National Rainbow Gathering: Good Times, Good People!!
Posted by jeremiasx on June 26, 2007
I’ve been posting a bit about the Rainbow Family gathering which is happening about 20 miles from my house for the last few days and hope to continue to bring you more information as I continue my reports on the national convention of the world’s largest “unorganized organization.” The event will continue to run from now until about the 7th of July…the largest event is the group prayer for peace on the 4th of July.
Last night I went out to the campsite, which is located at the headwaters of the Buffalo National River near Fallsville, AR. It’s a stunningly beautiful location for a gathering, right along the banks of the river which is the economic lifeblood of Newton County. While the forestry service has a serious interest in controlling the environmental impact of the campsite, it seems that they have a much KEENER interest in the “LEO” aspect of their duties. LEO, by the way, is Rainbow-speak for “law enforcement officer.”
How have the Forestry Service treated the Rainbow Family? Roadblocks, strip-searches, armed sniper teams in ghillie suits spying on them from the forest, and generally trying their damnedest to make their life and their gathering a much less enjoyable experience. For the last few days they have reportedly given a “wake-up call” around 7am (some reports were as early as six) by blaring the theme from the TV show “Cops: Bad Boys” over their PA system on their SUV patrol vehicles. Nice folks, eh?
Alas, the usual draconian “LEO” roadblocks were not in place last night, and I have no idea whether they just gave up for the evening by the time I got there or whether my writing to their P.R. officer and informing them of the questionable constitutionality of their roadblock had anything to do with it. I hope they took it down to do a little studying on it and possibly consider wasting a LITTLE less of the taxpayers money on this obvious “War on Drugs” dragnet which serves little purpose and has resulted in the over-taxing of our local law enforcement capabilities and detracted from what I assume SHOULD be the goal of the Forestry Service which is protecting forests…not playing Elliot Ness.
But anyhow, let’s talk about the Rainbows themselves a bit.
In an interview with a long time Rainbow member who is a contributor to the “Info” efforts of the group, which is not an official or endorsed effort but is an effort nonetheless, complete with a new “Info Tent” for the benefit of Rainbow Gathering newcomers…lol…you catch my meaning yet? Things get accomplished in a mix of people whose backgrounds and beliefs vary widely across generational spectrums by a method which I would have to consider to be the closest thing to functional anarchy that I’ve ever seen.
The will of the group imposes itself through the voices of the individuals and the collective agreement or disagreement in a loosely tribal democracy, which is all that I can say at the outset because I’ve never been privy to any of the council meetings; if there are any…I don’t know yet. It’s very different yet it seems to work quite well for them.
During my visit I checked out the “A-Camp” which is inhabited by anyone who wanders in and wants to drink alcohol. Alcohol use is highly discouraged outside of “A-Camp”, and this consensus was agreed upon by the Family after it was observed that things generally ran smoother when the drinkers didn’t do their partying in other areas where people are trying to congregate for other reasons, such as drum circles or workshop areas.
Yes…there are many things happening at the Rainbow Festival…there are rumors (because there are no schedules and there is no group itinerary to speak of) that there will most likely be workshops on everything from glass blowing to Hindu mythology discussion groups…you never really know what will be brought to the group by visitors but it seems that MOST everyone has something to offer for the benefit of the gathering.
There are many who work the camp kitchens, donating their efforts cleaning the crockery and preparing meals…some work as campfire guards, some as cleanup crew, and there is even a group of (extremely) unofficial security for the group, who manage to take care of disturbances among visitors, and always with peaceful conflict resolution as the ultimate goal.
All in all, I was amazed at the ability of such a large group of people to make a go of something that if run by a business interest…would involve thousands of dollars in preparations and paid labor to conduct…that is, a gathering of up to 10,000 people in one spot. Yet there is no charge for admission, everyone is welcome, and if you bring a cup and a spoon you’ll probably get to dine for free as well. They pass the “magic hat” to cover expenses, and they seem to lack for nothing…that which they lack, they don’t tend to bitch about either. I never heard anyone complain of being hungry or not having what they needed, other than one young man who was hard up for a band-aid for a few minutes…but even that issue was handled by a quick trip to CALM (which is the unofficial medical station.)
I didn’t see people littering. I didn’t see people fighting. I didn’t see vulgar displays of public nudity. I didn’t see rampant drug use. And I was there until 3am. Maybe it was because it was on a Monday, perhaps? LOL
So…I must admit I find it very HARD to believe a lot of the bad press that the forestry service puts out through the rumor mill to the locals. I am a local. I think these folks are A-OK. How about them apples?