It runs in the Family

from the Commune Life facebook page:

by Maximus Thaler

It turns out my uncle Dan Thaler used to live in a branch of The Farm (Tennessee) in Franklin NY, less than a 15 minute drive from where I currently live at East Brook Farm. They sold vegetables in the same farmers market that we do, decades apart. Here are some old pictures of the community he sent me. There’s plenty more where these came from, so leave a comment if you would like to see more from this archive.

-maximus

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It runs in the Family

A Detailed FEC History: Part Five, the Tens and Teens

by Raven Cotyledon

(This is the fifth and final part of a series.  Part one is here, part two is here,  part three is here, and part four is here.)

This post should bring us up to date on the History of the FEC and its Assemblies, concluding with last year’s Assembly.

This decade began with two Assemblies, one in March of 2010, and one in November. Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, and the Emma Goldman Finishing School attended both of them. Twin Oaks reported a population of 92, East Wind 50, and Acorn 30.  These are close to their current populations. The March Assembly was also attended by a community named Patchwork. The only other note was that “Villages in the Sky” was discussed.

The November Assembly brought two new communities, both of which had something different to offer.   The Midden was an urban community, in Columbus, Ohio, very much on the model of Emma Goldman. Living Energy Farm was a rural commune in Louisa, Virginia (home to Twin Oaks) but was focused on being off the grid and a demonstration of fossil fuel free living. Both communities were exciting to the FEC and both have, in their own way, ended up moving away from income-sharing.

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The 2011 Assemblies followed the same March and November pattern as the previous year.  Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, and the Emma Goldman Finishing School again attended both Assemblies, along with Living Energy Farm (LEF). I have nothing else on the March Assembly, but the November Assembly brought back The Midden, along with Skyhouse and two new communities, the Possibility Alliance and Camp Pleasant.

Camp Pleasant was another one time Assembly attendee, but the Possibility Alliance was something else.  Also known as the Stillwater Sanctuary, they made low tech LEF look extravagant. LEF uses small scale electric power, but the Possibility Alliance didn’t use electricity at all. The Possibility Alliance had a telephone, but no computers (or TVs–they had a “no screen” policy) and, of course, no website. But it wasn’t hard to find them, with articles about them all over the web. Also, their method of income-sharing was operating under the “gift economy”, where they only took what was given to them and shared the excess.

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Planting the first year at Living Energy Farm

Also for the November, 2011 Assembly, in addition to the populations staying the same at Twin Oaks, East Wind, and Acorn, Emma Goldman reported having 10 folks, Skyhouse 4, and The Midden 6.  And the reported topic that Assembly was something called the “league of activist communities”.

There was only one Assembly in 2012, in March. It was attended by Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, the Emma Goldman Finishing School, The Midden, Red Earth Farms (for the last time at an Assembly), and CRIC House, a new community in California that wouldn’t last long, but actually lead to another community in Louisa.  While most communities that reported their population stayed the same, Acorn dropped down to 27 and Emma Goldman down to 8. It’s also notable that Skyhouse, which had been a stable little sub-community in Dancing Rabbit ecovillage, was now gone, having lost three of their four folks and the remaining member decided not to start over again.  

There was also only one Assembly in 2013, in April. Attendees were Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, the Emma Goldman Finishing School, The Midden, CRIC House, and the Possibility Alliance. Acorn now reported 28 folks, but The Midden dropped down to 3. It was also reported that the Emma Goldman Finishing School was not fully income-sharing, and this was their last Assembly.

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The Emma Goldman Finishing School

And, again, there was but one Assembly in 2014, in March, but it was a packed and busy one and I was there.  It was held at Acorn and attendees included Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, Living Energy Farm, Sapling (which was a short lived offspring of Acorn), the Baltimore Free Farm (a scruffy punk anarchist collective), The Midden, CRIC House, the Possibility Alliance, and Willow Vale Farm (the would-be community that I was representing). Willow Vale never got the land that they wanted and I soon left the project for complicated reasons, but they eventually bought land in another place with another name.  This was the decade where several community attempts crashed and burned and new communities came out of them. (The transformations will become apparent as we go along.)

The 2015 Assembly was again in March. There was a good attendance: Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, The Mothership, Living Energy Farm, Sapling, the Baltimore Free Farm, The Midden, the Possibility Alliance, Living Tree Alliance (yet another one time Assembly attendee), and Oran Mor were all there.  CRIC was gone (but wait). Living Energy Farm reported a population of 5, Sapling also 5, and Oran Mor 3.

By 2016, the communes movement seemed to be taking off. Attendees at the March Assembly were: Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, The Mothership, Living Energy Farm, Sapling, the Baltimore Free Farm, The Midden, Cambia (the new Louisa community founded by folks from CRIC), Ionia (a community in Alaska), Compersia (in Washington, DC), Oran Mor, Sycamore Farm (in southern Virginia, created by some folks from Twin Oaks), Open Circle (also in Virginia, but north of Louisa), Quercus (in Richmond, Virginia, founded by folks from Acorn), and Le Manoir (in rural Quebec).  Cambia reported a population of 2, Ionia 30 (they had been around a long time before they discovered the FEC–or vice versa), Compersia 6, and Le Manoir 6. The movement appeared to be exploding, but some of these communities weren’t going to last long.

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Welcome to Cambia

By the next year (2017), two of these communities were gone.  For complicated reasons, neither Sycamore Farm nor Quercus made it. Living Energy Farm and the Baltimore Free Farm, while both continuing on, stopped trying to do income-sharing. In 2017, there were again two Assemblies.

The March Assembly still had a lot of communities at it: Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, The Mothership, Sapling, the Baltimore Free Farm, The Midden, Cambia, the Possibility Alliance, Ionia, Compersia, Oran Mor, Rainforest Lab (a new community in rural Washington state), Open Circle, and Le Manoir were there.  The notes list three things happening: minigrants were created (these are small amounts of money–$500 or less–given to communities to pay for things like workshops, travel, infrastructure, etc), “Commune Life blog begins” (they noticed!), and “conflict resolution team ideas” were discussed.

The November Assembly had much the same crew but with some significant changes. The Midden and the Possibility Alliance were gone.  The Midden transformed itself into a cooperative house and the founders of the Possibility Alliance eventually moved to Maine. Sapling transformed itself into Mimosa.  It was the same place but all the people who started it were gone and it was taken over by the folks who tried to start Sycamore Farm. There was also one new community, East Brook Community Farm in rural New York, started by the folks who tried to start Willow Vale Farm. (As I said, new communities were emerging from the wreckage of the old.)

There was again one Assembly in 2018,in November. It had basically the same crew as the November, 2017 Assembly. Populations reported on the chart were Twin Oaks 92, East Wind 50, Acorn 28, Mimosa 2, Cambia 2, Ionia 30, Compersia 6, Oran Mor 3, Rainforest Lab 2, and Le Manoir 6.

The chart ends there but there was an Assembly last December. Fortunately, I was there. It was filled with controversy (as I suspect many others were), and due to that, the site was changed at the last minute from East Wind to Oran Mor (although many of us stayed at East Wind and they provided strong support for the Assembly). Present were folks from Twin Oaks, East Wind, Acorn, The Mothership, Cambia, Ionia, Compersia, Rainforest Lab, Oran Mor, Le Manoir, East Brook Community Farm, and Cotyledon (the new community in New York City, which I was representing).  Folks from Sandhill also tried to make it, but they had children with them and since there was a stomach virus which swept through many of the delegates, they decided not to risk it. In spite of the controversies (and there were a bunch of them), we passed a budget for the FEC (something that apparently didn’t happen the previous year) and began forming teams in the hope of expanding the leadership of the FEC.

Instagram video of the 2018 attendees

The current status of the FEC communities (as far as I know and subject to change with little or no notice): Full member communities–Twin Oaks, East Wind, Acorn, and  Compersia; Re-forming communities–Sandhill and Mimosa; Communities in Dialogue–Oran Mor, The Mothership, Ionia, Rainforest Lab, Open Circle, Cambia, Le Manoir, East Brook Community Farm, and Cotyledon.

Some takeaways from all this history.

Obviously, communities come and go. What’s more interesting is that the people who start communities often try again. Cambia was started by CRIC House folks. Sapling and Sycamore Farm both fell apart, but the folks who started Sycamore Farm took over Sapling and remade it as Mimosa. The folks who tried to start Willow Vale Farm eventually got East Brook Community Farm going. I have been to three different Assemblies representing three different communities: Common Threads (1996), Willow Vale (2014), and Cotyledon (2018).  There are communitarians who are passionate and don’t give up easily.

Also, a bunch of the communities that look like they have left are actually still around, just no longer income-sharing or wanting to be part of the FEC. Or wanting a different status in the FEC. The Ally Communities status was created to keep a connection with communities like Ganas and Living Energy Farm. I also know of at least one community that most people thought was long gone which has recently approached the FEC, possibly wanting to return.

The FEC itself is an interesting organization. I have written a bit about what it is and isn’t and how difficult it is to keep all these communities connected. I know that in this series I have focused on the Assemblies, but that’s what I have the information about and that’s where most of the decisions were made.  As always, if you have more information, feel free to share it in the comments.

I will probably write an addendum featuring the 2019 Assembly later this year, and maybe, if I am still around and Commune Life is still around, in another decade or so, I will write the FEC history of the Twenties. Meanwhile, for a shorter, more abbreviated and interactive version of FEC History, watch the video Maximus put together.

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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!

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A Detailed FEC History: Part Five, the Tens and Teens

East Wind History

History

East Wind was founded on May 1st, 1974 by a small group dedicated to the principles laid out in our bylaws and inspired as such to grow the communities movement.  A part of this group had been living at Twin Oaks, which was founded in 1967 in Virginia.  Twin Oaks is also a founding member of theFederation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC).  This pioneer group was motivated by what they had learned about living in community at Twin Oaks and aimed to start a differently structured communal experiment. The small contingent picked up more members in Vermont and later in Massachusetts, and settled on two different farms which they hoped to make into the new community’s base. Neither of these arrangements proved suitable and it was necessary for the group to move to Boston in order to earn money to purchase property. A scout was sent to find land and the rest of the group held down city jobs to save money.

The Ozarks was chosen for its attractive land at modest prices.  The founders of East Wind learned from their observations of how Twin Oaks operated and sought to create a less rigid governance structure that would suit their needs.  All FEC communities have distinct governance structures that attract different types of people that in turn create different cultures. Diversity lends itself to resilience and prosperity and each new community that joins the FEC is unquestionably unique.

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East Wind’s Story
When the original founders arrived in the spring of 1974 the land had only an old farmhouse, a barn, two small outbuildings and a well. The community’s population jumped from eleven to over thirty in a small amount of time and construction quickly became an imperative. First, a small showerhouse was built and immediately expanded upon. Then a ten room dormitory dubbed Sunnyside for the street in Boston that the first members lived on. The old farmhouse, called Reim, was used as a sleeping quarters, kitchen and dining space, as well as an office. In 1975 East Wind’s largest dormitory, Fanshen, was built with twenty one rooms. At this point, East Wind’s membership was approaching forty and the facilities provided by Reim were no longer enough to feed such a number. Work began on a new kitchen, dining hall, and lounge area and by 1976 Rockbottom (RB) was completed. RB is a hub of social activities with people commonly hanging out on both floors of the building.

In 1974 East Wind’s first industry began – crafting handmade rope hammocks. Three large tents were erected for hammock weaving, woodwork, and storage. Under these conditions, through the hot sweaty summer and cold winter, the first 6,000 hammocks were produced.  In 1976 a 3500 square foot industrial building was built to support an expanding business. This building provided quality space for hammock production and part of it is used to make hammock chairs and Utopian rope sandals today. We also use the space for recreation, commie computers, and our business office.

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As membership continued to grow, work began on a third residential building, Annares – by 1978 one dozen bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom were completed. The common area here includes a room with couches and chairs as well as a large community library that anyone is free to browse. The last dorm to be built, Lilliput, was dedicated as the children’s building in 1992 and currently houses many young families.

In 1981, East Wind began what is currently its most lucrative business – the making of high quality nut butters. East Wind Nut Butters provides a high standard of living and resources to allow for other areas to grow. East Wind Nut Butters supplies all natural and organic peanut, almond, and cashew butter as well as tahini to restaurants and retail outlets nationwide. Nut Butters has given East Wind financial security and respect in Ozark County as a local company and large taxpayer.

Currently, East Wind is home to approximately eighty people living, working, and playing in relative comfort and harmony. We are a diverse group brought together by a common ideal: that we are all equal. We struggle with many of the same issues everyone faces. We may argue and disagree sometimes, but we do so with respect. Living in community is engaging and can be challenging, but we are invigorated by being a part of a radically alternative and constantly changing communal experiment.

 

East Wind History

A Detailed FEC History: Part Four, the ‘Oh-oh’ Decade

by Raven Cotyledon

(This is part four of a series. Part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here. Note the warning that this is for commune geeks.)

The millennium began (or perhaps ended, to be precise) with the April, 2000, Assembly. Participants seemed to be Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, Beacon Hill House, and Skyhouse. Twin Oaks reported a population of 76, East Wind 50, Sandhill 5, and Acorn 16.

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Jolly Ranchers, Terra Nova, and Tekiah all still seemed to be part of the FEC but didn’t appear  to have made it to this Assembly. Topics discussed at the 2000 Assembly included Paxus proposing a software co-op, another proposal (unclear who from) for an FEC video project, and something about East Wind being less engaged in the FEC.

There were two Assemblies in 2001. The first one was in April and was attended by Twin Oaks, East Wind, Acorn, Beacon Hill House, Jolly Ranchers, and Skyhouse. It was reported that Tree was no longer at Acorn but was still serving as the FEC secretary.  (Tree Bresson is a facilitator and consensus expert who was the FEC secretary for many years, even when no longer living in an FEC commune.  Rejoice, the current FEC secretary, remarked on this at the last FEC assembly.) It was also mentioned that Laird was absent. (Laird Schuab is community and facilitation consultant who lived for many years at Sandhill and was also the long time Executive Secretary of the Fellowship for Intentional Communities–the FIC, often confused with the FEC.) And, finally, there was a note that Common Threads was no longer a Community in Dialogue. (Sadly, Common Threads, a community that I helped form and lived at, dissolved in the summer of 2000. We referred to it as our own Y2K problem.)

There was a second Assembly in December of 2001, attended by Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, and Acorn, as well as two new communities, Aspenwood and Heathcote.  Apparently, Heathcote became a Community in Dialogue at that Assembly.

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Heathcote in October of 2001

2002 seemed a banner year for Assemblies. There were three, in May, July, and December. The May Assembly was attended by Twin Oaks, East Wind, Acorn, Beacon Hill House, Jolly Ranchers, Skyhouse, Aspenwood, and Heathcote. There were no notes about what actually happened at this Assembly.

The July Assembly was attended by Twin Oaks, East Wind, Acorn, Beacon Hill House, Jolly Ranchers, and Skyhouse. The main topic of discussion seems to have been PEACH, the umbrella health insurance project of the FEC. At that point, the worth of PEACH was listed as $400,000. The members of PEACH were listed as Twin Oaks, Acorn, East Wind, Jolly Ranchers, Kindness House (the first time I have heard of it), Sandhill, Skyhouse, and Terra Nova.  

The December Assembly was very well attended, featuring Twin Oaks, East Wind, Acorn, Beacon Hill House, Jolly Ranchers, Skyhouse, Meadowdance, Aspenwood, and Emerald Earth. (I will have to say that I am impressed that Beacon Hill House and the Jolly Ranchers made to all three Assemblies that year, since both of them are out in Seattle on the west coast and most of the Assemblies took place in Virginia or Missouri.)  The only note from the Assembly was that Beacon Hill House wanted a stronger social justice focus. (I will add a personal note about Meadowdance. When I visited them, early on, I heard that they were opposed to the FEC income-sharing philosophy. Then they joined the FEC. Later they left, saying it was a big mistake. Like any community, I think that Meadowdance had different people in it with different opinions. Apparently, the direction they went in depended on who held sway.)

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There was only one Assembly in 2003, held in May. It was attended by Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, Beacon Hill House, Jolly Ranchers, Skyhouse, and ecofarm. (Apparently ecofarm was another one time Assembly visitor.)

There were two Assemblies in 2004, one in May and one in September.

The May Assembly was packed: Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, the Emma Goldman Finishing School (formerly Beacon Hill House), the Jolly Ranchers, Skyhouse, Meadowdance, Aspenwood, shivalila (this is the first of only two Assemblies that they attended), Terra Nova, Heathcote, Oran Mor (the first Assembly for this small but long term FEC member–formed by four ex-East Winders), Tekiah, and Ganas. The agenda seemed packed as well.  They discussed racism in the FEC, talked about creating an income-sharing starter kit, talked about questions of the FEC as a mediator (none of these things for the last time). Violence at East Wind was discussed. “Sorrel and Matt identified three negative patterns at EW: unwanted sexual attention, alcohol abuse, and yelling/volatile verbal exchanges.” Facilitation training was talked about. And there was a note that Tree was paid $2000 for 200 hours of work.

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One of the buildings at Oran Mor 

The September, 2004, Assembly was also fairly well attended: Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, the Emma Goldman Finishing School, the Jolly Ranchers, Aspenwood, shivalila (for the second and last time), Heathcote, Oran Mor, Tekiah, Phoenix Ranch (another two Assembly attendee), and Springtree (who last showed up in April of 1989).  Some of these communities were in trouble. While Twin Oaks and East Wind remained stable at 76 and 50 members, Acorn went from 16 members at the May Assembly to 3 members. (Note, the rapidity of the change is probably more a function of how it was reported. I will have more to say on this later.)  The Jolly Ranchers also reported 3 members and Tekiah reported 2. The notes said it clearly. Jolly Ranchers were “dissolving” and Tekiah was “failing”. East Wind’s alcohol problem was discussed, along with something called “commune on a bus”. The ‘allied community’ status was also created at this Assembly. Although Ganas wasn’t there, I am pretty sure that it was created for them.  Ganas was never an ‘egalitarian’ community (something they are quick to say), but they have had a long relationship with the FEC, especially with Twin Oaks. This status allows them to remain in relationship but makes it clear that they are not interested in pursuing full membership (which is the direction Communities in Dialogue are supposed to be going).

The August, 2005, Assembly (the only one listed for that year) was also well attended, with Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, the Emma Goldman Finishing School, Meadowdance, Aspenwood, Terra Nova, Heathcote, Ganas, Phoenix Ranch, and Red Earth all listed as being there. Both Jolly Ranchers and Tekiah are no longer on the chart, so apparently neither of them made it.  It’s interesting that Red Earth shows up for the first of several times. (It’s a homesteading community, with each homestead organized differently–although one or two of them are income-sharing, I can’t see why the whole community would be represented.) In spite of the large attendance at the Assembly, there were no topics listed as being discussed.

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Dandelion, an income-sharing sub-community of Red Earth Farms 

2006 had two Assemblies, one in January and one in July. The January Assembly featured Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, the Emma Goldman Finishing School, Skyhouse, and Alpha, which I am assuming meant Alpha Farm. The anti oppression clause was discussed.

The July attendees were almost the same, except Alpha (or Alpha Farm) wasn’t there. The only note was that Tigger became the treasurer, which is noteworthy because he only recently left that position.

There were two Assemblies in 2007 as well, in January and June. Both were attended by Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, the Emma Goldman Finishing School, Skyhouse, and Oran Mor. The only notable differences were that Echowood also attended the June Assembly and there was a note from the January Assembly that Aspenwood had closed.

The notes for 2008 are confusing. The columns on the spreadsheet that I am getting most of this information from are for February, 08, followed by January, 05, followed by November, 08. I am going to ignore the January 05 entries. Another confusing thing is that the Twin Oaks population was listed as 76 for June of 2007 and 92 for February, 2008, a rather rapid increase. (The fact that the listed population of Acorn goes from 3 as of March, 2009, to 30 in March of 2010, makes me even more suspicious. I think they must keep listing the same population until someone tells them that it has changed.)  Both February and November list Twin Oaks (with its now larger population), East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, the Emma Goldman Finishing School, Skyhouse, and Red Earth as attending, with Heathcote being at the February Assembly (their last Assembly) and Oran Mor and Echowood being at the November Assembly. No topics were listed for the February Assembly, but there seemed to have been a discussion about the expansion fund at the November Assembly.

Finally, there was an Assembly in March of 2009, attended by Twin Oaks, East Wind, Sandhill, Acorn, the Emma Goldman Finishing School, Skyhouse, and two one-time attendees, the 529 Collective and Teaching Drum.  There were no notes about what was discussed.

Which brings us to the current decade, what I am calling the Ten and Teens Decade.  That will be the final installment of this series, next month!

As always, if you were a part of this history, or know information about this period, and want to add or correct, please let us know 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:  

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Thanks!

 

 

A Detailed FEC History: Part Four, the ‘Oh-oh’ Decade

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.

____________________________________________________________________________

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.

____________________________________________________________________________

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.

wtoaks9_kat_woody-106-500-500-100
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.)

____________________________________________________________________________

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