Who Are We?

Catharsis on the Mall was initiated and originally organized by a group of individuals in Washington, DC, acting in accordance with Burning Man’s ten principles. We are not formally affiliated with Burning Man, although many of our contributors identify with the Burning Man community at large. We sought a local experience that integrated the best of our burner values with the immediate desire for political and cultural change that brings people to DC.

Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important cornerstone in our culture. As we continue to connect and intersect with the broader DC community, we seek to overcome barriers that stand between us, better recognizing our own inner selves and the immediate realities of those around us. We seek to provide space for arts, healing, culture, and activism to come together, mediated by radical inclusion, participation and self-expression. In this unique space we can see and hear ourselves and each other in ways that go far beyond our common day-to-day. No thought or idea can be substituted for this experience…

Our annual event “Catharsis on the Mall” is the culmination of an entire year of planning and organizing. It is a vigil that features lectures, discussions, workshops, community art, music, and unstructured spaces intended to facilitate seeing and healing for wounds in ourselves, each other and in our society. The most important highlight of the event is “The Temple Burn.” The Temple is a non denominational sanctuary, a place of sacredness and solemnity; a place for remembrance, grief, and renewal that anchors the event. The burning of the temple expresses this transition, letting go, the continual flow of life; it encourages the lived experience of catharsis. It’s what makes the temple a sacred experience for each individual.

Catharsis is set on a national stage, with broad scope seeking to affect the federal government’s culture and identity to one of compassion, collaboration and healing. Catharsis is the first and only event permitted to burn a structure on the National Mall and allow amplified music for 24 hours, allowing individuals to enjoy the sunset and sunrise. The event is collaboratively co-created each year by dozens of core volunteers and hundreds of participants. In 2016 the core organizers formalized Catharsis on the Mall, LLC and a board of directors to guide and lead the event forward.

Catharsis on the Mall is and plans to remain free and open to the public. We welcome you to join us!

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