We've got another initiation in October...
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Welcome to the FGP newsletter, where we share interesting ideas about performance, leadership and our upcoming trainings.

Stay tuned for Substack Thursday's "Homegrown Humans" newsletter, leaning more on neuroanthropology and cultural hottakes.

Welp, if this wasn't the year that Burning Man jumped the shark, it sure dipped a toe in those murky waters.

(after all, who really knows what Pleistocene beasties lurk beneath that ancient lake bed?)

Unless you had some much, much better things to do this Labor Day Weekend, you might have seen a news item or two catastrophizing a soggy few days at Burning Man. It made the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Economist and even Vanity Fair!

On Thursday, I'd posted a Substack "how we all use the event as a Rorschach Test for our own preferences and biases on culture, elitism, sexuality, substances, art, community and ecology."

I had no idea how true that would quickly become.

That ink blot dynamic hopped into overdrive this weekend, as hottakes flooded in to chase clout and clicks.

The posts ran the gamut—Burners were either entitled douche bro VCs and Instagram models deserving what was coming, or suffering from Ebola and a New World Order lockdown, or kind and resilient community members pulling together and making the best of it.

The rains were either God's punishment on the wicked pagans, or a wake-up call for climate activism. (Or just bad timing for a fairly common late summer monsoon).

And then things went super duper meta as all those Instagrammers and Blue Check Twits stranded in the muck started seeing (and responding to, and influencing the next round of) posts online. About them. In real time!

Without a doubt, this was the most extremely online Burn ever.

Like "Naked, (Tripping Balls) and Afraid", but with fishnet stockings and platform boots.

It's too soon to tell exactly what the eventual debrief will look like (a second forecasted storm on Sunday that fizzled massively de-escalated the situation).

But most likely, it'll turn out that some people stepped up and went above and beyond looking after themselves and each other, some people skipped out leaving tents, food, RVs and bikes for others to clean up, and some people freaked out, and went into lizard-brained survival mode.

None of this should be especially surprising. It's how the bell-curve of human responses to crisis tends to go.

But you know who I know stepped up?

Burners Without Borders—the disaster response team I wrote about in Stealing Fire. They spend their year diving into hot zones around the world to GSD when no one else can. They literally train for this, and have the mechanical, logistical and organizational skills to bring to bear when it matters.

And, our outdoor crew, from Colorado to Utah to Alaska. Friends of FGP who are heli-ski guides, first responders, or competitive athletes, and have dedicated their lives to competently exploring mountains, oceans and deserts.


Because after summiting sketchy peaks, or handling pounding surf, or canyoneering through slot canyons?

Car camping in the rain is pretty doable.

After med-evacing someone with a fractured femur off a Himalayan mountainside, making sure your festival neighbors got peanut butter and jellies when their stove conked out is the least you can do.

As one big mountain athlete texted, "Luckily our camp is amongst the 1% of the 80,000 people who are actually prepared. We are moving people out of their flooded shift pods into RVs, rationing fuel for food refrigeration and water for drinking and cooking only. Taking inventory of medical supplies for the refugees that are stumbling into our camp. Our spirits are high and we are spreading love and happiness and assistance wherever we can! It’s an epic disaster zone! We are hosting a comedy show tonight to cheer people up! Love you all! WE GOT THIS!"


So, folks will continue to parse this past weekend on the Nevada playa for meaning. And mostly, it will "mean" more of what folks already believe. About the event. About class. About carbon. About community. About civilization.

But that's not why I took the time to write about it today.

I'm writing this to highlight the obvious theme that's staring us in the face, and will most likely get buried by all the Medium posts and retweets to come.

This was a test.

Not in some divine providential kind of way, like Job in the Old Testament.

More in the "put your #2 pencils down and hand in your answer sheet" kind of way.

When the rains came and the roads closed, did you have your shit remotely together? Food, water, clothing, shelter, medical supplies, fuel, communications (and glitter)?

And do you have it together enough to then go help those who don't?

In the same way that Covid and the subsequent lockdowns were a reality test.

Or the fires in (Greece, British Columbia, Australia...) were a reality test.

Or the homeless encampments after the latest hurricanes were a reality test...

But the bummer with these kinds of reality tests, is that they're all too real.

You either prepared in advance, or you suffer the consequences in the crux.

It can make learning as you go hard when you're focused on surviving.

Because really, how big we can play all comes down to a progression of capacity.

If I have my personal game dialed, I can care about my family. If my family is thriving, I can help lead my community. If my community is thriving, I can perhaps serve the world.

But hit me on the head with a hammer (or run out of food and water in a desert) and the most saintly among us needs a hand.

Then, give me an icepack (or a Snickers), and I can power back up to be more useful once again.

It's a sliding scale based on energy, resources and awareness.

And it's not just how many people I can care for that ebbs and flows. It's how far into the future I can see to inform my decisions.

Those folks walking out of Burning Man and leaving their stuff for others to sort out were solidly in the Me/Now bucket. (this also explains, BTW, why there's so much trash at Everest base camp and on the moon. When it's down to naked survival, long-term consequences go out the window!)

Other folks hunkering down with their camp families and making plans to self-evacuate when the roads dried were in the Mine/Now/Next bucket.  They were looking after more than just themselves in the present, and they were strategizing about the most efficient/self-reliant next steps for their little band to get home safely and responsibly in the near future.

Burners Without Borders, Burning Man Organization and other like-minded folks were likely thinking of the entire "world" of Burning Man, and how what happens over the next week affects both its legacy and its futurethe Everyone, Everywhere, Everywhen bucket. Step one was getting everyone to pavement and safely home. But steps two through eleven, were salvaging all the abandoned vehicles and gear, clean up of federal lands, debriefing with all the local, state and federal agencies on deck during the event, maintaining optimum relations with the Bureau of Land Management for future permitting, and ensuring that the organization itself remains financially, politically and reputationally viable to lead next year and beyond.


So that's why we do what we do here at FGP.

We help folks expand their capacity and build up their competency. From selfish, to self-centered. From looking after Me/Now, to Everyone/Everywhen.

That's about as practical a definition of becoming a HomeGrown Human I can think of.

We deliberately train in unpredictable conditions, so we can learn how to manage that uncertainty better in our lives and leadership.

And what does that kind of real-time, high-consequence decision making and adventuring look like?

Individual and group flow.

But not the kind that flow consultants with laser pointers talk about in podcasts and conference rooms.

The real kind.

The kind you have to go out and earn for yourself.

If that sounds like the kind of thing you're interested in learning (and earning), apply here for our upcoming Flow Canyons expedition in Utah next month.

And stay tuned for Saturday's follow-up post, where I'll share stories from those canyons that take everything that happened at Burning Man this week, and turn it up to eleven. In the best possible ways.



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