Sunday, July 4, 2010

who needs to be warned?

this is the text of a letter to the editor I sent to the bradford (pa) era in response to an article they'd printed (and which doesn't show up on their online edition, although this followup headline did). I've been told by my dad it was published the other day, although the era doesn't have a practice of printing their letters to the editor online.

To the Editor: I take exception to the characterization of the story about the impending visit of the Rainbow Family as needing a "warning," although that's probably how officials from Pinedale worded it. I am visiting your area after the death of my mother and will be at the Gathering in another week with several thousand of my family. A veteran of many Rainbow Gatherings and a 50 year old teacher of college english and lay minister, I am likelier the demographic most of your readers will meet at their businesses and on their streets than the people against whom they're warned to "look out [against] for theft, take keys out of cars, lock up houses and anything else of value." Of course there are addicts and thieves among us, just as among any group of 12,000 people. There are approximately 8400 people living in Bradford: don't you have any crime? If the Allegheny National Forest were hosting the Republican National Convention, there would be similar offenses (the difference of course is that for all their rhetoric they're not likely to spend money anywhere around Bradford). We are your kids and grandkids, your aunts and uncles, your cousins and childhood friends. We're coming to celebrate being alive and a number of us will purchase water and chocolate in your towns and fill up our cars and for the most part we will come and go quietly. Just as in the old days of the carnivals and circuses some of your kids might leave with us and some of us might stay around. But what puts the real lie to the need for a "warning" against the Rainbow Family is a story several pages in: the suburb of Chester, population 37,000, has had 11 murders since January. Perhaps the Rainbow Family and others need to be warned against visiting that town. It sounds a lot deadlier.


  1. Nice piece. I attended my first Gathering today as well. I live nearby and have lived here thru the last 2 Gatherings in Allegheny... always wondering and wishing I could go. Today I did. I'm an out of shape 50 year old woman and the hike in and out in one day nearly did me in, but I did it. I'm relatively shy, so I didn't talk to many people, but I did have a nice chat about the dangers of radio waves and the environmental effects of governmentally owned landfills vs those in the private sector with a sweet woman who was not in the least crazy. I shared many smiles and gestures with all sorts of people and brought home many memories of the Peace Circle with my camera and was offered to share a nice mud puddle with a young girl who caught up to me later on the trail and offered me half her goat cheese feta. What I wanted was more water. Next time I will bring more, as well as food to share. It was a great time with great weather. I'm sure my nose will be peeling in a few days. Glad you enjoyed your time and I hope it's not your last. I don't think it will be mine.

  2. kate: welcome home. thanks for the kind words and I appreciate the time you took to write them. the family is pretty good with helping shy people open up, so I think you'll have some good experiences. one word of advice: any time you attend a gathering bring lots and lots of water. I didn't in 1987 and joined about 1200 others with developing dysentary. not the experience you want...