The Burligton Free Press June, 1991

Rainbow Family shares its Wealth

Gathering is group's 20th

By Betsy Liley
Free Press Staff Writer

GRANVILLE - A rainbow-colored sign on a narrow dirt road through Green Moutntain National Forest reads:"Welcome Home."

It's a familiar refrain from the dozens of people gathered along the trail in Granville, as they greet newcomers with hugs, handshakes and hearty smiles.

About 300 campers are secluded in the lush forest preparing for a Fourth of July celebration that could be compared to a family reunion. Only the varied license plates on the cars and trucks parked along the road indicate the group's presence.

By July 1, attendance at Rainbow Family of Loving Light's national reunion will be at its peak.

"As many as 20,000 people will come together and take part in participatory government instead of representative democracy. Twenty thousand people will gather in a circle on Independence Day and pray for peace," said Water Singing on the Rocks, a Kentucky man who arrived in Vermont on Monday.

This will be the 20th year the Rainbow Family has gathered in a national forest for the Fourth of July. It is their first national gathering in the Northeast. The loosely knit group believes in the First Amendment right to gather on public lands and focuses its energy on peace and Earth.

The people working near the main camp are friendly, cooperatively building latrines, establishing a water system and creating as many as 30 cimmunity kitchens that will feed the crowds.

Kitchens are built from saplings, strapped together with twine and covered with tarp roofs. Tents are scattered throughout the soods. Burlap bags hang neatly from crude sawhorses labeled for recycling of glass, aluminum and other products.

There is no electrical power. No chain saws. No cars or trucks. No telephones.

The Family members come from all walks of life, from the United States, Canada and Europe.

Some are urban doctors and some lawyers; some Hare Krishnas and some homeless; ome 1960's political activists. Some use their given names; others have chosen Indian names or names that reflect a political ideology. The universal moniker is brother and sister.

"If you ain't got a bellybutton,you ain't a Rainbow. Everybody's a Rainbow. Some just don't know it yet," one Family member said during a meeting Monday night at which Family members met with residents over their concerns.

"What we're attempting to achieve is unity of spirit," Kendo said during a break from building a kitchen called Love Works, Bliss Being Home.

Dumpster meeting Formerly homeless in Berkeley, Calif., Kendo discovered Rainbow Family in 1984. "I met someone doming from a dumpster. I was going to a dumpster," he said.

The Family has become his life.

"There are some people that stay together all the time," he said, mentioning his schedule of moving among regional gatherings. "Our God provides. One person has the vehicle. The other has the gas," he said explaining how they survive.

Across the road a woman dressed completely in white scrapes bark off long, thin trees. They will be the support for a teepee that will house a conflict resolution workshop.

So we can keep the grooviest peace. We have a lot of federal opposition," No Guns of Santa Cruz, Calif., said.

"We really do love each other," she said, mentioning some internal disagreements among the Rainbow Family.

No Guns, 43, is a seamstress who has attended gatherings on and off since 1972. She points to her white cap, dotted with Arkansas quartz that look like small Christmas tree lights. The material is almost an equal mix of cannabis and cotton, she explains proudly. Her 18-year-old son will join her at the gathering.

She said she fears outsiders' misunderstanding of the group.

"I asked Bernie Sanders and others to look behind the scenes," she said.

Family members have requested and received more than 700 pages of federal documents through teh Freedom of Information Act, she said. "This looks like the equivalent of a covert intelligence on the counter culture in the United States. ... It needs some hard eyes."

Vermont was chosen as the site for the 1991 Gathering for safety among other considerations, No Guns said. Curls of skinned bark are piled neatly behind her.

"Tell me we aren't an endangered group," she said. "We are the safety net for all mankind's problems, really working it out."

Listening nearby is Roberto, a Washington D.C., activist. He begins to smoke a hand- rolled cigarette.

Gert Harris, who owns the Granville Country Store, said bulk tobacco has become one of the store's most popular items, along with fruit, coffee and cheese.

The Barter System. Roberto talks about a trading circle that will form, with everything from chocolate to quartz crystals to craft items. Commerce is by bartering, not money, he said. Money is unnecessary at the gathering, except to contribute to the Magic Hat as it goes around the daily circle.

Money in the Magic Hat is used to buy supplies that will stock the kitchens and provide medicall supplies and other needs, Family member Joan McMurray said during Monday night's local meeting . "People are not stigmatized. ... Nobody watches. 'Did they pay so thsy can eat?' "Red Moon Song, a 36-year-old mother of three, said.

Educational programs- weaving, yoga, healthgul cooking, growing sprouts and others -are part of the gathering's routine.

Near Bus Village, Water Singing on the Rocks is waking up after four days on the road. A 'CALM' sign hangs inthe back window of his green-and -white school bus.

About 70 people from his tribe - CALM, which stands for Center for Alternative Living Medicine - will attend the 1991 Gathering.

CALM members could be chiropractors or herbalists, for example.

Another of the many Rainbow tribes is Shanti Sena, meaning peace keeper or peace seeker.

During Monday's meeting with residents, Water Singing on the Rocks talked about a woman diagnosed with glandular cancer who sat with a group of gathering healers.

"The cancer is in remission. By October there was no sign of cancer in her body," he said.

Family sacraments
"Marijuana is a sacrament for me. Marijuana is not a drug," Water Singing on the Rocks said earlier in the day, sitting in the back door of his bus. "I have favored the legalization of individual choice, the legalization of drug use and the total reclassification of marijuana as a herb."

Rainbows oppose harder drugs, alcohol, guns and violence.

"The vibration that comes from alcohol is not conductive to praying for peace, hugging and learning," Water Singing on the Rocks said during the Monday night meeting.

He asked local residents to be a part of the Rainbow Family's reunion: "We invite all of you to come to the gathering. When you come, you'll find you are part of the Family.

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