The Rainbow Family Of Living Light
The Rainbow Story
Rainbow Gatherings are temporary intentional communities, held annually in Canada, Mexico and various locations such as the United States, Europe, and Russia. In North America they have always taken place in publicly owned National Forests with one exception since 1972, and supporting and practicing the ideals of peace, love, respect, harmony, freedom and community, as a consciously expressed alternative to mainstream popular culture, consumerism, capitalism, and mass media.
Rainbow Gatherings and the Rainbow Family of Living Light (usually abbreviated to "Rainbow Family") are an expression of a Utopian impulse, combined with bohemianism, hipster and hippie culture, with roots clearly traceable to the counterculture of the 1960s. Mainstream society is commonly referred to and viewed as "Babylon", a term from the Christian New Testament connoting the 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. The original Rainbow Gathering was in 1972, and has been held annually in the United States from July 1 through 7 every year on National Forest land. Throughout the year, regional and international gatherings are held in the United States and throughout the rest of the world respectively.
Relations with police and local communities are frequently a problem. Media coverage is often unfavorable, focusing on drug use, nudity, assaults, fugitives, serious traffic charges such as drunken driving and the countercultural aspects of the assemblage. Nevertheless, the Gatherings have proven a durable and international phenomenon for over 40 years.
The first Rainbow Gathering of the Tribes, a four-day event in Colorado in the United States in July 1972, was organized by youth counterculture "tribes" based in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Twenty thousand people faced police roadblocks, threatened civil disobedience, and were allowed onto National Forest land. This was intended to be a one-time event; however, a second gathering in Wyoming the following year materialized, at which point an annual event was declared. The length of the gatherings has since expanded beyond the original four-day span, as have the number and frequency of the gatherings. Although groups from California and the Northwest region of the U.S. were heavily involved in the first Rainbow Gathering, the U.S. Southeast was strongly represented as well. At least 2,600 people from throughout that region attended and provided support for the 1972 Rainbow Gathering of the Tribes on Strawberry Lake, above Granby, Colorado. There was also strong representation from other regions of the U.S.
The Rainbow Family has no leaders, no structure, no official spokespersons, no official documents, and no membership. Documents are produced as needed and maintained by various groups. The values held are love, peace, non-violence, environmentalism, non-consumerism and non-commercialism, volunteerism, respect for others, consensus process, and multicultural diversity.
As Michael Niman notes, "Rainbow Gatherings, as a matter of principle, are free and non-commercial." Using money to buy or sell anything at Rainbow Gatherings is taboo. There are no paid organizers, although there are volunteers ("focalizers") who are crucial to setting up the gathering site. Participants are expected to contribute money, labor, and/or material. All labor is voluntary and never formally compensated.