Saturday, July 12, 2008

Springs: Rainbow & Harbin

Rainbow and Harbin

After returning recently from the Rainbow Gathering, I was glad to see how similar are both Harbin and Rainbow, ~ counterculturally. Both began in 1972, when Ishvara bought the Harbin land, and the first Rainbow Gathering met. Both focus on freedoms that found expression in the 1960s and early 1970s, but in different ways. At Harbin, which isn't an annual gathering like Rainbow, but a Hot Springs' Retreat Center that is open all the time, there's an openness about bodies & a Beat or Bohemian quality of life that emerges from counterculture after 37 years, as well as a connectedness which, for all its fractures and disjunctions, gives rise to a fabric of life (culture) that is really rich. There are only a few people who have been here for around 3 decades, and they have a historical view of the Harbin experience and life at Harbin, which patterns and energies are fascinating and uniquely its own. Rainbow started in 1972, as well, and gives rise to expressions of freedom, & peace, love and happiness. "Welcome Home" - in a very positive sense of belonging , of being included - is a familiar greeting there, and I experience a similar feeling here at Harbin at times. Does this emerge out of a countercultural response to the alienation of modernity, now articulated again and again at the Rainbow Gathering? Harbin historically has been welcoming and very inclusive of many people. Almost anyone who comes to the gate can come in - 365 days a year, 24 hours a day - and stay. And Harbin takes in and might give a job to almost anyone, as well. Many of the people who become residents at Harbin have not found a home in the wider society, I think, and Harbin welcomes them.


By countercultural, I mean those human articulations that reflect the transformations and radical re-envisionings of the 1960s and 70s - including the political, spiritual, sexual, psychedelic, communitarian, as well as the back to the land movements and revolutions. These heralded and creatively explored in far-reaching ways the possibility to change society for the better, often against corporate interests, as well as responded to limitations of tradition and modernity (including consumerism). Significant and widespread aspects of society were touched by these transformations and these ways of thinking. Much of this began because mostly white, middle class youth had time on their hands to protest against the war in Vietnam and for civil rights, engaging their first amendment rights of freedom of speech and expression. People very creatively made art with life in a very wide variety of ways. From this emerged a variety of ways of thinking, patterns, new traditions, organizations and institutions, including Harbin Hot Springs and the Rainbow Gathering, which are ongoing sources or springs for living of the future.


And the Internet, another well-spring, makes both Harbin and Rainbow accessible in new ways.

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