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Rainbow Family appears headed to West Side for gathering

Thu., June 16, 2011

It appears Eastern Washington will be passed over by the Rainbow Family for its national gathering July 1-7.

All signs point to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southwestern Washington as the venue for the annual event that attracts thousands of participants.

The notoriously non-hierarchical Rainbow Family of Living Light typically does not disclose the specific site of the event until mid-June. But it does hold town hall meetings before the national gatherings in communities potentially affected by the influx of participants.

The purpose of the meetings is to answer questions local residents may have about the event and assuage trepidation.

Such meetings are usually, but not always, held within 100 miles of the site selected for the gathering. This year, meetings will be Monday in Stevenson, Wash., in Skamania County, and June 24 in Cougar, Wash., in Cowlitz County, according to a website dedicated to Rainbow Family information.

In addition, the spring council, where Rainbow “scouts” meet to determine the site of the annual gathering, was last weekend in the Gifford Pinchot – another clue.

In September, as many as 300 people attended a regional gathering in the Colville National Forest.

A Forest Service spokesman said the Rainbows did an excellent job of cleaning up Bartlett Meadows, in Pend Oreille County, after the event.

Participants at the regional gathering and various websites said this year’s annual gathering would be in one of the state’s six national forests.

Though the Colville appeared to be a strong contender, an unusually cool and wet spring in Eastern Washington has made the forest more appealing to mosquitoes than humans.

The Rainbow Family has been meeting in U.S. national forests since 1972. Its annual gathering, which attracts from 10,000 to 30,000 people, occurred once before in Washington – in the Colville National Forest in 1981.

Last year’s gathering in the Allegheny National Forest of Pennsylvania attracted about 12,000 people.

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