What’s in a Gift? The Making of Fly Ranch

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.

Burning Man is simply not possible without gifting.

If you’ve ever been to Black Rock City, you know how this goes. You receive countless gifts of all kinds, big and small, day and night. It’s almost as if 70,000 people are singularly focused on making you happy, bringing you joy, making your experience more interesting, more beautiful, and more meaningful.

Generosity is integral to the Burning Man experience and to the spirit of our community. The more time you spend out on the playa, the more you realize the pleasure not just in receiving but in the act of giving itself. The joy of gifting returns to the giver, sometimes in great measure, and this generosity has become a way we relate as Burners the other 51 weeks a year.

Like Black Rock City, the long-held dream of purchasing Fly Ranch has become a reality only because of the tremendous generosity of many, many people over the past 20 years.

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Photo by Sashwa Burrous

So how did it happen?

For more than a decade, various efforts were made to bring Fly Ranch into the Burning Man fold. Early believers made donations, developers dreamed, attorneys advised and volunteers offered the gifts of their time and energy. At one point Black Rock City layout designer Rod Garrett collaborated with Burning Man co-founder Will Roger on an early plan for the property. Websites were created, dinners were hosted, visits to the property were facilitated.

Then, a small group of Burners, inspired by potential offered by the Fly Ranch property, set out to revive the vision long held by Burning Man co-founder Will Roger, Larry Harvey, and others in the extended Burning Man family. For the next two years this tight-knit, dedicated team worked tirelessly to cultivate relationships, generate support, build momentum, and negotiate a deal with the previous landowner.

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Photo by Zac Cirivello

These efforts inspired the deepest of generosity and truly incredible offers of unconditional support. Contributions of all kinds to come together to make this bold initiative possible: time, energy, passion, vision, expertise, and considerable financial resources.

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Photo by George Post

The individuals that contributed funding for the purchase have one thing in common: they have been deeply moved and changed by their involvement in Burning Man, and they are invested in the future of this culture. One of our early supporters and driving forces behind this project is Burning Man Project Board Member Chip Conley, who has shared his motivations for contributing to this project on Fest300. Another is Ping Fu, who, like so many of you, is a dreamer and a maker. Her reasons for giving inspire all of us, and we have been working with Ping, Chip and others to share the reasons they felt called to contribute to this project.

Other donors you may hear from in the coming weeks and months include: Joe Gebbia, Bill Linton, Rob and Kristin Goldman, Guy Laliberté, Farhad Mohit and Nushin Sabet, Alex Moradi, Graham Schneider, and Jonathan Teo. A handful of donors have asked to remain anonymous, and we absolutely respect that choice. Just like in Black Rock City, we also celebrate and honor anonymous giving.

Simply put, we are tremendously grateful for this gift from individuals who believe in the power of Burning Man to change the world for the better. We also send our heartfelt thanks to the many participants who have stepped forward to donate to Fly Ranch after hearing the news about the acquisition.

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We’re inspired by the enthusiasm about this initiative and the possibilities it holds for the long term future of Burning Man. Since the announcement of the purchase on June 10, more than 1200 people have raised their hand to participate.

Because if there’s one thing our community knows how to do as well as gifting, it’s participating.

What lies ahead is truly an exciting opportunity, one that will rely on the contributions of many individuals coming together to collaborate in innovative ways. The future of Fly Ranch will come to be something that we can’t even imagine yet, because it will be the culmination of unforeseen and unexpected gifts — the sum total of thousands of unique contributions.

This is the way of Burning Man.

For more information please visit flyranch.burningman.org.

To get involved please go here.

To give to Fly Ranch please go here.


Top photo by George Post

About the author: Burning Man

Burning Man

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