Where will the gathering be?

Where will the 2014 gathering be?
In Nevada or Utah. No one knows exactly where at this time. For information on how a site is selected, click here. As will all things rainbow, participation is the key. No experience is ever necessary. Plug in where ever and when ever you can.
Who is invited?
Every person with a belly button. If for some reason, you lost your belly button, you are invited as well.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Magic of Music

The Earth Is Our Mother
For family who are more musically included, we have a long tradition of chants and songs not for performance, but for participation. Many of these songs are call and response or chant type songs. We use these songs to create community, help people be more peaceful and create the energy we wish to see in this world.

If you do not already know some of the rainbow songs, there are on-line websites that have the information.  If you play an insrument or even if you do not, try to learn these songs.  Then when you are at a gathering, I'm sure you will find a moment that is calling out for family singing and you will be prepared.

Thanks to family who have taken the time to make this information freely available.
Bliss Fire Website
Welcome Home Website

Singing is one of the best tactics to improve the vibration of the gathering. I've even seen people sing to break up hostile situations, calm the anxious, and create community among random strangers. Be the magic!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

We Love You

We love you is a common saying heard around the gathering.  Sometimes groups of people get together and shout "we love you" long and drawn out so it lasts for almost a minute. Inevitably, a group of people elsewhere in the gathering will return the "we love you" until the sound of people yelling "we love you" has encompassed the gathering.  Moments like these are some of my favorite moments at the gathering.

In 2008 at the gathering in Wyoming, a kind and conscious brother shot footage for a documentary he was making.  It won awards and circulated the indy film circuit for awhile.  The brother who made it came to the 2009 gathering in New Mexico and gave away hundreds if not thousands of free copies of the film.  It's now available online for your viewing pleasure.

We Love You: the documentary

To learn more about the film, click here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Creating a healthy gathering through hand washing

One thing that goes a long way to keeping folks at a gathering healthy and safe is washing hands - a lot. And I don't mean just rubbing your hands with sanitizer, but actual biodegradable soap (Dr. Bronner's is great) and filtered or boiled water. Some awesome Rainbow engineers have designed a hand wash station that's transportable and light weight. One goal of a Rainbow hand wash station is to make it hands free, so no one picks up germs in the process of washing their hands. (A smaller setup of this same type can be used for soap dispensing). If you're not up to speed on drinking water issues, Hawker has a great website showing what he's done in the past and discussing issues in greater depth.

Here's a great drawing of what I'll explain in words below. Thanks TimBear.

"From our experience, the primer bulb check valve can fail if the water gets trash in it. The solution we found was a small piece of filter material (like the filter from a wet vac) or fine mesh screening (a couple of layers of panty hose) around the end of the water intake. The pvc pipe allows you to direct the water where you want it, even if there is no tree where you want the water." - TimBear's words, not mine. What ever you do, make sure the grey water is at least 300 feet from creeks, rivers, and ponds and preferable somewhere where no one is walking. Dogs and people can get into the grey water and spread the germs all over the place and that's not healthy.

The key is a one-way syphon valve. It's made of rubber and can be squeezed by hand. Each end has a place to clamp hose onto. I usually get them at my local Marine supply store. Hook it up to some clear plastic tubing - one end to go into a bucket of filtered water. It looks like this:

The other end should be fastened somewhere (if not using TimBear's Pipe method) and hopefully have a drain system so people aren't standing around in gray water. To conserve water, get spare sun shower nozzles and put it on the end. These are $1-2 each from a camping supply store. They work great for the "faucet" end. Here is a photo of one.

Then to wash hands, all people need to do is pump the black syphon ball with their feet, and water comes out the shower nozzle. Portable hands free hand washing and kids love it!

Filtered water is best for hand washing. Providing an alcohol based hand sanitizer and/or a bleach wash as a final step is a great idea, but please label what is what so people can make informed decisions.

I also like to make a sink to minimize the amount of mucky grey water around the faucet. I've used a plastic bowl in a round tomato cage. Then drill a hole in the bottom and put in a connector so you can clamp a discharge pipe and run the waste water into a gray water pit. WARNING! HIPPIES CAN BE DUMB. Every time I use my sink setup, someone thinks we should recycle the gray water by putting it back into the fresh water container. THIS IS UNSANITARY AND IS WORSE THAN NOT WASHING YOUR HANDS AT ALL. So if you use a sink, please make a sign telling people that the drain DOES NOT go into the water source.

I'll be bringing a few extra setups to give out - but we needs lots of them. If someone(s) are looking for a great public service project for this year's gathering, here's a great one. Let's make sure we have enough hand washing stations scattered around the gathering so that people can't help but wash their hands at least twice a day. Every year I promise to make them at home and bring everything but the sink, but it doesn't seem to happen. Sure is easier at home with my tools.

Clean hands creates a healthy gathering.

Just a quick reminder, no soap in any surface water. Biodegradable soap only biodegrades in the soil.  All soapy water should be kept 300 feet from surface water like creeks, rivers, ponds and springs.  Don't be the dufuss who tries to wash your hands, clothes, hair, body in the creek. All you're doing is creating dirty water for the animals (2 and 4 legged) who drink the water.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Parking Lot Crew

The gathering only works because each of us pitches in to take care of everything that needs to be done. One project that needs some young energy is the Parking Lot Crew.

The joys of working parking are staying up all night and helping family park safely and legally so when they go back to their car it hasn't been towed.
Washington 2011 ? Bus Village

You get to stand on a dusty road, flag down people who don't want to stop, help them find Handicamp if necessary or which ever parking log is closest to where they are going.

While you're doing this critical job, the USFS Law Enforcement Officers drive up and down the road and almost run you over. Some of our A-Camp brothers and sisters show up to help and you have to make sure they don't get run over. The kitchens forget to feed you. Some days you're out there in the pouring rain or the blazing sun or the snow.

The parking situation can change daily as the cops change the rules. You have to find the owners of people who parked in the wrong spot so their car doesn't get towed. Then there's the people who don't listen to your advice and drive off the road and need your help getting them towed out. Or they have a flat tire, or a dead battery or they locked their keys in their car.

Then there are the emergency evacuations. Coordinating with CALM, finding drivers, and making sure people who need to get to a hospital get there safely. Sometimes you'll be all alone. Sometimes there will be 5 people talking to you at once about their emergency.

So why help out in the parking lot?

Washington 2011
Yes! that's snow
  • Because it is amazing to see all our beautiful family come home. 
  • Because someone is having a horrible gathering since they parked where you told them not the park and now you've gotten them towed out and they are grateful to you. 
  • Because you helped someone get to the hospital and maybe saved their life. 
  • Because you prevented someone's car from getting towed, helped fix a flat, jump start a car, get gas for some belly who ran out.

We always need new folks helping out with the parking scene, especially our younger family who can be up at 4 AM and park that weary family with the crying baby who just drove for 36 hours to be with you! Because you can keep that campfire burning and provide a cup of Joe for a tired traveler.

As with all things rainbow, no experience is necessary.  Just show up and tell who ever is parking cars that you want to help and be someone's hero.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Rainbow Family and How It Grew

From time to time I bring in great explanations of this and that by other gatherers. Partially because I like to make sure this blog isn't only my voice and partially because I find other people writing great things in other online forums.  Today's guest blogger is Tim Gillespie and he gave me permission to repost this here.  Thanks Tim!

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   

Dear Friends, this is my unauthorized vision of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, coming from 25 years of experience, participation, observation and questioning any and all I have met. This is especially for you young folks coming to your first gathering. Every year there are lots of you, which is a clear sign the the Family is still needed, and is a vital force for the human race for years to come.

This all grew from a collection of peace activists, hippies and Vietnam Vets who were sickened by the war. They came together to pray for world peace in 1972. We have done this every year since. GB drove an old school bus all over the country, visiting peace groups he knew of and invited all to come. Many did.

Those first gatherers established many of the principles that we use today. The gathering was not a party! All those substances that were antagonistic to peace and prayer were given their place too. A-Camp. A-Camp was set off away from the rest of the gathering. There, you could find alcohol, cocaine, meth, heroin and other bad-assed heavy drugs. Not that they were welcomed, but even then some good brothers back from Vietnam found then needed to medicate themselves with drugs that in many cases killed them eventually. The brothers were welcomed, but their drugs weren’t. Within the gathering proper, cannabis, shrooms, LSD and others that expanded the human consciousness were welcome, but not required. For a long time, A-Camp stayed near the main gate and formed a gauntlet that gatherers had to pass through to get within. This wasn’t a bad thing, and mirrors the spiritual journey of a hero from classical mythology. In recent years, A-Camp has grown and spread into the very depths of the gathering, as group after group found they couldn’t stand the other drunks. This is not a good thing.

Some have espoused the idea that the gatherings are an example for the rest of the world of how we can all live cooperatively. That idea is just plain silly. It takes only a little study of the way things actually are to realize that gatherings are not sustainable. Gatherings do not produce any of the food they consume. Those who come first bring their own food and a little extra to share with neighbors. Later, the Supply volunteers take funds from the Magic Hat and buy in bulk to distribute to large communal kitchens. These folks cook basic food and then haul it to the evening circle in buckets to hand out to waiting hippies. You are likely to not get enough calories to sustain yourself this way. It is common to lose 10-15 lbs in 2 weeks. Many kitchens also cook and serve breakfast and a lunch to whomever shows up. One, Kid Village, specializes in taking care of families with young children and pregnant girls. They always get enough food to take care of their neighborhood, which often has thousands of folks.

Water is always a problem. In the east, there often isn’t any drinkable surface water and few springs. In the west, nearly all water is likely to have protozoa which cause “beaver fever” and is a particularly nasty way to lose weight. A small group of dedicated folks have worked on this for years. They have developed water piping systems and filter systems that will make nearly any water safe to drink. For the most part, they have done this out of their pockets, with no help from the family at large. It is simple. It is pretty near impossible to pray for world peace with cramps in your gut and nasty liquids coming out of your body, both north and south.

Another group of volunteers form a loosely knit group called CALM who try to keep the rest of us healthy. Many of them have medical experience, from EMTs to nurse practitioners, from midwives to Md., and from massage therapists to chiropractors. They mostly bring donated medical supplies and give of themselves unselfishly to take care of accidents and illnesses that are inevitable.

Imagine 10000 people shitting in the woods, along with a thousand or so dogs. That is a huge load! The earliest gatherers took lessons from the military and dug slit-trench latrines. Sometimes they were narrow enough to straddle while taking care of business. I have seen some dug by ambitious volunteers that were nearly three feet wide; hard to use; don’t really want to fall in. This helps, but still doesn’t keep the flies off your shit. If you don’t prevent it, the flies eat on your shit, pick up e-coli bacteria and then bring it to your food being prepared. Next thing you know, everybody is sick. Part of the solution is to keep the flies off the shit. A layer 6 inches deep of dirt will pretty well do the trick. Any less, and they will tunnel down to the shit. A thin layer of wood ash works quite well if you have enough around. Hydrated, slaked lime is the most effective. Even after doing all this, lots of idiots just shit wherever they get the urge and leave paper and shit on the ground. Dog owners often do not take care of their dogs shit. HINT Every kitchen has a shovel or two around. I know that sometimes you can’t find a shitter in time. But, you can get a shovel and pick it up and either bury it or put it in a proper latrine.

Bad things sometimes happen. Some folks have psychological problems, some react badly to substances, some become violent (usually alcohol). Rapes have happened, and assaults. Imagine 10-20 thousand people in a small area in the woods. Pretty clearly we need someone to look out for those who are weak, young or infirm. Shanta Sena is the group of volunteers who do this for the family. If you need help, scream “Shanta Sena”. Others will pass the alarm on and help will come. The words mean peace keepers, by the way.

In the best of all possible worlds, each person would carry out all the trash they brought in. We do not live in that world. At the end of each gathering, a mountain of trash is left behind. Another group of volunteers (the cleanup crew) stay behind and dispose of all that trash. They also deal with the damage we have done to the environment with hard-packed trails, bliss fires, etc.

I hope I have given you something to think about. Clearly the gathering is not just a big party in the woods. It has a structure, traditions and volunteers to help it work. Anarchy is the last thing it is! After the work is done, there is time to party and meet new friends. Come on down!

~~ by Tim Gillespie

Monday, February 24, 2014

Spring Fever

Technically it's still the middle of winter, but the weather in the western part of the USA is so mild that it feels more like spring. The gathering is still months away, so what's a home sick gatherer to do?

Now is the perfect time to start getting ready for the gathering.  So here's a random list of steps you can take now to create a positive gathering for yourself and others this summer.

Make sure your car is 100% legal. All brake lights, turn signals, seat belts, registration, insurance and nothing hanging from your rear view mirror.  The cops seem to like to pull people over and write mandatory court appearance tickets for the littlest thing. While last year, the cops weren't as bad on this as they had been in the past, you never know what 2014 will bring. Who needs the hassle of a mandatory court appearance ticket?

Make sure your camping equipment is in good shape. Check your tent for leaks. I'm hoping we'll see rain this summer and camping is much more fun in a dry sleeping bag.

Check out thrift stores, garage sales and swap meets for things you can share with others at the gathering: tents, 60 gallon cooking pots, sleeping bags, cast iron grills, very large metal mixing bowls, hiking boots, digging shovels, pick axes, rain gear, etc.

Have a garage sale of your own and send the money you make to CALM, the Rainbow Guide, All Ways Free, Team Hydration or the Magic Hat.

Get in shape.  Yup, at the gathering you'll be walking for hours every day so now is the perfect time to get in shape.  Try walking an hour a day for starters if you're not in the habit already and plan to be up to four hours a day by mid-June.

Plan a workshop or camp focused on your special talent.  Some ideas are singing, drawing, ocarina making, drum making, meditation, yoga, belly dance, Tai Chi, sewing, caring for dogs or cats (probably not a great idea to mix dog and cat camps),  massage, or beading.  Start getting your supplies together and your friends lined up to get there early and find a great place for your camp.  Then arrive a week or so before July 1st and start creating the camp.  You are the rainbow magic and the gathering happens because individuals like you share your unique talents with other gatherers.  Don't forget to announce your workshop at breakfast/dinner circle, post a notice on the workshop board at INFO, and maybe make some signs on the main trail informing people of when and where the workshop takes place.

Plan a fundraiser for CALM or a mini-CALM that you support.  Every year the gathering treats hundreds of people from blisters to heart attacks at no charge to the patent. Remember just because everything at the gathering is free, doesn't mean we get everything free. Medical supplies aren't cheap and it costs thousands of dollars each year to keep everyone healthy.

Get involved with scouting.  If you like to read maps and walk the land, email me and I'll hook you up.

Build a rickshaw or other fat tire wheeled device powered by human or animal energy to help transport mobility impaired gatherers and food supplies to kitchens - you will be one of the most popular people at the gathering.  

Start a list of all media outlets in the consensus states (see top of blog) and get together with other folks and start contacting people with positive information on the gathering.  Reach out to the Rainbow Press Crew to learn what they've done in the past. Check out their website here.

Get your first aid certification so you can help keep our family healthy.

Rehearse your best rainbow story for Hipstories, than share your hard won wisdom with your family.

Starting going to your local circle (or start one if there isn't one already) and plan a camp like Cleveland, Ohio camp or whatever city you live in.  Get together with folks in neighboring cities and plan a regional camp.

Get a job and earn money (or set aside some money from your existing earnings) to donate to the magic hat on the land to feed your family or to buy a boat load of fruits and veggies and bring with you to share with the hardworking kitchens that are feeding you.

Learn how to play guitar and share your music with your family. Learn some of the Rainbow songs now and teach them to people on the land.

The most important lesson I've learned through my gathering experiences, is that the more I give to the gathering, the more the gathering gives to me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What ever happened to recycling?

Image Source
In the good old days when the snickers bars hung from trees, shitters dug themselves and the water tasted like champagne, gathering participants used to recycle.  According to the guru of garbage, Swami M. Om, in 1979, she set up recycling stations, but a lack of understanding about recycling ran rampant.  (Yes kiddies, in the 70s and 80s only hippies and tree huggers were into recycling).  Swami M. Om realized she would need to teach people how to recycle. Following the 1979 gathering, in a meditation she saw the seven catagories of trash and how they aligned with the seven chakras.  She used comedy and song to teach recycling to this wonderful, crazy family using The Seven Garbage Chakras. To read more about Swami M. Om, click here.
Image Source

We had a wonderful brother by the name of Dakota who for a number of years focalized recycling by sorting through a gigantic pile of trash left behind by less educated gatherers.

By 2004 or even a few years before, we handled recycling by hauling all the trash to a location in the parking lot and then dedicated volunteers would open every bag of trash and sort through everything, separating out anything we could take to an identified recycling center.  In more recent hipstory, a wonderful brother named Dan D. took on the task of focalizing sorting and places to take the recyclables - but it was basically the same process.  Depending on where we were located that could be plastic, paper, glass and metal or just aluminum cans.  This method left much to be desired. Instead of every gathering participant doing their share of recycling and hauling trash a handful of people did it for everyone (bless you trash sorters - you are the best of this family - right up there with our shitter diggers). 
Tennessee 2012 gathering trash pile with family sorting

Then this year in Montana, most of the trash went straight to dumpsters (unsorted) and off to the dump. While we (the magic hat) paid the dump fee, this family has gone from recycling trendsetters to trash generators. Even burning paper in Montana in 2013 created a bear nuisance as the bears can smell grease on ashes for some time. After we left the gathering, some black bears moved in and dug up our pits.
 So what are we to do?

Don't bring it in the first place. Don't bring cans, bottles, or plastic containers that you are not willing to take with you when you leave the gathering and take at least one hundred miles away from the gathering before you put it in a recycle container.

We are all the clean up crew. Anything you bring to the gathering, you are responsible for taking out of the woods including used tampons, used diapers, dirty clothes, broken tents, cigarette butts, bottles, cans, plastic containers, glow sticks, lighters, rope, tarps, etc. 

So what can you leave behind?  You can leave your and your pets' feces in a shitter, your toilet paper in a shitter, your urine in the woods, food scraps in a compost pit, and buried fire pit ashes.  You can leave grey water (used water for bathing, washing dishes, teeth brushing, etc.) in a grey water pit at least 200 feet from creeks, rivers and ponds. No soap decomposes in water. Dr. Bronners or biodegradable soaps degrade in the soil and we want the micro organisms to neutralize the grey water before it hits the creek and makes wild animals in the area sick. For more info on low impact camping, visit Leave No Trace.

Now that the problem has been revealed, what are we going to do about it?

Some ideas (please add more):
  • Education, education, education both before the gathering and at the gathering.
  • Find out where the recycling centers are in the vicinity of the gathering during seed camp and keep the recyclables flowing to the center every few days.
  • Don't leave everything inside the gathering until July 7 - take your trash and recyclables to your car every few days.
  • Set up recycling stations around the gathering or in the parking lots from the start of seed camp.
Visit some of these websites and learn more about recycling:
Natural Resources Defense Council
I Want To Be Recycled