One Hundred Members by 2017

from Keenan’s Twin Oaks Blog

FEB 28, 2013

100 members by 2017

Blog readers: This is a paper I posted at Twin Oaks. The reception did not rise to the level of lukewarm. Twin Oaks’ finances are tight, so this was deemed as not a good time at Twin Oaks to start planning a major new project. As of March 2013, there is still no movement to begin process to build a new building.
[Editor’s note: Still true in 2019.]


By Keenan

25 Aug 2012

100 members by 2017

Twin Oaks’ reached a peak population of 96 adult members a few years back—very close to 100 members—but since that time, due to more kids, additional slack rooms, and bedroom conversions, our current pop cap is now down to 93 adult members.  I would like to reverse this downward trend; I propose that Twin Oaks’ next building be a residence that brings Twin Oaks’ adult population to 100 members.
Adding seven more members would mean about 14,000 additional hours of labor per year, with a negligible increase to Twin Oaks’ labor infrastructure (we won’t need a bigger membership team, more cooks, more Planners etc.)  With a waiting list that has been ongoing for years and a need for more labor in our income and other areas, it seems that it’s a sensible next step to begin planning for increasing Twin Oaks’ population.  It’s been awhile: the last residence completed was Kaweah in 1995.  Since then, the community has mainly been doing maintenance (replacing roofs) and building infrastructure (tofu addition, Nashoba addition) , but not increasing population.

Kaweah residence

If the past is any guide, we could be just starting to break ground in  a little over two years in early 2015 (that is,if the community chooses this direction and makes a commitment to moving process forward swiftly). With a Twin Oaks crew working at a steady pace, the building could take as little as two years to build, so that, by 2017, just in time for 50th anniversary, Twin Oaks could have 100 members.

Where to locate a new residence? I suggest somewhere along the ridge overlooking the pond—either near MT, or on the volleyball court, or in front of Llano parking lot. The advantages of these sites are all about the same: excellent solar gain,  (no need to cut down lots of trees either for the building site, or for a solar clearing), good access to a road (no need to build a driveway), minimal excavation needed, and easy access to sewer, water, and electric (less expense and less labor).

One advantage of any of these sites is that if there is a kitchen, it could serve as a second courtyard kitchen.  The courtyard has three SLG’s and only one kitchen.  The Llano kitchen gets a lot of use.

Entrance to the Llano kitchen

The proposed building:

I propose a two-story, solar powered, child/adult, 11 bedroom SLG, with two bathrooms, a kitchen (with pantry),  a utility room, an office for the Seeds business, and two sign-outable public rooms (meeting rooms).

For purposes of acoustic separation, I propose locating all of the bedrooms on the second floor and all of the public rooms on the first floor.

Why eleven bedrooms to add seven members? If we increase the population of adults, we also increase the number of kids.  I assume that two of these eleven rooms will go to children.  There are then nine rooms to increase adult population.  I am assuming that in the next five years probably two of the most sub-standard bedrooms will be taken out of commission,  (furnace room?) or, that a bedroom or two will be converted to some other function, or that with a higher population, that we will want more “slack” rooms for guests.  Given these considerations, I believe it is a conservative estimate that adding nine rooms for adult members will only be a net gain of seven adult members above the current pop cap of 93.  Twin Oaks added 21 bedrooms with Kaweah and got a net gain of about 12 members.
Presumably, the seeds business will keep expanding. The hammocks business, the tofu business, and the indexing business all have their own offices (indexing used to have its own office and in a few weeks will again) .  I understand that this courtyard location might be a good location for the seeds business office.

Twin Oakers seem to enjoy outdoor space—especially decks.  The proposed, simple, rectangular design of this SLG lends itself to having a second-story, screened in deck on the east and west ends of the buildings.


Caveat #1) If Twin Oaks chooses to increase population, there will be lots of papers and meetings for input-gathering and design decisions.  I am under no illusion that there is any assumption that we will be a) building a residence anytime soon, or  b) that if we do choose to build a residence, that it will be anything like the one proposed here.

The current five-year planning process is getting people looking at “What next?”  I am providing this somewhat detailed proposal merely as a discussion starter for people participating in that five-year planning process.

Aerial view of Twin Oaks entrance and courtyard

Caveat #2) Isn’t this a really bad time to be posting a building proposal? I am hoping that most people recognize that our current building issues wilbl be long resolved before five years have passed.  Maintenance is a big issue now, but soon TCLR roof will be done.  Soon Christian will be back.  Soon Red will have more time available.  Also we are mid-stream with two building projects.   The Nashoba addition is inching forward and could be done in as little as six months. The tofu addition has been stalled, but it is moving forward and looks like it will have a completion date, probably soon.   And, once the tofu addition’s done, Twin Oaks’ finances should suddenly look a lot better.

Additionally, the early stages of gathering community input for choosing what to build, where to site it, how to design it…all take a really long time.  It is best to do processey, labor-intensive, meeting-heavy stuff in the winter, so I think now, with fall approaching, is a good time to start peeking over the horizon to see what we want our collective future to look  like.

Caveat #3)  Sketches have a false feel of significance to them.   In thirty seconds these sketches could have  four more bedrooms—or four fewer. I really did sort of whip the sketches together;  for instance, the generic meeting rooms in the building design are not that essential.  But to maintain the separation of the public space from the bedroom space, I had some extra square feet on the lower floor. It seemed to me that two meeting rooms would be a good use of that extra space. But my guess may well not be the highest need in the community.

Posted 28th February 2014 by keenan

Labels: Twin Oaks

One Hundred Members by 2017

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