Photo by Tristan Savatier
Thousands from Rainbow Family gathering in Chattahoochee Forest over July 4th holiday
This article will be updated as information becomes available.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture, in a Friday, June 15 alert, announced the Rainbow Family of Living Light’s 2018 national gathering will take place in the Chattahoochee National Forest from July 1-7.
The Rainbow Family selected the Bull Mountain area in the Lumpkin County portion of the forest—about 20 miles from Big Canoe—for its annual gathering. The event is expected to draw 2,000 to more than 10,000—with some estimates up to 20,000—campers; some members have already set up camp in the forest.
The Rainbow Family of Living Light describes itself as “the largest non-organization of non-members in the world. We have no leaders, and no organization.”
Wikipedia calls the group a “counter culture hippie group dating back to the 60s.”
According to its website welcomehome.org, Rainbow Family is “into intentional community building, non-violence, alternative lifestyles . . . and aligns with Native American traditions.”
For a non-organization, the Rainbow Family has a well-organized schedule of gatherings planned all over the globe.
Road closings and concerns
Congestion is expected along routes to the gathering site, especially Hwy 52 E, which the Rainbow Family website is encouraging its members to travel as part of the route from I-75 towards Dahlonega to Nimblewill Road and the forest service road know as Bull Mountain Rd. Parking is available for cars and buses.
During the gathering, the Jake and Bull Mountain Trail System will remain open to public use with the exception of FS83 and the Bull Mountain trailhead. According to the forest service:
“Trail users should be aware of increased pedestrian use and exercise proper trail etiquette in sharing these multiple use trails.
“To reduce traffic congestion, forest service roads S77 and FS83 in the Chattahoochee National Forest are temporarily closed for public safety due to traffic concerns related to the 2018 National Rainbow Family Gathering taking place in the area.
“FS77 is known as Winding Stair Gap Road, and FS83 leads to the Bull Mountain trailhead. Both are in the Nimblewill area of Lumpkin County. The forest service urges local visitors to please avoid these roads at this time.
“During the temporary closure of FS77, Springer Mountain trailhead can be accessed using the Appalachian Trail approach trail beginning at Amicalola Falls State Park, or by Doublehead Gap Road onto FS42.”
Little time to prepare
Part of the problem for the US Forest Service and Lumpkin County resources is the lack of time for advanced preparation.
The Rainbow Family of Living Light simply made a global announcement at 4:20 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12, naming the Bull Mountain area in Lumpkin County as the site of its 2018 gathering, according to an article in the Dahlonega Nugget (“The Rainbow Family of Living Light Gathering,” by Matt Aiken, June 15, 2018.)
For years the Forest Service has tried to require advanced notice, even permits, but because the Rainbow Family claims no organizational structure and no leadership, it’s difficult to hold any one responsible.
On June 13, Lumpkin County posted this statement on its website:
“Rainbow Family Gathering
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents, among other things, curtailing freedom of speech and requires the right to peaceably assemble. With this in mind comes the announcement from the Rainbow Family of Living Light that they have selected the Bull Mountain area of the Chattahoochee National Forest for their annual gathering . . . Please be aware that neither Lumpkin County nor the US Forest Service is legally able to prevent this gathering. The majority of impact will be to Forest Service land, but the gathering may be as large as 20,000 people, which will also cause local impacts. Forest and county roads, especially in the Nimblewill area, are expected to be very congested during the event and road closures and/or traffic detours should be expected. It is recommended that you avoid the access points for their campsite as much as possible.
“The Forest Service is mobilizing a national incident management team with experience managing these types of events. The team is working in unified command with the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office, DNR, and Georgia State Patrol to manage this event. For more information, follow @ChattOconeeNF on Twitter and Facebook, download the forest’s free mobile app for your smartphone or tablet, or visit them on the web at www.fs.usda.gov/conf.”
430 million Google results
A Google search for Rainbow Family of the Living Light pulls up 430 million results. Numerous articles from local newspapers describe their communities’ experiences with Rainbow Family Gatherings in past years.
For an inside look, check out “Don't Feed the Hippies!!! [My first time attending the Rainbow Family of Living Light National Gathering, Oregon 2017].” The author had been involved with the Rainbow Family for six years before attending his first gathering. To read about his experience, go to: https://steemit.com/freedom/@alchemage/don-t-feed-the-hippies-my-first-time-attending-the-rainbow-family-of-living-light-national-gathering-oregon-2017
The internet offers an array of photos, an uncensored Rainbow Family Facebook page and Rainbow 2018 gathering event blog, and articles.