Visiting Cambia and Mimosa

by Raven

A couple of weeks ago, Caroline (from the Midden) wrote on Commune Life about attending the Communities Conference and then visiting Acorn and Compersia.  I also attended the Communities Conference and did some commune visiting.  This is my report on the conference and spending time at the new communities of Mimosa and Cambia.

The Communities Conference is an amazing collection of people from various communities, people looking for community, and lots of workshops.  My favorite part is the Saturday morning Meet the Communities event.  This year there were lots of new communities that I learned about, many talking about income sharing, and some of which I hope that we’ll feature in upcoming posts.

After the conference, I hung out in Louisa.  I’ve spent a bunch of time at Twin Oaks (and did more on this trip) as well as Acorn and have had several visits to Living Energy Farm.  This year I decided to spend significant time at the two newer communities, helping out and learning more about them from being there.  Here’s my report on them:

Cambia

While we’ve had a lot of posts from Cambia before (here are three), here is my take on what they’re about and a sense of what it’s like to visit there.

More than anything, Cambia is an experimental and educational community.  This makes it sound a little like Living Energy Farm, but Cambia has a whole different flavor.  Where LEF use unusual technologies to move past fossil fuels and demonstrate how we could move past their use, Cambia has set up a series of kid friendly (but adult interesting) hands on exhibits in their forest, to show things like how much land each American requires to live, how our carbon usage could be balanced, how the ground and water table work, and (on a very small scale) how to use various alternative construction techniques.  (The last was in an exhibit called ‘Barbie’s Ecovillage’ which featured a timber framed doll house that you could create straw bale or cob walls for.)

image1The boat at Cambia

Cambia is a community that seems to attract academic types.  Ella and Gil are lovely folks who are focused on how to educate others, especially children.  (And they have one child, Avni, who also lives there.)  Maximus, the newest member, is a grad student  who is studying communities as an alternative to mainstream life, and using Cambia as a case study.  And, former member Telos, was there visiting while I was there–and he is very interested in the social and political aspects of community.

One of the biggest things about Cambia is their willingness to try all sorts of things.  There was the cute little pond they built to demonstrate how plant can clean water.  I helped them work on the boat they bought to use as guest space.  They seem to have endless ideas on how to repurpose everything.

Mimosa

Where Cambia is relatively new (two years old at this point), Mimosa is brand new.  Mimosa took over the buildings and land of a commune that didn’t make it (Sapling).  It’s located almost halfway between Twin Oaks and Acorn.

IMG_0578Me with Aurora of Mimosa–picture by Peggy Brennan

Mimosa is focusing on the work of agriculture, seed growing, herbalism, and activism.  They only have a few members at this point and are trying to figure out their membership policies.

I got to hang out with them and help out.  The place is beautiful and they are creating new spaces where people could stay.

I felt very welcomed at both Cambia and Mimosa and I was excited to learn the nitty-gritty of running a small new community.

IMG_0250

Another picture showing the boat and the main house at Cambia, sent by Telos

 

 

Advertisements
Visiting Cambia and Mimosa

Is there space for me at a commune?

By Paxus Calta-Star

People ask regularly if there are spaces for new members at the income sharing communities.  This is a current update on the space availability of the various communes in the US with ways to contact them and relevant guest/intern/visitor policies linked.  This information changes with time, so it’s best to check with any community you wish to visit before scheduling your trip there.

cambia wodden sign

Cambia (Louisa, VA) Yes, there are spaces.  Cambia is actively promoting its sustainable environmental education program and has space for both interns and new members.  This 2016 intern announcement is also current for 2017 and 2018.

Mimosa (Louisa, VA) This reforming new community (formerly Sapling) is interested in new members but is currently working on completing housing to provide space and thus cannot currently accommodate people for more than short visits.  Feel free to send them an email.

rainbows at LEF
Double Rainbow at LEF

Living Energy Farm  (Louisa, VA) does have space for interns but is not seeking new members at this time.  They have completed their main residence and are working on additional spaces for new members.

in , , on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.   Sarah Rice

Acorn (Mineral, VA) is full.  Acorn is not accepting new visitors interested in membership until spring 2018.  Acorn does have possible internships starting in January 2018.

is it utopia yet
Nope, not yet.

Twin Oaks  (Louisa, VA) is near its population cap, and continues to accept people for membership, currently if you were accepted you could join right away, but there is some chance we will return to a waiting list soon.    Twin Oaks does not currently have intern spots available.

burning man image
Skip Burning Man

Twin Oaks also hosts an annual communities conference.  This year it is Sept 1st thru 4th (labor day weekend).  If you are seeking communities, this is a great place to discover a bunch of them at once.  And here are 7 reasons it is a better place to spend your time than Burning Man.

Compersia (Washington DC) has at least one space available in this new, urban, commune located in the Brentwood district of DC.  Compersia has had one intern and might be open to more.

Aviva1
Ganas houses

Ganas  (Staten Island, NY) is looking for new members.   While technically not an income sharing community over all, Ganas is supportive of the Point A project and the expansion of the communes movement.  There are occasionally job openings at Ganas but right now Ganas is looking for paying members.

three farmers east wind
Working the soil at East Wind

East Wind (Tecumseh, MO) is full and has a waiting list, but is still happy to have folks come and visit and like Twin Oaks you can apply for membership and be put on a waiting list.   Because East Wind has a gender imbalance it actually has two waiting lists, one for males and one for females.  There is currently a male waiting list of about half a dozen men.  A woman who was accepted now would be at the top of that waiting list, and after three women are accepted, one of the men can be offered membership from the male waiting list.

midden-energy-efficiency-poster
Midden protest art

The Midden (Columbus, OH) is in transition away from being a commune and towards being a NASCO group house in Columbus.

Sandhill Farm (Rutledge, MO) has space for interns and folks looking for a short visit.

Is there space for me at a commune?

The Fragility of Communities

by Raven

I’ve been hoping to have some of the folks in the communities that I’m going to talk about tell their tales, and I’m still hoping that will happen, but in the interests of transparency, I want to put out some of what is happening.

I’ve heard it said (and have said it myself) that 90% of new communities fail. It’s not a real statistic but it is an acute observation. Anyone working closely with community building knows the stories. (And it’s not that strange–I’ve also heard that 90% of new business fail.)

FNB benefit house show
Quercus

Many communities fail because people have no idea what goes into building community. I’ve written a piece on this blog on one way not to build community. But even some of those communities that seemed carefully thought out, don’t last, for one reason or another.

At this point, three of the communes that have graced this blog are gone: Quercus, Sycamore Farm, and the Midden. The Midden lasted more than seven years (they bought a house in 2010) and only fell apart recently. (Note: Not completely accurate.  See my comment in the comments section.)  Quercus lasted (I think) less than a year. Sycamore Farm may have done the best of all–as their community fell apart another community near Twin Oaks and Acorn (called Sapling–we were never able to get anything from them) was also doing poorly. The founders of Sycamore Farm were able to take it over and it has become Mimosa. (As I said, I’m hoping the folks that were part of Quercus and Sycamore/Sapling/Mimosa can tell their stories. Folks involved have said that they’d like to, but communitarians are busy people.)

s-farm13
Sycamore Farm

A lot of this is simply the nature of building community. It’s just not easy–if it was, there would be ten times the number of communities that there are now. Community involves people and people are both wonderful and can be very difficult.

This makes things like Twin Oaks turning fifty a major celebration. I believe that Acorn will reach twenty-five next year and that’s amazing as well. It makes me appreciate both of them and other long lived communities such as Sandhill and East Wind. When you realize how fragile new communities are, you realize both how precious the long lived communes are and how important it is to keep working on building new ones.

Midden1
The Midden

It takes courage to build new communities, but Twin Oaks, etc, wouldn’t be around unless someone made the effort.

 

 

 

 

 

The Fragility of Communities

Hello from Mimosa…

by Aurora DeMarco

I am down here in Louisa helping to start a new community called Mimosa. Mimosa was formerly known as Sapling but when my friends Sapphyre, Edmund, Kaya and Ponyo moved in, we decided to change our name to Mimosa.

According to the Global Healing Center, “Traditional Chinese Medicinal practitioners have long revered the bark, leaves, and flowers of the Mimosa tree for its potent health benefits. The Mayan people of Central America also revered the plant, and commonly used it for aiding trauma injuries and burns. And while little modern scientific research has been conducted on the qualities of this plant, time-tested ancient wisdom has long praised this herb as an important therapeutic tool.

“Usually, for health applications, the bark of the tree is shaved and dried and used in tincture and capsule forms. The leaves of the plant can also be dried and used as a tea. One of the most important applications of the dried/powder form of the bark is its use as an ancient mood enhancer. Known in China as the ‘Collective Happiness Bark,’ the Mimosa tree was given to people who needed a ‘spiritual uplift or cleansing.’ Mimosa tree bark is also used as a common remedy for generalized muscular discomfort and swelling.”

Mimosa

Coincidentally there was a lovely Mimosa tree in my yard when I was growing up. I spent a great deal of time in that tree trying to make sense of my chaotic life. I think it is more than possible that this tree helped me feel hopeful about my future despite living in such a dysfunctional environment.

Fast forward 40 years and here I am trying to build a community dedicated to healing trauma and building cooperative culture. Though it is a great deal of work, I never question the meaningfulness of the work I am doing. It is all for the betterment of the whole. My first project is putting siding on a new 3 room agricultural building that is about half way done from completion. We are working together as a community and it feels good to be in a place where many hands make light work.

But beyond the tending to the “hardware” (the structures of community) building the software (how do we build healthy relationships?) is time-consuming, yet rewarding too. We spend a lot of time getting to know each other and thinking through how to deal with things as they come up. Luckily we are all committed to self-growth and looking at conflict as an opportunity rather than as an obstacle. I feel pretty psyched about this new community dedicated to honest, trauma healing communication. So much of what I am reflecting on is the idea of how people fear being judged and that judgment in itself is not a real threat.

If you go to the FEC website you will see that we are 4 adults and 1 teenager living on 3.5 acres of land. We are surrounded by woods and agricultural land owned by other communities and ex-community members.

We hold egalitarianism, environmentalism, cooperative living and resource sharing as core values.

As a manifestation of our values, we plan to retrofit our recently-purchased mainstream manufactured house and recently denuded landscape into an energy efficient, low carbon footprint homestead over-flowing with beautiful gardens, happy animals, and awesome communards.

We believe this reflects as important a concern as preserving the environment: restoring what has already been destroyed and altering what already has been built to fit a sustainable paradigm.

Our primary income area is organic vegetable seed production as well as building up Common Wealth Seed Growers to become income-producing for us.

As part of our mission, we are especially interested in cultivating native endangered woodland medicinals.

So there you have it, the hardware and the software of Mimosa.

 

Hello from Mimosa…