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On Thursday November 15, 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. 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 or examples of cultures that gifting is popular.

I was pleasantly surprised by what it actually was. They had you partner with someone you didn’t know and discuss this sheet that they had of universal human needs. It was interesting to get a perspective on those from someone you do not know. The main part though was to discuss needs & gifts.

The next steps were for everyone to say what they needed from someone else. Some were around actual physical things – needing help getting a bike fixed or cleaning a garage. Some were more abstract around getting advice with family relations or wanting to collaborate with people on a project. Even though most people just met, they really opened up which made it a great environment to connect.

After, everyone went around and introduced what they could contribute to the group. I learned the many talents of people in the room and that people are incredibly generous in what they are willing to offer. Furthermore, it was insightful to see that most people want to offer services or teach someone a skill rather than offer an item like a book or something.

It was definitely a great event to check out that I’d recommend to anyone. The follow up on actually giving or receiving the gifts is the most important part, which is why when this is usually done it is with a regular group that meets. But, the environment definitely encourages this followup. The facilitators also make it extremely easy to do so through sharing everyone’s email and creating an environment in which everyone feels comfortable.Who knows – maybe you’ll find your next collaborator for that project of yours or your future mentor!

There was also a part on crafting items, but I did not go to that part.

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