Cover image for People of the rainbow : a nomadic utopia
Title:
People of the rainbow : a nomadic utopia
Author:
Niman, Michael I.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, [1997]

©1997
Physical Description:
xiv, 274 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Sunflower's day : July 3 -- Roots, rock, rainbow -- "The way we make decisions is more important than the decisions we make" : the Rainbow Family Council -- The nuts and bolts of making a rainbow : rainbow infrastructure -- People of the rainbow -- Violence and peace -- Fakelore -- The mediated rainbow : the American media look at the rainbow family -- Leave only smiles : land stewardship and community relations -- The rainbow and the U.S. government -- Conclusion : endless summer.
ISBN:
9780870499883

9780870499890
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library HX806 .N555 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Central Library HX806 .N555 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

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. In People of the Rainbow, Michael I. Niman offers the first comprehensive study of this countercultural group, also known as the Rainbow Nation or Rainbow Family. Niman's insightful and compelling profile describes the origins and recent history of the Rainbows and explains the eclectic philosophy of environmentalism, feminism, peace activism, group sharing, libertarianism, and consensus government they espouse. A fictional re-creation of a day in the life of a Rainbow character named Sunflower begins the book, illustrating events that might typically occur at an annual North American Rainbow Gathering. Using interviews with Rainbows, content analysis of media reports, participant observation, and scrutiny of government documents relating to the group, Niman presents acomplex picture of the Family and its relationship to mainstream culture - called "Babylon" by the Rainbows. Niman also looks at internal contradictions within the Family and examines members' problematic relationship with Native Americans, whose culture and spiritual beliefs they have appropriated. The nomadic nature of the Rainbow Family has long exasperated the U.S. government - especially the Forest Service - and has baffled the media. Niman places the Rainbow Family's gatherings in a historical context by framing the group's activities in terms of the long tradition of intentional communities and utopian experimentation within the United States. Concluding with reflections on the successes and limitations of the Rainbow movement, People of the Rainbow provides an extensive ethnography of this intriguing subculture as well as fresh insights into the ongoing legacy of utopian communalism.


Summary

Since 1972, the Rainbow Family of Living Light, a loosely organized and anarchistic nomadic community, have been holding large gatherings in remote forests to pray for world peace and create a model of a functioning utopian society. In People of the Rainbow, Michael I. Niman offers the first comprehensive study of this countercultural group, also known as the Rainbow Nation or Rainbow Family. Niman's insightful and compelling profile describes the origins and recent history of the Rainbows and explains the eclectic philosophy of environmentalism, feminism, peace activism, group sharing, libertarianism, and consensus government they espouse.
A fictional re-creation of a day in the life of a Rainbow character named Sunflower begins the book, illustrating events that might typically occur at an annual North American Rainbow Gathering. Using interviews with Rainbows, content analysis of media reports, participant observation, and scrutiny of government documents relating to the group, Niman presents a complex picture of the Family and its relationship to mainstream culture called "Babylon" by the Rainbows. Niman also looks at internal contradictions within the Family and examines members' problematic relationship with Native Americans, whose culture and spiritual beliefs they have appropriated.
The nomadic nature of the Rainbow Family has long exasperated the U.S. government--especially the Forest Service--and has baffled the media. Niman places the Rainbow Family's gatherings in a historical context by framing the group's activities in terms of the long tradition of intentional communities and utopian experimentation within the United States. Concluding with reflections on the successes and limitations of the Rainbow movement, People of the Rainbow provides an extensive ethnography of this intriguing subculture and provides fresh insights into the ongoing legacy of utopian communalism.
The Author: Michael I. Niman is an adjunct assistant professor of American studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a lecturer in the communication department at Buffalo State College.
"


Author Notes

The Author: Michael I. Niman is an adjunct assistant professor of American studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a lecturer in the communication department at Buffalo State College.


Reviews 4

Library Journal Review

The Rainbow Nation is a loosely knit group of countercultural activists ("hippies") that has organized gatherings in remote rural areas since 1972. Drawing on the methodology of participant/observer, Niman (American studies, SUNY at Buffalo) offers a sympathetic profile outlining the group's guiding mission to uphold and practice the values of nonviolence and cooperative living and to provide an alternative to the urban rat race. While he suggests that the tribe has been largely successful in terms of adhering to its founding ideals, Niman also points out that individual gatherings have been marred by poor group dynamics and disruptive behavior. One of the more notable features of Niman's approach is his effort to link the Rainbow to earlier utopian movements. "Rainbow ideology syncretizes Euro-American traditions with Thoreauvian pacifism, simplified `New Left' politics, and the `Eastern' religious ideas that flooded America in the years just prior to the first Gathering." The text is accompanied by several photographs by Gabe Kirchheimer, whose work has also appeared in the New York Times. Recommended for American studies collections.‘Kent Worcester, Social Science Research Council, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

The Rainbow Family is an amorphous nomadic organization that has sponsored wilderness gatherings since 1972. The group's philosophy has ties to both the hippie culture of the 1960s and the political activism of '70s counterculture groups. Niman is an academic and a Rainbow sympathizer, and has participated in many gatherings. He includes interviews and analyses of documents to describe and assess the movement. The book rambles like a typical day at a gathering, wandering through history, the group's "policies" of decision-making by consensus, attitudes toward violence, crime, Native Americans, land, and the US government. The author knows utopian history and consistently hits the mark in placing the Family in the context of utopian thought. Whether readers agree with his evaluation of the meaning of the Rainbow Nation is almost irrelevant. The group is a living extension of a subculture that reigned when ideas were simpler and more positive; Niman's book suits it well. A set of scruffy, delightful appendixes enriches understanding of Rainbow lifestyle even more. All levels. E. J. Green Prince George's Community College


Library Journal Review

The Rainbow Nation is a loosely knit group of countercultural activists ("hippies") that has organized gatherings in remote rural areas since 1972. Drawing on the methodology of participant/observer, Niman (American studies, SUNY at Buffalo) offers a sympathetic profile outlining the group's guiding mission to uphold and practice the values of nonviolence and cooperative living and to provide an alternative to the urban rat race. While he suggests that the tribe has been largely successful in terms of adhering to its founding ideals, Niman also points out that individual gatherings have been marred by poor group dynamics and disruptive behavior. One of the more notable features of Niman's approach is his effort to link the Rainbow to earlier utopian movements. "Rainbow ideology syncretizes Euro-American traditions with Thoreauvian pacifism, simplified `New Left' politics, and the `Eastern' religious ideas that flooded America in the years just prior to the first Gathering." The text is accompanied by several photographs by Gabe Kirchheimer, whose work has also appeared in the New York Times. Recommended for American studies collections.‘Kent Worcester, Social Science Research Council, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

The Rainbow Family is an amorphous nomadic organization that has sponsored wilderness gatherings since 1972. The group's philosophy has ties to both the hippie culture of the 1960s and the political activism of '70s counterculture groups. Niman is an academic and a Rainbow sympathizer, and has participated in many gatherings. He includes interviews and analyses of documents to describe and assess the movement. The book rambles like a typical day at a gathering, wandering through history, the group's "policies" of decision-making by consensus, attitudes toward violence, crime, Native Americans, land, and the US government. The author knows utopian history and consistently hits the mark in placing the Family in the context of utopian thought. Whether readers agree with his evaluation of the meaning of the Rainbow Nation is almost irrelevant. The group is a living extension of a subculture that reigned when ideas were simpler and more positive; Niman's book suits it well. A set of scruffy, delightful appendixes enriches understanding of Rainbow lifestyle even more. All levels. E. J. Green Prince George's Community College


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