GREEN PATH @ 2012 Rainbow Nationals

GREEN PATH 2012 Camp @ Rainbow Nationals 2012
Summer Solstice-July 7, 2012
East Coast, location TBA in early June (Main Rainbow info site)

Springtime greetings Green Path walkers!

..This is a call out to join in the fun again this summer at the National Rainbow Gathering, as the Green Path network converges in the lush eastern deciduous forest to share our passions, ideas and skills for living with the earth and recreating tribal relationships…

In past years we have hosted hundreds of workshops, discussions and networking sessions, and turned hundreds of pounds of bulk beans, grains and produce into food for the masses at main circle. This year promises more of the same, with a few variations based on what we’ve learned from the past… We’ll be continuing the trend toward expanding our circles through sharing: skills, food, music and story, and dreams of an earth-centered culture for future generations…

With this year’s amazing Firefly Gathering taking place the week before Rainbow just outside Asheville, NC (, many GP folks will be caravanning from the western NC area to the Gathering, bringing with us all the inspiration and new connections from Firefly..

To catch up on the background of the Green Path network, the GP camp at Rainbow, and the legacy of Frank Cook, check out the past documents and events on the GP Facebook group. We also have a nifty blog at

NUTS & BOLTS…For this year, lots of ideas have been tossed around about uses of common space, collaborating with other kitchens rather than running our own, and focusing our efforts on feeding main circle with fermented and sprouted foods. Getting fresh produce to the gathering seems to be a priority, so if anyone has connections with farms and can get good deals on cabbage and carrots especially, please take on what you can.

Starting ferments ahead of time is important! Please exercize sanitation procedures! Folks could prepare 5 gallon buckets with secure lids to bring in already fermented, at varying stages so we can provide ferments continuously as soon as possible, and we can also hold workshop/work parties to start new ferments during the gathering.

This year we will likely be eating and drinking more wild plants and mushrooms than most years, as well as likely dealing with mud and rain (they do seem to go together!)..and expect an abundance of wild materials for basketry and fiber crafts. Any such supplies you have stored, or can work on storing now (rawhides and pelts, cattails, medicinal herbs, dried mushrooms) would be a welcome offering, as well as fresh roadkill or freshly thawed (or live- remember kim’s rabbits last year?) wild or home-raised meats!

Also needed are donations of cash, produce, dried and fresh herbs for teas, and various supplies and materials, (such as 3-400 feet of black plastic 3/4 inch water pipe and canvas or brown/green plastic tarps with pcord, food grade plastic buckets and coolers) and anything else folks want to use for skillshares or food sharing. Chad recently sewed us a cool canvas tarp using some of the magic hat money from last year, and the more shelter the better for the likely wet conditions of the bioregion!

As always, please bring your ideas for skillshares & discussions, musical and story offerings for the campfire, instruments and drums, and field guides and plant ID books if you are into botany skillsharing..

Folks should come fairly self-contained for camping (especially rain and mud) and eating (including eating utensils!), with the expectation, but not reliance, on the abundance of food that inevitably springs up all around. As our beloved late friend and teacher Frank Cook always said, “Give what you can, receive what you need.”

We will likely be located very near full serving kitchen(s), but assembling a group of friends to camp and share meals with, especially for those of us with children, seems to work well for consistently providing for basic needs. Filtered water will be available in the Green Path camp.

A small team of scouts is planning to arrive at the site (TBA) as early as summer solstice to find the perfect spot for the GP camp. Others are encouraged to join them, and also, folks are needed who are willing to stay late, past the 7th of July to help break down and disappear the camp from the wilderness…

Stay tuned for updates on the location as the time nears, and to coordinate ridesharing..
Join the Green Path group on Facebook to stay in the loop!

See y’all in the woods!

…Viva Frank Cook!

Green Path at 2011 Rainbow Nationals, Frank Cook’s legacy, and the History of Green Path

For the 6th year in a row, the Green Path family hosted another successful convergence of hearts, hands and minds at the 2011 National Rainbow gathering, this time in the newly snowmelted southern Cascade mountains of Washington state. What began as a plant walk and sharing circle in 2006 has evolved into a full-scale, high energy eco-skillshare camp and tribal village, and a 300+ member multi-bioregional network.

The location of this year’s gathering turned out to be a couple weeks behind the expected summer weather patterns for the area. Record snowfalls and late rains presented considerable challenges to “seed camp” the amazingly self-organized conglomeration of scouts, water crew, parking, supply hauling and trailbuilders. Despite the obstacles, numerous incredibly dedicated kitchen crews braved all the elements to arrive early and start feeding the masses well before summer solstice.

The Green Path “seed camp” crew of 5 arrived the day before solstice with 4 kids in tow. By the end of the longest day, after assessing the site and realizing how little of it was either dry or snowbank-free, we had chosen a magical spot for the Green Path camp and started hauling in the first of many many many supplies. Our spot was tucked away, yet still close to main trail, which later served well for a 10 minute walk or so to CALM, where many of our herbalist friends and allies would be working and needing a relaxed place nearby to hang out and find common ground. A short route to the closed FS road that ran along the top of the site was flagged and slowly began to be cleared, at first by hand, and later, when we were daunted by the 5 foot snowbanks and huge fallen trees, by a kindly offered roving chainsaw. Weather conditions continued to be less than summer-like into the next week, with several bouts of near-freezing rainy days and nights,

As more friends started finding us, the building of the camp quickly accelerated. Hearths were built, firewood and building wood was gathered from the dark snowy woods, tipis were erected, food preparation and storage shelving was lashed together, and a main message board was set up in the middle of the open space, which would later serve to post our schedule and announcements. Bridges and handrails were created as is often done at rainbow to facilitate easier foot traffic through all the camps. Throughout this process, many old friends and new faces appeared, as has happened every year, with abundant energy and ideas. Throughout the main week of the gathering, dozens of skillshares and discussions took place, most attended by large groups of engaged folks! As food donations poured into the GP kitchen, we started serving a daily lunch and various herbal teas throughout the day. Mostly, the kitchen space was used to prepare fermented foods for Main Circle, which were always received with much gratitude!


Our original vision of a free-flowing exchange of skills, ideas and knowledge was born at the 2006 Colorado Nationals, inspired and instigated by the late and great Frank Cook, a friend, teacher and fellow Green Path walker. Through his numerous plant walks and workshops both around the world and at Rainbow gatherings, Frank stood in a central position to call people together to walk what he called “the green path” toward more connection with the web of life and each other. Frank had brought folks together in spring of 2006 in North Carolina as a sort of ‘induction” on the Green Path, and Rainbow nationals was a place where he brought the concept forward to a larger network.

At those Colorado circles, we walked with Frank as he encouraged us to break through what he called “the green wall” that many see as impenetrable or unknowable- to get down low and get to know the specificity of the plants, exploring their botanical identities, and their ethnobotanical uses by generations of earth-based peoples. We gathered plants for salad and tea, then held a daily circle for several days in a row where we shared experiences, interests and visions of our collective walk on the Green Path. Topics ranging from seaweed harvesting to sprouting, fermenting, herbal elixir (mead) making, seasonal foraging calendars, and botanical inventorying were explored here, as folks got a feel for each others’ common interests and passions.

Amazing co-creators from Frank’s extensive, trans-continental learning and living communities were present at those daily circles at the Colorado gathering, and Frank knew that this could grow into a powerful circle. Some of us were already acquainted from years of Rainbow gatherings and plant walks with Frank and his herbal teacher and longtime friend, 7Song. Others of us were new to Rainbow but had walked with Frank in other places, and this circle opened up an entirely new social web that has deepened and expanded through the years, adopting a life of its own through Rainbow (in Wyoming and Arkansas) and many other “spur trails” along the green path.

Sadly, Frank passed away suddenly in August of 2009 from damage incurred by a vigorous parasite contracted in one of the many tropical areas he had visited. Six weeks previous, Frank had been central in holding energy and sharing knowledge at the New Mexico nationaIs, and offering endless positivity and encouragement for our Green Path family to stay present as a circle, trusting the developing process, and to keep building on the energy generated since Colorado.

In the wake of Frank’s passing, a groundswell of energy has propelled the Green Path vision forward, manifesting a GP gathering in North Carolina in Spring of 2010, and successful Green Path Rainbow convergences in Pennsylvania in 2010 and now in Washington. Frank’s original influences of ethno/botanical exploration and fermentation have continued to hold a central prominence at Green Path gatherings, both in and out of Rainbow. Every year, GP has increasingly facilitated preparing and serving fermented foods at Main Circle. And every year since the inception of GP, plant inventories have been compiled beforehand, using a US Government plant database, and then explored on the ground like a checklist. (Check out Marc Williams’ continuation of Frank’s botanizing efforts through his online Botany Everyday project.)

The ever-widening circles that are drawn to these gatherings have reflected the expanse of interest of these circles by expanding the subject matter of the Green Path far beyond the plant world. This past year’s camp saw skillshares and discussions on a wide range of topics, including friction fire making, animal processing and hide tanning, herbal medicine, alternative education, midwifery, living foods, animal trapping, permaculture, botany, communication skills, basketry, meditation and yoga.

Our hope is that the Green Path network will continue to provide a space and a context for the sharing of earth-centered inspiration and knowledge. As circles expand and visions spiral, we hope to rediscover hidden trails and help facilitate new connections!

In the words of Frank Cook, “Give what you can, receive what you need!”


To learn more about the continuation of Frank Cook’s work, check out:

Frank’s online botany class, now facilitated by Marc Williams:

Join the Green Path group on Facebook:

subscribe to the Green Path mailing list: