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If this is your first time here…

Cambia: Reusing and New Buildings

by Raven

At the Communities Conference this summer, I got to take a tour of Cambia and I learned a few things.

Like the connection between their pond and one of their buildings.

This is their pond:

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They dug it out themselves, it has a nice deck (built from a deck that was torn down at Twin Oaks), and is great to cool off in, among other things. (For more about the pond, see Ella’s post, What Does It Mean to Build a Pond?)

Not far from the pond is a building they call ‘the barn’:

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This is a residential building where a family lives, but it also has a common space where meditation and spiritual activities happen:

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The flooring and walls are made from clay.  It says this at the beginning of Ella’s post, but I had forgotten, the clay is from what they dug out for the pond. So two of the things that they accomplished at the same time were digging out the pond and getting clay to create this room. It’s very much how they do things at Cambia.

A couple of new things that I saw this summer were this wigwam (which I believe was built during their Wigwam Building Workshop):

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And this new outdoor classroom:

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Check out the amazing roofing:

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Cambia continues its combination of ecological innovation and a lovely esthetic.  I wonder what I will find next year.

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Thanks for reading! This post was made possible by our patrons on Patreon. The Commune Life team works hard to bring you these stories about our lives in community, and that work couldn’t happen without support from our audience. So if you liked this article, and want to help us make more like it, head on over to https://www.patreon.com/communelife to join us! 

Deep gratitude to all of our patrons:  

Communities

  • Acorn Community
  • Compersia Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards 

  • Aaron Michels
  • Brenda Thompson
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Em Stiles
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Julia Elizabeth Evans
  • Kai Koru
  • Kathleen Brooks
  • Laurel Baez
  • Lynette Shaw
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Peter Chinman
  • Sumner Nichols
  • Tobin Moore
  • Warren Kunce
  • William Croft
  • William Kadish

Thanks! 

 

 

 

Cambia: Reusing and New Buildings

Life at East Wind

 

Our bylaws and Legispol provide the basic backbone of how our community operates politically (see also: Self Governance ). The culture here is entirely dependent upon the current membership. Seventy three members plus guests and visitors live at East Wind at any one time. As of Spring 2017, one half of our adult membership is age 30 or under.

East Winders are more diverse than you might think if you have never visited a community. We are extroverts and introverts, bluegrass lovers and dubstep fanatics, bookworms and TV series marathoners. There is no one ‘type’ of person that dominates at East Wind. There is room for the social butterflies and those who prefer to be less outgoing. The social scene is ever changing and there are always new things happening. We have found that diversity allows for a more resilient community and enjoyable atmosphere.

We hold our land, income, labor, and other resources in common. The community assumes responsibility for the needs of its members, from food and shelter to medical care and entertainment. Everyone is free to have their own personal possessions such as clothing, media, and electronic devices. Provisional and full members receive an equal “Discretionary Fund” each month ($150/mo for the year 2016-2017) that members are free to spend as they please.

We work hard because we understand that each one of us is responsible for ourselves as well as the group. We are part of a system that rewards cooperation rather than competition. If there is one thing that is most harshly judged within our community it is work ethic. We have a very easy life here compared to the rest of the industrialized world. This is especially true because we are able to choose from a nearly endless amount of activities to do throughout the day. We don’t have to sit at a desk or behind a counter for eight plus hours a day doing repetitive, mind numbing, and body crippling tasks. For this reason, we expect all members to contribute in the ways they feel comfortable, and few people have trouble finding a niche where they feel appreciated. The labors we perform daily benefit ourselves, our friends, and the community around us and so we put a lot of love into our work.

website photos (37 of 77)

We practice nonviolence. We believe that every person has the right to be free from the threat of physical violence. Incidents of violence within the community are not tolerated. We consider ourselves stewards of the land we use and are working towards creating a more sustainable lifestyle while reducing our impact on our environment. A big part of our gardenranchcomptoil, and forestry teams’ goals involve using our resources as effectively as we know how to and allowing the ecosystems we co-habitat with to flourish. As much of our work takes place in the woods, the pastures, and the gardens, we naturally become acutely conscious of our environmental impact on the land.

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We ensure that our members have an opportunity to participate in the decision making process by using direct voting methods such as petitions, proposals, and ballots. As a community, we hold meetings for discussion on topics relevant to community on Sunday afternoons (usually meetings are scheduled based on proposals created by members). Community meetings remind us that we all have something to say, and this teaches us to listen and be open to other perspectives. We recognize and respect everyone’s right to nonviolence and are reminded to be respectful of others’ personal space. And because we hold what we care for in common, we are all more willing to strive to make it better for all of us.

Life at East Wind

Oran Mor Dawning

by Desiree

Oran Mor Community is currently shaking off the ashes of a previous transitional phase.  Oran Mor is now sprouting with signs of potential renewal and simultaneously preparing for the Autumn season fast upon us.  We have collectively learned lessons of patience and the wisdom of allowing and perceiving the solutions that arise out of every situation.  In our continued resilience we have adopted the motto of doing what we can, where we are at, with what we have. We stand together in appreciation for the perspective birthed out of much unexpected contrast.

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Inanna Acorn helping us with cob.

What We Are Doing

Native Missouri Trees

We have ordered 250 native Missouri trees, just a few for example – Hickory, Persimmons, Black Gum and Witch Hazel.  Ordered from the Missouri Department of Conservation, they are due to arrive in February. Excitement is mounting as we contemplate positively adding to the health of the forest that so abundantly provides for us. As planting time draws nearer, we will be planning and announcing a tree planting party and potluck to share and rejoice with our tribe!

Canning

To date, we have canned a total of 18 Gallons of tomatoes.  Last year 25 gallons of tomatoes were canned, 100 jars. We are confidently progressing as we learn efficiency by learning the ins and outs of effective canning techniques.

Gardening

We have planted greens and root crops for our fall harvest.  To name a few: Radish, Turnips, Beets, Swiss Chard, Kale, Chinese Cabbage, etc. .  Members have daily diligently given the garden loving care and attention. Innovative ways have been discovered to keep the garden watered in the face of lack of rain and other long standing water challenges.

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Some of our members built this smoke/hangout ledge in the woods.

In Progress

Cob: Clay & Straw

We have successfully procured a significant load of  straw and promising resources for clay. We have also begun digging sand from Little Creek and bringing it up. Winterizing of existing domiciles on the land is a priority.

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Cobbing the ceiling cracks of the Ringing Cedar

Recycling & Land Cleansing

Oran Mor has been long plagued with the neglect of previous unconscious residences, disrespect of Makha Ina (Mother Earth).  We have been reveling in the momentum that has continuously been building in our opportunities to remove long buried, rusted, metals, aluminum and other non biodegradable pollutants from the earth.  Still to be removed are numerous tires, vats of used cooking oil and abandoned metal/plastic fencing material. If anyone has connections and resources that will aid in these endeavors, we greatly appreciate your assistance.

Ceremonies and Workshops

Our last Sweat Lodge & Cacao Ceremony was a beautiful success. This month we are holding it on the grounds of Oran Mor itself. We have dubbed it  “The Great Song Cacao & Sweat Lodge Ceremony” after the Celtic meaning of our name “Oran Mor”. The ceremony is to be held on September 20th, at 8:30 AM.  Come out to share a beautiful heart space of healing and awakening with us! For more information, see our facebook event page

https://www.facebook.com/events/376300033030436/

More amazing events will be happening in the near future!

Support Us

We operate an apothecary on the farm selling bulk herbs, smoking blends, tinctures, teas, infused oils, and balms all sourced from this land and made by hand by the Oran Mor tribe. Check it out here – rootsapothecary.etsy.com

We also make kombucha and naturally fermented sodas that we sell by request.

Donations are much appreciated and can be sent via PayPal to greenearthalive@gmail.com

Oran Mor Dawning

Bye Denny Ray

From your passport to complaining

Denny Ray left Twin Oaks many years before i arrived (and that was over 2 decades ago). But from early on in my membership i knew who he was, because he fixed things. Twin Oaks prides itself on on being self sufficient. And in many ways we are, in ways few families or even companies can brag about. But our little secret is we have some ringers. Denny definitely was one.

Denny Ray and his impressive camera

Denny was an independent political force in the labyrinth decision making system at Twin Oaks. He would get an idea in his head that we should do something and he would make it nearly irresistible to follow his advice, He wanted us to change to Blossman Gas; he argued that it would save us money, he argued that they gave better service, he argued they have safer equipment. But in the end what really won over the planners is when he said “And i will manage it”. We would have paid him, but he would not take money this time.

Denny brought the Blossman crew in and they went around to all our residences. They proposed a bunch of new hardware and i was frankly a bit scared that in the end it would not end up saving us money. Denny asked me to give hammocks and pillows to the Blossman engineers, which i happily did.

Denny was of course right. The new gas company ended up saving us over $10K a year, even after we paid for all the new equipment. Denny had negotiated a great deal for us. Best hammocks we ever gave anyone.

But Denny was loved for far more than his utility. He was funny, friendly, generous and highly opinionated. He loved his little house and would never move back to Twin Oaks, but he was often over for lunch consulting with old friends who were members, or newer members who knew he often had sage advice or a good story to share.

Denny also was a photographer. He would catch us walking on the road with our kids, and later send us a much loved picture to remember the moment. He loved our plays and musicals as well, and took photos of the performers in costume. We very much appreciated his generosity and artistic dedication. The sight of his much-beloved blue truck was always a cause for celebration.

Twin Oaks Forestry Crew: Photo Credit Denny Ray

Denny would get frustrated with us for poor decision making or treating a member poorly, and then he would take time away from the commune, a week – sometimes even a month. But his love for the place and its people always brought him back.

Denny’s last year was a tough one, He spent a bunch of nights in Twin Oaks hospice facility, Appletree. We don’t use Appletree for anyone who is not a member, but Denny was exceptional and no one even considered challenging the decision to bend the rule for this old friend.

I’ll miss Denny, who used to often joke about my many girlfriends or how i was upsetting the bureaucrats on campus. I’ll miss him, and i will remember him, his commitment to community, and his willingness to be part of something greater than self.

Good Journey, Denny Ray, thanks for everything.

Bye Denny Ray

The First Two Steps

by Raven

Probably the most popular post that I have written on Commune Life is the one on Four Steps to Building a Commune.  Recently I have started thinking that I missed a few steps. 

When I wrote it, I wrote it with the assumption that someone who wanted to start a commune, had come with experience and checked out the alternatives.  Now, I want to look at those things. Let’s call it steps zero and zero point five. (Or Step 0.0 & Step 0.5)

stepzerow1

Let’s start with step zero. If you are thinking of starting any type of community, but especially an income-sharing community, you should at least have some real group living experience. How do you even know that you would even like living in a community if haven’t tried it first?

I know of people who have given lots of good reasons for why they thought that they would be great in community only to find out that they didn’t like it once they really tried it.  You may be great at working with people. That isn’t the same as living with them. If you’re working with a group of people, no matter how difficult, you can go home at the end of the day. If you are living in a community, you are home. These are the folks that you are with, sometimes 24/7.  If you don’t like that, you probably don’t want to live in a commune. 

I would further suggest that if you are interested in starting a community, you actually live in one (even a co-op or collective house) for a couple of years first, and perhaps visit several others for at least a few weeks, before trying to start something. It’s really good to know how things are done at several places. The problem with only knowing one place before you start another, is thinking that the way that things are done in the place that you lived is the way things are always done everywhere.   

seeking-and-visiting-community

The more places that you visit, the wider the range of what you see as possible. Three places I would particularly recommend people who want to start a community should visit are: Twin Oaks in Virginia, to see how a commune that has lasted over fifty years works (I have done two three-week visits there plus many shorter stays), Dancing Rabbit in Missouri, to learn the pieces of how to build community, especially an ecological community (I did their three-week program several years back), and Ganas in New York City, to look at a community that fearlessly embraces conflict (I lived there for two and a half years–I would particularly recommend going to at least several of their morning meetings).

Then there is what I would call step zero point five. Ask yourself why you want to start a commune or any other type of community. Is there already a community that would meet your needs? If so, why don’t you want to live there? Please be real.  Starting a community is a lot of work and most new communities fail. At the very least (and this is moving into my Step One of my four steps), find someone else who wants to do this. Even better, see if there is anyone else who is already trying to do something similar. 
many hands together: group of people joining hands

As an example, I helped start Cotyledon because, first, I wanted to start an income-sharing community in the Northeast US and there wasn’t one at the point that I became involved. Ironically, I found some folks prior to this wanting to start a farming community in upstate New York, but after over a year working with them, I decided the way they were organizing wasn’t viable. I found out about Point A, so I would be working with a project out of the communes and after I was up here I met gil and DNA, so I now had a group to work with. (The irony is that a few years after I left, and by that time I was committed to working with Point A, the upstate farming community reorganized so that it was viable and became East Brook Community Farm. I am currently taking my own advice and planning on moving there as  Cotyledon winds down.) And I had literally decades of community living experience, including having previously started a commune in the 1990s, and visiting all the places that I mentioned above, all of which proved very useful in starting Cotyledon. And, even that wasn’t enough when we weren’t able to attract enough people. 

I am not suggesting that you need decades of experience, but I also think that someone who wakes up one day and says, “I want to build a commune” will not get far without, first, having at least some group living experience and perhaps visiting a bunch of communities, particularly places like the one that they are dreaming of, and second, having a really good reason for starting yet another new community, rather than simply joining one.

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Thanks for reading! This post was made possible by our patrons on Patreon. The Commune Life team works hard to bring you these stories about our lives in community, and that work couldn’t happen without support from our audience. So if you liked this article, and want to help us make more like it, head on over to https://www.patreon.com/communelife to join us! 

Deep gratitude to all of our patrons:  

Communities

  • Acorn Community
  • Compersia Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards 

  • Aaron Michels
  • Brenda Thompson
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Em Stiles
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Julia Elizabeth Evans
  • Kai Koru
  • Kathleen Brooks
  • Laurel Baez
  • Lynette Shaw
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Peter Chinman
  • Sumner Nichols
  • Tobin Moore
  • Warren Kunce
  • William Croft
  • William Kadish

Thanks! 

 

The First Two Steps