Kid Village

Kid Village is one of the oldest kitchens, and at most annual gatherings the largest. As its name implies, it is a special place in the gathering for children and their parents. There are games and arts and crafts and singing and many other activities for them. The main focalizers have been Felipe and his wife Lynn, Joe Braun, Foxfire, and Flower. Tho the youngest people in the gathering are their focus, the adults in Kid Village include some of the eldest of the elders.

Their daily breakfast that usually includes fried potatoes, eggs, pancakes, homemade syrup, and oatmeal with fruit is one of the most opulent offerings at the gathering, and people are willing to stand in long lines for it on the most populous days of the gathering. Children and their parents are told to go to the front of the line as it is forming, and they can always go to the front of the line later. (Sometimes parents have been known to lend out their kids out to accompany other people.) They usually have another meal at about 4 in the afternoon, then continue to offer snacks and zuzus thruout the evening. in the evening of the 4th of July they serve Diamond Dave’s recipe of Rock and Roll Spaghetti.

There is a handwashing station that you pass in the line just before you are served, and they are strict about you doing it every time before you hold out your dishes. Unless your hands look like they just got wet, the servers are instructed not to let you have anything, even if you are just filling your cup with water.

Before serving the breakfast there is a circle where everybody holds hands, and Felipe give a talk of encouragement that is often filled with Native American symbolism (he was born into the Yaqui tribe). He often goes around the circle with a small bowl of burning sage and wafts the smoke over the participants with a feather as a rite of purification. Then they go around the circle clockwise and anyone who has a concern, a prayer, or a heartsong can speak. (No feather or other talking implement is passed.) There are lots of reminders to wash hands, use the latrines and compost pits, and help out with the serving and food chopping. The circle usually lasts about twenty minutes and it ends with a call of “We love you” and finally an Om.

The children usually are kept to the same bedtimes they have back in Babylon, and quiet is enforced after sundown. There is no all night drum circle. However this is one place where the silence is not kept on the morning of the Fourth, because it is next to impossible to get small children to understand it. No drums or musical instruments are played, but adults talk at low conversational volume.

Kid Village was the scene of a major confrontation with the Forest Service law enforcement officers at the annual gathering in Wyoming in 2008. Some LEOs pursuing a Rainbow brother that they wanted on marijuana charges caught up with him as he was approaching this kitchen at the time the rest of the gathering was at Dinner Circle. When he got there with the cops in pursuit, several gatherers saw what was going on and started yelling insults and threats back at them, while other gatherers tried to do Shanti Sena by moving in between to hold these threateners back.

A sister was listening to her Shanti Sena radio and said out loud, “Did you say ‘fire’?”, when what she heard was really “shots being fired”. Someone else heard her and shouted, “Fire!”, and other people repeated the call. It was heard over at Dinner Circle, and many people started to run in the direction it came from, which was Kid Village. Some of the police had riot control guns, which shot paintball-like pellets that released pepper spray on impact. When they saw the mass of people coming in they opened fire, shooting hundreds of rounds before it was all over. There were children present, and some of them got the red welts on their skin that all who were hit by the pellets were afflicted with. Several videos of this were recorded, one of which can be viewed here.

This was the high point in what had been a long series of escalating confrontations with the LEOs. The Incident Commander sat in a council with Rainbows two years later and said, “God forbid that we should ever have to go thru something like that again.” It sobered Rainbows and LEOs alike, and all began on the path toward reconciliation that has now gone so far as the Incident commander coming into the gathering to talk with gatherers in civvies with no gun in 2013.

September 14th, 2016 by John Anderson