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, June 30, 2012

Parking and Cars Getting Towed

To prevent your car from being one of the ones that gets towed, make sure to park only along the gathering side of 87 (not the lake side).  Park only on the gravel section of the road. Park with all 4 wheels completely off the gravel.  Do not park on curves.

Rumor has it that areas closed to parking are not clearly marked.  Tow trucks are out in force so unless you want to contribute in this manner to the local economy, make sure to stick with the program.

If you've got a big group and lot's of gear, drop off some of your folks with your gear at a gate and then go park the vehicle.  Then walk back to where you left everyone.

Check with INFO for updates on cars being towed, parking, etc.

Update from a friend of mine whose been on site As of 7/1/12 # 3:15 PM PT

  wanted to let you know that parking is at a critical point.  folks drive around trying to find a place to park.   there is no real bus village and parking is only on the  non-lake side. if you do not park with all four wheels off the road you will be ticketed and towed.  the tow price is  $135.00 plus gas and storage fees.     park in the first place that you can park, making sure to avoid the "no parking" areas.   unfortunately where ever you park you will be a number of miles from any of the entrance trails.    there is not shuttle available; fortunately the locals are helping to shuttle folks in to the trails.

Update from USFS Website 7/2/12 @ 6:30 AM PT (see link at top of page)

As of 9 a.m. on July 1, 2012, there are approximately 5,335 gatherers, 1,450 vehicles, and 26 buses at the event.
All Forest Visitors Must Obey Traffic Laws and Parking Regulations
All visitors to the Cherokee National Forest must obey traffic laws and parking regulations or risk being towed. Please use caution and observe all traffic signs, particularly along Forest Service Road 87, Flatwoods Road. This area is very congested due to the 2012 National Rainbow Family Gathering. If your vehicle is towed, please call Sullivan County at (423) 279-7500.
Forest Service Road 87D Open to One-way Traffic Only
To aid traffic flow, Forest Service Road 87D is open to one-way traffic only. Please use caution and observe all traffic signs.
Parking Prohibited on Paved Portion of Forest Service Road 87
Parking is prohibited on both sides of the paved portion of Forest Service Road 87 from State Road 421 to the Three Rocks Area, the entrance to Little Oak Campground. The road itself remains open. The Forest Service wants to avoid the risk of pavement being broken off by a high number of vehicles parking along the side of the road. This short-term closure will ensure long-term benefits to the local community.

Weather Report

Good news family!  Looks like the heat wave is going to break on Monday and by the 4th it should be just a nice warm day (maybe low 80s/high 70s) with a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms.  Where there is rain, there are rainbows.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Incident Command Staging Near Site

Sullivan County Emergency Medical Services and the Emergency Management Agency is also on site at the command center, in Little Oak Campground. Deputies and medical responders will be there nearly around-the-clock through the official end of the gathering July 7. Little Oak Campground is on the lake side of Big Creek Road (which is the road you're parking on) right where the gathering is taking place. Smile and make sure to read this rap (opens on right side of blog).

The Silent Prayer/Meditation for World Peace July 4

Some folks may one why we gathering and go through all this craziness year after year. A friend of mine wrote a beautiful peace on this years ago, and it's available here

I gather for many reasons as well, but one of the primary reasons is for the Silent Prayer/Meditation for World Peace. The silent prayer/meditation for world peace is the culmination of our attempts to create a peaceful and harmonious gathering.  Please if you are local, plan on being her for the Silence on the 4th.  The power of all of us together is many times stronger than each of us individually.

 The silence beings as the sunrises on July 4. If you're up during that time, it's amazing to hear this loud crazy group of gatherers slowly go silent. Hands lifted off of drums one by one, music trailing off into silence and the chirping of the birds taking over.

While not everyone chooses to participate, we ask that everyone respect the silence and if they must talk, do so in their own camp in a very soft voice.  As people desire, they make their way to Main Meadow to pray for world peace, to meditate for world peace, to do yoga for world peace, to blow bubbles for world peace.  Everyone is free to pray or meditate to their maker in silence.

We hold this peace in preparation for the arrival of our children. The children's parade (meet at Kid Village a few hours before noon if you have kids and want them in the parade) will come into the center of the circle. Please hold the silence and/or the Om until all the children (even the ones at the end of the parade) have made it into the center of the circle. Our children our are future and deserve our respect. PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION WIDELY.

At some point before breaking the silence we will om. Not a short 1-2 minute om, but a long drawn out 15 minute or 30 minute om. If we are all focused and om together, not in a hurry to get it down, but to be with it in the moment, we can create energy that will change the world.

Each of us has a crucial role to play in this sacred ceremony that is the core of the Annual Gathering of the Tribes. This is why I and so many people I know go to the gathering, dig shitters, chop wood and carry water. This is why so many people dedicate so much resources and energy to the gathering. Please if you choose not to participate, please be silent and let those who wish to create a sacred ceremony do so.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Brain on Nature

One of my favorite parts of being at the gathering is the opportunity to live with my family on the land according to the rhythms of the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain. My day job is in computer technology so I spend way too many hours a day dealing with computers and people amped up on instant messaging and coffee.

Sitting in the shade with my family making acoustic music changes the way my brain works. Participating in a circle and gazing in the eyes of my family as I try to understand their perspective is a multi-dimensional experience. I see their smiles, notice their breathing, and hear the song in their voices. The proximity of our bodies to each other and to dirt, grass, trees and sun gives me a depth of understanding that is only possible when we council together on the land.

Listening to the wind in the trees and watching the moon rise changes the way my brain processes information. I begin to tap into deeper ways of knowing. Hauling water and chopping wood helps ground me into Mother Earth, into the wisdom she has to share.

Singing with my family harmonizes my soul with those of my family. The songs we share create space for peace in my heart, the land around me, and my beautiful brothers and sisters.

Image from http://www.bliss-fire.com
For this and other chants that can be sung to help you experience your brain on nature, click here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Staying Healthy in Hot Weather

Please family, this is a warm gathering and looks like it might be getting warmer.  In order to stay hydrated, please plan on drinking a gallon of water per 24-hour period.  If you are not peeing at least every three to four hours, you are not drinking enough. If your urine is brown, you are not drinking enough water.  Electrolytes beverages when used in moderation can be helpful, but please focus your liquid intake on H20.

Dogs get dehydrated as well. To help keep your dog hydrated, bring beef bullion cubes and dissolve them in filtered drinking water at the ratio recommended on the package. Dogs love the taste and that encourages them to drink. 

Because the journey from your car to where you set up your tent is going to take two to six hours depending on how far away you park and how quickly your group can hike, plan on hauling in at least one gallon of water per person (two gallons per person if you have the means to do so).  This will make sure you have good drinking water for your first 24 hours and will give you time to get settled in and oriented to sources of filtered or boiled drinking water before you run out of what you carried into the gathering. Plus, you can use the one gallon jugs as refills while at the gathering. Also a good idea to leave some water in your vehicle so when you hike back out, everyone in your group can drink.

Please do not drink unfiltered water. The water may have been clean yesterday, but there's a lot of dogs running around and one dog pooping on the water line and .... well you get the picture.

If you are not peeing a few times a day or haven't pooped in five or more days, please go directly to CALM.
Heat stroke and dehydration can kill. Don't be a dead body, drink water.

Front Gate Is Everyone's Responsibility

Everyone loves to come home to a Front Gate that reflects the diversity of this beautiful family we love. In order for this to happen, we all need to spend time at Front Gate, welcoming our family, helping them get oriented and making sure everyone who comes home gets a hug, a we love you, and maybe a cup of soup or coffee.

The year we have three gates so that triple the areas to cover.  Please take the time to spend 4 to 8 hours minimum at the Front Gate welcoming folks home.  This is a tough job, standing by the side of the road in the heat and getting covered in dust. You need to be able to remain peaceful interacting with all sorts of folks from road dogs to locals not sure what is happening.  Please don't work this area if you have warrants as folks on the gate need to interact with law enforcement. 

Especially needed in this area are mechanics as some of our family have vehicles that are limping into this gathering. We also need folks to help out with shuttles and coordinating shuttle drop off points.

Let's keep the energy loving and welcoming on the road.  Send love to everyone passing by.  Be the peace you want to see in this world.

Rap on Access

For people with special needs, ask for Handicamp - a space for people with mobility and other related disabilities with lots of folks willing to help you make the most of your gathering experience. While the trails can be tough and conditions vary from site to site, there's usually a couple of friendly folks just waiting to assist with the rough spots. Sometimes we have cool things like rickshaws to assist people in getting around. Bring your own personal supplies (catheter, wraps, chair, medical supplies, diapers, cleanup, etc.). Bring own attendent if you need assistance with personal care (bowel programs, skin, transfer, catheterizations, wounds, etc) or supervision issues or other issues (mobility, access, safety) as needed. Please, ask for help when you need it and give another gatherer a chance to be of service.

If you have chronic health issues, please check in with CALM when you arrive so that folks on the land are aware of your conditions and can provide appropriate assistance more quickly if it is needed.

For family fixing trails, please make sure to consider the needs of wheel chairs so all our family has access to the gathering.  If you're not sure what makes something wheelchair friendly, find someone in a wheel chair and access them.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

On Forest Service/Gatherer Relations and Other News From the Gathering

Yesterday (6/22), the USFS met with folks on the land. They brought bread and water to share with the council.  Folks had a nice discussion. Lot's of questions as usual. The next meeting is Sunday, June 24 @ 2 PM (Tennessee time).  As with everything Rainbow, all peaceful people are encouraged to participate.

Parking is along 13 miles of road. Make sure to park with wheels off the road. Please carpool as much as possible as the parking is limited. No bus village.  A few buses in a small turn out but that spot is full.

Plan on camping close to your neighors as the site is small.  If you were in Michigan in 2002, you know the drill.  When are tents are close together, we need to be extra considerate of our neighbors.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Finding Your Space

The gathering is full of multiple different camps that focus on different spiritual, practical, musical, regional and other aspects of life.  Each time we gather, the mix of camps is different. That being said, we usually have a camp or two focused on Jesus, a camp or two focused on providing free health care in the woods, a camp or two focusing on land based survival skills, a camp or two focused on various styles of music. Some people create camps and kitchens based on where they live, others on what they like to do: Yoga, make drums, or do theater and performance arts. 

Seed camp is still ongoing so many of the camps aren't set up yet.  If you're planning to come to the gathering and don't already have a clan or tribe you intend to hook up with, when you get into the gathering, go to the INFO booth and there's usually a map set up with all the camps that have been established. If you're looking to camp in a quiet place or a place with 24/7 drumming, folks at INFO can help you find the right space.

We've got spaces focused on kids, baking bread, a bunch of kitchens with different cooking styles. We've got camps for people who do 12-step programs like AA and NA. We often have a Jewish camp, a Krishna camp, a camp focused on the health and healing of dogs and often a separate one for cats. I've heard rumor that we're going to have an arts and crafts camp this year.  Most years we have at least one place focusing on popcorn. Many camps post signs to help weary hikers find certain spaces.

If you do plan on coming for a week or just an afternoon, getting from where you leave your car into the gathering can be a half a days journey.  It's not the distances, but the slow pace of walking around the gathering trying to find what you're seeking, meeting new people and getting involved in cooking soup.  We have an expression called "Rainbow Time."  Things more more slowly at the gathering and time is measured by sunrise and sunset, dark thirty and high noon.  You'll need to leave your car and hike to really experience just what is happening as what's on the road is just a small fraction of what the gathering manifests. 

Sturdy shoes and a good canteen are important. Don't forget to bring a bowl and a spoon. The food is free, but you have too provide your own utensils and hot beans in an open hand isn't the greatest way to eat.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Commenting on this blog

While I totally support everyones' right to say what ever they want, the purpose of this blog is to share "news and ideas for creating a safe, fun and healing annual gathering of the tribes" and "this is not an official source of information and represents my thoughts and opinions only. Other people will have different ideas."

While I freely welcome other ideas, comments that use racist, sexist, homophobic and other types of discriminatory language will be marked as spam. Comments advocating violence will be removed as spam.

If you want to have a discussion with folks involved in rainbow gatherings, there are a number of online discussion forums. A long time gatherer has a page with links to some of them here.  There is a Facebook Group here.

All peaceful people are welcome to the gathering. We gather to promote peace and the positive evolution of the planet. Please join the movement. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Effects Of Rainbow On Local Communities

This DVD is a gift from a few people who have attended Rainbow Gatherings. It is about 13 minutes long and includes interviews with people who have lived in communities near where the annual Rainbow gatherings have occurred. The individuals who are on this tape represent only themselves and should not be considered leaders or spokespersons. It is hoped that you will have positive experiences with the people who will be visiting your town. Peace.

For a high resolution version of the DVD, click here.

Thanks to Welcome Home for hosting this. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bam Bam Memorial Night of July 3

For those who were unable to make the Memorial Service for Bam Bam that took place last fall, there will be a Memorial Service at this year's annual gathering at the main boogie pit after dinner - around dark thirty.  Please take the time to come and share your heartsong about how much you loved Bam Bam or how much he drove you crazy (or both).  My original post on Bam Bam's passing and memorial is here.

Bring drums.  It's what Bam Bam would have wanted. 

On Lyme Disease

Now I'm not a doctor and don't claim to be an expert in Lyme disease. However, when folks go camping they sometimes get bitten by ticks and some ticks spread Lyme disease. Because I have had friends whose Lyme disease went undetected for years and were told they had all sorts of other really nasty issues, I want to make sure you take a few minutes to educate your self on the symptoms of Lyme disease.

I do know that the longer your Lyme disease goes without being treated, the harder it is to treat.

So take the time to read this handy article on PubMed Health.  If at the gathering, you suspect you have contracted Lyme disease, please go to CALM.  If after the gathering you suspect you have contracted Lyme disease, please inform your health care provider that you want to be tested for Lyme.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Howdy Folks

Welcome Home 
41st Annual
Rainbow Family Gathering of The Tribes

Please protect this Beautiful Land
Walk softly.  Harm no living thingHarmonize - Blend in.  Use only down, dead wood.  Do not cut living trees.  Preserve the Meadows . . . camp in the Woods.  And remember, We are caretakers of this land.
Everyone sharing makes a strong Human Tribe!
Please Protect the Water Sources by staying out of DELICATE spring areas.  Avoid camping, peeing or washing above spring areas.  Keep ALL soap out of streams, springs or the creek!  Use a bucket to take your bath 300 feet away from the water source.  To be certain drinking water is safe: boil it for ten minutes at a rolling boil!
Use the slit trenches or covered latrines - cover your paper & waste with ashes or lime, wash hands afterwards.  Break the fly/illness connection: shit-fly-food-you!  Dig no shitters near water areas or kitchens.
Protect our Health!
Use your own cup, bowl & spoon!  Wash them after eating and rinse in bleach-water. Go to C.A.L.M. if you feel ill - especially if you have a contagious disease - or are injured.
Camp Together – Establish neighborhoods.  Community Fires only!  Keep a 5 gallon bucket of water and shovel nearby for Fire Protection. If you are the last to leave a fire PUT IT OUT!  Please, NO fireworks!  Keep you camp secure.  “Tempt Not Lest Ye Be Lifted From.”
Pets are discouraged, but if you must bring them, keep them fed, on a leash and out of the kitchens, springs & fightsClean up their poopLove them.
Cleanup begins when you arrive.  Please bring only what is necessary.  There is no janitor here . . . YOU are the cleanup crew.  Separate Garbage for recycling.  Please DON’T LITTER - Find a collection point.  Compost in pits only.
You are the Gathering!
Participate and Volunteer!  Participate in Shanti Sena (the peace keepers council), work crews, workshops, councils and all activitiesVolunteer wherever and whenever needed: kitchens, welcome home, firewatch, parking lot, shitter digging, supply, front gate, etc.  R-E-S-P-E-C-T your Sisters’ & Brothers’ energies.
Keep the Balance: Earth, Sky, Trees, Water & People!
Alcohol is Discouraged, Guns are Inappropriate, Violence is contrary to the Spirit.  Please do not take pictures or videos of people without asking their permission first.  Discourage Drug Abuse. 
Buying and selling endangers our right to be here.  The Magic Hat is our Bank, please donate early to fund our needs.  The Magic Hat goes around at Dinner Circle and with the Magic Hat Band.
Our power together is many times our power separated.
  Enjoy the Rainbow with an open heart and you Will see the Vision.
  Join us on July 4th for a Silent Contemplation & Prayer for Peace, respect those maintaining silence from dawn.
   Hold the silence until the arrival of the Children’s Parade.

~~~ Updated 6/29 @ 8:30 AM PT ~~~~

This year's annual gathering to be held in Cherokee National Forest. The site is East of South Holston Lake between the lake and Holston Mountain in the NE corner of TN just Southeast of where Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee meet up. N 36.50175 W 82.04347.  Please note each of the following set of directions came from people on the land. My recommendation is you print them all out and take them with you.  The maps were made by a friend of mine.

Directions from points south:

From Knoxville TN, go North/East on Interstate 81 and near the Tennessee/Virginia border, get off at Bristol VA. From Bristol: I 81 take VA exit 3, follow 11E through town about 3 miles, turn left at the light at Weaver Pike (358), follow to the end turn left onto 44 *
*Continue East  about 3 miles on 44 at Past Hickory Tree Grocery then turn right on to Flatwoods Rd. If you've gone more than 4 miles, you past the Grocery Store. Go back. Once you're on Flatwoods Rd follow FS camp/horse/boat signs follow signs park with all 4 wheels off on Flatwoods Rd.

From Asheville, NC take Interstate 26 north and exit in Johnson City: take 11E to 19E towards Elizabethton, take the 1st left onto 44, follow 44 through Bluff City (2 turns), then turn left onto 44 /Chinquapin Grove Rd.  
For Family coming from Eastern N. Carolina (i.e. Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill areas) ... They can save over 100 miles and 1.5 hrs of driving by coming in on US 421 from Boone, NC, rather than driving all the way around thru Asheville and Johnson City.  In this case they would turn left on Camp Tom Howard from the 421.

NOTE:  If you're on I-81, it intersects with I-26 about ten miles north of Johnson City.
Also please note that many people on site are saying that coming thru Bristol is the better, easier, wider and faster north route on 421.

Directions from points north:

This route stays on paved roads longer and is better for low clearance vehicles.
Get off I-81 south in Abingdon VA @ Exit 1. Get on 421 south. 421 winds south through Bristol TN, changing streets abruptly - watch carefully for signs. 421 south eventually takes you across South Holston Lake. When you cross the bridge, check your odometer - exactly 3.9 miles later, turn right onto Camp Tom Howard Road. Main trail is exactly 8 miles from there. Stay on the newly-paved road (FS-87), passing Sharps Creek Road on your right. You'll go another 6.3 miles until you come to a fork - there are signs directing you to the left. The pavement ends - Main trail is 1.3 miles later. The trailhead is at the bottom of a slight downhill in the road, and there is a turnout on the right, probably filled with FS LEO vehicles. The trail is on your left. This is the easiest of three moderately steep uphill trails. Bus Village is another mile or so past these trails, continuing west. The road from Bus Village continues into the site, but it is a good two-three miles walk.

Signs say that parking on the 'lakeside' (north) side of FS-87 is prohibited. Park only on the south, or left side of the road. Several tow trucks are already prowling this corridor, so don't risk it.

As always, please park with all 4 wheels off the gravel on Flatwoods Rd.

From either of the Bristols: From Bristol, TN or Bristol VA, get on the 421 going east.. (while there may be other ways in, they are not recommended as being good for most vehicles) Turn right onto "Camp Tom Howard Road" which soon becomes Big Creek Road. The name of the campground on Big Creek Road is "Little Oak". If you look for the sign for "Little Oak Recreation Area" make a right there, then follow the road about 2 miles past the campground. Welcome Home.

Another set of Directions from Bristol, TN
From I-81, exit at Bristol, TN
1. Head north on Volunteer Pkwy toward State St
2. Take the 1st right onto State St
3. Turn right onto Pennsylvania Ave -0.8 mi
4. Turn left onto Maple St - 0.1 mi
5. Take the 2nd right onto Virginia Ave  - 1.2 mi
6. Continue onto TN-34 N/US-421 S/US-421 Scenic S/Carl Moore Pkwy
Continue to follow TN-34 N/US-421 S/US-421 Scenic S - 12.4 mi
7. Turn right onto Camp Tom Howard Rd - 0.9 mi
8. Turn right to stay on Camp Tom Howard Rd - 0.9 mi
9. Take the 1st left onto Big Creek Rd - 0.6 mi
10. Turn right to stay on Big Creek Rd - 4.1 mi
11. Turn left to stay on Big Creek Rd - 1.0 mi
12. Turn left


**Good for carts gate: 87A on right is a gated 2+ mile moderate walk to main circle on a gravel road

**Hardy hiker gate: 3 miles past 87A look for trail head on the right, Josiah Trail 50 most hardy, Josiah Horse Trail 45 still hardy for now but milder incline

Both routes in are UPHILL!

If you're coming from the Left coast, you can pick up I-40 at the I-15 in Barstow, California.  Then go east, east, east to Knoxville, TN. 

If you're hitting the road soon and won't have Internet access, when you get in the area call (770) 662-6112  for recorded directions that will be updated frequently.  

If you're trying to book a flight, Knoxville, TN is the closest major airports - about 150 miles away. Asheville, NC is about 75 miles away but is a smaller airport. There is a closer regional airport with a handful of carriers outside of Blountville, TN call Tri-Cities Regional Airport (located just 3 miles off Interstate 81 at Exit 63) and will put you about 50 miles away.  Keep in mind that if you fly into Asheville, you have to go over the mountains to get to the site on I-26.


Signs say that parking on the 'lakeside' (north) side of FS-87 is prohibited. Park only on the south, or left side of the road. Several tow trucks are already prowling this corridor, so don't risk it.

Don't park along the blacktop portion of the road. Only park along the gravel portion of the road with all four wheels off the gravel or you will be towed.    ‎87 is paved halfway in, then it turns to gravel. parking is only allowed on the gravel road. pull as far off the gravel as possible. you do not want to be "blocking the road" or they will tow your car.

87 is one of the most heavily patrolled roads in the county, just because of the LOCALS, never mind a few thousand hippies!!
Rumor is that LEOs are also ticketing for marijuana and nudity on the road. There has been thunder storms this week - come prepared. The site is lush and green. Bears have been sighted, but they avoid people. Don't tempt them with food left in the open.

There's a rumor circulating that we may have a horse drawn wagon shuttling gear and/or people who need help in to the site and up the hill.  Just a rumor at this point, but manifest positive energy and it may happen.

Posion Ivy - lots of poison ivy on 87, hardly any up in the gathering. Ticks and chiggers not very prevelant.

Clarification:  Rattlesnakes and copperheads on the mountain that people are hiking. Not sure if they are down in the meadow or not.

This site is quite favorable to bicycles and carts, once you get up there. the "hike up and in" feature of this site may prove advantageous for cleanup. Be prepared for rain.  Bring rain gear, lots of tarps. Roadside parking. Ticks.  Elevations is in the 2,000 foot range.  Expect warm days, cool nights.  Please leave all electronics at home or in your car. If you bring them into the gathering, keep them powered off and carry them with you at all times.  Leaving electronics in a tent tempts thieves.

BOIL OR FILTER ALL WATER ~~  our water is not spring fed this year -- disturbed springs due to ancient (5,000 years ago) avalanch activity~~~ boulder fields abound! Plenty of rocks! I strongly recommend that your bring at least two gallons of water per person to cover your first few days at the gathering. Filtering water is slow going this year so you'll need the jugs to fill up.  To filter water, use a 2 micron filter or less. Filters for use in the home are not useful in these condtions.

BEAR AWARE!!! DO NOT FEED THE BEARS! Be noisy when wandering thru the woods. Bears love ~ dog food, compost, sugar, meat, trash, their cubs, berries, etc. DO NOT FEED THE BEARS!! Bears do not love: NOISE, light, dogs, fire, YOU between them and their CUBZ, human voice in some or clanging cup and spoons! BE BEAR AWARE! Avoid confrontations with BEARS!

Please keep your pet well fed, on a leash, out of the kitchen, dinner circles and fights. Bury your dog shit, bury all dog shit you see. ($125 fine for dogs off leash and LOTS of horses on trails and roads near gathering.) Do not let your dog chase wildlife. All dogs should be vaccinated for the Parvovirus. Don't bring your puppies if they are not vaccinated.

Bring water shoes for swimming in Lake ~~~ I believe that dogs have gotten cut feet...

Keep checking back for more info. Just a word of warning, online maps don't always match the signs on the ground. Best recommendation is to take multiple sets of directions, come in the morning so you can see the markers. Look for piles of rocks on the side of the road.

 Camp Map from a friend whose been on-site

A brother on Facebook made this basic map of the site and offered it up for sharing.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

All Ways Free

The focalizers of All Ways Free are asking people to print out 100 copies and bring to INFO at the gathering for distribution. Find a PDF version of All Ways Free here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Greatest Hits

I started doing a yearly gathering-related blog in 2008 based on the recommendation of a woman who I deeply respected and admire.  So here's some of what I consider the better posts from 2008 to 2011.  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

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Feeding the Family

Many people wonder how we can feed 10,000 people in the woods for free.  Well just because it's free doesn't mean it doesn't cost money or sweat. Some years, food is plentiful at the gathering especially in the early part of the gathering, other years not so much.  Seems to me that everyone is happier when they're not hungry.  So in the interest of making sure all the amazing kitchens have plenty of food to cook up for all the bellies in camp, here's some suggestions on how to insure we have plenty of food.  Some people seem to like to bring their own food and cook for themselves, but to me that seems to miss the point of gathering and learning how to share what we have with each other. Of course, bringing snacks for yourself like energy bars is a great idea especially if you tend to need to eat when you need to eat as meals (other than dinner circle) can be hit or miss.

Many of the folks who focalize kitchens work hard during the year to buy supplies to feed this family. For the kitchens, this is a labor of love and the kitchen crews (of which you can be one if you volunteer) want you to have nutritious, good tasting and filling food.

If you're not to far away and you're growing crops, bring what you have to the gathering.  Food grown with love is always the best.  If you're coming in by car, stop for supplies on your way. If possible, shop at the stores close to the gathering and be sure to let the store know you are buying supplies for the gathering and invite everyone to come up.

If you're buying supplies, fresh fruits and veggies are the best as we never seem to have enough. If you bring fruits or veggies, pick varieties that can stand be hauled around in the bottom of a back pack and that do not need refrigeration.  Apples and oranges, cabbages, mushrooms, onions, carrots, zucchini, etc. Also important supplies to bring are olive oil, garlic, spices, herbal teas, whole wheat flour, coffee, brown rice, dried beans, quinoa, yams/sweet potatoes, oatmeal and maple syrup. Try to bring things the vegans can eat cause then everyone can eat it.  When you arrive with supplies, feel free to take them direct to your favorite kitchen or if you have a large load, ask for "main supply" and drop off there for distribution.

The only other way food arrives at the gathering is via cash donations to the Magic Hat. We don't accept food stamps, EBT cards, Visa, checks etc. If you do not have cash, please go to town and buy supplies and bring them back to the gathering.  If you have cash and you don't want to go shopping, donations to the Magic Hat can be made nightly at dinner circle or at INFO anytime it's open. 

How long does it take food to get in your belly?

If you bring supplies with you, it may take 24 to 36 hours before the food your brought is in your bowl ready to be eaten.  Supply runs during seed camp make take 4 to 6 days between the time a donation is made and the time you're eating the food.  Here's what happens.  You put $20 in the Magic Hat on Monday.  On Wednesday folks start putting together a supply run. The run maybe leaves on Thursday morning early and makes it back around dark or even later on Thursday.  Then on Friday after Kitchen Council (usually at 11 am), the food is hauled from the drop location to the kitchens. If the distances are small, maybe you eat the food Friday night, if not it can take half the day to get the food from the cars to the kitchens, so then the $20 of food that was bought with your donation is served up as dinner on Saturday. 

Generally, seed camp can suffer from a lack of food. The best way to keep people feed is to bring food in by the case load.  The more food folks have at seed camp, the harder they can work and get things ready.

However, if you're hitchhiking in and can only carry so much, or doing a big shopping is to hard, you can always donate cash once you are at the gathering.

If you decide to donate cash, give all the funds you have to share as soon as possible so you can be eating the fruits of your labor.  Some kitchens have their own donation cans and you can donate to them as well but the lag is just as long.  Going on supply runs is time consuming and costs a lot of gas money so people don't go "shopping" every day.

Keep in mind that all food is free at the gathering. Food flows freely to all regardless of donations.  Children, pregnant and nursing women, and their families eat first because proper nutrition is key to growing strong bodies. No one is keeping track of who donated what.

 If anyone asks you for money in order to enter the gathering, camp anywhere or eat any food, just say no cause that's not how we roll and who ever is doing the asking is also doing the scamming.

6/7/12 - check out the great comment from folks focalizing Main Supply this year (under the comments)
6/11/12 - to plug into the folks focalizing Main Supply, email them.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Nothing Changes But The Changes, Slick

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Gary Busey said these lines to Kris Kristofferson in the remake of the film A Star is Born staring Barbara Streisand, which came out in 1976. I was a teenager then, but the words have stuck with me all these years.

Before I go any further, I would like to send out a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart to the earlies who helped shape the gathering and the folks who have taught me so much over the years. I honor you, respect you and even when I disagree with you, I do so out of love for this amazing, crazy family that is nearer to my own heart than any one person could ever be.

Some of you may know I’ve been trying to raise money for CALM for medical supplies. This journey like many had a surprising ending. In talking to many people involved with providing medical care at the gathering, a common theme has come up. One if you’re around the Internet these days has been heard in a variety of ways. 

The gathering itself is alive and well, but like any living creature, it grows and sheds skin, eats and shits.  New camps form and old camps fade away.  Partnerships arise and dissolve and all this is as it should be.  But some needs stay the same. People need to eat, they get sick and require help, everyone needs to feel safe.  What keeps the gathering alive is that the way in which we care for each other changes as do the people whose hands are hard at work.

Creating a temporary community without leaders is hard work. Doing it in the woods is even harder work. Since so many of us have grown up in a world with leaders, sometimes we fall into old patterns, old ways of living. Ways that don’t always fully honor our consensus process, talking in circles, making room for all the voices (soft and loud). There is a wealth of experience at the gathering, but sometimes we have to make room for the new voices on the scene to share their perspective.

So to the earlies, the folks who’ve been doing this longer and better than I ever have, let’s think of our younger family, those in their twenties and thirties as toddlers and let them use their legs to explore the ways in which they can continue the amazing trajectory of human growth and wisdom that is this gathering we all love.  Don’t abandon them. Stand on the side lines and don’t intervene unless someone looks like their going to fall down the stairs or poke an eye out with a long stick.  Let our younger family fall down a few times in the grass in the same way you let a ten month old child plop on her/his ass before clapping your hands and cheering.

To my family in their twenties and thirties, you are older now than many of the earlies were in 1972.  You have new ideas and the strength to climb hills carrying injured family as I once did. You are much wiser than you know and full of ideas that need to be explored. These new ideas won’t all pan out, but in learning to create the world the way you want it to exist, you will learn more about yourself and life than you could even imagine.  I love you.  Thank you for sharing your dreams and wisdom with me.  If some of the more experienced gatherers are a bit verbose when sharing hipstory, please be patient. We live in a strange culture where twenty or thirty of forty years of service to a vision leaves your body too tired to carry out what’s in your heart and leaves your heart feeling a bit like you no longer have a place in this world. Such is the circle of life and it’s not nearly as fun on the down side as it was on the upside.

To everyone, from the very youngest to the very oldest, once upon a time we had First Aid/MASH and then an evolution  occurred around 1979/1980 and CALM (the Center for Alternative Learning Medicine) came into existence and was a central place for people to get free health care in the woods.  For the last few years, CALM has been splitting apart as people with different visions fail to harmonize and our amazing healers have tried to help their family in different ways. It seems to me that the time is ripe for a new generation of family (yes you in your twenties and thirties) to re-vision what free health care in the woods looks like.  It doesn’t have to be called CALM. Call it what you will, but we as a family need a place where healers of differing modalities come together, to share, to learn, and to treat all our family with respect and provide the best health care only love can create.

This year, 2012, in the Southeast is the time and place where this needs to happen as that old CALM is fading into the sunset.  If we don’t get this together, our family’s health is in jeopardy. There are many healers scattered about the gathering, but having the focused effort goes a long way to providing for our own needs on the land and not burdening local hospitals with providing care for an endless array of aliments that could and should be treated on the land. We need a place of love where sprained ankles get bandaged up and mind explosions are soothed. We need a place where exceptional care is provided and the cooperation between healers is sincere and full of love.

To my less-experienced family, please create a strong, focused, peaceful healing center at the gathering starting with Spring Council and beyond. Please reach out to more experienced healers to get the hipstory on why things where done a certain way and then come up with a better way once you understand the reasoning behind what has happened in the past.

To my more-experienced family, please let the less-experienced family try it their way. Offer your assistance but don’t try to take charge. Let the youngers experiment with a loving and cooperative way to keep us all healthy and when asked for assistance, offer your wisdom in the form in which it is requested.

This is an opportunity for a new and better healing center that can be co-created by people who love to heal and are willing to try.  Once you’re on the land, make it happen. Talk to others who care about this issue and see if a core group coalesces.  Pool  your resources and the magic will happen.

Reach for the brass ring family. Reach for the brass ring.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
~~George Santayana