Burning Man Project’s Radical Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity (R.I.D.E.) Anti-Racism Pledge

Burning Man Project
Aug 17 · 5 min read
Center Camp, 2019 (Photo in graphic by Kate Beale)

What would it look like for Black Rock City and all of our global communities to be more radically inclusive and diverse? How can this help change society? Burning Man Project is on a journey to build a more educated and aware organizational culture, to create a framework for community engagement around this work, and to normalize a culture of an ever more inclusive and welcoming Black Rock City. To get involved and stay informed, learn about our Radical Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (R.I.D.E) work and head to our R.I.D.E. page.

OVERVIEW
At our collective best, Burning Man is a multicultural, open, inviting, and inclusive community.
By bringing an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory lens into our strategies and work, we are strengthening these values, and helping to build the future we want to live in.

We are inspired by the vision of the Beloved Community, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. We are building new pathways to make sure more people have the opportunity to participate in this community and are able to see themselves in Burning Man. We are working to expand the participation of BIPOC communities, and to foster diversity in our policies, programs, and processes within our organization and our events.

The goals and actions in this multi-year pledge are universal. They apply to Burning Man Project’s year-round work and global community, including our annual event in Black Rock City. We commit to evaluating our work against this pledge, to identify ways we can take an anti-racist stance in the world, and to expand our efforts to other marginalized communities and groups. We hope you are inspired to take action in your communities too.

OUR COMMITMENTS FOR THE FIRST YEAR

Establishing an internal framework for normalizing the work of R.I.D.E.:

We recognize that the thousands of participants who produce and steward our year-round global culture and events may have different levels of involvement with the topics of inclusivity, diversity, and anti-racism.

We want to help members of our community identify and receive support around their own blindspots and their teams’ blindspots. We are not expecting people to change overnight. Our number-one priority is to create opportunities within our culture for people to be successful in revising their own behaviors, team processes, and department protocols. Here’s how we’re supporting this work:

  • Deploying a mandatory curriculum of trainings that lay the foundation for behavioral standards for all staff that include:

Giving and Receiving Feedback

Conflict Resolution

Emotional Intelligence

Collaborative Decision Making

Anti-racism and Implicit Bias

  • Manager trainings on difficult conversations around Burning Man-specific anti-racism
  • Regularly evaluating our staff’s comfort and proficiency in the work of allyship with a minimum of an annual check-in with our self-evaluation tool and acting on the results.
  • Implementing Peer-to-Peer support services as needed.
  • Supporting internal cross-departmental R.I.D.E.-related work.
  • Creating space for the conversations staff want to have.
  • Refining our practices for developing new initiatives using our anti-racism stress test, and sharing the stress test so the community can use it too.

This work is ongoing and iterative. We want to teach ourselves to embrace uncertainty, fail forward, and lean into it as an ongoing process through:

  • Report outs or breakout groups at our all-staff meetings and department summits.
  • Periodic workshops on specific related topics available for our Board of Directors, our employees, and our community.

Making our art grant program more inclusive:

Engaging BIPOC artists communities through proactive outreach, funding, and application and selection process changes.

Amplifying communications and storytelling:

Intentionally highlighting the stories and storytellers from the BIPOC Burner community and making them easily accessible to the public through our various communications channels.

Developing an accessible R.I.D.E. community engagement framework:

Community is at the center of Burning Man culture and we want everyone to get involved. Our community engagement offerings include:

  • Creating spaces for healing and regular community conversations
  • Online platforms for conversation and learning
  • Town halls and listening sessions
  • Surveys
  • Community-generated projects
  • Sharing tools and trainings to support our global community.
  • Collaborating with the Regional Network to support the R.I.D.E. work in our communities and leadership groups and at global events.
  • Innovating the way in which tickets are allocated for Black Rock City.
  • Constantly evaluating Burning Man Project’s recruiting process to ensure there are opportunities for under-represented groups.
  • Updating handbooks, questionnaires, and forms to emphasize our commitment to R.I.D.E.
  • Setting up systems for data collection and analysis to track our improvements.

Why “Radical”?

The word radical is used three times in the text of the 10 Principles. Some people believe the term refers to a breaking of boundaries and a shedding of restrictions. But radical has a second meaning: It refers to that which is root and fundamental in human nature. Burning Man’s Founder Larry Harvey wrote “radical” into our 10 Principles with this meaning in mind: Burning Man’s radicalism is meant as expressing oneself authentically and fundamentally. “Radical” is brought to our journey of becoming anti-racist in a way that is authentically and fundamentally connected to the spirit of our culture. For a deeper dive, check out Larry’s 2014 “Why the Man Keeps Burning” speech at the Long Now Foundation.

IN THREE YEARS WE WILL BE…

In 2019, 10.5% of people who completed the Black Rock City Census self-identified as People of Color. We know that this number does not reflect the depth and breadth of the diversity of the global Burning Man community. Burning Man Project wants to make sure we are consciously facilitating every possible avenue to make our city in the desert and community as a whole more diverse. This includes but is not limited to:

Creating clear pathways for participation in Black Rock City:

  • Supporting BIPOC camp leads, artists, performers, and other collectives who are doing the work to increase participation.
  • Seeing quantifiable results from the re-architecture of our ticket distribution formulas.
  • Bringing leaders of potentially affiliated organizations to Black Rock City.
  • Giving priority to programming that helps adjacent BIPOC communities experience Black Rock City.

Supporting replication in regional events and global community:

  • Robust access to R.I.D.E. training programs and tools
  • Actively promoting community development projects that serve as models within and outside of Black Rock City.

Inside Burning Man Project:

R.I.D.E. will be a natural part of our internal vocabulary. The work is intertwined with our daily operations, and we can talk about our successes and challenges openly.

BIG AMBITIONS

We know that with long-term commitments and goals in place, we’re more likely to see positive change. We’re ready to aspire to goals that will fundamentally change and shape the future of our community alongside the next generation of Burners. Some signs that this is happening will include:

  • Prioritizing relationship building with values-aligned organizations and communities to expand our multicultural, open, and inclusive community of creatives.
  • Our cultural impact around R.I.D.E. will serve as inspiration for the global Burning Man community.
  • Black Rock City participants of all backgrounds will clearly understand the expectation of anti-racism in our community and culture.

Acknowledgment

Over the last year, Burning Man Project has taken concrete steps to advance conversations about, and policies and projects related to Radical Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity (R.I.D.E.). This pledge has been created by the Burning Man Project R.I.D.E. Stewardship Group and Advisory Committee as a guidepost for a more radically inclusive, diverse, and equitable Burning Man culture.

Beyond Burning Man

Dispatches on impact and innovation from Black Rock City and beyond.