I just returned from the National Rainbow Gathering in Northeastern Oregon at a 5,000 foot high National Park where thousands gathered to celebrate love. For those who do not know, Rainbow started in the late Sixties, an extension of Free Love. On the surface, Free Love meant, one no longer had to be married to have sex—remember, the Sixties came out of the repressive Fifties when That Cute Little Doggy in the Window topped the music charts. But those of us who opposed war thought and still think, love is the answer to turmoil. Unique about the Rainbow Gathering is the prohibition on electricity plus cell phones are inoperable forcing participants to confront themselves to live openly with others.
Adding to the reliance on others, the seven day Rainbow Gatherings generally requires a couple of miles hike into the area preventing the bringing of essential supplies. People who have never been before struggle to bring in food but quickly give them to the kitchens who work to feed the Rainbow Family—if you are there, you are part of the Rainbow family. People are surprised and amazed at the primitive infrastructure in place from the beginning; the Rainbow veterans carve trails and put various kitchens throughout the vast confines of the gathering.
Some of the kitchens are generational but they are all vegetarian. Weeks before the gathering folks carry in pots, utensils and the raw food needed to feed thousands. Others, using fallen limbs built structures later covered by tarps; fire pits are dug and wherever food goes in, something comes out, thus the Shiter—a long deep trench often hidden behind a fallen log. The workforce is completely volunteer. What these Rainbow Warriors do, they do out of love. Love in Hebrew is Ahev; Hev/To Give, I Give. There is no money in Rainbow, and before night we all gather, thousands of us, with the kitchens in the middle, the servers make their way through concentric circles.
At night there are bonfires and people walking through the forest looking for something, a kitchen or a camp. There is a Hari Krishna Camp, a Jesus Camp, a Camp Shalom and Shit Palace where someone brought in chairs with holes in them. The forest blossomed into a little temporal village for a week. Afterwards people stay and clean up, returning the forest back to her pristine state. Love is so much more than sex. Among the variety of things to do is Granola Funk also known as G Funk where nightly performances are enacted. On the night I went, it was the Gong show.
They say, those who volunteer and those who did not understand the question.