Rainbow gatherings and border art

 

WASHINGTON

You have to hand it to the 12,000-to-15,000 people who traipse every summer to some national forest -- usually in the West -- where they live for a week as reunited friends who call themselves the Rainbow Family of Living Light. They've had 40 years of practice, so they've learned how to avoid leaving a giant mess, the keys being organization and cooperation. This July, their destination was the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southern Washington, and as members greeted each other with the words "Welcome home" and "We love you," they built mobile kitchens that offered free food, constructed a separate "A Camp" for alcohol drinkers, and dug slit-trench latrines. Every dog -- the Forest Service had planned for an estimated one dog for every three people -- was required to be leashed, and no money changed hands except when a "Magic Hat" was passed around to buy food and other provisions, reports the Seattle Times. After the gathering of wannabe and old-time hippies concluded with a peace circle, site restoration began in earnest and included reseeding with an approved Forest Service seed mix. If tradition holds, the evidence of occupation will soon disappear. When the Rainbow Gathering ended three years ago in the Ochoco National Forest in central Oregon, a Forest Service ranger told The Oregonian: "I'm impressed. I never thought this place would recover so quickly." 

NEW MEXICO

Academics often write books when they're not teaching, but not F. Chris Garcia, 71, a political scientist and the former president of the University of New Mexico. His part-time job involved recruiting prostitutes online. This June, Garcia was arrested and charged with promoting prostitution, conspiracy and tampering with evidence, reports The New York Times. Garcia was reportedly working for David Flory, 68, a physics professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey who owns a second home in New Mexico. Flory has been charged with 40 felony counts for setting up Southwest Companions, a website that connected some 200 prostitutes with as many as 1,400 customers.

THE BORDER

What a strange trip: This June, U.S. and Mexican officials allowed about 80 people to travel from San Diego to Tijuana by walking through a giant drainage culvert, reports the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. Mexican officials were on hand at the south end of the drain, sitting at folding tables and stamping travelers' passports. The border-crossing-by-culvert was performance art organized by Political Equator 3, a conference that promotes co-existence on the border. It was the first time that Mexico designated a drain as an official port of entry, but "it probably won't happen again," said Oscar Romo, who helped organize the event.

UTAH

Legislators representing the Beehive State are quick to lambaste the federal government, but here's the upside to having lots of federal lands: According to a new report from the Interior Department, Utah is No. 1 in the nation in terms of the benefits it reaps from parks and other public lands managed by the federal agency. In 2010, these recreation areas supported more than 20,000 rural jobs and contributed $1.7 billion to the state's economy. 

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