A Community of Communities

from the Spring, 2021, Leaves of Twin Oaks newsletter

by Valerie 

Photo (clockwise from top left): Acorn, Cambia, LEF, Little Flower (Catholic Worker logo).
If variety is the spice of life, then life is good for community living in Louisa. In addition to Twin Oaks, there are several other intentional communities in the county.

How did these all arise? In early 1967, a supporter of the ideas of Twin Oaks donated the land we now live on—that is why we are located here. In the early 90s, we helped found Acorn, as a way of providing a communal living option for the 25 people on our Waiting List. In 2010, two ex-members founded Living Energy Farm, a fossil-fuel-free farm and community. And within the last 5 years, Cambia has sprung up nearby as well. We’re also connected with Little Flower, a Catholic Worker community that offers radical hospitality and does various anti-poverty, anti-military and anti-oppression activism. All of these communities are within 10 miles of us, and it makes for a great “community of communities”.

The advantages of this inter-connected network are many. Most of the other communities chose to settle here due to proximity to Twin Oaks, in order to take advantage of the social and skill-sharing abilities due to that closeness.

We collectively engage in various cooperative activities, including both work and play. If one community needs a skilled person such as a conflict resolution facilitator, or someone with experience repairing a broken well-pump, they need only look as far as the next community over. In this way we provide mutual aid. We share the work of Acorn’s Southern Exposure Seed Exchange business. We have developed a Labour Exchange Program amongst all the communities. It can be fun to spend time working at another community and sometimes very helpful to take a break from one’s home community, for example following a relationship break-up or similar community stress.

This broader network also provides a larger social pool and increased options for inter-community friendships and relationships. One family was “bi-community” for a few years and eventually settled into the one community that they decided fit them both best.  On major community holidays, we provide communal shuttles and send people back-and-forth, so we can celebrate with each other without each person having to take their own vehicle.

And when it comes to membership, each community has its own unique commune “flavor.” If a given visitor interested in communal living isn’t quite the right fit for one community, there are several similar-but-just-different-enough options nearby. It’s also not uncommon for members to move back and forth between communities either as dual-members, or, if they realize they are better suited to another commune, to make a more permanent move over to that one, while still maintaining their existing friendships and connections.

We know that diversity is strength and we are grateful for these diverse communities that share this piece of earth with us.

Twin Oaks: An income-sharing, egalitarian ecovillage of 100 people supporting themselves on 500 acres.

Acorn: A consensus-based community sharing income generated from the sale of heirloom seeds. 

Cambia: Focused on co-creating a culture of social sustainability and harmony that nourishes us as well as the earth.

Living Energy Farm: (LEF) A zero-fossil-fuel education center developing sustainable technologies that are accessible to all, regardless of income.

Little Flower: A Catholic Worker homestead that practices hospitality and does resistance work around issues of militarism and social injustice.
A Community of Communities

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