Critter & Scout

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Posted Tue, Sep 24, 2013

MALL CRAWL:  Denver's 16th Street Mall is a gathering place for traveling street performers. {Photo by Robert Crew]

MALL CRAWL: Denver’s 16th Street Mall after dark is a gathering place for many traveling street performers. [Photo by Robert Crew]


DENVER — If you walk up and down the 16th Street Mall in Denver, besides seeing many restaurants, old pianos and sales stands, you will also notice many people carrying everything that they own on their backs. Many of these people are traveling street performers and artists. Many of them are very young, and many of them actually choose to be homeless.

Critter and Scout ages 20 and 22 are among one of these traveling groups. They play music on the 16th Street Mall. Critter plays the guitar and sings, and Scout plays the ukulele. They use these names because they were given to them by friends they have made while traveling.

“My name suits me,” Critter says. “…because I’m a lot like an animal, sometimes I even wear a tail, but that’s a whole other story.”

Scout explains, “My name was given to me at my first Rainbow Gathering. I have a pretty good sense of direction. I’m a good navigator and would always come back with random shit.”

Many of the travelers you see, “street performers, street kids, gypsies, vagabonds, whatever you want to call them, meet up at these rainbow gatherings,” Scout says. “They are always at national parks. We usually camp there for a month or so.”  The website for these gatherings is welcomehome.org. “It’s a place where there are essentially no rules,” Scout says. “It’s a place where a whole bunch of people just get together and camp. There’s no money involved in this place, you just trade things.”

Rainbow gatherings promote peace, love, unity, spirituality and community building. The festivals incorporate a lot of Native American thought and philosophy as well.

“I really just enjoyed the way that everyone there had such a passion for life. I learned that in order to have it all you have to give it all up,” Scout says.

Critter says, “Imagine it like all your stuff gets stolen. And you get upset about it. The universe somehow gives you everything that you need that you lost and more.”

Traveling Performers

Rainbow gatherings draw in people from all over the country. Critter was born in San Francisco, but grew up in Atlanta. Scout is from Asheville, S.C. They have both been traveling for a few years.

“I was tired of being in one place and nothing ever happening,” Critter says. “Atlanta wasn’t the place for me. I was wanting to change my life for the better, instead of being in a spiral downwards. I was just always getting f***ed up and tired of being robbed all the time and never having a place to stay. People are a lot kinder in the West.”

Since leaving Atlanta, Critter has been sharing her music with others and even plays in music and art festivals. She is soon leaving to Arizona to play in a festival there.

“I love the way I get to share my music with everyone, and knowing I have changed someone’s life just by singing to them,”Critter says. “I have had so many people tell me that I have made their life better somehow and that is just an amazing feeling. I’ve had someone recently come up to me and put their hand on my shoulder and said to me, ‘You shine,’ and then just walked away. That’s super rad.”

Scout has been out on her own since she was 16. “I did this wilderness program, kind of like outward bound. It changed my life.” She did this program as a form of rehabilitation. “It made me really self-reliant and taught me how to survive in the wilderness. It was from being forced to detach myself from society and all this materialistic bullshit when I was a teenager. I lived out in the woods for 4 months and when they finally told me I could leave, the moment I had been waiting for for forever, I actually got really pissed. I got really emotional and I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to go back to that crazy robot society with all these different factors and stresses. All I had to worry about was cooking my own food, hiking to my next spot and setting up camp.”

Scout said she was surprised by how many other travelers she had met that went through similar programs.

A Lifestyle Passed Down  

Despite the constant traveling, Critter and Scout both call their parents often. “My mom is always like, ‘where are you now?’” Critter says. “She did this when she was my age, and followed festivals. She likes that I’m getting my music out there and getting connected with different artists and playing different shows with them.”

Scout stays a few nights at home with her parents whenever she goes back to visit Ashville. “I’m really close with my parents, I stay with them whenever I’m passing through. My mom was totally a hippie and did this shit when she was younger. She was a singer-songwriter and traveled around as well. She went to Europe for a long time, and she understands. She understands that need, the restlessness.”

This lifestyle is shared not only with the girls, but also their parents. To these young girls, their way of life represents freedom, self-discovery, and developing a love for others.

“You learn to appreciate, I have gained so much more gratitude about everything in life. It’s a unique experience living off the charity and gratitude of others,” Scout says. “For a long time, I wasn’t sure exactly who I was, and that’s the quintessential question. You are meeting all these different people constantly and you are constantly having to redefine yourself.”

Picture 20 thousand people in a sunlit meadow, standing silent in prayer, holding hands in one huge, unbroken circle. Picture a parade of children approaching, singing songs, their countenances bright with enthusiasm and face paint, balloons and banners waving in the breeze. Picture the breaking of the silence with a cheer from the circle, then the silence returning once again, to grow slowly into a thrum of voices united in a single OM reverberating through the valley and on to the hills beyond. Hold the OM in your mind. Let it spread through and around and in you. Feel it pass from hand to hand and heart to heart.

The magic, the connection you feel is the essence of the Rainbow Family of Living Light.

Peace, love, and light, –Carla  Welcomehome.org

 

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About Robert Crew

Robert Crew is a Denver-area freelance writer.

View all posts by Robert Crew

One Response to “Critter & Scout”

  1. Liz DeLuna Says:

    This is a great article! People don’t appreciate artists and their true “art” anymore. You captured their purpose and their spirit so well.

    Reply

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