Where in the Appalachian Bioregion are we going?

Where in the Appalachian Bioregion are we going? The consensus was for the White Mountain National Forest (in the Northeast), or the Appalachian states of Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia. Spring Council selected a site in North Eastern Tennessee.

If you're not familiar with the gauntlet on the road into the gathering, and want to avoid a mandatory court appearance ticket click here.

For the Howdy Folks and directions to the gathering, click here. For the United States Forest Service Incident Command website with groovy maps and updates, click here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

On Creeks and Camping

People camped too close to the creek
Bad Tent Location - Too Close to Creek
(Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/meganpru/5914413517/)

You broke my heart in Washington. I have never seen so many people with so little consciousness for the sensitivity of creeks.  Creeks provide water for animals in the area and spawning grounds for fish.  Creeks are the heart of the ecosystem. Some years we use creek water for drinking and cooking (after boiling or filtering of course).  When folks disrespect the creek, they disrespect the land on which we gather as well as the heart of the gathering itself.

In many places, when silt gets into the creek it covers trout and salmon eggs preventing the fish from hatching.  Now not everyone was an unconscious as a cow, but there were enough of you fuckers out there to damage the creek.  By the 4th of July, the water that had been crystal clear grew murky.  People trampled up the banks. Dogs wrestled in the creek and dug along the creek. After every rainfall with exposed dirt, more mud and silt flows into the creek further damaging those beautiful creeks. Plus what ever gets spilled on the ground can seep through the soil into the creek when we are too close.

~~~Nothing is biodegradable in water.~~~

People camped in the woods, away from the creek.
Good Tent Location - In Woods away from Creek

Soil filters and decomposes soapy water, food scraps and urine.  We always need to make sure we keep all our waste far enough back from the creek so that the wonderful micro-organisms in the soil have the chance to do their magic.  It remains to be seen if we created short term minimal damage or long term lasting damage in Skookum Meadows.  We shouldn’t have created any damage.

My deepest and heartfelt thanks go out to the shining stars who made signs asking people to not camp along the creek. Family who went around and talked to people about why we don’t camp adjacent to creeks are my heroes. 

When we gather, we are visitors to the land. The plants and animals that live there year round are depending on us to tread lightly and leave the ground upon which we drummed and danced, ate and loved, in better shape than when we arrived. This, my friends, is the Rainbow way. 

Of course every site is different. The soil drainage and the type of creek varies ecosystem to ecosystem and the down-stream features indicate how close is too close. Different areas have different animals who need access to the creek for drinking purposes. If you’re too close, you’ll scare them off. A good rule of thumb is no camping within 50 feet of any creek or other surface water. No kitchens within 150 feet and 200 feet or more for shitters. Some sites will require a greater setback. If you come home, check in with INFO to learn the site specific considerations for each the current gathering.

One of the contributing factors to people’s ignorance in Washington was the lack of a Rap 107/701 with site specific information.  The down side to distributing pieces of paper on the way in is that they often contribute to cleanup headaches.  But the positive side of distributing a small Rap 107/701 with site specific information is that everyone will be given the 411 on the way in and can set up camp accordingly.  It’s a lot less hassle for everyone if people set up their tents away from the creek to begin with instead of being asked to move later.  And don’t get me started on Kitchens.  Last year I saw a kitchen set up five feet from the creek bank.  Even after folks mentioned the issue to them, they didn’t move. Sure would have made their gathering happier if they had the information before they even unloaded their car.
Sharing Music Along the Creek
(Photo from http://ashlandplayreviews.com/

Plus if you think about it, having open space along the creek for naked massage circles and music making is better for the energy of the gathering as a whole than having one person’s personal camp. And while I’m an on rant, please don’t camp in the meadows either. We need meadow space for counciling, workshops, sunbathing, etc. In Washington, main circle was too far away from Handicamp access to allow some of the early elders to participate in council and dinner circle.  The slope in the large meadow that folks filled up with tents was the original main circle location.

A gathering is not a festival. Please don’t camp on the grass.  Camp in the woods, under the trees, 50 feet back from a creek.

Be the consciousness you wish to see in this world!

Have no idea who took this, but it's awesome. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gathering Info to Download and Share

Last year some of the folks focalizing the Town Hall Meetings before the Washington Gathering put together some awesome information that was printed at distributed to the local folks.   Since there's no point in re-inventing the wheel, here's the link to the 8 1/2 x 11 version and the larger sized version
There's also a PDF version of the Rainbow Gathering Mini Manual here

To create a site specific Rap 107/701, get the basic info from  107 here or 701 here.

It would be amazing for some folks who have access to cheap printing to make a thousand or more of these to share with folks at the gathering. Rumor is that new Rainbow Guides are being printed this year, but this basic information is very important to helping create a positive and healing gathering.

If you do print up pretty packets, bring them to Welcome Home or Info and the crew there will help distribute them.  If you make a site specific Rap 107/701, Front Gate or Welcome Home are good places for these to be distributed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Echoes of Gatherings Past

Random Welcome Home sign
Of course you can search the World Wide Web and find a thousand photos but sometimes I like to remember the beauty of gatherings past and what awaits us at gatherings future.  If you take photos of people, please ask - it's a matter of respect -- some folks don't want their photo taken for spiritual reasons.  Then again, some people love hamming it up for the camera.  As always, when cops show up start "filming" before anything happens. Once the shit happens, it will be too late to get the start of it.  Family film has kept more than one person from going to prison.

Map of gathering at Info
Info Map
From The Mini Manual:  

Always ask permission before taking a picture of any other person. This includes groups as well as individuals. Most people say yes, but no means NO. Excessive picture taking can kill a natural or peaceful moment of bliss & make people tense.

Drum circle - 4th of July

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Emergency Assistance at the Gathering

Today's guest post comes courtesy of Sister Babz - she speaks wisdom. I will just add that if you need medical assistance, most of the large kitchens have trained medical folks and you can always send a runner to INFO who can quickly mobilize the assistance you need:

The reality is that this years site will probably have cellphone reception. As people scout, it is a good thing to know whether a site has access or not. Access is a mixed blessing!

Historically, the biggest concern regarding this issue has come from the local emergency medical service responders (EMS), and the calls they receive from gatherers for issues that could have been dealt with bette...r on site. A 911 call goes out, and the EMS system is activated and obliged to respond. Medical evacuation is an expense to the local community, and unnecessary calls eat up their budget and every year is a concern when gatherers meet with EMS services.

911 calls from a gathering are best avoided. The are often unnecessary, and multiple calls swamp the system and can cause confusion. Get help locally folks! Count on the family in the woods - find out early how to get help --- CALM, call out shanti sena, seek a gatherer with a radio to get help first --- and avoid calling 911, unless of course, you really, really, really need help. It is customary for gatherers to have circle/councils/meetings with local EMS services prior to the gathering, it is here where a protocol is worked out to determine the best way to deal with emergencies that require an EMS response.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

On Individuality and Community

The gathering functions as a temporary community where we practice creating the world the way we want it to exist. Not only are we creating a temporary community, but we are also creating hundreds of communities within a community.

The gathering itself is a temporary community with not exactly rules, but guidelines on how to gather and create the peace we want to see on this planet. In gathering speak--these guidelines are called the “Raps.” I strongly recommend you read the raps, which you can find here  or here  as well as the Mini Manual of Gathering Consciousness.

At the gathering, we have hundreds of individual camps (some small, some large) that might have their own special community standards. For example, Serenity Ridge is a camp for people in recovery so they request no smoking of any kind and no-mind altering substances of any kind (including caffeine). Tea Time is up and noisy all night long, while Kid Village tries to maintain quiet during the night, but come sunrise the kids are up and rambunctious. Some camps create drum free zones while other camps celebrate drumming and drum culture (sometimes 24/7). If you like quiet at 2 AM, camping a Dundun Village will lead to unhappiness and potential conflicts. Depending on the gathering, many of our sites can encompass two square miles so there’s plenty of room to spread out.

When we come to the gathering, each of us comes as an individual with our own personality, life style, hopes and dreams. The beauty of the gathering is that you are free to be who you truly are and express your beautiful unique being in costume, face paint, sleeping habitats, musical tastes, etc. . We have individuals that come home and promote teeth brushing, veganism, free hugs, and naked peace signs --to name just a few of my beloved characters. The variations on this theme are endless and the amazing diversity of opinions and unique expressions of these opinions is what makes the gathering amazing, insane and amazingly vibrant.

We are an opinionated family with many strong willed personalities. We welcome every peaceful person with a belly button to come home (and offer exemptions to those who are missing belly buttons due to freak accidents). We welcome republicans, occupiers, democrats, libertarians, greens, hippies, punks, beats, tea partiers, christians, jews, muslims, hindus, burners, pagans, voodoo priestesses, rednecks, cowgirls/boys, peace workers, middle-of-the-roaders, poor/rich/middle class, doctors, lawyer and Indian chiefs. We even welcome wanna be-ers.

As you can imagine, a delicate balance exists between all these diverse individuals and creating temporary community. As a long time gatherer (or one of the earlies) once told me, we work on the basis of “peaceful respect.” Peaceful respect means that we offer respect to every belly at our gathering including cops, lawyers and dirty kids. We don’t always have to agree with each other, but when we disagree, using respectful modes of communication helps us work towards peace.

~ ~ Peace is the path on which we are traveling ~ ~

Some people at the gathering focus almost exclusively on their individual rights to do whatever the FX^& they want. Other people focus strictly on community. In my mind, the beauty of the gathering is the heartfelt attempt to find a modern way to live in community while still celebrating our individuality. Hundreds of years ago (and in some place on this planet today), the community mores ruled with an iron fist and if you didn’t fit it, you were kicked out, persecuted or worse.

In my lifetime, I have witnessed the pendulum swing to the side of individuality over community (at least in the USA). The gathering can be seen as an attempt to find a balance between the two all the while holding them both in tension with each other.

IMHO, the gathering works bests when we respect both the needs of the community and the needs of the individuals who make up this community (including every person in the area in which we gather). Gathering works best when we talk sit in a circle and speak from our hearts. Gathering works best when we all realize that creating community means something different to each individual. Gathering works best when we let our individual trip support the community and the community supports our individual trip. Gathering works best when we approach it with an open heart and each of us try to be the most peaceful, loving helpful individuals we are capable. Gathering is a journey of the soul and a practice of the heart. I invite the world to join this journey.