by Jax Watt
This is not an article written by a purist. If anything, it is written by an enthusiast – a Burner who has embraced the 10 Principles and is singing it from the rooftop. I’m a long-time Burner, and the Principles shouldn’t be anything new to me. But they feel like they are. Especially after really looking at them, thinking on them and researching what other Burners have said about them.
One Burner article actually said, “Burning Man is one of the most
culturally transformative events of our generation. Its [34-year] run may eventually outstrip Woodstock in defining and revolutionising our postmodern culture”. As a practising anthropologist, I don’t disagree.
Our Burner culture is unique and ground-breaking. It’s also growing. People who have never been to a Burn embrace the key elements of the social movement. Regional Burn events like Kiwiburn occur in all corners of the globe. It has spawned many side organisations including the humanitarian aid group Burners Without Borders (BWB). The Burning Man
non-profit project even helps cities and their Mayors implement the 10 Principles.
It’s clear that Burner culture has the capacity to be implemented in any culture, such as work or corporate environments and the general business world, in communities and even in the athletic and sport realms. The value and strength of the Principles is in their ability to be interpreted across contexts and cultural environments. Burning Man has no beginning or end.
Burning Man has a mission – to “facilitate and extend the culture that has been issued from [Burner events] into the larger world”. Everything Burning Man strives to do is focused on making the world a better place –
one piece at a time. The 10 Principle themselves have been praised for facilitating creative collaboration and innovation, improving the culture of groups and organisations and offering a clear ethical stance and code of
practice for numerous organisations and groups of people. They help to improve the reputation of organisations by providing a clear commitment to ethical practice, providing a foundational structure from which to build policy and guide social interactions from. We have the opportunity to further embrace these 10 Principles as a guide to fostering better community environments and human interactions. Remember, they’re our Principles!
I feel a few eye-rolls coming on even as I sit here writing this, so I must also strongly point out that yes, the Principles are open to interpretation; that said, they are no stand-alone Principles that can be used to suit your needs as you want them.
They are being misused and misrepresented by some in the Burner community. For example, the Principles are not an excuse for you to act however you want, when you want. Likewise, the Principles are not an excuse for exclusionary and anti-social or anti-community behaviour. They are interconnected – you cannot use one without understanding how it is linked to the others.
Again, I’m not a purist. I’m an anthropologist. My skills and intentions are aimed at improving and strengthening our community after a population explosion that has placed our general values and principles in a shady area (not always seen or understood, and not always embraced). Kiwiburn
and Burning Man are not just your typical festival. Some argue they are not festivals at all – they are an event, a culture. They are “an experiment in temporary community”. They are a social movement. They are a revolution.
In 2020 I am bringing a series of community talks to the Paddock to help Burners embrace our culture and the 10 Principles. These talks are aimed at presenting you with more than what is offered on the websites. It
results from months of academic inquiry and each talk has been developed to strengthen our regional corner of the earth and give Burners the tools to use our Principles and our cultural values both on and off the Paddock.
Come see me at Centre Camp at Kiwiburn 2020. Schedule of talks here.
Be the change you want to see in the world – embrace the 10 Principles!