Compersia lands on the Atlantic

by Paxus Calta, from Your Passport to Complaining, September 22, 2016

A collection of intrepid adventurers have launched the newest income sharing commune in Washington DC and it is called Compersia. After failing twice to name this new community using naming parties, they discovered that one of the limitations of naming parties is that they are good at coming up with funny or lighthearted names. But when you are naming your home you might want something a bit more serious.

compersia-dinner-scene
Compersia retreat, January 2016

Compersia is derived from Compersion, which is roughly defined as the opposite of jealousy.  More precisely compersion is when you feel good about your intimate experiencing intimacy with another person.    Part of the reason why compersion is only roughly defined as the opposite of jealousy is that you can feel both compersion and jealousy at the same time.

The name is barely a month old and the major liberal magazine, the Atlantic, has completed a 6 minute video on them.  Here is the link to the Compersians discussing their community.  The reportage is all in the words of the members and thus it is a pretty upbeat piece of coverage.  Compersia is looking for new members and this might well help.

Curiously, just the day before the Atlantic posting, Realtor.com ran an article called “With Housing Costs Sky-High, the Commune Makes a Comeback” Which quotes a number of our friends at Ganas and Twin Oaks.

commune-scenes4
A collection of old Twin Oaks photos used by Realtor.com

Nice to be seen a bit by the more mainstream press.

Compersia lands on the Atlantic

Happy Equinox from Sycamore Farm Community!

by Sapphyre Miria, Sycamore Farm Community, 9.22.16

Fall Equinox seems like a fitting time to finally write something about what’s happening here at Sycamore: balance of light and dark, preparing to enter into a quiet, reflective season.

Right now, Sycamore Farm Community is comprised of two adult members (Edmund and me) and two teens (Evan and Kaya). We’ve spent the last nine months in a flurry of activity – SOOO much construction, SSOOO much farming!  We often miss our friends at Twin Oaks and hope that more folks will join us soon. We’ve had a lot of friends coming through to give us a hand, for which we are forever grateful. We’ve also had some folks expressing interest in our project.  I find that words fail to convey the landscape of our project in these cases. As such, I decided that I wanted to post pictures of what we’re working with here.

First, let’s start from the trailer:

s-farm1

The trailer is under renovation, obviously. Currently, the two completed rooms are business related. The great room that the french doors open into is the large seed business catch all room. This room will be where all of the Common Wealth Seed Grower’s seed packing and shipping happens, as well as where winter squash will be stored. Seed processing happens on the porch out front, which is precisely what Edmund is doing in this picture. The room to the right off of the great room is our climate-controlled seed/medicinal herb drying & storage room.  These two rooms make up about 60% of the living space inside the trailer. The other 40% remains to be renovated at this point. We envision adding at least two bedrooms plus some public space inside and constructing a composting toilet,  off to the left of the building.

Here’s a closer look of Edmund processing some wet seed harvest:

s-farm2

Yes, that is Kudzu eating everything around us. It’s even eating the dumpster! We want to get two pigs from Acorn to root it all out, whenever we find the time for yet one more project….

This give you an idea of the spread between the properties:

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Now, on to the main house:

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This is the heart of our baby community project, where food gets cooked and baths get taken. Yes, those are train tracks. Yes, the house faces the tracks instead of the road. We think it’s pretty cool, albeit a bit dangerous for young two leggeds and for unaware four leggeds. As you can see, the garden is winding down….

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….and we can’t wait to figure out what to make with these gourds!

We really dig the hammock set up under the willow tree. It helps us when we’re missing Twin Oaks.

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A different angle of the hammock under the tree, this time capturing the front of the house as well as Evan:

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The pile of rubbish on the ground was my bedroom floor. The mold had overcome my bedroom this summer and, when we returned from Communities Conference, I decided I couldn’t take anymore. I ripped up the carpet, which uncovered a molded “sub floor”. Started ripping that up to discover another layer under that. This was about when my chronic lyme decided to flare up with a vengeance, causing me to retreat to the trailer to escape the mold. Edmund and Calvin (ex Twin Oaks) finished ripping it all out the following weekend while Calvin was visiting, only to discover that the floor joists were dry rotted and molded out too. Right now, my room has no floor, no joists. Hopefully some friends will come and help us get it back together soon! Anyway, I digress. The porch has been in some stage of catch all for us since we’ve moved in. We’re hoping that after various projects are finished, we can finally find homes for all of this stuff and make it feel cozy.

Here’s a broader angle of the same shot:

s-farm8

Now, let’s walk on down to the river!

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Once you finish the short jaunt down the tracks, you slip down a trail onto waterfront land that is a part of the Jefferson National Forest.

Here is the view to the left from the river bank:

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If you look back up to the photo of the main house, you can see the ridge line disappear into the woods. Well, this is where the ridge line comes back into view.

Now, the view to the right from the river bank:

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Gorgeous, isn’t it? Now, for the walk back up to the house:

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This shot shows the walk from the trail to the river to our house, with the willow tree marking our spot.

I don’t have pictures of our farm land here – that will be another blog post, some other time. We lease our 3.5 acres in three different locations in Rockbridge County. We’re hoping to find farmland somewhere near us here in Arcadia to make life more easeful and to have us driving less.

This gives you a pretty good idea of where we’re at and what’s happening right now.

To leave it on a fun note, can you spot the beginning of fall in this photo?

s-farm13

Happy Equinox from Sycamore Farm Community!

An Introduction to TCUP

The Common Unity Project or TCUP is an communal farm/homestead in Gitxsan Territory, Hazelton, BC. It began as two friends who bought 160 acres in 2011 with the help of an interest free loan from a relative. Since then, it has expanded to seven adults, contracted from four kids to none, and has since receded again to four or so members. Our goal is to sustain ourselves from our region as best as we are able, and we employ permaculture styles of agriculture, urban and wild foraging, hunting, and trade. For us a lot of that revolves around a mutual aid connection with local indigenous peoples and others.

Currently we are income-sharing, which means we pull our resources together, monetary and otherwise. Ideally all money earned goes into the collective pot, and time worked for an income is valued equally to time worked on the collective project, which is sometimes difficult to define. We don’t record hours and our evaluation of whether things are working is based on whether we are making enough money to sustain ourselves and whether all community members are satisfied with how things are going.

We live in tents, campers, and buses most of the time. There is a cabin that has been on the property for awhile that we will be staying in this winter. The communal house, a two-story hybrid strawbale-earthship, will hopefully be finished within the next year or two.

tcup
We cook in an outdoor kitchen, sauna and jump in the pond for showers, and watch movies on the big screen TV occasionally. A typical day involves starting the woodstove for breakfast, organizing the freegan food boxes, checking on the chickens, watering the greenhouse, and then working on whatever project needs done that day – wood framing, cob, pounding tires for a community greenhouse in the reserve, mulching the plants, picking berries, canning salmon, harvesting rotten wood for huegelbeds, planting trees, going to the dump to search for materials, etc.

The last two summers we have hosted volunteer camps of 10-20 people, mainly to help with construction on the building. We are planning on lowering the numbers of volunteers in the future, but want to continue to be a place where people can come and experience a different way of living, learn about permaculture and alternative building, and develop themselves.

We are looking for like-minded people who want to live in a rural/town setting, individuals who are willing to communicate openly about conflicts, and those who want to live a simpler lifestyle in community with others. We are open to all ages, genders, races, orientations, and people of various physical abilities and spiritual beliefs. If you have an interest or are part of a similar community and want to connect, contact us!

www.thecommonunityproject.com

Best!

TCUP

An Introduction to TCUP

Farming and Building at LEF

from the Living Energy Farm July – August 2016 Newsletter

lef-fb1
Dried Food at LEF, Grown and Preserved with Sunshine
Late summer finds us very busy at LEF. We want LEF to be a viable economic model. The economic backbone of our project is growing open-pollinated seeds. Such seeds grow plants that pollinate each other generation after generation, just like in nature. Open pollinated seeds are the counter-movement to the corporate control of food. At this point, about a dozen people have control over the entire industrial food production process, because they control the corporations that own the hybrid/ GMO seeds that now grow the vast majority of the food that humans eat. Such centralization of power is a bad omen for the future of democracy. People have asked us at times if we think organic farming with open-pollinated seeds could feed the world. An honest answer to that question is not easy to come by. Industrial agriculture is enormously productive (at a price), and we are utterly addicted to it.
This year at LEF we grew our biggest corn crop ever, a whopping half acre. We grew a corn called Florianni Red Flint, a beautiful corn that is clearly much closer to wild corn than the industrial stuff. In harvesting the corn by hand, ear by ear, you can see the variations and peculiarities that hearken back to the wild and diverse corns that grow in Mexico. You can also taste the difference. Florianni tastes much different than store-bought corn meal, with a much richer and interesting flavor. There are other open-pollinated corns that are more productive than Florianni. Our crop did well. (Though the deer enjoyed it too.) Seeing up close the productivity of organic, open pollinated seeds gives us hope that we can feed ourselves using sustainable methods.
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Florianni Flint Corn, Beautiful, Tasty, Sustainable

We want to grow us much of our own food at  LEF as we can manage. Preserving food without refrigeration has been coming together well. We can food in jars, as do many people. We have an Amish-made wood fired canner that is fantastic, and allows us to put away all of the tomato sauce we want, quickly and efficiently. Only acidic foods can be canned. Last year we tested our solar powered food drying system that re-directs heat from the heating system on the kitchen. This year we built more drying screens and we are are using that system full-tilt. The results are fantastic. With some of our seeds crops (tomatoes and peppers), we take the seed out AND eat the vegetable. We have been drying peppers, okra, eggplant, onions, sweet corn, squash, green beans, carrots, beets, and any kind of fruit we can get our hands on. This is a great way to store food. Dried foods often taste better and retain more nutrition than canned food because it has not been cooked. Once it is dried, it can sit for a long, long time without using energy (unlike refrigerated/frozen foods that consume energy in an ongoing fashion). Yum!

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Finish Stucco Walls in EarthHeart
Our other big project these days is trying to finish our main house EarthHeart. That is coming along well. We conducted our strawbale workshops, and they went well. We put out a call for volunteers and we got a lot of help, including an enthusiastic, colorful crew called Grateful for Grace. We continue to be blessed with really sweet, idealistic and hard-working interns.
We packed all our walls with straw (and sweat). We use the cheapest, simplest kind of construction, which looks like the same 2 X 4 walls you would see in an ordinary house. The building inspectors like to see things with which they are familiar. Then we simply stack straw bales inside that wall, so the 4 inch wall becomes and 18 inch wall that insulates well. Our first layer of interior stucco is clay. Then we skim coat with sand/lime/cement stucco. The end result looks charmingly like a stone wall.
Farming and Building at LEF

The Ta Chai steps construction project at Twin Oaks

by Skylar and Paxus

to-work7Old Ta Chai Steps removed

to-work6Nina and Christian – the beginning is the hard part

to-work1Third times a charm!

to-work8Finley, Linus and Christian working on steps
to-work2Feels like we are living in a tree house.
to-work3Just trim the edges and then BAM ~ new sturdy porch!
to-work4Chloe helping us keep the wood dry from all the rain we’ve had. Oh, so good kitty.
to-work5View from our courtyard ~ Loving it here at Twin Oaks! There are so many fun projects.

 

The Ta Chai steps construction project at Twin Oaks

To feel good or to struggle for social justice? BOTH!

By Katherine 7tree

Twin Oaks is well known for the pleasures of its social culture. These pleasures are simultaneously political by design. Things that feel good can also be beneficial for society. Just a few examples: polyamory; home-grown food that’s free of pesticides; working outdoors; sharing resources and therefore having access to many computers; many bikes, many cars, many clothing options free of monetary charge; etc. Words like “pleasure” and “freedom” fit well with Twin Oaks. And I don’t mean freedom in a patriotic way—hence, pairing it with pleasure, and even hedonism at times.

When I was a Twin Oaks member, I had this perception about the diverse political views on the farm . . . that’s a little complicated. I perceived that Twin Oakers were over emphasizing a few of the awesome pleasurable-political areas and under-emphasizing others.

Here’s what I mean:  Take a look at free trade capitalism. This style of economics encourages outsourcing. In media debates on the TPP free trade deal, you hear arguments like “we’ll lose domestic jobs, and we need jobs here in the U.S., therefore the TPP harms us Americans here at home. Therefore we should fight it.” YES. Those things are true. AND: What happens on “the other end”? Are we really only concerned about the American domestic economy, and the security of jobs for our loved ones? We should worry about it, yes. But there seems to be a lack of empathy in forgetting about “the other end” of outsourcing.

(For the sake of writing a short piece, I’m making generalizations. Please take them with a grain of salt,  even on Twin Oaks…)

Free trade deals encourage manufacturing jobs to be located in Bangladesh, China, Mexico, and a wide range of non-U.S. countries. At the end of the article, I’m including a few links on modern enslaved labor and other exploitation. There’s been some mainstream media coverage on this, with specific exposes. My question is: Do we have enough clear statistical information about how widespread different levels of slave-like labor really are in 2016?

sweatshop

I ask because: There are people in my life who think free trade capitalism is pretty fine as-is.  Maybe that’s how I can have friends who read the same articles about exploitation, but who don’t believe the system needs to change. If abuse is the exception, why modify capitalism? That’s the logic.

However, here’s what I believe: There’s a reason we don’t see more and louder outcry about labor exploitation in the manufacturing of iphones, jeans, tooth brushes, etc. It’s not necessarily that exploitation is a rare exception. It’s that if I sit back and believe worker harm is the rare exception, then I don’t have to worry so much. I don’t have to do anything about it or make an attempt to learn more at least.

The takeaway: whatever you believe about the severity of this problem, Twin Oaks Community is a wonderful test site for non-exploitive factory/manufacturing labor. What a gift! Twin Oaks demonstrates a replicable model. It could become popularized.

I started this piece with my perception of pleasure on the commune. Sometimes Twin Oakers are so busy emphasizing political pleasures like delicious organic food or social/cultural pleasures, that they may under-emphasize the non-exploitive nature of manufacturing labor on the farm.

Tofu, hammocks and seeds are produced by workers who can work 4-hour shifts, rather than 16-hour shifts experienced in the “outsourced” jobs, overseas.  This is hugely radical. Twin Oaks has a solid grasp on how its unique labor system operates. The manufacturing of tofu and hammocks gets done in a way that’s smooth and sustainable.

to-hammock-making

The question is: in what ways do we think and talk about labor? Specifically, how pervasive is the problem of overseas manufacturing harm, as compared with Twin Oaks manufacturing? Maybe free trade capitalist factories cause more widespread harm than it’s comfortable to admit.

Twin Oaks is a LIVING MODEL of a manufacturing alternative—one that could easily be replicated, even on scales to help shift the economic gap between rich and poor.  I hope to see future dialogue about how we can connect our local communes and their pleasurable cultures with the larger globalized economy.

Here are a few links about labor:

http://slaveryfootprint.org/

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/world/slaves-kept-in-locked-cages-catch-seafood-that-ends-up-in-global-supply-chain-i-want-to-go-home-we-all-do

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18391-a-suicide-survivor-the-life-of-a-chinese-migrant-worker-at-foxconn

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35311456

To feel good or to struggle for social justice? BOTH!

European Income Sharing Communities Contrasted with US Ones

by Paxus Calta, from Your Passport to Complaining, August 19, 2014

GPaul has just returned from his summer adventure in Europe visiting urban income sharing communities. He just gave a wonderful report contrasting the US communes with their European counterparts. Here are some of the highlights from his talk:

GPaul about to take off

* There are perhaps 40 or 50 secular income sharing communities in Europe and national and language boundaries largely keep them from networking together or even knowing about each other

* These communities of size 60 to 80 members (and of course much smaller) use consensus decision making without any problem. [Many small US communities, including Acorn, worry that they can not grow without consensus failing them, and almost all of them are far smaller than this].

consensus group line drawing

* One of the maxims suggested was “The commune is rich, the communards are poor” The objective is great shared wealth, not increased personal/private wealth.  Look here for a strange post on anarchist communards advising bankers.

* None of the 6 income sharing communities visited had a labor quota (though one had a non-specific requirement for members to work full time). Most FEC communities have labor obligations and several have quota – though in Acorns case it is a “soft” and untracked quota.

group in rings photo

* European urban income sharing communities are also both asset and debt sharing (unlike their US counterparts). The US based income sharing communities (most of them in the FEC network) were culturally founded during the rise of cults. Thus part of the desire to not be asset sharing at that time was to distinguish income sharing communities from cults (which took members assets).

* Very few people move to communes in there 20s (unlike in the US where this is our biggest demographic) instead they move in during their 30s when they want to settle down and have kids.

* Minimum stays at European communes tend to be much longer (on the order of 5 years) in sharp contrast to US communities where it is often just 12 or 18 months.

This is sort of a poor representation of some of the key ideas of GPaul’s presentation, but there is more i will elaborate on in future blog posts.  Especially the transnational nomadic anarchist cyberpunks.

no i dont know why there is a label marked

European Income Sharing Communities Contrasted with US Ones