ONE SLANT ON A COUPLE OF CIRCLES
People see reality from different perspectives. Potentially, if facts are
not ignored, and egos do not dominate, the council circle can provide a
forum through which interested people may approach a closer understanding
This writer's perspective - focusing on two Rainbow Family council circles
in Wyoming, July 3rd & 4th - is offered as a prayer for a closer
understanding of reality. The wise reader will remember this prayer is
represented, not as "the Truth," but merely as an honest opinion of what
Since words spoken by another can be easily misunderstood, it would be
prudent to consider a misstatement in this essay as a mistake, rather than
an attempt to deceive. Likewise, at both circles a lot was said, much
repeated. This account doesn't pretend to be a complete chronology of the
forum, only an attempt to present an accurate summary.
The writer is operating completely from fallible memory. Starfire, or
others who took notes, can make a valuable contribution to better
understanding the precise words. The writer hopes others will add their
The council on the third was attended by perhaps sixty people. After a
relatively short period of traditional heartsongs about A Camp,
brother/sister energy, and Shanti Sena responsibilities, Sailor focused
attention on the issue of "Legaliaison," by suggesting that it should be
At some length, Garrick discussed his understanding of Legaliaison's
history, and his opinions on the current situation regarding the proposed
Forest Service regulations, which Legaliaison had been formed to address.
He said Legaliaison had served a purpose, but was no longer necessary. He
suggested that energy be focused on 1) getting the government agents
responsible for drafting the regulations fired and 2) having past Rainbow
Family Gathering locations declared historical sites.
Carla explained how no individual or group can speak for the Rainbow
Family, because the Rainbow Family only speaks by consensus of the Family
Tribal Council, on the land, between July 1 thru 7 of each year. She
declared Legaliaison should be dissolved because some folks in D.C. had
been speaking on behalf of the Rainbow Family in the guise of Legaliaison.
"That's not true." Thomas interrupted. Garrick reprimanded him. "It is
true." Carla retorted. "In my files beck in Oregon, I have a letter from
you, dated March 13, 1993, where you speak on behalf of the Family."
"That's nonsense," Thomas replied. "You don't have any letter where I
tried to speak for the Family. Anyway, a letter from March, 1993, has got
nothing to do with what we're talking about now. We reached agreement on
last year's letters at last year's council. Since last year's council no
one in D.C. has even used the name Legaliaison."
"Legaliaison, Illegaliaison, People for Compassion and Understanding,
SisterSpiritLove, I'm confused." Carla said in conclusion.
Thomas agreed Carla was confused, adding that, particularly since he had
not been Legaliaison for over a year, he couldn't care less whether
Legaliaison was dissolved. "But," he said, "if you think you have a
problem, and you think doing away with the name Legaliaison is going to
solve your problem, all you're doing is sticking your head in the sand.
Here we sit, a bunch of people in a circle who all claim to believe that
'We are One.' I think the real problem is right here under your noses,
you've got two people, pointing fingers and calling one another liars. If
you are truly committed to love and unity, you would take the time and
exercise the patience necessary to discover the relative truth behind this
obvious disunity. Dissolving Legaliaison won't solve the real problem."
Cries of "Fire!" were heard. A column of smoke was visible above the trees
about a mile to the west.
Scottie asked Garrick why their telephone conversations about the Legal
Land Use Review, which began so positively, had degenerated to a point
where Garrick refused to even speak to him on the phone. Garrick replied
that Scottie had twisted his comments and spread misrepresentations of what
The circle was on its collective feet, wondering how to respond to the
fire, reluctant to abandon the discussion. Scottie and Garrick were nose
to nose, speaking loudly, heatedly simultaneously. Someone stepped between
them, the circle ended.
Running uphill toward the fire, one was met by a stream of people running
down, proclaiming the fire was "out of control."
Despite the rumors, at about 2:30 PM there were many people on the line of
a fire raging over three or four acres; digging and chopping with whatever
tool was at hand, tossing burning embers back into the inferno.
Rumors ran wild. Government agents and Shanti Sena alike were urging
Family members to back off the fire. "Planes are waiting to drop fire
retardant, but they can't do it until the people pull back," Said a Shanti
Sena with a C.B.
"I don't hear any aircraft engines," a critic remarked.
"It's on the radio."
"Sounds like a rumor to me."
As if on cue the voice of a female dispatcher came from the C.B., "We're
working on getting a plane out of Salt Lake City."
"Sounds to me like they're working on getting a plane out of Salt Lake
City. I'll think about pulling off the fire when I hear plane engines."
The critic tossed burning debris into the fire.
Fifteen minutes later a horse-mounted police officer rode up to where the
same critic was stomping out hot spots on a ridge.
"Planes are waiting to drop fire retardant. You have to pull back so they
can make the drop." The policeman said, maneuvering his horse on the six
feet between the fire and a steep drop off the ridge.
"I'll think about leaving when I hear aircraft."
"This smoke isn't good for you." The policeman said, sort of hopelessly,
realizing, perhaps, that he could order people off the mountain, but if
they refused to go there wasn't much he could do about it. "The smoke
isn't good for my animal."
"You don't seem to understand. My family is down there, threatened by this
fire. I'm not going anywhere until I'm satisfied the danger is past. Take
care of your horse, and get him out of here. Just pretend you didn't see
The policeman sat quiet for a moment before riding off.
Two earlier, much smaller fires had afforded the Family an opportunity to
practice forming bucket brigades. Several efforts were made to form
brigades and bring water to this fire. Early efforts were discouraged by
mounted police and misinformed Family members, telling the story of a fire
People were flowing toward the meadow or the road heading toward the
parking lot. Carla was trying to re-form brigades to send water to the
fire. Ellen said, "There are so many conflicting rumors, nobody knows what
"Principle says get water to the fire. Plunker says get water to the fire.
Principle and Plunker never agree on anything. Get water to the fire."
Carla reasoned, and Ellen started rounding up what was left of the fleeing
people to once again move water up the hill. Still, it wasn't until after
4:00 before buckets of water made it to the fire.
Around 5:00, when the plane from Salt Lake City finally dropped two tanks
of fire retardant, Family members were venturing well into the charred
area, dumping buckets of water on a retreating fire. Plunker, who started
from the southwest end of the fire and Principle, who started from the
northwest, met amidst an atmosphere of jubilation. By the Spirit's
blessing, the Family held the fire to virtually the same line that marked
it at 2:30.
Some who fought the fire side by side realized beyond doubt that they
valued a common reality, the welfare of the Forest and the Family. It was
an overwhelmingly positive inspiration.
A couple of weeks later KGNU a Boulder public radio station having possibly
averted a much bigger fire. broadcast a BLM firefighter, crediting the
Family's actions for
July 4th, the ritual of silence, prayer for peace on earth and healing of
the planet, is the focal point of the Gathering.
On July 5th the Rainbow Family Tribal Council convened, maybe 150 people,
on the west of the Peace Pole. After an agenda was outlined it was clear,
the primary shared interest was "Legaliaison."
Miriam was designated as focalizer. Discussion began with something like a
replay of the council that ended with the fire.
Sailor, Old Family, a veteran of many, many gatherings, who'd been spending
time in Nacogdoches, began with a motion to dissolve Legaliaison.
Garrick, Old Family, veteran of many, many, many gatherings, who'd been in
closer contact with people in Nacogdoches, or with people in contact with
people in Nacogdoches, than he had with people in D.C.. repeated his
version of the Legaliaison genesis and opinions on the present regulations,
including suggestions to fire the regulation writers and create historical
It started to snow.
"If we dissolve Legaliaison, where will we get information about what the
government is doing with the regulations? We need to have some point to
get information." Starfire said.
"Maybe you can get information from your focalizer." Miriam suggested.
The snow turned to hail. People continued to join the circle.
Carla, central to the Old Family information network, told how no
individual could speak for the Rainbow Family, and the continued existence
of Legaliaison created the danger that someone might appear to speak for
Thomas, New Family, whose Family connection didn't begin until regulation
fighting in 1988, repeated his sense that dissolving Legaliaison wouldn't
solve any problems. "The problem," he rephrased it, "is we don't
communicate well enough. We don't listen to one another well enough. We
aren't the enemy. The government is making the regulations. We need to
work together to stop it. But we can't work together if we don't talk to
"If we dissolve Legaliaison, how will we deal with the government's
regulations?" someone else asked.
"Some people have been dealing with these regulations for years. They are
the people who will continue to deal with them," Sailor declared.
"I'm not sure we can talk about that, some principle faces are missing."
Thomas said. Some folks, in contact with Nacogdoches, as well as C.B.
contact with principle characters on site, tittered at the double entendre.
Not long afterward, Steven Principle, from Nacogdoches, a veteran of more
gatherings than most and in close touch with Old Family information
networks, arrived at the circle with a pile of papers and a folding chair.
Feather, with strong links to the Old Family network, told of the First
Gathering. She told of running barefoot over rough terrain, hundreds of
hippies, evading police roadblocks, to gather successfully above Granby
Lake. She wasn't so concerned with new regulations, because she seemed to
know that nothing could ever stop the Family from gathering. Feather
mentioned that she got "all this paper" in the mail, didn't have a chance
to read it all, although she tried to scan it. Also, she said, she was
disturbed to hear that some people had been speaking on behalf of the
Rainbow Family. Anyway hadn't the government scrapped these regulations?
New Family folks distributed a Forest Service press release which quoted
Chief Jack Thomas as saying that the regulations would be redrafted and
Someone wanted to know who had been speaking for the Family.
Garrick said he had been getting so many letters, from Nacogdoches, from
Wisconsin, from D.C., each complaining about the other. He was tired of it
all, and didn't want to get into it. We should just bury the hatchet and
go on, he suggested.
Duane, a veteran of many gatherings, but not quite Old Family, agreed that
we should bury the hatchet, but he thought it was important not to ignore
the truth about what was being said and written and interactions among the
A young man said this was his first gathering, and he only came to the
circle because he'd been told something significant was going to happen
there. But, he said, he'd been listening for quite awhile (maybe an hour
and a half) and had the impression that the circle was "talking around the
Michael John said this was the best circle he'd seen in over twenty years
of Rainbow gatherings.
"I've got a question. There's all this vague talk about somebody 'speaking
for the Family,' but nobody's naming any names. Why doesn't somebody just
come right out and directly accuse somebody of 'speaking for the Family'?
Who did it?"
"You did it, Thomas," Chuck, in touch with the Old Family network, said.
"When?" Thomas asked. After Chuck didn't answer, Thomas asked,
"Can anybody give a specific instance where I spoke for the Family, Does
anybody have a letter, or any evidence?"
Chuck, perhaps realising that the Old Network had misinformed him,
"Let me show you an example of someone speaking for the Rainbow Family."
Thomas held up a copy of Almost Free. "Here is a copy of a letter,
entitled RAINBOW - RAINBOW - RAINBOW, Position Statement, and it is signed
by S. Principle, Legaliaison, Nacogdoches. Here's my problem, Steven and I
are supposed to be working for the same thing, but Steven won't even talk
to me, and I get accused of doing stuff that he's actually doing."
There was a short silence.
"I got this thing in the mail, this 'Legal & Land Use..' thing that went to
the government from Legaliaison; this guy named Scott Addison..." Sailor
"I'm Scott Addoson," Scott interrupted. "What you got last fall was a
draft that went out to over 500 Family folks FOR THEIR INPUT. That
absolutely was _not_ sent to anyone in the government." Scottie got up,
walked over to Sailor and handed him a pile of papers. "Here's the final
version, which did go to the government. Show me where "Rainbow" appears."
Sailor paged through the Legal Land Use Review as Scottie returned to his
spot on the circle and sat down. Scottie's challange went unanswered.
Ace said that getting involved with paper was the problem, it was the same
thing that the government was doing, and people who were involved with
paperwork should get out of the country clubs and start doing some real
Many other people voiced opinions.
Several hours into the circle Dan D, who wasn't present when Michael John
spoke earlier, said, of the many Rainbow Councils he'd attended, this was
"There are a lot of folks who want to talk here, and I've already said more
than my share, so I'm going to simplify things by pulling out. Love you
all. See you next year, God willing. And let me know whatever you decide
about Legaliaison." Thomas excused himself.
Walking up the hill to Sundog Kitchen, Thomas thought so much time had been
spent trying to identify exactly what hatchet needed to be buried, that
there was no discussion of tactical considerations. Should energy be
directed toward firing regulation writers and establishing historical
sites, or should energy focus on building coalitions with other groups
interested in freedom of assembly and pressuring the government to abandon
Not only were practical tactical topics overlooked, but the underlying
personal, Old Family/New Family issues also escaped discussion. Turning to
look at the circle, Thomas saw the most vivid rainbow (snowbow?) he'd ever
seen, as high as the mountain, centered on the circle and Peace Pole. He
had a positive feeling, as if taking the first step of a long awaited
Maybe an hour later Thomas was passing near the circle as it was preparing
to disband. Ben called to him.
"They dissolved Legaliaison. What are we going to call the new body? I
think we need something that will attract people on the right. We need to
start thinking about building a coalition. It was letters from
conservatives that made the government reconsider the law enforcement
"What would you suggest?"
"Something simple, maybe "People for Freedom of Assembly."
"Sounds good to me." Thomas said.
"Now that we dissolved Legaliaison, what are we going to call the new
body?" Principle asked.
"We were thinking about People for Freedom of Assembly."
"Sounds okay." Principle agreed. "We need to get the names and addresses
of everybody who wrote letters to oppose the law enforcement regulations."
"I called the Law Enforcement branch and requested a log of those names and
addresses. They said they got so many letters, they didn't make a log."
Thomas told him.
Principle said it didn't sound right that the government could forget about
making a log just because they got too much opposition. Thomas agreed and
said that he would follow up.
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