2015 Gathering

The 44th annual rainbow gathering of the tribes is happening in the Black Hills of South Dakota." (The consensed areas include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and South Dakota.) For posts related to the gathering location including directions and site updates, click here. For the Howdy Folks, click here. To find out specifically where the gathering will be, you need to understand how we find our "home" each year. Click here for an overview of the process. To make it into the gathering without a ticket, click here. Please ignore all rumors of cancellation. Copy and distribute this information freely.

Monday, March 23, 2015

French-Dutch filmmaker wants to understand why we do what we do

Information provided by filmmaker

I am a French-Dutch filmmaker and I would like to do a film for the French TV, about the Rainbow Family: a utopic and hippy community.

The main idea aims to understand who are the people who live currently a hippy life, what does it mean concretely in every day life and why did they choose this way of living.

I would like to follow and interview families, members of the Rainbow from its beginnings and youngest people who chose recently to be a part of this community.

The better way to realize this project would be to be able to meet members and follow them a few days in their everyday life, to understand what they are standing for, in what do they believe, what they are working on.

I would like to follow them also at the annual gathering in July, where my story would end.

I think today more than ever, it is important to put forward communities such as the Rainbow Family, to show another way of living and communicate the values of the Rainbow.

For the filming, we will be a small crew of two people. The cameraman and myself. We are very discrete and friendly. We will use a small camera, a 5D, which makes beautiful pictures. We are very attached to the aesthetic of the film.

If you are interested in participating and for any further information, please contact Melanie via email.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

How we got to where we are now

In the wake of the recent outbreak of violence at a regional gathering, the death of one of our brothers, and severe injury to two other brothers, I thought it was time to share my perspective on how we got to this place as a family.

In late 1995, the US Forest Service passed a regulation that would require any group of seventy-five or more people to obtain a permit to gather on lands managed by the US Forest Service for the American people.  We said the constitution of the United States of America is the only permit we need.  Needless to say, the US government didn't buy it. If you're interested in the history of the permit issue, click here.  During these years, many gathering participants, myself included, focused a lot of our energy on trying to keep our family out of jail, dealing with the practical ramifications of our refusal to obtain a permit, and otherwise directing our energy outside the perimeter of the gathering.

Also during this time, many people dedicated themselves to proving to themselves, the gathering, and the government, that we weren't a "group" but rather random individuals who all showed up in the same place and time.  I believe these well intentioned actions were trying to prove to the US government that we weren't a group in the same way that a corporate picnic is a group.

I never bought into this. We're not a group just because what we are is a living community. The US government does not have a legal definition for people who choose to create community together as we do. I believe we are more than individuals because we are family. Yet we are not legally bound to each other.

We share sweat, love, and food because we want to and anyone of us is free to terminate the association at will.   We listen to each others opinions and perspectives because we believe that together we can create the world the way we want it to exist and that the path of creating a more positive future for the planet and all her creatures requires each voice to be heard, from the five year old girl to the trees standing around us.

Co-creating this family with all of you is the most amazing experience. Talking about the community connection that is more than individuals hanging out together and that is not legally binding is a critical component to helping us learn how to live together in peace and love.  How do we create a temporary space for a community connected by love and shared experiences over decades and through generations?  How do we explain to people that coming to the gathering isn't about the freedom to do what ever you want to do but rather freedom to do what's best for everyone?

Now I'm not blaming anyone for this problem of years spent not working on our internal needs and processes, not improving our counciling process or our methods for helping the old and dis\abled in and out of our gathering because I was part of the problem along with many others.   We had hard choice to make:  do I let a brother get taken to jail or do I sit with others and council while those in council are afraid they will be targeted as "leaders" and jailed.  I did the best I could and I know many others who did as well.

What I want to shine the light on today is what happens when we don't deal with our own housekeeping, when we expect our children to grow up without learning the many lessons we should have been teaching them, what happens when no one wants to or is able to deal with our family who are struggling to learn that the way of peace and love is goal worth working towards. What happens when we start saying those people aren't us.

This is a small planet folks and getting smaller by the day. Climate change is going to force entire nations to leave their lands and go forth as refugees when the islands on which they currently live are covered in three feet of ocean water.  Water wars are erupting over who owns the water and who gets to use it to fill their swimming pools while others don't even have clean and safe drinking water because water has been commodified (and every time we buy bottled water we support water as a product instead of water as life).  Violent conflict is not something that happens over there, but something we create in our actions every day by the products we purchased and the way we disregard the many amazing voices of all the beautiful creatures on this planet. We create violence when we do not reflect on how our actions hurt other people and this beautiful and amazing planet we call home.

It seems to me that since we're reached a shaky truce with the US Forest Service (starting in 2010) and moved to the unsigned operating plan model of creating an intersection between gathering and government cultures, the frequency of and participation in councils has increased. More people are spending more time on healing our gathering and healing our selves. Family issues that we abdicated to USFS law enforcement to manage are ours to deal with once again (with mixed results). Yet in some respects we are starting over with a lot of learning how to deal with our issues. Times change, people change, solutions evolve over time and experiences.

In the early days of the permit wars, a friend said he was afraid that signing a permit would mean we would start depending on the USFS to handle our issues: deal with those who need some extra attention to remain peaceful, heal our wounded, deal with our trash. Unfortunately, not signing a permit also resulted in some of these same problems. I believe the permit wasn't the problem but rather where we focused our attention.

The biggest gift that this wacky, frustrating, amazing, magical gathering has given me is that we can change the world, our gatherings, ourselves.  We just have to get involved. Go visit the problem camp during the day to meet new people and make new friends (not to tell them what to do). Keep an eye out for that person who has had too much alcohol and share some mellowing energy with her/him even if it's just sitting on the ground and meditating.  Be a troubadour and wander the gathering sharing songs of hope, love and peace. Love someone even when that person is not yet capable of sharing love.  A large group of people doing yoga, meditating, or praying together changes the energy of the entire gathering without a word being spoken.

We learn to love by being loved. We learn respect when we are given respect. Unfortunately, many of us weren't given enough of the right kind of love growing up: love that includes boundaries, love that includes respect, or love that includes helping us grow our unique gift to the world in a positive way.

Some of us were born with special challenges that we struggle with on a daily basis. These challenges may be bio-chemical, emotional, mental, physical or some combination there of.  We all need help. We all need to be helpers.

Understand that Babylon is in your heart not in a place and you can chose the energy you wish to carry into this world and into this gathering. Understand, that when you come to a gathering, you do not arrive at a place that has solved all the problems of the world, but a place in which you are co-creating the solutions via art, song, massage, dance, food, storytelling, hugs, council, and as many other peaceful ways that you can imagine.

Our teaching and learning is growing stronger, but it needs your help in the process to reach all the circles and all the bellies that our part of this amazing experiment in the positive evolution of the planet.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tragedy in A-cola (& RIP)

Updated Saturday, March 19 @ 7 PM (Cali Time)

"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend" Martin Luther King, Jr.

A-cola is a regional gathering that happens in the Florida pan-handle in the Apalachicola National  Forest off Wright Lake Road. One person was killed and two seriously wounded on March 5. The suspect in the shooting, Clark Mayers, is being charged with one count of first-degree murder as well as aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Smiley (Jacob Cardwell) was killed

Dice (Wesley Jones) was critically injured
The person suspected of shooting both Smiley and Dice is Clark Mayers and he also is in the hospital as he was beaten and stabbed during the incident.  All the way around tragedy for the people involved and this family as a whole. Violence begets violence. Be the one to stand up for peace in the face of violence. For the latest info from the mainstream media, click here

There have been two GoFundMe campaigns set up to help Smiley's family with end of life expenses and Dice's family with medical expenses. I don't know the people who are focalizing these efforts, but here are the links if you wish to contribute:
  • Smiley End of Life Expenses Go Fund Me.( Account managed by Smiley's Mom).
  • Dice's Medical Expenses Go Fund Me.
Even if you don't have $$ to help, please send loving energy to all our family who have been part of this tragedy.

My heartfelt condolences and loving energy are heading towards everyone who experienced this tragedy and I hope that a thousand heart songs about violence prevention are on-going now and will continue into the future. 

I spoke to long time family the night of March 13 who said that Dice will survive, but there is a call for people to send healing energy, prayers, love, etc.   Dice has a bullet lodged in his spine and the doctors think he will never walk again and may be permanently paralyzed. However, rainbow magic is strong and if we all put our positive and healing energy towards Dice, he may walk again. 

There were two separate councils at the site where the shooting happened and both councils agreed to move to a new location in the same forest.  Family on the land at the new location are continuing to council, grieve, and heal.  Shanti Sena workshops are happening.  

An alter , 2 feet side and 3 feet high, was created for Smiley and stories, memories have been being shared on the land.  Lot's of prayers and songs. 

If you are in the area and can share some green energy, your gift would be deeply appreciated. Also, organic fruits and veggies would be a great way to assist with the healing as our family needs strong and health bodies to move forward. I don't have an exact location but my guess is if you're in the area, you know where.

A friend sent me this update on 3/14 @ 2 PM:

There is still a small gathering in the Appalachicola Forest (in a different location), and the family there expects to gather for five more days. They have way too much food and welcome family to come join them if you are seeking a place to be and connect. This is a mellow safe space where family are trying to heal and get back to what they do best. Councils, main circle, shanti sena, all the basics. Out of respect for recent events, this is a NO DRINKING gathering. Its at 348 c off forest service road 13 in the Acola forest.