Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Meadows of the Rainbow Gathering

The Bridger-Teton National Forest in central Wyoming, USA, is exquisite. The Gathering is at 8700 feet in pristine wilderness with meadows, forests, and snow-covered mountains in the distance. The last Rainbow Gathering in Wyoming in 1994 also met in the Bridger-Teton National Forest about 75 miles away from this one. It's very loosely organized, yet works, and is free. There are possibly around 10,000 people all living in tents, and some teepees, around a series of high meadows that run for about 4 miles. The wilderness area is about 40 miles from the nearest small town. The roads into the area are very nice.

Much of the forest that connects these meadows is white birch, and very beautiful. The snows in these high altitudes melted not too long ago, and, in a way, a medium size hippie tent town has sprung up for this week. In a way, the emergence of a hippie vision or dream time has occurred, and 40 years after 1968. Rainbow is a far-reaching expression of counterculture with a lot of young people here, as they were involved the 1960s. How does this work? For one, counterculture makes sense as a response to society partly through the freedom it offers.

People are very colorfully dressed, and hippies, who are already liminal - betwixt and between - are doubly so, in that the Gathering is a liminal time - a time of communitas, togetherness without boundaries.

I guess this is all illegal, and the National Forest Service decides selectively what it will enforce. I saw probably 10 National Forest Service vehicles today coming into the area as I was leaving to teach my "Society and Information Technology" class on Berkman Island, from the Pinedale Library, so law enforcement is around, and there's a court hearing today and tomorrow, but this is old news, and history, and these hippie gatherings for 37 years haven't yet gone to the Supreme Court yet, that I know of. (My computer stopped functioning, so I used the library's to teach my class, where we're envisioning a Global University -, and I'm posting the transcripts) and I hope to post pictures and video at a later date. That the Rainbow Family Gathering meets deep in wilderness areas benefits everyone, in some ways, I think, as there is less possibility for conflict between local communities and hippies, and it allows the gathering to come home, ~ "welcome home" to the Rainbow Gathering.

And Rainbow Gatherings continue to occur, regionally and internationally. The radicalism of the mid-1970s when these Gatherings started - 1972 - may be a little tempered by time, but a countercultural constellation of ways of doing things and thinking carries through, which is enlivening. Rainbow life in these wilderness meadows is delightful and fascinating.



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