East Wind: A New Day

Hello dear reader!

These past two months have felt like four. Lots of ups and downs through the winter time. The good news is that we are fast coming out of the cold season into the long Ozark warm season. The honeybees are out, searching for potential new nests. I saw one of their scouts fight a spider while I was relaxing at Sunnyside:

That honeybee just kept going up to the spider until a complete stalemate was reached. I took this as a sign that it was time to put up a couple swarm traps and try to capture some honeybees. There are more than a couple experienced people on the farm thinking on the honeybee hive situation for the year, which is super exciting!

Crocus

Signs of Spring are plenty. One of the first crocus flowers of the year was spotted by Hedge, just behind Fanshen.

Pexter and his big pile of fertility… thanks for shoveling shit!

Each of these pictures has a story to tell. The above one’s story is pretty simple: our friend Pexter wanted some pictures taken for his profile. He keeps his soshmed (social media) on level. You can see where most of that pile of manure came from here (cow manure is a top notch soil amendment):

Happy cow means happy manure means happy greens means happy lettuce eaters.

Some pictures don’t need much explanation, here is the final fall carrot harvest with PT and Richard:

So many carrot!

Above you can see yours truly trying out our new Jang mechanical seeder to plant lettuce. Joseph, a most magical faerie, diligently and lovingly hand seeded one row to give a comparison. I don’t know why, but the legend of John Henry comes to mind. This is a precision machine and I’m happy with our initial results. The spring carrots will be the first real test, hopefully less thinning this year.

We have four new little pigs on the farm. Butchering season is ongoing with the larger pigs and cows. Farm bacon and farm eggs each morning is a mighty fine breakfast. The forestry crew has been down at The Yurt, helping out Richard get his new home established.

Richard chainsawing at his personal shelter, The Yurt. This was today! Feb. 19, 2019

I am going to be directing less and less energy to this blog and the East Wind Community channel for sometime. Other things in my Life need more attention. I have really enjoyed writing this blog for the past two years or so. One of my initial goals with redoing East Wind’s website and restarting the community blog was to attract people to come check out East Wind. Well, that is happening and I live with so many wonderful, loving people right now. Seeing your intentions become reality by committing yourself to being something different is an incredible experience.

I truly hope you have enjoyed reading my blogs. No doubt, I will post more here, but I want to make it apparent that this blog will no longer be an obligation of mine (I set a goal to put something out each month, I average one every six weeks probably). This is where you pick up and I fade into the background. This is how a proper hand off begins, by making your intentions known. 2019 will be a great year. =)

East Wind celebrates Imbolc, 2019. What a Beautiful Day.

P.S. If you don’t know already, I have put out a number of videos on the “East Wind Community” channel on YouTube. For the most self indulgent video, you can click here. And here are the rest of the most recent:

Richard, the Ent
2018 Dairy Overview
Milking Cows in a Community Scale Dairy
Cheesemaking with Liuda

Post and pictures by Pinetree

 

East Wind: A New Day

The Gifts of Being Sick in Community

by Audrée Morin

I was freshly arrived at Twin Oaks, the community I had been hearing so much about for the last seven months. I had heard about it for the first time at Ecovillage Pathways, in June. Even though I felt like I had just left Quebec City and just started my north-east winter communities tour, I had already been on the road for two months, I had already visited more or less 12 communities, and I could smell the end of the tour coming.

The tour was finishing at its most exciting part: this was the 52-year-old community, home to 100 people who don’t need to work outside of the community, the one that founded the Federation for Egalitarian Communities, a farm in the woods where every hour of work is worth the same, the community that sprouted more or less 5 other communities in the area creating a buzzing communities hub.

I felt soooo excited to jump into my 3-week visitor program.  I would have multiple hours of explanations about how this successful long-lasting community functions (which might sound boring to some people, but for the community nerd that I am, it sounded exciting). I was ready to take part in the life of this community at 110% intensity; I was eager to work a diversity of jobs, to give back to this generous community that was welcoming me, housing and feeding me for almost nothing, and teaching me about my passion. I was all in to learn as much as possible and to get to know people.

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Between the trees is the hammock where I rested when I was sick

But… my body had a different story in mind. The week before, I had started getting a cold.  I tried to take care of myself with a bunch of teas and decoctions that my herbalist and friends taught me, which typically works great….. if I do the one thing everyone knows is necessary to heal: rest (and drink a crazy amount of water). But with the same enthusiasm and eagerness I had for Twin Oaks, I had decided to go to the song circle in Woodfolk house of song, which I had also been hearing about for months and was one of my highlight bucket list items in this region.

Big mistake! The cold mischievously turned into a bad sinus infection, which pretty much started the day I arrived at Twin Oaks. I was able to be in denial for the first days, napping for 10 minutes in between my work shifts and thinking that would be enough rest, but by the fourth day, I realized that I was probably not going to heal without complete days of rest and antibiotics. I had sinus infections every winter for the last 5 years: I knew what to expect.

I knew I would have to go to a doctor and pay for it because I had decided not to get medical insurance. I knew I would have to get those darn antibiotics and destroy my poor microbiome that I had put so much efforts (and money) in reconstructing for the last 6 months. And, the worst part…… I knew I would have to not work for 2 days.

Normally, when I have to take days off from work to heal, I feel lucky and I am happy to take them. But here, work is so meaningful: I wanted to contribute and learn. Just imagining missing my work shifts was giving me anxiety. “I won’t get to know anyone and I will be alone for the rest of my visitor period!” “People will see me as a lazy parasite who eats their food, sleeps in their bed and doesn’t work!” “I wanted to get practice gardening and making hammocks and doing tofu and working with orchards and bees! I will learn nothing if I sleep all day and don’t meet people!” and so on…

I ended up crying in multiple people’s arms that morning, as they asked me how I was doing, and I couldn’t help but answer: “afraid and discouraged”. All of them reminded me of a wonderful feature of the culture here: Twin Oaks strongly considers that when you are sick, your job is to take care of yourself and rest. Resting counts as labor (the community is based on a labor credits system), and it is what you are expected to do. The visitor guide mentions: “Please don’t try to work when you’re sick: it sends the wrong message about you (…)”.  

As obvious as it is when others are sick and I advise them to take a day of rest, this was the hardest thing to do for myself.  It took me a couple of hugs, until I finally accepted the reality, wrote a little paper note on the “today board” asking to cover my tofu shift, and started the process of finding how to see a doctor without spending a fortune.

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The Today Board

I went to the “shtetl” (everything has cool-hard-to-spell names here), a space with four couches in a communal building, and asked around if someone knew where to go. It was so heartwarming to hear half a dozen people brainstorm together, with everyone coming up with ideas: one person thinking of calling my doctor in Canada and asking to fax a prescription to the pharmacy, others trying to orient me to the United States medical system, and remembering places where people without insurance can go (the community provides full coverage health insurance).

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The Shtetl

Someone thought of a Dr. Shwartz but didn’t know if he was retired. Someone remembered that they had an appointment with him five months ago, and a third person managed to find his number on the health board. Dr. Shwartz had lived 10 years at Twin Oaks, and was known to be a high integrity doctor who doesn’t order useless tests.

I walked over to a place with a landline and made two phone calls: while my doctor in Canada said it was out of question to fax a prescription without a consultation, Dr. Shwartz agreed to see me the same day, if I was able to get there in 20 minutes. I was saved!

The internet was not working, and I didn’t know how to get there, but a nice Twin Oaker gave me the directions. I felt unsure driving to a place without having seen a map of the road on Internet first, but I did it anyway, and it worked. I found the place, without problems.

I got my appointment, the nurse was the nicest nurse I had ever seen, and the first thing the doctor told me, before talking about antibiotics, is that I should take licorice root to support my adrenal glands for my low blood pressure. He answered my concerns about my asthma medication with research-based explanations, and prescribed me another kind because, he told me, with the first kind, more people die.

Of course, I got my antibiotic prescription. The price ended up being really low (68$ for those who like quantification), and he gifted me a whole bottle of licorice root pills! What doctor gives free and natural remedies to his patients? One who has lived in community for ten years apparently.

Back at Twin Oaks, another resident offered me the use of his south facing room because he would be away for three days. His room was in a newer building with better air quality than the visitors’ building. Thanks to him and his humidifier, my lungs had a little break.

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Kaweah, the house where I stayed when I was sick

I ended up spending two days resting on his couch. No one made me feel guilty about not working, and people took news of my health when I went to lunch and dinner. I didn’t have to worry about cooking, because it is labor creditable, which means that all meals are communal (but never mandatory) and taken care of by the team assigned to cook. We just need to show up on time, and choose between the diverse options of delicious food, for the most part grown by the community itself.

With that setup, I felt safe, supported and taken care of, almost like when I was a kid and I had my mom to take care of me. It felt so good to know that I was not left alone to take care of myself.

Being sick takes time, with all the teas, tinctures, pills, inhalers and sinus rinsing, and it also requires resting, so having meals and dishes taken care of and feeling the support of the community really made a difference. I have healed now, and I don’t wish to be sick again, but I am grateful for this vulnerability episode that allowed me to experience a new unexpected manifestation of the power of community.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Communards

  • Tobin Moore
  • Kai Koru
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Julia Evans
  • William Croft
  • Aaron Michels
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Laurel Baez
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Sasha Daucus
  • William Kadish

Thanks!

The Gifts of Being Sick in Community

Ionia

from the Ionia website

Community

Ionia is a way of life where common sense comes alive.  The tools at Ionia are gathered energy, thought, food and simple activity.  The families of Ionia have come to see that we need to live in a place where we can do something about the things that mean most to us.  And we find that here.

On 200 acres of wild Alaskan land, the residents of Ionia have cooperatively built beautiful log cabins, a log community center, outbuildings, ball field, and a straw-clay barn. Organic gardens, greenhouses, and grain trials help to feed us throughout the year. We mill spruce logs to build our homes and furniture, and we grow and cut our firewood. Without compromising access to the latest technologies, we live here with a minimum of disturbance to the land’s natural beauty and balance.

Over time, Ionia has become a model of cooperation, setting an example of positive change in the world. Our community’s genuine homegrown spirit has a contagious optimism. The lush gardens and log beams, simple activity, grounded ideas and bright starlit Alaskan nights have a deeply rejuvenating and inspiring effect. Visitors report leaving Ionia feeling refreshed and hopeful. Ionia is more than an answer to problems…. It is a safe place to explore your own thoughts with others, to share good meals and shed light on what is important to you in your life.

 

a (3 of 4)

Ionia

Cambia: Love of the Small

This video comes out of a Cambian conversation about minimalism and functionalism.  The two ideas are not necessarily opposites, although sometimes a minimalist ethos can prevent things from being as functional as they could otherwise be.  But is function always necessary?  How much skill, and sophistication, and access to resources do we really need to live a good life?  Perhaps, if we focus too much on function, we miss opportunities to connect with each other.

But, ultimately, it doesn’t matter if we build our community according to minimalist or functionalist principles. Either would be fine. What matters is that we take the time to really listen to each other, and develop robust empathy for each other’s values.  That’s what community is all about.

 

 

 

Cambia: Love of the Small

Maximus

by Raven Cotyledon

I first met Maximus because I was part of the Point A team trying to build communes in East Coast cities.  I wanted to do something in the Boston area (where I have lived most of my life), so when we were able to do a talk at MIT, and I sent out stuff to all the local co-ops, I was excited that we got a fair attendance from them.  I was hoping a co-op in the Boston area would be interested in becoming a commune. A woman in one of the local co-ops said she thought that she knew someone who might be interested in income-sharing. It was Maximus, and he was starting a co-op in Binghamton, NY. Since then, Maximus has lived at the Cambia community in Louisa, VA, and East Brook Community Farm in Walton, NY.

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Maximus

Maximus is a graduate student at Binghamton University studying evolutionary biology.  His focus is on communal living and his passion is making videos about it. He recently made a video about me and I am returning the favor here by making a blog post about him.

I stopped managing Commune Life about the middle of February last year and it drifted for a while until Maximus decided to take it over last summer. But Maximus had bigger plans for Commune Life than just the blog. He started a YouTube channel and a Facebook page and got people to help him build a social media presence as well as an Instagram site.  He also decided to create a Patreon page to help fund all this.

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I agreed to post once a month on the blog and was the only one who posted on it until I decided to return to managing the Commune Life blog in January.  Meanwhile Maximus had turned Commune Life into a small empire. Since I returned to the blog, Maximus and I have been working together on Commune Life, with me focusing solely on the blog, and Maximus working with others to keep the whole Commune Life entity going.

Recently, Maximus began putting the posts from the Commune Life blog up on our Facebook page which has driven up traffic on the blog. He has been strongly encouraging others to make videos and has gotten Rejoice and Julia to create them, giving some diversity of views of the communes.

Maximus and I were also recently down at Twin Oaks, mostly because we are on an FEC financial team together, but Maximus took the opportunity to create a video about the latest Twin Oaks hammocks product. Hopefully that will be up on the Commune Life YouTube channel soon.

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Maximus in front of the Twin Oaks dining hall

I have been saying that the communes are a force for social change. Maximus is documenting the process in great detail. Thank you, Maximus, for the amazing work that you are doing.

____________________________________________________________________________

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

Communards

  • Tobin Moore
  • Kai Koru
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Julia Evans
  • William Croft
  • Aaron Michels
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Laurel Baez
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Sasha Daucus
  • William Kadish

Thanks!

 

Maximus

The Mothership Clearness Process

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from The Mothership website

Clearness Process  

    Clearnesses are intended to facilitate communication and bonding between individual community members, ensure that small interpersonal conflicts are addressed on a regular basis so they do not grow into major fires, and bring private challenges and excitements into public light.

Going through the whole clearness process is called “getting clear.” All residents of The Mothership are required to get clear at least once per year. This means each pair of crewmembers should be getting clear twice a year; once during each of their annual clearnesses. For any number of reasons (including the suggestion of a crewmember) an individual may choose to get clear more often, and non-residents may also choose to get clear.  A request for a clearnesses must be treated as a high priority and we agree to meet within 7 days if expediency is requested.

    In order to “get clear,” the focus person (the person who is having  a round of clearnesses) must seek out each crewmember of The Mothership to have an individual clearness. We encourage folks to be as open and honest as they can in these clearnesses, since this is a good opportunity to clear up interpersonal issues. If two people have particular difficulty with each other, they may ask for someone else to be present to help the conversation go more smoothly. Clearnesses should be guided by the focus questions  described below. If concerns come up, the two people should seek to first understand the concern and then work to resolve it or work on defining a path towards resolving it, if possible. Ideally they will reach a state of sufficient clarity with each other that when one of them summarizes the concern and conversation in the group the other will not need to clarify, correct, or argue.

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    You are encourage to discuss your consent relationship within the clearness process; how we’re accessing each others bodies, time and engagement.  This helps create a culture of consent for our community.

    Some focus questions should exist within any clearness, while others will depend on the specific context in which the clearness occurs.

Focus questions for all clearnesses:

  • What am I excited about in our current relationship?
  • What do I find difficult or challenging about our current relationship?
  • What do want to change about our current relationship?
  • What would I like our future relationship to look like next month? In a year?  In a decade?

Focus questions as part of a long-term guest application:

  • How do I feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of you/me continuing to be a guest at The Mothership?
  • Do you/I have any unmet needs during or as a result of your visit to The Mothership?

Focus questions for a crew member in their trial period (first 3-6 months):

  • How do I feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of us continuing to live together for an extended period of time?

Focus questions for a crew member eligible to exit their trial period:

  • How do you feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of you/me exiting your/my trial period.

Focus questions for senior bridge crewmember:

  • How do I feel about our relationship in light of you/me being a senior bridge crewmember?

If a special clearness is called for, the person requesting the clearness(es) or the group as a whole may define additional focus questions.  It is encouraged to define whether it’s a residency, long term guest or special clearness you want so people can think about the clearness within those parameters. A person requesting a special clearness is encouraged to offer a brief description of the topic when requesting it.

Once the focus person has completed an individual clearness with each resident of the Mothership, a group clearness will be conducted at a single item meeting scheduled by the focus person.  The focus person may choose to invite non-residents to sit in on their clearness if they wish.

    To begin, the focus person will reflect on their relationship with the community as an institution, guided by the focus questions with the community standing in as the member in dialog.  Here are a list of questions to guide a person’s reflection:

If that person is resident:

  • What are your general feelings and thoughts about our community?
  • What needs are being met in your life at The Mothership? What needs are not being met? What is getting in the way of having what you want?
  • How would you evaluate your interpersonal relationships and connections at The Mothership?
  • What do you see as your role in the work ahead?
  • What do you see as your contribution to the life of our community?
  • What is your vision for The Mothership?
  • How would you describe your current commitment to The Mothership?

If that person is a guest:

  • How was/is your visit going? What’s going well? What’s difficult?
  • What is your work scene like and how do you feel about it?
  • What is your social scene like and how do you feel about it?
  • Do you think you might eventually want to become a resident or member of The Mothership? If so, when?
  • What are your general feelings and thoughts about our community?

    After the focus person has finished, the community has an opportunity to ask clarifying questions of the focus person or ask them to expand on or speak to various aspects of their relationship with the community

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    Next, the residents take turns summarizing their personal clearnesses with the focus person.  How brief or expansive a member is in their summary is left to that member’s judgment. The facilitator is welcome to intervene if they feel a member is being too brief or too long winded.  A member should be sure to include in their summary specific things they appreciate or value about the focus person and any concerns that came up and were discussed in their personal clearness. The member should not add any new material to their summary that they did not bring up in their personal clearness. Members should not react or respond to other member’s summaries.  This is an opportunity for reporting only.

    Finally, the membership engages in a “Lightning Round of Affirmations” quickly stating something that they particularly appreciate or value about the focus person or otherwise affirming them.

    Members are encouraged to wait 24 hours before discussing any concerns or thoughts they have with each other in response to the group clearness.

 

The Mothership Clearness Process