[Originally posted on BurnerPrep.com]
On Thursday, November 15th, I attended the Gift Circle workshop at Burning Man Headquarters.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had never been to a gifting circle before and I didn’t even really know what it was. I assumed it had to do with the Burning Man ethos of a gift society (as opposed to bartering, which is what most people think it is). I thought it was going to be a lecture, highlighting cultures in which gifting is popular, but was pleasantly surprised by what it actually was.
They had each participant partner with someone they didn’t know to discuss a myriad of universal human needs. It was interesting to get this anthropological perspective from someone I didn’t know. We focused primarily on discussing needs and gifts.
We were then asked to say what we needed from someone else. Some were more physical and tangible, such as needing help getting a bike fixed or cleaning a garage. Some were more abstract, such as getting advice with family relations or seeking project collaboration. Even though most people just met, they really opened up which made it a great environment to connect in.
Once this phase concluded, everyone went around and announced what they could contribute to the group. I discovered the many talents of the participants and that these people were incredibly generous in what they were willing to offer. Furthermore, it was insightful to see that most people wanted to offer services or teach a skill rather than offer an item like a book or material object.
The follow-up of actually giving and/or receiving the gifts is the most important part, which is why this activity is typically done on a regular basis. The social atmosphere and workshop facilitators make it extremely easy to do so by sharing everyone’s email and creating a comfortable environment. It was definitely a great event and I would recommend it to anyone. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your next collaborator for that project of yours or your future mentor!