Where will the gathering be?

Where will the 2014 gathering be?
Near Heber, Utah. Click here for directions
Who is invited?
Every person with a belly button. If for some reason, you lost your belly button, you are invited as well.
What you really need to know:
How to Get Into The Gathering Without Getting a Mandatory Court Appearance Ticket.
How to Contact Someone?
If after reading the information on this blog, checking out the links on the right hand side, you still have questions, concerns, or problems, email random gatherers for assistance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Creating a healthy gathering through hand washing

One thing that goes a long way to keeping folks at a gathering healthy and safe is washing hands - a lot. And I don't mean just rubbing your hands with sanitizer, but actual biodegradable soap (Dr. Bronner's is great) and filtered or boiled water. Some awesome Rainbow engineers have designed a hand wash station that's transportable and light weight. One goal of a Rainbow hand wash station is to make it hands free, so no one picks up germs in the process of washing their hands. (A smaller setup of this same type can be used for soap dispensing). If you're not up to speed on drinking water issues, Hawker has a great website showing what he's done in the past and discussing issues in greater depth.

Here's a great drawing of what I'll explain in words below. Thanks TimBear.

"From our experience, the primer bulb check valve can fail if the water gets trash in it. The solution we found was a small piece of filter material (like the filter from a wet vac) or fine mesh screening (a couple of layers of panty hose) around the end of the water intake. The pvc pipe allows you to direct the water where you want it, even if there is no tree where you want the water." - TimBear's words, not mine. What ever you do, make sure the grey water is at least 300 feet from creeks, rivers, and ponds and preferable somewhere where no one is walking. Dogs and people can get into the grey water and spread the germs all over the place and that's not healthy.

The key is a one-way syphon valve. It's made of rubber and can be squeezed by hand. Each end has a place to clamp hose onto. I usually get them at my local Marine supply store. Hook it up to some clear plastic tubing - one end to go into a bucket of filtered water. It looks like this:

The other end should be fastened somewhere (if not using TimBear's Pipe method) and hopefully have a drain system so people aren't standing around in gray water. To conserve water, get spare sun shower nozzles and put it on the end. These are $1-2 each from a camping supply store. They work great for the "faucet" end. Here is a photo of one.

Then to wash hands, all people need to do is pump the black syphon ball with their feet, and water comes out the shower nozzle. Portable hands free hand washing and kids love it!

Filtered water is best for hand washing. Providing an alcohol based hand sanitizer and/or a bleach wash as a final step is a great idea, but please label what is what so people can make informed decisions.

I also like to make a sink to minimize the amount of mucky grey water around the faucet. I've used a plastic bowl in a round tomato cage. Then drill a hole in the bottom and put in a connector so you can clamp a discharge pipe and run the waste water into a gray water pit. WARNING! HIPPIES CAN BE DUMB. Every time I use my sink setup, someone thinks we should recycle the gray water by putting it back into the fresh water container. THIS IS UNSANITARY AND IS WORSE THAN NOT WASHING YOUR HANDS AT ALL. So if you use a sink, please make a sign telling people that the drain DOES NOT go into the water source.

I'll be bringing a few extra setups to give out - but we needs lots of them. If someone(s) are looking for a great public service project for this year's gathering, here's a great one. Let's make sure we have enough hand washing stations scattered around the gathering so that people can't help but wash their hands at least twice a day. Every year I promise to make them at home and bring everything but the sink, but it doesn't seem to happen. Sure is easier at home with my tools.

Clean hands creates a healthy gathering.

Just a quick reminder, no soap in any surface water. Biodegradable soap only biodegrades in the soil.  All soapy water should be kept 300 feet from surface water like creeks, rivers, ponds and springs.  Don't be the dufuss who tries to wash your hands, clothes, hair, body in the creek. All you're doing is creating dirty water for the animals (2 and 4 legged) who drink the water.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Parking Lot Crew

The gathering only works because each of us pitches in to take care of everything that needs to be done. One project that needs some young energy is the Parking Lot Crew.

The joys of working parking are staying up all night and helping family park safely and legally so when they go back to their car it hasn't been towed.
Washington 2011 ? Bus Village

You get to stand on a dusty road, flag down people who don't want to stop, help them find Handicamp if necessary or which ever parking log is closest to where they are going.

While you're doing this critical job, the USFS Law Enforcement Officers drive up and down the road and almost run you over. Some of our A-Camp brothers and sisters show up to help and you have to make sure they don't get run over. The kitchens forget to feed you. Some days you're out there in the pouring rain or the blazing sun or the snow.

The parking situation can change daily as the cops change the rules. You have to find the owners of people who parked in the wrong spot so their car doesn't get towed. Then there's the people who don't listen to your advice and drive off the road and need your help getting them towed out. Or they have a flat tire, or a dead battery or they locked their keys in their car.

Then there are the emergency evacuations. Coordinating with CALM, finding drivers, and making sure people who need to get to a hospital get there safely. Sometimes you'll be all alone. Sometimes there will be 5 people talking to you at once about their emergency.

So why help out in the parking lot?

Washington 2011
Yes! that's snow
  • Because it is amazing to see all our beautiful family come home. 
  • Because someone is having a horrible gathering since they parked where you told them not the park and now you've gotten them towed out and they are grateful to you. 
  • Because you helped someone get to the hospital and maybe saved their life. 
  • Because you prevented someone's car from getting towed, helped fix a flat, jump start a car, get gas for some belly who ran out.

We always need new folks helping out with the parking scene, especially our younger family who can be up at 4 AM and park that weary family with the crying baby who just drove for 36 hours to be with you! Because you can keep that campfire burning and provide a cup of Joe for a tired traveler.

As with all things rainbow, no experience is necessary.  Just show up and tell who ever is parking cars that you want to help and be someone's hero.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Rainbow Family and How It Grew

From time to time I bring in great explanations of this and that by other gatherers. Partially because I like to make sure this blog isn't only my voice and partially because I find other people writing great things in other online forums.  Today's guest blogger is Tim Gillespie and he gave me permission to repost this here.  Thanks Tim!

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Dear Friends, this is my unauthorized vision of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, coming from 25 years of experience, participation, observation and questioning any and all I have met. This is especially for you young folks coming to your first gathering. Every year there are lots of you, which is a clear sign the the Family is still needed, and is a vital force for the human race for years to come.

This all grew from a collection of peace activists, hippies and Vietnam Vets who were sickened by the war. They came together to pray for world peace in 1972. We have done this every year since. GB drove an old school bus all over the country, visiting peace groups he knew of and invited all to come. Many did.

Those first gatherers established many of the principles that we use today. The gathering was not a party! All those substances that were antagonistic to peace and prayer were given their place too. A-Camp. A-Camp was set off away from the rest of the gathering. There, you could find alcohol, cocaine, meth, heroin and other bad-assed heavy drugs. Not that they were welcomed, but even then some good brothers back from Vietnam found then needed to medicate themselves with drugs that in many cases killed them eventually. The brothers were welcomed, but their drugs weren’t. Within the gathering proper, cannabis, shrooms, LSD and others that expanded the human consciousness were welcome, but not required. For a long time, A-Camp stayed near the main gate and formed a gauntlet that gatherers had to pass through to get within. This wasn’t a bad thing, and mirrors the spiritual journey of a hero from classical mythology. In recent years, A-Camp has grown and spread into the very depths of the gathering, as group after group found they couldn’t stand the other drunks. This is not a good thing.

Some have espoused the idea that the gatherings are an example for the rest of the world of how we can all live cooperatively. That idea is just plain silly. It takes only a little study of the way things actually are to realize that gatherings are not sustainable. Gatherings do not produce any of the food they consume. Those who come first bring their own food and a little extra to share with neighbors. Later, the Supply volunteers take funds from the Magic Hat and buy in bulk to distribute to large communal kitchens. These folks cook basic food and then haul it to the evening circle in buckets to hand out to waiting hippies. You are likely to not get enough calories to sustain yourself this way. It is common to lose 10-15 lbs in 2 weeks. Many kitchens also cook and serve breakfast and a lunch to whomever shows up. One, Kid Village, specializes in taking care of families with young children and pregnant girls. They always get enough food to take care of their neighborhood, which often has thousands of folks.

Water is always a problem. In the east, there often isn’t any drinkable surface water and few springs. In the west, nearly all water is likely to have protozoa which cause “beaver fever” and is a particularly nasty way to lose weight. A small group of dedicated folks have worked on this for years. They have developed water piping systems and filter systems that will make nearly any water safe to drink. For the most part, they have done this out of their pockets, with no help from the family at large. It is simple. It is pretty near impossible to pray for world peace with cramps in your gut and nasty liquids coming out of your body, both north and south.

Another group of volunteers form a loosely knit group called CALM who try to keep the rest of us healthy. Many of them have medical experience, from EMTs to nurse practitioners, from midwives to Md., and from massage therapists to chiropractors. They mostly bring donated medical supplies and give of themselves unselfishly to take care of accidents and illnesses that are inevitable.

Imagine 10000 people shitting in the woods, along with a thousand or so dogs. That is a huge load! The earliest gatherers took lessons from the military and dug slit-trench latrines. Sometimes they were narrow enough to straddle while taking care of business. I have seen some dug by ambitious volunteers that were nearly three feet wide; hard to use; don’t really want to fall in. This helps, but still doesn’t keep the flies off your shit. If you don’t prevent it, the flies eat on your shit, pick up e-coli bacteria and then bring it to your food being prepared. Next thing you know, everybody is sick. Part of the solution is to keep the flies off the shit. A layer 6 inches deep of dirt will pretty well do the trick. Any less, and they will tunnel down to the shit. A thin layer of wood ash works quite well if you have enough around. Hydrated, slaked lime is the most effective. Even after doing all this, lots of idiots just shit wherever they get the urge and leave paper and shit on the ground. Dog owners often do not take care of their dogs shit. HINT Every kitchen has a shovel or two around. I know that sometimes you can’t find a shitter in time. But, you can get a shovel and pick it up and either bury it or put it in a proper latrine.

Bad things sometimes happen. Some folks have psychological problems, some react badly to substances, some become violent (usually alcohol). Rapes have happened, and assaults. Imagine 10-20 thousand people in a small area in the woods. Pretty clearly we need someone to look out for those who are weak, young or infirm. Shanta Sena is the group of volunteers who do this for the family. If you need help, scream “Shanta Sena”. Others will pass the alarm on and help will come. The words mean peace keepers, by the way.

In the best of all possible worlds, each person would carry out all the trash they brought in. We do not live in that world. At the end of each gathering, a mountain of trash is left behind. Another group of volunteers (the cleanup crew) stay behind and dispose of all that trash. They also deal with the damage we have done to the environment with hard-packed trails, bliss fires, etc.

I hope I have given you something to think about. Clearly the gathering is not just a big party in the woods. It has a structure, traditions and volunteers to help it work. Anarchy is the last thing it is! After the work is done, there is time to party and meet new friends. Come on down!

~~ by Tim Gillespie