Oct 01, 2009
By Crystal Britt
UNION COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - A group known as the "Rainbow Family" set
up camp in Union County near Jonesboro. They're a large group that
gathers on federal forest land.
Local police are keeping a close eye on the family, and so far no problems.
They're hidden away from civilization, tucked south of Jonesboro in
the Shawnee National Forest.
If you see them out and about you might say they look like a bunch of
hippies, and they're not offended by that.
"It doesn't bother me, we're pretty much kids in the woods who like
to live off the land I guess that's technically a hippie," said a man
who only wished to be called "Frodo".
Another man known as "Brother Ray" says he's been a part of the
Rainbow Family since the early 1970's.
"It's a group of people who seem to have seen beyond the veil of
illusions into what's real in life...what we should be focusing our
energy on," said Brother Ray.
He says people come from all over the country to gatherings like
this. He says they pray for world peace.
Union County is a favorite spot.
"It's a tradition. We've been coming here for a long time, it's
beautiful country," said Brother Ray.
According to the county sheriff, the group has not caused any problems.
They're closely monitored though by the U.S. Forest Service as they
have rules and regulations they must follow, like everyone else.
"I want people to know we are not the enemy. We're your children.
We're the people, and we're mostly gentle people," said Brother Ray.
Brother Ray says some members of the group have jobs and homes, and
use this as an escape. Others he calls nomadic.
The woods is their home, and these people are their family.
"We have doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs, people with many
degrees. I'm a registered nurse", said Brother Ray.
One man who's known as "The Cook", says he went to culinary school
and was a chef in a four-star restaurant. He left that life to cook
for his new "family".
"There's nothing I regret except my stable family, that's the only
thing I do miss," said The Cook.
"I miss my family of course, but feel other people are missing out,"
said Frodo." I travel around the whole country, hop on freight trains
and hitch hike. I feel like other people are missing out. They're
settled down and have responsibilities. They have to do this and
that, I don't have to do nothing I don't want to."
Frodo says he plays his guitar for money, and others do odd
jobs. They get a lot of donations, and even dumpster dive for food.
"It's been fun. It's where my heart is," said The Cook.
They only ask for understanding.
"We want the world to come to a higher consciousness, a consciousness
of reality that love is the only thing really worth doing," said Brother Ray.
The group has plans to be in Union County until at least October
14th. That's when their permit expires.
Then, they'll have to move to another camp site in the Shawnee
National Forest, or move on.