by Julia, Dacha Project inter-at-large
Utah stunned me with its dramatic landscape, the roads becoming smaller and more unkempt as we got closer to our destination. We slowed the car down to a crawl, wincing at the bounce from the potholes peppering our path. I did not mind the slow ascent, gazing at snow capped mountains with fields of wild flowers nodding in the sun. There wasn’t a cloud in sight and the sky was consistently blue during our stay in the Rocky Mountains. The Rainbow Gathering is always located off of back roads in the heart of national forests around the country. Everything on site is built from scratch often weeks before the masses arrive by those who enjoy truly “roughing it”. This group of brave individuals stay for several weeks after the event to clean up and break down, leaving the mountainside without a trace. The Rainbow Gathering has been occurring for the past 25 years. They claim to be the largest non-organization creating an intentional community that has no centralized governing body. The movement was born in the early 70’s as an experiment in caring for thousands of people who want to come together in efforts to create a peaceful community dedicated to the acceptance of alternative lifestyles.
We parked in the first available location, taking the time to untangle our belongings from the tightly packed car. There were four of us prepared for nearly a month long excursion. Everyone from 7song’s Community Herbalism Intensive were required to make the trip out to the Gathering as one of three field trips. We had a week to get across the country, a week at the Rainbow Gathering and then another week following at a previously unknown location to wildcraft, and make medicine. Burdened with our backpacks, one of my car companions and I refused to wait for one of the few “shuttles” helping people to bring their belongings up the three mile hike to the main entrance. We had a desire to be capable of bringing our gear in on foot, as we had been warned to expect a hike of several miles where private vehicles could not access. Somehow the idea of being able to shoulder all our belongings added to the experience of backwoods survival.
Once inside the main entrance we started to see campsites pop up along the dirt road as people slowly started to organize themselves into little camps. The Rainbow Gathering is grounded in lore that when the world begins to crumble a new society of people from all different backgrounds (aka “a rainbow of colors”) will come together to help one another survive. This an idealistic form of socialism that created a tradition of a money-free event. The work of setting up this makeshift community is intended to be divided equally. There are groups of people who pickup trash, others dig latrines and there are many people that come together and organize their camps into “kitchens” provide food for free. Necessities like filtered watered are taken care of by these kitchens. Springs were re-routed and systems set up to provide for washing and hydration needs. Many people have to learn the hard way the difference between “live water” and “filtered water”. Working at the first aid station we experienced plenty of people who made that mistake. More
Hello, everyone! My name is Emma, and I am proudly the new edition to the Dacha Project as the Sustainability and Media Intern. My objective is to document and articulate the lived reality of a do-it-yourself egalitarian community works and functions. I have a background in political science and philosophy with a degree in Politics Philosophy and Law from Binghamton University. I have come to work with the Dacha Project with the intent to explore how intellectual theory becomes a lived reality, specifically how living collectively with a sustainable orientation can be a successful alternative living lifestyle. I will be posting interviews, photographs, DIY explanations and philosophical musings about the Dacha Project and the people involved. IN the spirit of an interview post, I decided to interview myself about my interest in the project what I intend to do.
Question: Why are you interested in the Dacha Project?
Emma: I’m interested in the concept of taking an ideal and turning it into a lived reality. Right now our society is talking a lot about climate change and how, if at all, that should cause change to our public policy. There is a lot of controversy, a lot of uncertainty, and a lot of resistance to changing the mainstream way of life. People are upset because they do not know what this means for themselves and their families, but they are also confused because they do not know what they personally could to contribute to the remedying of this problem.
I see the Dacha Project as a conglomerate of ideals, but one aspect of it is challenging what it is to “live” and exploring the idea of “living”, as going beyond what is commonly done. Most people wake up, go to work, living in a house, don’t talk to their neighbors, go to a grocery store. It can be like sleeping through life to an extent and not thinking about why it is significant how a person lives. I don’t believe our society has thought of “living” as a concept yet, but it will come up due to climate change. As our society is now, we’re very isolated, we don’t share, we don’t make group efforts as communities to go beyond our personal desires, and this has culminated in a lot of materialism and consumerism that has negatively impacted the environment. Instead of letting desire and materialism run rampant within a person, the people in the Dacha Project have consciously made the effort to sacrifice some luxuries and work to make an ideal of benefiting the environment real. The Dacha Project has already been exploring this concept for several years, and that makes it interesting to me.
Question: What concepts within the Dacha Project are you looking to understand?
Emma: There are two components I am looking to understand; the philosophy and the practicality. The philosophical aspect being the ideals, goals, and desired outcomes of the Dacha Project, and the practicality aspect being how those ideals, goals, and desired outcomes are formed into actions and implemented into reality. I’d like to explore the progression and evolution of the philosophy, as well as how and why those ideals may have changed.
Question: Why do you think the Dacha Project is important?
Emma: I think its important because there need to be alternative ways of living to our industrialized system. We’ve made everything into a commodity and caused dire environmental ruckus as a result, we’ve made a lot of problems and don’t have very many solutions. The Dacha Project is looking to go beyond the assertions the mainstream society has put out about how individuals should live by exploring the idea of what makes a community and way of life. I believe the Dacha Project is important because it has been successful due to a group of dedicated people, and the ideas/ideals behind it are especially relevant to the greater issues of the modern day.