|Michael Goodliffee from Facebook|
Vancouver’s Michael Goodliffe, one of the de facto leaders of the World Rainbow group that has recently been in the news as the hippies kicked out of their gathering place in Raft Cove Provincial Park on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, does not fit the granola stereotype.
Goodliffe, 43, is an author, he is highly educated, having attended UBC in various departments over the last ten years, and describes himself as a pragmatic realist. Goodliffe said all walks of life are represented at the gatherings including lawyers, teachers and nurses. Part of the reason the community can sustain itself, according to Goodliffe, is that there are so many members with various talents.
Goodliffe is helping the World Rainbow Family of Living Light move to a more suitable location at Kennedy Lake on the west coast of the Island after the provincial government closed Cove park, over what a press release from the Ministry of Environment calls a “risk to public health and safety, the protection of the natural environment and the preservation of park value.”
Goodliffe said media reports of the gathering moving to the Slocan Valley are incorrect.
Another statement from the Ministry of Environment said authorities were not aware of the group’s next location but that they are “monitoring campsites and recreation trails in the surrounding area.”
Goodliffe said there are at least 12 Vancouverites who are currently preparing to vacate the Cove location and he thinks “there will be hundreds as soon as the Rainbow Beach [Kennedy Lake] location goes public.”
Because the goals of the group are not easy to categorize, “it is easy to write [us] off,” said Goodliffe. The Rainbow gatherings, which began as yearly get-togethers in the early 1970s, are about a complete “paradigm shift” he said. Each month-long gathering is meant to serve as an example to the larger society of how to live without money and electricity or a centralized authority. “Lots of lessons to be learned,” he said.
In terms of what goes on at the gathering Goodliffe said members break off in casual groups and discuss ideas for improving the world. There is general agreement that the capitalist “economy is not sustainable,” said Goodliffe.
According to Goodliffe, 40 per cent of people in the group have no money and survive by going from one gathering to the next, while 60 per cent have sources of income and arrive with an excess of food and items to share.
He said the group welcomes absolutely everyone no matter their situation and members of the group work to take care of each other. When Goodliffe spoke with the Courier he said he was in Vancouver to accompany a young woman from the Cove who had planned to hitch hike alone to the mainland. He said he didn’t want to see her be in a vulnerable position so accompanied her. He said this type of social responsibility and integrity is central to the group’s beliefs.
Goodliffe hopes all of the Rainbow Family will be settled into the new Kennedy location by the weekend, “but the apex of the thing will be the full moon” Aug. 20 when the largest number of people are expected.