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Monday, February 29, 2016

Respect (Part 1 of 5 of "Creating Peace")

The gathering of the tribes is dedicated to creating peace on earth and the positive evolution of the planet. Sometimes peace seems so hard to attain, it can be helpful to focus on strategies that create opportunities for peace.  Today's concept is "Respect."

From the beginning, the gathering included concepts of respect. The invite to the first gathering in 1972 started off:

We, who are brothers & sisters, children of God, families of life on earth, friends of nature & of all people, children of humankind calling ourselves Rainbow Family Tribe, humbly invite:
All races, peoples, tribes, communes, men, women, children, individuals -- out of love.
All nations & national leaders -- out of respect
All religions & religious leaders -- out of faith

 If I were authoring the invite today, I would modify it to:
All races, peoples, tribes, communes, men, women, children, individuals -- out of respect and love.

So how then does respect contribute to creating peace?

Peace needs nurturing and dialog to plant its roots and grow.  Peace needs food and water.  If we do not respect the needs of peace and honor those needs, we are doomed to failure.  So how then do we go about creating respect at our gatherings?

When we gather, we are a community with a diversity of backgrounds, religious beliefs, political affiliations, interests, hopes and dreams. Honor that diversity in each of us -- our differences are what make us capable and interesting. Our connections are what make us strong.

The following ideas are commonly shared ideas, I didn't invent them, but I find it helpful to be reminded of them.

Respect is one of the core values in our attempts to create an egliterian culture. By approaching my family with respect I am laying the roots for a relationship. By treating people the way they wish to be treated, I can connect with others. If I offer respect to another person, that person is more likely to offer respect to me and to others. People who are treated with respect, learn how to treat others with respect.

We are all part of this big, wonderful planet called earth and hence we are all connected. Rather than trying to severe these connections, let's strengthen them. In 1994 at the Wyoming annual gathering, a forest fire occurred at the edge of the gathering up on a ridge. We formed a human bucket line from the creek at the bottom of the meadow to the ridge. None of us could have individually carried enough water up that hill quickly enough to put out that fire. But standing shoulder to shoulder and passing buckets hand to hand, we connected water and fire and extinguished the flames.

Separate issues from people in a respectful manner. When someone is engaging in non-respectful behavior, respect the person enough to explain why the behavior is creating an issue that needs to be addressed.

Acknowledge the emotions behind the inappropriate behavior and ask the person if they could refrain from the behavior and share their feelings with us instead. We all do this with our children when we refrain from saying "you're bad" and instead say "you made a poor choice"  or "please use your words to tell your brother why you are upset instead of hitting him."  Why can't we use this same method with adults?  Especially those of us who are children in the bodies of adults.

As the early gatherers (or earlies as they are more commonly known) wrote a long time ago "we are all of us children" as we are just now learning how to live with each other.  Be patient. Some of us learn more quickly and some of us learn less quickly. We all started from different places so we all have different journeys ahead of us. Let's be fellow travelers on this uncharted sea.

Everyone has an opinion and their opinion is no better nor worse than my opinion or your opinion. When we create space for people to freely share their thoughts without fear or judgement, we are creating a space where we respect each other.

Listen. We show our respect to others by listening to what they have to say. We not only listen with our ears, but our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our hands.  When people feel heard, they feel respected. When they feel respected, they are more likely to respect others.

Respect is an important starting point for creating peace.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Spring Fever (or How to Prepare for the Gathering)

Now that spring is here and the gathering is still months away, what's a home sick gatherer to do?

Now is the perfect time to start getting ready for the gathering.  So here's a random list of steps you can take now to create a positive gathering for yourself and others this summer.

Make sure your car is 100% legal. All brake lights, turn signals, seat belts, registration, insurance and nothing hanging from your rear view mirror.  The cops seem to like to pull people over and write mandatory court appearance tickets for the littlest thing.  Who needs the hassle of a mandatory court appearance ticket just because you forgot to fix that broken tail light?

Make sure your camping equipment is in good shape. Check your tent for leaks. I'm hoping we'll see rain this summer and camping is much more fun in a dry sleeping bag.

Check out thrift stores, garage sales and swap meets for things you can share with others at the gathering: tents, 60 quart cooking pots, sleeping bags, cast iron grills, very large metal mixing bowls, hiking boots, digging shovels, pick axes, rain gear, etc.  Once you get to the gathering, ask around and someone will be sure to need what ever you brought to share.

Have a garage sale of your own and send the money you make to CALM, the Rainbow Guide, Team Hydration or the Magic Hat.

Get in shape.  Yup, at the gathering you'll be walking for hours every day so now is the perfect time to get in shape.  Try walking an hour a day for starters if you're not in the habit already and plan to be up to four hours a day by mid-June.  You will have more fun at the gathering if you can experience it.

Plan a workshop or camp focused on your special talent.  Some ideas are singing, drawing, ocarina making, drum making, meditation, yoga, belly dance, Tai Chi, sewing, caring for dogs or cats (probably not a great idea to mix dog and cat camps),  massage, or beading.  Start getting your supplies together and your friends lined up to get there early and find a great place for your camp.  Then arrive a week or so before July 1st and start creating the camp.  You are the rainbow magic and the gathering happens because individuals like you share your unique talents with other gatherers.  Don't forget to announce your workshop at breakfast/dinner circle, post a notice on the workshop board at INFO, and maybe make some signs on the main trail informing people of when and where the workshop takes place.

Plan a fundraiser for CALM or a mini-CALM that you support.  Every year the gathering treats hundreds of people from blisters to heart attacks at no charge to the patent. Remember just because everything at the gathering is free, doesn't mean we get everything free. Medical supplies aren't cheap and it costs thousands of dollars each year to keep everyone healthy.

Get involved with scouting.  If you like to read maps and walk the land, email me and I'll hook you up.

Build a rickshaw or other fat tire wheeled device powered by human or animal energy to help transport mobility impaired gatherers and food supplies to kitchens - you will be one of the most popular people at the gathering.  

Start a list of all media outlets in the consensus states (see top of blog) and get together with other folks and start contacting people with positive information on the gathering.

Get your first aid certification so you can help keep our family healthy.

Rehearse your best rainbow story for Hipstories on the night of July 5, than share your hard won wisdom with your family.

Starting going to your local circle (or start one if there isn't one already) and plan a camp like Muskogee, Oklahoma camp or whatever city you live in.  Get together with folks in neighboring cities and plan a regional camp.

Get a job and earn money (or set aside some money from your existing earnings) to donate to the magic hat on the land to feed your family or to buy a boat load of fruits and veggies and bring with you to share with the hardworking kitchens that are feeding you.

Learn how to play guitar and share your music with your family. Learn some of the Rainbow songs now and teach them to people on the land. Or become a wandering minstrel (trail musician) and share music in tense situations.

The most important lesson I've learned through my gathering experiences, is that the more I give to the gathering, the more the gathering gives to me and the more I grow and evolve as one of the amazing creatures on this miraculous planet. I can't wait to see your amazingness on display when I hug you on the land.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Celebrating July 4th as a Day of Peace

Circle on July 4
Copied from Steven Hager's Blog
The silent prayer/meditation for world peace is the culmination of our attempts to create a peaceful and harmonious gathering. Starting as the sun rises on the morning of July 4th, the gathering will become silent. As people wake up and get ready for their day, most people respect the silence. As people are so inclined they head to main meadow to pray for world peace, do yoga for world peace, meditate for world peace and all sorts of other mellow and silent manifestations of creating the energy of world peace and the healing of the planet. .

We hold this peace in preparation for the arrival of our children. The children's parade (meet at Kid Village a few hours before noon if you have kids and want them in the parade) will come into the center of the circle. Please hold the silence until all the children (even the ones at the end of the parade) have made it into the center of the circle. Our children our are future and deserve our respect. Oming/Auming can start when most of the children are in the circle. PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION WIDELY.

At some point before breaking the silence we will om/aum. Not a short 1-2 minute om, but a long drawn out 15 minute or 30 minute om/aum. If we are all focused and om together, not in a hurry to get it down, but to be with it in the moment, we can create energy that will change the world.

Each of us has a crucial role to play in this sacred ceremony that is the core of the Annual Gathering of the Tribes. This is why I and so many people I know go to the gathering, dig shitters, chop wood and carry water. This is why so many people dedicate so much resources and energy to the gathering. Please if you choose not to participate, please be silent and let those who wish to create a sacred ceremony do so.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Free (almost) Copy of Butterfly Bill's First Book

Butterfly Bill passed away in February 2015 having written two books on his experiences of the rainbow gathering.  I had known Bill for many years and while my recollections of some of his experiences may differ slightly, I think anyone who is interested in the how the gathering works, will find this interesting reading.  Keep in mind, it's not a novel so no climatic ending, but lot's of great insights.

368 pages, 21 chapters, 152,000 words, with an index, written music to 10 Rainbow chants, and selections from the 1995 Rainbow Guide Mini-Manual.

Volume 1 is a memoir of Bill's 14 summers of going to these Rainbow Gatherings, from his first Gathering in North Carolina in 1987, followed by many regionals and nationals from Vermont to Oregon until the one he attended in Montana in 2000. It also covers some of the winters in between.

It provides detailed descriptions of day-to-day living in this utopian experiment, and shows the ways these gatherers fail and succeed at actually attaining these ideals. In contrast to the many accounts available by news reporters who have come to a gathering for the first time in their lives, this account is by a person who has experienced nearly all spheres of activity at a gathering, over many years.

He describes the people who make the Gathering go and various parts of its infrastructure in the order that he was introduced to them myself, giving many details. He examines their central ideal of anarchism, a society with no leaders, and describe how in spite of this leadership can arise spontaneously out of people trying to work together. He also examins their ideals of non-violence and non-coercion, and describe how successfully conflicts are resolved in peaceful ways and people are inspired to do things voluntarily.

Dr. Michael I. Niman, author of People of the Rainbow – a Nomadic Utopia, has called this a “native ethnography”, “because of its attention to detail and methodological deconstruction of the Gatherings as physical and social entities. The author is a native participant writing about his own introduction to the Rainbow Family and his eventual self-identification as a Rainbow.”
If you’d like a copy of Butterfly Bill’s first book, Rainbow Gatherings, Volume 1

1. Please send $4 via PayPal to the [dot] millet [dot] house [at] gmail [dot] com (covers shipping plus a bit towards the mailers we are ordering)

2. Don’t forget to give us your address! Questions? Send an email to  the [dot] millet [dot] house [at] gmail [dot] com.

It’s a great book!  Plus there is also a CD of his music available.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

On Showing Up

Lately I've been pondering the importance of showing up if you want your voice to be heard.  I am part of a community group working to save a local and urban creek and we always need more people to plug in.  As I talk to people, they are always willing to complain about the trash along the creek or some such, but when you invite them to a work party, ask them to find volunteers for our periodic cleanups, or invite them to a community workshop on proposed changes for the area, they are no where to be found.

Now different people can plug in in different ways based on their interests and abilities and the commitment required for plugging in could be a few hours a month to a few hours a week.  Saving our creek does not prevent anyone from holding a job, caring for their families, or what ever it is they do with their time.  All of it doesn't even need to be done in person.

All of this brings me to the gathering. What is unique about the gathering is that our decision make process works face to face for the most part.  Sometimes conference calls are arranged to discuss where we can meet face to face.  Other phone calls help people connect with each other when they are out and about and are trying to find a place to meet face to face.  Sense a pattern?

As a long time activist, who shares my birthday, once said "just show up."  If you want to get involved with the world, show up.  Sure the Internet is useful. I use it all the time to make information available to people, to informally connect with others, and to quickly gather information, but it's not that same as being present with people who are committed to making change. 

Now the creek work is much more conducive to disembodied things like making formal comments on environmental impact reports and lobbying our elected officials, but much like the gathering, the important work gets done in councils (rainbow speak for meetings), on the land (rainbow speak for at the creek), or in community (rainbow speak for the core group of folks saving the creek).

Every year the Internet (and most especially FaceBook) fills up with ideas, opinions, perspectives, and dictates that are shared and discussed by people on-line --- many of whom don't regularly attend the annual gathering for world peace and the positive evolution of the planet. But what needs to be realized is that if you want to impact how things unfold, then you need to "show up" on the land, participate in formal or informal councils, and be part of the process.

The great thing about gatherings is that we need everyone's perspective from the person who just showed up and asked "what's council?" to the person who's been gathering since the 1970s.  This gathering thing we do is an embodied sort of experience where people gain the full benefit of the many ways humans communicate: words, facial expressions, body positions, auras, and what ever telepathic ways we communicate with each other.

As many of my friends point out, gathering and all the related things done in the name of gathering are verbs, not nouns.  Please join us in verbing.