How and Why “Conscious” Festivals Need to Change

Wouldn’t it be great to have a lifestyle where you didn’t have to bounce between “making a living” and enjoying your favorite festivals because society had consciously evolved?  What if the annual festivals that TALK about “the evolution of consciousness” actually DID something that’s lasting and globally transformative? What if inspired the entire world by pioneering an endeavor to show the world how it could live in a radically different, healthier, smarter, sustainable, and more peaceful way?  Sound interesting? Then I have a proposition for you all.

Now, before you get your fuzzy, pink glitterboots in a dusty uproar, rest assured that I’m not just going to bash the beloved Burning Man, nor am I suggesting these annual festivals should be done away with. I’m just going to use Burning Man as an example since it’s the biggest “conscious” festival of its kind (like Lightning in a Bottle, Wanderlust, Lucidity, etc…) to suggest a larger vision.

I appreciate much of what Burning Man does as an experimental temporary society. I’ve been to Burning Man, danced my butt off in the dust storms, and I have many good friends who go each year. I’ve seen and heard firsthand both the amazing positive side and the disturbing dark side of Burning Man. Despite the darker side, I appreciate the possibilities for healing, creativity, and camaraderie that Burning Man provides. My intention in writing this, however, is to propose an inspiration for a greater vision that lasts 24/7 for all 365 days.


On the surface, I understand the appeal of Burning Man: take a brief vacation, have an adventure in to the middle of nowhere, be creative, have a gift-economy, and let loose with fun-loving strangers in an attempt to get away from the pressures and constraints of everyday life (never mind the groups of police constantly patrolling the campgrounds).

Well, even though Burning Man is supposedly “counter-culture” on the surface, underneath it still endorses the exact same mentality that the “Powers That Be” feed off of in the mainstream culture. Burning Man, with respect to its positive aspects, is essentially a huge, extremely expensive, unsustainable, ‘flash-in-the-pan’ 1-week party in the desert where vanity and escapism are rampant. Sounds pretty similar to the image Hollywood sells as “cool”, doesn’t it?

In that respect, Marianne Williamson dropped an awareness-bomb, speaking powerfully and poignantly about the self-defeating trap of “conscious festivals” at Lightning in a Bottle (another smaller festival akin to Burning Man) which must be taken in to consideration for creating a greater paradigm in light of the global situation.

So, with Marianne’s message in mind, one has to ask themselves, “What is it all building toward? And can it be improved?” …I think it absolutely can, and it must.


From looking at the expenditures of each year, it’s clear that Burning Man has pulled in well over tens of millions of dollars in each recent year. Combined with the amount of money each of the 50,000+ annual festival-goers spend on gas, food, art supplies, and other preparations, the amount of money and resources spent on this 8-day festival of Burning Man is ASTONISHING… But then what? Could it be put to better use?

What if, instead of one short-lived, albeit generally well-meaning, annual party, that money was put toward creating a progressive, technologically sustainable community that could sustain numerous festivals? What if this community operated with open source information/collaboration technology, green tech designs with little to zero ecological footprints, scientifically optimized products for sustainable solutions coming in to greater balance with nature, free innovative education, spiritual and psychological awareness, and free, clean energy? Imagine what could be accomplished if all that money, utilized in a non-profit capacity, was put towards assembling a cutting-edge team of engineers, manufacturers, information technology experts, permaculturists, teachers, holistic doctors and therapists, and land management specialists on an optimal private property that could create a model community! The resources are obviously available! Thousands of volunteers would gladly help! Why WOULDN’T we want that?


Looking at the financials, it’s VERY possible that by foregoing ONE Burning Man, enough revenue will generated from “ticket sales” (I.O.U. tickets for when the groundwork for the “New Burning Man” project is established), crowd source fundraising, and donations from progressive companies to pioneer a better way of living that could be replicated around the world! Taking a sober look at the world, it’s evident that experimenting with these sort of projects is an evolutionary necessity. We cannot depend on corrupt, corporately controlled governments and fraudulent, privatized economic systems to fix the very problems it has created and continues to perpetuate. We all must take responsibility in working toward a greater future. And if the 10 Principles of Burning Man are anything more than just paper-thin, hypocritical lip-service, then it is incumbent upon all Burners to strive for greater Radical Civic Responsibility, Inclusion, Communal Effort, Participation, and Immediacy toward a greater cause that would be greater than anything anyone could imagine.

Take a good look at the lives we lead. We lead lifestyles that were once was the privilege of emperors, kings, and great courts, yet we all too often squander our creative and intellectual potential by conforming to a fetishized culture of escapism, superficial gratification, drugs, and a bombardment of feel-good disinformation that distracts and holds us back from truth and empowerment.


Rome distracted its citizenry with games, drugs, and gaudy spectacles. Religion sold lies to profit while keeping people from rebelling against government. Nowadays, the CIA has co-opted the counterculture movement with the same old methods. History repeats itself until we learn the lesson and are willing to let go of the comfortable, familiar shore in order to cross the ocean of possibility to new horizons.


The bottom line is this: We are capable of SO much more, and time is precious.

You want to “raise your vibration” and help the world? Here’s the chance.

Are you willing to do what it takes, or is it all just talk and vanity?

You might ask: What might it look like? What about our society needs to change and how can we do it, personally and collectively? For a deeper,  comprehensive answer to these questions (and much more), read : “How to Solve All Social Problems”.


78 thoughts on “How and Why “Conscious” Festivals Need to Change

  1. You said it! This is exactly what I’ve been thinking and talking about so much lately! I went in search of this very thing and discovered Boom Festival. Check it out! They had the exact same vision as you do. They were inspired by burning to create this beautiful world you’re talking about. Please check it out! ❤

  2. come to OZ 😉 the east coast of oz is not that large in population. So from north qld to Tasmania there are bush doofs, psy parties. So when festival season is on here in Oz. The festival season on the other side of the world slows down and vice versa. The parties are mostly (98%) of the time in a synchronised way. So what happens is; Ppl begin to travel from all ends of Oz and the world, following the direction of parties and one by one, we all take similar routes and connect at the parties. Now, in between all the larger doors/festivals, there are smaller doofs with between 50 – 400 ppl attending, So some ppl will go in between the large festivals and meet more ppl and connect.
    My point is; given the fact most/all the parties are located on one strip of australia (east coast) we have all eventually met eachother thru the means of connecting thoroughly and spiritually. Once the doof season begins to slow down, most ppl i know will then head to europe to attend doofs like boom and tree of life & do the same connecting with ppl in between the large parties and themn head back to oz (just as the festival season begins again)
    when left to our own devices, after one week we begin building, small school/education learning spaces , small industry begins on a sustainable lvl and everyone knows everyone, and if u dont know them, you will know someone that does know them. 3- 5 thousand ppl will ultimately know each other.. wickeeeeed

  3. I like the idea of this post. It’s a wonderful thought. But I’m curious- is this idea realistic to include all different types if Americans? Or what about different cultures all over the world? It seems a bit exclusive and not wanting to recognize all the world problems like poverty, war, and dieses.

    You talk a lot about the costs. Costs that I think we can all agree are produced by mostly privledged individuals. What if that money was used for something bigger, something greater, something more humaine.

    There is currently 50 million refugees around the world that have been forced from their homes due to violence… Millions are at risk of famine and death in The African Great Lakes area… Millions are still dying of poverty… Millions of girls are being sold into marriage at 14.

    I get that burning man is fun, it’s an escape, it’s a different reality. But I’m sure all the above people would love to escape their lives and can’t. So if you really want to take all that money and do something good… Why don’t you invest in something that will help the greater good.

  4. I absolutely agree with the spirit of this article. And, a beautiful example of this in action already exists – for 40 years, Kalani in Hawaii has been creating space for people to grow, transform, share, and be their most creative selves. They are an intentional community as well as Hawaii’s largest retreat center and the area’s largest provider of nonprofit services, which gives the community a focal point. It’s all run as a 501c3.

    I originally went there for 3 months through their volunteer program, and quickly fell in love with the place and the model. Have returned several times since. is the website!

  5. I always get confused when people act like Burning Man is supposed to be sustainable. Do people criticize CERN for not being sustainable? It has cost more money than every Burn combined. The point to an experiment is not to be sustainable, it is to prove a hypothesis, to learn something new, to gain knowledge and forge ahead. What you do with that knowledge is up to you(indeed, the nature of this experiment itself is up to you), but it is completely logically false and seriously missing the point to claim that Burning Man is somehow irresponsible by not rising to some other occasion that you determine to be important.

    • It’s not about making Burning Man sustainable. It’s about examining how “conscious” our conscious festivals are and simply considering how they may be put to better use.

  6. yes to the idea of “Building Man”- To think of all the money and energy that has been spent and burned up in those fun filled 8 days of playa life. All those exorbant governmental fees and ridiculous law enforcement fees, and renting our own land from ourselves to gather in peace to have our own police police us in the ways they do. But what about picking a native american indian reservation each year and building a psychedelic sanctuary on it to host the tribal gathering on it where we actually build an eco village for a small group of people (200 -400) to remain and live at. What if each year we would have built this festive university on a different indian reservation, then we would already have 10 to 20 temples built across the nation that we didn’t burn down, but instead left standing for anyone to visit throughout the year to gather and learn and live with these “burning principles”? We could have directed revenue to these indigenous tribes that need the help and in return they could be teaching us some of the ways we need to be learning about life. It seems like both tribes need each other to help awaken the dream! They have the lands, we have our visions. Lets unite and build the man up instead of burning it down! Imagine the regional burn tours we could have going from eco village to eco village through out the year. You could stay at one for a few months and study this course or that course that was being offered. Sort of like merging burning man with the rainbow gathering! Deep respect for earth stewardship principles while embracing technological advances. The ancient past and futuristic ideas harmonizing into the present now ~ multiple autonomous free zones sustaining conscious community.

  7. Pingback: Voluntarism/ Anarchism: What, Why, and How (Part 9 of 9 in “How to Solve All Social Problems”) | LVX

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