you get the hang of it, you might just fall in love with it.