For immediate release: July 2, 2008
Rainbow Press Crew Press Release
RAINBOW GATHERING RETURNS TO WYOMING
Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyo (July 2, 2008) - This year's
Annual Rainbow Gathering of Living Light is being held out in the
woods near the Big Sandy area of one of Wyoming's many breathtaking
National Forests. The Rainbow Gathering was last held in the state
in 1994, and before that in 1973. All-American citizens from Wyoming
locals to folks from places as far away as the Hurricane Katrina
ravaged Gulf Coast who have experienced Rainbow gatherers are delighted
with the gatherers' presence, boost to economy and actions as ambassadors
The Gathering is held from July 1-7; clean-up runs from July 8
to completion. Thousands of peaceful people of many different kinds
are on-site, from backpackers to bankers. They are people of all
ages and backgrounds, from babies to veterans of wars dating as
far back as Korea.
The Rainbow attendees are an international affiliation of individuals
who gather together on public land to create a cooperative society
that focuses on peace, love, healing and respect for the earth.
It is stated in a YouTube film entitled "Effects of Rainbow
Gatherings on Local Residents" that "the Rainbow Gathering
takes place in a National Forest. This allows the event to be open
to all and free of censorship, in keeping with the right of peaceable
assembly and free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Rainbow Gatherings have several basic elements which uniquely define
the event, and distinguish it from other forest service uses. They
are free, non-commercial events open to everyone. There are no leaders,
no closed committees, no authority, no administration and no office.
Only self-appointed volunteers work to make the Gathering happen."
The Gatherings have an over 35-year history of success in providing
its own parking and communications crews, and its own fire patrol.
The gatherers are also very proficient in implementing their own
security, public health, water, sewer and sanitation systems. Kitchens
are set up Swiss Family Robinson-style. The equipment and methods
used to cook for thousands is immaculately clean; the kitchen volunteers
adhere to the strictest of sanitation policies even in such primitive
conditions, much to the approval of local Health Departments.
In fact, many gatherers take the phrase, "cleanliness is next
to Godliness" to the utmost level. Dennis Havig, district ranger
in Wisdom, MT, said he witnessed Gatherers at the 2001 Annual Gathering
in Montana working long hours collecting trash and sorting recyclables.
"There were 23,000 people here and you can find virtually no
trash" Missoula Independent, June 7, 2001.
When skilled Gatherers watched the desperate people literally dieing
on television after Hurricane Katrina hit and no one was helping
them, they went into immediate action. Rainbow volunteer Rob Savoye
explained, "When we got to (Hurricane) Katrina, they were excited
because we brought instant relief with mobile kitchens, a fully
trained medical staff, and a functional communications center. We
were treating people in the streets in August, two blocks from the
French Quarter and feeding the National Guard. We can coordinate
as individuals. We don't fall apart in the chaos, we just fall together."
-Steamboat Pilot & Today, June 25, 2006.
At the same time even more Gatherers headed down to Waveland, Mississippi
to set up a huge help center in the middle of an enormous parking
lot, called the Waveland Cafe. Familiar with surviving quite well
for extended time periods with no running water or electricity in
the woods, the Rainbow Gatherers quickly and easily built an infrastructure
on that lot even better than one may see at any Gathering in the
forest, again with very limited resources. It ran solely on private
donations from good-hearted folks and church groups.
On the first Thanksgiving after the storm, the Rainbow volunteers
from the Waveland Café held a parade for the town. A YouTube
film entitled, "Rainbow Family & Christians Unite to Give
Hope after Katrina" captured a parade watcher's heartfelt reaction:
"All of these beautiful people from the Waveland Cafe and what
they've given to us, we can never repay (tears up, happy tears).
I know that Hancock County could not have made it without what they
have done. And to give us this parade?! (more joyous tears welling
up)". When asked if she'd ever had a parade like this before
she rejoiced, "No and I think they're fabulous! They're the
most beautiful people that there are!"
Out of these phenomenal and intrepid efforts, American Rainbow
Rapid Response (ARRR) was created. This May, ARRR accepted an invitation
and attended a function inside the White House to be acknowledged
and thanked for their work and for being one of the top 100 Faith-Based
Community Volunteer efforts in the country.
Residents from towns outside of past gatherings have had positive
interactions with the Rainbow attendees. In the previously mentioned
YouTube film entitled, "Effects of Rainbow Gatherings on Local
Residents," a merchant from outside of the 2001 Annual Gathering
in Montana said, "Basically, all you had to do was ask, and
we had so many just helping out." When asked what advice could
be given to store owners of next year's town, the merchant exclaimed,
"Order! (laughs) Everybody kept coming in and said, 'You better
start ordering this and that.' And we did, but not NEARLY enough.
Not- and when they tell you and your still going 'I just don't know-'
Order. If they tell you to order, order!"
A merchant from the Jackson Mercantile reported, "Financially
we were in arrears, now we are caught up," and told the Rainbow
camera person, "Thanks for helping us out of the hole. And
it's been fun being here. My pastor, all my girlfriends, everyone
has rallied, and we really loved you guys."
Wyoming residents including Jackson Hole Police Chief Dave Cameron
have also had good times with Rainbow gatherers. "It was an
interesting group of people and it just goes to show it takes all
kinds." - Jackson Hole News, July 6, 1994. Sage Cafe owner
Judy Marx reported, "We did a darn good business. On the 2nd
of July, we ran $3500 through the place." -Star Tribune, July
It has recently been reported that there is low attendance at this
year's gathering, and it's true; gathering attendance used to be
in numbers upward of 25,000. This follows a trend. Denise Ottaviano,
a spokesperson for the Forest Service (FS), stated in reference
to the 2007 Annual Gathering in Arkansas, "The event reached
its peak with an estimated 6,000 people." -Arkansas Online,
July 6, 2007.
Why such low numbers at the Rainbow Gathering? Some believe it's
because of the current high gas prices. Others believe it has more
to do with the government's intensified harassment campaign against
Two gatherers were Tasered at the 2007 Annual Gathering in Arkansas.
Two months later, the FS purchased 700 Tasers. They informed Rainbow
volunteers that their Law Enforcement Officers ("LEO"s)
are trained to use the Tasers and will be equipped with them at
the Gathering. Why did the FS make this purchase with such a low
budget due to last year's fire season? Why bring Tasers to a gathering
of folks whose entire purpose in getting together is to pray for
peace? These questions have yet to be answered.
A recent New York Times article from June 15, 2008, states that
out of all law enforcement and military agencies with Tasers, only
about one-third of them distribute these weapons to their entire
forces. The NYPD is the most highly trained and modeled-after law
enforcement agency in the country, and perhaps in the world. Only
its sergeants have the authority to carry Tasers. The article continued,
"Also on Wednesday, Amnesty International said it had tracked
more then 300 cases since 2001 in which people died after being
shocked by a Taser."
As far as accountability, the article reported, "A federal
jury...held Taser International partly responsible in the death
of a Salinas, Calif. man," and continued, "...a lawyer
announced the filing of a lawsuit against New York City in the case
of a retired police lieutenant's son who had been hit four times
with a Taser after the police responded..."
The Forest Service Manual updated February 1, 2008 repeatedly states
that Electronic Control Devices (ECDs, aka Tasers) are "non-lethal."
However, many other agencies themselves, when referring to these
weapons, are ever increasingly replacing the term "non-lethal"
with the term "less-lethal". It leads one to wonder what
other Taser training inaccuracies the FS has received.
As of this press release, LEO harassment at this year's Gathering
in Wyoming is rampant mostly on the road and in the parking lot,
but thankfully there have been no reports of any Taserings.
Please come to the Gathering and get the full story. The possibility
of confrontation with LEOs is there, but besides that there are
so many great reasons to check out the event! The views are spectacular
and the people are fabulous and entertaining. On the Fourth of July,
gatherers will celebrate our country's independence with an entire
camp-wide silent prayer for peace in the morning until noon when
they gather in the main meadow. The silence is then broken by the
Children's Parade and the day's festivities begin.
Wyoming has been kind to Rainbow gatherers; all peaceful people
please come to the site and have a wonderful time!
Travel advisory for getting to and around camp: most of the Gathering
is a hike from the parking lot. To get there you will need to park
and then walk about 1-3 miles, so be prepared with good shoes, water
bottle, and bring a reusable plate to enjoy a free meal!
You will find there are many gatherers who love interacting with
the media and will gladly be filmed. But in respect for people's
freedom of religious expression, it is requested that anyone taking
photographs or film images ask permission from each individual to
be included in the shot. On July Fourth, silence is observed from
dawn until noon. During this time, it is requested that any cameras
used before noon only take long distance group shots so everyone
feels comfortable. Please respect this moment of silent prayer and
meditation for world peace, and refrain from acquiring any close-up
shots or interviews.
From Rock Springs, Wyoming take US-191 north to WY-353 (near Boulder,
Wyoming). From Boulder, WY -- Take Wy-353 to the end of pavement
where it turns into County Road 118 and you'll see a sign that says
"Farson 39, Boulder 28". Stay on CR118 towards Farson
-- after about 10 miles you'll come to a junction with CR132 with
a sign pointing LEFT to "Big Sandy Campground 15 mi."
-- TURN LEFT on CR132 (East) and take this for about 7 miles until
you see another sign pointing LEFT to "DUTCH JOE G.S. 3 mi"
-- Take this LEFT about 2 miles to the Front Gate of the Gathering.
Pull into the designated Media Check-In Parking Area and check in.
Media is welcome to be escorted through the camp. Tours begin at
12:00 pm daily from the Media Check-In area.
"Effects of Rainbow Gatherings on Local Residents" film
Part One http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLj8qsXt0ZE
Part Two http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VwVjvSSn5I&feature=related
"Rainbow Family & Christians Unite to Give Hope After
FS Taser purchase document
Video evidence of the FS's harassment campaign against Rainbow
Gatherings can be made available to the press.