THE BURLINGTON FREE PRESS
THURSDAY, JUNE 11, 1991
Rainbow gathering explained
Residents raise concerns on crowd
By Betsy Liley
Free Press Staff Writer
HANCOCK - After being satisfied on most of hteir concerns about a
Fourth of July
event that could attract as many as 20,000 people to Green
Mountain National Forest,
residents of the area joined hands and prayed Monday night with
members of the
Rainbow Family of Living Light.
The Rainbow Family has met annually for 19 years in national
crowds of 3,000 to 30,000. This 20th gathering is the first in
the North-east. The
loosely knit group says that it believes in the First Amendment
right to gather on public
lands and focuses its energies on peace and the Earth. "My fear
is how many people
are going to converge on this tiny piece of land," Judy Adler
said, echoing concerns
of many who filled Hancock Methodist Church on Vermont 100 for a
organized by the Rainbow Family. Others at the meeting
criticized the Rainbow
Family for what they said is an invasion of the small White River
Valley in Addison and
Windsor counties. Not only did they charge that the group's
mountainside presence is
luring local youth to its so called A Camp to which alcohol use
is confined, but they
questioncd whether taxpayer money should be used to provide law
"You're bringing a city here, when we -- the voters -- have no
control over anything. We don't have my say. I don't think that's fair," said one woman,
who declined to identify herself. "You have an impact on the young people of the
valley; it's not a good impact."
Rainbow Family members, such as Joan McMurray of Maine,
concerns in explaining how Vermont was chosen for this year's
"You guys have the most beautiful piece of land. You win. You
lose," she said,
drawing chuckles. By the end of the meeting resident Betsy
McRae said her worries
were answered. "it's kind of an opportunity for the valley, that
something different can
happen, and it can be good," she said.
Most residents who attended said it was a mix of environmental
concerns and curiosity that drew them. "When we leave, we will disappear. Absolutely. There isn't a cigarette butt left." a Rainbow Family member named Water Singing on the Rocks said. He
arrived Monday from Kentucky.
Warren DuBois, who is leading a National Forest Service team assigned to the event,
agreed. "I saw the result when they left (a gathering in another state). It was in good shape." DuRois said.
Citizens worried about the impacts of a temporary city -- which would be Vermont's
second largest after Burlington if 20,000 people attend. Parking, traffic, shoplifting and pandhandling were among issues raised. Robert Iwamoto, the Rochester district forest ranger, said Rainbow Family members are struggling with the parking situation.
Among the proposals are using meadows near Texas Falls for about 1,500 cars,
renting land and using Middlebury College Snow Bowl parking lots.
Alcohol was a persistent question. Rainbow Family members emphasized that they
discourage alcohol use. Because of complaints from local residents. A Camp members have begun checking the age of visitors to the area, one Rainbow Family member said.
Cert Harris, who owns the Granville Country Store, defended the Rainbow Family,
saying stories of local youths' drinking are false. "I've seen towns People go up there and cause trouble," she said, adding that teen-agers usually appeared at A Camp with their own alcohol.
Other residents had questions about how the Rainbow Family was organized, what
it stood for and even how they fed the thousands of people who attended the annual event.
'Everybody puts their money in.... We share everything," said Roberto, Washington,
D.C.. resident. "Whatever you have to give it just what we need to take. Whatever you need to take is just what we have to give," said Water Singing on the Rocks, referring to myriad educational program, health care provisions and work assignments.
"it's all about unity," said Karen, a native Vermonter who lives in Massechusetts.
"We're a family."
Vermont Report |
PCU Administrative Record |
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