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  • Writer's pictureHenni Terness

Radical Inclusion & Self Expression

Radical Inclusion

I mentioned in my intro email that human transformation is possible within Burning Man’s culture due to the community’s commitment to living out the 10 Principles. Radical Inclusion is possibly one of the most influential and delicate principles. Radical Inclusion, is defined as follows;

“Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.”

Reverbia feels strongly about diversity and inclusion- while we are a large, 300 person camp, we still maintain a small community feel due to the way we live out this principle. I love that we welcome virgins with open arms, we create a space for people to express themselves and we come back together daily to share meals, creating a sense of belonging.

Diversity & Inclusion

In an article, The Rise of Burning Man, Kathy Baird, a Native American burner reflects that the most meaningful principle to her is Radical Inclusion. Baird says,

“We are all welcome here, and there is a safe space for us to be able to participate, and it's a level playing field.”

She goes on to talk about how the culture of Burning Man transcends your status in society- no matter if you're a celebrity or Joe Schmoe, her hope is that any participant will walk away from the experience of Burning Man as a better person.

Diversity plays a big factor in human transformation- it broadens our perspectives, exposes our cognitive bias’ that hold us back and strengthens our sense of empathy which enables connection (among many other benefits).


Diversity thrives when there is a sense of belonging and inclusion present. We all share a common human desire to feel a sense of belonging. The need for tribal belonging is one of our survival tactics (apart from our nervous system). When we don’t feel safe to be ourselves, when we feel excluded or like we don’t fit into the culture, it threatens our sense of belonging which activates our limbic (otherwise called lizard) brain. When this happens we are biologically unable to be creative, welcome new ideas and grow. Behaviors that enable a sense of belonging are as follows:

  • Amplify others - ie. give the floor to someone that may not always speak up

  • Active listening

  • Vulnerability

  • Relate to others - ask questions to find similarities

Even though Burning Man values radical inclusion, the truth is that the population isn’t so diverse at all. Which is a shame because the reality is, people feel that they belong to a community more so when there are others that they can relate to in it. This article explains that “According to the event’s 2017 census, 77 percent of participants are white; the median household income is more than $94,000; and 74 percent have a college degree.” I know that Burning Man is putting efforts towards addressing this and I don’t necessarily have the answers nor do I think this is the appropriate place to unpack this fact. It is my hope that exposing the reality of the situation will activate you even more so to be radically inclusive. We have all heard a friend who is clearly curious about the burn but something in them lacks a sense of belonging there. Let’s all do a better job at representing how our culture values inclusion and continue to create a space that welcomes all identities, expressions and backgrounds.

Radical Self Expression

Another core principle is Radical Self-Expression which “arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.”

Burning Man is a place where we are empowered to express ourselves and it is so important to be welcomed to do so within a culture of inclusion. Connecting across differences AND stepping into your unique voice/ expression can feel risky or vulnerable or fear of not being accepted. Brene Brown teaches us that the courage to be vulnerable actually creates connection. So if what we are all after is a sense of belonging, creating a culture of inclusion will provide the safety necessary to support us to fully express ourselves while connecting across differences.

How have you seen Reverbians being radically inclusive and/ or expressive?

What do these values mean to you?

What behaviors would you celebrate that corresponds with these values?

Leave a comment and let’s be sure to celebrate these principles in action!

All my best,

The Show

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