Monday, July 18, 2011

Personal Reflections

I came into this gathering a bit hesitant (due to personal issues).   I packed heavy and managed to stay warm and dry the entire gathering (even during the stretch of rain that lasted 36 hours straight).  Here are some of my own thoughts and reflections.

Due to the snow, seed camp got a late start.  Although I arrived on June 23rd and there were kitchens already set up by then, the gathering seemed like a ghost town. I hiked around the meadow trying to find some place to camp and couldn't find any place that felt like a place.  I ended up spending two nights at the gate by FS Road 150 where I had friends.  A lot of kitchens came in late and the money started coming into the magic hat pretty late as well.  Getting such a late start on seed camp was hard to recover from although people worked hard.

I participated in the Town Hall Meeting the night of June 24. There was a great turn out and lots of good conversations happening. For a copy of the handouts that were distributed at the meeting, click here(Warning! It's a large file). Once back on the land, I ended up plugging into INFO and spent most of my gathering hanging out there and trying to help other people have a positive gathering.

Gathering participants met with the USFS Resourse folks and worked out an unsigned operating plan on the land. Click here to see the PDF version I scanned.

One of the things I really noticed this year is that there are a lot of amazing and wonderful younger family plugging into to kitchens and getting things done.  Yet it still seems like some of the tasks that deal with the gathering as a whole are under represented by the younger folks.  Some examples:  meeting with the Sheriff and Emergency Medical Services in the area; working out gathering logistics with the USFS Resource Advisers on the land, dealing with the circle on the 4th, and parking.  I didn't really realize this until after I left but as I was thinking back on these things, I realized we as a family need to do a better job of making sure our younger family knows how to work as individuals with various government agencies and how to think about gathering wide issues (such as not camping next to the creek, protecting our non-human family and coming to the town meetings).  I guess this is food for thought for next year.

I met hundreds of day trippers and over nighters. Starting on the night of July 1st, they came in droves. Arriving by car at 1 PM and by the time they made it into the gathering, dinner circle was winding down and the day trippers had flip flops and hoodies - many didn't even have flashlights.  Every evening as it got dark, they landed at INFO, lost and not sure how to get back to their cars--cold, hungry and thirsty.  We tried to help them as best we could, but it was tough.  Despite all the warm clothing people brought to share with others, it went as fast as it came in.

Despite the high numbers of first time gatherers, most everything rolled on peacefully and positively.  The nights were cold. The nights were cold. Some of the days were cold as well, but the sun did come out for the weekend of the 4th.

The Rainbow Guide went into shipping hell and never made it to the gathering, nor was there an Always Free, but a new focalizer for Always Free has stepped up so I'm thinking good thoughts for next year.

Thanks to my wonderful friend Cody's hard work at facilitating Main Council, it happened every day. I made it twice and we had people discussing pressing issues regarding the gathering. I also made it to the Cyber Council and it was great to put some faces to people I only know online. We had a lot of people listening in to the discussions and some very good points were made. The two best points where that using the Internet to share directions, raps, etc. is great, but that we need to remember we make decisions on the land. The other good suggestion is when circulating info on the Internet, always include information on what a gathering is, a few of the raps, and make sure people understand what they are going to when someone post directions to a rainbow related event.

We had the usual Shanti Sena issues and lots of people plugging in.  There was a Shanti Sena Council on July 3rd that had a small group of people sharing methods and styles of dealing with various issues. There was a lot of discussion on preventative measures and how people can make sure that no one is getting lost or starting to feud with their neighbors. We had a great mix of young folks who have been actively doing Shanti Sena and experienced folks.

Because most of the meadows were marshes, dinner circle happened on a small spit of dry land between Montana Mudd and Rainbow Crystal Kitchen.  It was cozy to say the least.  On the 4th, there were two circles: a small intimate one in the dinner circle meadow and a large one that spanned the perimeter of Main Marsh.  The children made it to the side of the circle where they stayed before the oming even started (kids were a bit early if you ask me).  The circle at the far end was pretty sparse with fingers stretched out to touch fingers, but I think we closed the circle before the Om broke.

The USFS Resource Advisers came in a couple of days at the end of June and July 1st. Other than that, Gary Campbell and Mary King came in and walked around a few days.  While about 150 people received tickets on the road, the LEO DID NOT server warrants in the gathering.  I repeat, there were no bands of armed and hunting law enforcement officers inside the gathering. I only heard six up a few times in almost two weeks.  From July 2nd until July 6th, we didn't see any forest service.  They did return on July 6th although I was driving out when they were coming in so I don't know why they were coming into the gathering.

For what ever reason, we never manifested a Welcome Home. There where 3 or 4 gates depending on how you counted them and people coming in all of them.  This made it very confusing to direct people out as everyone came in via the "main gate."  Luckily 3 of the 4 gathers dumped people out very close to info, but I know a lot of people had a hard time with the chaotic energy where they came in and it would have helped out a lot to have a Welcome Home camp that was actively greeting people.  The INFO crew was out in force on the busy nights welcoming people home and helping them find the camps they were looking for.

The parking scene was a bit tight. Much of the road side parking was covered in snow drifts that were 2-3 feet high when I drove out on the 6th.  I came into the gathering twice and both times was greeted by a friendly and peaceful face (Thank you front gate - you rocked!).  Unfortunately, some of our family is pretty stupid when it comes to parking and a few people did get their cars towed, but for the most part, we controlled the road and it was tough to stay on top of it.  The USFS LEOS did close the road for 12-14 hours, but then the blockade came down and people started double parking and blocking the road.  Hey family!  DO NOT EVER PARK SO A FIRE TRUCK AND/OR AMBULANCE CANNOT GET THROUGH.  We have medical emergencies all the time and need to get our family medical help.  Don't be an ass.  If you have to park 5 miles away so you're not blocking the road, do so. The life you save may be your own.

I was also dismayed at how many people think pitching a tent two feet from the bank of a creek is OK.  Never, never, never camp on the bank.  All the foot traffic causes erosion in the banks and that's not good for fishes and other creatures who live in the creek.  Plus this sort of damage is very hard to repair. Creeks are sensitive areas.  This year in particular, Bull Trout eggs were getting ready to hatch downstream.  Stirring up dirt in the creek can plug the air holes in the eggs and prevent them from hatching.  Please remember to consider all the living creatures who depend on the ecosystems in which we gather.  A standard rule of thumb is 50 feet back from surface waters.

A big shout out to the folks on the land early who shoveled snow to get into the gathering. That's hard core energy and I'm glad it was you, not me.

Loving all of you!


  1. A wonderful review, completely accurate. Do you mind if I repost it on Facebook and send it to some of the other focalizers?

    -Zakk Flash
    Oklahoma Rainbow Tribe

  2. Much thanks dear sister. I was counting on your post :).

    I trust you will share the results of Vision Council, when you know it, as well.

    Loving you

  3. thanks so much, we didn't make it; choice between hanging with grandbaby and Rainbow? And we were only going for early days and after reading this, whoah... We are in Puna HI and have been told that the highest number ever from here made it to Gathering, must have frozen their little Hawaiian butts off!

  4. thanks karin,
    I too know so many folks only from online contact. Wish I could have attended the cyber circle.

    Loving you.

  5. Bless, I saw the LEO"S come in twice around trade circle early and later on the 6th..armed with paint guns.. All I can think was that Amber died that morning..She is part of our clan : Warriors of the Light" .. It would seem protocal if someone died for them to come thru and check all systems.. Besides guns seeming intimidating to an average hippe.. I'm an ex soldier so the smiley faces that had and their casual grins was not alarming to me.. Thanks for report, I agree more younger family or activating Rainbow workshops..I remember one year we had The COOP center for helping people to be more involved.. The elders are elderly..The youngers are adults and not yet elders at 50.. SO yes a lot of us need to feel the breeze of no more govt focalizer targeting..I was once a very involved focalizer for 4 corners region, but the feds made it difficult.. The Always Free needs to be done up nicely again with trust of contacts for traveling family and a survival guide for outer family living in these tough and tight times.. Where are the communities, safe zones, alternative gatherings etc..Also Need to share this info with Ozark gathering.. Since there are 2 gatherings now, need to share info .. I was not involved in any councils just supporting Granola Funk Theater and Warriors of Light did not have a kitchen this last year..Would be good for family clans to be confident and activated to put on gatherings in midwest, 4 corners etc thru the winter to keep road dogs and new bee's on the rainbow path and seeing how politics range in SE for Winter- Spring holding camps.. Lots of cross country traveling for those that can't afford except to network rides from one gathering to next or be on some tour that will get them out there. I'm in Mainstream world this next year in School in LA So I can't an unable to participate on any level for road dogs, regionals etc..I can help in future networking and fundraising.. I may or may not be able to attend next yrs gathering due to scheduling.. The fear is gone, each tribe/clan needs to re-awaken to their internal responsibilities to the youth and honor the space they are taking and proper training at hand..The we are the ones we have been waiting for is old news.. We're here.. we need to spread the knowledge, remember our songs ( write/publish).. Passage of Rites ritual/ceremony for coming of age, recognition of focalizers, camps that do their best and help other camps, family party patrols for drug use, over doses..mixing,, etc..part shanti sena/Good vibes family.. These guides, Raps need to be posted on big boards as they use to not at Info only but at welcome home, front gate, trail entrances..That way new people know.. Also more realization that vocalizers are welcome..maybe a vocalizer circle not council but a circle to activate its ok to have family messengers and have a area to meet up and share needed info thru out gathering..tribal messengers..young people that like to cruise around but have accurate info..certified rainbow info people.. What i mean by certified is being properly all this no leadership society, we have a form n a mutual cooperation n interdependence with each other, but until is all 3rd eyed we need to activate more circles, moduls etc..if these things can happen next year online to bring down the fear level of participation, rainbows Focalizer core old n new will come back stronger.. I would like to put it out there that a media circle should form, the report about the gathering was good the one i saw here n tv.. it brought more people in.. need to be prepared for that n to deal with negatives..Anyways to keep it simple for now..
    Love you family for a warm yet cold gathering n hope the gathering grows into this new time not just in the woods but thru out the earth.. The model of existence is that, a model of what can be, alternative to fema, alternative to other scenerios, old school human village living, tribal existence.. one love

  6. THANK you for the update, Karin, and everyone else's input here. So glad to hear of the sparse LEO interactions on-site. Hopefully the bond and good faith we established with the USFS and in the Monongahela Forest in 2010 carried over to the 2011 Gathering. I would like to hope that was part of it. Now we just have to work on the Youngers and Road dogs and get them Schooled-up.

  7. Great post. Camped with Montana Mud this year and was amazed at the focalizing done by Useless. I was impressed. With more young family like him, the future looks good. Oh yea, and I did shovel snow.


  8. thanks for all you do, karin. i get so much information from your posts... i thought the gathering this year was amazing. would just like to bring up one point. there were soooo many dogs there. next year when people are thinking "what can i bring to share?"... dog food!! lots and lots of dog food!! there were so many people feeding their dogs people food and so many dogs getting sick...also - if you bring your furry friend please keep track of it!! i saw dogs wondering around without any owners and many times heard people calling out for their lost companions. c.a.l.m. told me their biggest problem this year was dog bites. just got to keep your babies under control.... i had so much fun this year walking around with bags of chicken jerkey treats and handing them out to people with dogs - doggies like a nice "pocket trade" surprise too :)... peace, love and light <3

  9. Hi, it was really nice to meet you after perusing all of your pregathering posts. I was one who waited for my family to get in (my teenage daughter and my older daughter and her boyfriend); they actually walked about 12 miles from their parking spot and did not make it in until after Midnight.

    We had a really hard time at the gathering, I was working most of the time, rarely a moment to sit with my family or my Family. I helped bring water into Medicine Warrior kitchen, and that was actually fun, also helped Eugene get their water back up and running when it went down. I noticed that people dug shitters or pitched tents RIGHT ON THE WATER LINES...helLO!

    Should I be able to make to any more gatherings, I will work more closely with the water lines, which is what I do for a living.

    Parking was ridiculous, i hope next sitings take better care in that regard. Also, the main "meadow" was actually a wetlands, and next time perhaps scouting family will ask for a geologist's opinion. Perhaps a geologist will actually be there! If I can make it, I share many of the opinions you write about in this post, especially about advising folks on sensitive areas. I was very saddened to see our deep impact on the spawning grounds, and that people with digging dogs just let them tear away at stream banks. Mostly, though, people tried very hard to minimize impacts and though tempers really flared at the parking of the "main trail" into Medicine Warriors, people eventually figured it out.

    It was also nice contrast from my previous Gathering experiences that LEO was minimal, really low fear factor. I guess they figured we had a tough enough go of it.

  10. this was my first gathering, a bit too cold and wet for me but loved it all the same...I saw LEO's several times but did not see them harassing anyone and instead were pretty much all smiles...i can't help but wonder if this just might be the way things are up in washington? all the locals around the way seemed cool and laid back, good people.
    main problem i saw was unattended and lost dogs...woke up one morning to find a huge dog digging thru my neighbors pack, when i tried to chase it off, it responded by lunging towards me, i threw a stick, hoping to scare off...the poor doggie came back with the stick in it's mouth!
    he was just lost and hungry...gave it some crackers and it wandered off lost again...saw that all too many times...thinking about bringing my own dog next year but she will be on a leash at all times, even if i get funny looks from the unfettered dog crowd. people, please keep up with your dogs and cats, too...especially cats.

  11. Any news on clean up? Is it still happening?

  12. Clean is still going on at least for another week but probably another two plus weeks. If you're in the area and can pop in for the weekend, please due. Be prepared for lots of mosquitos.

  13. The low impact of the LEO's was because of the Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown and his officers, who will not allow the Citizens or visitors of our county to be treated by like what has happened in the past.

    It was not easy, but he never wavered.

    Please consult with the locals before selecting a site, our precious Skookum Meadows was not an ideal location, alternate locations would have been much better for all involved...

    Welcome Home.

  14. Thanks Karin, I plan to head out there in a few days. Do you know if there is still a kitchen going?

  15. @Unknown

    I believe Fat Kids is still on site and feeding, but I'm not sure about filtered drinking water. I know they had a filtered water setup during the gathering, but I don't know if it's still there or not.

    Thanks for going back to help. If it works out, bringing some fresh fruit is always a positive thing for people who've been in the
    woods for a long time.