Gift Economy

One of the most radically different things about Kiwiburn and Burning Man culture is the gift economy. In most other festivals you will find a market-place where you can purchase greasy food and the kind of clothing you don’t normally wear to work, but at our festival we have to provide our own greasy food and strange attire and if we want we can bring more to share around.  The only thing you can buy at Kiwiburn is ice, which is sold as a community service so that people can keep their food cold during the festival.

Some people get confused by gifting and assume that it is a barter economy. It isn’t. When we give things away, we are not necessarily swapping or expecting things in return. we give because we want to. The appropriate response is gratitude – not guilt!  Other people immediately think “oh… what can I bring to give away?” assuming that you have to bring something to give. In this instance it is better to widen our view on gifting. You can give a hug, or give someone a hand to put up their tent. You can share your art, your music, your radical self-expression, your sage advice.

In order to easily gift, we need a surplus. Some people have access to building materials or excess food. Some people will bring the things they no longer want and participate in our passive-gifting market-place: The Revolving Washing line, where items of clothing and other odds and ends move freely to people who do want them. This is not a direct swap situation. There is always a sale: Everything Must Go!

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