After my recent, intense experience at Burning Man, I am remembering what helped build community (communal effort being one of their 10 principles) at our camp. Two of my playa friends said they really miss the “tribal atmosphere” and I certainly agree. There’d be nights where a village would begin howling like wolves and everyone picked up. If you are looking for a thriving community, read these ten points below for ideas to create coherence and intimacy with them.
“Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.” -VIA website
- MEETING : It takes effort to consistently maintain a large group of people, but when you emphasize the importance of a meeting and demand everyone show up, that helps. Gatherings are like huddles before a sports game- you go over the group’s to-do list quickly while motivating everyone to do their best. When people have a job assignment, they are more likely to feel embraced, which is another one of BM’s 10 principles called radical inclusion. In the beginning, strangers are always given a chance and opportunity to work with integrity.
- COOKING : Eating at this event was very healing because the chefs at our camp loved food. We already began interacting during build week as a neighboring camp’s food delivery was dropped off although no one had arrived yet! Myself and two guys covered the goods with whatever tarp we could find and moved it under the back of a trailer to protect it from the sun. Just seeing all the ingredients for future meals made the labor worth it. Also taste becomes accentuated while sensual people with accents describe having “this experience.”
- DOING LABOR : Setting up sleeping areas, shade structures, entertainment constructs, energy and water sources is physically demanding. On a positive note, even inside a steam bath while you are healing, repair people can be coming and going which makes for interesting conversation. Just holding a body part or ladder for somebody else helps them feel safe. Delegating infrastructure is empowering for women who do it better [yes? oh yes]. I absolutely loved constructing hexayurts, metal domes, military canopies, kitchen tents and dance floors.
- COMMUNICATING : Different cultures have different forms of radical self-expression, but we can all agree that language is non-verbal, too. There are times when you make eye contact [“interact, please”] and times you don’t [“give me space”]. This is why communication is an art form and doing it positively is something to continually develop. What we can do in new environments is give uplifting feedback. Say “thank you for [this]” or “I appreciate [this about you].” It’s called consent when you ask someone first, “can I give you a compliment?”, thus helping others to feel nurtured and respected.
- PHYSICALLY TOUCHING : Although uncomfortable at first glance, there are situations where you’ll have to rub elbows with others. You might get injured, need to hand over some tools or feel like giving/receiving hugs. Most human beings crave touch because -let’s face it- the older generations where pretty hardcore: no holding hands in public, no kissing people with mono, no nipple revealing during massage. We’ve also been traumatized by the predatory behavior of Control Groups [hello conspirators]. We’ve failed to prove ourselves to families with no eyes to see and no ears to hear. If anyone these days requires a cuddling, tell them to go to Burning Man and find out how natural that is. One guy walked his bike next to mine in hot pink donated shorts and asked if I wanted to be held after a quarter hour of small talk.
- ADORNING EACHOTHER : Who doesn’t want to be styled then sprayed with rose essential oil? One burner said this was her twenty-year secret that kept her young. Some of the best conversations happen when you are combing another’s hair, painting faces or sharing makeup tips. This is certainly liberating for people coming from corporate backgrounds who just want to be children for a day.
- ACTIVE LEARNING : Planning ahead of time for your tribe develops the mind. Although my friend retorted, “there are too many chefs [leader types] here”, taking responsibility for the creative learning aspect of a group makes it more multidimensional. Imagine looking at a booklet with 1400 workshops available for you to participate in, for free, at your own leisure, within nine days. Being active in these scenarios also means doing what is asked of you by the teacher, while knowing you have the freedom to leave at any time. It doesn’t mean standing around staring at people free themselves, hitting on your unsuspecting co-workers or lurking while others sweat in the sun.
- BODY CLEANSING : A low-cost showering method uses hanging solar bags and a pulley system. With over 100 people, showering with your friend to save water in the desert on a limited water supply is part of that structure. [How fun is that?] Furthermore, this implies you may see a few naked souls. Getting the taboo out of naked body visuals is so crucial for modern-day Americans who have repressed their own connection to their own private parts, at least according to several Europeans I had exchanges with. Listen to me speak more about this in my recent YouTube video, Conscious Dating.
- PARTYING : It’s a bit tricky to compose a blog article on how to party, so remember the saying “work hard, play hard.” The statement really holds true, with people from all different economic and cultural backgrounds. I believe this is one thing that unites us as humans when we escape the stress of world.
- SLEEPING NEAR OTHERS : Being in close proximity to people with their own tents is intimate. You will probably hear new things. You will probably end up astral traveling with one another for weeks. Even though I learned it the hard way, the importance of resting and making yourself vulnerable is dutiful and so is putting yourself out there with people you might never expect to rise in love with.
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