A Detailed FEC History: Part Three, the 1990s

by Raven Cotyledon

(This is part three of a series. Part one is here and part two is here.)

In 1995 I helped found a community that became in dialogue with the FEC. So the FEC history of the nineties is more personal for me because I was involved and remember details, not only about our community’s involvement (we were Common Threads), but also what was going on for other communities at the time.

It was a busy decade, with lots of communities popping in and out. Our community lasted five years. Just after it fell apart, I saw an article in Communities Magazine that suggested five years was the average lifespan of a community. (I plan to publish a piece next week about longer lasting communities.) So here is my detailed history of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, Part Three, focusing on the 1990s and starting with the year 1990.

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1990  There were two Assemblies held that year, one in May and one in November. It seems like the May Assembly was held at Krutsio.   Metanokit dropped membership because they were no longer income-sharing and Apple Tree was absent. (In his Phylogenetic History of the FEC video, Maximus points out that Metanokit eventually becomes a summer camp and workshop business.) The good news at that Assembly was that the PEACH fund then held $60,000. The Ganas community attended the November Assembly, but Dandelion dropped membership and it seems that Apple Tree did as well. Twin Oaks listed its population as 65, East Wind reported 40, and Sandhill 7.  Ira Wallace made an impassioned speech at the November Assembly where she said, “I’d like to see us participate in a non threatening way with people who are really different… To change our major inflow of white, ‘middle class’ people, it will take things that not everyone wants to do, but which the FEC theoretically supports. Having contact with other communities not qualifying or ‘not’ interested in FEC membership. It’s not our differences but our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences, that really comes up for me. I think being around different people will challenge us.”

1991   There was one Assembly in November, but it was very well attended. Besides Twin Oaks (population then 76), East Wind (45), Sandhill (9), Krutsio, and Ganas, Veiled Cliffs (population 7), Tekiah (5), Moon and Stars Farm, Community Evolving, Alpha, and the Communes Network all apparently were there. Sandhill was certified organic and the Nashoba building was completed at Twin Oaks. Someone also noted that Pam joined Twin Oaks. (Tekiah, which joined that year, was in Floyd, VA, and apparently was home to several former Twin Oakers.)

1992     This was an important year. There were two Assemblies (April and November). The April Assembly was sparsely attended (only four communities were listed), but the delegates listed the reasons  communities fail and talked about Twin Oaks considering splitting. Twin Oaks, indeed, split, in the sense that it gave birth to a new community. A core group was formed at the Twin Oaks Communities Conference and with the help of a large loan from Twin Oaks and a lot of assistance from the FEC, Acorn came into being, just seven miles down the road from Twin Oaks. The November Assembly was very well attended, including Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, Veiled Cliffs, north woods community, Community Evolving, Kerista, Krutsio, and Tekiah.

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Acorn in 1993–note Ira Wallace in the middle back and Kat Kinkade on the far right

There didn’t seem to be an Assembly in 1993.

1994     There was one Assembly that year, in November.  Attending were Twin Oaks (population 76), East Wind (50), Sandhill (5), Acorn (16), Ganas, and Tekiah (2). It was noted that the nutbutter warehouse was completed at East Wind.

1995     There was an April Assembly that year, with Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, and Tekiah attending. There were no notes left.

1996    This was a busy year. There were two Assemblies in May and December. In May, the Assembly was held at Tekiah and the FEC celebrated its 20th anniversary.  In December, Krutsio left and Terra Nova came in, and Dancing Rabbit and Common Threads became Communities in Dialogue. Dancing Rabbit folks were being housed at Sandhill. It was noted that Dancing Rabbit was not planning to be an income-sharing community, but would contain Skyhouse, with 6 adults, that would do income-sharing.  The Heartwood building was completed at Acorn and the tofu business at Twin Oaks was reported as being stable.  (Common Threads was, as I said, a community that I helped form, and I attended the December Assembly, which was held at Twin Oaks.  I think that it was my first time visiting there.)

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Skyhouse

1997     It looked like there were three Assemblies that year, in June, October, and December. Tekiah was absent at the June Assembly, and in October it was reported that Terra Nova was no longer income-sharing (although they continued to attend the Assemblies), and Shakti reported doing outreach at the Rainbow Gathering. There was also a discussion about violence at the October Assembly. At this point, Skyhouse was the Community in Dialogue attending the Assemblies. (The original intention of Dancing Rabbit was to be a community formed of several sub-communities.  Skyhouse was the only sub-community that emerged. Dancing Rabbit eventually filled up with families and houses where individuals lived.)

1998     There was only one Assembly, in April. Two new communities attended, Beacon Hill House and the Jolly Ranchers, in Seattle.  At this point, the FEC was dealing with a new problem. Up until now, all the FEC members were rural communes. With Common Threads in Cambridge, MA, and Beacon Hill House and the Jolly Ranchers in Seattle, the FEC had urban members, and wasn’t quite sure what to do with them.  (It was also noted that Acorn community lacked the funds to attend the Assembly that year.)

1999         Again, only one Assembly, this one in May.  There was no other information listed for that year, not even who attended.

And with that, the nineties end. Next month, the ‘Oh-oh’ decade.

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Thanks for reading! This post was made possible by our patrons on Patreon. The Commune Life team works hard to bring you these stories about our lives in community, and that work couldn’t happen without support from our audience. So if you liked this article, and want to help us make more like it, head on over to https://www.patreon.com/communelife to join us!

Deep gratitude to all of our patrons:

Communities

  • Acorn Community
  • Compersia Community
  • Cotyledon Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards

  • Tobin Moore
  • Kai Koru
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Julia Evans
  • William Croft
  • Aaron Michels
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Laurel Baez
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Sasha Daucus
  • William Kadish

Thanks!

 

A Detailed FEC History: Part Three, the 1990s

A Detailed FEC History: Part Two, the 1980s

by Raven Cotyledon

(This is part two of a series. Part one is here.)

This is not my blog.  The reason that I write so much here is because most communards have so little time (and perhaps incentive) to write.  

I have my own blog (that I seldom write on, because I am so busy writing here) and the most popular post I ever wrote (by far!) on my own blog was on Social Movements in the 80s.  The 1980s were a powerful time.

So, for Commune geeks everywhere, I present Part Two of my detailed history of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, focusing on the 1980s and starting with the year 1980.

The-eighties

1980   There were two FEC Assemblies that year.  Membership started off with Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Aloe, Dandelion, Los Horcones, and North Mountain.  Unfortunately, that was the year that Aloe community disbanded and North Mountain community dropped out of the FEC.  It was also the year that the Community in Dialogue status was created, an important step for the FEC. By the second Assembly, East Wind had a population of 40, Sandhill 9, Dandelion 12, and Los Horcones 28.  Twin Oaks didn’t list a population that year.

1981     There were two Assemblies in ‘81 as well.  Los Horcones dropped out of the FEC. They were a ‘Walden Two’, behaviorist community, similar to the way Twin Oaks started, and they wanted to focus on that. Two new communities, Chrysalis and Apple Tree, joined the FEC, presumably as Communities in Dialogue. Twin Oaks listed its population that year as 71, East Wind as 55, Sandhill as 7, and Dandelion listed 10.  Finally, East Wind started their nut butter business that year.

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1982     This year, the FEC had only one Assembly, which was held in August. This was the year that they made contact with Alpha Farm which showed up at the Assembly, and also showed up at occasional future Assemblies, but never seemed to stay with the FEC. There were debates about consensus that year and conversations about PEACH, which would become the FEC’s homegrown health insurance alternative. Twin Oaks was dealing with the suicide of a member that rocked the community. Twin Oaks now listed their population as 62, East Wind as 50, Sandhill as 7, and Dandelion as 15.

1983    Back to two Assemblies, one in April and one in November.   Twin Oaks questioned the utility of the FEC and wanted to emphasize the recruitment of minorities. In November, there was a sorghum harvest at Sandhill and Chrysalis was admitted as a full FEC member.  East Wind listed their population as 57 in April and 45 in November. Twin Oaks listed 72 members, Sandhill 7, Apple Tree 6, Dandelion 18, and Chrysalis 4.

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1984       Again, two Assemblies, which seems the norm at this point. This seemed to be a busy year at the communes: Sandhill was accepted for 501d status, East Wind adopted a new labor system, book indexing was going well at Twin Oaks, and Apple Tree loaned money to East Wind and star flower. (Presumably, star flower is another community.)  At the November Assembly, Short Mountain, a queer community in Tennessee, joined the FEC, probably as a Community in Dialogue. Populations: Twin Oaks 67, East Wind 45, Sandhill 5, Apple Tree 6, Dandelion 8, and Chrysalis 5.

1985     The middle of the decade and another busy year at the communes. There were two FEC Assemblies, Twin Oaks held its first women’s conference, had indexing taking off and a record hammock production, and Sandhill had their best sorghum harvest ever. A bunch of new communities came, including Metanokit, the Foundation for Feedback Learning, and, for just one meeting, windstar.  Bad news was that Apple Tree was denied their 501d status. A big discussion on art in community. The question was, is art primary or secondary?  Does no art lead to more turnover? Community populations stayed the same except Apple Tree went down to 4, Dandelion down to 6, and Short Mountain listed 5.

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1986     The tenth anniversary of the FEC!  Once more, two Assemblies, and this was the year that PEACH, the health insurance plan for the FEC, actually started.  By the November Assembly, communal populations were: Twin Oaks 67, East Wind 45, Sandhill 9, Apple Tree 4, Dandelion 7, Chrysalis 3, and Short Mountain 5.

1987   As usual, two Assemblies. Chrysalis dropped membership this year, as did Short Mountain, when their policy of being a sanctuary for queer folks only was seen as being in conflict with the FEC’s policy against discrimination. Apple Tree apparently abandoned their use of consensus. There was a suggestion that the FEC have some sort of general disclaimer stating that though they fall short of their principles sometimes, they do seek to be more in line with them.  At the November Assembly, populations were: Twin Oaks 65, East Wind 45, Sandhill 6, Apple Tree 4, Dandelion 4, and Metanokit had 14.

1988    The usual two Assemblies. Krutsio begins coming to the Assemblies, and grass valley came to the one in May and Alpha Farm apparently showed up at the Assembly in November. At East Wind, their sandal business was booming and they actually thought of cutting the nut butter business. At Twin Oaks, Pier One threatened to cut their hammocks contract with them. And there was a discussion at the November Assembly about using consensus for the FEC. Populations didn’t change much except East Wind went down to 40 and Sandhill went up to 7.

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1989    Two Assemblies, Krutsio officially became a Community in Dialogue, as did spring tree (but not for long), and a community called Purple Rose showed up at one Assembly. Populations at the communes remained stable.

And that ends the FEC history for the Eighties. Next month, I will document the Nineties, the decade that I became involved with the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, so I will have a lot more personal information to share in that post.

If anyone has more information about the FEC or any of the communities in the Eighties, please pass it on in a comment.

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Thanks for reading! This post was made possible by our patrons on Patreon. The Commune Life team works hard to bring you these stories about our lives in community, and that work couldn’t happen without support from our audience. So if you liked this article, and want to help us make more like it, head on over to https://www.patreon.com/communelife to join us!

Deep gratitude to all of our patrons:  

Communities

  • Acorn Community
  • Compersia Community
  • Cotyledon Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards

  • Tobin Moore
  • Kai Koru
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Julia Evans
  • William Croft
  • Aaron Michels
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Laurel Baez
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Sasha Daucus
  • William Kadish

Thanks!

 

A Detailed FEC History: Part Two, the 1980s

A Detailed FEC History: Part One, the ’60s and ’70s

by Raven Cotyledon

This is for commune geeks.  

Maximus put out a video of The Phylogenetic History of the FEC.  It was surprisingly popular. My one complaint was that it left out so many details.

Maximus shared with me the spreadsheet that his video was based on.  Using that, Kat Kinkade’s books, Laird’s blog, the Communities Directory, and my own memory of events in the 1960s, 1990s, and recently, I intend to put out a detailed description of the history of the communes and the Federation of Egalitarian Communities.

I will break it up by decades and publish one a month to keep it from getting too long and boring.  This part covers the 1960s and 1970s.

The 1960s

1967  Twin Oaks is founded.  That was fifty-two years ago and Twin Oaks is still going strong with nearly a hundred members. To put it in context, there were hundreds of ‘communes’ formed in the late sixties.  Very, very few of them are still around. Kat Kinkade attributed Twin Oaks survival to a combination of hard work, structure, and freedom, and getting big fast enough. She thought thirty people was “the minimum for security” and said that TO reached that in their third year.

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Signing up for labor in the early days at Twin Oaks

 

The 1970s

1970  East Wind was started. Kat Kinkade claimed that she “left Twin Oaks, taking two members and some visitors with me, and we set out to form a community that would be just like Twin Oaks in every way except one: We would never close our doors!”  East Wind is also still around with about sixty members.

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REIM, one of the original structures at East Wind

1974  Sandhill Farm founded.   Laird Schaub described its founding this way: “In February 1973 I was in a public library and happened across the current issue of Psychology Today. It included an excerpt from a new book by Kat Kinkade, A Walden Two Experiment. It described the first five years of Twin Oaks Community, and it changed my life. …

“By the following spring, we had founded Sandhill Farm: four people willing to try to make that happen.
“Because Twin Oaks was the inspiration and because I’d already done a fair amount of work to reject materialism, we set up Sandhill as an income-sharing community, where all earnings would be pooled. The community still operates that way today.”

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Sandhill

1976  The Federation of Egalitarian Communities was formed.  Laird’s description: “…five North American communities shared a dream of cooperation. As a result, representatives of these communities got together and founded the Federation of Egalitarian Communities.”  The first Assembly was in November of that year. Attending communities were Twin Oaks, East Wind, Aliya, Aloe, Dandelion, Genesis, North Mountain, and Springtree.

1977  There seemed to have been three Assemblies that year, one in February, one in October, and one in November. (At least, that’s what was listed.)   Aliya and Springtree seemed to have already dropped out. The February Assembly lists the population of the other communities at the time, Twin Oaks (72), East Wind (55), Aloe (6), Dandelion (13), and North Mountain (12).

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Undated picture of an Assembly at Twin Oaks

1978   On the other hand, there only appeared to be one Assembly in 1978, in July, with the same five communities.

1979   There were two Assemblies in 1979, one in January and one in August, and a new community, Los Horcones, came to the January Assembly, and the August Assembly saw Sandhill attending for the first time.   The August Assembly also listed community populations at Twin Oaks (75), East Wind (55?) [yes, that’s how it’s listed], Aloe (10), Dandelion (10), Los Horcones (12), and North Mountain (12). There was no population listed for Sandhill.

That was the beginning.  Only Twin Oaks, East Wind, and Sandhill are still around today and right now, Sandhill is struggling. But the FEC continues to this day, with new communities and new energy.

Next month, I will detail the FEC through the eighties with communities coming in while others leave or disband. It will probably have too much detail for most folks, but I find it fascinating to watch the communities and the organization as it grows and struggles. This is how we change the world folks, one small step at a time.

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Kat Kinkade and others harvesting corn at Twin Oaks around 1969 or 1970

(If you have any information about the early days of the FEC or its history at any period, please add it in the comments.)

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Thanks for reading! This post was made possible by our patrons on Patreon. The Commune Life team works hard to bring you these stories about our lives in community, and that work couldn’t happen without support from our audience. So if you liked this article, and want to help us make more like it, head on over to https://www.patreon.com/communelife to join us!

Deep gratitude to all of our patrons:  

Communities

  • Acorn Community
  • Compersia Community
  • Cotyledon Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards

  • Tobin Moore
  • Kai Koru
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Julia Evans
  • William Croft
  • Aaron Michels
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Laurel Baez
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Sasha Daucus
  • William Kadish

Thanks!

 

A Detailed FEC History: Part One, the ’60s and ’70s

The FEC Assembly

by Raven Cotyledon

The Federation of Egalitarian Communities is the organization that connects egalitarian, income-sharing communities in North America. It was created to facilitate transportation and labor exchanges between the communes. It was never meant to be a governing body for these communities, but currently it has been involved with various controversies between the communities and between communities and individuals.

This is Rejoice. She is the Secretary of the FEC.  She gets to be involved in tangles like where we will hold the Assembly.

 

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Rejoice

The Assembly is a meeting of delegates from the communities in the FEC.  Originally we were going to hold the Assembly at East Wind, a large community in southern Missouri, but due to some controversy, we ended up holding it at Oran Mor, a small community, a half hour away.  Some of us spent a lot of time going back and forth between the two communities, through the Ozark region of Missouri. 

 

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The building at Oran Mor where we held Assembly meetings

We had over twenty-five people descend on Oran Mor (not including members of their community and East Wind).  We came from communities in Quebec, New York, Washington, DC, Virginia, Oregon, Washington state, and Alaska (and, of course, Missouri).

 

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Arielle and Marie-Claire from Le Manoir in rural Quebec 

 

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Rachael and Maximus from East Brook Community Farm in central New York state

There was a lot of drama, personal and political, but there were also a bunch of more mundane things, like creating a budget for the next year.  There was some discussion about Commune Life, both the blog and the YouTube channel. An important item was creating leadership teams, so Rejoice wouldn’t have to do everything alone–and we could focus on getting more stuff done.

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Caroline from Compersia in Washington, DC
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Lo and Jesse from the Mothership in Portland, Oregon

One interesting aspect, we have been dealing with, is the FEC constitution, which was written many years ago and seems increasingly out of date.  Among other things, the constitution has an anti-discrimination clause which some folks thought meant queer communities, Jewish communities, women’s communities, and communities of color couldn’t join.  We were talking about changing the constitution, but it seemed tricky. We decided instead of changing the constitution, we might create a document with interpretations of the constitution, which might be easier to change in the future.

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Iz and Tea from Rainforest Lab in rural Washington
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Greg from Ionia in Alaska

In spite of everything, I was glad we had this Assembly.  It was wonderful to meet so many folks building communes around North America and the struggles we engaged in were difficult but important. It still seems amazing and critical to me that our communities are kept connected. This is the next level of community building–creating networks of communities and keeping the communication between our communes growing.

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Thanks for reading! This post was made possible by our patrons on Patreon. The Commune Life team works hard to bring you these stories about our lives in community, and that work couldn’t happen without support from our audience. So if you liked this article, and want to help us make more like it, head on over to https://www.patreon.com/communelife to join us!

Deep gratitude to all of our patrons:  

Communities

  • Acorn Community
  • Compersia Community
  • Cotyledon Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards

  • Sumner Nichols
  • Tobin Moore
  • Kai Koru
  • Bryan Utesch
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Jonathan Thaler
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Julia Evans
  • William Croft

Thanks!

The FEC Assembly

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).  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?