The Louisa County Community Cluster

by Raven Glomus

Louisa County is a 511 square mile county in central Virginia with a population of over thirty-three thousand folks.  It is also home to ten communities, including Twin Oaks, the oldest secular income-sharing community in the United States.

I had not realized how many communities there were in the county, until Paxus published his post on Meet the Communities and I counted the communities listed that were in Louisa, Mineral, and Cuckoo (all locations in the county).  There are nine in the table Paxus included and I am adding a tenth that I know of. Here’s my summary of the communities in the county.  (I want to thank Jules from Twin Oaks who went over all the communities with me and knows a lot more about them since they actually live in the county.)

Twin Oaks

Twin Oaks, as I said, is the oldest of the communes, having been established way back  in 1967.  It has a population capacity of 93 adults and 15 children but currently has around seventy members.  It has a lot of industries, from making hammocks to making tofu and from indexing books to growing ornamental flowers to changing the flooring of an auditorium in Charlottesville to managing the Seed Racks portion of Acorn’s seed business .  Right now, given their low population, they are actively seeking new members. They ask interested folks to begin the membership process through their visitor program.

Acorn

Acorn Community has been around for around twenty-eight years now (established in 1993). Traditionally, they kept their numbers low–to around thirty full members.  Recently they began talking about expanding to closer to forty full members, however, there has been some major disagreements among members resulting in a lot of folks leaving and their population has plummeted to currently about fifteen folks.  They have one, very successful business, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  They are actively looking for folks now.

Living Energy Farm

Living Energy Farm is a community dedicated to the idea that it is possible to live a fulfilling life without the use of fossil fuels.  Although they started planning the community in 2010, they began living together in 2012.  They originally started with the idea of being an egalitarian, income-sharing community, but they have changed their status with the FEC to being an ‘Ally Community’, mostly to focus on their work of developing sustainable living situations.  I sometimes refer to them as being the research arm of the communes in Virginia. They run Living Energy Lights as a way to make some of their solar energy systems available to the public.  They have done projects to help underdeveloped areas use these systems, like their work in Arizona with the Navajo and Hopi reservations and in Jamaica.  They are currently looking for both volunteers and members.

Magnolia House

Magnolia House is a house in the town area of Louisa that Living Energy Farm owns and has retrofitted it to be “off-grid.”  In his table of communities, Paxus lists it as an ‘LEF Affiliate’.  My understanding is that the people who are living there would like it to become a community in its own right.  Unfortunately, beyond this I have little information and no pictures–I have never seen the place and know little about it other than what I have heard.

Cambia

Cambia is a quirky, creative little commune with a high degree of playfulness and whimsy.  Founded in 2015, they see themselves as trying “to create human habitat that emulates the beauty and complexity of living systems.”  They run an educational program that they call “Rustling Roots” and do a variety of work for other communities and outside programs.  I’m not clear whether they are currently looking for folks or not, but they do write a bit about visiting and joining them on their website.

Little Flower

Little Flower describe themselves as a small Catholic Worker homestead.My understanding is that it is primarily a couple who grow food, practice radical hospitality, and engage in political activism.  They welcome visitors.

Community of Peace

Community of Peace describes itself as “an ecumenical Christ-centered community of welcome, sung prayer, dialogue, and solidarity” and claims to be inspired by the Taize Community in France.  I know little about this community, other than it’s in Louisa, it was listed on Paxus’ table of communities that might be coming to the Meet the Communities at the Quink Fest, and what I could get from the website.  Honestly, it looks like the efforts of one person at this point.  It’s not clear whether the community is looking for members right now but the website talks about what they do and how to connect with Brother Stephan Andre.

The Cuckoo Compound

The Cuckoo Compound is in a village that is part of Mineral, Virginia, and is actually called Cuckoo.  They say that they are “a loose collective that anticipates hosting lowkey events like potlucks, craft nights, and shows!”  I know of some of the folks there and they seem pretty cool but I’m not sure that they are looking for new members.  They look like they have some fun events there, though.

Serenity Community for Justice and Peace

The Serenity Community is one of the newest, forming communities in Louisa.  It’s an ambitious project to start a BIPOC led community and, as far as I know, they do not even have land yet. They do have support from the other communities around them.  I am hoping to have more about them on this blog as the community develops and I, personally, am hoping to become more involved with them.  I don’t think they have a membership process yet but, particularly if you are a person of color who has been disappointed in how BIPOC folks have been treated in most communities, you can probably contact them through their Facebook page.  (Also, for those interested in understanding the experience of BIPOC folks in community, the Foundation for Intentional Communities is sponsoring a panel on Zoom called BIPOC Members Speak: A Conversation About Community. Follow the link for more information.)

Bakers Branch

I have been hearing about these folks for years but have little information about them other than they are an association of ex Twin Oakers and others that have formed a land trust on a road halfway between Twin Oaks and Acorn.  I doubt that they are looking for new folks (they were not even listed in Paxus’ Meet the Communities event) but I just think that it’s good to know that they’re there, one more part of the conglomeration of communities in Louisa County.

The Louisa County Community Cluster

It’s Fall

by Raven Glomus

I post everyday on Facebook and three times a week on this blog.  One of the ways I am able to do that is that both Facebook and WordPress have scheduling features that allow me to schedule posts well in advance.  I was looking at my scheduled posts for Facebook this past weekend and suddenly noticed that I had the same exact starting wording three days in a row.  As you will see below, they all began with  “It’s fall and…”

Apparently, the seasonal change has gotten to me.  I could have changed several of them (as I said, these were scheduled well in advance) but it sort of amused me and I was curious to see if anyone on Facebook noticed.  If anyone did, no one said anything, but given that most people see these posts on their feed along with dozens of other posts from dozens of other sources, it’s quite possible that no one noticed.

Other than that, as you will see, these posts did quite well, although they didn’t really attract a lot of comments.

The first was a picture post on fall flowers around Glomus Commune. I double posted it on Facebook and Instagram and it reached 561 people on Instagram and 280 folks on FB.  (Instagram posts usually reach a lot more people than FB posts so this isn’t really surprising.) It got five comments, but they were all from Rejoice–with pictures of fall flowers from Acorn.

Here’s what Rejoice sent us:

For the next day, I was hunting for material when I went to the SESE website and saw this useful looking checklist for gardeners.  Because these are pictures of the Facebook feed, the link there won’t work.  Here’s a working link to the original article: https://blog.southernexposure.com/…/garden-checklist…/

This was what went up on our Facebook feed (beginning, of course, with “It’s fall and…”):

No comments, but it reached more than two hundred people.

Finally, I was trying to think up a question for our Monday post.  What I came up with was this:

It reached over 150 folks, which isn’t bad, but I write these questions to solicit comments and I only got three–and one of them was from me and, honestly, L Elizabeth Storm is my cousin and probably just saw this on her Facebook feed because we are related.

Anyway, it’s fall…

It’s Fall

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!

____________________________________________________________________________

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

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.

____________________________________________________________________________

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

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

Ira Wallace Speaks

Ira is a community treasure. She is the lynchpin holding Acorn Community together and the driving force behind Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. On Thursday, September 23rd, she will be the key speaker at a gardening conference. https://www.facebook.com/events/269598428038675/


Here’s the writeup:


SESE’s Ira Wallace will be a keynote speaker for this year’s American Community Garden Association Conference.Seed Keeping: An Act of Everyday Resistance.

“Black and brown people are integral to the story of food and farming in this country. Learn how including them in our gardens through seed saving, storytelling about seeds, the traditions they represent, the taste they evoke, and the people who created great varieties can be an everyday act of resistance.” – Ira Wallace

Ira will be talking about the importance of seed keeping to preserving cultural heritage with examples of historic varieties as well as the wealth of heirloom varieties from the African Diaspora especially in the US and Caribbean.She’ll also touch on her work with our cooperative community and seed company. She said, “although I am proud of co-founding the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello I think of my cooperative work developing Acorn Community Farm and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange as my legacy to young farmers looking for ways to do well doing good work.”

Ira Wallace Speaks

Racism in the Communes

by Raven Glomus

(Note: It may be obvious to say this, but in this situation I want to clearly state that I, Raven, am solely responsible for this content.  Other members of the Commune Life team can respond but I take full responsibility for this post.)

Racism is a systemic problem that permeates every corner of this society.  The communes, regardless of how much of an alternative they aim to be, are not, by any means, immune.  

Last year, mostly in response to the death of George Floyd and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, several folks at Twin Oaks took the community to task for its racism, intentional or otherwise.  We published several posts on Commune Life about this.  There was a moment where it looked like Twin Oaks was going to commit to creating significant diversity there, and Keenan, ever optimistic, saw it as quite possible. The Diversity Team at Twin Oaks became REAL (Racial Equity Advocacy and Leadership) and put out a statement on their intentions.  Unfortunately, as often happens, things got mired down and members of REAL got frustrated and left.  I know that there are still members of Twin Oaks pushing for change but it seems stuck at the moment.

The O&I board at Twin Oaks, June, 2020

I know that at Acorn, they (under Ira’s leadership) have been trying to find ways of supporting BIPOC leadership. Two projects in particular that they have gotten behind are the Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance, which “recognizes the need for increased diversity in farming and the seed industry, and the need to provide more opportunities and support for growers from historically oppressed and marginalized communities”, and an attempt in Louisa County (home to Acorn, Twin Oaks, and other communities)  to create an “income sharing community run by a dedicated people of color”.  My understanding is that Twin Oaks is also supporting this.

Here at Glomus we have a mutual aid fund that we have been using to support (among other things) projects created by folks of color and indigenous people–especially POC created communities–and we have also collected money for the last couple of years for black and indigenous farmers and farming projects at Farmers Markets where we’ve sold our produce.  We did participate in the protests last year and we have been talking, on and off, about what else we can do.  We are a small, white commune and not immune to racist behaviors, but we have tried to deal with them.

East Brook Farm/Glomus Commune at the BLM protests in Delhi, NY

This brings me to East Wind Community in the Ozarks of Missouri.  East Wind is a large, overwhelmingly white, community.  (I’m not sure of its current makeup, but there have generally been one or two folks of color among the sixty odd member community.)  It is also, of all the FEC member communities, the one with the largest percentage of working class folks.  It has an unfortunate reputation for racism of the more overt kind.  Much of that is from some incidents which occurred in 2018 which some East Wind members engaged in rather racist behavior which led to at least two members of color leaving East Wind and a very uncomfortable FEC Assembly that year where we tried (without much success) address racism (as well as sexual misbehavior and transphobia).  It also led to a conference at Twin Oaks the following year where we addressed some of that more directly.

As far as I know, East Wind has never directly addressed this stuff (at the Assembly they were mostly defensive) but my understanding is that the folks responsible for the worst of the racist behavior are now gone–and left some time ago.  

As someone who has been to East Wind once (during that Assembly) and has only heard stuff, mostly second hand, I am still going to give my take on what I think was/is going on.  Paxus has referred to East Wind as the ‘wild west’ of the FEC communities.  I see them as leaning toward libertarian and laissez-faire.  

They are, as I said, a bit of a white working class community, and the issues of race and class become uncomfortably intertwined here.  During the Assembly, I saw white folks from higher class backgrounds attempting to lecture East Wind folks (often using jargon and somewhat academic language) on their behavior and the East Winders involved generally felt condescended to.

I can’t see East Wind as a community apologizing for their behavior.  They promote individual liberty there to the extent that during the pandemic, while Twin Oaks and Acorn (and Glomus) used quarantining to ensure safety, there was no direct response by the East Wind community other than affirm individual rights.  I am frankly amazed that they did not get hit by the coronavirus–and I still worry for them.

What we realized at the Assembly and is still true is that the FEC is merely a vehicle for connecting the communes and has no power to police them or enforce any standard.  As far as I am concerned, Commune Life exists to report on what is happening at the communes and to let the outside world know that they exist and are an alternative to mainstream living.  They are often an imperfect alternative, but they are an alternative nonetheless.  I am less interested in pointing out what’s wrong with them (although I am open to publishing critiques and have written a few myself) and more interested in exploring what we can do better.  

There are a couple of current attempts to help POC led communities form and I am very interested in supporting those and think that they will do more for folks of color than censuring the current communities for what is a society wide problem.  I am interested in how we can create more and better alternatives.  I am not interested in attacking the imperfect (and rather fragile, considering how many communities have fallen apart) communities that exist.

Again, I want to be very careful to state that everything in this essay is my own opinion and not the collective view of Commune Life.  I invite responses.

Racism in the Communes

Growing Season at Acorn and Glomus

by Raven Glomus

It’s full into the farm season and this weeks roundup of stuff from our Facebook feed focuses on what’s growing at Acorn Community and Glomus Commune:

First, Acorn gets a lot of early lettuce and donates to their local food bank:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CPA-3maFEcm/

And then, on Instagram, someone at Acorn Community is bragging that their whole breakfast (vegetables and eggs) comes right from their own farm.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CPIqG28FXVI/

Meanwhile, here at Glomus, here’s Cicada of East Brook Community Farm (our communal business) bringing out the greens and veggies for our first weekly CSA of 2021. Farming is our business, and it’s a lot of work, but this is the payoff.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CPqTl-TD67t/

Finally, farm work is not just about vegetables. Here are some pictures of the cute little goslings that we are raising at Glomus:

Growing Season at Acorn and Glomus