Dumpster Cherries!

One way that we get food at Glomus is called dumpster diving. Theresa does a lot of it and makes videos about it. This particular video got over 10 million views! Next week we will publish one important response to this video.

Dumpster Cherries!

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

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.


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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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

Geese and Cats at Glomus Commune

by Raven

Our communal creatures took the lead on our Facebook posts this week.

Remember the cute little goslings that we had at Glomus?

Meanwhile, here’s one of the more vigilant members of the commune:

What I wrote on Facebook was: “Chamomile is a long-term member at Glomus Commune and a worker (mostly catching mice and voles) at East Brook Community Farm.  He likes to be on top of things.”

All pictures are from the East Brook Community Farm Instagram account.

Geese and Cats at Glomus Commune

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

Communal Camp Construction

by Raven Glomus

Theresa decided to hold a mycology camp this summer here at Glomus for Binghamton University students. The first step has been to build platforms for tents to house the students. Glomus members and visitors have helped Theresa build these platforms.

Here is a large tent that someone here had used last year that we just moved (piece by piece) to one of the new platforms. It will be used as a meeting space. Jules, who will be running the camp with Theresa, decided that the name of the new tent is “Calvatia” after the giant white puffball mushroom.

Here is a picture of the space where the tent had been before we moved it.

More additions to Calvatia include a kitchen space that Theresa and her main helper, Leo, built.

Here’s Theresa and Leo working on a foundation for stairs going into the back of Calvatia.

And here’s the stairs built.

Finally, here’s Theresa and Leo working on constructing an outhouse for the camp at Glomus.

Here they are again, with Dylan, a visitor, observing.

And, the final outhouse (with some Egg signs that were found around the farm we are on, tacked on).

There’s still more construction to go, but the camp isn’t until July.

Communal Camp Construction