by Raven Cotyledon
There isn’t going to be a lot of new information in this post. Rather, I would like to look at the context that surrounds this information. I am going to call this context, “The Story”.
I will start off with a story that I am concerned about and is prevalent in this culture. It was popularized by Margaret Thatcher and goes by the acronym, TINA. TINA stands for There Is No Alternative. It’s a story that keeps the status quo in place. Things may be awful, but if you believe that there is no alternative, there isn’t much that you can do.
The intentional communities movement, and especially the communes, have a very different story to tell. It is a story about creating many, many alternatives.
And I often start telling the story by talking about Twin Oaks. Twin Oaks is contradiction to many of the stories that are told to support TINA. All the communes from the sixties failed and are long gone. Communism just doesn’t work. A dictator (or small oligarchy) will always arise and use any communal situation for his (or their) benefit.
Twin Oaks is a commune that started in the sixties, has run for fifty-two years, has over a hundred people living there (including children), and is going strong. It is a small communist society, voluntary and built from the ground up, that functions pretty well. No dictator or oligarchy has emerged in those fifty-two years and, given how independent minded most of the Twin Oaks members are, if anyone tried, they would probably be thrown out.
But one commune doesn’t prove anything. The next thing that I talk about in my story is this blog. Not because I manage it and write so much for it, but because of the massive amount of information here about communes around the US and around the world. We have articles about communes in Virginia and Missouri, but also in New York City, Washington, DC, Portland, Oregon, and Laramie, Wyoming , and rural communes in Quebec, New York state, Washington state, British Columbia, and Alaska. And beyond North America, we have stories about Kommune Niederkaufungen in Germany and Las Indias in Spain, and the kibbutzim in Israel, which were not only the predecessors of the commune movement but are still being reinvented. I have heard of more, and will publish whatever I find. Twin Oaks is not a single exception but part of what may be a worldwide phenomenon.
The Story expands from there. It’s not that I expect everyone to live on a commune, but that the communes are the far end of dozens of alternatives. There is a large world of communities to explore if you go over to the Fellowship for Intentional Communities website, ic.org–including cooperative and collective houses, ecovillages and cohousing projects, and, of course, communes. Beyond that is the world of cooperative businesses, alternative agriculture, soft technology, ecological design, sharing projects, and new ways of communicating, building relationships, and dealing with conflict. The Story that we are telling is not that there are no alternatives, but that there is an abundance of alternatives, the world is overflowing with alternatives.
As I have said, communities are laboratories for social change where we see what works and what doesn’t. This blog is important because it documents what is happening in the far end of those experiments. This is the new story, the story of the world we are building, one commune at a time.
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:
- Acorn Community
- Compersia Community
- Cotyledon Community
- East Brook Community Farm
- The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
- Twin Oaks Community
- 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
- William Kadish
- Em Stiles
- Laurel Baez
- Lynette Shaw