Thank you so much to everyone who is welcoming the news about Oran Mor and all of the amazing support that you give us!!
Who We Are
We are a small Ozark tribe living in close relation with each other and with the land we inhabit. Dedicated to a primitive and simple lifestyle, we have a daily practice of conscious intentional responsibility to ourselves and the ripples we create. We are an egalitarian tribal village building an entirely new paradigm of conscious co-creation.
Monarda Fistulosa / Wild Bergamot
A New Day
Oran Mor Community recently went through a dark phase and to some it felt like the tower had fallen and everything was lost. Oran Mor went back to the womb space of deep introspection in that darkness to prepare for a great renewal – the birth of a phoenix rising from the ashes welcoming a new dawn! Here we are – bolder, stronger, and more grounded than ever before. All of the things that have happened here over the years have brought wisdom, perspective, and dedication to a higher purpose. We are grateful for every single moment of it, even the hardships, but we are most grateful for the drive to continue this vision and dream together.
What We Are Doing
A Chicken Pen
Our lovely hens have spent years happily free ranging to their hearts content. It was great not having to feed them much for most of the year, but they terrorize our outdoor kitchen and hide their eggs all over the land…. so we made them a chicken pen! In one beautiful morning, three of us came together and diligently put up a fairly large pen, and we already got some delicious eggs the next morning! Now we just need to grow a field of amaranth to help feed these ladies.
Cleaning and Cleansing
Our community was founded in 2003, and from the very beginning the space came with baggage. A burnt down house and not so useful “resources” just about everywhere you looked. This year, we are finally putting the finishing touches on getting it all moved and cleaned up so the space can fully breathe into the divine purpose of what Oran Mor was always meant to be! After being here five years myself, I feel so much clearer and calmer now than I ever have here. Our outer world reflects our inner world and vice versa so we are devoted to deep clearing. In doing that, the demons come out and we have to face them to become higher versions of ourselves!
Cleaning the MOLD
The Catbox is our main common house where all our members spend time relaxing, doing yoga, connecting, sharing, playing games, eating, and using certain technologies (like wifi to stay connected with the outside world). We have reoccurring mold problems in this building that we have diligently been remedying. We cleaned the walls, ceiling, got rid of moldy furniture, cleaned all the nooks and crannies. The concrete floor still needs to be sealed and the walls need to be repainted. Our future holds a strawbale / cordwood community building on another foundation so we can transform the Catbox into something else entirely… to be continued…
Ringing Cedar, the tiny house
Our greatest accomplishment over this past year (other than our awesome gardens) was erected at the beginning of 2019. The Ringing Cedar is a 12×16 foot tiny house made of roundwood timbers, reclaimed lumber, cedar siding, and the north wall is a tire earth berm to help retain heat. We built the house for under $500, but it’s not finished yet! We still need to insulate the ceiling, the walls, and lay a floor… and maybe a rocket mass heater!? We will be making a cobblestone floor from river rocks on top of the current gravel. The ceiling will probably be stuffed with wool and the walls we plan to cob. So that’s a big project to get accomplished before winter sets in and ya’ll will definitely be hearing about some work parties once we get a load of clay delivered!
Ceremonies and Workshops
We will begin hosting ceremonies and workshops regularly on the land. Our August ceremony will be held at the Goolsby Farm, one of our extended tribe. We are hosting a Cacao and Sweat Lodge Ceremony on August 17 starting at 9am. Come out to share a beautiful heart space of healing and awakening with us! For more information, see our facebook event page
More amazing events will be happening in the near future!
Our first Pecans!
We operate an apothecary on the farm selling bulk herbs, smoking blends, tinctures, teas, infused oils, and balms all sourced from this land and made by hand by the Oran Mor tribe. Check it out here – rootsapothecary.etsy.com
We also make kombucha and naturally fermented sodas that we sell by request.
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The grand opening party for Twin Oaks’ hospice, Appletree, was April 11th 2014.
It’s been a long journey. The process for Appletree (then, “the hospice addition”) started right after Kat Kinkade, the founder of Twin Oaks, died on July 3rd 2008. Josie, Kat’s daughter, observed that Kat had “Rolls Royce” from twin Oakers care while she was declining at Twin Oaks. That care came at some emotional cost. A couple of Twin Oakers had pretty serious emotional breakdowns due to caring for Kat, or being around her as she declined. Additionally, many caregivers who were sleeping on a mat in Kat’s room suffered hurt backs and various other physical ailments. We collectively concluded that if we want to have people stay at Twin Oaks as they decline, and not have it be traumatic to the rest of the community, we need to have a space that isn’t in the middle of an SLG—that is, we need to build a place specifically designed for end-of-life care.
The goal behind Appletree is to keep elders in the heart of the community as they age and decline. So the hospice was designed as an addition to Nashoba, Twin Oaks’ main handicapped accessible SLG, which, in turn, is close to ZK, Twin Oaks’ dining hall and community center.
The guiding principle for the addition was to make it “nice,” that is, built to a quality standard to provide a pleasant environment for people who are dying. And also to make sure that it’s comfortable for more mainstream caregivers, family members, and friends to be able to visit and stay.
The Louisa building department granted Twin Oaks a building permit for the addition in 2010, so the building of Appletree has taken 4 years. That is probably longer than necessary due to stopping active construction for about a year for cash flow reasons.
I was the main mover of the process starting in 2008, and I have been the honcho of the building part as well, so I have had this hospice addition on my front burner for six years now. Historically, a building project burns out the honcho, often to the point of leaving the community. I have tried to be conscious of that unhealthy pattern, so I have tried to think of this as an opportunity and, specifically, to not be too attached to outcomes around Appletree, or to think of the building as “mine” just because I’m the honcho. I’m very pleased and proud of how it’s come out and, as anyone who knows me well is aware, I’m really quite ready to be done with the construction part of it; six years is long enough.
Throughout most of the actual construction, the crew was Rowan, Arlo, and Elijah. Rowan and Arlo started working on the building when they were 14 and 17. On April 11th Rowan turned 18. It has been a joy and a privilege to have that able crew to work with—to see them gain skills and confidence, and to generally observe them growing from being boys to being men.
The first stages of the building, leveling the hillside and pouring the concrete were very stop-and-go. It was hard to schedule people, and the uncooperative weather caused lots of slow-downs. But once the concrete slab was poured, Elijah, Arlo, Rowan and I committed to doing a push to get the building itself up as quickly as possible. We collectively cleared our schedules, and then did a construction boot camp. Our goal was to work every day, for as long as there was light each day and to not stop until the building was “completed,” that is, the framing was up, the trusses on the framing, plywood on the trusses, metal on the roof, the siding on, and the doors and windows installed—that is, it would, from the outside, look like a completed building. My very optimistic estimate to the young lads was that we could, if the weather held, possibly get all that done in a month. The weather was perfect, the young lads worked hard; we built that whole house in two-and-a-half-weeks. Yes, weeks. Really. Ask people who were here.
The guys took a break while wiring was run and insulation installed. But then we got the band back together, did another blitz, and put up all of the sheetrock. Since those heady days, Elijah, Rowan, and Arlo have found other work and followed other interests, although Arlo did almost all the interior painting once the “mudding” was done.
It is either ironic or appropriate that the first use of this hospice was for the birth of Sylvia, before the addition was even all the way completed. And now Aubby is planning to give birth there (she’s due any day now). Maybe we shouldn’t call it a hospice.
However, I like that the creation of Appletree as a hospice tangibly demonstrates that Twin Oaks is planning on sticking around. Appletree shows that Twin Oaks is investing in our members and in our future. It is sort of incidental, but no less meaningful, that the building for Twin Oaks’ elders was built by Twin Oaks’ teens.
Far from feeling burned out, here, at the conclusion of this project, I’m happy at how well Appletree has come out. I really value having had the opportunity to work with Elijah, Arlo, and Rowan over these years. It has been great having my main work area be fifty yards from my SLG. I have felt a lot of trust from the community and support from people throughout this whole project. During much of the building of Appletree, it has felt like a blessing to me, and now that it’s done, it feels like the project is a success.
In November 2017, we, DNA, Raven and gil, formally started Cotyledon, an income-sharing egalitarian community. In August 2019, we realize that this no longer serves us and each of us desires to grow in our own ways. Therefore, we have made the decision, together, to release one another and move in our own directions. This did not come from a fight but rather from a place of caring for each other and wanting to support each other’s growth. Thus, as of October 1st, we will part, and Cotyledon will be dissolved.
We have learned and grown so much from our time together. This was an experiment from the beginning and each of us will take many lessons as well as care and support as we start new chapters in each of our lives. We offer these words to honor our commitment to ourselves, proactively answer questions, and prune back any grapevine gossip in order to cultivate a peaceful resolve.
“Only because of the trials and tribulations we have gone through, can we honor who we are by embracing the pain of honoring both the individuals and the whole.” — DNA
We are not a failure. Through living interdependently, we have come to know ourselves better, growing to trust the mirror we see in each other. Cotyledon is a success, one of which is not often found, much less honored in our society which values productivity over self-worth — and truth be told, we discovered how entrenched in these societal values we really are. Being able to admit that it is time to move on is difficult, sad and scary. We are a prideful people and all too often it is a false pride, a reaction fed by competition or greed, a crutch used to persevere through habit rather than health. We do not need to conquer change, we need only to embrace it. Seeing this pride, we know it is not useful to us anymore, accepting our own fears of control and trust.
“For years I had been living in and out of collectives, weaving my own way through the capitalist catastrophe. I could never have imagined the lessons I would learn from living communally.” — gil
Urban life in NYC is intrinsically stressful and expensive, so tackling such an ambitious, idealistic project within this context was never presumed to be easy. Perhaps Cotyledon could have grown more quickly in order to allow some of us to leave while others remain, but the realities of the real estate market and societal conditioning regarding income-sharing have made membership population and structural growth very difficult. All this with the additional personal struggles of experiencing the death of one of our member’s parents and being honest with each of our pasts has made for a challenging journey, but one full of lessons and mutual aid. Instead of letting those stumbling blocks completely trip us up, we continually focused on what we needed to do in order to form a foundation of trust, to believe in each other.
We are thankful for the lessons we could only learn through this beautiful experience, such as sense of community, depth of compassion and liberation. Through dedication to our values, we learned how to fearlessly express ourselves to our communards, and have been reminded that conflict is not abuse. Through this group evolution, we see more clearly our individual callings and needs. We know who we are more deeply now than when we started living and income sharing together. Cotyledon has come to be the springboard for the pursuit of our own truths.
We recognize that it is common, even expected, for change to come about resentfully, often through anger or apathy. These emotions are not guiding our decision. While we are experiencing pain and sorrow for the end of this beautiful chapter in our lives, we do not look back in anger. In fact, our support for one another is blossoming and ready for harvest.
There is no break-up trauma in our evolving relationships. We affirm that, short of living these communal and egalitarian values with us, it is challenging, if not impossible for others to comprehend our reasons for Cotyledon’s end. As we part paths, we do so in reverence of one another. Any ideas of Cotyledon “not making it” or, any presumed internal issues, should not be interpreted as Cotyledon’s reality. With clarity, we state that if these types of negative projections arise, they could be better used as an internal mirror to explore one’s own relationship with/in community or society. We implore that these traumas, fears and assumptions not be projected onto our situation.
“We came into this endeavor to support one another, I want to see us come out of it still supporting each other.” — Raven
We have agreed that, just as we started income-sharing on our first day, we will continue income-sharing until our last day together. We’re also working on ways to insure that each of us has what we need to flourish in our next chapter. As we began, so shall we end.
We are at peace with our decision, what has been is now fertilizer for life to flourish. We allow this letting go to happen, we ask for unconditional love to assist us in this sacred surrender. We invite in life, we invite in love.