Community and Techie Fallacy

by Katarzyna Gajewska

Have you met him already? It is usually a man, an engineer or other type of techie, who has understood it all. He has seen through and does not want to submit to the systemic absurdity anymore. He has started to think about how to get out of it. He has read. He has figured out that the current production system does not make sense. Now he is thinking what he can do about it. He may have joined groups interested in these topics or created his own group. The next natural step would be to create a community.

If you want to create an alternative to the current dysfunctional system, you need to understand the fallacy that brought us here, which affects our mindset. The major problem is that economy has been designed by a handful of detached individuals rather than co-created by all affected. Those who have worked as programmers or engineers may bring this policy into their alternative project. Design will not build a community, neither a well written plan or a website with fancy videos. Only people can build a community and this is where the difficulty begins and most stories end.

Developing technology requires highly advanced skills. It takes time and specialization. All these hours spent on honing this expertise may appear as a hard work in comparison to hanging out with people and being in relationships. This long quest may lead to a conclusion that what one needs is the right architecture.

It is worth observing the seduction of technology. It flatters with measurable results and the feeling of achievement. There is something exciting about sketching a model and implementing it. Simplicity feels comfortable.

Have you ever wondered why it hardly ever works? In reality, there is a difference between building a software and building a community. There are some aspects that you need to define in advance like a code. However, your code’s most important element is the space and time for collective processing. Design without a process is garbage hardly usable by anyone except for the one who prepares it and has good time fantasizing and keeping his mind occupied. A collective process may result in a design that exceeds the limits of an isolated mind. Just to give you a an idea, Kommune Niederkaufungen spent years on preparation. The entire project took off because a group of friends met regularly and started dreaming together. If you do not want to waste your time on waiting for a community to develop organically, then consider the comfort of computer work.

No matter how great technological solutions will not sustain any community. Without good vibes, any infrastructure will stay hollow. What is the point of optimization and improvement if you are surrounded by people you do not like to be with in the first place?

There is no such thing as a community without communicating. Learning hard science may create an expectation that a feedback or argument should be logical. For someone who thinks he knows it all because he studied a lot, something that falls outside of his expertise may appear as illogical. There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. You can acquire knowledge by reading and learning. Wisdom requires going out there into the discomforts and risking being hurt.

A community needs a marriage of knowledge and wisdom. However, our society skewed towards recognizing knowledge rather than wisdom may have thwarted your ability to see them as equal partners. There are some things about community that cannot be formulated as scientific proof. If you have been socialized in scientific way of thinking, you need to be particularly careful to be able to hear the wisdom. It is so easy to dismiss something which is outside of our comfort zone.

In my book “Imagine a Sane Society,” I point to the fact that feminine values and logic are marginalized by our society. When I say feminine, I do not mean gender. It goes beyond biology. Usually techies are more in their masculine essence. Therefore, they need to be careful to be able to hear and even ask the feminine to talk.

The moment when polarities are coming together feels exciting. This is why we keep falling in love, agonizing over breakups, and daydreaming about a stranger. Why not fully embrace the fact that we need each other. And even if we don’t, things are simply more interesting when spiced up by the differences.

It may sound debilitating at first to see that all these hours spent on developing your skills will not suffice to create a community or an alternative production system. However, this is not a wasted time. The fact that something prompted you in the past to invest in this knowledge is the gift that you were meant to give to the world. But it can be given in the best way if it is embedded in a community and human relations., which is an opportunity to step into a life much richer than you designed at the outset. Your design will not spell magic on people but there is a magic in seeing your limits and seeing others. This enables your knowledge to become a gift. A community can rescue it from your lopsidedness.

Help to push Katarzyna’s work to the masses. The entire book will be available for free (digital text + audio) once we collect enough money for production. Donate here!

Listen to an excerpt from this book HERE!

For updates on her publications: Katarzyna Gajewska – Independent Scholar

Her recent publications:

On crowdfunding with Cambia community to complete a feminine utopia and boycotting Amazon

Robot as a Teacher: The Perils of Digitalized Progress in Education

Of Viruses and the Limits of Masculine (Dys)topias

The Cultural Preparation for Crisis

Naming the Alternatives

So you want to leave it all and create a community?

Community and Techie Fallacy

Communists in a Capitalist Society

by Raven

I have thought about this and mentioned it to people, but I consider Twin Oaks a communist community that has learned very well about how to succeed in a capitalist culture. I decided to make a Facebook post about it.

I got a bunch of interesting responses to this, starting with Rejoice sharing some of the comments East Wind got to a video about them.

.A few other people threw in their takes on this.

Then, Lavender Alex Bernosky shared their response, pointing out the danger of trying to “police” behavior in the communes.

I had to respond to this because I felt it opened up another avenue for the ‘dance’.

Finally, Zamin Danty added yet another take on the ‘dance’.

Communists in a Capitalist Society

Family Life and Communal Success

by Raven

I had been reading a request for membership here at Glomus and the person mentioned that they had been raised in a large family. I was also raised in a large family and that got me thinking about how much the family that you grew up with affects your ability to live communally. I decided to write a Facebook post about it.

As you can see, we got a few comments from that. Some interesting things got raised in the comments. It started off with personal stories from Cara Ziegel and Theresa Kadish.

Then Rejoice added an idea which I responded to and so did Rachael Kadish. (Rachael also lives here at Glomus, as do Theresa and I.) Rejoice (who lives at Mimosa but occasionally visits here) added yet another nuance in the midst of this.

Nina (from Twin Oaks) added her story, which also fit in with what we all were writing.

Then, Zamin Danty wrote a piece that I thought took us slightly off-topic.

But it was a comment from Mark Homesteader that completely changed the direction of the conversation:

Family Life and Communal Success

Racial Justice Work in the Communes

Continuing on the theme of racial justice, Theresa wrote this piece on Facebook looking at the difficulties and contradictions involved in doing this work as white folks.

She added this graphic:

The first comment that we got was from Rachael, also in our commune, giving a link to a source for this graphic:

Since this is a picture and the link doesn’t work, here is a working link.

Zamin K Danty commented with an interesting idea, but I spotted a problem.

And then Thomas Russell added a host of thoughts.

Racial Justice Work in the Communes

Imagine a Sane Society

We recently received this from Katarzyna Gajewska who has written for Commune Life before. This is about a book that she is publishing in conjunction with Cambia, one of the Virginia communes.

On crowdfunding with Cambia community to complete a feminine utopia and boycotting Amazon 

Katarzyna Gajewska, PhD, has been working on the manuscript of “Imagine a Sane Society” since 2013. She is now at the stage to engage other co-creators to complete this book. Her feminine utopia is a call for creativity and imagination. Her conceptualization has been influenced by interviews in egalitarian communities and other prefigurative forms of organizing work and life. If 60 people contribute $20 each, we will be able to pay for the first stage of production to be done by egalitarian community Cambia.

By contributing to crowdfunding campaign, you also support Cambia, a commune living prefigurative future in the now. Cambia Community is a small egalitarian intentional community in central Virginia, USA. Their mission is to serve as a model for a sustainable, fulfilling, and connected way of living. They have formed an educational non-profit called Rustling Roots, which teaches how to respond to the global ecological crisis locally, stimulating discussion and changing habits in local communities by hosting workshops, events, and tours.

Cambia has known Katarzyna for several years and has appreciated her academic work and dedication to justice and sustainability.

“The opportunity to help with editing Katarzyna’s book would allow us to invest in our business and our community, and collaborate with a project that supports our mission. With funding from this work, we would be able to plant more fruit trees, invest in solar infrastructure, and hire people with specialized knowledge in ecology or engineering for specific projects.” – Gil Benmoshe of Cambia Community

The author writes on the subject of the forthcoming book and crowdfunding campaign to prepare online version in Creative Commons, available for free.

Why Commune Life Blog readers may be interested in your book project?

You may have wondered what a post-capitalist system would look like. We know quite well what we do not like but it is difficult to say what we want. The book discusses various directions of change and proposes a vision for a health-oriented system. It shows examples of alternative ways of organizing production. The main part deals with understanding the cultural change that a new system would require of us. Culture is a set of ideas, automatic assumptions, habits in shaping human relations. It is invisible, yet so powerful. If we cannot imagine something else, we automatically submit to the shiny but destructive offer of the dominant elites. One of the reasons why I call it a feminine utopia is because I focus on inner work and not engineering another design for hollow structures which would be filled with the dysfunctions of the dominant system if not addressed. This is where communes come in. They have decided to live under different regime within a group and then they need to deal with all the psychological and cultural imprint that wants us to not even come up with such an idea. The cultural work they had to engage in is preparing for the time of crisis when cooperation will not be an option anymore. I have conducted many interviews and observations in Acorn, a commune in Virginia and in Niederkaufungen, a commune in Germany and they inspire my reflection on the culture for a new mode of production. One chapter portrays also Tamera, a political ashram in Portugal.

Whom is this book for?

If you are experiencing existential crisis or skillfully numbing it with shopping, substances, and busyness, this book can help you stop for a moment and reflect on your life’s choices that add up to the unbearable reality. Activists or people who think of becoming involved may find an aid to inquire what kind of actions to focus on. We need a broader picture to translate it into small steps leading to it.

Why do you call your book a feminine utopia?

First of all, I do not mean gender and women by this. The “feminine” in my utopia is a logic of action, a way of thinking, values, and the mode of operating. Ursula K. Le Guin used Chinese words yin and yang, probably, to avoid these confusions with gender stereotypes. We still need a lot of work to empower the feminine. My book wants to empower the feminine logic as something defining the shape of the system. I see this proposal as an advancement in comparison to the lean-in feminism. Feminism should be about systemic change. By the way, Kommune Niederkaufungen was considering these issues from the very beginning and may have been a response to the position of women in the 1980s. I believe that also men are tired with the masculine utopias pursued nowadays and the unbalanced ideas they fall prey to. At least, many men have supported me during the writing process and the final stage.

Why people being part of commune movement may be interested in promoting the campaign?

If you are part of communes’ movement, you will meet your friends on the pages of my book. You may want it to be available to your family and friends from previous life to help them understand your choices. Now that more and more people start to perceive the limits of the system, it is time for deeper discussions and questioning it all. I embed communal life in the reflection on a broader vision. I see communities as an inspiration without preaching that everyone should move to one of them. But this can be a side effect. One of my interviewees in Acorn community mentioned the book “The power of Now” as one of the steps on her journey of self-inquiry that led her to move to the commune. Maybe my book will have a similar effect on some readers.

Bringing this book to the masses without a publisher is also a political statement. Many people who live in communities want to escape corporation world. I do not want my ideas to be censored by corporate gate keepers. Instead, I rely on the wisdom of crowds, who have other interests than selling simplistic books. I also do not want to be bound by contracts and my books be sold on Amazon. Of course, this implies a different strategy in the entire process. I cannot expect a publisher to invest in book production and then compromise its sells. Therefore, we need to invest together in making this book happen and have it accessible for free. Instead of benefiting Amazon, you give money directly to a group of people who work on change.

Do you live in a commune? – The question that many people have asked

I do not. Education is my passion. I would not feel fulfilled not pursuing it. I want to combine my professional goals in the field of alternative education and communal living in one project.

What to do if one wants to help completing your book?

You can send the crowdfunding campaign calls to your friends or post on social media. Letting people know is a big help! The book will be available for free (digital text and audio) so if many people give $10-30, it will be like buying the book for yourself and your friends and strangers. This is a good deal!

If you want my book ‘Imagine a Sane Society” to be published and available for free, please, donate HERE

Listen to an exerpt from this book HERE!

For updates on my publications: Katarzyna Gajewska – Independent Scholar

My publication list (selection):  

My recent publications:

The Cultural Preparation for Crisis

Naming the Alternatives

So you want to leave it all and create a community?

Imagine a Sane Society

One Path toward Diversity

This is the final in a series that I (Raven) wrote for Facebook on diversity. I talk about my experience meeting the amazing Grace Lee Boggs and how she said that she and her husband helped create a very racially diverse group. I see this as a model for one way that the communities might become more diverse in a way that supports folks of color rather than simply recruiting them so that the communes don’t look so white.

Here’s what I wrote:

I also included a photo of Grace Lee Boggs:

She was an incredible person.

I only got two comments, but I was taken with what Crystal Bird Farmer said. My double reply is because I am still not used to the way Facebook works and I wanted to be sure that it was clear that I was responding as myself and not as an ‘official’ Commune Life voice.

I also heard from Zamin K Danty who was concerned about this approach. I didn’t respond but I want to make it clear that this is only one path to creating diversity.

One Path toward Diversity

When Diversity is a Necessity

In my last reprint from Facebook, I mentioned that I was okay with all white communities and that diversity is often more to make white folks feel better. In this Facebook post, I talk about when diversity becomes important. I use myself as an example and, since having some picture makes posts more attractive, I used a picture of myself to illustrate it. Reading the post should explain why.

According to Facebook, we reached 302 people, but there was only one comment, and it was about how my situation resonated with the person who responded. Still, I am always glad when my posts have been helpful for someone–and I never know about people that these posts affect that don’t respond.

On Monday, I will post my final post on diversity, outlining one possible path to diverse community.

When Diversity is a Necessity