by Summer from Running in ZK, June 12, 2015
Here’s the article about us that just came out. [It actually came out a year ago.–ed] Valerie sent around an email a few months ago asking if anyone would like to host this journalist from Yahoo! Parenting, and I agreed. It was an out of character move for me, as I usually steer clear from reporter-types who come through, but I figured parenting at Twin Oaks was something I could probably be articulate about.
All of my interactions with Beth, the journalist who came out here, rewarded my decision. Over email, she was pleasant and helpful in preparing to come to Twin Oaks. Her presence around the farm was unobtrusive. I felt like I was asked fair questions. She helped do the dishes on my kshift and hung out with my crew in the Bijou afterward. We talked about our daughters, just a month apart in age. And after the article was published, she opened herself up to feedback and made several alterations at the request of me and others here.
My daughter and my butt
I think it’s a pretty good article. The comments thread (which Beth cautioned me to avoid, but I ignored her) seems to show that either people get it, or they’re just being unthinking.
And I don’t mean to say, “if you don’t understand the communities movement and what we’re doing here, you’re an idiot.” It’s just that the thread has two predominant types of comments. 1) “Sounds like you all are doing a great job. Keep up the good work!” and 2) “Ew! This sounds like a bunch of child molesting creeps who will fail after their first year when one of these people gets old or sick like all the other communes that have failed.”
The second type of comment displays so much non-information, failure to actually read the article or anything about Twin Oaks, and general strangeness, that any condemnation is just swallowed by stupidity.
I’m also just feeling self-righteous, I suppose. With all its ups and downs (and I’ve had some crappy-butt downs), my life here is fundamentally good. I’ve gravitated toward deadline-oriented work; I am my own boss. I set my schedule, and when I decide to deviate from it, it’s to do things like set up the slip n slide in the yard, or build a fort, or make a snack and read with my daughter; practice piano for an hour or two; play DDR; take a nap.
Someone cooks my lunch and my dinner. With no wallet or keys to weigh me down, I walk to the dining hall, barefoot and dressed as weirdly as I like, and eat food that was harvested that morning, meat and dairy from our cows, and drink our fresh well water. After lunch I work some more. When it’s my turn to do the community’s dishes once a week, I put on dance music and my friends and I do our routine, and I get immense satisfaction from leaving everything shiny and organized.
When my daughter or I need to go to the doctor, we go. On my birthday, I can throw any kind of party I want. I can be in two bands and never have to drive to a rehearsal. I eat family dinner with my in-laws every week at their house.
Kids are around, doing and saying funny and interesting things. I mark the passage of time by the turn of the seasons, and anticipate certain plants’ aromas, berries, colors. When times are tough for me, I feel supported. In turn I support others when they are having a tough time. I can work outside jobs and save money to go on trips to see my family. They visit me here.
Some people like to say, “Oh, I could never do that. I like my own ___ too much.” Why do people feel the need to say that? I don’t care. I’m not recruiting you. If you don’t want to be here, I don’t want you here. I don’t go around to office buildings and be all, “man, I could NEVER do this.”
The Yahoo! Parenting article had over 3 million views last time I looked. That’s a lot of eyes on the picture of me and my daughter. I thought about going in to the comments thread to defend us/refute nasty claims/answer questions. But then I thought, what is the point? I know that, despite it not being 100% perfect, my daughter’s life is excellent.
She plays outside all day, she has one-on-one educational time with super smart people, she makes up games and collects pretty rocks. She bikes around with her dad and helps him make furniture and fix bikes. She sees her grandparents regularly, and her godparents live down the hall, the same hall where she was born. She breathes clean air and drinks clean water, pokes around on the piano when she feels like it, and helps take care of babies. And her mother is content.