Introducing 25 to Thrive: Considering the Future of the Regional Network

This is the second post about the 25 to Thrive project to consider the future of the Regional Network. We want to hear more from people who have not yet participated in this project or connected deeply with the Regional Network. Complete this survey to share your input and participate in the online forums on May 11, 2024.

The Burning Man Regional Network is a complex ecosystem of interconnected people, communities, and events that bring Burning Man culture to daily life year-round. The Regional Network program includes more than 235 volunteer “Regional Contacts” in 125 communities and 34 countries on four continents. Regional Event organizers produce over 100 locally organized official Regional Events annually. 

Regional Contacts connect members of the community and welcome people who wish to learn more about the principles and culture. As a whole, the network connects people through information sharing, locally organized events, and a variety of creative and community building endeavors.

Since its founding 25 years ago, the Burning Man Regional Network has grown from three annual events in Central Texas, Northern California, and Canada to a sprawling global nexus. The Network includes many who have never been to Black Rock City but identify with the culture and its local manifestations. As mentioned in our previous Journal post, the Burning Man Regional Network team is taking this 25th anniversary as an opportunity to celebrate and consider how to build an even more badass, creative and resilient network! 

Burning Man Project is collaborating with Regional communities to update and design the global network with an eye toward the next 25 years — and beyond. The 25 to Thrive project aims to clarify the purpose and vision for the Regional Network and identify focus areas to build upon strengths, address challenges, and imbue the network with a renewed sense of limitless possibility.

25 to Thrive project team members, Karim Asry (Spain), Wabi Sabi aka Marisol del Valle (New York City), and Storm aka Or Granot (Israel / Colombia) during a creative prototyping session at Burning Man Project headquarters (Photo by Steven Raspa)

Project by and for Network Participants

For the exploratory phase of this project, 18 project team members and seven project advisors from 12 countries came together to reflect on the network. This group included network stakeholders and those with experience participating in other networks. 25 to Thrive is using a human-centered design approach, which begins with listening to folks and reviewing years of data gathered from Regional Contacts, official Regional Event organizers and in-depth interviews.

When asked about a desired future state, both Regional Contacts (RCs) and official Regional Event Producers cited: more resources and infrastructure, more community connectivity, and more geographic diversity or growth as key characteristics of the future network. RCs stated greater diversity and inclusiveness as part of their vision. Both groups desired more cultural growth, more art, more civic involvement in the world, and greater sustainability — both environmental and economic. We also discussed in depth what areas of the network might benefit from decentralization, and others from centralization. Not surprisingly, there were differences of opinion, but a lot of agreement about the Regional Network’s importance. 

Crème Brûlée 2023 participants in France. (Photo by Hervé Photograff)

We’d love to know what you think. We are especially interested in hearing from those who do not feel connected with the network currently, and young members of our community who represent the future. What would your dream network be and be doing? Complete this survey to share your input.

Right now, the Burning Man Regional Network is mostly geographically based, event-focused, and relies heavily on volunteer Regional Contacts and official Regional Event organizers to help connect the community year-round. They, along with a small team at Burning Man Project, do their best to share best practices and helpful information, create opportunities for more people to connect to their authentic selves, protect the culture from being commodified, and spotlight interesting ways the culture shows up in the world. 

What are we not doing that we might consider, and how might we connect people year-round in ways that help the culture fully flourish — and do so sustainably? If this interests you, then read on. 

Moving Ahead with Three Areas of Focus

The 25 To Thrive project team helped identify three broad focus areas: “Network Structure and Collaboration,” “Community Building and Support,” and “Communications and Technology.” The first will consider if there are better, more collaborative organizational structures the network might take. The second will focus on the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to nurture the community. The third will explore communication and technology in a connective way that remains rooted in authentic human relationships. 

We have identified subtopics under each focus area. Under the first focus area are two sub-topics: “Network Structure and Decision Making” and “Funding and Resources.” Under the second focus area, the two subtopics are “Training Resources” and “Participant Engagement through Training, Gatherings, and Programs.” 

How You Can Help

We want to hear more from people who can offer new perspectives and have not yet participated in this project or connected deeply with the Regional Network (e.g. awesome humans without an RC or Regional Event organizer role). We particularly want to hear from newer community members, those who are under 30 years of age, artists/year-round theme camp organizers, and those residing in Africa. Email You can also:

  • Participate in the two online forums about this project on May 11, 2024: 10am PT / 12pm CT / 1pm ET and 5pm PT / 7pm CT / 8pm ET
  • Complete this survey to share your input, especially if you identify as being part of any group or demographic mentioned above
  • Share this post

Note of Thanks

The first phase of this project was a collaboration of network members and future network members from across the world. We are grateful to the many contributions of dedicated project team members Andy Justice, Charlotte de Casabianca, Zeitgeist / Corprew Reed, Erica Fuck Yeah / Erica Blair, Fran Xavier, Jess Hobbs, Joerg Pfutzner, Karim Asry, Marty Bortz, Martin Marquez, Mathias Gullbrandson, Nozomu Shoji, Patty Simonton, Peter Durand, Sandor / Andrew Brown, Storm / Or Granot, Wabi Sabi / Marisol del Valle and Warren Lee. Thank you to project advisors Athena Demos, Christopher Breedlove, Emma Weisman, Heather White, Kay Morrison, Luis Gallardo, Marian Goodell, Monique Schiess, Sabrina Merlo, and Stuart Mangrum for their guidance.

Cover image of Regional Contacts, instigators, and event organizers of Regional Network events and projects at the Regional Network 25th Birthday Celebration at Nordic Paradise in Black Rock City (Photo by Juan P. Zapata) 

About the author: Regional Network team

Regional Network team

The Regional Network team supports the greater Burning Man Regional Network by providing Regional Contacts and Regional Event leads with educational tools, information sharing opportunities, and leadership development resources to help them nurture their local Burner communities in embodying and demonstrating the 10 Principles year-round.

3 Comments on “Introducing 25 to Thrive: Considering the Future of the Regional Network

  • Dustin says:

    Have you considered less rules and bureaucracy to help facilitate more creativity and art? The culture is smothering itself with too much organizational navel gazing and requirements. Have you inventoried the amount of paperwork it takes to bring a theme camp or art project recently? It is not inviting.

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    • MyPrinciplesNotYours says:

      Maybe they should stop pushing their ridiculous “10 Principles” propaganda too. The top-down attempt to impose groupthink on attendees is about the least burner thing possible.

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      • A. Forbes says:

        Without some fundamental commonality, you don’t have a community. 10 principles is really very low overhead. Ignoring those I’m sure you still have something but it’s definitely not the same thing.

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