PRESS RELEASE: Rainbow Gathering to Re-Visit New Mexico


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National Forest to be determined, NM (June 1, 2009) – The 38th annual Rainbow Gathering will be held in one of New Mexico’s breathtaking National Forests from July 1 through 7, 2009. The annual reunion welcomes “everyone with a bellybutton” to a cost-free, rustic, back-to-nature encampment in a different National Forest across the nation every summer, culminating in a massive silent prayer for world peace on July 4th. Clean-up runs from July 8 to completion. Past gatherings have landed in New Mexico in 1995 and 1977. Thousands of peaceful people will gather, from babies to veterans of wars dating as far back as Korea and from vacationing professionals to adventurous backpackers, bringing millions of dollars into the small rural communities surrounding the site.

The Rainbow attendees are an international affiliation of individuals who gather together on public land to create a cooperative village that focuses on peace, love, healing and respect for the earth.

A specific location has not yet been selected for this year’s gathering, but volunteers have been scouting both the Carson and Santa Fe National Forests, working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) to hone in on the best possible site.

The gatherers have a more than 37-year history of success in providing their own all-volunteer crews for parking, communications, and fire patrol. The gatherers are also very proficient in implementing their own security, public health, water, sewer and sanitation systems. Military-style slit latrines are dug. 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.

During the gathering, supplies will be trucked in daily, courtesy of donations given at meal circles large and small. Theatrical performances, religious services of all kinds, workshops, campfire musical jams, poetry slams, sign-language classes, pie bake-offs, parades and more will unfold amid the trees.

Cooperation between the Rainbow gatherers and government officials has become strained in recent years, often due to the conflicting agendas of the resource-protection and law-enforcement divisions of the USFS. District rangers are repeatedly impressed with the gatherers’ respect for the chosen site – often cattle-grazing areas – and the intensive cleanup that follows. Dennis Havig, district ranger in Wisdom, MT, said he witnessed Gatherers at the 2000 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. But the agency’s Incident Command Team overrides the resource division’s authority, turning the Gathering into a law-enforcement exercise and racking up millions of dollars in expenses every year.

So far, however, this year has marked a high point in peaceful relations between the gatherers and the cash-strapped federal agency. Besides working together on the site-selection process, early gatherers and USFS representatives are seeking an alternative to a recently passed unconstitutional regulation which states that a signed permit is required for gatherings of more than 74 people in a National Forest. This regulation is in violation of the First Amendment requiring that “Congress shall make no law…abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

The narrator of a YouTube film entitled “Effects of Rainbow Gatherings on Local Residents” states 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. There are 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.”

This means of existence is in conflict with the permit’s signature requirement. The gatherers’ endeavor to remain without “leaders” or “representatives” is practical; gatherers who work too closely with the authorities have frequently been targeted by the Forest Service with threats, harassment and fines, and several have even done time in federal prison for not signing a permit. The actual charge? “Use and occupancy of National Forest System lands without a special use authorization when an authorization is required.”

Fortunately, a provision in the regulations allows the permit’s requirements to be satisfied in an “alternative manner.” It is hoped that at the most, the Forest Service will put in place an “operating plan” by July 1, negotiated by all parties but signed by none – an arrangement that worked well for over a decade before the permit regulation was on the books.

Scouts will come together for “Scout Council” on June 3 to compare notes on their site findings.

Interested members of the public can learn more at, a website run by gathering enthusiasts who, naturally, represent no one but themselves.

This press release is provided as a service of the Rainbow press crew, a completely unofficial group of volunteers who – like all the other volunteers who work to make the gathering happen in a peaceful manner– have not been authorized by anyone to speak for any Rainbow related entities or events. Additional press releases are on the Rainbow press crew’s website,

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June 1, 2009. Uncategorized.

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