[Hpn] GrapeVine #2 -- May 5, 2000
Fri, 05 May 2000 10:46:12 -0600
GrapeVine ~ c/o Barry Adams, P.O. Box 8574,
Missoula, MT 59807 ~ contact # (406) 825-0044
GrapeVine #2 -- May 5, 2000
For Immediate Release -- copy and distribute freely
Disclaimer: GrapeVine news service is an independent project of concerned
individuals interested in sharing perspectives and information on Gathering 2000
and related subjects. The perspectives here published are not representative of
any group or any other individual Gathering attendees, participants, or
spectators, other than the individual contributors to GrapeVine.
2. Gatherers File FOIA, Release '99 Resource Report
3. Scouts Consider Sensitive Wildlife, Cultures
4. Peace Solutions: Notification v. Permit
5. Official Disapproval, "emergency" money
1. Letters: Note from Gathering Volunteers
Dear Grapevine, Please share this --
Gathering of the Tribes 2000 is coming this summer to public
lands somewhere in the Montana-Idaho region. This consensus was
reached among attendees at the annual Gathering in Pennsylvania last
summer. Anyone interested in receiving a Howdy Folks (site
announcement) for "Gathering of the Tribes 2000" should send a
self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to: Gathering 2000, PMB
512, 1001 E. Broadway, Missoula, MT 59802. Email inquiries can be
sent to "unofficial" <email@example.com>.
The main days of the Gathering are July 1-7. Site selection is
expected in early June. Announcements will be sent out soon after that.
For individuals needing to make travel plans sooner, major regional
airports include Spokane, Boise, Missoula, Great Falls and Billings."
General information about Gatherings is available at the
"unofficial" welcome home webpage;
<http://www.welcomehome.org>. Gatherings are traditionally free and
open to all individuals who come in the spirit of Peace and sharing.
Good things to bring include: camping gear, rain gear, bulk foods, water
filter, propane stoves, an open mind and a loving attitude.
- PEACE, pmb512
2. Gatherers make Allegheny resource report available to Public:
"...resource impacts have been adequately addressed, mitigated, or
rehabilitated." - says District Ranger
Missoula (MT) - Montana Activist Barry Adams announced last
week that the Allegheny District "Final Impact Summary" and "Health
report" concerning last summers "Rainbow" gathering are now publicly
available on the worldwide web. The 1999 Gathering of the Tribes was
held on the Marienville Ranger District of Allegheny National Forest.
"Gathering of the Tribes 2000" is heading for Montana or Idaho this
summer (Grapevine #1 - March --). Adams and William Thomas were
required to file a formal Freedom of Information Act request to receive
this and other public documents concerning the 1999 Gathering.
The report's resource assessments address soil impact,
wetlands, water quality, wildlife, recreation, roads, and heritage sites.
Adams described the report as "positive." "I want the local community
here in Montana and Idaho to know gathering volunteers have a good
track record of taking care of the resources and cleaning up and
restoring sites. Volunteers are already committing to Gathering 2000
cleanup too... cleanup starts from Day one of gathering." said Adams.
District Ranger Leon Blashock wrote: "I have concluded that
there will be minimal long term negative resource impacts to the Bear
Creek site. One Heritage site was damaged during the event. All other
resource impacts have been adequately addressed, mitigated or
rehabilitated." Blashock continues, "The post-event Rainbow Family
contingent did a very good job of cleanup and site reclamation. As time
passes it will be increasingly difficult to determine that a gathering of
this magnitude ever occurred in the Bear Creek area. The Forest Service
District Ranger and Resource Assessment team experienced a high
degree of cooperation with the family on any matter where natural
resource issues were of concern."
According to Rainbow volunteers, cleanup is regarded very
seriously since the purpose of Gathering is to restore peace among
humankind and harmony with the earth. "Concerned individuals take up
the responsibility of working with resource specialists and communicate
these concerns to less aware participants. Volunteer efforts have been at
this since 1972 and folks have developed a lot of tools and practices for
coordinating resource protection and other aspects of gathering. There's
a lot of collective experience, and a lot of strong young volunteers who
enjoy the work. It's beautiful. Follks can come from hard lives or
"well-to-do" circumstances, and find the joy in feeding, helping, giving
back... for love. Anyone can volunteer. No one is in charge, but
everyone has something to offer." said a volunteer/observer who
declined being named.
The resource assessments indicate no significant impacts on
water quality, recreation or roads. Some soil disturbances in high use
areas and main trails are expected to take one or more annual growth
cycles to recover completely. Wetlands were not heavily impacted. The
Heritage site reportedly damaged was an unmarked logging camp site
with no visible structures (circa 1925) which the ANF had not
prioritized for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, but
was under consideration for a thematic interpretive program. The report
states "we (still) have many fine examples of these site types on the
According to Adams, a formal Freedom of Information Act
request was not required in previous years. "This is the first time in 28
years of Gathering that I or other citizens have had to resort to FOIA to
get a simple report. It seems like they should want concerned persons to
have this kind of info since it lets the public know how gathering
attendees did last year and where gatherers need to work on it. It's
almost as if the Feds want to slow down and prevent individuals from
addressing these legitimate concerns...," said Adams.
It is unclear why these reports were not made public by the
Forest Service. A concerned citizen who contacted the Allegheny
District was told that he had to contact the national team incident
commander, Bill Fox, in Missoula. A citizen contacting Bill Fox was
told that the documents would only be released pursuant to FOIA. In
previous years, such reports and "clean-up sign-off letters" were
available upon request from the District Ranger responsible for the site
resources. The resource report is still prepared on the district level, but
its release appears to be restricted at the behest of the National Law
It seems contrary to purpose that an Incident Team charged with
the job of protecting the public resources at the peace gathering, would
find it desirable to withhold resource information from the public,
especially from concerned individuals who are in a position to further
this goal considerably. The national team assigned to "manage the
gathering incident" is noticeably lacking in ecology, resource and health
professionals, instead consisting almost entirely of Federal Law
Enforcement agents, investigators and "information officers" (-how
Orwellian is that?...).
Rather than promoting good stewardship through cooperative
efforts and recognizing a legitimate expressive, spiritual and cultural
event, the national incident team has profiled the gathering public as a
'criminal element' and turned citizens into suspects - only because they
elect to gather in peace on national forests. .or is there more to the
Wouldn't it be better to engage the volunteers collaboratively as
friends in peacekeeping and resource protection? Most resource
professionals who have worked with the volunteers report a memorable
and successful cooperative experience.
A collection of clean-up letters and reports from previous
gatherings is available online at <www.welcomehome.org>. The FS
"Final Action Report," as released through FOIA, is available at
[1999 National Rainbow Family Gathering: Final Action Report;
Allegheny National Forest, Marienville Ranger District; USFS].
3. Scouts Consider Sensitive Wildlife, Cultures
Sites are scouted by individuals who show up and help check
out potential sites... General needs like water and parking as well as
ecological and cultural concerns need to be considered.
A large number of people will impact the site's wildlife, soils
and water. Sites may have endangered species habitat, delicate
wetlands or other ecological concerns. In Montana and Idaho bull trout
streams and grizzly habitat are important considerations. Wolves, bald
eagle, lynx and other species may also be present.
Sites must have suitable water sources; for drinking water and
fire protection. Other water users also need to be considered. Scouts
look for good potential parking areas and suitable roads. Usually, final
site selection does not happen until early June or so when "spring
council" is called to hear the scouts and reach consensus on the best
It is also important to identify sacred sites of other people or
Tribes and not heavily impact these. Out of respect and acting as good
neighbors scouts will be on the lookout for these areas.
Once a site is chosen, "seed camp" volunteers arrive to begin
preparing for the big gathering. Generally, this includes mapping out the
area to locate parking, trails, kitchens, latrines, event meadows, etc, in a
good way that works with landscape features to minimize impacts.
Volunteers often work with local ecologists and resource specialists at
this stage, encouraging them to visit the site and walk the land with them
to ensure agreement on these important issues. Folks attending last fall's
Thanksgiving circle, expressed a wish for local folks, including
environmentalists and ecologists, to come on out and check it out and
feel welcome to help with the guidance of these tasks (and also to come
In past years, gathering volunteers have also worked
cooperatively to resolve potential conflicts with commercial users. In
Oregon '97 gatherers co-existed peaceably with a small timber
operation and a cattle drive, neither of which experienced any set-backs
due to the gathering in progress. At times, gathering attendees have
volunteered to help local land-owners or lease holders by repairing
fences, helping move stock, rerouting vehicle access, etc., to encourage
a relationship of mutual respect and minimize the impacts on local
people and their livelihoods.
All gathering functions are volunteer-based and open to the
cooperative participation of experienced gatherers, newcomers and
"locals" alike! The event is free and open to all who seek to practice
Peace. The Invitation also urges people to "Live lightly with the Land
and People" and "Ignore all rumors of cancellation."
4. Legal Peace Solutions: Notification v. Permit
Montana - Since last summer, several courts around the country
have ruled on permit and enforcement issues concerning the Gatherings.
Rulings were issued concerning Missouri '96, Oregon '97, and
Pennsylvania '99 Gatherings of the Tribes. While each of these cases
are independent and separate from the others, all of these rulings have a
bearing on the 28-year-old relationship between Gathering attendees
and often hostile Federal Agents and inter-agency "Incident Command
Teams" assigned to police the Gatherings.
In a recent article, Bill Fox stated "All of the courts are saying
that the permit is constitutional. If they don't get the permit they may be
perceived as thumbing their noses at the law" (Montana Kaimin,
University of Montana, 4/11/00).
Individual attendees have struggled legally for many years for
the right to pray, petition and assemble on the "common ground." Barry
Adams of Montana, a defendant and plaintiff in court over this issue,
says, "No one should need a 'license to pray' on public lands."
In hope of resolving this issue, Adams has recently written to the
Chief of the Forest Service proposing a "Peace Resolution" --
notification and cooperative resource planning. This would allow the
gathering to satisfy "agency process" needed to assure protection of
resources and planning concerns, while avoiding possible confrontation.
According to Adams, "There is an 'alternative manner' for
relating with peaceable assemblies of otherwise 'unassociated'
individuals; particularly for individuals with moral, religious, political,
or ethical objections to signing for something that they have no authority
over ...or letting anyone falsely claim such authority. The alternative is
respectful notification and operating plan guidelines. This mechanism
has been in place as de facto process for years, but the Forest Service
says its not enough unless someone signs for permission."
"There needs to be a 'culturally sensitive' Constitutional
alternative for use of national forest or other public lands; a due process
that provides cultural inclusion rather than cultural discrimination.
Gathering on the 4th of July is my faith-form, like Christmas or Kwanzaa
or Chanukah. Each year I make a pilgrimage to 'New Jahrusalem'."
Instead of forcing individuals who are culturally distinct to form
into an organization so they can apply for a permit, the regulation at 36
CFR 251 says the District Ranger or Forest Supervisor can propose an
"alternative manner." Notification (application) /operating plan enables
the agency to do its job, while preserving public access and use of
public lands, even if the user is a culturally distinct minority whose
objections stem from religious, political, and/or ethical purposes.
"My position is there should be minimal governmental intrusion,
with strict judicial scrutiny on narrow grounds of any governmental
intrusion on peaceable assemblies held on public lands for
purposes of expression and spiritual practice. I have posted my position
publicly on the Internet to <alt.gathering.rainbow> newsgroup, one of
many circles of the thousands of people around the world familiar with
'Rainbow-style' Gatherings." said Adams.
For many years, the gatherings proceeded with oral notification
and an informal operating plan i.e. resource protection/rehabilitation
guidelines. This allowed all "significant government interests," i.e.
resource protection, health and safety, to be met cooperatively and
primarily by the volunteer efforts of individual gatherers. This was
successful at resolving all the health and safety issues that came up for
many years. However, the Feds want more: a signature of someone "in
charge, i. e. a designated agent"
This raises many difficult issues for an event organized by the
principles of "free assembly." The gathering runs on "anonymous"
volunteer energy, motivated by the love and free giving many spiritual
pilgrims and other attendees, who are not "required" to "join", but
encouraged to recognize how it works and take up their part, whatever
that may be. Helping at the gathering is a kind of volunteer service, for
peace, or freedom, or spiritual exercise, or whatever the individual
recognizes in his or her life that leads to this place.
Gatherers maintain that their form of internal autonomy has
worked well for years. As equals in service and as free individuals, the
designation of leaders would only obscure their natural equality and
turn-off potential volunteers who have may have had bad experiences
with authority. Many individuals who attend gatherings claim to do so
because they have learned the joy of giving freely. They return year after
year for spiritual regeneration and healing; a modern pilgrimage of
peace people from every walk of life.
However, the Federal Police assigned to manage the Gatherings
stubbornly refuse to recognize this principle or its success. They have
sought rather to "force the issue," often threatening attendees with arrest
and other interference; making it a hardship for many to "come home"
and enjoy spiritual service. Federal "information officers" have issued
disparaging accounts to the press, many of which are based on rumors
which sometimes get exposed by good reporters. However, the damage
to the gatherers reputation is usually done by the time the truth gets
uncovered. Gathering volunteers who have sought work with local
communities have been targeted as leaders and issued tickets, and
sometimes threatened with court proceedings to stop them from returning
to gatherings. These people are individual citizens who were persecuted
for gathering because they acted consciensciously to be a good neighbor.
Such treatment has discouraged many people from taking up this
important aspect of gathering, allowed federal mis-information to fill the
From the earliest Gathering in 1972, Federal Agents have
enlisted local Police in efforts to stop these Peaceable Assembly from
happening. In 1987, North Carolina Gathering, a 'special operations
group" of Law Enforcement Officers, some specially trained at the
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, took
over command and control functions of the Gatherings, and this Incident
Command Team imposes 'defacto martial law", by having the Gathering
declared an 'emergency".
At times the Feds have attempted to blockade gathering sites,
prohibiting free ingress and egress. They have erected roadblocks for
systematic searching and profiling of gathering attendees, recorded
license plate numbers from every attendee vehicle, officially issued
false reports to the press and local residents to create an expectation of
problems, discouraged local officials and agency resource specialists
from having direct contact with Gathering volunteers, dramatically
increased police presence on the roads and highways around
Gatherings, issuing hundreds of tickets for minor infractions to
substantiate their claims that "lots of crime" justified these efforts. In
addition, they have repeatedly singled out individuals to whom they
issued tickets for the Gathering itself, of violating permit requirements.
While Forest Service efforts have failed to stop the Gatherings,
many gatherers have been targeted for tickets or searches simply
because they attend this event. In Pennsylvania over 2000 people were
stopped by one form of Police Agency or another (see Final Action
Report, pg. 19-23, 1999). This chills the attendees' Freedom to
Assemble, pray, petition and express themselves openly.
"The Gathering is a peaceable assembly for purposes of free
expression, both spiritual and secular... and there's nothing like it on
Earth." said Adams, adding "Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or
abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the
people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a
redress of grievances."
5. Official Disapproval:
Forest Service uses "emergency" to chill Gatherings?
The Feds have repeatedly taken the position that the Gatherings
are an illegal event because no one will sign a permit. This minor
administrative requirement is used to "justify" massive expenditures to
bring a heavy law enforcement presence to the threshold of this annual
free speech event. But a closer look at the records suggests that
exaggerated safety concerns have been used to generate a million dollar
budget for summer Police exercises that may not merit emergency
Individual Gatherers, for their part, have explained repeatedly
that no one can sign a permit as an official agent of the event because no
formal organizational structure exists. The Gathering is a "peaceable
assembly" of individuals; people come on their own volition with
personal responsibility intact -- there are no designated offices, leaders,
or agents, nor one group or group of groups that is "rainbow family". As
a result, gatherers are caught between "bowing to Caesar" i.e. signing a
permit on behalf of thousands of anonymous unassociated individuals
(associated only in Peaceably assembling) and lying about the nature of
their association, or possibly being framed as a leader by the US
Department of Justice - Or at least suffering a de facto Police State set
up on the doorstep of their peaceable assembly.
Even seasoned gatherers are adamant about not being in charge.
Instead, everyone is in charge of themselves, takes personal
responsibility. Cooperation and consensus process are used to align the
many individual efforts harmoniously. there are "Forum/soapbox -style"
councils, NOT decision-making councils. This form of unity is a cultural
expression. The national incident team interprets this as "thumbing their
noses at the law."
In recent years, the Incident Team has supported a large,
multi-agency police force to patrol highways, towns and forest roads in
the Gathering vacinity. These troops make large numbers of vehicle
stops, usually for minor violations or just to tell folks the speed limit,
which are then reported as "incidents" to maintain the need for police
Last year in Pennsylvania, the big "offenses" among rainbows
was crystals or other "danglies" hanging from the bottom of the inside
rearview mirrors - obstruction of visibility, a ticketable offense.
Dysfunctional license plate lights were another hot ticket item. While the
public does not want to encourage dangerous danglies or bad wiring,
one cannot help but notice that this hardly sounds like a major criminal
problem... let alone a national emergency. Which brings up an important
new fact: last year, and allegedly for several past years, the Secretary of
Agriculture reportedly declared the Gathering an "emergency" at the
behest of the National Incident Team (1999 Final Action Report; p. 28).
Incident Commander William Fox has requested similar
'emergency' designation from the Chief of the Forest Service for this
Year's Gathering (William C. Fox, Incident Commander; memo to
Chief, January 25, 2000 - FOIA document). $400,000 in funds already
allocated to this "emergency" (Kim Thorsen, Assistant Director,
Enforcement and Liaison, USFS - FOIA document). [* FOIA documents
are available at
A major police presence is allegedly needed to ensure the public
health and safety and protect resources. Yet the police-dominated
"incident management team" avoids working cooperatively with
gathering volunteers who promote the health, safety, and resource
protection within the gatherings. Instead, the incident team has
repeatedly opted to keep gatherers out of the loop, while projecting the
image that gatherers are irresponsible scofflaws who don't care about
public health and safety, impacts on resources or local communities.
Health and resources personnel have even reported being ordered NOT
to communicate or associate with the gatherers.
Meanwhile, gathering volunteers have a strong positive record
of friendly and successful cooperation with resource and health
professionals. A quick review of Forest Service resource reports
(http://www.welcomehome.org) confirms a history of cooperation and
successful resource protection and site restoration. Volunteers have
worked with local health departments and agencies to allay concerns
about hygiene and food preparation and coordinate potential medical
needs. Gatherers perform their own kitchen and latrine inspections to
ensure a healthy camp.
Volunteers also keep watch and maintain communications and
provide for the encampment's safety from threats such as fire danger or
violent/stupid behavior. For example, at the Arizona '98 gathering,
volunteers learned a man, located in the Gathering, was wanted for
murder in Florida. The volunteers, much like 'neighborhood watch' i.e.
"Shanti Sena consciousness", communicated with the suspect who
agreed to surrender to authorities. The County Sheriff was contacted
and the suspect was taken in; volunteers acted just like any other
responsible citizens would do.
Nevertheless, the Feds maintain that "Gathering -
Rainbow-style" is a public emergency -- or are they really just
maintaining their own budget? I wonder. According to the executive
summary of the '99 incident report, emergency designation suspends
normal line item budget requirements, enabling transferring of funds
among various agencies and purposes. This means that money provided
for resource management can be used for cops or surveillance
equipment, for example. During the Arizona '98 gathering, the incident
team even facilitated "emergency disaster relief" for the local counties,
to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. What was the big problem?
They wanted more cops to patrol the highways to make traffic stops.
Meanwhile various newspaper articles and FS reports have
repeatedly suggested that a large portion of this money is needed to
rehabilitate the gathering sites, suggesting that Rainbows leave a big
mess. This myth was echoed again recently by FS information officer
Rose Davis (affectionately known as "mis(s)-information" among
gatherers), "Their rehabilitation work varies," Davis said. "It used to be
very good, but the last few years they've had a harder time. But I don't
see why the taxpayers should have to pay to clean up when these
people won't even get a permit and abide by the law." (AP,
Spokesman-Review; March 28, 2000). However, not only does the
clean-up record fail to support this, but gathering volunteers have found
to the contrary that the local districts are left to cover any cleanup costs
that gatherers do not successfully attend to, if any. None of the Federal
money appears to filter down to this level. Fortunately, the Rainbows
have a strong record of responsibility and this has never resulted in a
The only complaint from a local district was in Arizona, where
"Rainbow Family" was billed for unreclaimed logging roads that were
"ripped" after the '98 Gathering. The site near Springerville Arizona
had been extensively logged in the late 80s, leaving many skid trails that
were never water-barred or recovered in any way. After these were
used as foot trails for the Gathering, the gathering was charged for the
district's costs to hire a roadripper and extra personnel who allegedly
did other work also. This district declined the offer of volunteers to
finish up any remaining work for free. The bill was soon after paid by
anonymous donors, over the objections of several cleanup volunteers
who 'called foul' on the district's actions. Again however, none of the
Federal incident budget went towards these alleged impacts.
So where does the money go? No full accounting appears to
have made publicly available. From what is in the recent annual reports,
salaries and expenses for police seems to absorb most of it. Some years
have also boasted large expensive temporary medical facilties (largely
superfluous due to the non-cooperative management approach) or major
air support components (see Arizona '98 report). Surveillance and
communications equipment is also usually mentioned as an expense.
Despite a 28 year track record of good cleanups and very few
serious incidents, official disapproval continues to "justify" a big
budget and big show of force as LEI Rose Davis puts out the party line
likening "Rainbows" i.e. anyone who gathers, to a terrible scourge of
locusts about to descend on your town. Far from promoting the public
safety, this tactic has generated significant hostility towards gatherers,
creating a climate of fear and prejudice that can endanger innocent
travelers simply because they look different. In West Virginia '80 two
young women on their way to the Gathering were murdered in a brutal
hate crime; at the time public officials were speaking out against the
gathering and encouraging locals to help stop it.
In fact, the Gathering comes together each year for a Silent
Circle Prayer for Peace on the Fourth of July. This is a "peaceable
assembly for purpose of worship, prayer, petition" on public land. At
the up-coming "Gathering of the Tribes 2000," thousands of individuals
will come from all over the world to "pray" for peace and healing of
this Planet and the divisions among people; a 'petition' for Peace.
Wouldn't it be nice if the Feds took a different tack this year...
maybe even took a hand in the circle of Peace... and free up some tax
money to help resolve some real emergencies like global warming, loss
of family farms, homelessness, and cultural oppression!
GrapeVine is an information sharing forum concerning "Gathering of
the Tribes 2000", an event coming this summer to a site on public land
in Montana or Idaho, around July 1-7.
Disclaimer: GrapeVine is an independent project of concerned
individuals interested in sharing perspectives and information on this
Gathering and related subjects. The perspectives here published are not
representative of any group or any other individual Gathering attendees,
participants, or spectators, other than the individual contributors to
Note: General information on Gatherings is also available on the world
wide web at <http://www.welcomehome.org> an unofficial Gathering
Site announcements will be mailed to anyone sending a self-addressed
stamped envelope (SASE) to: Gathering 2000, PMB 512, 1001 E.
Broadway #2, Missoula, MT 59802
- 30 -
~~~~Restore the Earth! Restore the People! ~~~~