1991 Vermont Gathering Report
11. KIDDIE VILLAGE - Kiddie Village was located in the heart of the
gathering, symbolizing that children are central to the Family's survival
and continuance, the Family surrounding and protecting them. It was a place
specially created with children in mind. It was located just north of main
meadow during the 1991 gathering.
Families with children set up camp here. Parents built hand made playground
equipment, constructed a sandbox, swimming hole and a story circle. Parents
and other adults took turns watching the camp children so all might have a
chance to enjoy other gathering activities. The village's kitchen served
meals catering to the likes of kids and their parents, and special care was
taken to ensure that proper sanitary procedures were followed.
12. PETS - Rainbow literature discourages people from bringing animals to
the gathering because of health and safety concerns. However, there were
animals at the Vermont gathering. Pets came in all forms: hundreds of dogs
of all breeds and mixes, sizes and age; cats and new born litters of
kittens; monkeys; ferrets; parrots; and one pet chicken were observed. Most
animals were untethered and unattended to. Although the majority seemed to
be well cared for, it can be assumed that some were without shots and were.
therefore, a threat to the well being of gathering attendees.
Many Rainbows openly expressed their disdain for the free roaming animals.
By mid week, when gathering attendance peaked, dogs were literally
everywhere. Most were well behaved and simply roamed around playing and
occasionally looking for handouts. But animal feces indiscriminately
deposited about the gathering became an annoyance as well as a health issue.
There were two reported incidents of animals biting people. A child was
bitten by a mixed breed dog July 5th morning. The child was treated at
C.A.L.M. The dog, initially suspected of being rabid because of a frothing
mouth. The dog's owner was initially unknown and Rainbow Family members
brought the dog to the ICP. A Granville town constable took the animal to a
local veterinarian. After observations, the dog was released to its owner.
Later that afternoon there was a report of a man being attacked and
repeatedly bitten by a pit bull and a pit bull cross Rottweiler. The victim
was taken to Middlebury for treatment. No further information is available.
12. BARTER AREA - The gathering had its own business district where people
displayed their wares in hopes of exchanging them for something of equal
value. There was a variety of goods: hand-crafted jewelry, beadwork and
clothing (especially tie-dyed items); hand worked wooden bowls and leather
hats, belts and wallets; rocks, minerals and crystals; knives; incense and
other items. But money wouldn't buy you much. The method of trade at the
gathering was barter, and the favored currencies were tobacco, crystals and
candy bars. However, one could attempt to barter with whatever they had
available to them. One vendor's sign read "Anything for food."
THE FINAL REPORT Continued.
K. RAINBOW FUNDS
The Rainbow Family has money which it uses to pay for whatever is needed at
the gathering: food, water. supplies, medical needs, bail for Family
members, restoration materials, etc. Funds are apparently donated by Family
members and other supporters. The money is kept in the Family "bank" which
arrived at the Vermont site shortly after the seed camp was established. if
any urgent need arises during the gathering the Family can raise money
quickly by passing the "magic hat".
The Family usually prepays or pays for food and supplies upon pick-up or
delivery. This is the system they used during the Igql gathering. They
also claim to pay for any medical bills which individual Family members can
not pay for. There were no known unpaid bills following the gathering in
Unfortunately, there were a few incidents of shoplifting, and drive-offs and
walk-aways at gas stations and restaurants. The Family told local
businesses that it would repay the value of merchandise stolen or services
rendered without payment if a claim was made. They did this in one known
situation. In most instances, however, local businesses reported problems
to the Forest Service, but decided against making a claim to the Rainbow
Family, not wanting to "stir up trouble".
III. HEALTH, SAFETY AND SANITATION
A primary management objective for the 1991 Rainbow Gathering was to ensure
the health and safety of all those affected by the gathering: attendees.
local residents, other national forest users and agency employees. Although
on-site provisions for health, safety and sanitation were the Rainbow
Family's responsibility, the Forest Service and the Vermont Department of
Health were diligent in providing technical assistance and monitoring the
gathering to ensure that minimum standards were met. The Forest Service
prepared a Safety Plan for the event which provided guidelines for daily
operations as well as emergency contingency plans.
HEALTH ISSUES - There were no serious health problems at the 1991 Rainbow
Gathering. With the exception of minor cases of diarrhea no known water or
food-borne illnesses were reported. In mid-June Rainbows reported a woman
with hepatitis, believed to be type C, to officials. A subsequent blood
test confirmed it to be Type C. In late June, Rainbow C.A.L.M. volunteers
reported an outbreak of head lice. Approximately 12-15 gatherers were
involved. Some were treated with a Lindaine rinse. Others preferred a pine
pitch treatment, most Of which later received head shavings. A few refused
any treatment based on personal objections to killing living things. The
outbreak was eventually controlled with no further known episodes.
WATER - Providing an adequate supply of drinking and cooking water was a
major problem at the 1991 gathering. Rainbow water scouts planned to
develop natural springs at elevations above the gathering site and pipe
water from these sources into the gathering. However. due to dryer than
normal conditions, water flows were very low. Agency officials encouraged
the Family to consider purchasing water and trucking it in, but Family
members were determined to find acceptable on-site solutions. They finally
settled on a surface water brook as the main water supply. The family
slowly laid pipe into the gathering site. It was June 36 before water
actually flowed through the system. During the gathering- there was little
rainfall, and water flows remained low. However, the developed system
actually provided a sufficient water supply for most of the gathering site.
A secondary water system served the Lovin Ovens/Taco Mike's/ Popcorn Palace/
Donut Factory complex, and helped reduce demand on the main system.
Water quality was also a constant concern for the Rainbow Family. Health
Department officials repeatedly advised Family members that all natural
waters should be considered contaminated and boiled or chlorinated before
we. However, Family members persistently asked officials to test their
water supplies, insisting that the crystal clear waters in the area must be
pure. Health officials tested the water for bacteria early on. The results
confirmed that it was contaminated. Agency officials remained firm in their
advice to treat all water. Gatherers heeded this advice and no water-borne
illnesses were reported.
In mid-June local residents voiced concerns about the impacts the large
Rainbow crowd might have on the area's rivers and streams. In response, the
Forest Service and Vermont Health Department monitored the fecal coliform
levels in the White River at several points downstream from the gathering.
The first site was located .2 mile north of "A" Camp on FR 55. Three other
sample points were located on Route 100 in Oranville, Hancock and Rochester.
A control point was also monitored in Binge Brook along FR 46. Water samples
were taken each week day, except July 4, between June 25 and July 15.
Monitoring results indicated that fecal coliform levels remained below the
Vermont Department of Health's safety standard for recreational water use
until July 5 when all sample sites. including the control, rose sharply; At
that time all sites, except the control, exceeded the safety standard.
Although it can be assumed that increased human activity at the gathering
played a role in the bacteria's rise, the dramatic increase at the control
site indicated that other natural factors were also responsible. Until July
5 the weather had been very dry and resident fecal coliform in the river -
would have been concentrated. Heavy rains fell on July 5 morning which
churned up this heavy concentration of bacteria. Following the rains, :
increased drainage from nearby pastures would have also added more fecal
matter into the rivers.
Results for the July 5 sampling were reported to the Forest Service on July
6 evening. The following morning the Forest Service posted the White River
from the gathering site to the town of Stockbridge with "No Swimming - Water
Is Contaminated" signs. The Forest Service and Department of Health
officials advised the Rainbow Family, local town health officials and the
media of the situation. The agencies continued monitoring the river through
July 16 when test results indicated that fecal coliform had returned to safe
LATRINES - The Forest Service draft operating plan outlined construction
standards for the pit latrines used at the gathering. Forest Service and
Health Department officials monitored the Family's progress and compliance
with the standards. Health officials asked the Family to construct 70-75
latrines, based on need estimates of one latrine per 200 people. Progress
towards this goal was slow. In the last week of June the Family had
constructed only five or six latrines. By July 2, however, there were 138
well-constructed latrines scattered throughout the gathering.
Latrines were located at least 200 feet from any water and kitchens. They
were slit trenches dug at least 3 feet deep, covered with plywood and Sealed
at the edges with dirt. Buckets of lime or wood ash were located at each
site, to be added to the trench after each use. A hand washing statioNwas
provided at each latrine. When latrines filled to within 15 inches of the
ground surface they were filled in with soil and closed to further use.
While conducting inspections during site clean-up and rehabilitation, Forest
Service officials found a large amount of human waste scattered throughout
the woods. It was especially pervasive in the "A" Camp area. Even the
Rainbow clean-up crew was alarmed by the degree of latrine non-use.
GARBAGE AND TRASH - The Rainbow Family sorted all garbage generated on
site. Biodegradable materials were composted St. kitchen sites. Recyclable
materials were sorted at kitchen areas and camps and later transported and
stored at the main recycling center on FR 55. Other trash was stored in
large garbage bags, boxes or in open heaps. garbage and trash thus stored
accumulated during the gathering. Most was not removed until after the
gathering was over.
Beginning the week of July 8, clean up crews consolidated all garbage and
trash from the gathering site along FR 55. They sorted through these piles
separating out recyclable materials. The Family made all the necessary
arrangements for hauling the trash to local recycling centers and landfills.
IV. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS
Sixteen thousand people traveled to Vermont's White River valley to attend
the 1991 Rainbow Gathering between June 29 and July 7. The impact of their
visit was felt in the communities of Granville, Hancock, Rochester and
throughout the state. For the most part, the social impacts of the
gathering were temporary in nature, lasting only as long as the Rainbows
stayed in the area. Some impacts were very intense and stress inducing.
But the gathering caused no serious, long lasting or permanent effects
within the communities or the state. There were no life threatening
incidents, no personal injuries, no property damage and no perceivable
changes in the area's social structure or values. The memories left behind
may prove to be the one long lasting impact. But these didn't really change
the fabric of people's lives, they simply added to the texture a little.
LOCAL COMMUNITIES - The towns of Granville, Bancock and Rochester
(populations 400, 300 and 500 respectively) were the most heavily impacted
by the gathering. The thought alone of 16,000 people descending on their
tranquil communities caused anxiety in some. They were concerned about
crime, substance abuse, nudity, disrupted peace and quiet, and whether
Rainbow gatherers would interfere with town festivities on July 4. In
reality, most of these concerns never materialized into real problems.
Rainbow gatherers coming and going from the event caused traffic congestion
along State routes 100 and 125, especially between July 2 and 7. During the
gathering there was a steady flow of pedestrian traffic along Route 100.
including many hitch hikers on their way to local towns to use phones and
purchase food, supplies or restaurant meals. The congestion was a nuisance
and safety concern, but no accidents or injuries occurred.
Some local citizens were irritated by the increased law enforcement presence
on the State highways and in towns. Some felt it was an unnecessary show of
authority that turned their community into a police state for a week.
Others expressed gratitude for the presence. stating they felt it helped to
keep peace and order in the area and deterred potential criminal activity.
In general, most local businesses experience unprecedented sales as a
direct result of the gathering. Gathering attendees purchased food, beer.
tobacco products, socks, camping supplies, personal hygiene products, etc.
Gas stations also did good business. Restaurants and cafes were often
packed with customers. Such crowds were an unfamiliar sight to many local
citizens. They were also unaccustomed to having to wait in line to buy a
loaf of bread.
Many businesses were bothered by gathering attendees who entered their
premises only to use the rest rooms. Often they came in groups and tied up
facilities for a half hour or longer. Some took baths and washed clothes in
rest room sinks. Store and restaurant owners found it necessary to clean
their facilities several times daily. Local bed & breakfasts and inns were
approached by Rainbow gatherers seeking public rest rooms. showers, a few
hours rest or a night's accommodations. Owners were concerned with the
possibility of non-payment, the cleanliness (or lack of it) of these
customers and the effect the Rainbows would have on their regular clientele.
For the cost part, requesting full payment in advance of services sent most
Rainbows on their way.
The Oranville post office became flooded with general delivery mail during
the gathering. The local post mistress had not been warned about the
gathering and was inadequately prepared to deal with it. The situation
caused her a great deal of personal stress and resulted in ill feelings
toward the Rainbow Family.
There were a few confrontations between local residents and gathering
attendees in town. Most often these stemmed from Rainbow members loitering
on private property. Groups would sit on lawns talking boisterously.
sometimes late at night. Alcohol and marijuana use was observed. Usually
the gatherers would leave the property when landowners insisted.
Occasionally law enforcement officers or Rainbow Shanti Sena were called to
assist. Some local citizens were dismayed at a display of public nudity
when Rainbow Family members removed all their clothing to complete their
laundry at a local Laundromat. These were isolated incidents which resulted
in no further problems.
In general, the Rainbow Family did not participate in activities outside the
gathering. Several hundred attended a peace rally sponsored by the Abenaki
and Cree Indian tribes at the Statehouse on July 6. Others ventured out on
June 29 to enjoy a Reggae festival in Burlington, VT and the Ben and Jerry's
ice cream picnic in Waterbury, VT. However, there was no noticeable Rainbow
presence at any local July 4 celebrations.
Although the gathering brought an economic boost to local businesses in the
White River valley, most expressed relief when the week came to an end and
the hoards of people started to leave. it meant their quiet existence would
soon get back to normal.
STATE AGENCIES - Several Vermont state agencies were impacted by the 1991
gathering. The Department of Health and the Vermont State Police were
directly and significantly involved as reviewed in earlier sections of this
report. Other agencies included the departments of Social Welfare,
Corrections and Social and Rehabilitation Services. Appendix H contains
final reports from these agencies.
The various state agencies had differing levels of involvement with the
Rainbow event and were impacted to different degrees. Whatever the impacts,
great or small, it is important to note that the cumulative participation of
these Vermont agencies cost the state government both time and money. This
unplanned and unexpected event added stress to already pared down staffs and
budgets. Other important projects were put on the back burner so that
employees could devote the necessary time to the gathering. The financial
costs to government agencies were without reimbursement from the Rainbow
Family and, therefore, were costs passed on to the taxpayer.
FOREST SERVICE - Administering the 1991 Rainbow Gathering had a significant
time and financial impact on the Rochester Ranger District and the Green
Mountain National Forest. It demanded the district ranger's and the
recreational assistant ranger's full attention for approximately two
months. Other district employees were involved on a part time basis. In
addition, four SO employees were committed to the event full time
(administrative officer, public affairs officer, soil scientist and safety
coordinator) with several others involved on a consulting basis. The time
spent on the gathering seriously affected the district's ability to
accomplish other planned work programs to customary standards.
The Green Mountain National Forest expended an estimated $301,100. to
administer the 1991 Rainbow Gathering. The gathering was not part of the
Forest's 1991 program of work. No financing was planned for the event. The
costs were covered out of other project funds; money that is no longer
available for regularly scheduled projects and programs. None of these
costs, nor the costs of other state and federal agencies were reimbursed by
the Rainbow Family. The costs will be passed on to the taxpayer.
V. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
The Forest Service operating plan outlined measures to be taken to safeguard
natural and significant historic resources within the gathering area.
Forest Service personnel inspected conditions within the gathering daily to
assure these measures were followed, and to monitor the gathering's impact
on the environment. Despite careful planning and monitoring, some resource
damage did occur. All the observed damage resulted from the impact of the
large numbers of people using the area. There was no known intentional or
malicious resource damage done.
Soil compaction occurred where ever human use was concentrated: main meadow,
kitchens, camps and heavily used trails. Vegetation and duff layers in
these areas were worn away. Other new trails (made during the gathering),
especially those on steep, dry slopes, showed varying amounts of erosion.
Soils were dug up, sloughed downhill, leaving tree roots exposed.
Gatherers also made trails down to the White River and Clark and Patterson
brooks; often on very steep slopes. Eroding soils from these trails
threatened the stability and integrity of streambanks and water quality.
In several places trails crossed historic rock walls. Heavy pedestrian
traffic over the walls caused them to crumble and flatten One cellar hole.
located on the trail from front gate to main meadow, was damaged, probably
by someone looking for artifacts. There were no other observed damages to
Forest Road 55 received continual and heavy two-way vehicular traffic.
Frequently, meeting vehicles would have to move to the outermost edges of
the road to squeeze by one another. The road surfacing eventually sloughed
off, filling ditch lines, and culvert ends became crushed Portions of
Texas Meadows were badly rutted from constant vehicle use on wet soils.
There was some illegal trespassing onto private property(on the west end of
the gathering site. Gatherers frequented a waterfall looted on private
land along the White River with the landowners' permission, however. the
landowners did not want any camping there. Forest Service personnel had to
constantly ask campers to move to public land. Despite concerns, there was
no damage to private property. There was very little cutting of live trees
within the gathering. There was no illegal cutting of timber
VI. CLEAN UP AND SITE REHABILITATION
The operating plan and a Forest Service-prepared rehabilitation plan
outlined agency expectations of the Rainbow Family in terms of clean up and
site rehabilitation. The rehab plan (Appendix I) also identified areas
needing immediate attention to help the Family prioritize their work. In
addition, the plans established August 12, 1991 as the latest acceptable
date for the work to be completed. Although the Family never condensed to
the plans, there was an informal understanding that this goal would be met.
Beginning July 8, a core group of about 300 Family members began the clean
up operations. They dealt with the piles of garbage; dismantled camp and
kitchen structures and disposed of all construction materials; cleaned out
and filled in fire pits; and filled in and covered over latrines and compost
pits. They rebuilt rock walls; installed required water bars; and aerated,
seeded and mulched compacted and/or eroding soils.
Crew members worked diligently. One Rainbow Family member assumed a
leadership role and helped others stay focused and motivated. The Family
was also motivated to succeed in its clean up responsibilities this year to
improve a tarnished reputation which resulted from media reports of
incomplete and unacceptable work following the 1990 Minnesota gathering.
The Forest Service worked closely with the clean up crew, visiting the site
daily. They inspected the work on an incremental basis. As specific areas
of the gathering site were cleaned up and rehabbed, Forest Service officials
approved the work and relieved the Family of any further responsibility for
that particular area. Slowly, sections of the site were "checked off". On
August 5, district personnel conducted a final inspection of the gathering
site. They found that the Rainbow Family had accomplished all clean up and
site rehabilitation work that was expected of them. The final phase of the
1991 Rainbow Gathering was declared complete.
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