Growing Cotyledon

by Raven Cotyledon

Right now, Cotyledon has a strong core (DNA, Gil, and me), and two fabulous folks (Lacey and Matthew) who plan to be with us just a little bit longer. As we said in our late December post, we are looking for more folks to join us.

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This is an exciting time for us. We are starting our second year, and we are working on creating agreements. We are currently finishing up a membership process that will go all the way from someone arriving to becoming (a year or more later) a full, income-sharing, decision making member. Because we named ourselves Cotyledon and because the three of us are all involved in urban agriculture, we are naming the steps involved with terms like Seed, Radicle, Graft, Sprout, and True Leaf.  It’s fun but it also reminds us that we are growing in many ways: as people, as a community, and growing plants for food, for medicine, for beauty, to help pollinators, and to heal the earth and ourselves.

img_0118I think that the world needs us.  Sharing income and living collectively, carefully, and compassionately in New York City. What a concept.

And it’s difficult, especially in New York City, where it’s pretty expensive as well. But we are committed and persistent.  Now all we need is others to join us in our efforts to create a different way of being.

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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 patrons:  

Communities

  • Acorn Community
  • Compersia Community
  • Cotyledon Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards

  • Sumner Nichols
  • Tobin Moore
  • Kai Koru
  • Bryan Utesch
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Julia Evans
  • William Croft

Thanks!

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Growing Cotyledon

Cotyledon at One

by Raven and Gil of Cotyledon

On November 26th, 2018, the Cotyledon community celebrated our first year in Astoria, a lovely  neighborhood in Queens, NY, with the founders having dinner together, and the next weekend throwing a party for ourselves.

Some good things from this past year include, surviving our first year (not all communes do), becoming an official Community in Dialogue with the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC), becoming a Not for Profit corporation in the State of New York, and having fun along the way.  Some of that fun was organizing events: we have hosted monthly “Idealist Days” which have included an NYC cooperative house mixer, some game nites, a few workday/potlucks at Smiling Hogshead Ranch, a waterfront cleanup, and a community mandala making event.

We also co-created the “Communes and Communities” Meetup group which regularly brings together a broad swath of New Yorkers to explore community topics and share lived experiences.  Over the Labor Day weekend, DNA, Gil, and Raven traveled together, with a couple other New Yorkers, to attend the Twin Oaks Communities Conference in Virginia.  We meet weekly to discuss house happenings, develop our framework, plan future events and deepen our interpersonal relations.

We currently have three very passionate people committed to building community together, and two more wonderful folks who like living with us and we adore living with even if they cannot commit to staying with us for the long-term or share income. And, surprisingly, we are doing fairly well financially.

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Raven, DNA, and Gil

As an FEC Community in Dialogue, we are striving towards meeting the seven principles of Egalitarian Communities. In doing so, we are actively working in our neighborhood and various communities. We are currently engaging in the struggle to block Amazon from entering our community.  We also enjoy working on urban fairs and organizing around food justice.

The biggest drawback for us is that we are still only three income-sharers.  The three of us had been talking about creating this for two and a half years before we actually made the move and rented a place together, so we’ve been fleshing out and organizing around our principles for three and a half years now, watched a bunch of people come and go, and it’s still just the three of us.

If you know anyone who is up for the challenge of building an income-sharing community, an act that considerably helps buffer the impacts of living in one of the most expensive cities in the country, wants to continue developing the gritty details of agreements and structure while helping move towards creating a cooperative business (or two), and has ideas on how to keep the money flowing in while all this is happening, please send them our way and they can be part of our second year here.

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The Cotyledon Logo

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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 patrons:  

Communities

  • Acorn Community
  • Compersia Community
  • Cotyledon Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards

  • Sumner Nichols
  • Tobin Moore
  • Kai Koru
  • Bryan Utesch
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Julia Evans
  • William Croft

Thanks!

Cotyledon at One

Building Urban Communes

by Raven Cotyledon

The Federation of Egalitarian Communities (the commune people) have had rural communes in Virginia and Missouri for decades. Which is great, except, as someone pointed out, most people live in the cities these days in the United States.

Building a commune in the city is a little different than starting a rural commune. It’s harder to grow food in the city.  It’s harder to create cottage industries in the city. It’s harder to find land/property/places in the city. People are less trusting in the city. People have less time in the city. People are more distracted in the city.

 

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Co-ops and cohousing communities have flourished in urban areas. Ganas, on Staten Island, New York, has been going strong for nearly forty years. But these communities require less commitment than egalitarian, income-sharing communities–that is, communes.

I helped build a commune in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the 1990s.  I am currently helping to create one in Queens, New York. I can tell you that it isn’t easy, for all the reasons that I listed above and more.

But it is possible. Our Cambridge community lasted five years. There have been FEC related communities (or attempts at communities) in Seattle and Baltimore and Richmond, Virginia,  and Columbus, Ohio, and there are currently (besides Cotyledon, our commune in Queens) communes in Washington, DC, and Portland, Oregon. I have been particularly watching Compersia, the commune in DC.  They seem to have a bunch of members and look like they are going strong.

But cities are hard on communes. I don’t know of any that have lasted longer than ten years. Yet.

We’re working to change that.  Hopefully you can check this space in ten years to find out how we did it.  I’m certainly curious. But I think that urban communes are the leading edge of the communities movement.

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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 patrons:  

  • Acorn Community
  • Compersia Community
  • Cotyledon Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community
  • Sumner Nichols

 

Thanks!

 

Building Urban Communes

Communities Conference Workshops

Here is the workshop and partial presentation schedule for the upcoming Twin Oaks Communities Conference.  The below links are to blog posts on these elements.  There is a posted full program (with short descriptions for every workshop are in the newly published program).  

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Cambia lunch

Saturday September 1st

9:30 to noon

1:30 to 3 PM

4 to 5:30 PM

Sunday September 2

9:30 to 11

There is still time to register for this amazing event.  Twin Oaks Community is hosting this event in central Virginia Aug 31st thru Sept 2.  There is also great Labor Day (Sept 3) program at Cambia Community, less than one mile from the Twin Oaks Conference site.

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Twin Oaks 50th Anniversary – Circa 2017
Communities Conference Workshops

My Favorite Things

by Raven

Here are some recent photos from this blog of the joys of Communal Living:

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The folks at Kibbutz Mishol

If you look carefully you can see god hiding

The pool at Cambia

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Working together at East Wind

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The Cotyledon crew

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Cooking at Le Manoir

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Saturnalia at Compersia

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The Twin Oaks Feminist Zine

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An overview of East Brook Community Farm

ChickensChickens at Acorn

And from communes yet to be:

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The land at Donald’s View

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A map of possible land for Full Circle

My Favorite Things

Introducing Cotyledon

by Raven

Cotyledon is a egalitarian, income-sharing residential community in Queens, New York, dedicated to environmental and food justice, radical sharing, personal growth and accountability, clear communication, and simple, cooperative living.

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The outside of the building we are in.

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A view of the living room

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Another view of the living room

The Cotyledon members:

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DNA

Gil and tracks

Gil

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Raven

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And the three of us together

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This is Smiling Hogshead Ranch, one project the three of us are involved with.

We are staying in a 4 bedroom apartment in Astoria, but we have a plan to eventually grow and move into a larger home, staying close to Western Queens.

We are also currently looking for a new member of our commune.

 

 

Introducing Cotyledon

Getting Beyond Two, Three, or Four Folks

  by Raven

 

These are the early days at Cotyledon, the income sharing community we are forming in NYC.  We are not even two months old.  There were four of us but one person decided to live somewhere else, so now we will be three.  This is not a good direction to go in.

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The building Cotyledon is in.

I helped build a commune in Cambridge, MA, in the nineties, that got up to six adults and two kids at one point.  It was after we dropped down to four adults that we fell apart.  A four person community is very vulnerable.  We lost two more folks and we were gone.  I’ve heard of at least one other community that fell apart for similar reasons.

As the manager of Commune Life, I’m hearing of a bunch of new communities–most at this point consist of three or four folks.  Many have a couple at their center.  I’ve written about how some communities with a couple at their center fail to work out.  I’ve noticed that some of these communities have different dynamics, some of which still may turn out to be problematic.

I’m, also acutely aware of the new communes that don’t work out, or are transitioning out of income sharing.  It’s hard to build these communities to last and, I think, growing them beyond a small number of people is an important part of the process.

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Acorn, now

I talked with someone at Acorn about how they survived.  They were down to six people at one point early in their history and down to two people at another.   I asked how they managed to get past that.   I was told there were two reasons for their survival.  One was Ira Wallace, a strong person, and the other was Twin Oaks, a strong community nearby.

And how did Twin Oaks survive?  In her book,   A Walden Two Experiment, Kat Kinkade wrote that in 1969 Twin Oaks was down to ten members and dropping.   They decided to get rid of the entrance-fee.  It meant that anyone could come and people started coming.

I find Kat Kinkade amazing.  She was part of starting three communes (Twin Oaks, Acorn, and East Wind) and all three are still going strong. Folks have told me that her philosophy was to build up communities fast and I figure that she knew something.

 

I don’t have an answer to this but I’m well aware that staying small is a barrier.   I’ve talked with GPaul at Compersia about this and they are working on growing.  They are up to six folks now.

I believe that having some openness and flexibility while remaining true to your basic principles is part of what is needed. It’s a balancing act but I think it’s what you need to do to get beyond being two, three, or four.

 

Getting Beyond Two, Three, or Four Folks