Rainbow Gatherings are temporary intentional communities, held annually in Canada, Mexico and various locations such as the United States, Europe, and Russia. In North America they have always taken place in publicly owned National Forests with one exception since 1972, and supporting and practicing the ideals of peace, love, respect, harmony, freedom and community, as a consciously expressed alternative to mainstream popular culture, consumerism, capitalism, and mass media.
Rainbow Gatherings and the Rainbow Family of Living Light (usually abbreviated to „Rainbow Family“) are an expression of a Utopian impulse, combined with bohemianism, hipster and hippie culture, with roots clearly traceable to the counterculture of the 1960s. Mainstream society is commonly referred to and viewed as „Babylon“, a term from the Christian New Testament connoting the participants‘ widely held belief that modern lifestyles and systems of government are unhealthy, unsustainable, exploitative and out of harmony with the natural systems of the planet.
The original Rainbow Gathering was in 1972, and has been held annually in the United States from July 1 through 7 every year on National Forest land.
Throughout the year, regional and international gatherings are held in the United States and throughout the rest of the world respectively.
The Rainbow Family has no leaders, no structure, no official spokespersons, no official documents, and no membership. Documents are produced as needed and maintained by various groups.
The values held are love, peace, non-violence, environmentalism, non-consumerism and non-commercialism, volunteerism, respect for others, consensus process, and multicultural diversity.
As Michael Niman notes, „Rainbow Gatherings, as a matter of principle, are free and non-commercial.“
Using money to buy or sell anything at Rainbow Gatherings is taboo. There are no paid organizers, although there are volunteers („focalizers“) who are crucial to setting up the gathering site. Participants are expected to contribute money, labor, and/or material.
All labor is voluntary and never formally compensated.