These ten principles represent the elemental values and ethics of the Burning Man community. They were written in 2004 by Larry Harvey, one of the founders of Burning Man, to guide the development of the regional network.Above all else, they were written to reflect the culture of Burning Man.
Knowing and following these principles is crucial to join the community, because they largely determine the way of being and behavior of burners.
While some burners follow these principles almost religiously, others do not hesitate to debate their possible interpretations, or even challenge them, viewing them as now obsolete. This shows just how dynamic the community is, and how Burning Man culture is constantly growing.
1 – RADICAL INCLUSION
The Burning Man community accepts and respects everybody.
All are welcome and all welcome others. There is no prerequisite in joining and participating in the community.
2 – GIFTING
The practice of gifting is important at Burning Man.
Any donation or gift that is made there has unconditional value. They are made with no expectation of return nor exchange for something of equal value. A gift or donation may be material or not.
3 – DECOMMODIFICATION
Our community refuses all forms of business and trade, commercial sponsorship, and advertising.
This decommercialization aims to accentuate the pure participative aspect of the experience, and the practice of gifting.
4 – RADICAL SELF-RELIANCE
All are aware and in charge of their own subsistence.
Burning Man encourages people to discover, experiment, and lean on their internal resources.
This radical self-reliance implies arriving at Burning Man sufficiently equipped, in terms of equipment, water, and food.
5 – RADICAL SELF-EXPRESSION
Each individual is invited to express themselves according to their talents and the projects they wish to execute, whether they be creations, artistic projects, or any other kind of experience, so long as the rights and liberties of others are respected.
In return, everyone remains free to establish their own boundaries, and take part in the expression to the extent to which they are capable of accepting.
6 – COMMUNAL EFFORT
The event is cooperative and collaborative.
Each individual is encouraged to help others and actively participate in the construction of the event and the different projects.
The organizers contribute in the production, promotion, and protection of this communal effort in the public space as well as social networks, through communication that encourages interaction.
7 – CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY
Civic society is highlighted. Members of the community who organize events or activities must take on the responsibility of public well-being, and make sure that participants are aware of their civic responsibilities.
They must also ensure that local, state and federal law is followed.
8 – LEAVE NO TRACE
Our community respects the environment and commits to leaving no physical trace of its activities.
Each individual is responsible for preserving the space that accommodates the event.
The participants clean the premises afterwards, and if possible, leave them in even better conditions than they were when they arrived.
9 – PARTICIPATION
The Burning Man experience relies only on the participation of each inidividual. The organizing committee simply provides the basic infrastructure.
Everything else is built by the community, and depends on the community only. Burning Man is neither a festival nor an amusement park.
Each and every one is asked to build, make suggestions, and play. None must remain a spectator only.
10 – IMMEDIACY
Be in the present moment, here and now. This principle is an invitation to open up to the immediate experience and go beyond our own limits, to get closer to our deep self.
A common game at Burning Man illustrates this principle well: you are asked to draw three squares on your arm – the rule is that you are only allowed to refuse a suggestion three times over the course of the event.
Each refusal leads to an “x” in one of the squares. Obviously, no one will ever make you go beyond what you are comfortable with. In reality, this game invites you to let go, and go with the flow.
THE 11th PRINCIPLE
An 11th principle is sometimes added in some regional events: consent.
The Burning Man Project does not officially recognize it as a principle. It seems that this value is quite present in North American culture, which would explain why they do not deem it necessary to add it as a guiding principle within the community.
In practice, it is systematically implemented at Burning Man, sometimes even to the extreme, and your consent will be asked for multiple times during any activity involving nudity or sexuality.