UPDATE: Added important words about Michigan at the end. Sorry Michigan! You are a beautiful state with beautiful people, I did not mean to insult your mitten-shaped goodness.
What happened is a magnificent fuck-up. Please, bear with me. This is complicated.
What happened is that a young person took more power than he should have been able to and made a spectacularly unwise decision, and the old people are just not immune to hearing what they want to hear. Are you? Nobody in this whole world is.
What happened is Occupy.
We sent Occupy out into the world, and they learned our system and took it to the next level. I don’t know if you know how Occupy works, but they use Rainbow’s consensus-based council system for decisions. However, unlike Rainbow, Occupy wasn’t made of vagrant misanthropes who hate talking. It was made of shiny new and optimistic bright young things, and they took our politics to the next level without taking the trouble to inform us.
So this Occupy kid came to the Gathering for the first time in 2012, and of course he feels right at home, and of course he fits right in, and he jumps right into the Vision Council process, and of course he owns it right away. Because he knows all about councils and building consensus. But he doesn’t know a thing about Rainbow. He doesn’t know you’re supposed to sit through a council or two before you start talking. He thinks of the Black Hills of South Dakota, but he hasn’t been around long enough to know why we don’t think of the Black Hills. He has the skills but no wisdom.
That’s why South Dakota was wedged into the Vision Council Consensus!
And of course everybody ignores it, and says it’s gonna be in Michigan, because everybody knows there are no sites in Vermont and everybody knows that every couple years some wingnut gets South Dakota into their head, they just got it farther this year, no big deal and it’s easy to avoid.
But this kid isn’t a wingnut. He’s a player.
Seriously, you should read what he wrote. He played the Council like a harp. I learned a thing or two about peacenik Machaevellianism from his description of how he got this through Council.
So he actually manages to wedge SD into the Consensus, and then he actually goes and does the legwork. He goes to the Black Hills and starts asking around.
And this is where it turns to tragedy.
Because we’ve been waiting for an invitation for thirty years, but this kid doesn’t know that. He just goes and pokes around Pine Ridge and says, this is great! Everybody wants us, come on over. I met this guy at the gas station and he says he likes hippies.
So he tells the scouts.
And the scouts and the oldsters and the High Holies, they have been waiting to hear these exact words for thirty years.
I don’t know if you know this, but we’ve been pining away for a long time, wanting to come home to the Black Hills. We want to be invited. We have been waiting and waiting to be noticed and taken seriously, and it’s never even vaguely happened. The Lakota have better things to do than hang out with incoherent anarcho-utopianists, and they have not been paying attention to us.
But these guys have been pining away, just waiting for the Lakota to ask them to dance. Because this is a big deal, and it has always been a big deal. We want their respect. We want them to treat us as equals. We want to earn it.
And then this kid comes and tells them exactly what they want to hear.
And, god love every one of them, they believe him. Because he’s not a wingnut. He’s a player. I don’t think he even necessarily knows that he’s playing people.
So the scouts go to the Black Hills and they have a great time and meanwhile off in Babylon we’re all just doing our thing, assuming they’re exploring Michigan for another bug-infested shithole like 2002. So nobody tells them, hey, we can’t do this, we don’t have an invitation. And they think they have an invitation, or close enough to it, and anyway they’re so good at what they do that they’re pretty used to nobody telling them what to do. So they do what they do, and nobody’s telling them different.
And now here we are.
Now the Rainbow family is in a bizarre argument with the Lakota, supporting the USFS against the sovereign custodians of the Black Hills. Breaking our own traditions to do so. I don’t know if you know this, but the Lakota never gave up the Black Hills. They were taken after a treaty that they refused to sign, paid for with money that they have refused to accept, and generally wrangled away from them in a process so disgustingly corrupt that even the United States Supreme Court said we had to give the Black Hills back. Which the government refused to do. Even the UN supports the Lakotan claim to the land. So why are we acting like the Black Hills are an American national forest? Is that what we want?
Obviously fucking not!
Since when do we carry water for the USFS?
Don’t we have a tradition against Gathering in the Black Hills before the Lakota invite us?
Why yes we do.
So the internet (me definitely included) kicked up a screeching fit, trying to get the people at Council (who obviously feel that gathering in the Black Hills is okay, since they’re there) to put the brakes on and move the site from Spring Council. Even though the next nearest site is in Michigan. Which we already know, from 2002, sucks in the summer. And it’s like 400 miles away. This is totally unprecedented — we’ve never moved more than fifty miles from Spring Council for the actual site, except in 2002, when we went to the site in Michigan, which sucked. Plus I hear the Black Hills are really nice. So the people on the ground, they don’t want to move. They were not originally amenable to the idea that what they were doing had ramifications that they hadn’t seen.
But the kid who set it all up, he’s figured out he did wrong. The scouts are apparently out in Michigan, desperately looking for something we can use (the reason they’re in Michigan is that the Vision Council consensus was for the Great Lakes, Vermont, and South Dakota. It is the craziest consensus in the history of Rainbow, which is why sane people ignored it). There are *hopefully* a lot of protest voters on the way to Spring Council, and the internet has CERTAINLY made its displeasure clear.
There are regionals springing up everywhere because nobody wants to piss off the Lakota — I didn’t sign up for an ethically compromised land grab disguised as a party and neither did anyone else.
I really think we may be able to stop this. We’ll find out when Spring Council meets, which is….later today!
And while we’re looking for places to have some of this year’s inevitably split Gathering, can I just say….
UPDATE: I can understand how some people, when reading this, could get the impression that I was insulting Michigan. I apologize for my words, they were poorly chosen there. What I’m saying is that the 2002 site in the Upper Peninsula, which we were forced into by governmental pressure, was wildly unsuitable and had the worst bugs that I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. It was literally a bug-infested shithole, and by shithole I mean that the ground was clay and we had 8,000 people living on a logging road and it rained all the time so the latrines filled up with water and it just generally did not smell good.
And the deer flies were so bad they would even bite you underwater!
If you were at the 2002 Gathering you can understand why few of us are enthusiastic about going back, especially to another emergency site. I didn’t mean anything against the Great State of Michigan or the people who love it!
And by the way I had a GREAT time at the 2002 Gathering. Changed my life, met some of my best friends I’ve ever had, grew as a person, caught pneumonia and had to stay at CALM for a week, ended up volunteering there for ten years straight.