The Posties are self-appointed Rainbow postal carriers. Formed at the annual Rainbow Gathering in Tennessee in 2012, the Posties originally came out of a group of friends from Occupy Portland. They deliver mail throughout the gathering, especially at seed camp, by going from camp to camp, looking for the mail’s intended recipients.

In order to send a letter, one must write the message, enclose it in an envelope (or just fold it in half if it’s a ‘postcard’), write an intended recipient (including a camp or kitchen location if possible), and draw a stamp in the upper right-hand corner. If there is no stamp, the letter is considered undeliverable, and is “delivered” into a fire.

Mail can be sent by handing it to a Postie, but there is also a Rainbow postal outbox that can be found on the counter of Information and Rumor Control. It fills up with letters and the contents are frequently retrieved by the posties to be delivered.Beginning in 2013, the Posties began reading “mail call” before the announcements at Dinner Circle. They took their undelivered mail, and read off all the names of intended recipients to the circle.

The Posties each have different standards regarding what type of mail they prefer to deliver. One will not deliver nonconsensual hate mail (before delivering it, or reading it aloud, they say “This is hate mail. Do you want to receive it?”). One will not deliver junk mail (mail addressed to “everybody”, “anybody”, or similar nonsensical or nonspecific targets). They all encourage love letters.

The Posties, like Nic@Nite and Goat Camp, tend to walk the entire length of the gathering daily, and stop at every camp and kitchen, allowing them also to be eyes and ears for the gathering, increasing their ability to facilitate communication from one part of the gathering to another.

In 2013, in a possibly precedent setting move, the Posties fired the Rainbow Gathering as their clients on July 3. There were too many people, too many letters addressed to ambiguous first names, and The posties were getting tired and burnt out. They decided that Seed Camp and early Rainbow were the most useful times to do the postie system, because there are fewer people, more important messages to convey, and everyone for the most part knew each other and where campsites were.

After the firing, the postal outbox remained at Info where it became a de facto “General Delivery” box that people could browse through to see if they had mail. One or two “renegade Posties’ decided to fill the vacuum and try to help deliver the last pieces of mail.

The Posties are a young tribe, and well-received by the established rainbow kitchens and camps. There has been discussion at Info about trying to facilitate a Post Office, or P.O. Box type of system in years to come.

September 14th, 2016 by John Anderson