By Matthieu Mayran
Midburn 2016 is on its way. Plenty of time before June you could say, but it will be there sooner than we realize and it is never too early to remind or educate ourselves about some important things. Actually 10 important things. 10 principles. Those principles are always good to keep in the back of our mind when doing something for or with the Midburn community. But why? And what exactly are they?
A bit of history
The 10 principles were written in 2004 by Burning Man founder Larry Harvey and are strong roots to grow a beautiful tree of life with many happy leaves. As the Burning Man website reads, “They were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception.”
Culture? Who needs it?
When small communities start to bud and grow, culture happens on its own! Communities bubble out from people with shared values and goals coming together, and a community culture grows from there. But what happens when part of the core values of the community is to welcome the stranger and opens its arms to people coming from all backgrounds and cultures, all having different dreams and expectations? When you begin to build a worldwide regional network, how do you link these efforts and communities to one another as part of something unified?
Having some guidelines that reflect the ethos of the community helps. Not rules, not commandments, but guidelines that portray and express the Burning Man way of life.
What, so now I have to remember them all?
You’re going to say, this all sounds good, I read the 10 principles page, the community and I get along well but for Dust sake, I never remember all of them. It is a bit like trying to recall all the names of the 7 dwarves from the Snow White fairy tail. There’s always one name missing out and when you happen to find the 7 of them after someone helped you, you can’t remember what the first one was. So we thought of a little story to help you. Here it goes:
1. Once upon a time, Dust White lived with her grumpy stepmother, the wicked Queen, who forced her to scrub the floor and get rid of the dust (who would do that?), all this minimizing Dust White’s chances of becoming more attractive than her. Not really good for the “Radical Inclusion” I must say.
2. To make sure that she was the fairest in the world, the Queen daily asked her mirror about the matter. Following his “Civic Responsibility”, he always told the truth and answered that the Queen was the one, until the day when Dust White became the fairest (Boom! In your face Queen).
3. The Queen freaked out and asked her huntsman to take Dust White to the wood and kill her (plus bring back her heart, just to make 100% certain). The huntsman could not do as asked and told Dust White to leave and hide, “Leaving no trace” of her presence, as if she had never been in the castle.
4. In the wood, all alone and lost, Dust White was not prepared to be “Self reliant”.
5. But some animals, in a sense of “Immediacy”, quickly decided to help her find a roof after a bit of singing and fun. Somehow they discovered a house.
6. There, she found no famous Swedish brand furniture, no well-known commodities, just a completely “Decommodified” place with 7 tiny little chairs (and a lot of mess).
7. It happened to be inhabited by some dwarves who were away in the mines. When they got back from the mines they discovered her and their place spotless. Dust White, with her sense of “Participation”, had cleaned it all.
8. They shared a lot of laughs and fun, specially when Bashful got over his shyness to sing in the Silly Song. His “Self Expression” was amazing (not as fun as Sneezy’s though).
9. In the meantime, the Queen realized that Dust White was still alive and decided to do the job herself. She went to the wood and, while the 7s were away, offered a “Gift” to Dust White, a poisonous apple to put her to sleep (Gifts are supposed to be nice but that’s all I could come up with in the story. In any case, I am sure the apple was tasty, and definitely an experience).
10. Being warned by the animals, the dwarves ran back and with a “Communal Effort”, managed to get rid of the Queen (read push out of a cliff). In the end Dust White got a kiss and woke up, just in time to go to Midburn!
That story is one of many stories that can be used to remember the principles. Everyone can tell you what Midburn is to them, but you can easily find ten others that will say something opposite.
And this is what it is all about. It is not one story, it is a lot of different stories happening beside each other, overlapping. A child will remember the colorful circus, an engineer will think about the air balloon, a party goer will remember dancing on the playa until their legs hurt, a reader will remember the silence of the desert, a wood devotee will remember the house that they built and burnt, a lover will remember their partner(s), 50-year old friendships will deepen even more around a table with good wine, volunteers will remember how much they got from helping others, a giant furry monkey will remember the blinking lights on people, constructions and art works at night, artists will remember how happy they were when their work got finally staged on the deep playa, photographers will remember trying to grasp a tiny percentage of the beauty of all of the above and everyone will remember the overwhelming acceptance of each and every single one of the participants, trying to keep that feeling alive for how long as possible.
In Dust We Trust. See you on the playa.