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People of the Rainbow
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Since 1972 the Rainbow Family of Living Light, a loosely organized and anarchistic nomadic community, has been holding large gatherings in remote forests to pray for world peace and create a model of a functioning utopian society. Michael I. Niman’s People of the Rainbow, originally published in 1997, was the first comprehensive study of this countercultural group and its eclectic philosophy of environmentalism, feminism, peace activism, group sharing, libertarianism, and consensus government. It is a book yet to be superseded. This second edition of Niman’s compelling and insightful work brings the Rainbow story up to date with a new introduction and two extensive new epilogues. While the big annual Rainbow “Gatherings” have drawn fewer numbers in recent years, Niman notes, the Rainbow ethos has in many ways migrated to the mainstream, as Rainbow notions about alternative medicine and environmental sustainability, for example, have gathered wider acceptance and influenced the national dialogue. Meanwhile, Rainbow movements in other regions, from Eastern Europe and the Middle East to Asia and Australia, are thriving. In addition to addressing changes within the Rainbow Family and its complex relationship to “Babylon” (what Rainbows call mainstream culture), the book’s new material explores the growing harassment Rainbows now face from U.S. law enforcement agencies—especially those associated with the National Forest Service. As Niman contends, this particular saga of a U.S. bureaucracy at war with its own citizens is a subplot in the larger—and disturbing—story of how the relationship between Americans and their government has changed during the first decade of the twenty-first century. In its nuanced portrait of an intriguing subculture, its successes, and its limitations, People of the Rainbow remains a significant contribution to the study of utopian communities in the United States and their ongoing legacy.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Illustrations
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Introduction to the Second Edition
  2. pp. xi-xvi
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xvii-xviii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xix-xx
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  1. 1. Sunflower’s Day: July 3
  2. pp. 1-30
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  1. 2. Roots, Rock, Rainbow
  2. pp. 31-37
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  1. 3. “The Way We Make Decisions Is More Important Than the Decisions We Make”: The Rainbow Family Council
  2. pp. 38-59
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  1. 4. The Nuts and Bolts of Making a Rainbow: Rainbow Infrastructure
  2. pp. 60-98
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  1. Photo Gallery
  2. pp. G1-G14
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  1. 5. People of the Rainbow
  2. pp. 99-113
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  1. 6. Violence and Peace
  2. pp. 114-130
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  1. 7. Fakelore
  2. pp. 131-147
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  1. 8. The Mediated Rainbow: The American Media Look at the Rainbow Family
  2. pp. 148-169
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  1. 9. Leave Only Smiles: Land Stewardship and Community Relations
  2. pp. 170-183
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  1. 10. The Rainbow and the U.S. Government
  2. pp. 184-201
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  1. Conclusion: Endless Summer
  2. pp. 202-215
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  1. Epilogue 1: A Global Movement Faces a Changing World
  2. pp. 217-237
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  1. Epilogue 2: Freedom to Gather in the Twenty-first Century
  2. pp. 239-258
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  1. Appendixes
  2. pp. 259-271
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 273-282
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  1. Glossary
  2. pp. 283-297
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  1. References
  2. pp. 299-326
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 327-336
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