by Becky Visitor
I heard about Twin Oaks a few years ago when I first looked up intentional communities on Wikipedia. I almost immediately emailed them gushing about how much overlapping our values are and how much I would love to live there. After a few years of college and working I finally found a three week chance to come here and my passion has been reignited. I am in love. The four-acre garden provides much of the food we eat and eight cows are milked every day to provide all the milk, yogurt, cream, and cheese for the 100 person community. All of the buildings have been built by community members, as well as chairs, hammocks, and various other crafts that are sold in fairs around Virginia [and the east coast]. It is a dream of self-sufficiency. There is a sauna, a pond, and massage tables around the community that are used on the reg. I honestly feel like I’m in summer camp for adults. Just like summer camp there is cuddling and hair-dying but peppered in are various conversations about the state of the world and what can be done to fix it. Socially conscious books and conversations can be found almost anywhere. I am surrounded by people that I admire and people who have not been complacent about their situation in the world. People who are actively working to create alternatives to the isolating and increasingly unsustainable lifestyle that is the norm. It’s empowering.
A core principle of the community is egalitarianism so there is very little individual property and allowance, but it feels like everyone is rich here. You can sign out a car – if you want to. You have health and dental care – if you need it. You eat delicious, organic, freshly picked, freshly cooked meals twice a day – and someone else cleans up. The longest commute you’ll have here is a fifteen minute walk in the woods to the other end of the community. Under my estimate the quality of life is outstanding. In just two weeks here I’ve had swing dance lessons, had a massage night, been to a bonfire, had a full moon ceremony, read in the various hammocks strung up in picturesque places, explored an old mill down the road, and played with baby calves. I feel rich here.
The community has an intricate and well-documented system of self-governance. There are planners, councils, and managers of various areas of the community. There is 42 hours a week expected here and that can be split up among many different fields of interest. In one day you can work in an office, clean out the compost toilets, and cook a meal for 100 people. All the work is valued equally. You don’t get any perks for working in an office or as a manager. It’s wonderful to see work that is traditionally considered feminine or work that is considered lower class to be valued equally to traditionally masculine or higher class work.
I’ve only been here for two weeks, but I can already see myself living here for a long time – a few years, and maybe longer. I am so happy to have stumbled upon this place and knowing that communities like this exist gives makes me feel hopeful for the world at large.