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.

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