To all you curious folks out there: Please be aware that the newsgroup is much like any rumor mill. Only the really sensational or controversial stuff gets talked about this much, usually inaccurately, and always blown out of proportion. Though it may not be obvious from discussions such as this, we really are, on the whole, very peace-loving, very gentle folks.
We are a temporary community of fifteen thousand or so people. Naturally, as with any community this size, problems do occur. What you don't hear much about is how effectively we handle them. We have an excellent security system that we call "Shanti Sena," which means "Peace Army." All of us are considered to be Shanti Sena. We are all responsible for finding lost kids, for keeping the scene mellow, for de-escalating conflict, and preserving the peace. There is, in addition, a network of people who have many years experience dealing with the heavier stuff that occurs when people get together in a group of this size.
Please be aware that, in spite of what you may hear from the press or the forest service about what a bunch of outlaws we are (they like to sensationalize, too), the fact is that we are extremely conscienscious about addressing concerns about safety, health, and the well-being of the forest. The money the Forest Service and local law enforcement agencies alocate to the gatherings each year is spent almost exclusively on harassment of people coming and going from the gathering. They do nothing to protect or to keep the peace in and around the local communities, nor inside the gathering itself. Locals in the area around the gathering should be aware that they will be harassed by law enforcement, as well.
This is a huge pork barrel for Forest Service law enforcement; the statistics they gather each year, and which the press delights in reporting, serve to justify the interests and existence of unnecessary police presence, and impinges on the rights of every American citizen to freely associate and freely travel where and when they choose.
Admittedly, the one hole in our bucket is the numbers of young folks, usually new to rainbow, who come to gather but spend large amounts of time in town, pandhandling and hitting up local charities and food banks. Please be aware that they are not representative of the whole of Rainbow, and that there is no need for them to be doing this. They are scamming. Most folks who have been to more than a couple of gatherings are not happy at all that these "kidz" are doing this. Don't give them any money, do not feel sorry for them, and don't assume that Rainbow encourages this sort of thing.
Most of us will do whatever we can to be respectful of the local folks and to maintain good relations. Any of us with any common sense would love to work in cooperation with the Forest Service resource people and with local law enforcement to ensure a safe and healthy gathering, and to make sure people who live in the area are, for the most part, happy we came.
It is most unfortunate that the gatherings have become a political issue, with the policies surrounding them administered out of Washington D.C., and responded to by federal law enforcement with unjustified fear and hostility. Left to our own devices, in the past (before the F.S. instituted their current Incident Command Team approach to the gatherings) we have been able to have extremely good relations with the district rangers, with local law enforcement, and with the folks who live in the area near the gathering.
It would be wonderful if the Forest Service would change their attitude and try using a cooperative rather than an adversarial approach to "manage" the gatherings. However, judging from the recent "information" they supplied the Spokesman Review, they intend to maintain the inflammatory stance they have had towards the gathering in the last several years.
In spite of that, we will remain who we are and continue to attempt to reason with them and to do what we can to establish harmonious relations with everyone involved. All we want to do is come, be with each other, and then leave in peace.
Love and Light,