Letter to District Rangers

Copies of this where sent by email to all the District Rangers in the Great Lakes areas where the gathering could be, as well as AGR, where I grabbed this copy.

Jo Ellen R. Barnier, District Ranger
Gunflint Ranger District
Superior National Forest
Grand Marais, MN

Dear Ms. Barnier,

As you may know, the annual Rainbow Gathering is scheduled to take place somewhere in the Great Lakes area this coming summer.

The Forest Service has asked gathering attendees to involve them (the Forest Service) more in the site selection process. To this end, I am contacting you to request information and assistance in identifying and locating possible sites.

Following is pertinent information about the gathering.

Traditionally, Rainbow Gatherings have taken place in remote areas on public lands, usually in the National Forest. Areas of heavy recreational use, wilderness areas, developed campgrounds, and sensitive areas are avoided.

The annual Rainbow Gathering takes place from July 1 - 7 and draws between 8,000 and 20,000 people, with peak numbers arriving on July 3 and departing on July 5. Smaller numbers of folks, usually beginning with a dozen or so in May and building to a few hundred by the middle of June, arrive early to scout for appropriate sites and, once the site is agreed upon, to mark trails, designate parking and live-in vehicle areas, arrange for recycling and trash hauling activities, dig latrines, and set up temporary structures that will assist in the sharing of food, medical care, and information.

As the camp develops, so does an ad hoc, loose, and fluid infrastructure that supports a broad spectrum of community activities. Thirty years of gathering have contributed to considerable expertise in large-scale food preparation, fire watch, communications, emergency medical response, security (at gatherings, called "Shanti Sena," broadly translated as "Peace Keeping"), and traffic control. All these efforts are accomplished by individuals freely volunteering their time and are the result of a combination of personal initiative and consensus council.

The activities common to a gathering are those you would see in any community: people cooking food, watching children, going for hikes, playing music, visiting friends, dancing, washing dishes, and so forth. There are many educational, spiritual, and recreational activities. Anyone with the ability and desire can lead an herb walk, teach a yoga class, participate in a talent show, join in a drum circle, or lead a religious ceremony.

The gatherings are free, non-commercial, and open to all. People of all ages attend, and there is a wide range of political and spiritual affiliations. There are no leaders or sets of required beliefs; the guiding principle is peaceful respect. Naturally, that guideline actually encompasses quite a bit, and is an ethic that sets a certain tone. Generally, folks at the gathering embrace the principles of cooperation, tolerance, and non-violence.

There is great emphasis placed on avoiding and minimizing impact on the land, and a great many gatherers recognize the importance of working with Forest Service resource personnel to address areas of mutual concern: health, safety, and resource protection. The development of an Operating Plan and a Site Rehabilitation Plan are effective means of establishing what site-specific needs exist, and mutual efforts to this end have been quite successful in the past.

As the gathering winds down and people leave, all temporary structures (consisting of tents, tarps, twine, down wood, mud, and rock) are dismantled. Fire pits and latrines are filled in and all areas naturalized. All trash is removed. Heavily-used areas are broken up and reseeded with the mix recommended by the local resource personnel. Site rehabilitation -- carried out entirely by a Rainbow clean-up crew in consultation with the district ranger and staff -- is usually completed three to four weeks after the gathering is over, although it has, on occasion in the past, taken up to six or even eight weeks, depending upon the terrain, weather conditions, and so forth.

The gatherings have an excellent and well-documented record of clean-up and site rehabilitation.

Please feel free to hand this request down the line to your resource and recreation people. At this stage, it would be useful to focus on two questions:

  1. What are the issues and concerns that you anticipate might arise if the gathering were held in your area?
  2. What assistance can you offer in locating an appropriate site? Might you know of any spots that should be scouted?
Please direct any responses to me via email at the following address:


and cc me at my personal email address (carla@efn.org).

Any brochures or maps you would like to send can be directed to:

Rainbow '02,
P..O. Box 3213
Madison, WI.53704-3213
Thank you so much for your time and attention.


Carla Newbre

Agr mailing list