8 – Suggesting is Volunteering

by The Professor

Dear potential collaborator: I’m volunteering at the 53rd annual rainbow gathering and hoping to show you incentive to participate in this exciting and educational opportunity. I’ve been using it as training in mutual aid, equitable distribution, ecological enrichment, primitive skills, public speaking, consensus process, peer education, sanitation etc. People have strong feelings about what the gathering is, but most agree that it is a multicultural interfaith assembly to practice peace (and in this country defend our First Amendment right). Everyone is invited from the 1st to 7th of July. The main event is a silent meditation from dawn until noonish on the 4th of July. 

The location will be decided in mid June. I hope it is in a National Forest in California, but Washington, Oklahoma or Arizona are also possible. Those that arrive for setup are asked to be self-sufficient, and their decisions create the paths that thousands will later traverse. If you are already inspired to tap in, the team that brings the gear for a gravity fed water filtration system communicates regularly online, and some arrive early to start building the system. This makes it easier for various primitive kitchens to build near the faucets, saving labor as they scale up to serving thousands of meals a day.

“Info” is a group that makes a map and sets up a workshop board where people (and hopefully you!) offer activities such as: plant identification, astronomy, new age beliefs, talking circles, yoga, meditation, music and so much more. I really encourage people to share their skills and passions with others. It’s beautiful to watch as someone progresses from timid to confident and then can teach another. This is empowered by an ethos that “suggesting is volunteering” so if you see a task to do, it might be easier to just do it rather than try to find and convince someone else to. My favorite event was a “massage ceremony” where we broke into groups of 5 or 6 and all took turns focusing on one person. 
Some camps that have been attending recently include:

• “Lovin’ Ovens” builds a bakery; tables, racks, ovens made of 55 gallon drums built up with rocks and mud (if clay isn’t around).

• “Granola funk“ builds a stage to host shows.

• “Instant soup” serves vegan food all hours. 

• “Casual encounters” is gluten free and focuses on breakfast. 

• “Everyone’s Medical” provides first aid.

• “Nic@Night” gives away cigarettes. 

• “Stitch & Witch” focuses on crafts and herbalism. 

• Religious themed camps include: Home Shalom, Jesus Loves You, Krishna Camp.

Usually by the solstice, a daily meal is served in the main meadow to the growing population. A few crucial announcements are made, then pots of intimidating size go around to everyone sitting in the circle. A small parade asks for donations which are taken to the center and counted by as many people as want to be involved. This process is called banking counsel and members have someone yell loudly at the crowd to attend, but participation is always low or extremely low. 

“Main supply” is the group that buys and transports food then separates it into portions for kitchens that have been serving the main meal, and others when there is surplus. Through bulk purchasing, the low per-person donation average still allows for an abundant food supply. I love observing how whe community cooperation provides for most needs, the grateful eagerly look for ways to contribute. 
We meme that “clean up starts when you get here” but once the event is over, people are heavily encouraged to quickly leave or move near the camp coordinating clean up. Crews assemble every morning to remove trash and disappear trails, fire pits, camp foot prints, occasionally meeting with forest service for site specific requests.

There is no official website, but I really value the perspective of this author: