(The following has been adapted from an open letter I posted at Twin Oaks, explaining my decision to temporarily move to Cambia, a neighboring commune less than one mile away from here.)
I’m planning to move to Cambia for the winter – which unfortunately means I’ll be dropping Twin Oaks membership for the time being. I truly wish I could exist in a universe where I lived at Cambia and Twin Oaks simultaneously, but as of yet there’s no precedent for dual membership between these two communities. The reason I’m moving is to keep Gil and Ella sane with another mind and body during a winter of low membership – to be someone who will help carry the torch, build infrastructure and dream about Cambia’s future. While not completely certain that I’m the best one to fill this role, some communards seem to have a lot of faith that I can make a difference in this way, so I’m going to see what happens.
I’m excited to live at Cambia. I’m excited to be where the (larger) community needs me, to be part of a young community still in a phase of becoming, to have lots of quiet time for contemplation, and to spend more time with the exceptional Cambians already living there. I’m not excited to leave Twin Oaks – it is also full of excellent people. I feel wanted and accepted there, have engaging work, enjoy abundant social opportunity, and am becoming a better human/gardener/bike mechanic/dairy farmer/etc. It’s possible I’ve never been happier overall than since coming to Twin Oaks – thanks to the all the people who help make that true.
Because I love spending time at Twin Oaks, I plan to work there around two days a week as a Cambian. This will also serve to build Cambia’s LEX balance – FEC communities have a Labor Exchange program (or LEX) whereby members of one community work at another, then the other community “repays” those hours by working at the first community later. My working at Twin Oaks will allow Cambia to claim help from TO members with their various projects – like building more housing, so they can grow. I’ll maintain strong ties with Twin Oaks by working there, and as a result Cambia, a young community, will get support from a well established community.
This is a big part of the reason I’m moving to Cambia too: to be a bridge. These two communities share many of the same core values, and are populated by interesting, kind, talented people. Being less than a mile apart, these two communities should be strongly associated… and they are, but they could be more so. Part of my purpose is to tighten this bond. I’ll be at Twin Oaks frequently, sharing stories of life at Cambia, and I also hope to be a reason for Twin Oakers to spend time at Cambia, getting to know it themselves. Once Twin Oakers feel connected to Cambia, a bond might be struck between the communities that will far transcend my time there.
I don’t feel like I’ve learned all I can at TO, and Cambia is likely to receive the new energy they need in the spring, so my current plan is to seek Twin Oaks membership again in the springtime. Since I’m not yet a full member of TO, this would mean another visitor period – a necessary inconvenience. If accepted for return, I’d come back and start helping the new garden management with their first growing season as soon as the waiting list allowed. Gardening is the work I am saddest to be away from, especially considering the garden at Twin Oaks is short on labor, and the garden managership is about to change hands.
I think it will be good to spend some time away, even though leaving Twin Oaks doesn’t feel easy. It will be an opportunity to see how a different community feels, and to have a taste of what it might be like to found a community. I’m especially looking forward to spending time in a more meditative environment and (re)developing some good habits that I might have lost in the buzz of life at Twin Oaks. Hopefully the time away will also be a chance to reflect on and affirm my love for Twin Oaks. If love Twin Oaks as much in a few months as I do now, then I’ll be back there before long.
A young, idealistic communard.