Burning Man

(с) Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Burning Man is an annual weeklong
event of self-expression and self-reliance held in Black
Rock Desert, Nevada, regularly attended by more than
40,000 people. Burning Man started in 1986 on Baker Beach
in San Francisco, when a small crowd designed, built, and
eventually set fire to an eight-foot wooden statue of a man
and a smaller wooden dog. Since then the size of the man being
burned and the number of people who attend the festivities
has grown considerably, and the event is now one of the
largest art festivals, and an ongoing experiment in temporary
community.
Burning Man has many extraordinary aspects, but for me
one of the most remarkable is its rejection of market norms.
Money is not accepted at Burning Man. Rather, the whole
place works as a gift exchange economy—you give things to
other people, with the understanding that they will give
something back to you (or to someone else) at some point in
the future. Thus, people who can cook might fix a meal. Psychologists
offer free counseling sessions. Masseuses massage
those lying on tables before them. Those who have water offer
showers. People give away drinks, homemade jewelry,
and hugs. (I made some puzzles at the hobby shop at MIT,
and gave them to people. Mostly, people enjoyed trying to
solve them.)

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