A Detailed FEC History: Part Two, the 1980s

by Raven Cotyledon

(This is part two of a series. Part one is here.)

This is not my blog.  The reason that I write so much here is because most communards have so little time (and perhaps incentive) to write.  

I have my own blog (that I seldom write on, because I am so busy writing here) and the most popular post I ever wrote (by far!) on my own blog was on Social Movements in the 80s.  The 1980s were a powerful time.

So, for Commune geeks everywhere, I present Part Two of my detailed history of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, focusing on the 1980s and starting with the year 1980.

The-eighties

1980   There were two FEC Assemblies that year.  Membership started off with Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Aloe, Dandelion, Los Horcones, and North Mountain.  Unfortunately, that was the year that Aloe community disbanded and North Mountain community dropped out of the FEC.  It was also the year that the Community in Dialogue status was created, an important step for the FEC. By the second Assembly, East Wind had a population of 40, Sandhill 9, Dandelion 12, and Los Horcones 28.  Twin Oaks didn’t list a population that year.

1981     There were two Assemblies in ‘81 as well.  Los Horcones dropped out of the FEC. They were a ‘Walden Two’, behaviorist community, similar to the way Twin Oaks started, and they wanted to focus on that. Two new communities, Chrysalis and Apple Tree, joined the FEC, presumably as Communities in Dialogue. Twin Oaks listed its population that year as 71, East Wind as 55, Sandhill as 7, and Dandelion listed 10.  Finally, East Wind started their nut butter business that year.

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1982     This year, the FEC had only one Assembly, which was held in August. This was the year that they made contact with Alpha Farm which showed up at the Assembly, and also showed up at occasional future Assemblies, but never seemed to stay with the FEC. There were debates about consensus that year and conversations about PEACH, which would become the FEC’s homegrown health insurance alternative. Twin Oaks was dealing with the suicide of a member that rocked the community. Twin Oaks now listed their population as 62, East Wind as 50, Sandhill as 7, and Dandelion as 15.

1983    Back to two Assemblies, one in April and one in November.   Twin Oaks questioned the utility of the FEC and wanted to emphasize the recruitment of minorities. In November, there was a sorghum harvest at Sandhill and Chrysalis was admitted as a full FEC member.  East Wind listed their population as 57 in April and 45 in November. Twin Oaks listed 72 members, Sandhill 7, Apple Tree 6, Dandelion 18, and Chrysalis 4.

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1984       Again, two Assemblies, which seems the norm at this point. This seemed to be a busy year at the communes: Sandhill was accepted for 501d status, East Wind adopted a new labor system, book indexing was going well at Twin Oaks, and Apple Tree loaned money to East Wind and star flower. (Presumably, star flower is another community.)  At the November Assembly, Short Mountain, a queer community in Tennessee, joined the FEC, probably as a Community in Dialogue. Populations: Twin Oaks 67, East Wind 45, Sandhill 5, Apple Tree 6, Dandelion 8, and Chrysalis 5.

1985     The middle of the decade and another busy year at the communes. There were two FEC Assemblies, Twin Oaks held its first women’s conference, had indexing taking off and a record hammock production, and Sandhill had their best sorghum harvest ever. A bunch of new communities came, including Metanokit, the Foundation for Feedback Learning, and, for just one meeting, windstar.  Bad news was that Apple Tree was denied their 501d status. A big discussion on art in community. The question was, is art primary or secondary?  Does no art lead to more turnover? Community populations stayed the same except Apple Tree went down to 4, Dandelion down to 6, and Short Mountain listed 5.

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1986     The tenth anniversary of the FEC!  Once more, two Assemblies, and this was the year that PEACH, the health insurance plan for the FEC, actually started.  By the November Assembly, communal populations were: Twin Oaks 67, East Wind 45, Sandhill 9, Apple Tree 4, Dandelion 7, Chrysalis 3, and Short Mountain 5.

1987   As usual, two Assemblies. Chrysalis dropped membership this year, as did Short Mountain, when their policy of being a sanctuary for queer folks only was seen as being in conflict with the FEC’s policy against discrimination. Apple Tree apparently abandoned their use of consensus. There was a suggestion that the FEC have some sort of general disclaimer stating that though they fall short of their principles sometimes, they do seek to be more in line with them.  At the November Assembly, populations were: Twin Oaks 65, East Wind 45, Sandhill 6, Apple Tree 4, Dandelion 4, and Metanokit had 14.

1988    The usual two Assemblies. Krutsio begins coming to the Assemblies, and grass valley came to the one in May and Alpha Farm apparently showed up at the Assembly in November. At East Wind, their sandal business was booming and they actually thought of cutting the nut butter business. At Twin Oaks, Pier One threatened to cut their hammocks contract with them. And there was a discussion at the November Assembly about using consensus for the FEC. Populations didn’t change much except East Wind went down to 40 and Sandhill went up to 7.

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1989    Two Assemblies, Krutsio officially became a Community in Dialogue, as did spring tree (but not for long), and a community called Purple Rose showed up at one Assembly. Populations at the communes remained stable.

And that ends the FEC history for the Eighties. Next month, I will document the Nineties, the decade that I became involved with the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, so I will have a lot more personal information to share in that post.

If anyone has more information about the FEC or any of the communities in the Eighties, please pass it on in a comment.

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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:  

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Thanks!

 

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A Detailed FEC History: Part Two, the 1980s

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