Public land near Steamboat Springs is the location of this year's annual gathering of the Rainbow Family from July 1-7 (www.welcomehome.org). This a very long-lived annual event that moves around. I have been to the gathering twice and have never forgotten the wonderful experience in living by simple mutual cooperation.
The Rainbow Family is only a phrase for the collection of individuals who might join together around noon July 4 (Interdependence Day) in a silent peace circle of perhaps 20,000 individuals. There is no organization, no membership and therefore no possibility of applying for a permit from any government to use public lands for a gathering clearly protected by the U.S. Constitution.
The gathering is a political statement as well as a cultural and economic experiment in mutual cooperation and self government. Participants vary widely. Common factors are gifting, sharing, dislike of hierarchy and decision-making by consensus. This event needs to be participated in to be appreciated, and I highly recommend it as part of a good practical education. No membership, no ticket, no cost of admission. Knowing visitors will bring essential bulk raw materials like grains and veggies.
This also is an event with a high degree of respect for and appreciation of nature, and it enjoys a mutual agreement to seriously leave no trace upon completion. Cars, campers and buses are kept at a distance nearer the roads. The central meadow is tent camping because everything must be carried in on foot a couple of miles.
I recently learned that many of the above mentioned individuals (when together known as the Rainbow Family) also recently participated in Katrina recovery efforts. The experience and skill gained by participating in the Rainbow event are exactly what is needed to help during recovery from disaster (and often very different from skills provided by FEMA or National Guard). The Web site for the Rainbow Emergency Management Assembly is www.remarelief.net.
I encourage citizens in Routt County to be more aware and appreciative of the Rainbow Gathering and its long standing political freedom and lack of leadership yet brilliantly effective self-organization. I hope to encourage the Routt County Board of Commissioners and sheriff to be friendly to this event and not to waste public resources duplicating services for which substitutes are being provided.
There are reports that officials have cordoned off the surrounding area and are arresting people for lack of a permit. With no representative, organization or leadership, if an individual were to sign a permit it would be on their own behalf only.
The participants in this event are accustomed to unhelpful treatment by local law enforcement, but they do not deserve it, as participants do ambitiously take care of their own food, water, medical problems, social issues such as crime and restoring the land to its original state.
I hope you can help me inform those who do not understand this unique gathering, and celebrate it by visiting the above Web sites and then the event itself.
If you are hearing criticism about this gathering, make sure you are talking to someone who has been part of the experience.