Monday, July 14, 2008

Fire! - Rainbow, National Forest Service, Law Enforcement and Counterculture


Toward the end of the Vision Council in the middle of a beautiful meadow in lovely weather on the last day of the Gathering, after the speaking feather had passed around the circle of 75 or so people, and most people had said something, a woman came running toward the group shouting: "Fire, fire - fire at Handicamp!"

Many people immediately ran toward the plume of smoke in the distance, grabbing shovels and water.

I headed toward the smoke after 10 minutes or so, and after trying to find out more information.

I walked with many others for 30-45 minutes, probably 1.5 miles to 2.5 miles, in the direction of the smoke through a Lodgepole pine forest, over lots of fallen wood, but still open forest. After crossing a wire fence possibly 1.5 miles away from the main meadow, which may have indicated leaving National Forest land, and entering Bureau of Land Management land, many Rainbow people were spread out making their way through the forest to try to help put out the fire. By the time I and another woman got close enough to the fire to see dark smoke, the mosquitoes were thick, and a helicopter was flying over head dropping flame retardant. There was a wind, and I was trying to get upwind of the fire, and was also concerned about fire's fickleness, and the woman I was with was scared, so we turned back. The distance we had covered, and the fence we had crossed made it clear that this fire hadn't started in a Rainbow Gathering camp, contrary to what the woman at the Vision Circle said. Some young men from the Rainbow Gathering who were nearby said they had to come to put out the fire, one saying he would risk his life to do so.

When we got back to the meadow, much of the Rainbow Gathering was heading home. The fire was put out. I didn't hear from anyone who had gotten close to the fire. And it was a curious fire with curious timing. To have a fire around 2 miles from the Gathering was not safe. As we were driving out of the Bridger-Teton National Forest and leaving the Gathering, I saw about 15 fire fighting vehicles, including the helicopter, parked in a meadow. How did they get up there so fast? Was this fire near the Rainbow Gathering a National Forest Service planned, controlled burn?

Law Enforcement in the Rainbow Kids' Village

On July 1, 2008 at dusk, the first day of the Gathering, during the first circle in main Meadow, law enforcement officials came into Kiddiecamp - the kids' village at Rainbow Gathering, - with guns. Here are some videos:

There are more videos on youtube.

I stayed in the circle 150 yards away, and from a distance saw a kind of Rainbow mob reaction to this intrusion, where about 1/4 of possibly 200-400 people broke away from the main circle to go to this challenge.

The State and Rainbow Councils

The "state," in the form of law enforcement, seemed to do something very dangerous and senseless here by going into the kids' camp with guns. And did they have any kind of role in starting the fire 2 miles away? These events echo a social pattern from the 60s and 70s that helped produce and enlarge counterculture.

Rainbow Gathering councils, drawing on native American decision-making processes, as a viable form of group decision-making process that are now 37 years old, are a refreshing and fascinating alternative to 'mainstream' decision-making processes such as those used by state bureaucracies in our rational-technical-legal order.

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