Pandemic Like a Burner; Isolation Sanity, Moving Forward, Towards Happiness. #How'dAburnerDoit - Pt1

Bouncing between the 10 principles; a possible path in the direction of a healthier, kind and resilient world #How'dAburnerDoit

The further we get into this lockdown, and understanding, recognizing adapting to, our new normal, the more we seem to think about the principles of BurningMan. One way to live this pandemic is through the adoption and implementation of living within these guiding parameters.

BurningMan?!?! There are guidelines to BurningMan?!? Isn't your independence to do whatever you want, and no rules, the whole point??

The quick answer to that is, kinda. What many do not realize, is that BurningMan is NOT a festival, or a DJ convention in the dust, or even a way to pull out your best outfits and ride your bike around and meet people. It is actually, all of these things, and MORE.

BurningMan is NOT a static, non moving entity in the middle of the desert, where burners just collect and ride around. Actually, by showing you what it is not, is the closest we can come to showing you what it actually is.

Confused yet? Good, you are getting closer.

Burning Man is a breathing living entity that exists for 3 weeks in a city created for it (Black Rock City, BLC); 1 week set up, 1 week living (and boy do we live it) and 1 week takedown.

Being a city, we do have an intrinsic society with Distriks, facilities and support, but also, outstanding art, fun play exhibits, and camps of every size and shape offering their gifts of existence to the playa.

BRC is a place of kindness and love, exploration and experience. An offering to another way to live in, and as, a society. BurningMan is a way of being, individually and as a city, simultaneously, and the 10 principles, both protect and push us to see who we are, and could be.

In this adopted solution of guidance, and to a lesser extent governance, we burners feel safe and celebrated to be steeped in the wonder of this collection of like, kind people.

The more we understand our society, and each other, the more we protect both individuality and community in the process.

Stick with us as we try to explain how bouncing off, and understanding how, these 10 principles work together to knit a framework for a successful, sustainable and celebratory society. One that in a week, creates friendships, camaraderie, and love, so strong there is an actual depression (and it can be fierce) that requires a decompression for the reintegration back into the hard and mistrustful, default world.

We hope, by showcasing these positive ideals to self, community, and love, we can permeate from our core, outward, like a ripple. Pushing out into the 'surround', with kindness and make reintegration back into society, less abrasive.

If these words and thoughts, can bring a little more 'burn' into your everyday life, offer you some kindness and reasons for embracing your self-care, that is already a win. We hope this message of love can show you that there is a better way forward.

We offer this, our gift to you.

Let's get started;

The following are the ten principles, as they are defined by co founder Larry Harvey and his friends, back in early 90's, as the and are now the corner stone ideals held fast by our BORG (our governing body and the wonderful people who put the city together every year (except this one).

These principles are not preachy, and there is no one walking around 'policing' the adoption of these ideals.

We live them.

'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.'

Burners lead by example, through adversary we push through, together. Dust storms, dehydration, mind-opening awarenesses, and through this, on the other side of this, together we thrive.

Many times, burners have huddled up at a close camp when a dust storm kicks up, and were welcomed in and gifted some refreshment to wait it out.

It is precisely this 'surviving together' and in intense situations, that creates these bonds of trust. This allows space for us to reach further to a more clear view of ourself expression and exploration. Just knowing, our people are behind us cheering us on.

This article, will hopefully offer you a glimpse on how some of us have brought these principles into our own lives... and still do, everyday, in the default world.

Pandemic solutions (How'dAburnerDoit) also exist in response to our current situation. We are all working with challenge, restriction and we are worried about small particles in our faces.

Sounds familiar?

We tried thinking this experience, like being the desert, it might offer us some options on solutions. At the very least, a little bit more fun and a great way to try and be even more resilient, supportive and responsive to your world around you.

We burners offer to you, a way to see this global pandemic, as a way for you to push beyond comfort zones, and into a new way of celebrating what you do have, and how do it together with loved ones and people you trust. #How'dAburnerDoit


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.

  • How'dAburnerDoit - Many of you are already doing this for your loved ones, and most in need. Gifting of kindness, groceries, assistance and checking in with friends and family. Many of these wonderful gifts you are bestowing you might think, 'i'm just doing my part for people I care about'. That. That is exactly right, and thank you, for all your gifts. You may find, the more selfless you become and more you give, the more that comes back to you, in ways, you never imaged. Every gift has an equal regift of goodness. You have just helped put smiles, forward.


In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

  • How'dAburnerDoit - This a hard one for us all to grasp. Truly, this pandemic has shown us the true difference between 'I want', and 'I need', 'Can I live without that?', 'Is this something that I can make at home?' (we only need to see the countless bread images on social to know the answer to that one) Being in the middle of the desert (there is only ice and coffee for sale), teaches you to be more resilient and to really push those questions. There is the added bonus in the fact that, next time, you will remember to pack the m&m's, cause that is what you really WANT right now. Are finding yourself playing with those answers out right now? Even better, are you possible changing your perspective to understand you own sliding scale between want vs. need?

Radical Self-reliance

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

  • How'dAburnerDoit - Not sure about you, but isolating with children has had us screaming this principle out load, many, many times. This principle is one very close to our hearts here at voxie. Knowing that you 'got this', and more so, that even if you don't 'got this', you will figure out a solution is a fantastically empowering message. Will it be perfect? No. (what is perfect anyway?). Will it be great? Of course, it is coming from you! Will you get through this to see the sun rise tomorrow? You will, and the sun will rise, and tomorrow is another day to try again. This principle, being active and in process, is exactly what we need in this pandemic, small steps forward, and doing the best you can. This is enough.

Survival tips; Have a cup, just one, for all your sharing needs - this goes for your home right now too, especially the kids (I mean, how MANY times do you have to run the dishwasher??) ! Utensils are also important as dusty hands make for dusty food. Wash Your Hands.

Utility belt - to carry all the things you find and/or need for the day... some of us have started wearing our tool belts - perfect.

Always be ready for a dust storm (or little particles), so have your goggles, and mask. You can see where we are going here with this here ;) Cowboy up and protect yourself and others around you. Plus, everybody looks great in a dust mask.

Radical Self-expression

Radical self-expression 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.

  • How'dAburnerDoit - You be You. ALWAYS. Express yourself, how you want and as much, or as little, as you want, and let it be your way to show the world who you are, in this moment.

Communal Effort

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.

  • How'dAburnerDoit- We are sure that you are seeing this happening all around you. We have been seeing rallying behind your favourite restaurants and stores to keep them alive, creating masks for front line workers, School solutions and zoom calls to keep our communities engaged and supported. This communal effort is in all of us, and the beautiful part of this, is, we humans are even better at it in crisis.

Civic Responsibility

We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

  • How'dAburnerDoit- Distance, and respecting others and their distance, wear the MASK - brings transmission rate to the single numbers (close to 2%), help those who need help, and that includes taking care of yourself.

Leaving No Trace

Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

I personally, have chased down a virgins shedding feathers, and asked them to remove it in the winds of HELL (gas station out beyond 10), and I have seen others, many many times, chase down a cup, hat, anything, as the winds pick up.

Our Borg erect a 9mile trash fence to collect anything we may have missed or got away from us and every morning you can see the sweet burners, that love their morning time out there, picking up, collecting and assessing any MOOP (material out of place).

There several camps that set up solely to display what is found and gladly gift them back for a story of how they lost it. 'Here, have a drink in your cup and let's talk about it.' That's living no trace - physically, but a also experiencing a web of 'traces' as you collect what you have lost and create new connections.

Camps are held responsible for their footprint but many take the morning beauty of a calm playa and search. This respect for our environment was the first and most total principle to my experience, and to be surrounded by others who felt the same, was magical. My people.

  • How'dAburnerDoit- We have been pleasantly surprised and encouraged by our response to this principle. Zero waste solutions, healthy hacks on how to create your own detergent and hand sanitizer, and finding solutions that allow us to be more local and less reliant on fossils fuel and a smaller human footprint, are all popping up and available for those who now have the time to create new practices. Couple with that how our absence is having a positive affect on wildlife and pollution levels, we are all doing our part to make sure we love our mother earth.

  • Have a MOOP container for anything garbage you may have, and don't be afraid to pick up what is in front you, even if it is not yours. Chances are someone is picking up something that got away from you. That immediacy of dealing with what is in front of you right now, puts trust forward, and the display of this, leading by example helps others to get out of their 'Thats not mine!' mindset, and suggest, 'Let's work together, as this issue is bigger than just us.'


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.

  • How'dAburnerDoit - Lead by example. Burners are not preachy but we believe what we believe. If you want to see societal change, be the change. Teach about distancing, wear the mask, wash your hands, and bring people with you, while you do.


Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.

  • How'dAburnerDoit - This is a great one for this pandemic, as indicated by how quickly we responded to the news of what was happening and how quickly we changed our behaviours. Once we understood the nature of the pathogen, we understood how to navigate around it. By implementing this knowledge, and quickly, we were all able to respond to protect ourselves, our families and each other. Do it, do it now. Now, Just GO.

Radical Inclusion

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

  • How'dAburnerDoit - Exclusion or rejection causes the same response in humans as physical pain. Evolutionarily, we need each other to create the society, find purpose, be helpful and join in. Even though we are all grouping and gathering in different ways, and virtually, we are still building skills to create connection. We offer this to you; can you find a way to reach out and include someone on the sidelines? It only takes ONE person to reach for someone to wants to join. Be that person to reach. Radical Inclusion means, reaching and not taking no as an answer ;)

Now that you have glimpsed into an alternative way to think about your world, in this pandemic, in your everyday, think of how this offering might allow you some self kindness, community support, and licence to just take some quiet time to think and reflect.

These concepts are tools for you to work with and within, however it feels best for you. Stretch within them, play and practice what feels best to you, and let that reintroduction to yourself grow and bloom. We are all a work in progress, the journey to find out who you are is the best part of the trip.

We offer you some stories of how these principles help ease the stinging 'bitchslap of mindfulness' that some of our burners experienced getting to, living in, and being part of Burning Man.

You virgin burners, who had your bucket lists, and THIS year, was going to be the year you go to BurningMan we understand your pain in it being cancelled. Us burners feel it too, but not like you.

Much like young love, and the first break up, you are still grieving the 'what coulda been' and not realizing that your next relationship and deep requited love, is just around the corner.

Sweet little virgin burners, we offer you this. You are living the burn, right now, in this global event we are all living, feeling and responding to. This common link of having to living through adverse and challenging times, pulling into your friends and family, community and grieving together.

My love's, that is the burn.

Dance party's and moving your body, checking in on love ones, and pushing your experience to what wellness and survival means to you??

This is the Burn, YOUR BURN, and who you become on the other side of ALL this, is who you will be at BurningMan.

As with young love, there will be more love, more connection, another relationship and another Burn. Black Rock City is still there and holding space for us to return one day. The space that collects us, does not define us, but gives guidance and reason to love and share.

Until we can all meet again, in the dust, while dancing, sharing and loving, we send you healing and loving vibes from the burner tribe. You can do this, and will do this, and that, is what will bring you back to us, again and again, to celebrate the life you have, challenge the life you have been given, and hold on to the person you want to be, in any situation.

That you, is the most beautiful and authentic you. Bring it, and bring it hard.

Now is the time, to just go. Go forward, small steps, big steps, they are all correct as long as you grow. Can NOT wait to meet you after all this, on the playa, and celebrate YOU.

Much love and kindness

Lettuce green (sometimes pickles)


~ This article continues but was getting WAY too long. I wrote it to send to some sweet virgin burners who were to be part of our camp. Part 2 is available if you want to see how some virgin burners made the pilgrimage, created a camp, and learned how to burn.

Monica Polo | Monica Polo is Co-Founder and COO of Voxie. As a practicing interior designer (BID) and a Materials Health and Wellness educator, Monica brings current and relevant practices on how to holistically design a healthier world. This allows her readers, students and clients, to own their own wellness and move toward positive change, at their pace. As a social activist, she weaves the Burning Man, 10 principles into her personal wellness philosophy through her work at the Design Center, at RSID. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her two sons.


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