|'Burning Man' Checklist: Two Essential Items Left Off Most Packing Lists|
|Friday, 10 August 2012 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
I got mothered right my first year at Burning Man. Otherwise, for example, how would I have figured out exactly what to take to Burning Man? Yes, it is helpful to have a packing and camping list—including mortally necessary protective items. But a veteran can also pass along knowledge of the taboos residents are expected to adhere to. That's why, your first time, you need a mother.
Below I will share a short list of necessary items and some important tips. Most importantly, I'll inform you of two essential items that are left off most Burning Man checklists.
What Is Burning Man?
Burning Man is a week-long intentional community of 50,000 (and ever growing) international (intergalactic?) residents who converge on a dried lakebed in the Nevada desert to become temporary residents of what becomes Black Rock City—a city with an alternative community design, which includes no commerce, no trash cans, no laws and no right angles. Yes, Black Rock City is circular in structure and you can't buy anything or advertise anything, differentiating it from more common music festivals wherein attendees (not residents) go from music stage to music stage, stopping at refreshment and merchandise stands in between.
The residents build an entire functioning city—with streets, speed-restricted vehicles and an airport that every year lands more than 300 flights without incident (as of today, more than three decades since its inception). All this without laws. Instead of laws, taboo rules the residents. There are certain things you just don't do because they contradict the taboo that the community enforces. You simply aren't a part of the community if you vandalize, steal, fight or litter.
Burning Man-Specific Art
People build roller-skating rinks, better-than-in-the-movies dance clubs, pirate ships, five-story teeter totters and costumes (or not!), including the most elaborate of harsh-climate attire you can imagine on Earth or anywhere else. All in the name of the Burn.
The Burning of the Man
The fire is the ritual that unites us all, and to me it is a shaking of the fist to the sky. Burning the Man is an exclamation to the universe that we know this life is fleeting. Instead of grasping, trying to hold on and creating a doomed community that is so afraid of dying that it overpopulates with forever-materials and right angles and ego-status icons, we will burn. We will burn what we love to the ground. We will dance and live and love this life and this art we create, and then we will set it aflame. We will let go of everything. We will die and we will live fully in the meantime.
But that's really just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, really… Burning Man is a book, it's a documentary and it's a planet unto itself. So the feeble descriptive paragraph above is a joke I told sitting at the bar in comparison.
The Virgin Burner
And now, this being my sixth year at the Burn, I am invested in my Black Rock City community and as much as I extend a genuine invitation to everyone on the planet to meet me there, I am noticing the community mothers are not doing their jobs. Virgins come in to the city and they know they need goggles, they know they need sun protection, they know to bring at least two gallons of water/day per person. That's all good and well. In fact, I'm pretty sure there is a thorough Burning Man checklist online somewhere doing that kind of mothering. [Here's a good one: The Newbies Guide to Packing For Burning Man. - Ed.] But veteran Burners, don't let our community down. Don't sit at your camp complaining because the new kids don't have personal solar panels for off-the-grid electricity and are falling over drunk, acting like dongs. Instead, help me mother them right.
Left Off Most Lists
1. Burning Man is about gifting first and foremost. The first question we mothers should ask our virgins is, "What are you bringing to gift away?" Each resident should bring 50 somethings to simply gift away at random during their stay. It does not matter if it is 50 handmade necklaces, 50 glow sticks, 50 shoulder massages or as I do: 50 apples. It is imperative to give when you are at Burning Man. After all, no one can purchase anything, so we must experiment with things being free. Even bartering is looked down upon—you don't trade an item for an item as if the item itself has value and you can trade for its worth. No, at Burning Man the human being has value and is worthy of gifts given randomly and without expectation of return. This may sound altruistic, but when you gift your items away, you will realize that there is no better feeling in the world and you have just in actuality gifted yourself a feeling of freedom. "So what are you bringing to gift away?"
2. Burning Man is a no-trace event. The only reason we’ve been allowed to create chaos, massive explosions and sound structures like this every year for more than three decades is that we’ve left no trace of having been there. Every year for 30 years. No bottle caps. No cigarette butts. No dirty water. After all, the pristine desert lakebed we are living on is a fragile eco-system and we all know what magick is held in the space of Black Rock City. Let our magick be clean, let our environment thrive and please let us come back year after year because we demonstrate that we know the implications and responsibilities of freedom.
These two items must be added to every Burning Man preparation list. Mother these ideas to your playa family. And I'll see you at the Burn!
[Sign up to be notified each time Tonya publishes a new Clean and Green Everyday blog entry on EcoHearth. See a complete list of writing by Tonya Kay on EcoHearth.com or visit her Clean and Green Everyday blog. – Ed.]
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