from Peggy Brennan, captions by Peggy and Raven
from Peggy Brennan, captions by Peggy and Raven
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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Midden (Columbus, OH) is in transition away from being a commune and towards being a NASCO group house in Columbus.
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.)
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.)
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.
It takes courage to build new communities, but Twin Oaks, etc, wouldn’t be around unless someone made the effort.
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.”
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.