The 4th Principle: Radical Self-Reliance
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
I’ve only had the pleasure of attending Burning Man once and I can definitely report that The Black Rock Desert isn’t f*ing around and neither are the people who warn us about its inhospitable environment. That said, most do come to “embrace” the dust once they learn how to respect it and survive it. I certainly recall shedding a small tear the day the last of the Playa dust appeared to have finally rubbed off my Burn boots.
In New Zealand, our Burn location is vastly different in many ways. However, it’s not completely unlike the Nevada desert in others. So, for this Blog post, we will be discussing what the Principle of Radical Self-Reliance is and why it is important to not only your personal Kiwiburn experience but also the experience of the wider Kiwiburn community.
Ah, The Paddock. What a gift! Nestled in the rolling Rangitikei countryside, along a revitalising river of the same name, hallowed with a shady forest, and an abundance of camping, infrastructure, and art space. For several weeks each year, we are permitted to inhabit this private land and create a temporal, physical manifestation of our community. With this allowance, this gift, however, comes some serious responsibility. Part of that responsibility is encapsulated under the Principle of Radical Self-Reliance.
There are many different inner resources that you will need to utilise and explore when planning for and attending Kiwiburn. Yes, it is true, you will be surrounded by fellow humans that will help you if needed; however, it is still your responsibility to bring everything to the Paddock that you will need for your survival, comfort, and enjoyment.
If you, and everyone else, manages that, we create an abundance: a state where everyone CAN reach out and gift, express, and connect with each other, because their own needs are met. In some respect, Radical Self Reliance is the cornerstone of all other principles.
Physical Self-Reliance – You and only you are responsible for ensuring that all your physical, essential needs are met (eg. food, shelter, water, medications, sun-protection).
Here are some handy tips:
· Each participant should bring (at minimum) 4 litres of water per day of attendance (Note: you will drink much more water than you usually do – I find I go through more than this!) There is no potable water available on site.
· Ice is available for purchase (it is the only thing available for purchase on the Paddock and it does sell-out on occasion). So bring cash money to buy it regularly!
· If you haven’t already heard (or maybe just don’t believe us), here it is again: The sun is no joke on the Paddock. Don’t ruin your good times by not heeding this advice and getting a nasty sunburn. Bring umbrellas, bring sunblock, bring hats, bring shade structures.
· Bring layered clothing options. It is cold at night and hot during the day. Be prepared for drastic temperature swings over 24-hour periods.
· Bring food. There is no food for sale at Kiwiburn. Plan thoughtfully about what food to bring. Nothing cold or fresh lasts very long. Bring meals that are easy to prepare and make little or no waste. (Note: Burn participants typically report that they feel about 30% less hungry than usual during a Burn, plan accordingly by aiming to bring just enough food and not too much). Focus on foods which won’t perish easily, to reduce waste and health risks.
· There is no coming and going from this event (unless it is a medical emergency or other special approval is granted). Bring everything you need for you (and your camp) with you – the first time!
· Bring any medications, contact lenses, inhalers, epi pens, creams, sunburn treatments, etc. that you may personally require while on-site. Bring a personal first aid kit or be sure that your camp has at least one shared kit on-site.
· Last minute supplies – shop local! The surrounding communities and townships appreciate the business we bring each year – and please don’t forget to be polite and gracious!
· Plan for bad weather. It happens. Plan for high winds. Bring extra tie downs and strong stakes.
· The Forest and River are for Awake & Alert participation only. Follow instructions around event borders, prohibited areas, safety suggestions, etc. Please don’t ruin others’ Burn by making us rescue you from a bad (and otherwise avoidable) situation.
Emotional Self-Reliance – You and only you are responsible for getting all your emotional support needs and desires met (eg. practiced self-support, good brain hygiene, peer support, identifying and using appropriate on-site support services).
· Locate (or learn how to identify) your sources of assistance upon arrival (eg. Black Sheep Rangers, Know Your Stuff NZ, general chill spaces, camps offering self-identifying talks/workshops/community support, The Medics, learn how to report to the Consent Committee, etc.) Use the Kiwiburn Guide provided on arrival to find out more about these resources and their locations.
· There is a lot going on all the time at a Burn. It can be very overstimulating for everyone. Thus, you may find that that friend you came with isn’t emotionally available for you in the ways you had hoped, around when you need them, or wanting to do the same things as you. This is when your practiced self-support needs to kick in. You are the only one responsible for your own happiness, your own-emotional well-being, and your personal enjoyment of the Burn. Take a step back, be mindful, be considerate of others’ rights to participate in the Burn in their own way, find something else to do, be kind to yourself.
· It is hard to truly enjoy a Burn if your brain is only showing up to the party in shattered pieces. It is also not safe. Practice good brain hygiene by knowing when to say no, knowing when you have had enough, not accepting substances you are unsure of, knowing when to take a break, have a sleep, and/or remove yourself from the party.
While the Principle of Radical Self-Reliance may appear, at surface-level, to be very focussed on the individual, it is actually critical to not only enjoying your own Burn but in order to provide others with the gift of enjoying their Burn too. For example, many Volunteers are trying to both to keep you safe and enjoy their own Burn experience at the same time. Each time someone ignores the Principle of Radical Self-Reliance, it takes away from another’s ability to enjoy their Burn. In certain situations, it can create even lasting emotional scars or trauma for others.
That said, no one is perfect, and we are all on our own, personal Burn journey. We learn from our mistakes and follow the examples set by others in the community. We grow and mature together, we help each other when in need, we find better ways to Burn together. So share this information with a friend and help to spread the good word on the 4th Principle.
For more tips and information on preparing for your Mythical Picnic 2021 Burn experience, check out these links: