1997 Rainbow Family Gathering
Information Office Overview
The 1997 Rainbow Gathering was held at Indian Prairie, Big Summit Ranger District, Ochoco National Forest. Prineville, Oregon was the closest town for supply purchase and on the main route to and from the Gathering. Prineville is a community with a population of 6000 in Crook County, population 11500. Many community events occurred during the time of the Rainbow ingress and egress.
It was important that once the Rainbow Family chose their site and Prineville was identified as the community to get the largest impact that community leaders be contacted and the situation explained. It was equally as important that social service agencies and public assistance agencies be contacted. Although it was not know what the impact would be, it was known that there would be an impact.
Some of the things that the Information Office found that worked include:
* Working closely with the Forest Public Affairs Office to determine the community leaders who needed to be regularly contacted, what issues would likely be concerns for the community and those groups who it would be beneficial to visit and share background on the Gathering.
* Developed an internal and external mailing list for sharing daily updates and other pertinent information.
* Sent daily updates to employees, media and others.
* It was felt that holding a public meeting would give the naysayers an opportunity to grandstand so advantage was taken of existing group meetings to reach a large number of citizens.
Some of the things that did not work include:
* An environmental education program was attempted however it was not well accepted and subsequently discontinued. It is felt that a program of this type (as well as most activities) must be coordinated with the Forest and the District in order to be successful.
* Law enforcement statistics were difficult to get during the initial time of the Gathering.
* Daily updates got "dull" after a while. New information needed to be put at the beginning in order to keep people interested.
* As in any team setting communication is extremely important between all the participants. Communication between law enforcement and the information office was strained and it is felt that in order to be effective this gap needs to be addressed.
The Public Affairs Action Plan and the Daily Logs that contain the actual events that the Information Office conducted are an appendix to this report.