East Wind is the most isolated of the big communes and, in many ways, the most individualistic. The level of response there was different, in some ways, to the Louisa communes. Some folks refused to take the pandemic seriously. On the other hand, they too cancelled their visitor groups and discouraged visitors in general.
Boone Wheeler published these ironic pictures of “Social Distancing” at East Wind:
The official East Wind site, on the other hand, doesn’t even mention the pandemic and the one post from the beginning of April was simply captioned, “Preppin the beds”:
My intro on the Commune Life Facebook page was: “It’s spring and, coronavirus or not, life goes on at East Wind”
My understanding is that East Wind *might* have a visitor period in July. They definitely don’t have one for June.
And Twin Oaks is saying that August is the “earliest” that they might have visitor periods.
If you are interested in visiting either East Wind or Twin Oaks, I would check in with them regularly. With the pandemic, everything is still up in the air in all the communes.
The last two days we have been looking at the response of Twin Oaks to the pandemic. There are actually six communities in Louisa county (Twin Oaks, Acorn, Living Energy Farm, Mimosa, Cambia, and Little Flower–which is a Catholic Worker community). Today I will look at how Acorn and some of the other FEC communities dealt with the challenges of the coronavirus.
Acorn went into rather drastic quarantine early–one of their founders is still living there and dealing with cancer, so to protect her, they took rigorous measures. Acorn, being Acorn, didn’t document this. Instead, they looked at the effect that COVID-19 had on their business, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Basically, when people realized that we were moving into a pandemic, everyone wanted to buy seeds.
Here’s how it happened. It starts with this note on a seed order:
Theresa pointed out:
The comments to this point, especially from Rejoice, further elaborated.
Southern Exposure was forced to put up this notice:
And, in the midst of this, Acorn celebrated Land Day (their annual holiday to commemorate when they were actually able to move onto the land). There was the usual big bonfire. But this year the celebration was a bit different.
And then another invoice from SESE:
The person who was most in the midst of this is Rejoice, a former Acorn member now living at Mimosa, who everyone trusts, and thus became the courier between the communes as well as carefully bringing things back and forth to and from the outside world. To do this job, Rejoice had to resort to extreme measures:
SESE continued doing a brisk business and began putting out information about their business, both before and during the pandemic. The article is linked here.
The start of it says: “As most of you probably know, we’ve been inundated with orders this last month. We’re thrilled that folks are looking to our seeds during this challenging time but we’ve also had trouble keeping up. We’ve had to suspend taking new orders several times now while working to get seeds packed and shipped. We thought this would be an appropriate time to take a look behind the scenes at Southern Exposure.”
With everything going on, the response from Twin Oaks changed as the pandemic progressed.
New signs went up. From what I wrote in early April: “Twin Oaks is still trying (like all of us) to come to grips with this new reality.
“In their newest post, they write: ‘THAT PANDEMIC. In many ways too, our focus has shifted to trying to keep C19 out of our community, and to planning how to handle it if and when it gets in.’ “
And, “Even in the midst of a pandemic, new life is born. Twin Oaks just got an addition to their population:”
And then there was Karaoke. From the TO FB page: “PANDEMIC KARAOKE. Here’s the very funny playlist from this week’s karaoke, as suggested by Mala. Best to keep laughing in hard times.”
The pandemic has even changed the meeting (or non-meeting) culture at Twin Oaks. What I wrote: “How do you keep a large community going during a pandemic? Twin Oaks is holding regular outdoor meetings where they talk about how they are going to manage things–outdoors so that folks who are concerned about social distancing can attend. Here’s a bit more about their weekly ‘COVID conferences’:
Meanwhile, other communities had other responses. Tomorrow, the responses from Acorn and the other Louisa communities.
So, I am now sharing Facebook posts from mid-March, which is just when the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit us. This post will document the early evolution of the responses from Twin Oaks. Tomorrow, I will continue with some later responses from Twin Oaks, and I will further post on responses from Acorn and East Wind.
Here’s what I (Raven) wrote on Facebook: “Here’s the beginning of looking at the evolution of Twin Oaks’ response to the coronavirus. This is an changing situation and these posts represent their early responses:”
And here is the first Facebook post from Twin Oaks:
But they were able to deal with the situation with some humor. “In the midst of a pandemic, why not hold a party? There are ways to do it responsibly:”
This was the next step in Twin Oaks’ responses:
“CORONAVIRUS QUARANTINE. Due to concerns around the spread of COVID-19 coronoavirus, we have cancelled the March and April Visitor Periods, and have cancelled Saturday tours for the foreseeable future.
“We are currently scheduling for May and beyond but that may change depending how everything unfolds. We will be looking for new members at that time, so if you are interested please do schedule a Three-Week Visitor Period for the summer or later.”
Also check out the message on their web page:
Then, “This is the new face of Twin Oaks: QUARANTINE! Please leave…”
The comments that we (Commune Life) got to this post were telling:
Mac then elaborated:
I probably don’t need to add, but never show up unannounced to a commune, and that goes triple if there is a pandemic going on.
Tomorrow, more responses from Twin Oaks, as the pandemic grew.