Monday, May 30, 2011

Kids and the Gathering

There are a couple of really good write ups on bringing kids to the gathering.   If you're planning on bringing your children or grandchildren to the gathering, read Info Karen's Rap on Kids and the Rainbow Rap on Kidz.

If you've never been to a gathering before and you don't already have a tribe you're camping with (like Fat Kids, Northwest Tribes, Jesus Camp or Granola Funk to name just a few), I strongly recommend you camp at Kiddie Village. Not only is the food more plentiful there, but you will be able to connect up with parents who have brought their kids to many gatherings and can help you and your family have a positive experience. Plus they build kid friendly shitters which is a very big deal.

You'll also want to see if your kids want to participate in the Kids Parade on the morning of July 4th. Ask for info at Kiddie Village.

If you're an expectant mother, please check in with CALM and make sure someone knows how you're planning your baby's birth. Some mamas choose to have their baby at the gathering, some would rather go to a hospital. The choice is yours, but it's best to be clear ahead of time what you want and meet the wonderful midwifes, nurses, doctors and other health care providers who will help you before you go into labor.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Call of the Gathering

The gathering calls us from the depths of the earth and the tallest tree. The gathering whispers secrets in the wind, in the dirt being dug for a shitter, in the heartbeat of the drums. We are on a journey to an unknown destination. One ruled by unknown words and the longing for a future we have not yet created.

I answer this call sometimes against my conscious will. The amount of time, money and energy it takes to gather could take me on a three week ocean cruise with a comfy bed, three meals a day and no stress. But at the end of the cruise, I would still be the person I was before, although probably fatter (which I don't need) and well rested (which I do need).

In a world where money and efficiency rule, our souls hunger for more.  For a way to relate to each other outside of traditional power structures and beyond the exchange of money for love. Some might call it madness and perhaps trying to hear the heartbeat of the earth is madness. If believing that the world is more than computers and jogging on a treadmill is madness, then we are absolutely insane. We are mad with love for life and this crazy world we call home.  We are mad with love for each other, the creeks, the boulders, the tiny yellow flowers growing in the meadow.

I cannot count the times someone has quit the gathering, only to come home again. The call of the gathering is strong.

The gathering has left me in tears and so angry that I broke glass bottles on the side of a camper. I have yelled at people and hugged them a moment later.  I have seen people in so much pain that all they can do is try to hurt those who would love them. I have seen people prey on us to fill the holes in their hearts.  The call of the gathering is powerful.

I have worked myself to exhaustion and witnessed my brothers and sisters do the same. We have chopped wood, hauled water, treated the injured and loved the lost.  The call of the gathering is full of hard work.

Sometimes things don't work out and people suffer. Kids get lost. Fights happen and people get hurt. Dreams are destroyed and people die. We experience the lightness and the darkness as nature includes both death and rebirth. The call of the gathering involves suffering.

In a culture that tries to erase suffering and darkness, that tries to protect every second of our lives, we have lost the ability to experience ecstasy and horror.  The gathering restores this experience to us, puts it in our body, allows anyone to be the hero or the villain of the movie du jour. It allows us the freedom to learn how to work together, to be a community, to find ourselves and grow into humans with respect for all living creatures and this beautiful, amazing planet we call home. I have cried with my family and celebrated joy with them. I have seen the worst of myself and the best. It's has been a long strange journey and one that keeps calling me home. 

The call of the gathering is life.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Anticipation, rumors and airports (oh my)

Seems like every year about this time, people get gathering fever.  Everyone is looking forward to coming home and the rumors are circulating widely.  The truth of the matter is there's heavy rain and even snow still in mountains in Washington State and scouting is going slow due to the weather.

I doubt home will be in the Olympic Peninsula but other forests in Washington State are still being scouted.  I know people are antsy about airfare.  Depending on what you want to do, you can either purchase a ticket to one of the centrally located major airports now (or in April as I did) and get your really cheap tickets, or if you want to fly into the closest regional airport you'll just have to wait until the Spring Council location is announced.  Most years, Spring Council is less than 100 miles (and often less than 50 miles) from the gathering site, although occasionally it's a bit farther.

If you're excited, the best thing you can do is prep. If you're planning on driving make sure your car is 100% legal (see Rap 420 for more info).   If you arrive near the gathering with a broken tail light, you'll be the proud owner of a mandatory court appearance ticket, so deal with it before you get within 200 miles of the gathering unless you like playing the Forest Service Kangaroo Court game.

If you're looking for a ride, check out my blog post on Tips for a Safe Journey Home and a Positive Gathering.

Now is the perfect time to think about all the wonderful skills you have that the rest of this family would love to learn about in a workshop.  Or work a bit extra and buy supplies for your favorite kitchen. Or if you live in Washington, write letters to all the media outlets sharing your viewpoint of the gathering. Or make a new dress to wear on the 4th of July or hold a potluck in your area to arrange a caravan or group camp. 

I personally am not a fan of holding camps. Seems to me that if people have so much free time on their hands, why not plan a pre-gathering, gathering in an other state or perform volunteer work in a town in Washington to bring the spirit to folks who live there year round?  This means I don't pass on directions to holding camps.  But just cause I don't, doesn't mean other people aren't.  Just think about how much snow/rain camping you're really into.  It's been a cold wet winter on the Pacific Coast.  I'm at the southern end and it's still raining off and on and not very warm. 

And now, back to the regularly scheduled rumors and innuendos.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

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 on any locations, at  or if you're into Facebook, there's a group called Rainbow Ride Sharing "Gotta ride? Need a ride?"

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. 

*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!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Feeding the Family

Just a reminder to all my beautiful wonderful family that we need to take responsibility for feeding and healing each other. Going to local food banks in the gathering area ain't cool. We generally gather in rural areas and with things they way they are, the people who have lived in these areas for generations are struggling to take care of their families and communities. They didn't invite us to come so we have to be extra considerate guests. We have plenty of wealth in our own family that we need to be sharing with each other. My vision of a communal future needs to be one in which we create our own resources, not bum resources from other people.

Rap 108 / 801

Before and After the Gathering:
  • While you are waiting for news about the gathering site, and later on when you travel to the next event, hold in your heart the spirit of the Gathering and live what you have learned there.
  • If you are camping, walk lightly on the land. Remember, she is your mother and she deserves your care and respect. Harm no living thing.
  • Recycle whenever possible, and clean up when you leave. Leave no trace behind you.
  • If you camp with others, work together to manifest the community that nourishes and supports us.
  • Share your resources, learn from your brothers and sisters, expand your creativity, and develop a self-sufficient life-style.
  • Get to know your neighbors and take responsibility for maintaining peace and harmony among them. Shanti Sena is a way of life.
  • Remember that the presence of large numbers of folks traveling through a small town can heavily impact the residents there. Please treat them with respect. Your attitude and actions will leave them with a life-long impression of Rainbow. Make it a positive one.
  • Be well!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

On Creating Community at the Gathering

One of the ways in which we create community at the gathering is by creating hundreds if not thousands of smaller communities or camps. Each camp has its own vibe and its own focus. Some camps are a handful of friends who have pitched tents next to each other. At the opposite end of the spectrum are large camps with large kitchens that feed the entire gathering complete with banks of shitters, elaborate advanced planning and hundreds of people plugging into the kitchen.

Camping in community is the heart of the gathering.  Not only does camping in community allow people to look out for each other and watch over each other's belongings, it allows people to practice consensus based decision making (if that's how the camp decides to operate), meet new people, share and learn from each other and create the energy that the camp feels is needed at the gathering.

The beauty of a gathering is that pretty much anyone is free to plug into any community (with the exception of Sister Space which is yonis only).  Some people come to a gathering and never leave their community. Other people camp in one community and visit other communities for fun, to participate in workshops, or to work.

2009 Gathering Map (click to enlarge)
If you've never been to a gathering before, I recommend you arrive early in the morning, then hike in and wander around the gathering checking out the camps and trying to find a place that will contribute to your creation of a positive gathering. (Keep in mind that sometimes the most challenging situations create the best gathering). If you're looking for a particular type of camp (like one based on religious beliefs or dietary styles), stop by the Info Booth and people can point you to camps that would accommodate your preferences.  As always at the gathering and life in general, listen to your gut. If something doesn't feel right for you, no explanation necessary, just pick up your gear and move on down the trail.

I suppose I could give a rundown on some of the camps that are generally at the gathering, but I'm not sure I want to do that. Each gathering is different, and whatever I may say about a camp today based on my personal past experience, may not be true in Washington. Each community consists of many people and it's the combination of people that make the community what it is. Since no two gatherings ever have the same mix of people, nothing is ever the same.

However, there are usually camps dedicated to most of the major world religions, geographical areas, theater, activism, abuse of alcohol, abuse of herb, raw foods, bridge building and more. 

For those who like to know what they're getting into, that's not really the best way to experience the gathering. Come, explore, meet people, learn about yourself and others, share the best of yourself with the gathering and you will have an amazing experience. That being said, here are links to info on various camps that other people have compiled and the map (above) from the 2009 gathering showing some of the larger camps.

There is a list at WelcomeHome
Rainbow Gathering 2.0 has a long list of links to various tribes. 

Here's a great video called Where Are You?on finding places at the gathering just for fun! You'll be doing this a lot once you're at home.