Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
For many people who are active in the burner community year round, the giving never stops.
From artists to event producers to DJ’s, they gift their time and skills so we can have events that are fun and amazing. For people who love what they do and do what they love, the gift is it’s own reward.
Many others bring gifts to events, from homemade items to gifts of food and drink. They are not exchanged, but given unconditionally, and often cherished unconditionally. When, after building a man, burning it and dancing your ass off around it, you find Guerill’d Cheese at 2 am, you cherish that sandwich.
GIFTING, The Burner Principles were created relatively recently as an attempt to share the core values of the Burn community as it grew beyond That Thing in the Desert to encompass an increasing number of regional events. Like the principles themselves, the concept of a gift economy is a relative newcomer to Black Rock City. Though conventional commerce has been strictly limited since the old days, there was one time when barter was commonplace. This practice has since fallen out of favor, in part due to encouragement from the BMORG who were facing the possibility that thedefault world would impose itself on the playa through sales tax and other legal entanglements.
Virgins often expend much effort worrying about what gifts they will offer the community. Although swag is welcomed, especially items imprinted with the Burning Man logo, the best gifts are those which arise organically in the moment when one participant perceives a need they can satisfy. Gifts are not always lasting objects — food, drink, and physical labor are just as common. When Burners help build aneffigy or erect a shade structure they are giving a gift; so is anyone giving rides on their mutant vehicle or doing a Ranger or Greeter shift. The gift economy is the reason the playa provides, serendipitously helping Burners find what they need when they need it.
This principle extends to a spirit of generosity found throughout the lives of Burners, reminding them to share what they have and to ask when they are lacking. Despite a limited number of paid employees, Burning Man would not exist without its volunteers and most regionals remain entirely based on volunteer labor. Though most will go far to help those in need, Burners who have accumulated the most whuffie tend to receive the most assistance in reality camp.
From Kit O’Connell’s amazing Burner Lexicon! http://kitoconnell.com/writing/lexicon
- Halcyon’s Tips & Tricks #6 – “GIFTING” – YouTube
- The Gifting Economy @Burning Man – YouTube
- Advanced Gifting: Why Not Adopt a Burning Man Virgin?
- Gifting the Seed of an Idea – Burning Blog – Burning Man
- Gifting food/drink – NV health permit required?
- Burning Man – Gifting | LoveLiveGrow
- The Burning Man Ethos: Gift Economies On and Off the Playa