Cotyledon’s Final Chapter Has Begun…

In November 2017, we, DNA, Raven and gil, formally started Cotyledon, an income-sharing egalitarian community. In August 2019, we realize that this no longer serves us and each of us desires to grow in our own ways. Therefore, we have made the decision, together, to release one another and move in our own directions. This did not come from a fight but rather from a place of caring for each other and wanting to support each other’s growth. Thus, as of October 1st, we will part, and Cotyledon will be dissolved.

We have learned and grown so much from our time together. This was an experiment from the beginning and each of us will take many lessons as well as care and support as we start new chapters in each of our lives. We offer these words to honor our commitment to ourselves, proactively answer questions, and prune back any grapevine gossip in order to cultivate a peaceful resolve.

“Only because of the trials and tribulations we have gone through, can we honor who we are by embracing the pain of honoring both the individuals and the whole.” —  DNA

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We are not a failure. Through living interdependently, we have come to know ourselves better, growing to trust the mirror we see in each other. Cotyledon is a success, one of which is not often found, much less honored in our society which values productivity over self-worth — and truth be told, we discovered how entrenched in these societal values we really are. Being able to admit that it is time to move on is difficult, sad and scary. We are a prideful people and all too often it is a false pride, a reaction fed by competition or greed, a crutch used to persevere through habit rather than health. We do not need to conquer change, we need only to embrace it. Seeing this pride, we know it is not useful to us anymore, accepting our own fears of control and trust.

“For years I had been living in and out of collectives, weaving my own way through the capitalist catastrophe. I could never have imagined the lessons I would learn from living communally.”  —  gil

Urban life in NYC is intrinsically stressful and expensive, so tackling such an ambitious, idealistic project within this context was never presumed to be easy. Perhaps Cotyledon could have grown more quickly in order to allow some of us to leave while others remain, but the realities of the real estate market and societal conditioning regarding income-sharing have made membership population and structural growth very difficult. All this with the additional personal struggles of experiencing the death of one of our member’s parents and being honest with each of our pasts has made for a challenging journey, but one full of lessons and mutual aid. Instead of letting those stumbling blocks completely trip us up, we continually focused on what we needed to do in order to form a foundation of trust, to believe in each other.

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We are thankful for the lessons we could only learn through this beautiful experience, such as sense of community, depth of compassion and liberation. Through dedication to our values, we learned how to fearlessly express ourselves to our communards, and have been reminded that conflict is not abuse. Through this group evolution, we see more clearly our individual callings and needs. We know who we are more deeply now than when we started living and income sharing together. Cotyledon has come to be the springboard for the pursuit of our own truths.

We recognize that it is common, even expected, for change to come about resentfully, often through anger or apathy. These emotions are not guiding our decision. While we are experiencing pain and sorrow for the end of this beautiful chapter in our lives, we do not look back in anger. In fact, our support for one another is blossoming and ready for harvest.

There is no break-up trauma in our evolving relationships. We affirm that, short of living these communal and egalitarian values with us, it is challenging, if not impossible for others to comprehend our reasons for Cotyledon’s end. As we part paths, we do so in reverence of one another. Any ideas of Cotyledon “not making it” or, any presumed internal issues, should not be interpreted as Cotyledon’s reality. With clarity, we state that if these types of negative projections arise, they could be better used as an internal mirror to explore one’s own relationship with/in community or society. We implore that these traumas, fears and assumptions not be projected onto our situation.

“We came into this endeavor to support one another, I want to see us come out of it still supporting each other.” —  Raven

We have agreed that, just as we started income-sharing on our first day, we will continue income-sharing until our last day together. We’re also working on ways to insure that each of us has what we need to flourish in our next chapter. As we began, so shall we end.

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We are at peace with our decision, what has been is now fertilizer for life to flourish. We allow this letting go to happen, we ask for unconditional love to assist us in this sacred surrender. We invite in life, we invite in love. 

Cotyledon’s Final Chapter Has Begun…

Cotyledon’s Relationship to the Ranch

by Raven Cotyledon

The Cotyledon community is focused on, among other things, food justice and urban agriculture.  We are connected with several related organizations in western Queens, including Hellgate Farm, the Queens Action Council, and Just Soil.  We do our principle work, however, with a small community garden/urban farm called Smiling Hogshead Ranch (also known as SHHR, Hogshead, or the Ranch).

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SHHR: Garden beds, compost bins, and, behind, the towers of Long Island City

I first met gil when he was organizing a fundraiser for SHHR called the Hogshead Hoedown.  I was impressed with all the people involved and how gil kept telling everyone what a great job they were doing.

Later, through gil, I met DNA. The three of us began talking about creating a commune but we also tried to start a composting business at the Ranch.  I was living at Ganas on Staten Island and it took me two hours (each way!) to get to Hogshead, whether by train or by bike. One of the main reasons we chose to build Cotyledon in Queens was to be near the Ranch.

Gil was one of the founders of SHHR and is a director there.  DNA has been working there for many years, building things and gardening. Recently, gil and DNA have been organizing young people at the Ranch, working with the Youth Leadership Council.  I am a faithful composter there and, a couple of weeks ago ended up teaching small groups of third graders about snails, as part of Smiling Hogshead Ranch’s educational mission.

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DNA and gil after a late night event at the Ranch 

None of us get paid for the work we do at the Ranch. Rather, we see Hogshead as one of the main ways we can promote what we believe to the world. Smiling Hogshead Ranch isn’t the only thing that Cotyledon does, not by any means, but we see it as one of the most important.

 

Cotyledon’s Relationship to the Ranch

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!

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:

DV Trees

The land at Donald’s View

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A map of possible land for Full Circle

My Favorite Things