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This chapter, Designing Personal Sustainability into Organizational Culture: The Case of Burning Man, by Morgan C. Benton and Nicole M. Radziwill, focuses on the big international art and music festival known as Burning Man. The famous event draws around 70,000 people every August (except for the whole pandemic thing) to northwestern Nevada. As one can imagine, the event has a relatively large environmental footprint--one that the organizers have worked hard to reduce. The chapter focuses on how the organization of Burning Man is developing clear sustainability goals within its organization.
The chapter begins with a review of sustainability management and sustainability planning for events. It also highlights the need to focus on personal sustainability within any planning context. The chapter then goes into the case study which reviews the organizational elements of Burning Man. What is interesting is the overall organizational structure of the event. The "camp" is the main unit of spatial organization and many camps have specializations such as hair washing or food supply. Some of the camps manage things like trash pick up and water management. Thus, at least for a short period of time every year, Burning Man is the largest intentional eco community on the planet.
Another important aspect of Burning Man is the transformational experiences individuals can have. This transformation includes aspects of sustainability and learning about the environment. Burning Man organizers and participants have also embraced something called the 10 Principles which including things like radical self-reliance, decommodificatios, civic responsibility, and leave no trace. Based on surveys, many of the attendees of Burning Man bring the 10 Principles, including those that involve sustainability, into their lives. The chapter concludes with a variety of lessons learned and challenges and barriers. Some of the lessons learned include a number of recommendations as to how to make Burning Many more sustainable, including finding alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles and reducing waste.
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Here are some discussion questions when using this chapter for a unit on organizational sustainability, events and sustainability, or personal sustainability:
Chapter 1: Sustainability Definitions, Historical Context, and Frameworks
Chapter 2. Sustainability and Natural Landscape Stewardship: A US Conservation Case Study
Chapter 3. Policy Design for Sustainability at Multiple Scales: The Case of Transboundary Haze Pollution in Southeast Asia
Chapter 4. Sustainable Water Resources Management: Groundwater Depletion
Chapter 12. Urban Social Sustainability: The Case Study of Nottingham, UK