Every year up to 48,000 people gather in the Black Rock Desert, in Northern Nevada to celebrate an experiment in temporary community know as the Burning Man Festival. Burning Man as is it known today started in 1990 as an artistic event featuring temporary sculptures meant to be burned and situationist performance art. The burning of a man shaped sculpture the weekend before Labor Day highlights the festival. Since 1 or 2 day passes are not available, a trip to Burning Man requires plenty of planning ahead. It is an experience that is meant to be survived as much as experienced.
Burning Man is a commerce-free event and the only things available for purchase are coffee and ice. These are both sold in the Center Camp at the center of the Burning Man Festival. Therefore, it is imperative that you bring all your own basic necessities including food, water and first aid materials. A shuttle from the campsite to the local store is available for a $10 fee, but the stock at the store is minimal. It is recommended that you bring a bicycle for easy travel between camps and earplugs since there are no sound restrictions. You will not be allowed to enter if the staff feels you are not properly prepared for a week in the desert. Electricity is scarcely available so plan using a generator for those of you with an RV.
Burning Man is based on the celebration of 10 core principals. The principal of Radical Inclusion allows anyone to be a part of Burning Man. The principal of Gifting promotes the value of a gift as unconditional. The principal of Decommodification seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. The principal of Radical Self-reliance encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources. The principal of Radical Self-expression states no one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. The principal of Communal Effort values creative cooperation and collaboration. The principal of Civic Responsibility encourages event organizers to assume responsibility for public welfare. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws. The principal of Leaving No Trace demands people clean up after themselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave places in a better state than when they were found. The principal of Participation states that we achieve being through doing. And finally, the principal of Immediacy seeks to overcome barriers that stand between people and the recognition of inner self, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers.
By far one of the most unique and life affirming events in United States, the Burning Man Festival is a must do task for anyone seeking to broaden their scope on the world. Just remember to bring plenty of sunscreen.
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