Glossary

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The Nomadic lifestyle is a learning process, and you may hear words or phrases that you don't understand. Words like drifter, wanderer, derelict, hobo, itinerant, nomad, rolling stone, tramp, transient, vagabond, vagrant and gypsy.

Given they may be part of a discussion, blogs and books, why not get a heads up by reading this glossary.

A

  • A-Camp - Traditionally, it been the one place at rainbow gathering where drinking is tolerated. Primarily, this camp is tolerated in the United States.

B

  • Babylon - Often used to describe mainstream society. It is a term from the Christian New Testament. It connect with Rainbow participants widely held belief that modern lifestyles and systems of government are unhealthy, unsustainable, exploitative and out of harmony with the natural systems of the planet.
  • Burner - Someone who attends 'Burning Man' - a week-long annual event that takes place at the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, in the United States. The event begins on the last Monday in August, and ends on the first Monday in September. It also may entail belief in the 10 Burner principles of Radical inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical self-reliance, Radical self-expression, Communal effort, Civic responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation and Immediacy.
  • Beachcomber - A nomad/hobo/vagrant who makes some money or a living by searching beaches for articles of value and selling them.
  • Bum - When a nomad looses / sells his gear, and takes to alcohol. When nothing is left, except the clothes on his/her back.
  • Burners without Borders - AKA BWB is a grassroots, socially innovative, community leadership program whose goal is to unlock the creativity of local communities to solve problems.
  • Black Rock City Nevada is an ephemeral town that exists for only one week each year, during Burning Man.


C

  • C.A.L.M. - the Center for Alternative Living Medicine, is the primary group of doctors at Rainbow Gatherings who assist people with health and wellness and take responsibility for medical emergencies and sanitation of those who attend these large gatherings.
  • Chumps - Normal Prople United States.
  • Circular Economy - An alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. Can be applied to nomad events rainwater, renewable energy and recycling could be used to create a small-scale circular economies. See more from the Guardian.
  • Camps - There are many different types of 'nomadic' camps. From Protest Camp, Counterhegemonic spaces, No Border Camp, Peace Camp, Anarchist Camp, Wild Camp, Urban Camp and RV Camp, you might find a place for interaction, sleep, run, comradeship and new knowledge.
  • Counter-Tourist - A phrase or approach to signify ways or a person who seeks to completely transform their experience of the tourism industry and its many sites. See also Countertourism.
  • Crusty - aka crustypunks. Crusies are part of the New Age Traveller Scene in the United Kingdom or can be fans of the genre of punk rock/hardcore music called crustcore, crust punk or simply crust. Some obvious looks link to crusties are black cloths, dread locks and punk rock hair styles, canine animal companions. Some popular crustpunk bands include Dystopia, Amebix, Antiscism, Mankind?, Doom, and Hiatus.
  • Crew Change Guide (CCG) - an underground document passed on from hobo to hobo with information about jumping freight trains in the United States.

D

  • Dirty Kid’s Corner - Location, at Rainbow Gatherings, where alternative young people gather. They prefer heavy metal to psychedelic rock and reggae, and their tee shirts are almost always black.
  • Dumpster diving is the the act of retrieving food or other goods from a garbage dumpster.
  • Dirtbag - from Urban Dictionary: “A person who is committed to a given (usually extreme) lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms in order to pursue said lifestyle. Originated from US climbing to describe nomadic climbers, who gave their whole live to the activity by hitchiking to mountains etc, giving up their jobs. Also related to "Dirtbagging." The term is now used in the United States to describe anyone who gives themselves over to a particular lifestyle, and losing any conventional life elements (i.e. full time home, job), so as to pursue that activity i.e. rail hopping. Those in their teens are usually called Dirty Kids.
  • Drainbows — individuals who are perceived to not give sufficiently of their labor or other resources for the common good, but rather are only consuming the social benefits a Rainbow gathering offers.
  • Downcycling - a recycling practice that involves breaking an item down into its component elements or materials. Once the constituent elements or materials are recovered, they are reused if possible but usually as a lower-value product

F

  • Fauxbeaux – A nomads who has a line of credit and a stable income, but travels in a nomadic way. However, they always have a safety net, and can always pay for a hot meal and a room, and then take a plane or bus home. Associated with phrases such as summer squatter, yuppie and weekend hippie. If you feel these labels might apply to you, do not worry. Wear it like a badge.
  • Focalizers - A focalizer is someone who takes on the job of focusing a group's energy on a certain task. For instance, you can focalize a kitchen, group decisions. In theory, focalizers do not direct others; they just help the process along. In a sense they are managers without decision-making power.
  • Flying a Sign - A fly-signer is someone who uses a sign to beg for money. They can hit traffic at traffic lights, or sit on a street. See Begging for for details.
  • The Freight Train Riders of America (FTRA) - a supposed group of Americans who move about by freight hopping ("Catching Out") in railroad cars, particularly in the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada. Active in the 80s, and pre 9/11, but probably defunct.
  • Frisco circle - AKA magic hat or "kicking down (or kicking in) on a Frisco." An American phrase from old tramp tradition and it comes from the generally communist, socialist or anarchist tramps from San Francisco who rode the old Frisco Line from West Oakland to Chicago in the 1930's who sough communal meals.

G

  • Gaia - The name of the ancient Greek goddess of the Earth, and as a name it was recently revived to refer to the hypothesis formed by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, who postulate that the whole biosphere may be alive in that the Earth’s life forms are themselves responsible for regulating the conditions that make life on the planet possible.

H

  • Hare Krishnas or the "Hare Krishna movement, or the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
  • Home Bum - a common term in the United States for a homeless person who, instead of travelling, typically sits in the same places every day and has a predictable routine.
  • Homeguard - A term used to describe someone who uses the resources provided by a city for it's homeless population, but who is not homeless and are not currently travelling. They could be an ex-hobo/tramp.
  • Hot-Rail - A phrase used to denote a train coming down the tracks.
  • Hobocore - describes a person who picks the nomad life (hitchhikes, rides freight trains, squats etc.).

J

  • Jungle (- AKA Hobo Jungle) - the area where homeless/nomads people live and sleep.
  • Jungle buzzard - a hobo who preys on their own by stealing possessions from other hobos (1930's slang, but some current usage). .

L

  • Leather Tramps - A leather tramp has no vehicle, and travels on foot, shoes often being made of leather. A rubber tramp is more able to decide destination than one who relies on hitchhiking -- and an unofficial status. Also see hitchiker.
  • Ligging - A 'ligger' (UK) is an individual who attends parties, openings, social gatherings and events such as launches and celebrity events with the sole intention of obtaining free food and drink. Sometimes called a blagger (US) or a 'pique-assiette'(France)or someone 'who picks from others,’ plates. Others on the scene prefer the term eventing'. Find detail on how to lig at Other Food.
  • Lightfoot Post & Mail / Nomad Letter / Hitch Post / Snail mail - letters/missives/verbal messages passed onto nomads or hitchhikers to deliever by hand/face to face. Very slow speed delivery. Might also refer to a letter given to a nomad to post in the country in which it will be delievered; wherein the letter is carried by conventional postal delivery services. This is because of lower cost.

M

  • A magic hat, is a term that emerged from Rainbow Gatherings, and is the fund-raising in-strument for any Rainbow event. It is used in many nomadic eventsto fundraise for the supplies needed to keep everyone well-fed.
  • Mythogeography - A kind of walking without purpose. For more read this Starter Pack.
  • Monkeywrenching - nonviolent disobedience and sabotage carried out by environmental activists against those whom they perceive to be ecological exploiters. The term came into use after the publication of author Edward Abbey’s novel The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), which described the activities of a group of “environmental warriors” in Utah and Arizona.
  • Maker movement - social movement with an artisan spirit in which the methods of digital fabrication—previously the exclusive domain of institutions—have become accessible at a personal scale.

N

  • New Age Travellers are nomadic people in the United Kingdom. They also refer to themselves as 'travellers' or 'vehicle-dweller's', or 'new traveller's.' Some call them NATS.

O

  • Overnighter - bicyclists who drive out to nature and stay over night.

P

R

  • Road Dog - A person going with you during your travels. Sometimes, it might be meant literally, as a actual Dog. A Road Dog is a person who is consistently "on the road", on the go.
  • Rail Tramp - Tramp, Hobo or Road Dog, who hops trains.
  • Rainbow gathering - The Rainbow Family Of Living Light is a group of people that organize Rainbow gatherings. They have their own Glossary.
  • Road Burn - A state of mind one slips into after being "on the road" too long, e.g., exhausted and wanting to settle down for a spell.
  • Route 66 became one of the most famous roads in America, and is central to Jack Kerouac's "On The Road."
  • Rubber Tramps - A rubber tramp has a car or other wheeled vehicle, and travels on the rubber tires. Rubber tramps are sometimes seen as "less valid" than leather tramps because their vehicle is viewed as a luxury item.
  • Right to Roam or Freedom to Roam. Also called "right to access" and /or "Every Man's Right" Basically, it means the general public's right to access certain public or privately owned land for recreation and exercise. Based on allowing what is not forbidden, it does not give permission to break any laws or regulations.
  • Radical Samba - Often political in nature, rdical samba often seams a collection of people with drums, engaging the public during political events.

S

  • Squatter or Squatting occupy houses, land etc. The yare called such as okupas in Spain, Chile or Argentina (from the verb ocupar meaning "to occupy"), or paracaidistas in Mexico (meaning "parachuters", because they "parachute" themselves at unoccupied land).
  • Squat candle is an improvised stove/lamp which is very simple and remarkably effective for cooking, lighting and heating.
  • Sal Paradise is a fictional narrator in the novel On the Road (1957) by Jack Kerouac.
  • Summer Squatter - inspired by an 1996 Ant-Flag song, which is critical of summer only punks/sqautters, who return to Mom/Dad when weather gets cold and money runs out etc.
  • Six-Up - A signal among modern day hippies (USA) that law enforcement was near. Named for the six lights that sat atop most old cop cars.
  • Snowbird - A person who moves from higher latitudes and colder climates of winter to warmer locales or elsewhere along the Sun Belt.
  • Slacklining - the activity or sport of balancing on a rope or strip of webbing that is fixed high above the ground but not stretched so as to be taut. Something you might learn at Circus Schools to earn on the road.
  • Skillsurfers - is (/was) a project in the context of the “travelling school of life” network. Name which was giving to a group of people, who were doing an experiment about self-organised learning while travelling in a group.
  • Spange - To ask for spare change from a stranger on the fly. "Spange" (spare+ change = spange). Another related term is "crack spange", which insinuates that it is being done spontaneous. Often done in the case of needing money for something immediately. "I am ten cents short for a bottle of beer, so Im gonna go crack spange on the way to the shop". used in USA and Australia. See Begging.
  • Scrilla - Money, Dosh, Bread, Dough, Cash.
  • Seasteading - the concept of creating permanent dwellings at sea, called seasteads, outside the territory claimed by any government.
  • Streamliner - Someone who travels without their your own gear, theirown supplies and your own food & water.
  • Shanti Sena - AKA "Peace army." Used at Rainbow gatherings to solve issue and conflict. Non-Violent. Original used to describe Gandhi's non-violent followers in India.

T

  • Talking circles are a Rainbow gathering way that many decisions are made and information is passed along. Groups of people (from a handful to over a hundred) sit around in a circle. Typically, a focalizer calls the meeting (circle) to order. They are often used in gatherings of all types.
  • Thru-hiking - Hiking a long-distance trail end-to-end within one hiking season. United States.
  • Travel Hacking - Activating mechanisms of countering business and institutional forces who seek to control and nudge us into certain behaviour (where they can exploit our data; nudge us to spend money on resources that should be free to all). Travel hacking seeks to disrupt rules, systems and rhythms. Like hacking, can be seen as a form of resistance.
  • Travel House - Travel Club was/is an experiment in free housing, that moves from region t region/ country-to-country each year.

U

  • Upcycling - known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. Upcycling is the opposite of downcycling, which is the other half of the recycling process.