Where will the gathering be?

We will gather peacefully for silent meditation the morning of July 4th, 2017 from dawn until noon; and a peaceful assembly of free speech and expression from July 1st through the end of Vision Counsel; in the state of Oregon. For directions, click here.

To find out how to get into the gathering without getting a mandatory court appearance ticket, click here and check out the right side-bar. To reach a human being, email Karin.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Peace and the Planet (Part 5 of 5 of "Creating Peace")

In order to live in a peaceful world, we need to treat our planet, Gaia, with the respect, love, and attention to her sustenance with which we treat our children. Climate change is the result of mistreating our amazing planet. Climate change is about changing weather patterns that make it hard for people to find drinking water for their children, that create flooding of homes and agriculture land, and that wither our crops under relentless sun.

When people are hungry or thirsty, violence can easily erupt over food and water. Not just in Dafur but everywhere including the gathering.  How then do we show with our actions that we are actively working to protect Gaia from climatic changes that threaten world (and local) peace?

Reduce the number of campfires. Burning carbon increases global warming. Plus if you see the cloud of wood smoke in main meadow at a gathering, you'll realize that reducing the number of campfires will improve the health of every gathering participant. Click here to learn more about the negative impacts of campfires on human and planetary health.

Reduce/reuse/recycle - adopt a zero waste lifestyle. Only buy products that you will consume or that will last you for a long time. For example, buy rice in bulk with reusable containers instead of throw away plastic packaging. Buy reusable forks and knives for a gathering not single use plastics. Packaging and throw away junk contributes to climate change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that by cutting the amount of waste we generate back to 1990 levels, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 11.6 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MTCE), the basic unit of measure for greenhouse gases. To learn more about how what you buy creates climate change, click here.

Plus the less stuff you bring to a gathering, the less stuff YOU need to haul out when you leave. You would be amazed at the amount of camping gear that gets left behind at a gathering.  Re-use that tent or find a loving home for it if you do not want it anymore. Don't leave it behind for the cleanup crew.  YOU are the clean up crew. The less we buy and bring to the gathering, the less clean up we have to do. Buy food in bulk, bring gear to keep you warm and dry and forgot about the rest. Recycling of aluminum cans takes energy which contributes to climate change.  Use reusable stainless steel containers for your beverages and stop giving your money to the multi-national conglomerates like Pepsi and Coca Cola who don't care about the seventh generation and are wrecking your health and the health of the planet.

Put your money where your mouth is. Walk your talk.  We can change this world by spending our money in ways that create the change we want to see in this world. Shop at your local co-ops. Buy locally grown produce. We can make a difference, one person, one family, one clan at a time. Let us follow the wisdom of our Lakota siblings and heal this beautiful planet that gives us so much.

We are the people we have been waiting for to create a future for the next generation. How are you going to step up and create the change for which Gaia is praying?

Together we can change our future

Friday, February 17, 2017

What is Peace? (Part 4 of 5 of "Creating Peace")

A common point of discussion when working towards peace is defining what peace is and isn't, what it looks like, which activities are considered "peaceful" and which are not.

I think at the extreme ends of the spectrum, most people can agree on what peace is and isn't. For example, most people would consider dropping bombs on other people to be the opposite of peace. Most people would consider the silent prayer/meditation for world peace and the om to be examples of peace.

That's the easy stuff. In fact trying to define peace can cause even the most peaceful among us to be less than peaceful.  So what do we do if we say we want peace, but we can't even agree on what peace looks like, feels like, acts like or talks like?

I'll throw out a couple of high level ideas, but even these are subject to much discussion. I hope you continue these discussions in the circles in which you find yourself. If all goes as planned, I will be doing a few workshops at the gathering on "What is Peace and How do We Create Peace?" -- hopefully I won't be the only one.

In Creating Peace, Parts 1 to 3, we looked at some of the foundational aspects of peace (click on the topic "Creating Peace" under Gathering Topics on the right hand side of this blog).
What is Peace?
First graders have a very good concept of peace (image from Miss Krug's Our Grade One blog):

Some people view peace as the absence of war or violence. Perhaps this view comes to us from  Ancient Greece in the goddess Eirene the goddess of peace, who also celebrates decisive battles that end wars. If we subscribe to this paradigm, we probably are following the axiom "the ends justify the means."

Another high level view of peace is one that focuses on harmony and tranquility that can take the form of an inner state or a state between people. We can say she is always tranquil and peaceful or they have a harmonious marriage.

Peace can be considered as cooperation between people in a social group or culture to maintain a certain level of social order. Keep in mind that slavery existed in the USA during times of peace and for me, slavery does not equal peace.
Liberian Women for Peace

The Global Peace Index (GPI) attempts to identify countries by their level of peacefulness focusing on various formal military measures, prisoners per capita, refugees, wars, etc. 

In the last hundred years, peace has been tightly coupled with the idea of non-violence. So now we have to define what non-violence is and how non-violent  methods contribute towards creating peace. Now I'm sure most of you are familiar with the teaching of the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. -- all of which emphasis non-violence --another problematic concepts. Defining non-violence is just as hard as defining peace (but I think by now you know how to approach this issue.)

The Dalai Lama offers these words, "Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free." Of course now we have to figure out what "free" really means. For example, do we include the freedom to harm others in free? Or are your freedoms curtailed when they impact my freedoms? How does your pollution impact my freedom?

Peace is often negotiated between groups of people. For example, a family, school, city or state negotiate what they see as peace.

International Alerts writes, "

Monday, February 13, 2017

First Time Gatherer?

Everyone with a belly button is welcome to attend. However, if you have no belly button due to some medical procedure, you fall into the special group of people who have lost their belly buttons and are welcome to attend under the belly button challenged clause of the Rainbow Family guidelines.  (Just a bit of rainbow humor.)

That being said, showing up at a gathering and not knowing anyone can be very overwhelming. 

My best advise is to plan your arrival for early in the morning (say before 10 AM). This may mean you stay at a campground or a motel a short drive away from the gathering. Get up at 7 a.m. and do the last 75 miles.  These are always the slowest hardest miles into a gathering site, some times it is easy to get lost, roads can be rough, folks are exhausted and tempers can flare. You don't want your first gathering experience to be a bad one do you?

If you already have plans to meet up with friends at a specific camp, gather your gear and ask people to point you to that camp. Otherwise, ask for INFO.  The journey from your car to INFO may take hours.
Bring one gallon of water per person for the hike in, more if you can carry it.  Sometimes it's a long hike in, sometimes there a lot of traffic on the trail, sometimes you need to explore the sights along the way. Sometimes you get sidetracked by a drum circle or hug pile. Filtered water will be available at the gathering but you don't want to have to fill up for at least 8-10 hours after you arrive and one gallon of water goes fast at the gathering.

Once you reach INFO, there will be a map showing the gathering layout and some of the many camps. Some camps are location based such as NERF (New England Rainbow Family), others are activity based such as Yoga Camp. If you're not sure what's right for you, ask the folks at INFO questions about the vibe of the different camps.  Again this may take hours and you want to set up your tent before dark.  AGAIN I REPEAT. You will be happier if you get your space set up before dark unless wandering around all night long without a flashlight and a jacket is what makes you happy, then go for it. I also recommend walking around the gathering and feeling out what feels like a good place for YOU. Once you feel that, introduce yourself to who ever is around and say you'd love to plug into this camp.  Then take it from there.  Always keep your day pack with you. Keep your flashlight, bowl and eating utensils, a water bottle with drinking water, as well as a sweater or such in your backpack on your back every time you leave your tent. You may think you'll be back in 5 minutes, but you may not make it back until after dark. Find me at the gathering and ask me the story of Utah 2003 if you don't believe me.

Keep in mind that your first day at your first gathering is going to be a long one. No matter what, do not get separated from your gear unless the person who has it is someone personally known to you. If someone offers to help carry it, stay with them. If you don't,  you and your gear may take a few days to reconnect. If you shuttle in, DO NOT put your gear on a different shuttle than you are going on.  Hiking in is confusing and that kind sibling who offered to carry your tent may have thought you were going to Yoga Camp when you said Yoga Space - and yes sometimes there are multiple camps with very similar names.  Again it make take a few days for you and your gear to connect up again.  If you brought it, keep it with you and take it home when you leave (trash included).  The less you bring the less you have to haul out.

Remember, dinner circle is in main meadow - Listen for the conch shell being blown later afternoon. Bring your bowl and a spoon so you have something to eat with.

If you need help with anything, go to INFO and we'll help you out as best we can.

Info Crew (Montana 2013) Providing Free Rainbow Shrugs
(you'll get the joke after you been home for a few days)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sustenance and Safety (Part 3 of 5 of "Creating Peace")

One of the foundations of creating peace is making sure people are prepared, in the right mindset, and able to do the hard work that creating peace entails. Sustenance and Safety are the building blocks of peace.

Sustenance takes care of our bodily needs. We can't think well when our blood sugar is crashing or when we are dehydrated. Adequate food and water is a must for all in order to be able to even discuss peace (stay tuned for part 4 of Creating Peace).

One of the most important actions a person can take at a gathering is making sure everyone is eating and drinking plenty of water. This year we will be in the east and that generally means moister gatherings and lot's of sweating. One gallon a day of water that has been boiled for 20 minutes or filtered with a 0.2 micron or smaller filter is a must.

When people haven't eaten or are dehydrated they act out. When they are in these conditions for too long, they get sick.  When you combine these issues with over-indulgences, we have a recipe for problems that can impact the entire gathering.

Prevent the problems by making sure you and the people in your vicinity are eating and staying hydrated. Be on the look out for people who look like they aren't getting food and/or water and help them before they start breaking the peace. 

Now for the tough topic: safety.

Safety is a bit harder to come by because what constitutes a feeling of safety is a very subjective and emotional feeling.  To explain what I mean, we'll talk about the estuary by my house.  The salt marsh and estuary have been channelized to prevent flooding and on either bank is a trail. The east side is a paved path that hooks up with bike paths to the north and south. The west side is a dirt road with trees providing shade on a warm day as shown in the image.
The Estuary

People in my neighborhood have very different perspectives on the estuary. Some people view it as a haven for criminals and are afraid to go down there especially after dark. Other people loving taking their kids down to watch the Great Blue Herons and Osprey trying to rustle up a meal.

Now you would think there is some logic as to who feels safe at our estuary and who is scared, but so far I haven't observed any patterns.  I see people with small kids down there watching the sunset and in the early morning many seniors walk their dogs. Then I meet other people in their thirties and forties who are scared to go down without a large group of people because once upon a time someone had a bike stolen (maybe 10 or 15 years ago).

In addition to the herons and hawks at the estuary, one finds the differentially housed: people who live in tents or throw down a sleeping bag under a bush for the night.  Some people are scared of people with different lifestyles then their own, others exchange pleasantries with everyone. Some people who live in non-portable houses are scared of the differentially housed. Others make friends.

Every time I speak at a community meeting, some people go off the deep end on how dangerous the estuary is and others talk about how it's an asset to the community.  I know that I can't change people's opinions about which is which. Plus trying to address how people feel is tough. Your feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are.

Low crime rates do not make people feel safe. Community makes us feel safe.

So having said all this, how do we help everyone feel safe at the gathering?

One way we can do this is to treat others the way they would like to be treated -- not the way you would like to be treated.  Try finding gentler voices. Look out for each other in peaceful ways and make sure the people in your vicinity seem comfortable. We all have different levels of tolerance, sensitivity, and fear. Honor that.

If someone looks uncomfortable, they probably are. Introduce yourself. Smile at someone you do not know.  We all feel more comfortable when we are around friends. Share your gathering wisdom. Pay more attention to body language. Learn to pick up vibes from the people around you. If you sense that someone is afraid of a situation, help them to feel comfortable by either staying with them, removing both yourselves from the situation, or trying talking to the other person about their fears in a supportive way.  Just because the situation is comfortable for you, doesn't mean it's comfortable for everyone.

Honor our differences and our need to be treated accordingly. Help each other on this journey.

Please pay special attention to law enforcement officers. A scared cop is a dangerous cop (remember Wyoming 2008?). Turn down the volume on negative energy by oming instead of cussing when you do not like a situation.

Think about how you would like others to act around your three year-old child and your ninety year-old grandmother and act accordingly.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Teaching Our Strengths

In my humble opinion, the gathering is good at many things, but what we are best at is creating communities made up of diverse people.  One of my fondest memories is of the Utah gathering in 2003. Just across the dirt road from INFO and CALM was a small meadow that held three small camps sharing one bliss pit:  Krishna Camp, Jesus Camp, and a punk/anarchist camp.

Evenings when I stopped by the bliss pit, people were discussing and sharing ideas, perspectives, and yes sometimes arguing a bit.  Communication and community were being created. When we gather in rural towns, many gatherers connect with many of the locals in sometimes strange but usually positive ways. Many locals plug into the gathering and give deeply despite disagreeing with some of our behaviors.

On the surface, I feel this is what our entire country needs to do. Have those conversations around a bliss pit or coffee table, online, or via the phone. Talk about what we can agree on. Encourage those who do not want a dictator-in-chief to unite and stand up for quality education for our children, health care for those in need, social justice for all, aggressively address climate change, care for our seniors and special needs family, love and protect our water, air, trees, small creatures, owls, bears, wolves, moose, bees, etc. etc.  We can do this if we realize that "we" are the change that is needed.

Take the time to listen to people, especially people who perhaps are socially more conservative than you are and see where you might make a personal connection.

Some people want a return to a more faith based world, but many of us have beliefs that are less than traditional and equally important but are coming from a faith in something, be it Gaia, Buddha, Krishna, or Ifa. So let's share our beliefs.

Many of us are full of love for the world.  Let us take this blissed out, hippy love into the small towns and cities, and infect everyone.  Let's build relationships with those we do not know and find areas of commonality. Let's hug and love everyone. We do it at the gathering and it works magic. Let's take this to every street in the USA and show the world how we create peace through love, compassion, and amazing food.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Love (Part 2 of 5 of "Creating Peace")

The rainbow family is full of love. We shout "we love you" to the sky, to other gathers, to the earth upon which we gently walk.  I have many friends whose children were conceived at the gathering.  We shower love as best we can on people who are unhappy about our presence in their neighborhood. We love all our siblings (brothers, sisters and transgenders), even the ones we do not like all that much.  We love the person who didn't pick up their dog shit, but we want to talk to them about it as well.

We even have a somewhat sarcastic phrase "loven you" to indicate our concern without being too mushy. With all these types of love floating around, how does love contribute to creating peace? Does the manner in which we love matter or does it matter more how we express our love?

In English we are limited as we have one word for love. The ancient Greeks had four separate words for love:
  • storge - kinship or familiarity
  • philia - friendship
  • eros - romantic and or sexual feelings
  • agape - self-emptying or divine love

Spanish has many words for love:
  • encantar - indicating strong like
  • gustar mucho - indicating strong like
  • querer - to love romantically, to want
  • afición - enthusiasm
  • amado - sweetheart 
  • amor - pure love, romantic love
  • caridad - charity
Love is also an emotion. A very strong and powerful emotion.  How many of you have made decisions based on amar, agape, caridad, eros, and storage? I'm guessing everyone.

For the romantics among us, love is what creates beautiful art, amazing music, and sleepless nights.

For the biologists among us, love is a biological function like hunger or thirst that creates attachments between people, thereby insuring their survival in a dangerous and hostile world.

For the psychologists among us, love is not only a feeling, but a series of actions. 

Unconditional love is a common theme of most of the major belief systems and is one of the often unspoken foundations of participating in the phenomenon commonly called the Rainbow Gathering.

So what does all this have to do with creating a culture of peace?

Well besides being a slogan from the 1960s, using love as a way to create connections strengthens our interpersonal relationships. If we love someone with whom we disagree, we are highly motivated to find a solution that meets the needs of everyone.  If we have no personal attachment to other living beings, then we can more easily ignore their perspective and we often do not care about their  happiness.

Yet loving each of our siblings all the time is challenging. Some of our siblings act out, behave poorly, don't clean up after themselves, steal, fight, or are just downright mean. What then?

Then we muster our agape and our caridad and try to make that connection. We try to befriend our siblings. By finding a connection, we are creating a relationship. It may be storage it may be afición, but if we can love another person in the worst situation, then maybe we can use that relationship to work towards peace.

But to be clear, loving someone does not mean you accept all their actions.

True love is being able to love your siblings person while calling them on their bullshit (in a loving manner). 

True love is being able to communicate in a loving way why specific actions are hurting you, the planet, or other living creature.

True love is a meditative practice we undertake as we deal with the frustrations, interruptions, disappointments and annoyances that fill our lives.

 Let your mantra for this year's gathering be I love all my siblings and this beautiful planet we call home.

Love is the path towards peace.