by Raven Glomus (with assistance from Theresa Glomus and JB East Wind)
The subject of this post will probably not surprise anyone. In one way, I hate to add to the constant drumbeat of coronavirus stuff. It’s all our news feeds are filled with and it gets tiring–to me, at least. On the other hand, I think that it’s important that folks know what the communes are doing about this pandemic.
In some ways, the communes are great places to ride out the pandemic. At this point, they are all rural and a bit isolated. It’s fairly easy to disconnect from the social world and you don’t need to feel isolated, since you have other people who are just as isolated with you. It’s perfect–until someone somehow gets the coronavirus.
This is the downside of the communes. We share income, we share a mission, we share our stuff. We also share germs. Once someone in a commune gets the coronavirus, everyone is probably going to get it. There is also more back and forth between the various communities than there is contact with the outside world. That means there is also the likelihood of it rapidly spreading from commune to commune.
So what are specific communities doing to deal with the coronavirus?
Twin Oaks had been talking about quarantining sick folks in one cabin and only allowing caregivers in and out. The caregivers would not be allowed to eat in the dining hall, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Now, as of Saturday, Twin Oaks is in full quarantine/locked down mode. No visitors are allowed except for essential services, such as UPS. Members leaving the property without the consent of the Planners won’t be allowed to return until the pandemic has abated.
They have cancelled visitor periods for March and April and all Saturday tours at Twin Oaks have been canceled for the foreseeable future.
At Acorn, they quarantined themselves early. They have instituted thorough sanitation procedures in every area of the community. These include thoroughly wiping down surfaces that people interact with, and even nearby surfaces that might not be interacted with. For off farm business trips, members have been instructed to wear gloves during the entire trip, to drop off items at designated areas and sanitize priority items, and then discard gloves in designated trash areas and sanitize hands with hand sanitizer immediately.
Acorn further instructs that if a person is having difficulty breathing, they should have a designated emergency person take them to the hospital. That person should prepare to shower upon returning to Acorn and put the clothes they wore immediately into a washing machine (with hot water), sanitizing all surfaces of the washing machine.
Anyone at Acorn who feels sick or shows symptoms of the Coronavirus, has been told to stay in their own room. They have been instructed to stuff a towel under their bedroom door, keep a window open as much as possible, have a designated person bring them meals, and have a stock of snacks in their room. If they need to leave their room, they should wear a mask and sanitize all knobs and surfaces that they come in contact with.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (Acorn’s business) has posted the following on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SouthernExposureSeeds/posts/10156779388296254
At East Wind, they have had two community meetings to discuss the Coronavirus. They have stopped visitor periods for April and have effectively made a prohibition on guests. They say that they have a solid amount of food and could be well situated to weather the pandemic.
Economically, their nutbutter business has been impacted with a drop in sales to those who use our product as an ingredient in their manufacturing (some examples are juice and snacks). On the other hand, the distributors that they work with are experiencing large spikes in sales. It seems unclear if they will lose money due to the virus but it is definitely a possibility.
Being one of the most rural communities, East Wind has yet to see the full extent of impact it will face. As things change, they may start taking more serious actions, but of the various communes, they think they may be in a pretty good place in terms of being prepared and isolated.
Here at the Glomus Commune at East Brook Community Farm, we are smaller and are looking at people coming here on a case by case basis. We have told people who just want to visit not to come. With other people, who are planning to come here on a long term basis, we are checking on their health status and whether they are coming from a high risk area before giving them permission to come. As with all the communes, things are changing daily.
Communes are semipermeable and still quite connected with the larger society. We are all going to have to see where this pandemic goes.
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