Another Way of Life: The Rainbow Gatherings
In 1972 the first Rainbow Gathering was practiced. The Focus of these gatherings was supposed to be an alternative to mainstream popular culture. Every year from July 1st- 7th, this event is held. Usually in National Forest land. Rainbow Gatherings are considered temporary community events. Here, ideals are practiced such as, peace, love, harmony, freedom and community. Utopian impulse, with bohemianism, hipster and hippie cultures, are combined together to make a counterculture of the 1960s. “Welcome Home” has been a greeting used by the Rainbow Gathering for years.
These gatherings are held because of the belief of those who attend that, modern lifestyles and systems of government are unhealthy; As well as unsustainable and not in harmony with the natural system of the planet.
In Europe, they host their own national gatherings. As well, there is regional and annual gatherings held. In 1983 in Val Campo, Switzerland, the first European Rainbow Gathering was held. Rainbow Gatherings have also been held around the world. For example, places involve Costa Rica, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Thailand, China, and New Zealand.
Like many gatherings of this magnitude, challenges are to be suspected. First, there’s providing food, water, sanitation, medical care, and order for 30,000 people. There is media coverage that often isn’t to favorable to these groups. The Media tends to focus on drug use, nudity, and counter cultural aspects. Law enforcement is also an issue.
At the Rainbow Gatherings water is filtered by small pump filters and gravity feed devices. It has been recommended to also boil the drinking water. Most water used is from a spring or stream. Historically, sanitation has been a major problem and concern. Latrine trenches are holes dug in the ground and is where Human waste is deposited. Campfire ashes and lime are used to treat the wholes and are filled in every day. In the 1980s, pricing for water filtration systems and filters were high so they weren’t readily available. There was an outbreak of shigellosis at the 1987 gathering in North Carolina. Known by those at the gathering as Beaver Fever, the symptom was diarrhea.
Alcohol consumption isn’t allowed at the gatherings. There are “A-Camps” (alcohol camp) located near the front gate for those who want to drink. Wine is allowed in moderation at some gathering locations such as Europe and France where they drink wine during evening meals.
The Center for Alternative Living Medicine or C.A.L.M is a group of healers at the gatherings who take care of wellness and health. There are small first aid groups around the gathering area but the main C.A.L.M group is located at or near the center.
Using money to sell or buy anything here is considered to be taboo. The people trade and participants contribute labor, money, and material. The Trading Circle is where items like sweets, books, gems, handcrafts and other objects are traded and used.
Those who participate in these gatherings have values that set them apart from others of our society. There values consist of, love, peace, non-violence, environmentalism, non-consumerism and non-commercialism, volunteerism, respect for others, consensus process, and Diversity. Some of us can learn from these values they try to live and follow.