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

What it’s Like to Organize All Three Twin Oaks Conferences

By Julia Onedia

“Ask me again in September.” This phrase is my shield against requests of all kinds—everything from friendly hangouts to an offer to join the tofu management team. I say it so often now that I’m just waiting for the moment when someone asks me “what’s your name?” and all that I can say is a dreamy “September…”.

I was the Twin Oaks Women’s Gathering intern in 2016, which is why I decided to join Twin Oaks [you can read more about my protracted membership process in a future post]. Therefore, it was only logical that I would become a Women’s Gathering organizer this year. I’ve been attending the planning meetings since I was a visitor in January; I traveled to the farm from Baltimore for every meeting but one between then and when I became a member on May 26th.

TOCC pavillion roof.jpg
Twin Oaks Conference Site Pavilion Roof

At some point this spring, I joined the Queer Gathering team thanks to some friendly pestering from the original organizers. From there it became a slippery slope: I was just dipping my toes into Communities Conference work when someone who had agreed to bottom-line the whole conference suddenly left the community to take care of a family member. At that point, I decided to stop fighting it, and I allowed the conference beast to consume my being in its entirety.

As July inches in, everything is eerily calm. The conference site is slowly becoming habitable after its long winter hiatus. I usually have no more than twenty unread emails in my inbox at any given time. I still have time for tofu shifts, cooking, and childcare. But I know that’s all about to change.

Come find me at the Queer Gathering on August 3rd—only slightly deranged—as I lead a workshop on using glitter to battle gender dysphoria and body hate. Then, join me again at the Women’s Gathering on August 17th, slipping into full lunacy as I fittingly lead a group of women to howl and scream at the moon and the sky (it’s healing, I swear). Finally, you might recognize me as hot pink hair on a human-potato hybrid at the Communities Conference from August 31st to September 2nd  as I coordinate childcare and put out (hopefully metaphorical) fires all over the conference site.

Julia asleep on keyboard.jpg
Portrait of the communard as a conference-induced human/potato hybrid

On September 3rd, I sleep. Then you can ask me your questions.

If you want to follow developments of the events on Facebook, here are the pages for these events:

What it’s Like to Organize All Three Twin Oaks Conferences