What do you do for a living?

Theresa (aka teiresiaskadish) lives at Glomus Commune–and also on the internet. She has made dozens of TikTok videos–many of which have had hundreds of thousands of views (the one below has had 108K views according to TikTok). I intend to publish a bunch of these, that are at least somewhat related to communal living, over the next bunch of Wednesdays. I particularly like this one where Theresa replies to someone who asked her what she did for a living. It’s a great response that reflects the reality of living in community.

@teiresiaskadish

Answer to @deecy123 – My living is living with others and caring about their lives is my work #community #commune #empathy #work #emotionallabor

♬ Harmonium – Bruitages
What do you do for a living?

Exit Agreements

by Raven Glomus

This is in many ways a follow-up to what I wrote last week about ‘Turnover’.  A problem is that many of the early communities, and especially the communes, didn’t anticipate turnover.  The idea was that people would join the communities and want to live there forever (or, at least, for the rest of their lives).   Many people who join communities will say just that–and a few actually do stay at one of the communes for the rest of their lives.  Most, however, at some point, will move on, or at least want to move on.

Here is where this becomes a particular problem for the income sharing communities.

As an illustration, I sometimes tell the made up story of two folks that join a commune at about the same time.  Let’s call them Alpha and Beta.  Alpha happens to be a “trust fund baby” with a million dollar endowment in the bank and Beta is a homeless man with no money (and, let’s say, no debt).  But they are both skilled, likable people and are both accepted into the community.  Since this is an income sharing community, Alpha is not allowed to access any of their wealth for the time that they live there and both Alpha and Beta are (at least in theory) treated equally and have equal access to all of the community’s resources.  (This is one of the points of being an ‘egalitarian community’.)

Let’s go on to say that, each for very personal reasons, decide to leave the community at about the same time, say five years later.  Alpha goes back to their inherited wealth.  They can certainly leave the community anytime they want, no problem.  Beta would return to his previous situation with no money, no job, and no resources.  In practice, it is doubtful that he will leave at all, in spite of how dissatisfied with the community he is, since he has nothing outside the community to build a new life with.

One way to build a new life…

I saw this actually occur at Twin Oaks, at Acorn, and at Ganas (which isn’t an income sharing community, but pays its workers enough to live decently, but not really enough to save up money).  I met several folks who were quite dissatisfied with the community (which can happen anywhere–nothing works for anyone).  I asked them why they didn’t leave and they told me that they didn’t have enough money to start a new life.  They felt very stuck in their situation but unable to leave.

This is a really bad scenario, not only for the dissatisfied members, but for the community.  I can’t imagine many better ways to destroy community morale, than to fill it up with disgruntled people who don’t feel like they can leave.

As I’ve said, this is a problem in many of the older communes.  Most of the newer income-sharing communities have realized that many, if not most, of their folks will leave at some point and plan for it.  One of the chief tools to deal with this issue is something most of the communities call ‘Exit Agreements’.  

We talked about this at Cotyledon and I think that this was part of what helped us to end well.  I know that this was a major item of discussion at Compersia when it was running.  And we are carefully implementing this at Glomus Commune, partly having learned from the mistakes of older communities.

At Glomus,there are three parts to our Exit Agreements: a Privilege and Need Assessment, a section on Exit Savings, and a section on Exit Requests.  The Privilege and Need Assessment is something that each of us writes up about our background, our current amount of wealth and access to resources, and where we would be financially if we left the community and what we think we might need to do okay if we did.

Exit Savings was originally individually determined, but in our current financial situation (and we now have seven income sharing members) we collectively decided to give everyone $20 a month (regardless of their financial situation) except for two folks who have a lot less financial security than the rest of us and we decided to give $50 a month to them.  I think that the idea of monthly savings is useful since this represents a kind of ‘equity’ or ‘compensation’ for a person’s time and work for the community.  Thus, someone who lives here for six years will get significantly more than a person who is only here for six months.  It’s true that for some folks, this money doesn’t make much difference. (I worked in the mainstream for decades before coming to community and I have quite a bit of money saved–I will probably donate the money that I get upon leaving to a worthy cause.)  It was decided that everyone (regardless of their circumstances) would get some money saved so we would all be in similar circumstances, but that there would be folks who would get more because they might truly need it.

Exit Requests are things (usually besides money) that we might need or ask of the community so that we can transition well.  I did not ask for much in my exit agreement (often folks ask for a car since many people need one to start a new life, but I don’t drive), however, I am currently thinking of asking that Glomus use its van to help move me to my next location, because moving in the past has literally cost me thousands of dollars.  Folks that I have talked with about this said that it sounded reasonable and they felt the community would gladly accommodate me on this.

There are probably many ways to structure exit agreements, but the point is to have them, to anticipate people leaving, and to support these folks who have done work to make the community work–not to mention, to avoid having a commune full of unhappy people.

Yes! Happy people!

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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 patron communards:
 

  • Aaron Michels
  • Brenda Thompson
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Colby Baez
  • Heather
  • Janey Amend-Bombara
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Joseph A Klatt
  • Kai Koru
  • Kate McGuire
  • Kathleen Brooks
  • Lynette Shaw
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Montana Goodman
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • NorthernSoul Truelove
  • Oesten Nelson
  • Paxus Calta
  • Peter Chinman
  • Raines Cohen
  • Sasha Daucus
  • Suzi Tortora
  • Tobin Moore
  • Warren Kunce
  • William Croft
  • William Kadish
  • William Scarborough

Thanks! 

Exit Agreements

Peaches, Moths, Mushrooms, and Manure

by Raven Glomus

Wrapping up some posts from the Commune Life Facebook feed that blog readers might find interesting, here’s some stuff (mostly food and agriculturally related) that is happening at Glomus Commune and Acorn Community.

At Glomus the last couple of weeks have been about the harvest and what to do with all that food. The biggest, juiciest harvest recently has been peaches–so many peaches!–and what to do about them, and lots of the other things we’ve been harvesting is canning.

Here’s what we said on Facebook: “Peaches, peaches, peaches! Glomus Commune is currently blessed with three trees full of ripe, juicy peaches.” And the pictures:

And then the canning: “Yesterday’s peaches have been canned. With the harvest coming in, there’s a lot of canning going on at Glomus Commune. Along with the peaches are canned tomatoes and there are two different types of relish canned, all done in our outdoor kitchen, created this summer for the mycology camp. (Not sure why this is called canning when it’s all being done in jars.)” Of course, more pictures:

And the comments responding to my question:

Acorn has put out a number of posts this last month that we have re-posted on our Facebook feed. One of the most surprising (to me at least) concerned a moth. When I saw the picture, I was certain that it was a hummingbird and I had to look it up on the internet to learn that, indeed, moths also drink nectar from flowers this way.

What I wrote on the post was: “Like a hummingbird, this moth is drinking from a flower at the Acorn Community.” Acorn wrote:”A spectacular shot of a moth drinking from one of our primroses! We love all our pollinators here at the farm🌻🦋🐝🌸🌼🌹” Here’s a still of the moth:

And a link to post with a little video clip: https://www.instagram.com/p/CSMf3CUAAxh/

Then, there’s Acorn’s post about finding a lovely ‘Chicken of the Woods’. Look at the size of that thing:

Acorn wrote: “Found this chicken in the woods mushroom on our property! We cooked it up for our community dinner and it was delicious! 🐓🍄” There are also pictures of the mushroom cooked up and the satisfied diners on their Instagram post: https://www.instagram.com/p/CUBTj0glCcy/

Finally, Acorn’s business is Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. On SESE’s website, they wrote this piece on “Using Manure in the Garden” with everything you might want to know about using manure. I was kind of flip on our Facebook page: “Here’s a load of manure: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (Acorn Community’s business) talks about how to use Manure in your garden.”

Here’s a link to the article from the SESE blog: https://blog.southernexposure.com/2021/09/using-manure-in-the-garden/

And that’s some of what’s been happening so far this month at the communes.

Peaches, Moths, Mushrooms, and Manure

Sumner’s “Final Chapter” on East Wind

Sumner has had a YouTube channel and we have been publishing his videos about life at the East Wind Community. This is what he is calling the “Final Chapter”–at least for now. In this video he does say that he is planning to post more videos sometime this winter and when he does, we will publish them here.

In the meantime, Theresa at Glomus has been making TikTok videos and we will begin publishing some of them next week.

Sumner’s “Final Chapter” on East Wind

Turnover

by Raven Glomus

I’m surprised that I haven’t written on this before.  In fact, I don’t think that we’ve published anything directly about it on this blog.  (And WordPress informs me that this is our 700th post!)

Very often, when I talk about my communal experiences, I talk about Common Threads, the income-sharing community that I helped start in the 1990s, and how much I have learned since then.  One thing I share with folks that are talking about starting a community is how often we thought that we were failing because every year of Common Threads’ five year existence, we had a somewhat different crew of folks.  Our core (Susan, Robert, and I) remained the same, but people kept moving in and out.  We couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t hold onto members.

Since that time, I’ve lived in three or four co-op houses, a couple of different communes, and one large, complicated community.  I’ve also visited a bunch of communities and keep decent tabs on several.  All of them experienced (and, if they are still around, still experience) regular significant changes in their membership.  As they say in the computer world, “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.”

How it works is that many folks think that they would like to live in a commune or some other type of community.  However, when they actually try living in one, they often find it’s not what they expected.  Other folks may know what they want but find that a particular community doesn’t meet their needs (after they’ve tried it for a while) and decide to move on.  Still other people live happily in a community for quite some time and then they change.  They decide that they want to do something that they can’t do in the community or it no longer meets their needs.  Whatever the reason, the majority of folks who join a community decide to leave at some point.  (There certainly those who join long lasting communities that live in them until they die.  That’s really just a different way of leaving.)

The result is that almost any community has people regularly leaving.  If they are good at recruitment, they will also have new folks coming in and, hopefully, the number coming in balances the number leaving, in which case the community is more or less stable.  All this is to say that turnover is just a part of community living.

Many of the newer communities have started to plan for their members leaving at some point and design exit agreements (which I plan to write about in the near future).

A different kind of turnover

Right now, many communities are still recovering from the pandemic where they lost a lot of folks and had problems and concerns about bringing in new folks, with the result that they have fairly low membership.  Now they are actively seeking folks.  

I knew that both Twin Oaks and Acorn were looking for people, but I was surprised when Paxus published an article on doing a Meet the Communities at the next Quink Fest.  There were eight Louisa County communities listed—-nine if you consider Magnolia separate from Living Energy Farm–and they are all looking for people. (For those unfamiliar with Virginia geography,  Louisa County includes Louisa, Mineral, and Cuckoo.) All in all, there are sixteen communities listed as presenting at this event–plus the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (representing the secular income-sharing communities of North America) and the Foundation for Intentional Community (which includes over a thousand communities, most of them in North America or Europe).

If you are interested in joining a community, this is exciting news.  Take a look at Paxus’ piece.  This might be the time to make turnover work in your favor.

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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 patron communards:
 

  • Aaron Michels
  • Brenda Thompson
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Colby Baez
  • Heather
  • Janey Amend-Bombara
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Joseph A Klatt
  • Kai Koru
  • Kate McGuire
  • Kathleen Brooks
  • Lynette Shaw
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Montana Goodman
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • NorthernSoul Truelove
  • Oesten Nelson
  • Paxus Calta
  • Peter Chinman
  • Raines Cohen
  • Sasha Daucus
  • Suzi Tortora
  • Tobin Moore
  • Warren Kunce
  • William Croft
  • William Kadish
  • William Scarborough

Thanks! 

Turnover

Dealing with the Llano disaster

by Raven Glomus

I wrote about this in July when it happened, but at Twin Oaks a tree fell on Llano kitchen and destroyed it. This kitchen served the courtyard area of Twin Oaks (four houses) and by now they are well into the process of trying to come back.

First, they needed to come up with a replacement kitchen, at least temporarily. As I wrote in a recent Commune Life Facebook post: “After the destruction of the Llano kitchen in midJuly, Twin Oaks has had to be creative to have a kitchen that services their courtyard area.” What Twin Oaks wrote was: “TEMPORARY KITCHEN. While repairs are progressing on Llano, we’re using TaChai living room as a temporary kitchen.” TaChai Living Room (often abbreviated TCLR) is a major meeting space in the courtyard area–or it was. Now it is functioning as the courtyard kitchen while they are doing repairs to Llano.

And they are well into doing Llano repairs. Twin Oaks did a recent Facebook post where they wrote: “LLANO REPAIRS. Putting it all back together. We hired the excellent Jason Taylor to lead the repair work (red shirt in one photo.) The bathroom wall was destroyed – we decided to remove the tub permanently.” Here are pictures of the work:

Hopefully, that replacement kitchen in TCLR will be very temporary and there will be a new Llano kitchen functioning soon. I do know Oakers who actually felt that Llano kitchen was no longer servicing the courtyard well and are looking forward to having a lovely new addition there.

Dealing with the Llano disaster

Ants, birds, and wildlife at East Wind

Here is the final, wrap up video of Sumner’s series about wildlife at East Wind Community. While most of the early footage is of ants, there’s also some bird shots and some stills of flowers plus electronic music made by a friend of Sumners. What may be most important is Sumner’s evaluation of this series and his acknowledgements of assistance with it, which is at the beginning of the video.

Ants, birds, and wildlife at East Wind

Meet the Communities – An evolutionally stable design

by Paxus

from Your Passport to Complaining

Evolutionarily Stable Design

There are some evolutionary marvels out there.  Designs so stable that they make the dinosaurs look like the new kids on the block.  I am speaking specifically of dragonflies, jellyfish and cow sharks.  

Turns out one key to all of these creatures is their success in hunting.  Top hunters stay on top.

Say you have an event where you have brought together 200 participants and perhaps 100 of them are hunting for a new community (the others are from communities or are just community-curious).  Let’s say there are 40 communities represented.  How do you get the key information to the right hunters so they can make good choices?

I don’t know exactly who developed the Meet the Communities format that the Twin Oaks Communities Conference has used for decades, but it is an evolutionarily stable format, because it works so well. 

Can you be compelling in 1 minute?

You could say it is basically formatted around the controversial propagandist axiom “there is no such thing as a long story”.  You line up all your communities and say “you have 1 minute to present yourself and then people who like you will come for more personal and longer talks after all the communities present themselves”.  Yes, the communities movement basically invented speed dating.

After these introductions community presenters spread out to picnic tables and put up their signs and hunters who were intrigued at the short presentation come and have a longer, more personal and more focused conversation.

There are some organizational pieces you have to include to make it work.  You need someone who is watching the clock and when people hit their 1 minute mark gently moves them off the stage.  Ira did this for many years.  [Which resulted in Pat Therrian intentionally running over her time so Ira would have to grab her, which Pat quite liked.]  And you have to explain to the sustainability network guy how, while his project is important, he can not get up and present himself as a place based residential community.

Ira kept things moving

Another proof of evolutionary stability is imitation.  The West Coast Communities Conference (when it was happening before the pandemic) also used this format as does the QuinkFair event happening Oct 1, 2, 3, and 4 in Mineral Virginia.  These are the communities who have been invited to present themselves during MtC (most of whom have confirmed and/or said they are likely to attend) on October 2 in the morning.

AcornMineral
Abrams Creek/CFNCStorm Mountain WV
Baltimore Free FarmBaltimore
CambiaLouisa
Community of PeaceLouisa
Cosmic HoneySan Francisco Bay a
Cuckoo CompoundCuckoo VA
Cville EcovillageCville VA
Federation of Egalitarian CommunitiesUS
Foundation for Intentional CommunityNorth America
Glow HouseDC
Hawks CrestRichmond
Living Energy Farm (LEF)Louisa
Little FlowerLouisa
Magnolia (LEF affiliate)Louisa
Open CircleEtlan VA
Serenity (forming)Louisa
Twin OaksLouisa

Sadly, there is no Twin Oaks Communities Conference (TOCC)  this year and QuinkFair is quite a different type of event.  Nevertheless, this long held tradition will be repeated in an undisclosed location in Mineral VA on October 2.

Meet the Communities – An evolutionally stable design

Climate Change and Communities

by Raven Glomus

Back in July, I asked a question on Facebook, about how communities and folks reading it were responding to climate change:

As you can see, a lot of people were reached and there were a bunch of comments:

Here are some of the comments:

And, of course, someone had to come up with the techno solution:

Since these are photos, here is a live link in case anyone wants to see it:

 https://corporate.exxonmobil.com/…/Carbon-capture-and…

Climate Change and Communities