With summer rapidly approaching, many of you are likely starting to get quite excited to attend your first Rainbow Gathering. This year, just like every year since 1972, thousands of beautiful humans will come together in a national forest to practice living cooperatively, walking lightly on the land, and loving each other. Every year, hundreds of people attend the Gathering for their first time, and this year in particular I'm excited to be bringing dozens of friends & family to their first, and so it only makes sense to create a little introductory walk-through to help ease things along for everyone :-)
What is the Rainbow Gathering?
The Rainbow Gathering is a portal to the world of the future that those of us who identify as anarchists, voluntaryists, hippies, etc want to see come to pass. The Gathering is completely free, self-organizing, non-hierarchical, and operates entirely on volunteers, donations, and consensus-based decision-making. The first Gathering was in 1972, and it has since grown to over 100 annual events, the largest of which is the "US National" gathering: July 1st - 7th every year. For a WHOLE lot more details about the Gathering's history, philosophy, and structure, please read my 5-part series "The Rainbow Gathering: 5 Decades of Beta-Testing Anarchist Society" (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), or watch the presentation I gave at this year's Anarchapulco by the same title.
Where is the 2017 Gathering?
This year's Gathering will be held in Oregon, in a National Forest as always. The exact location of the Gathering will be decided by consensus at Spring Council, in just under 2 weeks. As soon as the exact location is decided, GPS coordinates & directions will appear at the top of this page
What to bring
What I generally tell people is to bring your usual camping gear, a cup/bowl & spork, and whatever you want to share with everyone else at the Gathering. You can come in with an entire car-load of equipment, or you can simply bring the necessities, and trust that all will be provided for (and it will). For those of you who want a specific breakdown, here's a guide I found a couple of years ago:
How to get involved
Every single thing that gets done at Rainbow happens because someone volunteered to do it. As with most things in life, the more you put in, the more you get out of it. If you want to have the most life-changing experience possible at the Gathering, I highly recommend helping out often, and in a variety of ways. There is always something to be done, from cutting vegetables to helping someone carry their gear in, from collecting and chopping firewood to digging shitters. Any time you're bored, just stop by Instant Soup (the 24-hour vegan kitchen where I cook), and we'll have plenty of ways you can plug in and help us feed all the wonderful people.
How to get water & food
The most important things to bring to the Gathering are your cup/bowl and spoon/fork. As long as you have those things, food and water will just manifest for you left and right. Every evening at 6pm, the whole of the Gathering comes together for a family dinner, where you can try a huge variety of foods from a dozen or more kitchens. At any other time of day, there will be lots of other kitchens serving food to whoever is hungry, like my own kitchen: Instant Soup. We are (usually) the only kitchen around that serves food 24-hours/day. Water is similarly easy to come by, simply find the nearest kitchen, and chances are they will have a water filtration system. One of the goals when choosing a location for a Gathering is a water source to gravity-feed to the kitchens.
How to poop in the woods
At the Gathering, everyone uses trench latrines, called "shitters", which are approximately 4 foot deep, 8 foot long composting toilets. From any kitchen or camp, there will generally be orange markers leading to the nearest shitter. When you finish, near the toilet paper there will be a can of ash or lime, to be sprinkled on top of your poop to make sure flies don't get to it and contaminate the food supply.
How to get to/from the Gathering
There are an unlimited number of ways to make your way to the Gathering, from the most simple like driving your own car from your house to the gathering, all the way to train-hopping like my good friend Stxs. Probably the largest number of people get to the Gathering by hitch-hiking or piling into a bus full of hippies and car-pool there. Some of the tools that I highly recommend are the Ride-Share options on Craigslist or Facebook. To use CL, simply go to the closest major city to where you are, go to ride-shares, and make a post explaining where you are and where you're trying to get to. What is even more successful are the FB Rainbow/Hippie ride-share groups, a few of which I'll list here for you:
- Rainbow Ride Share Redone
- Rainbow Caravans to North American Gatherings
- Ride Share Pacific West Coast TravelerKids,Hitchers,4:20Friendly
- OuTlAw HiPpIe TrUcKeR ride share
- Friends Across America (Rideshare)
Of all the events I've attended, from festivals to conferences, retreats to seminars, there is nothing I recommend as highly as the Rainbow Gathering. The combination of being a truly anarchist, self-organizing event, being the only one which doesn't involve money, fossil fuels, cities, or anything else of Babylon, and being the one place where everyone truly remembers that they are, and acts like family, make it a breath-taking experience. Also, based on my understanding of how the universe works, the most effective way to manifest something is to act as if you already have it, and that's exactly what Rainbow is, thousands of people acting as if they already have a world of freedom, peace, cooperation, love, and abundance.
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