Rainbow Gathering Cost/Benefit
The wikipedia entry for the Rainbow Family of Living Light offers a decent general description:
Rainbow Gatherings are temporary intentional communities, typically held in outdoor settings, and espousing and practicing ideals of peace, love, harmony, freedom and community, as a consciously expressed alternative to mainstream popular culture, consumerism, capitalism and mass media.
Rainbow Gatherings and the Rainbow Family of Living Light (usually abbreviated to “Rainbow Family”) are an expression of a Utopian impulse, combined with bohemianism, hipster and hippie culture, with roots clearly traceable to the counterculture of the 1960s. Mainstream society is commonly referred to and viewed as “Babylon”, connoting the participants’ widely held belief that modern lifestyles and systems of government are unhealthy, unsustainable, exploitative and out of harmony with the natural systems of the planet. The original Rainbow Gathering was in 1972, and has been held annually in the United States from July 1 through 7 every year on National Forest land. Throughout the year, regional and international gatherings are held in the United States and throughout the rest of the world respectively.
Relations with law enforcement and local communities are frequently an issue. Media coverage is often unfavorable, focusing on drug use, nudity, assaults, fugitives, serious traffic charges such as drunken driving and the countercultural aspects of the assemblage. Nevertheless, the Gatherings have proven a durable and international phenomenon for over 40 years.
The thing about the system is it’s the inescapable matrix in which we exist, and a large gathering of those carrying the torch of the long-ago commodified counter-culture can’t help but cause resources to be allocated toward “managing” their impact.
Yesterday the Governor signed an order of emergency to free up funds for Beaverhead County. One area already impacted is medical services. From the article:
Carol Kennedy, chief clinical officer for Barrett Hospital and Healthcare in Dillon, said as of Monday the hospital had received 49 emergency room visits from people with the Rainbow gathering at a total cost of $101,000. The hospital received a total of 30 ER visits in 2000 from Rainbow Family members.
Barrett Hospital will have access to state emergency money to help cover those costs.
Kennedy is hopeful that a medic tent setup last week at the gathering and manned by Rainbow volunteers, including an ER doctor from Kentucky and a midwife from Missoula, will reduce the number of Rainbows visiting the Barrett emergency room.
I think the media has so far been pretty fair with its coverage. In his weekly column, Ochenski recalls the 2000 gathering, and contrasts the impact on the land of the Rainbow Family with then Governor Racicot’s. It’s worth reading.
Anyway, I hope the positive outweighs the negative this week, because times are tough for a lot of people, and resources are limited.