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When, exactly, did your family “start?” As impossible as it is to trace your own bloodline back to some point of origin, an equally daunting task would be to detail the birth of the Rainbow Family of Living Light. The group, which boasts a leaderless constitution and open consensus approach to decision-making, held its first Rainbow Gathering in the National Forest outside Aspen, Colorado in 1972. The harsh logistical lessons learned during the mass gatherings of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s—think Woodstock and the Human Be-In—forged the modern Rainbow mechanism, a system capable of feeding, housing, medically treating and “welcoming home” tens of thousands of annual gatherers.

At press time, the 2008 Rainbow Gathering has begun in the woods near Pinedale, Wyoming. The peace-centric event “officially” takes place from July 1–7, though hundreds of patchouli-bedecked kind-folk arrived early and will stay late to ensure a smooth operation and the healing of the land after its inevitable trampling.

This year, for the first time ever, the Forest Service is taking a softer approach with the Family. Instead of insisting that somebody—anybody—sign a permit (Rainbow doctrine maintains that no specific individual can speak or sign on behalf of the group), the Feds say they intend to recognize the Gathering as a unique recreational event rather than an illegal activity. As memories of 2007’s Arkansas Gathering are still fresh in the Rainbow consciousness—officer behavior was reportedly a major buzz kill—it’s easy to understand col
lective suspension of both disbelief and breath.           
And while the fuel price tag may preclude your attendance, this might be the year to take part in the July 4 Circle for Peace, a silent assembly of thousands that seems to be the high point for many in attendance. Visit

Those of you keeping it a bit more local this week, for petroleum-related reasons or otherwise, have options that could be described as “abundant.” One for the kiddies comes hurtling down the pike with the reminder that it’s not too late to register for the Missoula Kids’ Marathon. Wait, a kid running a marathon? Before you place a call to Child Protective Services, dig on this: The wee beasties have until July 12 to run/walk/bike/hike/swim the first 25 miles, then they complete the 1.2-mile glory stretch on July 13 with everyone else. Visit

While bagging a peak or running a rapid might be your idea of real independence, Splash Montana reminds us that true freedom can be measured solely in units of ice cream consumed. Head to Missoula’s iconic twists of orange fiberglass for the Fourth of July Ice Cream Social at 1 PM on Fri., July 4. Just try to keep your cream out of the lazy river, okay? Call 721-PARK.

Nurse that liberty-inspired hangover with a journey to the Big Hole Battlefield, near Wisdom, where their Summer Speakers Series continues on Sat., July 5, with a noon presentation from the Second U.S. Cavalry. The living history group takes you back to the nineteenth century heyday of the Montana Cavalry trooper, but without all the attendant venereal diseases. Call 689-3155.

Head from one big hole to another as you take on the wily waters of the Blackfoot River. On Sun., July 6, Paddle MT provides you with the boat, safety equipment and transportation for a pleasing kayak jaunt down the glorious and recently freed waterway. The fun begins at 9 AM, lasts all day and can be yours once you call 251-0040.

If you’re partial to a more open-hulled aquatics experience, those same watery wünderkinds at Paddle MT have cooked up just the thing for your kind: Bring back the romance of the canoe during an evening Recreational Canoeing sesh, which begins at 6 PM on Mon., July 7. Your boat and gear are all part of the package, so whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned sophomore, get on the ball and make your reservation by calling 251-0040.  

Oh, and speaking of balls—as in having one—Missoula Parks & Recreation invites you to stow the dog and the kids in the garage and make your way unimpeded to Splash Montana’s Adult Night at 7:30 PM on Wed., July 9. This time around, balls are where it’s at, as the Inner-Tube Water Polo Challenge will have all the ball-hungry grown-ups splashing around in a frenzy of free love and suntan lotion. Or something like that. Please play responsibly. And call 721-PARK.

Finally, if your spiritual quest has brought you no closer to figuring out where you are and where you need to be going, it may be time to turn to technology for the Big Answers. On Thu., July 10, REI Missoula presents a 7 PM Global Positioning System 101 Clinic, led by the unwaveringly spatially sentient Ryan Newhouse. Of course, the class can only cover the basics, so you’ll have to seek the god within the machine via years of dedicated practice. Call 829-0432.

Onward, outdoor seekers, and wherever your travels lead you this week, don’t forget to let your lovelight shine.


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