The 10 Principles of Burning Man

Catharsis on the Mall is guided by the 10 principles of Burning Man described here. Please consider them as you take this journey with us.

Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regional Network. 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

Radical Inclusion

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


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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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..


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.

Radical Self-reliance

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

11th Principle


Volunteer Branch Roles

Communications & Media

The Communications & Media branch is responsible for communicating to our community and about our event to the public, with the goals of keeping attendees informed and raise awareness in general.

This branch aims to share content that is relevant, informative, timely and engaging. This includes anything from email communications to social media posts, as well as customer service and media relations.


Helping create and curate content

Helping manage media relations

Helping assess and evaluate metrics of engagement

Health & Safety

The Health & Safety branch is primarily active during the Vigil, with the goals of keeping everyone there physically and mentally well.

Making sure everyone is having a good time – being the ‘guardians of the vibe’, and a helpful resource for folx to fall back on, should they need it.

The Health & Safety team is currently advocating for any content related to harm reduction, consent, and health education at Catharsis on the Mall itself, and hopes to be able to provide resources to the Catharsis community outside of the event as well.


Helping on shifts (Medical, Rangers, Sanctuary, Consent, Harm Reduction)

Helping recruit & manage volunteers (administrative, shift leadership)

Helping review, update, and extend emergency readiness documentation

Program (Curation)

The Program Branch primarily focuses on the curation of the vigil.

Curating local Theme Camps, Artists, and other folx that want to gift something to the

The Program (Curation) Branch is working on building out other elements that would happen Beyond the Mall that will occur throughout the year. Those elements include movie screenings, Community Stakeholder meetings, trainings, art events, and more.


Helping manage the relationships with the Theme Camps

Helping manage the relationships with the Placed Artist

Helping identify who will get GRANT MONEY

Helping co-lead the Community Stakeholder Meetings

Permitting & Legal

This group meets regularly with the National Park Service (NPS) and is charged with synthesizing, drafting, producing and updating the final permit.

Permitting & Legal is required to ensure that NPS is fully aware of everything we intend to do, and that other branches, artists, and theme camps comply with their standards.

Volunteer leads with us would look after needs of the Park Service, so as to be able to answer questions that arise when engaging with the community and law enforcement.


Helping on shifts (Medical, Rangers, Sanctuary, Consent, Harm Reduction)

Helping recruit & manage volunteers (administrative, shift leadership)

Helping review, update, and extend emergency readiness documentation

Site Ops

Site Ops ensures the event has the people with the right skills in the right places at the right timeto ensure a smooth event.

Site Ops runs HQ, which acts as the volunteer coordination station. This is where volunteers check in and out for their shifts. Volunteers can also refuel, rest, and get water from the HQ kitchen or lounge spaces. There will also be a secure place for volunteers leave personalbelongings at HQ.

HQ acts as a hub for all CotM branches to communicate with each other on site. It is also where CotM artists, camps, etc, can have pertinent questions answered and problems solved.


Shift leads to coordinate happenings at HQ (volunteer coordination station)

General support humans to problem solve/relay information

Website & Digital Accounts

The website and digital accounts branch primarily concerns itself with the development and maintenance of the website, as well as the management of digital assets of Catharsis on the Mall

The website and digital accounts branch aims to create the best online presence for Catharsis on the Mall, as well as showcasing the event leading up to and after the event.

We currently use WordPress, Google Suite, Airtable, Eventbrite, Facebook, and Instagram.


Updating and creating content and functionality for the website

Helping creating newsletters

Data entry and curation of event schedule, theme camps, and art.


The Finance branch is responsible for the fiscal health and sustainability of Catharsis on theMall.

This branch is responsible for general reporting as well as oversight of expenses by other
Branches. This branch is also responsible for leading any primary fundraising efforts as well as assisting with any fundraisers spearheaded by individual members of the Trunks, Rings, and Roots.


Helping with monthly and annual reporting

Helping with systems for processing and documenting expenditures

Helping with fundraising planning and implementation

Things to Have While Volunteering

Snacks to your preference. We provide volunteer meals that are typically vegan.

Pen + Paper to record your thoughts

MOOP bag

I.D. for emergencies

Reusable cups + Cutlery

Clothing for May which can be wet and rainy OR hot and muggy

Getting to your Volunteer Shift – Transportation

Public Transit - Metro Smithsonian or Federal Triangle.

Rideshare - Uber/Lyft

Walking, Biking, Skipping

Carpool - There will be limited parking so be mindful when driving

Ready To join us?

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