I'll admit it was a bit of an experiment. We have hosted the Always
Free Peace and Music Jamfest for the past 10 years now, keeping the
overall theme as "Rainbow-like" as possible, meaning that there is no
charge for camping, food, or music, everyone is encouraged to
participate, and leave any hostilities at the gate.
This has always
been a challenge due to the fact that many local folks idea of a party
is to drink and raise cain as much as possible without contributing
much. But this year, we attended the National Rainbow Gathering in the
Cranberry Glades for a week, and invited some kind folks to our farm
who really understood how the thing is supposed to work.
The next thing
we knew, we had what resembled a regional Rainbow Gathering on the
farm! For over two weeks the entire farm was scattered with colorful,
talented, intelligent, and loving people from all over the United
States and even Canada, camped in tents and old school busses.
Elephant kitchen crew showed up and helped to keep everyone fed with
generous donations of food provided by friends, neighbors, and even a
church. Teatime kitchen kept a delicious assortment of tea flowing.
There was a licensed massage therapist giving free massage to anyone
who wanted one.
Midnight Sun, the massage guy
Rainbows were in charge of the parking, peacekeeping,
and did an extraordinary job of cleanup. Even cigarette butts, and
small bits of trash disappeared from the ground. In an environment that
included more wild and crazy locals than ever before, we seriously
could not have done it without them.
On Thursday evening, friends
organized a beautiful ceremony of protection and renewal, followed by
drumming and celebration. A traditional Native American sweat lodge was
constructed and enjoyed by many.
Getting ready to fire up the sweat lodge
The live entertainment on the weekend
was exceptional with both local and out of state bands from as far away
as Philadelphia and Washington DC donating their time and talents to
the cause, and the many talented Rainbow musicians filling in between
bands created a wonderful diversity of music. Smiles and hugs and cries
of "Lovin' you!" created a magical atmosphere of joy, normally unseen
in the regular day to day world.
Of course, as in any large crowd, there will be problems that arise.
But problems within the Rainbow Family were dealt with quickly and
efficiently, and the offending persons were removed from the property
immediately. Unfortunately, locals caused the greatest disturbances.
But in the prevailing atmosphere, even a walk-thru by state trooper
Hunt, who was investigating a problem which occurred one night, was all
good. His conduct was impeccable, and he was treated with great respect
and welcomed by all. He seemed to be quite impressed with the event,
the camp, and the organization involved.
And so the Rainbow/Jamfest experiment seems to have been a great
success. Many locals found the peaceful atmosphere to be a welcome
relief from everyday life. The joy spread out into the community in
many directions, some claiming that it changed them somehow for the
better. The gathering also brought a considerable amount of much needed
money into Calhoun and Roane Counties.
Another great benefit, perhaps a
bit less noticeable on the surface, was that there is no room in the
Rainbow family for hard drugs, and anyone participating in any of the
more common plagues of this area, was shunned and made to feel
unwelcome. Perhaps more of this attitude could seriously help a growing
All in all, this was by far the greatest and most impressive gathering
that I have ever experienced anywhere in this area in the 30 something
years that I have lived here. Some Rainbows have remained temporarily
on the land, helping, regrouping, resting and recycling for traveling
money. Some will stay in the area, having fallen in love with West
Virginia, and having been here long enough to claim residency.
honesty, I feel it would be of great benefit to us all to welcome the
Rainbow Family with open arms. With their love, understanding,
compassion, and hard work, this area could literally be saved from
itself, and renewed.