Monday, July 15, 2013

The Moneyless Tribe Becomes Reality

It's been weeks since I've had net access.  Still little time to write here.
Darby, MT
The moneyless tribe is now reality, dream materialized!  I am walking with 5 amazing people (Cody, Summer, Brandon, Javier, and Mika) in abundance.  We're in Darby, MT now, on our way to Missoula.

From the East Coast to Montana

What a whizzing whirlwind it's been.  Last I blogged, I was in CT.  I hitched to eastern New Jersey and couldn't get a ride out, & was seriously doubting I could make it to MT for even the Rainbow Gathering to launch of the moneyless tribe, much less to meet the appointment with the British film crew, Me & You Productions, in Billings beforehand.  I finally found a library to contact the Brits, and it turned out they were in NYC at the time.  So they picked me up and put me on a bus to Billings!

Before I got to Billings I had a clear vision that I'd meet up with Cody and Phil as I walked away from the bus station (They didn't have a clue when I'd arrive in Billings, or even if I could make it).  But I arrived, and walked a couple blocks from the station.  I saw a couple folks who looked street smart and thought I'd ask them where the library was.  As I got a few feet closer, I saw that they were Cody and Phil!  I felt a great sense of relief and gratitude.  Cody, who had lived moneyless for a year and a half, went back to using a little money for a while.  He still had a little stash, as well as a car his mother insisted he bring.  We discussed whether or not he could ditch the car in Billings or just bring it to Rainbow and give it to somebody there.  We opted for the second option, especially since we ran into a couple (Matthew and Ashley) hitching to the Rainbow who needed a ride.  I also thought it would provide a great means to bring massive amounts of recycled food to the Gathering.

It turned out Phil decided he wasn't ready to do the moneyless tribe thing, and he ended up leaving.  I felt sad about that, but such is life.  I was so grateful Cody was with me, because the idea of launching a moneyless tribe by myself at Rainbow was feeling overwhelming.  Cody and I set up camp at a beautiful spot near the river with Matthew and Ashley.  We would stay there until the Brits arrived for filming. 

An Idiot Abroad

Karl Pilkington

Funny, the British TV thing.  Originally, I'd thought they wanted to do a documentary.  But I finally had time to look them up at the library and realized they were the crew of "An Idiot Abroad", starring
Karl Pilkington,  a very popular "reality show" in both Britain & the US.  "What am I getting myself into?!" I thought.  I felt strong misgivings about agreeing to do this, quickly losing heart.  I met the producers and film crew at a fancy hotel, but not Karl.  Karl wouldn't meet me until the next day.

The next day we met at Pioneer Park.  Karl hadn't eaten since the evening before and was feeling cranky & tired from hypoglycemia.  So I gave him some granola and trail mix I'd foraged from dumpsters, and he became happy.  He ended up interviewing me for an hour or more about the philosophy of moneyless living and about the idea of happiness (the episode's theme was "happiness").  I liked Karl and his sincerity and inquisitive spirit, and thought, "I feel good about this after all.")  Then the film crew prodded us to walk & do  my Billings routine.  So I took Karl dumpster-diving.   We found pizza, more granola, a Dutch apple pie, some chicken, a pair of nice jeans Karl's size, and picked up a couple wool sport blazers from a thrift store dumpster (since Karl was cold).  And, since Karl had no sleeping gear, we went to another dumpster and found a warm blanket.  Karl was amazed at every find, at its utter synchronicity, and kept asking me and the film crew if we had set it all up beforehand.  Of course we didn't, I and they kept telling him.

There's much more that happened, but hopefully you can watch it when it airs in the Autumn (October, I think).  Karl was hilarious.  What I discovered is that Karl didn't at all put on an act.  He's totally himself.  And the film crew staged absolutely nothing, which surprised me to no end.  They let Karl and I decide everything that happened.

It turned out grand fun, but I was relieved when it was all over with.  But there was to be more to come...

To the Rainbow Gathering

Location of the Moneyless Tribe, overlooking Rainbow Gathering
We arrived at the Rainbow Gathering near Jackson, Montana.  We didn't even have to look for a camp for the moneyless tribe - it basically called us.  The first place we went, up on a ridge overlooking the gathering, we found really friendly, welcoming neighbors.  So we put our packs down and stayed.  Shortly afterward, a guy named White Dog set up his tee pee right by our moneyless tribe sign, and then built an inipi (sweat lodge).  The tee pee was visible from all over the gathering, a great marker showing where we were.  And I was so happy to be able to do sweat lodge right next door.

Suelo on July 4th Celebration

Cody & nieghbor, Lief
For days Cody and I wandered around, not knowing hardly anybody, since we were so early.  I kept having doubts nobody would show up and the moneyless tribe could be a flop.  On the other hand, I felt a bit freaked out about maybe 30 people showing up wanting to join.  Either way, I kept falling into doubts over the unknown.  I had already publicized it... and what would happen?  On top of all that, the Hungarian TV journalist, Hesna (Al Ghaoui Hesna) and her film crew were arriving to document the first couple weeks of the moneyless tribe!  It was testing my faith, my ability to remain grounded in the present.

Launching the Moneyless Tribe

Hesna, Hungarian TV Journalist
I put signs up around the gathering directing folks to the moneyless tribe camp.  Then I announced it at the dinner circle.  The next day we waited, and about 12 people showed up to hear what this was all about.  It turned out I mostly philosophized about it, since people were more interested in the philosophy of why we wanted to do this than the practicalities.  I felt it turned out very good, feeling quite inspired.  Within five minutes of everybody leaving, the Hungarian film crew arrived!  They set up camp near us and started interviewing immediately.
Tyler & me at the Rainbow Gathering

I also gave presentations the next 2 days.  About a dozen people showed up at each one, and I felt more on fire inspired, and so did everybody else, as we went.  He Hungarians filmed the second day presentation.  Also, our tribe members started showing up, one-by-one.  I can't describe the warmth and love and gratitude I was feeling.  I had been feeling so weak, so doubtful, so unworthy, so I knew this wasn't from me.  Skeptical pragmatists, think what you will, but I felt and feel the Divine Hand, which is not my doing, not from me.  One-by-one, Javier, Brandon, and Summer showed up.  They had been thinking of this months before coming, and we'd been in a bit of email contact.  Summer had actually been thinking about it for years. 

Brandon, Cody, Summer, with neighbors
Then three others, Tyler, another Brandon, and Trent, showed up to camp near us.  These three really want to join us on the walk, but can't until maybe later.  Then, on the last day of  the presentation, Mika showed up.  She had read the book and was amazed to find us at the gathering.  Her decision to join the tribe was most spontaneous.

Meanwhile, Hesna and her Hungarian crew, Adam and Irwin, were filming and interviewing each of us, as well as some potential members.  It was awkward and tiring having cameras on us all the time, but also fun.  I felt quite privileged for such an opportunity.  They also documented the first three days of us leaving.walking out of the gathering.
Javier, Cody, Summer, Suelo at July 4th Celebration

Giving away the Car and the last money

Cody and I befriended a woman, Mikara, at the Gathering, who was setting up solar showers, doing a good service.  It turned out she didn't have gas and didn't know how she would get to Eugene.  Cody gave her his last money, $120, and she cried tears of gratitude.  Then we met a couple with a baby who didn't know how they were going to get back to Las Vegas, and Cody signed his car title over to them.  It was beautiful to see how natural it was for Cody, how totally in sync he was with people's needs.

[Photos of tribe members taken by Tyler Whitney]

The Tribe Walks

Good hospitality in Jackson

We walked through Jackson, then to Wisdom.  We were so grateful to find that the cooks and proprietor at Rose's Cantina in Jackson were friendly and generous, giving us their excess leftover food along with smiles. I recommend going to Rose's Cantina fb page and 'liking' them.

Nasty hospitality in Jackson

It was so refreshing after dealing with many unbelievably unfriendly, inhospitable people in Jackson and Wisdom (in Beaverhead county for the most part), especially the people at the Hot Springs Lodge.  We simply asked them for food they were throwing away, and we graciously left, without defiance or rebelliousness, when they told us to not "loiter" in front of their resort.  Yet the police found us later and told us they had thrown us out.  Either they had blatantly lied to the cop or the cop was lying to us.  I am not surprised to see that Jackson Hot Springs Lodge has terrible ratings on the Internet!

That evening we had no place to sleep, so we crossed a fence in a cattle field, where there were no private property signs, and somebody else called the cops on us.  We ended up sleeping on swampy ground right by the road.

We figured things would get better walking into Wisdom.  Food-wise, it was good, as we retrieved quite a few cans of spaghetti sauce, potatoes, and a bag of pinto beans from the dumpster behind the Antler Saloon.  But the proprietor came out and scolded us, yelling, "get out of my dumpster!"  She said she would call the cops.  Only a few times in my life have I ever met such a hateful, mean-spirited human being.  It's surprising to see such folks that you think only exist in movies.  I asked her how on earth she thought we were hurting her or any creature on earth.   But we left, as she requested.  I didn't think she would be so vindictive to call the cops, but Mika said she was sure she would.  Later that evening, we found a free public place to camp by the river.  As we were cooking, the same cop from the previous night showed up and scolded us again.  The woman had actually called him.  The cop said he wanted us out of Beaverhead County ASAP, and I told him our wants were mutual, that I'd be out of this inhospitable place now if I could.  But Mika, thank God for her, later talked with him and smoothed things over.  He finally ended up being very nice and gave us granola bars and said it would be fine to stay another day, to heal up from blisters.  He was doing his job.  Police have to go out on calls when they are called.

Good Hospitality in Ravali County

We met a woman named Liz in Wisdom, coming from the Rainbow Gathering.  She offered to give us a ride, in collaboration with the Hungarian film crew, to the Ravali county line, at the summit.

The Hungarians stayed with us another day, filming and interviewing, and then left for their flight to Hungary from Missoula.

They left us with some food, including a couple cans of ravioli.  It was quite funny, because many days before I was joking with Cody and a couple others, saying, "we're going to eat ravioli in Ravali County!"  Lo and behold, ravioli was our very first meal in Ravali County.

We had several people offer us rides on our walk.

We were on a long stretch and I was thinking we, a tribe of 6, might have to skimp a bit, and everybody was prepared to maybe fast.  Yes, silly me, I was doubting that faith couldn't work as well for 6 as it would for just me.  We were also quite exhausted.
East Fork Bitterroot River

We then passed some trash cans.  I found some rubber cement, which I'd been needing, but no food.  We passed a field on the other side of the road with construction equipment in it, and a dumpster.  A couple of us said, "It's not worth it checking that dumpster.  Why would there be anything in it?"  A couple folks needed a rest, so we stopped.  I thought, "Oh well, I'll check that dumpster anyway," and I crossed the road.  It was chuck full of frozen food, not yet thawed!  Fish, sausages, tortillas, bread galore!  Out in the middle of nowhere.  We were astonished.  And we feasted for days on that food.  Never hungry.

Near Conner, we asked permission to camp on somebody's beautiful land near the river.  They came later that evening and brought us even more food.  They were 3 young guys, incredibly friendly and generous.

We walked on the next day, and now we're in Darby.  We've been camping in a park near the Mormon Church.  We decided to attend the Mormon Church yesterday.  Very friendly and sincere people there.  One of the women members, named Sherry, brought us lots of food last night.  A couple Mormon missionaries came later and brought us a Book of Mormon.  We actually had a good talk.

We were going to leave today, but I wanted to finally do some email and write this blog post.

So here it is.

I want to talk about each of the beautiful people in our tribe, Javier, Cody, Mika, Summer, and Brandon.  But it will have to wait.  I can't describe the warmth and gratitude I feel.