Rainbow Gathering 2012

May 27, Joel drove through the night and into Boulder, Colorodo. There the Love Bus met with friends whom allowed us to use their showers and fill the bus with drinking water. The plan was to finish the vegetable oil conversion, however it was delayed further when the bus failed to start the next morning. It took nearly eight hours before the bus was running again: the electrical sensors connected to the emergency doors were preventing the bus’s ignition from starting.

The electrical wiring of the bus.

The Love Bus rejoiced with friends in Boulder and made fajitas for dinner. They warned us about driving across the country, wherein Kansas, “if all you have is one quarter of a tank left, do not hesitate to fill it up; you will be lucky to find another gas station before you run out.”

We left Boulder the next evening. Pedal to the metal, the Love Bus trucked through the Mid-West at a whopping sixty-five miles per hour. Most importantly we were going fast enough to get us through Kansas in one day and not get arrested for speeding. The Appalachian mountains are more humid than in other parts of the country; so began the relentless sweating and Brittney’s ceaseless profanity.

“I can taste it,” said Joel as he drove us over a creek. The heat and humidity were strong, and Brittney worked up a sweat just thinking about it.

“Fuck, it’s hot as balls out,” she said.

The Love Bus was making good time, and on July 1 it was winding its way along forest roads closely approaching The Rainbow Gathering.

The 40th Annual National Rainbow Gathering was held this year in Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee, and in keeping with its tradition: free and open to the public. Joel drove the bus for miles along the same narrow road looking for parking. Police and tow trucks were vigilant in keeping the right side clear for emergency vehicles, and Joel was careful picking a spot.

Bus Village

Along the same narrow road people were unpacking supplies, hanging out, and looking for the nearest trail head. In a remote area of the gathering and next to the main trail head was a place called Bus Village. Joel passed by here earlier because there didn’t look to be any parking. After following the road for a couple of miles with no clear spot to park, Joel turned around to give Bus Village another chance. What happened next can be closely described as a miracle. Next to the forest line, behind several vehicles he parked the 36′ bus.

Joel and Brittney walk through the forest at Rainbow Gathering.

South Holston Lake, a short walk from Bus Village, provided many at the gathering the chance to cool off.

This table took approximately two hours to make, and its materials were resourced from the forest.

For the whole day everyone greeted each other by saying, “welcome home.”  Many were busy setting up camps in the forest. Here, elaborate kitchens were constructed weeks prior by long-standing Rainbow Family members. Water was tapped on site and plumbing was connected to the different kitchens. Bus Village did not have a kitchen so Joel, Brittney, and I were making meals on the bus. The first several days cooked and camped in Bus Village. During this time it was hard for us to tell that we were isolating ourselves from the family experience that the Rainbow Gathering offers.

On July 4th Joel, Brittney, and I decided that we would pack our tents and camp with Green Path. This was a Kitchen that I had explored earlier. They served vegan food, attracted great company, and were very proactive in leading discussions and workshops.

Once in the forest, kitchens and camps became more easily accessible. The people running the kitchens exhibited a great understanding for living with the earth. Composting was done on site for grey water and other wastes. Stoves were constructed out of the earth, and counters were made from carefully selected pieces of wood, tied together, and fitted next to trees.

People gather along the road to trade items with one another.

The stove at Green Path’s Kitchen, where warm food is served to anybody who wants it.

The rinsing and composting area for the Kitchen at Tea Time.

At Tea Time, the kitchen will call the forest with a horn they use to announce that they have new tea to serve.

Joel and Brittney sit back and wait to be served food at Main Meadow.

The morning of the 4th everyone throughout the park remained silent, where at Main Meadow a peace prayer was developing. At noon Joel, Brittney, and I were late but were surrounded by joyous cries from people in the forest. This proceeded a great “Om,” where people held hands and participated in the peace prayer. Even though we were late, celebratory watermelon and dancing lasted for hours.

This year’s Rainbow Gathering provided a very unique time for Joel, Brittney, and I. Our experiences differ from very favorable to very disagreeable, however it has helped us all to develop the meaning of “Family” in our lives. We observed first hand how it can be exploited as well as embraced, keeping in mind that the important thing to remember is, “a family that eats together, stays together.”

Joel digs a “shitter” where we can compost our waste. In the Background Brittney washes the blankets that Tsunami urinated on the previous night.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Rainbow Gathering 2012”
  1. David, AKA Buttercup says:

    I was there, and I live in Arden. I’ll try to stop in and talk to you when I get home from work today. I saw the couple building the triangle table pictured above, and commented that I liked their design. It’s good that you got out of Bus Village and into the gathering. BV is part of the experience, but the real stuff is inside.

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