How 8 communards organized a conference but failed to build a geodesic dome:

How do you organize a conference with no one in charge?

Organizing in community is not a linear process.  Mistakes are part of the process. Multiple people work in parallel. Sometimes there’s conflict. But eventually, the work gets done, and the result is something that could not have been made in any other way. Process over product.


Strange Sights at Twin Oaks

by Raven Cotyledon

I was recently down visiting Twin Oaks and noticed a bunch of what I thought were unusual things and I thought that I would share them, just because I thought that they were interesting. (This is not the best introduction to Twin Oaks, but if you are familiar with the place, you may find this amusing.  We have a lot better information about the community if you look around the site.)


These tanks were near the dining hall. I had never seen them before.  I was told that they were for the waste produced in the tofu manufacturing.  No one seemed to know what the ‘OOS’ on the sides stood for. I had lots of silly guesses.  Someone thought that it might be ‘500’ upside down, but the tanks did not look upside down to me.


These signs were in the midst of a bamboo thicket near one of the Twin Oaks parking lots and all but invisible and inaccessible unless you were pretty determined.  I couldn’t read what most of them said but one of them clearly gives the distance from the moon.


This is the Emergency Bell at Bozo Beach, there, I assume, in case anyone is drowning.  I wondered how often it has been rung. (This is by a pond at Twin Oaks.)


A statue near Bozo Beach.


A group of statues meditating near Morningstar, a residence at Twin Oaks


I saw this sitting right outside ZK, the dining hall.  I don’t know what it’s for or if they even still use it but it certainly looks intriguing.


This is the Sewage Treatment Plant at Twin Oaks, sometimes called STP.  Yes, Twin Oaks has their own sewage treatment plant.


The Poop Deck is a humanure toilet with two seats.  The sign adjusts that way in case you want company while you do your business.


Many people come to the Twin Oaks Communities Conference (or the Women’s Gathering or the Queer Gathering) in the summer.  This is what the site looks like on a warm winter day, barely recognizable to anyone who remembers it from the summer.


An outhouse at the Conference site, visible through the bare trees.


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Strange Sights at Twin Oaks

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).  

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.

TO 50 group shot
Twin Oaks 50th Anniversary – Circa 2017
Communities Conference Workshops

Will your community survive an Exodus?

By Paxus of Cambia Community

exodus people walking.jpgOne of the interesting new workshop topics for this years Twin Oaks communities conference (over Labor Day Weekend) is the Exodus Panel, which will be moderated by Taylor Kinniburgh, a member of the Baltimore Free Farm:

Panel Discussion on Surviving Exodus
Sunday, 9:30-11:00am, Registration Tarp

How can intentional communities survive a membership exodus? This workshop will carve out space for community members to share their experiences, learn from other communities, and develop strategies to overcome the challenges of member- ship overhaul. The panel will consist of experienced community leaders that have dealt with exodus to varying levels of success. Failure to deal with member exodus can lead to the collapse of a community, but it take more than recruiting new
members to take on this problem. Communities need to be self reflective about why the exodus took place and this panel hopes to guide participants in how to do that analysis.

exodus logo.jpg

Come with me on a thought experiment.

You knew it might happen.  In the worst case the conflict within your community could blow things up seriously.  Now several of your members are leaving and the future of your community is in doubt.  Often people within the communities movement say “No one is indispensable” as a secular mantra for communities shifting to cover important jobs left vacant when an important member leaves.  But when several people leave?  Well, this is likely no longer a true maxim when the number departing is larger than one.

exodus people walking.jpg
When people leave en mass, the group changes and perhaps dies

Certainly, some part of the response of the group left behind must be soul searching.  “What did we do that was wrong?  Could we have taken better care of the group?  What have we learned from difficult circumstance and can we create new policies and practices to avoid it happening again?”

But after this important self reflection is completed, there will likely be a need to re-assess if the mission of the community is still the same after the exodus.  It is possible that the new group of members have a somewhat (and potentially quite) different vision of the future community.  While difficult work, this can be very satisfying and healing to the group remaining.

Exodus with wave.jpg

The Baltimore Free Farm, Acorn Community and Twin Oaks have all experienced an exodus of members and survived.  Other communities we will discuss did not survive.

There is still time to register for the Twin Oaks Communities Conference over the labor day weekend (Aug 31 thru Sept 2) in central Virginia, 45 minutes from Charlottesville and 55 minutes to central Richmond or RSVP on Facebook

Will your community survive an Exodus?