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Each year, for a few weeks in summer, a loose confederation of like-minded souls called the Rainbow Family of Living Light quietly converts a site in a public forest somewhere in the United States into a communal living space for thousands. Campsites are established, latrines are dug, and an elaborate water filtration system is erected to bring water from nearby streams. While the group’s origin is a bit cloudy, it’s generally accepted that the first “official’’ gathering of the Rainbow Family was in Colorado in 1972. For the summer of 2016, they gathered in Mt. Tabor, VT. -- By Jessica Rinaldi

The Rainbow Family gathering draws free spirits from across the country, including this man dressed as a tree-like Ent from “The Lord of the Rings” at this year’s event, held on public forestland near Mount Tabor, Vermont. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)