Welcome Home.

For directions to the gathering, click here.

If you do not want a go directly to jail card, a mandatory court appearance ticket, or your stuff tossed all over the ground as you enter the gathering, read this.

If the information on this blog does not answer your questions, send an email to gathering info and someone should respond.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spring Council/Seed Camp Information

Updated 6/17/13 7 AM (California Time)  - Spring Council has disbanded.

Directions to the gathering are available here.

Spring Council is when all potential sites for the gathering are brought to any people who want to be involved in selecting a site. The council usually takes one to seven days and normally ends with either a consensus by silence among people at the council or an exodus of the majority of people heading to the preferred site.  T-Council picked June 7 for the start of Spring Council.

People participating in the spring council process have been counciling and out walking potential sites and yesterday (Friday 6/14) counciled with USFS staff. Today (6/15/13) folks will be counciling.  Rumor has it to not expect a decision (by consensus or foot) for another couple of days.  So maybe Monday (6/17) or Tuesday (6/18)

Due to the northern location of this year's gathering and the late snows.  The further north we are, the later the snow melts.

While all are welcome to participate in Spring Council, please keep in mind that conditions may be cold and/or wet and little or no infrastructure is set up.  Bring food to share, drinking water, and be prepared to relocate once folks decide where "HOME" will be located. While home is often within 75-100 miles of the spring council site, this is not always true. I know that at least one of the sites still being considered is further.  If gas money is tight, you may want to stay where your are until an announcment is made.

Update for 6/9/13 @ 9 AM Cali time from a friend

Spring Council population is approaching 300, we had our first circle yesterday. Not much much serious business on the first day, mostly heartsongs and getting to know each other. We are still waiting for some of the people doing scouting to arrive.

We will have another circle today, and then the general feeling seems to be we will send out scouting parties on monday and have them walk the land on some of the potential sites for 4 days, and we will resume counciling on Friday. This was predicted at Thanksgiving Council, when we consensed that Spring Council would BEGIN the weekend of June 7-9...so it's likely to be a late announcement. There's simply more work to be done before we can accurately decide which location would be best to send the family to.

Once the decision is reached, people move onto the site and start "Seed Camp."  Seed camp involves earlier arriving gathering participants.  Folks  find and develop water systems, set up the first kitchens & a health care system, and dig the first latrines. Seed camp folks design the layout of the actual Gathering by developing trails, selecting a Main Circle site, marking parking areas and setting up Welcome Home. Coop and Banking Councils are set up to address the needs of Seed Camp. Please do not show up for seed camp unless you are willing to chip in on the work, can deal with the rough conditions and can contribute to creating a wondeful and positive gathering. 

Please note that more cop hassles happen during early seed camp than during the gathering itself and plan accordingly.  If you're not sure what I mean by cop hassles, click here and read the right hand side of this blog.


Racetrack Creek/Racetrack Campground (20 miles south of Deer Lodge, Montana)

From Interstate 90: Exit 197 Galen. Take Left onto 273 South (Galen RD), go 3 miles on paved road to Willow Road (NO SIGN and be aware -- as 273 bears left, Willow Road goes straight, it is the gravel on right).  Go 1 mile to Bowman Road at the four corners. Take left onto Bowman which becomes Modesty Creek Road (you will see a Forest Service sign for Racetrack Campground 6 miles). Watch for cows on road and immature Golden Eagles on fence posts! Keep following signs for Racetrack CG.

****Please respect signs for private property.****

Once inside the Forest, FS road 169, welcome home!   There is ample parking, bus village, and handicamp on the north side (right) after the cattleguard just into the forest (only two tenths of a mile from FS boundary) with some tree line camping off the south (left). There is a piece of private property inside the spring council area; this stretch is about a ½ -mile long and is well-marked along the road.  There is a FS Campground where there is an anticipated fee early June. Beyond the campground, FS Road 169 diminishes so be aware of poor road conditions and it may be difficult for big rigs to turn around. OR take Racetrack Exit 195 Roads are less paved but it gets you there – follow signs to Racetrack Campground. Avoid Dempsey Lake Road – there is a bridge out over this

For USFS info on Racetrack Campground, click here.

For directions to the annual gathering of the tribes, click here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

CALM, First Aid and Taking Care of Each Other

Today's blog post on CALM comes to you from  guest blogger MB. Just an FYI to all who are suspicious of donating money to the gathering online, I personally know MB and many of the CALM folks and know that they are doing an amazing job saving lives with minimal equipment. Lot's of opportunities exist to support healing our brothers and sisters. For those of you who are knew to gathering, CALM is one of the main first aid stations at the gathering. Visit them if you're not feeling well, get injured or just want to talk about healing.  To learn more about CALM, click here.

It is, indeed, that time of year to request donations! CALM raised enough funds last year to cover the Tennessee Gathering.  We had very few supplies leftover, and with the expectation of a larger Gathering in Montana, we expect our costs to be even higher. By getting donations early, we are able to be savvy Internet shoppers and get the best value for supplies. Once we are on the land, we have to purchase from pharmacies, with costs that are 3x what they are online.

Click here to see the inventory/banking list from 2012 in Excel format.  We purchased a total of $1,138.00 in supplies and used nearly all of the supplies.  Tennessee was a smaller Gathering, and we anticipate Montana to require twice as many supplies.  Our goal this year is to receive $2,000 in donations and we need your help to manifest a healthy and well cared-for Gathering.  Every $10, $20, $50 and $100 donation helps immensely.

CALM needs to have a variety of different supplies on hand because we never know from year to year what we will need.  Some years we see a lot of burns, while others involve roll-over accidents on the road Home.  We have treated heart attacks and diabetic shock, seizures and jungle rot, broken ankles and pains in the necks (ahem).  Wingnuts? Yep, we treat em.  A stick stuck in your foot because you really, really want to walk barefoot at night?  Yep, we treat that, too.

WHAT CAN BE DONE? Donate money to our PayPal or WePay account at the bottom of this message.  Give cash or a check to one of the CALM bankers. I can assure you that all of them can be trusted as they all put in way more money into supplies then they get back. Please do not bring in your old prescription medications, homemade tinctures or unlabeled herbs. We cannot distribute prescriptions, and tinctures end up unused unless they are made by a known and trusted source.

 If you have supplies that you would like to donate, please check with us first as they may not be what we really need. If you plan to bring supplies, check with us first by sending an email to CALM or MB  to make sure that this is something that we can use.

If you want to donate something material, we need batteries!  AA non-rechargeable are best.  We rely heavily on radio communications and with radios being always-on 24-hours a day for 2 weeks, we go through a lot of AA batteries.  Remember the helicopter evacuation in Pennsylvania the morning of the 4th?  That was made possible through radio communications relayed from person-to-person and then via a call to Emergency Responders.

And finally, CALM could always use Builders! We start serving the health needs of the Family as soon as we leave our homes­which means that we are often so busy, it’s hard to find time and energy to put up a tarp or to make benches.  Please stop by and plug in!

The healers are here to serve the Family. Let’s have a kind and safe Gathering!


OR to donate via WePay, click here

If you are a healer and want to plug in ahead of time, sign up for the CALM email list by registering here or visit Rainbow Medicine Facebook or email MB for supply/donation questions:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blasts from the Past

I started doing a yearly gathering-related blog in 2008.  Here's some of what I consider the better posts from 2008 to 2012.  Some of them were written by me, others by folks I know and admire.    Enjoy!

Counciling in 1972 by Garrick Beck

The Silent Prayer/Meditation for World Peace on July 4th

Sage Advice for First Time Gatherers

Tips for a Safe Journey Home & a Positive Gathering

Gathering with Kids by Info Karen (The other Karen who hangs @ Info)

Rap on Access

So You Want to Focalize a Kitchen?

Creating Community

Health and Hand Washing

On Shanti Sena by Medicine Socks

Parking Lot Crew

Workshops @ the Gathering

To folks worried about their loved ones

Why Gather? by Garrick Beck

Why I Gather (the 2012 version)

~~~  Please copy and distribute this information freely ~~~

Saturday, May 18, 2013

An open letter to my younger sisters

yinyangThe gathering is a wonderful magical time full of lots of sweat, usually some tears and a great opportunity to grow as a human being.  If you're in your late teens or twenties, you probably know that the world is full of men who want to get to know you in an intimate way.   I like to believe that the brothers who gather are the kindest, most compassionate, most loving men and that despite their interest in getting to you know will respect any boundaries you place on any interaction.

This brings us to today's vocabulary lesson, the word "no."  No is a powerful word.  When you were two years old (give or take) you excelled at saying no.  So what happens as we grow?  

femaleSeems to me we live in a culture STILL (as I thought we'd be more evolved by now, but so it goes) that places different expectations on how young women handle their sex lives and how young men do.  Very often, women are taught that no means you are protesting but you are willing to change your mind if persuaded.  Well I think this approach sucks.  And speaking from personal experience, a lot of men can't tell the difference between a no that means stop right now and a no that means I'm open to persuasion. So to all my young sisters, let's give the brothers some clear communication.

Dog and Cat Hugging  Stock Photo - 7535588Say YES when you mean yes and NO when you mean no.  Feel free to say yes to a hug and no to a kiss.  Feel free to say yes to making out, but no to anything further.  Feel free to get naked and say yes to one thing and no to another.  Feel free to say yes and then change your mind and say no if it doesn't feel right for you.  This is your life and you have the right to be 100% comfortable with what how you share or do not share your body with anyone.
maleUnfortunately, while most of our brothers are kind, loving, respectful humans, at every gathering, there are people who have come home because they need to learn how to be kind, loving, respectful humans and who may make some mistakes on their road to healing. Any time we gather ten thousand people in one place, the odds are very high that one or two people show up just to prey on kind, loving people.

Some thoughts as you figure out how you want to navigate life:
  • Use the words yes and no to mean their surface meaning.
  • If you say no and some belly does not respect your no, yell Shanti Sena and family will show up to support you.
  • If you use mind altering substances of any kind, do so with your friends (old or new).  Hang out at one of the larger kitchens where music and companionship will be plentiful and respect and love will be in abundance. Or use the buddy system and wander the gathering all night long.
  • Plug into sister space to share with other sisters in a supportive environment what's going on and how you're dealing or not dealing with life's challenges.
  • If you have any problems at all, go to CALM/First Aid, INFO, Granola Funk, or Kid Village and tell a sister that you have an issue you need to discuss.
  • Go to the Antique Roadshow at the ovens and talk to all the wise older sisters in this family - they are an amazing awe-inspiring bunch.

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."  ~~ Helen Keller

As with most gathering related issues, there's a rap for that:

~~ RAP 121 ~~

Respect our sisters and help create a safe place for everyone.
Nudity is natural; not a sexual invitation.
Ask before hugging or touching women & remember: “No means No!”
Brother Circles offer support & encourage understanding.
Love happens – Carry condoms.

Respect yourselves & trust your instincts.
If you don’t feel comfortable being intimate or alone with a man it’s OK to say “No.”
Sister Circles share strength & support between women.
Love happens – Carry condoms.

This is a society based on love & respect.
We’re here for a spiritual purpose; Respect each other and do no harm.
Brother-Sister Circles create trust & understanding.

We are all Shanti Sena – “Peace Keepers”

Friday, May 17, 2013

Musings on getting fed at the gathering

If you've never been to a gathering (or even if you have), getting fed may seem like a mysterious process that sporadically leaves you hungry or amazed at the wonderful food you just ate.  Well it's not really as mysterious as it seems.  So here are the basics.

First off, no one should ever ask you for money or trade for food (excepting small things like candy bars at trade circle).  Everyone eats for free.  We share food with each other in many different ways.

During seed camp, you better come prepared with food to share. Some of the early kitchens may be serving "off the rails" (@ the kitchen counter) but you never know who will be there and how much food they have to share.
Bring whatever you can and share as best as you can with others.  Some of the kitchens may come with food supplies they have purchased, but you never know.

Once the gathering gets going (usually a few days after the Summer Solstice), dinner will be served in the main meadow.  Commonly called "Main Circle" or "Dinner Circle," kitchens bring food to the meadow, we circle up, om, and then are served food from a bucket or cooler.  THANK YOU KITCHENS!  After we eat, many folks hang out to play music, visit with friends or participate in activities like the "Angel Walk."   This is my favorite time of the gathering.  It's when those who wish take the time to hang out with old and new friends.

Many kitchens will continue to serve off the rails but normally do so earlier in the day or later in the evening.  Each kitchen decides for itself when and what to serve so finding a kitchen that is serving "off the rails" is catch as catch can unless you get plugged into a kitchen.  One easy way to get plugged in is to approach a kitchen and offer to dig a shitter, chop wood, haul water, or chop veggies for some meal or another. 

As I mentioned earlier, many kitchens come with their own food supply purchased by the core crew.  Other kitchens come with gear but not much else.  No matter how things start out, more food needs to be purchased as the gathering progresses and more wonderful people come home.

Generally a group of people come together to facilitate supplies.  After all, purchasing large quantities in bulk is usually less expensive.  Some kitchens do their own supply runs with either their own funds or funds from a collection can stationed in their kitchen, others participate in large scale supply runs usually involving a lot of food and funds from the "Magic Hat."

The Magic Hat can be found at Dinner Circle and Information when Dinner Circle is not happening.  Sometimes the Magic Hat goes on a Magic Hat parade around the gathering soliciting funds.  Magic Hat funds are managed by the Banking Council some or most of whom are usually at Dinner Circle.  Folks who become part of this council track income and expenses, count them money and insure the integrity of the process.  Most of the magic hat funds go to buy food that is distributed to the kitchens serving Dinner Circle. If a kitchen is not serving Dinner Circle, usually they will not get funds.  There is a Kitchen Council that meets daily or every other day (usually by Information) that plans supply runs, meals and works out all these issues.

Basically the process goes like this, you put cash money (no checks, credit cards, food stamps, etc) in the Magic Hat.  Money is collected and counted.  After a few days of this, a supply run is organized.  Once that has happened the supply run goes out, purchases the agreed upon supplies (or as close as possible) and then comes back with the food.  A supply run can take two days or even three.  Once the food comes back, it is distributed to the kitchens - a process that can take another day or two.

After the food is distributed to the kitchens, it gets cooked and served - a process that can take another day or two depending on when the supplies arrive at the kitchen and what else the kitchen is involved in at present. 

Now we come to the most important part, if you have $50 to donate to the Magic Hat, do it the day you arrive at the gathering.  Don't put $5 a day in for ten days.  Every year we have a food shortage for a few days somewhere between June 23 and July 2 because people start arriving in mass after the Summer Solstice and we have a lag between donations coming in and food being served.

Look at it this way, if one hundred people arrive on June 23 and donate $50 dollars each, we will have $5,000 to feed not only these one hundred people but the additional two thousand people who have subsequently arrived on June 28 when the purchased food is served.  If on June 25, two hundred and fifty people arrive and donate $50 dollars each, we will have over ten thousand dollars to feed the fifteen thousand people on site by June 30.  However, if people donate one or five dollars a day, then by the time we have enough money to feed fifteen thousand people, it's July 5 and most people are leaving.

If you do not have or do not wish to donate cash money, food supplies are always welcomed.  The good news is that the food you bring with you will make it into your belly tomorrow.  While brown rice, beans and quinoa are always welcomed, hardy fruits and veggies are very important as well.  Bring apples and oranges by the caseload. Cabbage, carrots and zucchini transport well and as much as you can bring will be eaten. Onions and garlic are always needed. Leave the fancy lettuce and peaches behind unless you know how to transport them so they don't get ruined.

 If you bring pasta, try to bring vegan pasta so everyone can partake.  Save the egg noodles for another occasion.  Peanut butter and bread (vegan if you can find it) go a long way to providing healthy fuel and whole wheat flour is always needed for kitchens that bake bread and pizza!  If you decide to go shopping after you've been at the gathering, check in with Kitchen Council to get plugged into any special deals folks may have worked out with local suppliers.  After all, if you can get it for 30% off, then you can buy more food to feed more bellies for the same amount of money.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

May 24 meeting with public health employees

Updated 5/21/13 7:30 PM Cali Time

may 24, 11am, public library, Missoula, Montana.... preliminary meeting with some Public Health folks... iffn in area please attend... at this meeting, will invite Public health to meet on-site, when it happens.... also, these Public health folks are some of those folks that Gatherers had positive interaction with in Montana 2000.

New Location:
Montana Public Health, Helena folks is Friday, May 24th, 11:00 am in the private meeting room at Liquid Planet... a coffee shop near Broadway and Higgins, Missoula, Montana... The Public Library was booked. Open, free.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rainbow Family of Living Light Mini Manual Gathering Consciousness

The Mini Manual of Gathering Consciousness aka Suggested Wisdom Culled from Years of Experience and / or Trail & Error contains all the most know things for any gatherer.  In the old days (before the WWW), folks used to print these up and pass them out at the gathering. For a copy suitable for printing on 8.5 x 11 inch paper, click here.

If you prefer to read it in HTML format, click here.

No matter the version you choose, please copy and distribute the information, links freely and widely. 

What to bring to the Gathering

Don't forget that you may be on a shuttle and/or hiking a few miles between where your vehicle is parked and where you decide to camp.  If people offer to help carry your gear, and people will, make sure you stay together.  Don't get separated from your gear on a shuttle or the hike in.  Things are chaotic and you and your gear may not hook up again for a few days - which could be a total bummer.

In gathering speak, we have raps and there is a great rap called the Turtle Rap.  If you have not been to a gathering before, read this carefully.  For other raps, visit an old website: RainbowGuide.info - but still has the basic raps,

Monday, May 13, 2013

Process Prevails

Today's blog post has been brought to you by a guest blogger (Sibling).  Enjoy!

* * * * * * * * * *

What follows is a brief summary of how the folks gathering and the Forest Service have dealt with usual issues related to gatherings: health and safety, environmental and ecological concerns, and the permit issue.  This covers the last three peaceable assemblies aka Annual Rainbow Gatherings in TN 2012, WA 2011, and PA in 2010. For the last three years, I have assisted with facilitating the manner in which the gatherers and the Forest Service interface.  The manner that works best for the long run of the gatherings is face-to-face communication, in a circle or council, with an invitation to all to all attend.  Using a feather to speak one at a time and listening to each other’s concerns, questions, and solutions. 

I will take you back a bit though. There was a regional gathering in PA before the annual gathering in 2010.  Planning for that regional, a few of us had a hunch that one-day the annual gathering would return to the Northeastern US.  We felt that the way we dealt with the Forest Service would become an important steppingstone to future interactions. The outcome of that regional was an Operation Plan crafted by all interested gatherers and a signed permit, but most importantly, it was the circle/council process where the FS was able to present the issue, the gatherers were open to ask questions and answer questions and an Operations Plan that was agreed upon.  We had open and transparent dialogue where all who were interested participated, and spoke for themselves.

If one does not know the legacy of the permit issue, it is worth looking into. Some years, permits have been signed and some years, they have not.  For the past three years, we have done the circle/council with the Forest Service and have agreed to an Operations Plan without the need for a permit signature!

Historically, the permit issue has strained the interactions between the gatherers and Forest Service Resource folks and Law Enforcement. Occasionally it has infringed upon the open flow of communication with local health and safety officials, FS Resource, tribal councils, the press, and other interested parties.  In general, most gatherers have faced the gauntlet of police presence at some time during their gathering experience.  Some gatherers have been harassed, ticketed and even imprisoned over the permit issue. For some of us, at times, it has felt like we were at war with the US Forest Service over the permit.

 During the times of heightened conflict over the permit issue, I estimate that probably a third of those attending the gathering were not even aware of what was going on, the importance of the issue, the risks certain individuals took to solve the problem, and/or the consequences of our non-compliance.  For many years, it seemed that there were a few dozen or so dedicated individuals dealing with the permit issue but not nearly enough were informed.  And unfortunately, the issue was usually dealt with in the parking lot; at roadblocks; at meetings held before the actual gathering where decisions were made; or permits signed from someone’s office a thousand miles away from those who were actually assembled. What bothered me was that the issue seemed so rarely be taken to circle or council for a full hashing out.  I wanted to create the opportunity to hash it out!

So that became our goal for facilitating the regional gathering in PA.  Briefly speak with the Forest Service before the regional and then insist that any further meetings happen at a circle, that we would be willing to facilitate.  Of course, it works, go back to basics. A circle that they attend, pass a feather, ask questions, answer questions, and everyone is welcome.  You know, like we do so well. 
For the past three annual assemblies, after initial contact with the FS, those who have initiated contact have insisted that the next exchange of information would be “on the land” with the goal of transparency thus leading to an increased input and understanding for all.

Despite the fact that nobody can or should try to speak for anyone but themselves, the Forest Service and others not accustomed to non-hierarchical decision making - ie. Group process, process or consensus decision-making - have a hard time seeing in this way.  This has led to sort of defacto leaders in the eyes of the FS who are accustomed to navigating in a hierarchical structure and it is often difficult for them to even imagine a community functioning via consensus as the gathering community does. But gatherings have no leaders; every voice is important and vital to the beauty and full spectrum color of the rainbow. All of us had to start somewhere and with patience and a willingness to listen we get it done. As challenging as it is, process prevails way after personalities have gone.

For the last three years, those attending spring council and seed camp for the annual gathering who were interested in participating have been able to be a part of a circle or council with the Forest Service Resource people and the Law Enforcement, when requested.  It has been the most efficient for the FS to speak for themselves and communicate directly with the community that has assembled regarding issues related to the health and safety of the land and the people gathered.

The Operations Plan used during that regional and the last three annual gatherings are worth looking at. Each one is individual are reflects the specific needs of the gathering location.  Hopefully they will be discussed in full at this years’ spring council/circle on the land. 

In service, Sibling 5/2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Brief Summary of Gathering/Forest Service Relationships (take 1)

I find it helpful to have a basic understanding of situations in order to make informed decisions going into the future.  While my understanding of the relationship between the gathering and the United States Forest Service (USFS) is just one perspective, I hope that putting together a brief summary of how things have gone may help myself and other to see the big picture.

As I wasn't around until the late 1980s, I will try to keep my summary focused on things I do know and let others fill in the rest.

At the first gathering of the tribes, the USFS told family that a gathering could not happen without a permit and that no permit would be issued.  The next several years, the issue disappeared from the radar. From 1976 to 1980 permits were signed, often under protest. If you're interested in the details, read Plunker's summary of the permit issue from 1972 to 1983: Permit Herstory.

In 1984, the Forest Service enacted a regulation requiring a permit for any expressive assembly of ten or more people on Forest Service lands. This was unenforced for a year and a half before the Service attempted to apply it to the gathering in Arizona in 1986.

In 1987 at the North Carolina gathering, the state tried to tell us we need a permit for all public gatherings. After a lot of legal wrangling and an elephant, Judge Dave issued a consent decree that theoretically was not a permit, but .....Judge Dave was so taken with his experience in 1987 that he has written a book about it called Judge Dave and the Rainbow People. All didn't end so well as some of the cleanup crew where arrested. Click here for the consent order.

 In 1988 at the Texas gathering, the USFS demanded a permit and when family just said no, they blockaded the gathering and refused to allow ingress to the gathering site. Family walked around the blockade to bring in supplies. The situation wound up in court. The judge presiding over the hearing was Mr. Justice or as he is more commonly known in Rainbow Circles Justice Justice.   This regulation was deemed unconstitutional because not all groups of ten or more people were required to obtain a permit. In other words, if people attending the gathering were sharing information, fliers, beliefs, etc, then a permit was required. However, if they weren't, then no permit required.  For Plunker's rap on what happened, click here.

The USFS Group Use Regulations governing "special events" were struck down at the 1988 gathering in Texas --visit these sites for more info: 
The USFS regrouped and tried to write regulations governing special events that would stand up in court.  It took them quite some time and if you're interested in a perspective on how that all happened, read the PC&U's article, From the Trenches.  (This article was written just after the Wyoming 1994 gathering).

In late 1995, a new set of group use regulations was published by the government that required any group of 75 or more people to apply for a "Group Use Permit" under the Non-Commercial Group Use Regulations.

In 1996, one individual signed a permit and then later tried to rescind it. For a summary, see the Ozark Gazette article.  Folks gathered and so it goes.

In 1997 at the annual gathering in Oregon, the USFS tried a new tactic: they came with arrest warrants for people they deemed "secret leaders"  and then these "secret leaders" counter sued. We had an amazing council for days on end with the USFS and worked out an unsigned operating plan on the land.  (You can find copies of a few of these plans here). Finally, the USFS bullied a woman in Portland who had a child at the gathering to sign a permit, which she did.

Wrangling over the permit continued at the Arizona gathering in 1998.  While a small victory was won by a gatherer, it was a technicality and had no great impact on the future course of events. 
For a summary of events, see the Arizona Republic Article or the New York Times article.

During the 1999 Rainbow Gathering in Pennsylvania, 3 individuals were chosen by the Forest Service's Incident Command Team as "secret leaders," and cited for not applying for a group use permit. As Rainbow is a leaderless, self-created temporary community, these charges were totally bogus. Unfortunately, due some legal maneuverings by the USFS, the "Rainbow 3"  lost their case (they weren't allowed any witnesses, among other things). An attempt was made to bring the case to the US Supreme Court, but the justices declined to take the case and the "Rainbow 3" spent time in the federal prison system for refusing to illegally sign a permit. For more legal information, click herehere or here or read the article that appeared in Legal Affairs.

Moving out west for 2000 in Montana, a cat and mouse game played out between the "secret leaders" with some of them sneaking in and out of the gathering to avoid continued legal harassment and the USFS. Three people were picked out by the Forest Service as “Rainbow leaders” to receive tickets for camping without a noncommercial group use permit. One of the defendants challenged his ticket. The Forest Service replied, as they had in the previous cases, that the group use regulation was a constitutional time, place, and manner restriction that is narrowly tailored to fit the specific government needs of protecting Forest Service resources, insuring public safety, and deciding between competing uses in a way that leaves open ample alternative channels for expression. Furthermore the signature requirement was a valuable means of ensuring that the group would adhere to the terms of the special use authorization and of protecting against fraudulent statements. All three defendants were sentenced to jail time although the sentences varied.

The cat and mouse game continued in Idaho in 2001 with tickets for all despite the fact that a permit application was made and denied.   While I don't have the exact number of citations issued for being at a an "illegal gathering" (One with more than 74 people and no permit), there's a great article from the Boise Weekly on the issue and my guess is over 500 if not closer to 1,000 people received the magic ticket.   The governor issued a declaration of emergency. The USFS even went so far as to inform the local chapter of Trout Unlimited that they would be unable to perform restoration work in conjunction with gatherers.  By the 4th of July, USFS mounted officers were seen joining in the celebration for world peace and the positive evolution of the planet.

In 2002 the gathering was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and drinking water was in short supply. The USFS tried to smoke us out by dumping drinking water en route to the gathering. but the local townsfolks  help out.  Then the USFS refused to issue a permit to an applicant.  Finally, the USFS decided that the illegal gathering could happen on one side of the river but not the other.  The infamous "west bank" of the river became off limits to everyone although every evening after they USFS LEOs went home for the day, we gathered there for dinner circle and for the silence on the 4th.

In 2003, a long time gatherer approached the USFS and promised to sign a permit for the gathering in Utah. He followed through on his plan meeting with officials before hand but the situation with the USFS was as bad as ever.  The USFS expected the permit signer to be responsible for every detail of the gathering and we all know that was doomed to failure.

Prior to the California 2004 gathering, meetings and telephone calls with the USFS took place in an attempt to find a workable solution for both sides - including a meeting with the head of the USFS in the Haight-Ashbury library in San Francisco.  Despite attempts to trying to work together, things didn't work out and the gathering was once again declared "illegal." Again someone not affiliated with the gathering signed a permit, but the USFS kept up it's campaign of intimidation, people were cited for being at an illegal event before the permit was signed, and the USFS declared the site off limits to nudity despite the fact that nudity was legal at this location before the gathering started.  People who were cited for being at an illegal gathering or being naked by their tent were treated to a visit to kangaroo court: a makeshift court just for us in some random building located in a small town near the gathering.

West Virginia in 2005 marks the first time the annual gathering relocated under pressure from the USFS.  A permit was signed for a location that the USFS wanted us to be on, many people received tickets for being at an "illegal gathering" and kangaroo Court was set up at the local visitor's center.
  In 2006, the USFS put up road blocks at the Colorado gathering in a failed attempt to prevent people from entering yet another "illegal gathering," many citations were written to people at the gathering, folks walked in through the woods (just like in 1972), kangaroo court took place in the local Fire Station and someone applied for a group use permit, which the Forest Service denied.

Arkansas 2007 was an attempt to work with the upper levels of the USFS  on a cooperative solution and the USFS took an unsigned operating plan worked out with gathering participants on the land in lieu of a falsified signature on a permit.  Life didn't change that much and the LEOs pulled pepper spray guns at family when they arrested a young woman (without bothering to inform her that she was being arrested).

The tension escalated the following year in Wyoming 2008. Again, the USFS accepted an unsigned operating plan worked out with gatherers on the land in lieu of a permit.  Unfortunately, the tension between the heads of the USFS who agreed to the unsigned operating plan model and the LEOs on the ground played out in the LEOs shooting up Kid Village with the same pepper spray paint ball guns they pulled the previous year. For perspectives on this situation from gatherers, click here.   For the report from the federal government on this incident, click here.

And by my accounts, Wyoming 2008 marks the absolute low in the relationship between the United States Forest Service and the Rainbow Gathering.

The New Mexico gathering in 2009 was a strange one.  Again someone not affiliated with the gathering signed a permit.  Everyone was jumpy after 2008. The US Marshals were there to baby sit the USFS LEOs and despite some scary moments, the US Marshals kept the USFS LEOs peaceful (that's not the official party line but I spent a lot of time on that movie and myself as well as others I know believe this to be true). 

Then starting with Pennsylvania, 2010, gatherers on the land, working cooperatively with USFS resource and law enforcement personnel continued with the unsigned operating plan model.  The day we counciled on the actual operating plan, the head of the forest and the law enforcement incident commander sat in council with us, passed the feather, and worked together to address concerns, issues and problems.  :)

That relationship continued in Washington 2011 with really awesome USFS LEO leadership working with folks on the land.  An unsigned operating plan was worked out between gatherers and USFS resource personnel. 

Tennessee 2012 continued the unsigned operating plan model.

All this brings us to this year.  As I'm finishing up this blog post I started in early March, I just received an email from someone who was at the meeting today on the land with the USFS and I hear everyone is feeling really positive about a cooperative relationship for 2013.  Now keep in mind, when I say cooperative and mellow, I am referring to the situation inside the gathering, not on the road or when you're in your vehicles driving in.  To be adequately prepared for the road, read the right sidebar message.

I'll probably rework this post at some point to update it with more details.  if I do so, I will update the date.

Finally, if you're interested in my analysis of where we went wrong in how gathering participants responded to the conflicts between folks on the land and the government, click here.

If you've managed to read this entire post, you now have a clue.  If you managed to read all the links, you actually understand the journey we've been on with the US Government.  As far as I'm concerned, gatherers sharing love and acting peacefully took on the US Government and we're still standing - quite an accomplishment family.  I know many of us have had differences of opinions over the years on how to deal with this situation and I think this saga proves that we're on a good path, one with many perspectives, a bit of bickering, and more love than my heart can hold. 

Additional References

USFS Non-commercial group use regulations

Welcome Home's FS Regs page

Butterfly Bill's nice summary of court cases.

Butterfly Bill's stories of gatherings' past.

Karin's archive of FOIA Requests

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 9 Meeting with USFS outside Townsend, Montana on BLM Land

Updated 5/10/13 @ 6:30 AM


On Crow Creek Road, outside Radersburg,  Montana, preliminary verbal Operating Plan… being worked out, for Relay Station (scout volunteers and early folks into area)… Operating Plan for Site along Crow Creek Road…. Until after Spring Circle… (few days for clean-up_... worked out with District Ranger, Resource, and Incident Commander of Gathering, plus chief law Enforcement officer jon herrick…. Unsigned Operating plan  to be worked out for this relay station (on paper) -- models annual Gathering (later on)… good encampment


I just got back from the relay station site (holding camp)
and wanted to get the family some more info to help people feel confident that they can find it:

the site  is    6 miles    past Radersburg  on Crow Creek Rd

you pass an obvious campground on the left and then a little further on there is
 a Rainbow flag on the right  that "UXXX" put up

this is the spot until after May 15 when FS will open the gate the woods up in there are gorgeous!!
barring any further changes further up into the woods is a good area for a (holding camp) to wait until spring council consenses on the  site for the annual

*****Original post below here*****

          travel on highway 12 to TOSTON, montana.. then, go west on
hwy 285 to RADESBURG... from there go slightly north and west on CROW
CREEK RD... all the way to a Campground.... then past that.. to on
the RIGHT is Welcome Home!

    this is to a RELAY STATION
     for Scout Volunteers... and, any EARLY folks....
Meeting is at 11am.. thursday, May 9th... with Forest Service "on the
current land where the circle is..."

 be there on Thursday May 9th... between 11am.... till 1pm. Meeting with USFS Jonathan L Herrick and possibly others.

This is also the location for the Scout Rendezvous May 10 to 15 for those interested in scouting.  If you intend to scout, and please read the info on the first Scout Rendezvous in April so you know what's expected for this type of an activity.  You can find it here.

**** Please be self sufficient if you come out ****