How to put on a Gathering, and keep it happy and healthy
Each year, The Family holds the Gathering of the Tribes, a totally free, non-commercial sharing of our lives and sacred hearts in the Cathedral of Nature.
There is no authoritarian hierarchy here. We have a tribal anarchy where we take care of each other, because we recognize that we are all One. The Gathering works because each of us takes the responsibility for doing what needs to be done, and for teaching others.
Part of that responsibility is a pledge we keep to each other:
Much goes into coordinating a Gathering, and much has been learned by us collectively about how to make the Gathering happy and healthy.
This Mini-Manual continues to evolve, gathering our wisdom into one place for new and old gatherers alike.
Any gathering that bears the name "Rainbow" is a completely free, non commercial event. All supplies are donated, or paid for with money donated to the Magic Hat. There is no admission fee. No money is exchanged within the Gathering. This frees us from legal and licensing entanglements, and guarantees us our Constitutional right to gather on public land.
Our Gatherings are also open to all peaceful people. There are no invitations or memberships. No one is turned away, except for breaking the pledge of non-violence. If you have a belly button, you can be a Rainbow. The Rainbow is made up of all colors.
Experienced scouts teach new ones as they inspect many potential sites discovered from topographical maps and aerial photos, and following leads from local people in the chosen area. They coordinate thru the regional focalizers, and by attending Scouting Council in April.
A Gathering site should have:
No one site will have all these in equal abundance - for instance, good springs are often on a steep mountainside far from a broad flat place good for parking. Look for a balance for all these needs.
When the site has been chosen, the Howdy Folks goes out to local focalizers in the mail, and on computer networks. This is the "official" notice of the site.
It contains verbal instructions for getting there, as well as a map. It also has phone numbers for getting information while on the way. The focalizers make copies, and send them out to their mailing lists. They also may distribute them at local Rainbow and New Age events, food co-ops, and other places where enlightened people congregate.
This is a time when you can work intensely with a few other people and form some deep friendships.
From this seed grows the flower of our Gathering.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
- The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
Our Family is committed to preserving the priceless heritage of our national forests. In this spirit we cooperate with the rangers of the USDA Forest Service in doing the job they were hired for: protecting this land.
The local forest rangers are notified of a Gathering's coming no later than the first few hours of seed camp. We honor their requests in special ecological concerns. Rangers have given Family members valuable tips about sites and water, and provided us seeds for reseeding and trees for us to plant. We treat them as people who share our concerns.
We do not sign permits or agreements with the government. Our non-hierarchical structure gives nobody the authority to sign such a thing, and we are exercising our rights, guaranteed in the Constitution, to assemble peaceably. This right was upheld by a Federal Court in Texas in 1988.
Remember that forest rangers are law enforcement officials, and have the power to arrest you if they see you breaking any law, be it about wildlife or what's in your hand.
This is the Cathedral of Nature that we gather in, and we keep it that way. We disturb the environment as little as we can.
Riverbanks and wetlands are vulnerable ecosystems. Plants of older phyla - like mosses and ferns - are especially fragile. Cactus is more vulnerable than you might think. We might be walking thru animal's hunting grounds. Stay on the forest floor and the dry meadow.
Remember that insects are also wildlife. Give an anthill its space, and before you throw wood into a fire, look to see if it's home to some bugs. Never use insecticides. Thiamine, B-complex vitamins, citronella, and raw garlic can help keep biting critters away.
Use things where they lie. The more you move, the more you will have to put back. Hang tarps from trees, make structural members out of branches - rather than cutting and setting posts. Never cut a living tree, or break things off. Use only dead wood found lying on the ground. Stripping bark hurts birch and aspen trees.
Pick one place for the swimming hole, and don't go into a stream anywhere else. Leave beaver ponds alone.
Don't go near any place baby animals are kept. The way animals defend their young is beastly.
Make a few trails and stay on them. Don't crush underfoot a whole area. They should go over ground that will stay high and dry after a rain. Form a trail just by trampling, and a circle area by tushwhacking (everybody sitting down), rather than by cutting plants down.
Don't litter. Birds can pick up filter tips and choke. Broken glass is a danger to all creatures' feet. Pick up trash left behind by those who are not yet Rainbows.
The earth is our mother
We must take care of her
Our water sources are our lifeblood, and must be protected from the very first day that people are on the site.
The best drinking water comes from springs. Streams or ponds with a good constant flow can also beused. Any water for drinking is marked off with strings or ribbons, and no campsites or latrines are within 100 feet of them. People stay away from them unless involved in obtaining water.
Never pour liquid wastes into a water source, or on the ground nearby. Use a grey water pit, dug at least 100 feet away.
Never use soap in a water source. Soaps will pollute the water. Take a bucket at least 100 feet from open water to wash. Even bio-degradable soap like Dr. Bonner's can kill fish and micro-organisms.
Never dip your own canteen or cup into a water source - use a common hose or dipper instead.
Never drink water unless you know that it has been scientifically tested, adequately filtered, or boiled. Even the purest looking water can contain micro-organisms that can cause severe intestinal illness. To be absolutely safe, boil your water for at least 1 minute.
12. Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad:
13. And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:
14. For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.
- Deuteronomy 23
If you gotta go, go to a latrine. Never take a dump on top of the ground and walk off and leave it. The first fly who sees it will go tell all the others in the nearest kitchen.
Deep narrow trenches at least 3 feet deep are best. Keep the excavated soil in a neat pile for fill-in later. Cut out sod, and preserve it for replacement over the filled hole.
Lime - or ashes from a wood fire - is kept in a can nearby, and is sprinkled on top of your leavings, to reduce odor . Dirt is then shoveled back in on top gradually, to keep your waste covered completely. The pit is filled in all the way when the contents come up to within 18 inches of the surrounding ground level, and a new pit is dug nearby.
Hand washing facilities with chlorinated water are provided nearby. Large coffee cans or other rainproof covers are provided for toilet paper. Signs are placed on the trails nearest by, and colored tape marks the path to a latrine.
Improper latrines are a potential link between us and a very sick camp. If you dig a shitter, cover it up in a fly-tight manner, using plywood, boards, or logs covered with soil - to fill the air (fly) holes between the cover and the earth. The covers are washed daily.
Latrines are at least 100 feet from open water, and never uphill from a spring.
Don't make the fly connection:
shit > flies > food > YOU
You haven't been to a Gathering until you've dug a shitter
We don't mix all our garbage and trash together, and make the local landfill landfull. We separate our refuse, recycle whatever we can, and dispose of the rest in a nature-friendly way. At every kitchen - and at well travelled sites around the Gathering - there are recycling stations, each with seven containers - for:
The Three R's:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Neighborhoods make the Gathering more fun with the people they introduce you to, and impact the ecology less. All camp needs - such as latrines, water, child watching, or security - can be focalized around a neighborhood fire.
When you arrive, look around and find a concentration of tents to set up your own near. Kitchens are some of the places neighborhoods form around, as well as special areas like C.A.L.M. or Kid Village. People from a certain state or city often camp together. Contact the people in them, get to know them.
Lone campsites are easy targets for thieves, and are surprises for people walking thru the woods in the dark. Neighborhoods provide the only security for when you are not in your camp.
Love your neighbor
It takes rain to make a rainbow, and rainy days are part of every Gathering. These are times when people gather close together under tarps and have intimate conversations and good times.
Don't build anything without thinking about how water will run off it. Keep your stuff together in places where they will stay high and dry. When you set up your camp - look for low spots and gullies on the ground, and imagine where the streams will form when it is raining. Don't put your tent across one of these places. If you're in a desert area, don't set up camp in a dry riverbed prone to flash floods.
Don't blaze trails in ravines that will become muddy quagmires under thousands of feet when it rains - keep trails on rises.That little brook you're stepping over now can become a turbulent river in a thunderstorm. Put fire pits on rises or sloping ground, and provide a drainage gap.
Cover tents with tarps, and tie their ends close to the ground so the wind doesn't make sailplanes out of them. Keep kitchen supplies under cover. Cover bulletin boards with clear plastic.
Remember: water runs downhill.
On any site fire is a danger. There may be fallen and dead timber, and dry grass in meadows. Don't throw matches or cigarette butts on the ground.
When you build a fire, be responsible. Have a shovel and a bucket of water near your fire at all times. Use only community fires. Share your hearth with your neighbors, and don't build personal fires nearby. Use only dead and dry wood found on the ground, for fuel.. Never throw plastics or synthetic materials into a fire. This creates toxic fumes.
Select a safe location. Watch for overhanging snags of deadwood. Keep your fire low - sparks fly far, even live trees can catch fire. If you must have a large fire, build it in a meadow, at least 20 feet from the treeline.
Beware of root fires. Line the inside and bottom of your firepit with rocks. Scrape the ground free of loose duff, leaves, and grass for at least a foot around your pit.
Watch your fire at all times. The wind can rise or shift direction quickly. Stray sparks can bring disaster. Embers can flame up again in a wind. Don't leave your camp behind until your fire is completely out and cold.
No fireworks, please!!
A Fire Watch crew walks the camp to make sure all fires are properly tended, and that buckets of water are nearby. We all help them out by being watchful ourselves.
"Only you can prevent forest fires"
Main Circle is an open meadow, large enough for as many people as you expect to come. (At a National Gathering, this may be more than ten thousand.) It is the center of our Gathering - where the evening dinner circle and council are held, along with theatrical events like the 5th of July Pageant and the Silent Meditation on the 4th. In the center is a pit large enough to safely contain a large bonfire, open on all sides so people can dance all the way around it.
The Main Circle meadow is as free of trees as you can find, and on gradually sloping ground, with no low areas that will fill with standing water when it rains. The firepit is on a slight rise, for drainage and the fire's visibility. Personal campsites are not set up in the Main Circle meadow, or any other meadow. They may get trampled when people are backing up, opening a circle to include more.
Main Circle can get loud at times, as well as completely silent. Co-ordination with Kid Village and C.A.L.M. about your three places' relative locations is a good idea.
We are a circle, within a circle
with no beginning, and never ending
The whirlwind will not last the morning out;
The cloudburst ends before the day is done.
What is it that behaves like this?
The earth and sky!
And if it be that these cut short their speech,
How much more yet should man.
- Tao Te Ching 23
We gather in a circle to govern ourselves at Main Council, where we find out about ongoing activities, tell each other our heartsongs, and take care of other notions. It is held every evening in Main Meadow, and announced by the blowing of the conch shell
We pass a feather (or other sacred object) around the circle, letting each person speak in turn while holding it, without interruption. Talking, listening, and sharing our deepest feelings is how we find new perspectives on each other, and new ways to solve problems.
When many people are present, an inner circle is formed (often with one person at each of the four directions), and a person leaves the circle after speaking, opening a space for another wishing to join and speak.
The exact nature of council process is determined at the beginning of the meeting. It is best conducted with a minimum of chairmanship, but someone can be entrusted, if necessary, to: keep the subject of the discussion from wandering. remind long-winded speakers of their responsibility to others who want to speak, and keep discussions from turning into emotional arguments.
Consensus is how we govern ourselves. This means coming to solutions acceptable to everyone, not just a majority.
If we have problems, we bring them up at our circles and discuss them. During the discussion someone usually brings out an issue and asks for consensus. If no one radically objects, then consensus is reached. (This is sometimes called consensus by silence, i.e. nobody speaks after consensus is asked for.) Otherwise a person may block consensus by expressing her or his concerns and the discussion continues. Through this process we attempt to solve our problems.
Consensus gives every person a chance to be heard and have their input weighed equally. The smallest minority has a chance to change the collective mind if their vision is keener. It is possible that Spirit has given them a message that is presently beyond the perception of the rest of the council.
If people exercise this power to go against the majority, they must have listened to the collective wisdom in good conscience. A block should not to used to place an individual's will above the group's. Working this out can be very long and exhausting to the participants.
Focalizers do what their name implies - they take the diverse energy among us and bring it onto a certain point. They show us directions to move, and impart to us their knowledge. They get people working together.
They are not like leaders in Babylon. They are not placed over us; nor elected for terms. They are followed because the people trust them, feel they have wisdom, find their own feelings expressed thru them, and expect success from following them. Their election continues on thru every day. A focalizer is simply not followed anymore if the people lose their confidence.
Anybody who has knowledge to share can be a focalizer. If you see something that isn't being done, take the initiative to start others to join with you. But don't volunteer for everything. When a thing needs doing, make an effort to pass the task along. Someone out there is waiting to be useful, maybe even unaware of a talent he or she has. Giving away all the right tasks may leave you exhausted - but it will save you from burning out.
Respecting consensus is important for the focalizer. Even at the price of inefficiency, frustration, and endless discussion - let the people decide. They'll get better at it with practice.
Legal Liaison is a dedicated group of people with knowledge of law, who advocate the Family in legal questions of concern to us, such as National Forest regulations, and drug, search and seizure, and homelessness laws. They testify at legislative hearings, organize letter writing and phone campaigns, and keep a watch on the workings of our government. Help from experienced lawyers and organizers is always appreciated.
We call our security system Shanti Sena. This means "peace army" in Sanskrit. If problems erupt, calling "Shanti Sena!" loudly will bring assistance.
We repond with non-violent methods only to conflict. Talking is tried before physical restraint. This talking is with compassion and respect. If physical intervention can't be avoided, it is done gently without inflicting injury.
There is a crew of people experienced in non-violent, peaceful intervention who devote most of their time to Shanti Sena, but everybody is a peacekeeper at a Gathering. We are secure because we all watch out for each other. If we don't stay aware of what is going on with people around us, and don't offer aid, trouble can erupt into violence and injury. Often a group can prevail where a single person can't. Offer your help in easing conflict.
We are all Shanti Sena
C.A.L.M is our healing arts center. If you are injured or ill, come here, especially if you are getting something contagious. The people here can also provide health information and preventative aids such as condoms. Natural, alternative medicine is encouraged here. Treatment that gets to the root of dis-ease is sought, not just temporary remedies.
C.A.L.M. always need donations of medical supplies, antibiotics, herbs, tinctures, and homeopathic remedies. It needs doctors, nurses, EMT's, and therapists of all kinds - to volunteer on a continuous and on-call basis. Healers and workshop leaders can also plug in here.
Information is the communication center. Anyone with anything noteworthy to share should come here so they can pass the word. All councils and focalizers should report here daily with their needs, so they can be connected with the rest of the Gathering. With enough info from all of us, the Info crew can answer questions intelligently.
Lost and Found and Rumor Control are here. Printed handouts are available on a table, and maps, rider boards, and bulletin boards are nearby.
The Volunteer Here board is near Information. People wanting to help out can find places to plug in here, and groups needing assistance can make their needs known..
The Rainbow Guide is a non-commercial directory of our Family, compiled and published every year by volunteers with your contributions. The Guide helps the family to connect with each other thruout the year.
The Guide crew usually bases its operations at Information. Cards are available to be filled out by those who want to be included. Every Gathering, no matter how small, can compile lists (with addresses, etc.) and relay them to the makers of the Guide.
All Ways Free is a totally open forum for the diversity of ideas that make up the Rainbow. It is the Family newspaper that takes essays, stories, letters, poems, and art.
It is produced by volunteers, and supported by personal donations, regional fundraisings, and the Magic Hat. It is distributed at the National Gathering each year, and can also be obtained by writing to the AWF Council, which meets in a different region each year. (Get the current address from Information, or from the Rainbow Guide.)
Most of our day to day business is focused by the Co-Operations Council, which meets several times a day. Workers and people with special knowledge are found, tools and supplies are located, those who have are connected with those who have not.
Banking and Supply coordinate thru this council. A written log of events is kept.
Every area of service needs to check in with Co-Operations daily. All plans for new camps and construction should be communicated to here, so that conflicts over land use and campsites can be avoided.
The Magic Hat goes round and round. Its magic lies in the miracles that sharing can bring. The Gathering is free, but the Hat gives everyone the chance to help with our collective need for cash. Money received is used to buy food, medical supplies, gasoline, and general necessities. By giving generously, each of us helps with our financial needs.
Money in the Magic Hat is cared for by a Banking Council of at least 3 persons. They keep written records of the amounts collected and whom it is given to - open to anyone who wishes to see them.
The Magic Hat appears at group meals, and sometimes is carried thru camp by wandering minstrels. Beware of personal hats being called "The Magic Hat". It is better to give all that you intend to give early in the Gathering, than space your contributions over several days.
Donations of food and materials are pooled by all kitchens in Supply, and redistributed from there. This allows money-saving bulk purchases and helps cut down waste. Contributions from individuals are brought here. This is a major operation, requiring energy from many people.
43. Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.
44. For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
- Leviticus 11
Food is obtained from Supply, paid for with contributions to the Magic Hat, and prepared by the helping hands of hundreds of volunteer choppers, slicers, peelers, fire tenders, stirrers, and chefs.
Serving styles and times are up to the individual kitchen councils and focalizers - some serve all day, some have specified meal times, some send all their food to Main Circle. Some offer only specialized fare like popcorn or coffee.
Food sent to Main Circle is competely vegetarian. Some kitchens may choose to serve meat at their own locations, but meat is hard to preserve in the woods, and may adversely affect those used to only vegetarian fare.
Kitchens must be kept CLEAN. There is no faster way to spread disease than to serve contaminated food. Enclose kitchens with railings, and place hand washing stations at entrances.
Volunteers in kitchens wash their hands before working with food. They don't work with a communicable disease. They use only clean knives and chopping boards. Work surfaces are washed with bleach water before and after use.
Everybody brings their own bowl, cup, and spoon to a Gathering, and washes them thoroughly after each use. Food is served by servers with designated tools. People do not serve themselves with their own utensils.
Supplies are not stored on the ground, but up on pallets, shelves, or logs. They are covered with a tent or tarp, for protection from the sun and rain. They aren't placed near anthills. Pets are kept out of kitchens, as they get into food and knock things over.
The water is watched and changed regularly. Pots and pans should not sit around dirty for hours, attracting the insect life.
Compost (garbage) pits are dug nearby for vegetable wastes. They are filled in gradually, like latrines. When the contents come up to within a foot of the surrounding ground level, they are filled in completely. A mound of dirt is left on top, to level out by itself as the garbage underneath decomposes and settles. Waste water goes into grey water pits. It is not just poured out on top of the ground.
If the flies start to have their own gathering
around your compost pit,
then it's time to cover some of it up.
Kitchens constantly need firewood and water. Many make a habit of bringing a piece of wood whenever they visit a kitchen. Others, upon seeing an empty water container, will fetch water without being asked.
The crew also seeks out vehicles for possible use as shuttles.
Alcohol abuse needs special attention in this area.
Front Gate and Welcome Home are frequently the most understaffed areas of a gathering. Help here is especially appreciated.
Bus Village is for those who come in campers or live-in busses or vans -many of our family are nomads, either part time or year-round. It has its own mini-gathering, with kitchens, councils, work crews, and Shanti Sena. It is a place where electric entertainment is allowed and appreciated.
Bus Village people are well situated to help with Front Gate and Welcome Home responsibilities.
Shuttles are large rugged busses or flatbed trucks, that can provide almost continuous service that is safe and reliable. Drivers need relief regularly. Riders should help with gas and repair expenses.
Welcome Home is set up where a person coming from the front gate begins to enter the populated area, at the end of the shuttle ride and where most of the hike in has been completed. It provides a place for people to rest from their journey in.
New arrivals are offered tea, coffee, or water. They are give printed copies of Raps 107 and 701, reminded of how the Gathering works with volunteers, and informed of conditions peculiar to the current Gathering. The Raps and a map of the Gathering are on a sign nearby.
The Joke Toll Booth sometimes appears on a main traffic artery in the Gathering. All who approach it are required to tell one joke before they may pass. The jokes collected go to help the merrimentally disadvantaged find gainful enjoyment in our community.
Kid Village is a place for children to find other children. It has a special kitchen for them, as well as for nursing moms and pregnant women. It has shade, playthings, and people who like to play with kids. Here you can meet other parents and their little people. You can find people to leave your offspring with for a few hours.
The people here always need help with the kitchen, firewood, and water. Musicians, storytellers, and game leaders are always welcome.
Kid Village should be somewhere the sound from Main Circle at night is dampened - on the other side of a hill is best.
Keep track of your children. Know where they are and when they should meet you, or be back to your camp.
If you entrust their care to someone else, be sure you know that person to the point of having spent some time with them.
When you leave your children at Kid Village, inform others of your going and return, and leave word where you can be found, if possible.
Older children should all know how to find their home camp. They should also be shown safe areas, like Kid Village, Information, or kitchens. They should know your full name and how to describe you verbally. For younger children who can't talk well, pin pieces of paper on their backs - with their name, your name, and directions to your camp.
If your child gets lost, don't wait too long to act. If they're not in the immediate area, inform Child Search at Information or Kid Village. We need to be told quickly to do the best job, especially if it is close to nightfall.
Better safe than sorry.
Many of our Family work in various crafts and bring their best work to Trading Circle to show off, or trade for other pieces that catch their eye. The mutual exchange of gifts is encouraged, money changing in the temple is not. Only barter is done here, a thing exchanged directly for another thing, or for a service performed. No money changes hands here. Using money jeopardizes our right to use public land.
Traders like to set up near the main trail, for visibility and the festival atmosphere of many people passing - but you should take care not to obstruct traffic when you set out your own wares. A wide shady spot slightly off the trail is the best place for Trading Circle.
Workshops can be given by anyone on any subject. Large meadows are designated for workshops, and identified as such.
A Workshop Board is at Information, and workshop offerings with times and places are on it. Additional information about workshops is nearby. Workshop focalizers maintain and update all of these, and provide special materials for their own workshops.
Experienced volunteers teach new ones as they lead sweat lodges - for health and pleasure. Sweating reinvigorates you by flushing built-up toxins from your body. The closeness and fellowship of the lodge provide an opportunity for prayer and song.
Sweat lodges are solemn spaces for sacred ceremonies. They are built with care and respect for the old ways. Some ceremonies are guided by traditional leaders and observe strict customs. Ask if there are any special observances. Don't disturb the vibrations with any behavior less than sacred.
Don't come if you have an infectious disease. Do show up with an armload of wood.
A Gathering is not a good place for a pet. Dogs fight other dogs, and kill wildlife and even other pets. All animals get into food, and leave shit all over the place. The animals themselves are stressed by the sudden changes in their environment.
Sometimes there is no place to leave your pet, so if you must bring it, be responsible for your animals. Keep them under constant watch, keep them away from kitchens, meal circles, councils, and wildlife. Clean up their droppings.
Feel free to tie up stray dogs in shade with water.
ARF is sometimes set up as a place where pets can find refuge, medical care, shots, and healing. If your pet is injured or sick, find out its location from Information.
Always ask permission before taking a picture of any other person. This includes groups as well as individuals. There are many reasons some may not want to be photographed - they may be in trouble with the law, they may be escaping bad situations at home, they may not want their employers to know they are hanging out with hippies - whatever the reason they don't want there to be a photographic record of their being at a Gathering.
Most people - if you ask - will gladly give you permission, and may even ask for a copy.
It has long been a tradition in our Family to discourage the use of alcohol at a Gathering . Our children (that's all of us) need a safe and unthreatening place in which to celebrate. Alcohol energy can easily threaten. We respect a person's right to drink, but the Rainbow Gathering is meant to be a peace and prayer sanctuary, not a booze party.
If you are hypersensitive to drinkers, don't be a nuisance to them (or to Shanti Sena). Some gatherers are heavy drinkers in Babylon, but come to the Gathering for a chance to dry out and heal. If you are panhandled or insulted by a drunk, turn to your friends for help in dealing with them. Don't try to be a Rainbow cop.
Many of our Family are active in the movement to legalize hemp, and feel that cannabis products lead to effects much different than alcohol's, and are more conducive to good feelings between people. We let our Family to decide for themselves whether or not they want to take the legal risks.
We actively discourage giving powerful psychedelic drugs like LSD to people who don't know what they're taking, or who don't have the experience and mental stability to handle them. Know whom you give to. Remember also there's no guarantee on what somebody you don't know gives you on the trail. If in doubt, spit it out. If you observe an overdose, freakout, or other drug caused problem, contact CALM immediately.
If you are stopped by the law on the way to a Gathering, do not consent to searches. Your car is protected the same way a house is if you live in your car. If you observe harassment by police, stop and be a witness. If you are harassed, report it to the Co-Operations Council or to Legal Liaison.
We accept people for what they are, and their bodies for what they are. We can open our hearts, our souls, and our buttons and zippers at a Gathering. Many like the feeling of freedom, some don't like to wear a soggy old swimsuit, many like to be cool on a hot day - whatever the reason, we are creating again an Eden where you can be naked and without shame. This doesn't mean you can't wear clothes here, you just don't have to. Latrines and bathing areas are not segregated by gender here.
Be cautious of sunburn and poison ivy if you go naked. It's a good idea to at least wear sandals. And don't space out and go into town like that.
Many in our Family have found deep and satisfying relationships with other Family members. Few of these sprang into being at their first Gatherings. The freely given affection, the easy conversation, and the sudden promise of openness here cause many to start searching for their one and only, to build up big expectations, and to be disappointed.
Meet people by volunteering and working with them, by making music and theater with them, by joining them in workshops and spiritual exercises. You will see them in all their moods, and really get to know them.
Be patient and give time for friendships to unfold and grow by themselves. Don't measure them against your expectations. The Spirit will show you your soul mates, if you let it. Many people will be put off by sudden propositioning, and not everyone is in the same state of wanting that you are.
Remember, if the other person says no, but you do anyway, that is rape, which is a crime among us as well. Just because someone is naked doesn't mean you can have a feel. We are all worthy of equal respect.
We are opening up in sweet surrender
to the luminous love light of the One.
We make our own music here. This is a place where your creativity is encouraged to come out of the closet. Stereos, boomboxes, and radios can douse a creative spark. Our musicians perform acoustically or with only small batteries, without the distraction of canned music in the background. Bus Village is a place for electric art.
Singers, guitarists, and instrumentalists gather to jam around community fires and in kitchens. Main Circle at night is the traditional place for drumming and dancing.
Share your song with us, even if you are not used to performing. Don't sit by your tent and play for the trees. Listen to the other players, and make music with them. You'll be amazed at how good we'll all make you sound.
If you start music, respect the other musicians within earshot who have already started, especially if you are drumming. Remember that drums can carry like a rock 'n' roll amp. Don't try to compete with them, go over and join them instead.
If it's late at night or early after sunrise, be conscious of folks nearby who may be sleeping.
Musical harmony plays with social harmony
The Hug Patrol covers the Gathering to insure that nobody who needs a hug goes without one. You might be stopped and asked for a hug anytime, so you should be prepared to give them your maximum cooperation.
On the Fourth of July, from sunrise until high noon, the camp is hushed and people gather in Main Circle to meditate for World Peace, and the Healing of the Earth.
This is a time of intense energy. The silence is broken with a resonant OM after the Children's Parade enters the Circle, shortly before noon.
Please respect the silence by not speaking within earshot of the Circle.
Prepare for this with four days of celebration. Take time to share your fears, traumas, dreams, aspirations, and visions - so that the healing on the Fourth will be complete.
At Vision Council the future of the Family is discussed, and more specifically, the location is chosen for next year's Gathering. It usually starts at noon on the last day (hopefully after there's been informal discussion all week). It continues until consensus is reached among all the participants.
Clean Up actually begins the moment you arrive - if you don't disturb the environment to begin with, you don't have to clean it up later. If you pick up trash all along, there isn't a large amount at the end.
After the last day of the Gathering, the camp is drawn inward from the perimeters to one central camp, thence to the front gate and the parking area, then out the gate and down the road.
Campsites, bridges, and kitchens are dismantled and disappeared. Compost pits and latrines are filled and covered with a dome of dirt, to allow for settling. Logs, rocks, and branches are scattered. Campsites are strewn with grass and leaves. Firepits are drowned with water and covered over with dirt. Paths are broken up, ground packed hard is broken up with pick and shovel, and bare spots are reseeded. Potential areas of erosion are shored up. All traces of our presence are removed. The site is returned to its natural state.
Vehicles leaving the Gathering help by taking at least one bag of trash with them, to a dumpster at least 100 miles away. Don't impact the small towns near the Gathering. Recyclables are taken to appropriate collection points.
In a year's time, you won't be able to tell that a small city of people lived here for weeks.
In all ways, we walk lightly on the land.
I apologize to any uncredited authors who see their words.
I added myself several subjects that I thought needed discussion.
The next person will rearrange this, take some away, and then lay more on top. This is how the Mini-Manual is evolving before your very eyes.
- Butterfly Bill