In which Shal shows us his new hammock invention:
by Raven Cotyledon
I first met Maximus because I was part of the Point A team trying to build communes in East Coast cities. I wanted to do something in the Boston area (where I have lived most of my life), so when we were able to do a talk at MIT, and I sent out stuff to all the local co-ops, I was excited that we got a fair attendance from them. I was hoping a co-op in the Boston area would be interested in becoming a commune. A woman in one of the local co-ops said she thought that she knew someone who might be interested in income-sharing. It was Maximus, and he was starting a co-op in Binghamton, NY. Since then, Maximus has lived at the Cambia community in Louisa, VA, and East Brook Community Farm in Walton, NY.
Maximus is a graduate student at Binghamton University studying evolutionary biology. His focus is on communal living and his passion is making videos about it. He recently made a video about me and I am returning the favor here by making a blog post about him.
I stopped managing Commune Life about the middle of February last year and it drifted for a while until Maximus decided to take it over last summer. But Maximus had bigger plans for Commune Life than just the blog. He started a YouTube channel and a Facebook page and got people to help him build a social media presence as well as an Instagram site. He also decided to create a Patreon page to help fund all this.
I agreed to post once a month on the blog and was the only one who posted on it until I decided to return to managing the Commune Life blog in January. Meanwhile Maximus had turned Commune Life into a small empire. Since I returned to the blog, Maximus and I have been working together on Commune Life, with me focusing solely on the blog, and Maximus working with others to keep the whole Commune Life entity going.
Recently, Maximus began putting the posts from the Commune Life blog up on our Facebook page which has driven up traffic on the blog. He has been strongly encouraging others to make videos and has gotten Rejoice and Julia to create them, giving some diversity of views of the communes.
Maximus and I were also recently down at Twin Oaks, mostly because we are on an FEC financial team together, but Maximus took the opportunity to create a video about the latest Twin Oaks hammocks product. Hopefully that will be up on the Commune Life YouTube channel soon.
I have been saying that the communes are a force for social change. Maximus is documenting the process in great detail. Thank you, Maximus, for the amazing work that you are doing.
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
- Sasha Daucus
- William Kadish
A Live Tour with Rejoice from Acorn:
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).
Saturday September 1st
9:30 to noon
1:30 to 3 PM
- FEC Panel
- Holistic Planning and Decision Making
- Could your community be 100% energy self sufficient
- Art as Strategy for Creating Community – Damanhur approach
- Creating Unity in the Communities Movement
4 to 5:30 PM
- POC Panel
- Why are you fundraising?
- Building Community thru Song
- Designing Community for Seniors
- Communities building cooperatives
Sunday September 2
9:30 to 11
- Diversity in Recruiting
- Ecovillage Design
- Consciousness in Community
- Surviving Exodus in Community
- Nomadic Communitarians
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.
East Wind is a community fueled by the needs and visions of its members. The work here is incredibly varied. East Winders may participate in anything from agricultural work on the ranch, gardens, and in the woods; to childcare, cooking, food processing, and housekeeping in community; to office work or production in our factory, among virtually endless other possibilities. A great number of things must come together to keep a community of our size fed, clothed, sheltered, comfortable, and financially secure. We expect all members to contribute their fair share, taking age and ability into account.
East Wind minimally assigns labor to its members and each member is largely free to choose their own work. The exception to this is a rotating monthly assignment of HTA (hard to assign) labor, consisting of kitchen and dining hall cleaning duties. HTA shifts are once a week for two hours, and there are about fifty shifts to complete each week which means that not every member will have an HTA shift every month. There is also an industrial quota set on a weekly basis which requires members to work a certain number of hours in our nut butters business or making rope sandals (the number cannot be larger than eight and is usually lower than four). East Wind Community and its businesses have no employees. Each member is an equal owner. There are a wide range of jobs within our businesses, including work in the factory (roasting, production, sanitation, etc), work in the warehouse (shipping and pallet repair), and work in the offices (general management, marketing & sales, accounting, etc).
Quota for all labor (industrial and domestic combined) is thirty-five hours per week or twenty-seven hours on holiday weeks (which occur once per month). Jobs like washing dishes, cooking community dinner, and childcare are credited the same as jobs like milling lumber, building a barn, or hauling comptoil. Members record their labor on a weekly “scoop sheet”, and all labor is then recorded in a digital database and publicly displayed. Elected managers may choose to not allow a member to claim hours under their labor area for an amount of time if they see the labor system being abused, but this is a very rare occurrence. Members are able to bank hours each week by working over quota, and these hours can be saved up indefinitely. For example, a member may work 50 hours one week and 20 the next to maintain an even labor balance.
Obviously, it is important that all members do their fair share and truthfully record their labor. This system sometimes creates problems when individuals are suspected of not honestly recording hours. Because there are only seventy five people living here it becomes evident when a member is having difficulty contributing. Through our Legispol policies, a member can be called to be transparent about their labor if enough members desire it. If a member falls below -105 hours (three full weeks of labor “in the hole”), he or she will be taken to a meeting to address the problem. Though the system isn’t perfect, most of us love the freedom, flexibility, and independence it allows us. We are our own bosses, and we are free to choose the work that best suits us. Though it may be difficult for some newcomers to plug in at first, long term members are usually looking for help and are glad to direct visitors towards useful labor. Most find their own niche in community in due time.
East Winders are free to focus their time and energy in whatever ways they feel make the best contributions to community. Some East Winders choose to focus on a particular branch or projects that are of interest to them, while others prefer to vary their work day-to-day and offer a hand in many different areas of community. Some members prefer physical labor outdoors while some prefer to do work around the home and the office. This diversity of preferences and skills creates a good balance within community, and all work is equally credited and appreciated. Members are encouraged to pursue work that they enjoy and to take initiative in the areas that they feel comfortable pursuing. The unique talents, skills, and visions of East Winders can manifest in any form that we individually or collectively desire.
Airik turning the compost piles
East Wind’s labor system allows self-motivated individuals to thrive. Most East Winders find work in community deeply satisfying, in contrast to employment experiences outside community. We are able to pursue our own interests and use our skills to better life for ourselves and our friends. When our fellow communitarians put in a hard day of work, the results are visible, and we are all able to enjoy the benefits. These benefits may be a hot cooked meal, a fixed automobile, or a successful business transaction. This daily sense of symbiosis, cooperation, and purpose strengthens our sense of community and our appreciation of the individuals we share it with.
East Wind offers individuals the opportunity to use their time as they please, so long as they put thirty-five hours per week into work that benefits community in an agreeable way. East Winders of all types- from machinists to cooks to gardeners- are able to do what they love and develop skills in areas of interest while contributing to the community as a whole. Maintaining an intentional community and providing for the needs and desires of seventy people isn’t always easy, but it’s a labor of love and a wonderful learning experience for all of us. East Winders over the years have displayed great self-motivation, ambition, and capability. The hard work and vision of East Winders, past and present, has made our community what it is today.