Radically Inclusive Communities: Black at Burning Man Documentary

Our vision for Kindra is a community-centric dating and connection app.

Why be community-centric?

Our society’s increased reliance on technology and screens is causing an increase in feelings of disconnection, loneliness, and depression, a breakdown in our communities and support-systems, and an increase in suicide, which has hit a 50-year peak.

Building a dating or connection app that only facilitates individuals meeting each other may not stem feelings of isolation and disconnection. In fact, research has shown Tinder users report lower self-esteem and psychosocial well-being.

Humans evolved to be in extended families, pods, clans, group, and villages — not as loners or isolated couples. We derive emotional nourishment from our interconnected relationships. Social networks — both quantity and quality — have been correlated with physical and mental health and life expectancy.

Our goal at Kindra is to build a community — a feeling of fellowship with others  based on sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. We have created an app for people to connect in person at events and meet through the app for dating, and we will be expanding connection capabilities to include meeting friends and collaborators.

To build a community requires defining its culture and principles. I witnessed the power of this when Larry Harvey outlined Burning Man’s Principles in 2004. By that time, I had been to Burning Man three times already. It was fascinating to be part of the Burning Man community shift in response to these principles in the years that followed. The community slowly moved en masse from a barter economy to a gift economy; instead of haggling each other for something of commensurate value, people unconditionally gave to each other, spreading love and warm feelings.

Kindra has begun this cultural defining process by outlining our own ten principles for the Kindra community.

One of the principles we have included — and borrowed from Burning Man’s 10 Principles — is the principle of radical inclusion, which means everyone is invited to become a member of the community.

There are many dating apps built on exclusivity. The League is only for people who graduated from top colleges — as determined by The League. Raya positions itself as a private network for creative people — but seems to only open its doors to hot instagram models and men with large paychecks.

Why are radical inclusion and diversity important?

It is not the attributes that you can’t control, such as your skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, attractiveness, education, income, or age that determine whether you are welcome in our community.

Rather, Kindra is open to anyone who values meaningful connections and wants to connect as a whole person. We specifically don’t ask what college you went to, because we think how you express yourself and live your life today is more important.

Kindra welcomes everyone as long as they honor our principles and follow behaviors that treat each other with respect, including consent, valuing individuality, and not ghosting.

Principles serve as a guide post, a direction to follow.

After attending Burning Man for 11 years, I was disturbed that only 1% of the city’s population was Black. How was it that we fell so short when it comes to radical inclusion? As a filmmaker prior to founding Kindra, I set out to explore why there are so few African Americans at Burning Man and created this ten minute documentary that was featured in The New York Times.

In making the documentary, I came to feel the high cost of exclusion and discrimination. What makes the community at Burning Man so wonderful is its openness, warmth and love. Everyone there is welcomed and embraced. It was so sad to hear Black people share how they felt welcomed and embraced on Playa in a way they hardly ever feel within mainstream white American society.

My goal for Kindra is to spread the welcoming ethos of Burning Man and create a community of openness, warmth, and love. I want people attending Kindra events to  feel welcomed and embraced, and when they meet each other after connecting on the Kindra app, treat each other with openness, respect, warmth, and kindness.

If you are attending BEquinox, the Los Angeles regional Burn next weekend, please join me for a panel discussion on diversity at Burning Man from 2-4pm on Saturday, March 23 at Camp Black Rock Explorers: https://www.facebook.com/events/2034391850197274/