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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Shanti Sena by Medicine Socks (Guest Post)

This comes from a wonderful sister Medicine Socks bit I will add my two cents. I never support duct taping of people. Sometimes we need to restrain people to prevent them from hurting themselves or others and then rolling them up in a blanket or sleeping bag is much more loving than duct tape.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ On to the guest post ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

it's been a while, i'm too old, poor and crippled to involve myself in rainbow gatherings nowadays, so this qualifies as something like armchair quarterbacking...

but i was once all gung ho, a regular local folkielizer and all about dealing with the some major instances of weirded out shit that sometimes came up at the getherings i was part of...especially around kid village... so here's some shanti sena lessons i learned in the trenches

first of all, it means, translated literally, something like peaceful scene. at a gathering, if everything's mellow, if everyone is feeling alright and nothing much is going on, that is shanti sena. there is a marked absence of drama. no one has to do anything in particular about anyone except mingle and enjoy.

shanti sena also became a term for a clique of people who, at gatherings, styled themselves a kind of affiliated crew of plain-clothes, radio toting, duct tape weiding rainbow hippie police force. some of these guys and gals do a great job, others, well.... these people may have sincerely thought of themselves as peacekeepers, but some of their attitudes, imho were pretty obnoxious, kind of a weird mix of biker/hobo/ dope dealer/ ex marine/cop-brotherhood and some of em drank heavily and lived in hotels off campus somewhere... whatevah...they had dramas of their own, but at times they did deal with flarings of violence inside or dangerous situations with the LEO at the gates effectively enough...

then there's the people at gatherings who put their energy into constantly teaching & lovingly demonstrating basic rainbow, at councils, at dinner circles, in workshops and ongoing conversations with the newbies. if no one around seems to know what shanti sena is, or how to shit in the woods, or build a proper campfire, or help in a kitchen or where to put the "garbage".. to paraphrase mother jones, who said, "don't mourn, organize!"...don't bitch; teach teach teach
teach teach! *that* is true shanti sena, in my book, or what i like to call pre-traumatic stress prevention. the more you get these teaching memes out and get conversations going among gatherers about how to deal with a crisis if it arises, the more peaceful and calm the response will be whenever somebody yells shanti sena!

shanti sena is like that kipling poem, "if" If you can keep your head while all around you others are losing theirs... *that* is shanti sena. it involves remembering to breathe, and slow your heart rate down. it involves knowing how to get, and stay, clear headed in a crisis. and knowing how not to do *anything* until and unless you have effectively calmed and centered your own damn self, until you know as much about the situation you're addressing as it is possible to quickly assess,& until you're sure that you're coming from a place of alert, calm strength and compassion, and a fair degree of certainty that you can handle whatever's happening when something out of hand and really threatening is potentially unfolding. if you can't calm down, if you feel at all overwhelmed by the swiftness with which a violent situation is escalating... then it is quintessential shanti sena to get your overwhelmed ass out of the way... but if you're cool, and you decide to stay.... it helps if there's more than one of you, best if there are enough strong people to contain a really violent individual without hurting him (or her). once contained, you need enough gentle people to keep the vibe around such an action as calm as possible. not too many people, at that point!

people who can stay cool and focused are key.

then you have some decisions to make. is this someone who can be reasoned with, talked down, who may, once their grievance is understood and addressed, be willing to calm down and stay peaceful of his own volition? if that's the case, peer counseling can do wonders to diffuse a tense, angry, but essentially rational human being who actually *wants* to find a solution to whatever set him off. or are you dealing with a crazy? i'm sorry to be so blunt, but often shanti sena situations arise when someone at the gathering is, for one reason or another, experiencing a psychotic break, is operating on aggravated sleep dep, rampant ptsd and/or spasms of pure inexplicable violent impulse...& i've seen sad, bad things happen under these conditions... people trying to trail a raging psychotic & discretely babysit him without impinging on that person's freedoms get to watch a terrified, often violent and frighteningly delusional poor soul battle his demons for days on end, becoming weirder and more at risk as the days tick by of hurting himself or others... i know this seems like a cop out, but in my experience, i feel to this day we might have spared many a poor psycho and all those who got caught up in the babysitting movies a lot of anguish if we had just quickly secured & duct taped em, got to phone quick and got a parent or sibling or someone to come get their sick puppy & take him home or some other
mellower place than a gathering for a real crack up...

that said i know a few gifted healers who really do know how to help a body navigate the terrifying inner landscape of psychosis. there are shanti sena shamans, soul retrievers, spirit world energy workers, who understand intuitively what it's going to take to get a freaked out
freak through the worst of it, how to help him break down the old disfunctional precepts of his consciousness, how tto guide lost souls til they break on through to the healing side of their nervous breakdowns. if you can do that, boy... that's great... more power to you. you know who you are, and you are a boon and a blessing to any gathering. then again..

if you're one of those sorts who merely wishes you were an aikido master or a cop or a magical healer, please take your woo woo bullshit as far from the crisis as possible and go chant and shake your fake honky indian yaya sticks over there... please! shanti sena! keep the scene peaceful! over that-a-way!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

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 $5-10 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 the ingredients 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.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Rap on Access

For people with special needs, ask for Handicamp - a space for people with mobility and other related disabilities with lots of folks willing to help you make the most of your gathering experience. However, keep in mind that not all people who need close in parking at Handicamp will be able to get it as the lots do fill up.  Sometimes our ability to maintain Handicamp parking constrained by the United States Forest Service. But the situation varies year to year.

The gathering proper can be 1/2 to 2 miles away from vehicle access and may involve hills. There is usually a drop-off point where people and gear can stage at the trailhead even if parking is further out. While the trails can be tough and conditions vary from site to site, there's usually a couple of friendly folks just waiting to assist with the rough spots. Sometimes we have cool things like rickshaws to assist people in getting around but sometimes we don't or the service of such assistance devices is intermittent and it may take hours to coordinate transport.

Bring your own personal supplies (catheter, wraps, chair, medical supplies, diapers, cleanup, etc.). Bring own attendent if you need assistance with personal care (bowel programs, skin, transfer, catheterizations, wounds, etc) or supervision issues or other issues (mobility, access, safety) as needed. We will have registered nurses and medical doctors on site during the main days of the gathering. It's a great idea to connect up with a health care practioner before you need assistance.  Please, ask for help when you need it and give another gatherer a chance to be of service.

Experience the First Oregon Gathering in 1978

Experience the Rainbow - Part 1- 1978 - Excerpt

Enjoy words of wisdom from some of the earlies when they were the youngers!  See who you recognize.

But please servers, don't let folks hold their cups over the communal pot. 

Experience the Rainbow - Part 2 - 1978 

Experience the Rainbow Part 3 with my favorite fiddler.

Experience the Rainbow - Part 4 - 1978

Experience the Rainbow - Part 5 - 1978

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Trip of It All

I've often thought that going to a gathering is a bit like taking a trip. Advanced preparation helps -- after all you don't want to be out in the Rocky Mountains with no jacket at 2:00 a.m., but is preparation the key to a successful gathering?

Yes and no.

For those of you who recognize the phases of a good trip, many people have an idea of what they want to happen. Perhaps stocking the fridge or cooler with fruit juice and pizza is your idea of preparation. Maybe it's the music. You want to be listening to your favorite band. Location can be key. Do you want to be at home with close friends, in the woods, or on the dance floor at a concert?  All these things matter, up to a point.

You start out with all your preparations. Excitement builds, you start feeling the effects of what you are doing.  You try to stick to the plan.  And that my friends is the crux of the problem.

The trip like the gathering often has a different plan for you. Perhaps the trip comes from the center of the universe speaking to you in hushed tones. Other times, its waves crashing on the beach. Getting bigger and bigger until you are caught in an under tow and getting your head bounced off the bottom of the ocean like a basket ball (not so subtle).  The more you resist, the worse things get.

When you first realize you're struggling, panic can set in and you can resist what is happening. This moment is when your friends can help you relax, surrender to the universe and where it is trying to guide you, open yourself fully to the magic.  Don't just go with the crashing waves, BECOME the crashing waves and you will land on shore safely.

The gathering is no different. Many of us arrive with an intention, a focus, a plan.  Great ideas like an art camp, a huge bank of shitters near the main meadow, a kitchen that will kick out dank zuzus in the wee hours of the morning.  Planning for these things is great and I do it all the time.

Having the sleeping bag and tent, a warm jacket and thick socks can make the chaos enjoyable. However, just like when trippin, at some point you need to latch onto your Zen Mind, Beginners Mind.

But what does that mean?  

It means being present to what is happening around you and plugging in to the best of your abilities.

It means listening to what the universe is trying to teach you and I guarantee that every gathering is trying to teach you something. It's your choice how you want to learn the lesson. If you are actively listening to what the gathering and hence the universe wants you to learn, then the lessons may be challenging but not painful. If you close your mind to the words of the universe, then the universe will probably speak about a bit more loudly and with more force. 

Make your preparations and once you are home, be prepared to altar the plan significantly. Take time to walk through the gathering in silence and listen to the wind in the trees, the sounds of children laughing, and the pain and suffering in many hearts. Open your heart to those who need love, share your food with those who are hungry, lend an arm or shoulder to those who need help, and the messages from the universe will ring as strongly as the bird songs in the early morning.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Tips for a Safe Journey Home & A Positive Gathering

If you plan on driving, make sure your car and driver is 100% legal-all lights work, valid insurance and registration, seatbelts, car seats for children. Our government assumes that we are criminals. Please try to arrive during daylight hours as the roads into gathering sites can be tricky and we want you to arrive home safely. If you can make space in your vehicle for a rider or you need a ride, ride share is happening at your local craistlist.org or on FaceBook.

If you will be sharing a ride, please meet the folks you'll be riding with at a local coffee shop, make sure you feel comfortable traveling a long distance with them, and establish the ground rules. If you are coming via bus, plane or train, try to connect up with a ride from your destination before you get there. If you are planning on hitchhiking, please travel with a buddy, only bum rides during the day and if you get a bad feeling from a ride, PLEASE don't take it. There will always be another one.

I strongly recommend you plan on arriving home in the morning - the earlier the better. If you are coming home and it's late, my best recommendation is you kick it at a campground, roadside rest area, or motel as you sit fit. Then get up at dawn and come on home.  The roads into the gathering can be challenging, the signage can disappear, and you will be tired. Keep in mind that your journey really begins once you park your car. From there you'll have to hike into the gathering with your gear and try to find a place that meets your needs -- very hard to do after dark.  It can easily take 6 hours from the time you park your car until you have your tent set up. Doing it in the daytime is fun, doing it at night when you are exhausted is not my idea of a good time.

*Always* say no to requests for search, no matter what they tell you. It is not illegal for cops to lie to you, and they often will do so to get your consent to search. "You might as well give us permission, because if you do not, we will go get a warrant and you will be here for hours." This is a bluff. Don't fall for it. Their time is much more valuable than yours.

If they insist on searching over your objections, don't prevent them physically in anyway - but continue to repeat "I do not consent." Ask for names and badge numbers, write down time, place, and what happened in detail. Every little thing matters in a court of law, even the things that don't mean much to you or me. If you can, take pictures, videos, and/or tape recordings.

Also, if they ask you if you have contraband, and tell you that if you have just a little bit and give it to them that they will not search you, tell them no. Never, never, never incriminate yourself. That means don't consent to anything, don't give them anything but your license, registration, and proof of insurance, don't admit to anything.

When approaching the Gathering site, remember that you're coming as friends in somebody else's back yard. Treat the local folks with the courtesy, respect and concern that they deserve as members of the Family of Humankind. Be Loving and Kind. Don't be rude, steal, trash the town, disturb the Peace, or try to "shock" people. Be mindful of others' sensitivities. Remember the original Golden Rule when dealing with BOTH Babylon AND Rainbow: Treat Others the Way you want to be treated! Please, make your journey a safe one. Don't be under the influence while driving.

Let's all get home safely.

Ignore all rumors of cancellation or organization!
Live Lightly with the Land and People!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

On Freedom (a video)

So this brother is making a documentary about intentional communities in America, maintaining mutual respect, keeping the peace, freedom and equality. and some of the more challenging issues we face in being free. It's called The Idiocratic Life   From  - http://theidiocraticlife.wordpress.com

Part 1

Part 2

Monday, May 22, 2017

Spring Council/Counsel/Circle

Updated June 16, 2017 @ 8:45 a.m. California time 

Spring council is over. Click here for directions to the gathering.
Spring council/counsel/circle  (spring ccc) starts June 10.

Directions:  From the South on US 395. From Mt. Vernon, OR go North on US 395 towards Dale for approximately 45 miles. Turn right on Forest Service Road NF 3980. FS 3980 is also known as Trout Road.  Stay on FS 3980 for approximately 11 miles to Hunter Spring. There should be rainbow signs at intersections. The sign for 3980 is on the left hand side of the road, but the road is actually a right hand turn (coming from John Day).

From the North on US 395 (reportedly this is a better road for large vehicles--fewer hills and crossroads): A half-mile North of Dale, OR go East on NF 10 for 9.9 miles. Take a right towards NF 105, then in 465 feet take a dogleg to the left onto NF 105. Go .9 mile, turn right onto NF 10. In approximately 6 miles, take a right onto NF 1007. Go 2.8 miles to your destination.

Alternative directions are go all the way to Dale take a right on N.F..10 for 5 miles, turn right on F.S.1007 and go 3 miles. Turn right on f.s. 3980 for 2 miles. Forest Service Road 3980 is also known as Trout Road.  The sign for 3980 is on the left hand side of the road, but the road is actually a right hand turn (coming from John Day).Welcome Home to spring council.

Click here for the Google Maps link.

Spring Council is where the site for the 2017 gathering will be determined and gathering layout begins. There may be travel to see sites the scouts propose, lots of walking, discussion and/or consensus. All are welcome to participate in the process.

However, if you come, please be self sufficient. Bring clothes for warm, wet and cold weather, good boots/shoes. Water and Food to share, shelter (tent, sleeping bag, etc) your own cup bowl spoon, all the stuff you'd need for gathering & a sense of humor. 

As a refresher, the purpose of spring ccc is to determine where home is. The individuals who have been out scouting will have information to share about the site(s) they found and the family on the land at spring ccc will have to reach consensus by silence or by foot on where we will be. 

Please be advised that from spring ccc, the gathering moves into Seed Camp.  Folks at seed camp find and develop water sources,set up the first kitchen and dig the first latrines, locate and mark out the parking lot, lay out trails and remove obstructions, locate Main Circle and dig the fire pit, and set up a welcoming entrance to the gathering.

This is a time when you can work intensely with a few other people and form some deep friendships. 

From this seed grows the flower of our Gathering.

Just an FYI, early in the gathering is when law enforcement presence can be the most intense as ratio of cops to gatherers may be high

This is a great time to form relationships with the USFS resource personnel, work out an unsigned operating plan with the rangers, and set up a process by which the USFS personnel can meet with gatherers on-the-land.  A specific location and time is a really good strategy as then everyone in camp knows where/when to be if they want to meet or not meet with the forest service. It takes many voices to do this work.  If you are not sure what an operating plan is, check out the collection of past operating plans on-line.

For more information on how home is found, click here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Gathering with Kidz by Info Karen (Guest Post)

My good friend, Info Karen, put together today's guest blog post -- not to confuse anyone but there are two of us living in San Diego. Karen with an "E" and me - Karin with an "I". Since Info Karen has kids, she graciously agreed to put together today's guest post for those of you coming home with kids. If this helped you, please stop by Info when you're at the gathering and thank her.

Bringing babies and small children to the Rainbow Gathering can be quite a chore, but it is also very rewarding, and a wonderful growth experience for them. But deep woods camping with your kids can be quite a challenge. Being a Rainbow Mom myself, I was asked, a few years back to pass along some helpful advice for folks who are bringing their kids for the very first time. The following article sprang from those requests. I wrote it when my eldest was 6 and my twin boys were three and potty-training. I’ve been to the annual Gathering with my first when he was an infant and when he was 3, and then brought all three of them many times after that. This is especially directed at first time Gatherers since a few requests of this type have come my way, but there is lots of good advice for anyone with kids. Do you have more ideas? Please add them in the comment section.


ARRIVAL AND HIKING IN: When you first arrive at the Gathering, you will be directed to a meadow to park in, (or perhaps along a road). Hiking in with kids often takes a couple loads, so having a partner who can either hang with kids or go get the second load is a huge help. Get a baby carrier of some sort to carry your littlest ones in. On the first trip into the site, we tend to bring the kids, the tent and our plates, cups and utensils in the first load, plus whatever else we can manage. We each will wear a kid on our backs (we have twins). After figuring out where we want to camp, I will stay at the tent site with all three kids while the hubby goes out for another full load. While he is gone I will put the tent up, and perhaps go exploring with the kids to find a meal, fill our water bottles, and locate the nearest shitter.

KID VILLAGE: You can camp anywhere with kids, but it is especially nice to camp at Kid Village. It is a drug-free, peaceful area that serves three good kid-friendly meals every day. Kid Village is easy to find. Ask anyone. When you get to Kid Village ask the folks there where there are some good tent spots. They will direct you. At Kid Village, they usually have a little play area with seesaws and swings made from downed trees and rope. There is also usually a sit-down potty there (people just call toilet areas "shitters" so sorry if your child goes home spouting that word!! For adults, shitters are long trenches that you straddle. It’s nice to wear skirts if you want to have a little privacy cover!) Often for little children there are small deep cylindrical holes dug so that the kids don’t have to balance across a trench.

DAILY LIFE: You will want to bring, for each of you, a water bottle, a dish, a spoon, a cup and a day pack to carry everything in while you are away from your tent. If you drink coffee, make your cup a thermal one with a lid. If you can, put a carabineer on your cup as it’s nice to always have it hanging from your belt. Each morning, you will want to pack your daypack for the day and go out wandering. You may head back to the tent for naptime, but you will want to take your dishes, your water bottle, and whatever diapers or things you need for the day with you when you leave your tent in the morning. For dishes, most people bring just a bowl. But after many years of gathering, I have discovered that the very best bowl is a tupperware or similar style container with a lid. This way, if you can't get to a dishwashing station right away after you eat, you can pop the lid on it and toss it in your bag without dirtying anything inside your bag. We found plate-shaped containers with three divided sections which is nice if you get soup and something else. It keeps them divided. Plates with lids are also good for bringing food back kids, or storing things they might not eat right away.

DIAPERS: If you use disposable diapers, I would bring a double thick bag (one inside the other, to lessen the smell and strengthen the bag) with some kind of clasp that can be put on and taken off numerous times, to keep your dirties in. You will need to hike this (very) heavy bag out at the end, as there are no trash stations inside the gathering. Everyone carries their own trash out. Depending on how long you stay, a full bag of dirty diapers can be one whole load! With twins, and ten days in, our bag was large and difficult to manage. If you use cloth diapers, I have seen people wash them out in five gallon buckets and hang them on clotheslines hung between trees. You can get a 5 Gallon bucket for about 3 bucks at large hardware stores. Bring your own clothesline as well. Kid Village has had a communal diaper wash area in the past but I don’t think it is a regular thing at all.

FINDING FOOD / DINNER CIRCLE: At Rainbow the food that is cooked in the kitchens is free for all, and is purchased with donations to the Magic Hat that lives on the desk at the Information Booth, and is also carried around every evening at Dinner Circle in a musical parade. Dinner circle happens every evening in the Main Meadow. Most larger kitchens will bring their cooked food down to the dinner circle and serve there. Bring your dishes! People form a large circle, do a group “Om”, and sit down in circle to be served by the food servers. Pregnant or nursing Mamas and children (and non-parents helping children) are asked to come to the center of the circle before the food is served to get first dibs. Don’t be shy. Come forward when it is announced and get your kid a plateful of good food! Breakfast and lunch are often served out of individual kitchens. Kid Village is a good place to find steady outpouring of food, and if your kid misses a meal, they can direct you to fixings for a peanut butter sandwich or a carrot or something. That said, most people like to bring snacks from home to keep in their tent to keep the kids happy. Dried fruit, nut butters, jerkey and granola are things many people tend to bring.

NAPS: For small babies, it’s not common, but I have seen people bring a playpen and hike it in. That way you can set the baby down somewhere clean for a while. You might consider bringing one and leaving it in the car. Then you can decide if you want to hike it in or not. A lightweight baby floor chair might be a simpler idea, or perhaps a Moses basket? When I brought my first born to his first gathering at about seven months old, I put a blanket in a cardboard box I got from a kitchen! Having walls is nice for a new crawler. A good ground-blanket made out of something with a water resistant bottom layer is nice to have. After realizing the cardboard box was nice to have but not the best choice, the next time I brought a kid’s pop-up backyard play tent. They pack down tiny and can be used to lay the baby down to sleep if you are out wandering away from your camp and want to take a break, or give him/her some shade to rest in. We also napped our eldest in that for a couple years. It was handy, and kept us from having to go and sit quietly outside our own tent for 3 hours every single day. We used two to nap our twins separately during the afternoon, because if they napped together, they would just play in the tent and not sleep.

NECESSITIES: You should have water bottles you can carry around for your family. You can fill them up at any kitchen. Look for a giant cooler on the kitchen counter with a spigot facing out toward the public walk-up area. Bring sun block, wide brimmed children’s hats, bug spray and sun glasses. We are bringing those new 200 hour LED flashlights for our littlest boys who will of course want to have one of their own when they see ours. They can accidentally leave it on for hours and it won’t use up the batteries. Sandals that can get wet or water shoes are great for playing in the stream. When the twins were three years old, and liked to wander, we brought masking tape and stuck some on the backs of their shirts saying “IF FOUND PLEASE RETURN TO INFO” where we were camped! When the kids got older we made sure each kid had his own daypack to keep track of his things.

TENT SLEEPING: Also bring warm sleeping bags. It gets down to 40 at night. We always bring thermal underwear to sleep in, both for us and for them. When our son was a baby, and we worried about the safety of sleeping bags, we slept him in a down-filled, winter outdoor snow suit, wearing a hat, with a regular blanket over him. That way I wasn't worried about losing him down inside the sleeping bag or about him scooting out into the cold at night. Beware of using any kind of gas heater inside your tent as the fumes inside a closed tent can be deadly.

NURSING BABIES: Another idea I has which turned out to be SUCH A GOOD IDEA, was my homemade nursing shirts. While still at home, I got a couple long-sleeved thermal shirts at the thrift store. I cut vertical slits in the front for nursing, and when I was at the Gathering I would wear these shirts underneath my regular shirt. The benefit is that on cold days, and ESPECIALLY on cold nights, I could lift my outer shirt to nurse without having to expose the sides of my torso to chill air. It was SO much warmer, and easier to doze when nursing in the middle of the night half our of a sleeping bag! These shirts might not be so necessary for eastern Gatherings, but most western Gatherings can get pretty cold at night.

COMMUNICATION FOR OLDER KIDS: As our kids got older, and wanted to go off and explore on their own, we went out and got a good set of FRS radios, one for each of us, and some extra batteries. These are fairly long range radios. For the kids we put them on lanyards and hung them around their necks, and sometimes they put them in their daypacks (although they sometimes would miss our calls if they did this). A belt loop holster would be a good choice as well. This way, if they want to stay out longer, or ask a question, they can reach you and it gives them some more freedom, and the parents some freedom as well! (Also, they are good for letting the other party know that pizza is just coming out of the Ovens and that you should hurry on over!)

LASTLY: Have a blast! It’s a great way to immerse your kids in wild nature! -Info Karen- (Mom to three exuberant boys) Please comment below with any questions or great ideas or parent-hacks of your own! Please comment below with any questions or great ideas or parent-hacks of your own!

There is also a Kidz Rap available on-line.

The Mini Manual

The Rainbow Gathering Mini Manual is a cooperative project sometimes subtitled: Suggested Wisdom Culled from Years of Experience and/or Trail & Error.

If you ever picked up a Rainbow Guide at a gathering, then you've probably read the Mini Manual. It tends to evolve over time, but if you've not read it, I suggest you give it whirl. There's a good copy up at http://www.bliss-fire.com/MiniManual.htm in html format and a PDF version available.  If you could print out 25 copies double sided on recycled paper to distribute to people at the gathering, you will be doing a huge service to the family by helping people learn the collective ways to keep each other and the land safe and  healthy.

If there are points in the mini manual that you feel are especially important, grabbing old sheets and painting that section with legible lettering and pretty art work really helps get the message out to people. (see beautiful image on left)

Let's make sure everyone at the gathering knows this information. You can print it, you can rap it, you can paint it, you can sing it.  Just get it out there.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Main Supply 101 by Overboard (Guest Post)

Thanks to Overboard for writing this great rap based on his years of experience in Main Supply.

Here's a piece that I wrote up about the workings of Main Supply. Some things here are not SET IN STONE, just the way that we've chosen to do it in recent years:

Main Supply is our communal food collection and distribution system, open to any kitchen that maintains basic sanitation (appropriate hand wash, dish station, toilet facilities, compost and grey water and food storage and preparation techniques), serves their food openly and freely to any that ask (at their chosen meal times), and is willing to communicate reasonably and civically with the Main Supply focalizers and other kitchens. Kitchens should plan to provide the bulk of their own supplies but through cooperative economics, we can supplement that very efficiently. Sending someone knowledgeable with your kitchen's supply/meal plans to our biweekly Kitchen Councils (rarely more than 20 minutes) and serving Dinner Circle each night are highly recommended but not required.

As kitchens get set up and come within a day or two of being ready to serve, they will be added to the list of kitchens receiving shares of the next biweekly shopping trip. By mutual agreement, kitchens are assigned 1, 2 or 3 shares of food, based on their capacity and production. That number can, and often does, change from one shopping trip to the next. At the peak of the gathering we're usually shopping for 24-30 kitchens totaling 40-60 shares. With each shopping trip we also shop for 2-5 shares more than what we are expecting, to allow some overages and providing for 1-2 new kitchens that pop up on the shopping day.

Of the total purchases, approximately 2/3 is spent on fresh wholesale produce. We always find at least two different produce distributors in the area and check both price lists every day, buying some items from one and some from the other. Some years we even have access to a regional terminal market where 8-30 different companies have walk in refrigerated warehouses. We can competitively shop all of them, for each type of vegetable. We also contact these distributors before the gathering to arrange for them to order some items that are a more economical grade of vegetable, though maybe not as pretty. Also we have them set aside all of their seconds and products that are too old to sell but still edible. Most are happy to do that for us.

The other 1/3 is spent on other foods like dry goods and perishable products. We buy these from a variety of sources, including wholesale restaurant supply stores, occasionally, grocery stores running extremely good sales, large ethnic food markets and salvage food stores. These are stores that buy up and resell foods from stores that went out of business, mislabeled products, overstocks, dented or damaged products or occasionally good food that has passed an arbitrary sell by date. These often supply us with unbelievable deals, sometimes selling us full pallets of food for $100 or less. I spend the whole year leading up to the gathering hunting for the best possible prices in the state or region where we are gathering.

When things go smoothly, we try to have kitchen councils on Sundays and Wednesdays, do the shopping on Mondays and Thursdays and then distribute food on Tuesday and Friday mornings.

With each supply run we spend approximately 3/4 of the money on 20-25 staple items that almost every kitchen uses, like cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. For dry goods we usually buy lots of flour, rice, pasta, baking mixes and beans and let kitchens choose, say, 3 of those per share (20-50lb bags). This keeps kitchens from getting overloaded with things they don't need or use.

When we buy staples that a certain kitchen doesn't use, like garlic and onions, eggs or dairy, we always allow them to take a little more of something else, to make up for it. Kitchens are also encouraged to trade supplies with each other, to fit their needs and wants.

The other 25% of the budget is spent on smaller quantities of a larger variety of ingredients. Things like ginger, string beans, sugar, pancake mix, oatmeal, peanut butter or even a little bit of economical donut filling on occasion! These items are then made into piles of roughly equal worth (not necessarily what we PAID) of around $10-20. Then when kitchens come to pick up supply, they are allowed to pick a certain number of piles based on their size. This allows kitchens to have more choice in their food, brings more variety to the woods and encourages kitchens to come early and send someone who knows the needs and wants of their kitchen.

Along with the Magic Hat money, some Main Supply focalizers (including myself) welcome kitchens to send along additional funds, to purchase things above and beyond what Main Supply can provide. Receipts will always be provided. Sorry, but we cannot handle EBT/Food Stamp cards. No more than one credit or debit card per kitchen, per run, please. We ask that lists are kept to no more than a few special items that we wouldn't normally buy, per trip. We also need to receive the money and list by the close of dinner circle, on the day before we shop. If kitchens pay for extra supplies, they can *usually* pick them up as soon as the bus returns instead of waiting until the next morning. Unlike with Magic Hat money, with private funds, I personally (though not every focalizer) will honor requests for meat, coffee, tobacco or papers. I will not shop for your alcohol though.

In total we usually do between 5 and 8 total supply runs, starting 2-4 days after we first arrive on site (immediately following Spring Council).

Kitchens are also welcome to come up to Main Supply at any time, to see if other supplies are available. Generally any foods dropped by anyone at Main Supply, between supply runs, is considered first come, first serve. Main Supply will also be regularly stocked with an assortment of spices and baking ingredients. Please do not take more for your kitchen then you expect to use up in a few days. It is highly encouraged that kitchens regularly check their supplies and send any clean foods, that they will not use, back to Main Supply for redistribution.

Please do not drop supplies at Main Supply, expecting them to be delivered to a specific kitchen. They will likely be given to the first kitchen that asks. If you are bringing food that needs to go to a specific kitchen, you will need to bring them there yourself, find someone to carry them, or have someone wait with the supplies while you find someone to carry them. We CAN NOT be responsible for delivering your supplies OR guarding them indefinitely. Anyone sitting at Main Supply should not be assumed to be an "official worker". Involved Main Supply workers will likely only be at Main Supply on the standard distribution days.

We'd love to hear from kitchen focalizers *before* the gathering. Join this Facebook group for more info.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

For Oregon Residents (or what to expect from the gathering)

What exactly IS the Rainbow Gathering?

The bottom video includes interviews with townsfolk and merchants of stores and lodges near past Rainbow Gatherings. They were asked for their honest opinion of how the event went, the effects it had on their business, and what advice they would give to people in towns near future Gatherings.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

What is it like when the Forest Service tries to shut us down?

In my humble opinion, the gatherings from 1999 to 2008 were the height of the conflicts between the United States Forest Service (USFS) and those who chose to gather and pray for world peace and the positive evolution of the planet on the 4th day of July.  For brief recounts of those years, click here.

I believe that the Forest Service was trying to discourage family from coming home with harassment, legal maneuvers, sending people to prison, issuing untold number of B.S. tickets (see blog sidebar), and doing their best to either stop the gatherings altogether or to convert them into a version of Burning Man -- i.e. an event that charges admission and has porta potties, paid staff, etc. (no disrespect to Burning Man).

Many people who still gather today, attended some or all of the worst years. Now don't get me wrong, there were some amazingly beautiful moments during those years - the 4th in Michigan when we didn't know what would happen, but we all silently crossed the bridge to the west bank while being smudged by the bridge fairy and in our peace and prayer, defied the Forest Service to make us leave. The dragonfly who landed on the clasped hands of me and another sister during the om.  That morning still brings tears to my eyes. This family was incredibly strong and powerful in our silence and prayer.

However, for those of you who did not gather during the worst years, I would like to share my thoughts and ideas of what the gathering was like, what I feel I and others could have done better.  I also offer this personal reflection as what I think we as a family could do better in the future if,  under the new administration, the USFS is forced to or decides to change their strategy.  As an FYI, as of last year in Vermont, the USFS strategy is that although we are an illegal event, they will treat it as a recreation event and limit their interference.  (Yes I hear those of you who were in Vermont last year groaning -- but that was limited interference compared to the height of the conflicts). 

One tactic some people took was to try to avoid being a "group" with the argument that if we are not a "group," the group use regs do not apply to us.  The results was that we stopped having councils and we stopped using the words council, counsel and circle to explain what we do. We also stopped trying to reach a consensus for much of anything based on the argument that if a council can reach consensus, then we have a governing body that can sign a permit. We were trying to prove we were less organized then we were.

IMHO, the fallout from that is that we slowly drifted away from being a family and being more like small groups of people who gather at the beach to watch fireworks on the 4th of July.  Both things are great but very, very different.

Without cooperation between all of us when we gather, we lose the big picture, fail to deal with problems collectively, and loose our focus. Now council/counsel/circle is not the only way cooperation happens, but it is the way that is most opening to all bellies at the gathering.  For example, if no council is called to discuss parking, then people park where ever, many people's cars get towed, and then when it gets really bad, a few people off to the side are forced into dealing with the situation. While counciling may take longer and have its own challenges, it is the process that insures that all voices are heard, we are doing what is best for the gathering (not a handful of people), and it allows less experienced gatherers to learn from more experienced gatherers. By the way, it also allows less experienced gatherers to share new and potentially better ideas with everyone. Fresh eyes can see opportunities tired eyes don't see.

We and by we, I also mean "I," spent too much time focusing on the USFS and not enough time taking care of our own house. What I mean by this is that were were endless calls, discussions, ideas spent trying to figure out how to get the Group Use Regs struck down, modified to accommodate a unsigned operating plan, and/or grant the gathering an "alternative means" to comply with the regulation (per the regulations themselves). We had circles with the USFS at gatherings, side conversations, discussions at kangaroo courts, and conference calls with the USFS.

I personally spent years walking with the USFS to insure that there was a witness to their harassment and  my family knew they were coming. These were the years when yelling Six-Up could get you arrested. These were the years when some or much of my family thought Shanti Sena meant law enforcement. These were the years when the conflict was at its worst.  Why did I spend so much time walking with the USFS?  Very few people were willing to do it then. 5 or 6 people were trying to cover 8 hours a day, with multiple groups of USFS law enforcement officers.  These were the years that if you tried to talk to a law enforcement officers, you might get taken to jail for "interfering with an officer."

Some of these years, digging shitters might get you a mandatory court appearance ticket so when the calls of "Six-Up" rang out, shitter diggers disappeared into the woods -- not a scenario that helps us all to stay healthy.  Some years, our medical folks where harassed when trying to help the health of our family: cars were held up when trying to take people to the hospital, medical personnel tents were searched, and charges were brought for a host of issues against family trying to help family.

Many of these years, the USFS came into the gathering at dinner time on the third of July looking to serve warrants on people who missed their court dates.  The years 2006 to 2008 were especially bad for this with the USFS engaging in escalating aggression and violence toward gathering participants.  These were scary years and there were times that I was so scared I was shaking. I was afraid of what the USFS was doing to us, and I was afraid of what gathering participants might do to the USFS. Thankfully this is a wonderful family. We have always acted better than the USFS although that doesn't mean we have always acted as good as we could have. We are the peacekeepers the world needs now.

These are all hard issues to deal with and they do demand a lot of attention. If I have to do it all over again, there are some things I would change and some I wouldn't.  I would still walk with the USFS as much as I can. It deescalates their behavior, tends to keep them on the trails instead of searching through people's campsites, and keeps my family from being arrested. But I would also make sure to spend more time participating in workshops, sitting in council/counsel/circle, and encouraging others to go about their business while ignoring the USFS as best they could.

I would encourage all of us to have councils/counsels/circles as much as possible. Even one council with 20 people changes the vibe of the area around them. I've been witness to this myself on more than one occasion.  While trying to find a permanent resolution with the USFS is important, sharing our knowledge on how to gather with each other is even more important.  If we forgot how to gather, then gatherings will stop.

I would encourage the USFS to sit in council with us. I would encourage the USFS to have their meeting with us in the Cooperations area (usually near INFO) so that all family are free to attend, listen in, ask questions, and share their ideas. However, as we do not control the USFS, I would strongly encourage that where ever the meetings with the USFS take place, the information is widely distributed and all people who can be peaceful with law enforcement attend.  Remember, they tried to shut us down by imprisoning people they thought were leaders. That's only possible when a handful of people step up. When a thousand people step up, that doesn't happen. Be one of the thousand!

Protect the meek among us. Many of our meeker family stopped coming home during the bad years because it was all too much for them. We need the meek as much as we need the brave.  Life is a balance and if we are going to create peace on earth, then we need what looks like peace to everyone, not just to some.

When I interact with the USFS, I would try to be kinder and gentler.  While dealing with the USFS is a fact of life when we gather on National Forest Land, we can set the tone for our interactions, we can educate each other, and we can take more responsibility for protecting the natural resources and not rely on the USFS to be the muscle behind us.

Doing our own media outreach is critical. Many media outlets don't have the time to come to the gathering, so having people who can be reached by telephone helps a lot. The more people who volunteer to share their personal perspective about the gathering, the better.  Doing outreach in the local towns is critical. The more people who volunteer to share their personal perspective about the gathering, the better.

During these years, the USFS tried to drive a wedge in the gathering between more hippy-like-gatherers and more dirty-kid-like gatherers. They stated in multiple town meetings that most of us were good, but the there was a criminal element among us that fit the description of dirty kids. We must always stand together and not allow anyone to blame problems on one set of gatherers.  Now I know that some people cause more drama at gatherings than others, but that just means they are more in need of healing than others.  We should focus our efforts on those who need healing -- what ever that means.

During the worst years of the conflict, we were slowly forgetting how to gather in a way that protects the land, maintains human health, and that allows other creatures to co-exist.  IMHO the most important thing I and hopefully others can do if the conflict resurfaces is to keep sharing our collective knowledge, keep gathering how we gather, refrain from becoming reactive to the USFS and always project love and kindness -- even to law enforcement.

As an early gatherer has said repeatedly, "peace wins."