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  • Writer's pictureHenni Terness

Radical Self Reliance & Participation

Radical Self Reliance

“Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.”

Radical self reliance starts when packing and prepping for Burning Man so we can be prepared on playa. We are all responsible for our own education. Doing research around the elements we are walking into and how to stay safe on playa is highly encouraged for newcomers. In order to show up as our full selves and participate and contribute to the culture of Burning Man we must put on our own oxygen masks first before helping others (sorry I’m on a flight right now).

Emergency services has some words around safety (link). They mention that soft tissue injuries are the #1 injury on playa which are easily preventable. Safety tips:

Carry a personal first aid kits. Emergency services are for emergencies.

Bring and wear protective equipment like working gloves and protective eyewear

Wear lights on your front and back parts to avoid being hit by a bike, art car, magic carpet, flying saucer, etc. Plus, do you really want to poop in the dark?


While being self reliant is important, do not be shy to ask for help. The hospital is at 5:15 and esplanade- there are mental services there as well. The Temple also has “angles” that walk around lending an ear or a hug. We also have ambulances- please understand that while it can be done, getting an ambulance to find you in deep playa is no easy feat. Think about it...“we are next to the blinky lights and the trash fence” hmmmm. Be smart, know your resources, orient yourself with landmarks, hydrate.

If you are feeling mentally off (it happens) I’d like for you to keep the acronym H.A.L.T. handy and check in with yourself to see if you could be HUNGRY, ANGRY, LONELY and/or TIRED and take the proper steps to address the needs of your body. Have I mentioned my favorite slogan, “Hydrate to create!”

If you run into a problem, before blaming others, the situation or any other external factors, ask yourself, how could you have showed up differently, prepared differently etc. Remember, when you are self reliant, you are in control of your own experience. So ask yourself, how can you take more ownership over your experience to have a more easeful burn? Because “If not you, then who?”

Anyone want to chime in on what this principle means to them? Share any additional resources?

Tips n tricks links:



Now that we are oriented to be radically self reliant, we are prepared to participate at our fullest potential, in our fullest expression. Participation brings life to Burning Man and is stated as follows…

“Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.”

I love this statement pulled from the Cultural Course Correcting article, "Burning Man is not built for you, it is built by you. Burning Man is not a festival. The invitation to participate is more than an invitation to have an amazing experience. It’s about CREATING that experience for yourself and those around you."

I've noticed for myself that connection and transformation is a product of participation. It wasn’t until I joined a theme camp (Reverbia) with work shifts that I fully got to experience this value. I made some of the best connections during my first shift which contributed to my sense of belonging at camp. Plus, balancing work and play connected me to gratitude in a deep way.

Radically self reliant and participatory Reverbians understand their roles and responsibilities for their volunteer shifts prior to stepping on playa and show up on time, well slept and nourished to their shifts. We have so much gratitude for all of our volunteers who make it possible to provide live music to the playa. 123 hours of live music, on the esplanade, with 4 stages and 300 mouths to feed is no joke.

What are ways you have seen Reverbian's above and beyond participation contribute to the success of our overall offering? How has your participation contributed to your transformative change? Who would you like to celebrate?

With love,

The Show

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