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 of reality.

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 actually transpired.

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 insights.

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 dissolved.

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 he'd said.

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 me."

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 gone wild.

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 to do."

"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 Rainbow sites.

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 the Family.

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 one another."

"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 reissued.

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 people.

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 issues."

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, apologized.

"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 said.

"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 work.

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 the best.

"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 the regulations?

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 journey.

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 regulations."

"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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