Posted: Jul 2, 2013 8:24 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Jul 2, 2013 8:25 AM
NEAR JACKSON - Thousands of people are now camped out in southwest Montana as part of the annual Rainbow Family gathering.
The sight is really something to behold as people infiltrate Skinner Meadow just 15 miles outside Jackson, Montana.
A elderly man in a wheelchair plays the mandolin outside his teepee while across the meadow a team of people are chopping onions and boiling noodles in preparation of the evening meal.
In total 6,000 people have converged on the area quickly transforming it from a campground into a community, and with that change comes major impacts to the land and the water.
Ian Alderman came all the way from California to be apart of the event and he says volunteers are working to minimize the harmful effects on the environment.
It's hard to tell there are thousands of people in the area. Just a few hundred stragglers are wandering through the open meadow with knapsacks, backpacks and make shift wheelbarrows. But tucked away in the trees and hills, there are thousands of tents, dozens of kitchens, and small gatherings of people around campfires.
In an effort to bring some sense of order to a free spirited event, the rainbow people have built temporary bridges over creeks, and an "Information Center" welcomes new visitors to the area.
U.S. Forest Service Public Information Officer Cass Cairns says her office and Beaverhead County have piped in water to make sure the conditions stay sanitary. And now the county is forced to invoke an emergency mill levy to deal with the strains on local infrastructure.
"Those that are up there at the gathering site are cooperating very well, everybody is working together well and communicating as far as minimizing those impacts the natural resources," Cairns says.
The Rainbow people collect recycling and dig their outhouses and when it's all said and done the organizers say they will stay and clean up.
But until then, Benja, a Rainbow brother, says the gathering is about love and community.
"This is the warrior rainbow tribe of light and we shall come from every tribe, every culture, every age, every different diversity and ethnicity," Benja says. "We will come back for unity for the earth to restore the balance and come back into union."
The Rainbow Family website states:
What is the Rainbow Family ?
Some say we're the largest non-organization of non-members in the world. We have no leaders, and no organization. To be honest, the Rainbow Family means different things to different people. I think it's safe to say we're into intentional community building, non-violence, and alternative lifestyles. We also believe that Peace and Love are a great thing, and there isn't enough of that in this world. Many of our traditions are based on Native American traditions, and we have a strong orientation to take care of the the Earth. We gather in the National Forests yearly to pray for peace on this planet.