(Feedback needed!! see end) "Of course we have headmen! In fact, we are all headmen. Each one of us is headman over himself." A !Kung (Bushman) of the African Kalahari desert, "Life Without Chiefs".
Everyone focalizes who helps the family get focused. A focalizer is a person who takes on the responsibility of passing on Rainbow information year-round, and serves as a contact if listed in the Rainbow Guide. We council together every year at 3:00 on the 5th day of July; our Family is welcome. Focalizers Council consensus, Colorado 1992.
It's a magical word; it means anything you want it to. The catch is that you really have to mean it.
In essence, focalizing is communicating: passing any info you receive through the larger network on to the network in your area. If that's all you can manage, it'enough. But as usual, the possibilities are endless.
One brother mainly focalizes a bus: every year he loads it up with pilgrims to the great North American Gathering of the Tribes. Others focalize a kitchen or camp for their home folks at the Gathering. Or focalize C.A.L.M., All Ways Free, the Rainbow Guide.
Some focalize mostly on the regional level. Regional gatherings take a lot of work and a strong network, connecting several circles in the region. A dozen regional circles across the country focalize occasional newsletters or informal mailings.
Others focalize strictly local circles. In New York they hold two huge picnics a year. In Madison it's a small one every Sunday. In a couple dozen other cities, circles are monthly. Some of these events take over a down town park. Some materialize miles out in the woods.
The Monterey and Santa Cruz circles pulled off a magnificent benefit show for All Ways Free. A circle in Tampa did their benefit for the Children's Rain Forest; Tallahassee does one regularly for the victims of genocide. In D.C. and Berkeley, Family circles feed the homeless. The Memphis circle does an Earth Day celebration for their city each year.
Focalizing involves looking into the magic that manifests the Rainbow Gathering, learning some of the skills, and tapping the same sources on a smaller scale. Our circle springs from Spirit; Mother Earth is our teacher and guide; holding hands in a circle somehow re-connects us not only to one another but to sky above and earth below. Helping this to happen is a powerful and empowering experience.
If you're the first to get tired of waiting around for the 4th of July, if you don't care to live where there isn't an occasional Gathering in the park you do. Instead of complaining, or finding a substitute, or moving away, start a local circle.
The key to focalizing anywhere is: find the other focalizers. It takes as much collective familiarity with how Gatherings work as you can muster. Find all the other brothers, sisters, households in your area that feel like missing pieces of a circle; council and decide what to do about it. Do it together.
The Rainbow has no leaders, only louders. You can't start a circle all by yourself, but someone has to call the first council. When three or more of you agree to invite all peaceful beings in the universe to a local park, it's already happened. The folks that show up are the circle; they'll decide what to do from there.
The Rainbow Guide is a good place to start. Contact all the focalizers listed for your region and ask for addresses around your hometown. Add friends who you feel are Family, and ask them to add theirs. Mail out an invitation or do it by word-of-mouth.
Start any council with a circle; it draws the energy together. A moment of silence gathers the focus. Songs, prayers, chants help too. Passing the feather and sharing heartsongs is a good way to break silence but once it starts, make sure it travels all the way around so every- one gets to speak. After that, put it away if it gets in the way of the flow. But encourage every- one to participate.
(It doesn't have to be a feather. Use a stick, a rock, a shell once we passed a Gumby doll long into the night. What's important is the discipline of listening to each feather-holder in turn till our own turn comes, and what it teaches us.)
The first council may simply choose a time and place to invite the community at large to experience the Rainbow a picnic, potluck or overnight campout anything that's free and peaceful and open to anyone. You may also talk about exactly how big an area you're inviting. Your city or town, the surrounding countryside, a bioregion or state boundary? Don't take too big a bite; let it grow organically.
Besides, who's going to help? The idea is not to volunteer to keep the mailing list, make the phone calls, scout the site, draw the flyer and lick the stamps yourself. A circle of people within the larger circle will hopefully share these responsibilities. Plenty of good folks have been burned out like a fuse by volunteering to do too much or picking up whatever other volunteers may drop.
The other side of responsibility is power, and it pays to diffuse the power (defuse the powder) among a minimum of three people. A solitary focalizer can get too important to be much use any more. So make it clear from the start that the essence of Rainbow is to share, not only the potluck-eating and decision-making but also the shitter-digging and envelope-stuffing.
You need one person's address for getting mail, but that person isn't the focalizer. It takes a veritable Rainbow of talents to keep a circle rolling, from scouting enthusiasts to designers of flyers. This is Rainbow. Share it.
What do focalizers do? Whether, when and where a second local gathering happens is the decision of the circle that shows up for the first one. The focalizer's job from that point on is simply to communicate the when and where. This can mean ocasional mailings, using a phone tree (where each person you call has four or five to call in turn), recording a message on a contact number, or just posting a flyer in the right places around town. Remember that the Rainbow is not the Rainbow unless it is open, always inviting new brothers and sisters into the Family. Don't let it become the private club of a habitual few who know each other and think they're the Rainbow people around town. If your circle thinks that, you're not! Keep extending the invitation; seek out your spiritual kin. At your local gatherings, the focalizer may be the one who puts up an info board or signup sheet. The one who realizes folks are getting hungry and it's time to circle. The one who reminds everyone of what needs counciling before you eat. The one who proposes doing a benefit, a campout, a caravan to the regional. But as soon as you suggest it, shut up and listen. The circle may or may not jump at your idea. It may or may not want you to act on its behalf. You have volunteered only to serve and facilitate, not to lead anyone.
In Babylon people don't grow up with council and consensus. We're used to being told what to do and Rainbows in particular often magnetically repel anyone who tries. Others are unconsciously looking for the security of a leader, and before you know it they'll be following wherever you go: presto, you're just as trapped in the leader role as they are trapped in follower. Don't let them get away with it! Respecting consensus is all the more important for the one who chooses to focalize, because our circle is one of the last places people can learn this crucial part of being fully human. Even at the price of inefficiency, frustration, endless discussion,let the people decide. They'll get better at it with practice. Patience is a wonderful thing to learn (once you learn it).
At first it may seem necessary to do most of everything; just don't get in the habit! When things need doing, make an effort to pass the task along. Soneone is out there waiting to be useful, maybe even unaware of some talent they have. Giving away all those tasks, each to the right person, will leave you exhausted but save you from burning out.
Healing Babylon's bruises is one chief reason we come together. And one of the basic healings the Rainbow offers is precisely this: the medicine of participating in something worth-while, giving your own best contribution for free, just for love. The focalizer is therefore one of the Family healers. The ego traps are many, but stay in touch with your circle. Remember the higher calling of Rainbow, to help us all heal and grow, learn to be part of a Family again.
Each year at the North American Rainbow Gathering we hold a Focalizers' Council to share what we know and do. We are young and old, brother and sister, from rural and urban places; we have different methods and ideas. We have in common only the love of our Family and the urge to serveÑ and, gradually, a network of communication.
Several individual volunteers send out an occasional Focalizers Quarterly Mailing to update addresses and pass messages from the various Family-wide focalizing circles (CALM, All Ways Free, the Guide etc.) to the regions. There is an ongoing international conversation on alt.gathering.rainbow, a UseNet newsgroup. The Colorado Legal Eagles maintain an extensive archive on a web site called the WelcomeHome Page (http://WWW.WelcomeHome.org/rainbow.html; for info, call 303/258-0506 or e-mail rob@WelcomeHome.org.) We also communicate through the all-volunteer all-donation newspaper All Ways Free and mini-manual/directory, the Rainbow Guide.
Once your local circle gets going, send a contact address and/or phone to the Rainbow Guide. (If you want to hear from other focalizers but don't want your phone number in the Focalizer pages of next year's Guide or don't want to appear there at all make that clear.
The Focalizers' Network keeps a separate list available only to focalizers.) As soon as it's practical, invest in a P.O. Box so more than one household has access to the mail.
Just as we do at gatherings, local, regional and Family-wide focalizers can help each other out. Run off some copies of Ho! for your picnic, and pass the magic hat. After your copying is covered, send some of the magic to help with Ho!'s paper, printing and mailing costs. Send some to All Ways Free and the Guide; it's the surest way to get some Frees and Guides to pass out at your next event.
If every local circle dreamed up some small-scale fundraiser for Rainbow communications once a year, no one would have to pull off a megabuck event to print regional newsletters, AWF or the Rainbow Guide. If small chunks of money are continually coming in from all over the country, the cost spreads out to virtually nil. The same principles apply on the planetary as on the local scale: if everybody does a little, nobody gets burnt out, and the work is a celebration rather than a chore.
The heart of focalizing is really no different from the heart of Rainbow: loving service. The focalizer is just the first to realize that it doesn't stop after Cleanup. We feel called to serve our Tribe as the Tribe is called to serve this planet in the hard hour of its transition. The joy that flows from this will sometimes seem to be the only reward ... except for patience.
"Among Indian groups such as the Mehinacu of Brazil's Xingu National Park ... if something needs to be done, it is the headman who starts doing it, and it is the headman who works harder than anyone else. He sets an example not only for hard work but also for generosity: after a fishing or hunting expedition, he gives away more of his catch than anyone else does. In trading with other groups, he must be careful not to keep the best items for himself." ("Life Without Chiefs," by Marvin Harris, New Age Joural)
FOCALIZERS! Please contribute your knowledge and experience to update, improve and amend this document into a FOCALIZERS MINI-MANUAL that represents our collective wisdom, not just mine! Write :Focalizers Mini-Manual c/o Atlanta Rainbow P.O. Box 5455 Atlanta GA 30307
Many thanks for your input and feedback! love, Stephen Wing