Consent is about communicating your needs, desires, and boundaries, while understanding and honoring others’ needs, desires, and boundaries. It is vital to connecting a community while ensuring the safety and autonomy of all. Even with our best intentions, sometimes a reminder can help us recenter our interactions and expectations. We’ve shortened it here as Ask First because it’s often really that simple. Are you unsure of how something might be received? Ask First! & respect the answer.
Since 2014 I have been creating and distributing Ask First buttons to local Burning Man communities in different designs, giving out over 6,000 buttons thanks to crowd-funding.
For Lakes of Fire 2017: Fire & Ice, five glowing faux-stained glass signs were created to inspire consent culture and encourage people to Ask First if they’re unsure of a situation. Hot or cold? Fire or ice? Yes or no? Ask First remind us that enthusiastic consent strengthens our community connections. If you want a burning hot experience, don’t get cold feet — just Ask First!
In 2017, I also created Ask First zines to give out to start dialogues about consent and the ten principles of Burning Man communities. These were put together by a team of awesome friends and volunteers (y’all rock!)
For Lakes of Fire 2018: Bedtime Stories, I created Ask First: Pillow Talk, a collection of pillows with consent-themed decorations to put in public relaxation stations around the lake. A team of more than 15 wonderful volunteers helped create 42 different pillows. We also put together over 350 new zines about consent and bystander intervention in two versions: one for Lakes of Fire/burner communities, and a “muggle” version. I created a new fun Ask First: Pillow Talk design as well, which was made into a glowing sign, buttons, and even a patch created by the 11th Principle: Consent team.
The Ask First signs and other materials were funded by a grant from the Great Lakes Experimental Art Inc. for 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Other consent resources:
The 11th Principle: Consent! is working to spread awareness, spark conversations, and create positive enthusiastic experiences about consent at burns.
The Bureau of Erotic Discourse is the OG of bringing consent culture conversation to the burner community. Remember, Communication is the best lubrication!
Scarleteen is full of resources for anyone at any age who wants to learn more about navigating consent, sex, health, and relationships.
Captain Awkward isn’t specifically consent focused, but she has lots of advice and dialogue suggestions about communicating and respecting boundaries in sooo many situations.