BIPOC IC Fund

It’s Martin Luther King day in the US and I don’t want this to be lost amidst the pandemic, the storming of the Capitol, the inauguration, etc. Racial injustice is still a major problem in the US (and world) and most communities (especially the communes) are overwhelmingly white.

The Foundation for Intentional Communities decided that something needed to be done about it and this past summer decided to put money into creating change. In November they sent out this email:

None of these links work because these are photocopies of the letter, but if you are interested in exploring this more, here is a link that does work and you can find out more info and ways to donate.

If you believe that communal living has something to offer the world (as I do) then here is a way to make it more accessible to the people who are usually left out of the process.

There have also been several attempts to support the creation of income-sharing communities led by folks of color, but as of the moment, I don’t know that any of these has actually started. It’s very hard to start communes in general and when there’s folks from a less privileged group trying to start it, it seems nearly impossible. Still, I want to credit the FIC for forming a fund to at least remove some of the financial barriers, both to starting communities and to joining communities. I truly hope that this results in more alternatives opening up in the communities movement for Black and Indigenous folks and other People of Color.

— Raven

BIPOC IC Fund

Biting the Hand

by Raven Glomus

I often refer to Living Energy Farm as the research arm of the Virginia communes.  They have had some difficulty becoming a commune themselves (although they seem to be making some progress lately) but they know more than anyplace else that I know of about alternative technologies and ways to deal with climate realities.  They periodically publish a newsletter about all that they are up to and it is almost always worth reading from beginning to end.

A Biogas Digester from the August, September, October 2020 LEF Newsletter

Their most recent newsletter contained a section that I would like to reprint in full:

***

Ending the Use of Facebook

It has been clear for a while that the management of Facebook has reactionary leanings. It has become clear more recently that Facebook is using its very powerful platform to try to strangle alternative news media outlets while advancing racist organizations. A story about that issue is here  https://www.democracynow.org/2020/10/29/ari_berman_mother_jones_facebook_censorship

Living Energy Farm will be deleting our Facebook accounts shortly. Please communicate with us through other means. 

***

I never wanted to be on Facebook.  I was persuaded to help out with the Commune Life Facebook page, especially when I realized it was reaching many more folks than this blog.  This blog averages around 150 views per day, which doesn’t sound too bad, but the vast majority of them, day after day, are the same three posts:  “How to Start a Commune”, “Four Steps to Building a Commune”, and “So You Want to Start a Community”.  I get that people are interested in creating communities, but it’s frustrating to write stuff three times a week and see interest in the single digits–if that.  (Of course, I had forgotten that this blog has 110 ‘followers’, so there’s 110 people that see new material each day.)

On Facebook it’s different.  The statistics can fluctuate wildly, from fifty folks to over five hundred, depending on how the piece is written and how controversial the subject is–and whether there are animals in the pictures or, perhaps, dumpstered food, both of which get a lot of interest.  

One of my goals has been to reach folks that have never heard of income-sharing communities and may not have even realized that it’s something that’s possible, and Facebook is a way to do that.  Plus, there are other useful features (our community uses Facebook messenger to communicate with one another and we have to make a special effort to reach the one person that doesn’t use Facebook) and Facebook also owns Instagram which makes it easy to post in both places.

I don’t like Facebook.  I don’t like that we use a big corporate entity for our communication.  I don’t like their politics or their policies. (I can see why Living Energy Farm would want to leave them.)  I don’t like that they own Instagram and WhatsApp (which international visitors have used to communicate with me–and even one of my old communards used it when we discovered that for some reason our phones would often not be able to text each other).

But, right now, I am using Facebook (and I plan to reference this post on Facebook tomorrow) because I do want to reach people that I couldn’t otherwise reach.  I hate it but it’s useful and my priority is communication.  I want the world to know about communes, so I use Facebook, day after day after day.

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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 patron communards:
 

  • Aaron Michels
  • Brenda Thompson
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Colby Baez
  • Heather
  • Janey Amend-Bombara
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Joseph A Klatt
  • Kai Koru
  • Kate McGuire
  • Kathleen Brooks
  • Lynette Shaw
  • Magda schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Montana Goodman
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • NorthernSoul Truelove
  • Oesten Nelson
  • Peter Chinman
  • Raines Cohen
  • Sasha Daucus
  • Suzi Tortora
  • Tobin Moore
  • Twin Oaks
  • Warren Kunce
  • William Croft
  • William Kadish
  • William Scarborough

Thanks! 

Biting the Hand

Feeding the HONK! activists

We dumpstered enough food to feed an entire festival. Here is how.

I am lucky enough to live at Glomus Commune with Theresa and Rachael and Telos and Sophia, all of whom are sitting together in the video. But there are also other communards who get involved the dumpster diving and the Honk! festival–Anande, who also lives here, and Jules, from Twin Oaks, are especially prominent in the video. It’s a way that we take our communal values out into the world. – Raven

Feeding the HONK! activists

Emergent Community–Part Two

by Raven Glomus

This is the second part of a piece focusing on how adrienne maree brown’s six elements from her book, Emergent Strategy, apply to commune building.  My last piece focused on commune building as Fractal, Interdependent and Decentralized,and Non-Linear and Iterative.  Here I will focus on why we need to build communes to be Adaptive, Resilient and Transformative, and in a way that Creates More Possibilities.

In Emergent Strategy, adrienne maree brown talks about Intentional Adaptation–that is adaptation with intention.  She refers to this process as “how we change”.  And communities need to be open to change and changing.  A community that can’t change, dies.  But any community that simply goes with whatever changes happen isn’t going to last long either.  The key, as amb puts it, is to have an intention, a goal or end point in mind, and to make sure that any changes, whatever adaptation we do, keeps us moving toward that goal.   And in order to have that goal, a community needs to have a vision–what is it that we want to move toward?  And, as we encounter each place that we need to change, the community needs to ask itself, what changes will move us closer to our vision?  What changes will move us away?  This is an ongoing process, because we will always need to keep changing and we don’t want our vision to be static.  We need to keep dreaming (collectively) of where we want to be and keep updating our vision and our goals as we go through each change.

This is very related to the next element, Resilience, which adrienne maree brown refers to as “how we recover and transform”.  Some of the changes we will encounter may be relatively simple, but sometimes a commune will encounter things that are more challenging and may cause real problems for the community and sometimes within the community.   We may need to do more than adapt, we may need to recover from traumatic disruptions.  We may need to collectively heal.  We may need to change in ways that transform the commune. The question always is, how can we transform the community in ways that are of service to our vision?  In the book, adrienne maree brown talks about the principles of Transformative Justice to keep in mind as we make the changes that we need in order to heal the community. She quotes Shira Hassan, “In order to resist one size fits all justice, we have to resist the idea that every process looks the same.”  I love amb’s advice here: “Relinquish Frankenstein.  You are not  creating people to be with, or work with, some idealized individuals made of perfect parts of personality… Stop trying to make and fix others, and instead be curious about what they have made of themselves.”  Communes aren’t made of perfect folks, they are made of flawed people struggling to build something together.  Again, quoting adrienne maree brown, we need to “Commit to being in each other’s lives, and doing whatever is needed to ensure that in the long term.”  What great community building advice!

Her final element, and I believe perhaps the most important, is that we work toward “Creating More Possibilities.”  This is why I am so happy that there are so many different flavors of communes out there and only wish there were more.  If we see community building as a way to explore social change, we need to acknowledge that we are not trying to build a perfect alternative.  Rather, we are trying to build many different alternatives, with the realization that no one way works for everyone.  Certainly income-sharing communities aren’t the only way to go, but even among communes, there should be differences and there should be support for folks trying even more new things.  There is a reason so many of us love rainbows–all those different colors existing together.  As we create a communities movement, as we support organizations such as the Federation of Egalitarian Communities and the Foundation for Intentional Communities,  we are building the small scale version of the world we want (going back to amb’s Fractal element), one in which there are many different possibilities and we are working to create more.

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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 patron communards:

 Aaron Michels

Brenda Thompson

Cathy Loyd

Colby Baez

Heather

Janey Amend-Bombara

Jenn Morgan

Joseph A Klatt

Kai Koru

Kate McGuire

Kathleen Brooks

Lynette Shaw

Magda schonfeld

Michael Hobson

Montana Goodman

Nance & Jack Williford

NorthernSoul Truelove

Oesten Nelson

Peter Chinman

Raines Cohen

Sasha Daucus

Suzi Tortora

Tobin Moore

Twin Oaks

Warren Kunce

William Croft

William Kadish

William Scarborough

Thanks! 

Emergent Community–Part Two

Emergent Community–Part One

by Raven Glomus

I have been reading (and re-reading) adrienne maree brown’s wonderful book, Emergent Strategy.  I have often said that I see intentional communities (especially income-sharing communities) as laboratories for social change.  What adrienne maree brown lays out in her book is that she sees six elements involved in social change (based partly on her reading of Octavia Butler’s ideas in Parable of the Sower).  According to her, change is Fractal, Adaptive, Non-Linear and Iterative, Resilient and Transformative (as in Transformative Justice), Interdependent and Decentralized, and Creates More Possibilities.

I want to look at how these elements apply to the building of communes as well as seeing communes as part of a social change strategy.  In this first part, I’ll focus on three of these elements, seeing commune building as Fractal, Interdependent and Decentralized,and Non-Linear and Iterative.  I will look at the remaining three elements in my next piece.

Let me start with the fractal nature of commune building.  When adrienne maree brown uses the term ‘fractal’, she defines it as “the relationship between small and large.”  She points out that “How we are at the small scale is how we are at the large scale.”  This is exactly what I mean by communities as social change laboratories.  In building communes, we try to create on a small scale the world that we wish to see.  The end doesn’t justify the means, the means reflects the end goal.  My point about communities as laboratories is that through them we get to test out, on a small scale, what works and doesn’t work for the world that we want to build.  The communes are egalitarian, because we want to build a society based on equality.  We share so much, because we believe that sharing can improve the world.

Interdependent and decentralized is a very apt description of the commune world–including the Federation of Egalitarian Communities.  Communes are not this monolithic entity.  There is no central communal authority.  The communes are each worlds unto themselves, networked together by the relationships between them.  We like having dozens of different flavors of community..  Rather than trying to have one way to build a commune, we have many different communes and each is responsible for itself–and we are also responsible for each other, since we see how we are connected.  It makes accountability tricky, since the ultimate authority resides in the individual community but, because we are connected and interdependent, we also have some leverage with each other.

I used this particular order for the elements (not exactly the order that adrienne maree brown puts them in, although they are in a slightly different order in the two places in the book where she lists them), because I think this is the most useful order for community building.  First you want to think about where you are heading (building something that reflects the world that you want to see) and then realize that what we are building needs to be decentralized and interdependent.  The third element comes in as you build community–the process is non-linear and iterative.  

I think that this may be the most important thing to realize.  It’s not a straight line path at all.  You may plan to build community in a certain way and then you realize that things start falling into place, but hardly in the order you anticipated.  You will soon find out that you can’t control the process.  I love the term ‘emergent strategy’ because emergent phenomena come as they will, not as you want.  Perhaps the most important part to realize is that saying it is iterative is to say that you will find yourself doing the same thing, again and again and again.  And then it happens again.  You may think that you are going in circles, but often it’s more like spirals.  It may seem like you are back in the same place but you are actually a level higher.  If it sounds like it might be frustrating, you are beginning to understand the process of commune building.  As Katarzyna Gajewska pointed out in her post about Community and Techie Fallacy, building a commune is not anything like building a bridge.  You can’t just draft some plans and build it, step by step.  You need to be prepared for some amount of chaos, the whole process through.

In my next post, I will look at the final three elements as pointing out how communities need to be.

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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:  

Communities

  • Compersia Community
  • East Brook Community Farm
  • The Federation of Egalitarian Communities
  • Twin Oaks Community

Communards 

  • Aaron Michels
  • Brenda Thompson
  • Caroline Elbert
  • Cathy Loyd
  • Em Stiles
  • Heather Alexander
  • Jenn Morgan
  • Janey Amend-Bombara
  • Joseph A Klatt
  • Julia Elizabeth Evans
  • Kai Koru
  • Kathleen Brooks
  • Kate Mcguire
  • Laurel Baez
  • Lynette Shaw
  • Magda Schonfeld
  • Michael Hobson
  • Montana Goodman
  • Nance & Jack Williford
  • Oesten Nelson
  • Peter Chinman
  • Raines Cohen
  • Sasha Daucus
  • Suzi Tortora
  • Tobin Moore
  • Warren Kunce
  • William Croft
  • William Kadish
  • William Scarborough

Thanks! 

Emergent Community–Part One

Filters

In early August, Theresa wrote a Facebook post wondering about how we could make the communes more accessible to more people–and also mentioned that the communes filter out people. That’s not a bad thing, but maybe we need to change the filters:

You can see that it got a lot of comments. The first few are personal responses, mostly pretty much on target.

Then Allen Butcher (at first responding as ‘The Fellowship of Intentioneers’) joined the discussion and it soon became a three way triolog between him, Zamin Danty, and me, Raven (sometimes posting as Commune Life). The following thread quickly becomes very long, technical, ideological, and perhaps nitpicking, as we focus on the differences between ‘communalism’, communism, and anarchism and which are best, and even appropriate, for describing what we do in egalitarian communities. If you are bored by long-winded political discussions, you may want to end reading here. On the other hand, if you are a commune theory buff and the nitty gritty of how income sharing relates to political movements, read on.

Filters

Communists in a Capitalist Society

by Raven

I have thought about this and mentioned it to people, but I consider Twin Oaks a communist community that has learned very well about how to succeed in a capitalist culture. I decided to make a Facebook post about it.

I got a bunch of interesting responses to this, starting with Rejoice sharing some of the comments East Wind got to a video about them.

.A few other people threw in their takes on this.

Then, Lavender Alex Bernosky shared their response, pointing out the danger of trying to “police” behavior in the communes.

I had to respond to this because I felt it opened up another avenue for the ‘dance’.

Finally, Zamin Danty added yet another take on the ‘dance’.

Communists in a Capitalist Society

Racial Justice Work in the Communes

Continuing on the theme of racial justice, Theresa wrote this piece on Facebook looking at the difficulties and contradictions involved in doing this work as white folks.

She added this graphic:

The first comment that we got was from Rachael, also in our commune, giving a link to a source for this graphic:

Since this is a picture and the link doesn’t work, here is a working link.

Zamin K Danty commented with an interesting idea, but I spotted a problem.

And then Thomas Russell added a host of thoughts.

Racial Justice Work in the Communes

Imagine a Sane Society

We recently received this from Katarzyna Gajewska who has written for Commune Life before. This is about a book that she is publishing in conjunction with Cambia, one of the Virginia communes.

On crowdfunding with Cambia community to complete a feminine utopia and boycotting Amazon 

Katarzyna Gajewska, PhD, has been working on the manuscript of “Imagine a Sane Society” since 2013. She is now at the stage to engage other co-creators to complete this book. Her feminine utopia is a call for creativity and imagination. Her conceptualization has been influenced by interviews in egalitarian communities and other prefigurative forms of organizing work and life. If 60 people contribute $20 each, we will be able to pay for the first stage of production to be done by egalitarian community Cambia.

By contributing to crowdfunding campaign, you also support Cambia, a commune living prefigurative future in the now. Cambia Community is a small egalitarian intentional community in central Virginia, USA. Their mission is to serve as a model for a sustainable, fulfilling, and connected way of living. They have formed an educational non-profit called Rustling Roots, which teaches how to respond to the global ecological crisis locally, stimulating discussion and changing habits in local communities by hosting workshops, events, and tours.

Cambia has known Katarzyna for several years and has appreciated her academic work and dedication to justice and sustainability.

“The opportunity to help with editing Katarzyna’s book would allow us to invest in our business and our community, and collaborate with a project that supports our mission. With funding from this work, we would be able to plant more fruit trees, invest in solar infrastructure, and hire people with specialized knowledge in ecology or engineering for specific projects.” – Gil Benmoshe of Cambia Community

The author writes on the subject of the forthcoming book and crowdfunding campaign to prepare online version in Creative Commons, available for free.

Why Commune Life Blog readers may be interested in your book project?

You may have wondered what a post-capitalist system would look like. We know quite well what we do not like but it is difficult to say what we want. The book discusses various directions of change and proposes a vision for a health-oriented system. It shows examples of alternative ways of organizing production. The main part deals with understanding the cultural change that a new system would require of us. Culture is a set of ideas, automatic assumptions, habits in shaping human relations. It is invisible, yet so powerful. If we cannot imagine something else, we automatically submit to the shiny but destructive offer of the dominant elites. One of the reasons why I call it a feminine utopia is because I focus on inner work and not engineering another design for hollow structures which would be filled with the dysfunctions of the dominant system if not addressed. This is where communes come in. They have decided to live under different regime within a group and then they need to deal with all the psychological and cultural imprint that wants us to not even come up with such an idea. The cultural work they had to engage in is preparing for the time of crisis when cooperation will not be an option anymore. I have conducted many interviews and observations in Acorn, a commune in Virginia and in Niederkaufungen, a commune in Germany and they inspire my reflection on the culture for a new mode of production. One chapter portrays also Tamera, a political ashram in Portugal.

Whom is this book for?

If you are experiencing existential crisis or skillfully numbing it with shopping, substances, and busyness, this book can help you stop for a moment and reflect on your life’s choices that add up to the unbearable reality. Activists or people who think of becoming involved may find an aid to inquire what kind of actions to focus on. We need a broader picture to translate it into small steps leading to it.

Why do you call your book a feminine utopia?

First of all, I do not mean gender and women by this. The “feminine” in my utopia is a logic of action, a way of thinking, values, and the mode of operating. Ursula K. Le Guin used Chinese words yin and yang, probably, to avoid these confusions with gender stereotypes. We still need a lot of work to empower the feminine. My book wants to empower the feminine logic as something defining the shape of the system. I see this proposal as an advancement in comparison to the lean-in feminism. Feminism should be about systemic change. By the way, Kommune Niederkaufungen was considering these issues from the very beginning and may have been a response to the position of women in the 1980s. I believe that also men are tired with the masculine utopias pursued nowadays and the unbalanced ideas they fall prey to. At least, many men have supported me during the writing process and the final stage.

Why people being part of commune movement may be interested in promoting the campaign?

If you are part of communes’ movement, you will meet your friends on the pages of my book. You may want it to be available to your family and friends from previous life to help them understand your choices. Now that more and more people start to perceive the limits of the system, it is time for deeper discussions and questioning it all. I embed communal life in the reflection on a broader vision. I see communities as an inspiration without preaching that everyone should move to one of them. But this can be a side effect. One of my interviewees in Acorn community mentioned the book “The power of Now” as one of the steps on her journey of self-inquiry that led her to move to the commune. Maybe my book will have a similar effect on some readers.

Bringing this book to the masses without a publisher is also a political statement. Many people who live in communities want to escape corporation world. I do not want my ideas to be censored by corporate gate keepers. Instead, I rely on the wisdom of crowds, who have other interests than selling simplistic books. I also do not want to be bound by contracts and my books be sold on Amazon. Of course, this implies a different strategy in the entire process. I cannot expect a publisher to invest in book production and then compromise its sells. Therefore, we need to invest together in making this book happen and have it accessible for free. Instead of benefiting Amazon, you give money directly to a group of people who work on change.

Do you live in a commune? – The question that many people have asked

I do not. Education is my passion. I would not feel fulfilled not pursuing it. I want to combine my professional goals in the field of alternative education and communal living in one project.

What to do if one wants to help completing your book?

You can send the crowdfunding campaign calls to your friends or post on social media. Letting people know is a big help! The book will be available for free (digital text and audio) so if many people give $10-30, it will be like buying the book for yourself and your friends and strangers. This is a good deal!

If you want my book ‘Imagine a Sane Society” to be published and available for free, please, donate HERE

Listen to an exerpt from this book HERE!

For updates on my publications: Katarzyna Gajewska – Independent Scholar

My publication list (selection): https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Katarzyna_Gajewska  

My recent publications:

The Cultural Preparation for Crisis

Naming the Alternatives

So you want to leave it all and create a community?

Imagine a Sane Society

Creating More Possibilities

by Raven Glomus

Police brutality is real, as is the killing of black folks by police and the phenomena of mass incarceration.  A recent response was to try to defund the police.  Unfortunately, the result has been a crime wave in several cities.

Really, we don’t need the police–but we do need something.  It’s easy to attack oppressive institutions.  It’s harder, but absolutely necessary, to create alternatives to them.

In the case of replacing the police, we will probably need to fund economic and educational strategies, give people the tools to build (or in many cases, rebuild) their lives, support folks who are having difficult times, and develop some types of sanctions (other than incarceration) that make crime a less appealing alternative.  In the meantime, we will probably need to focus on reforming police departments, until we have time to develop alternatives to replace them.

There always seems to be a lot of emphasis on the things that are wrong, all that we need to stop and get rid of, but I believe that this is the wrong focus.  We need to work on figuring out how we can develop alternatives, to talk about what we want rather than what we don’t want, and to develop working systems that can replace all the toxic, oppressive, hurtful systems that we have now.

One example is communes and communities.  I have said that I see intentional communities as part of a larger social change strategy.  They can be laboratories to attempt to build alternative systems on a small scale and see what works.  Income sharing communities are a particularly important experiment to develop ways of living without economic (and other) hierarchies.

I have taken the title of this post from adrienne maree brown’s book Emergent Strategy.  She lists the six elements of her strategy and the final one is Creating More Possibilities, which she subtitles “how we move toward life”.  

Creating new possibilities, I believe, is probably the most important work that we need to be doing right now.  Not just building communes, but creating cooperative structures of all kinds (businesses, alternative institutions that support people, educational experiences, etc) and networking them–so there is more cooperation between these institutions as well as within them–and supporting those structures so that they are more likely to succeed.  

And, more importantly, supporting not just alternative institutions created by white middle-class folks, but institutions created by working people and, especially, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) led and created institutions.  Racism and white supremacy are real things but, again, we can’t just try to get rid of them.  We need to replace them with leadership from People of Color and real attention to their needs–not what we think that their needs are but what they say their needs are.  We need to support them in developing the alternatives that they need.

Kidscreen » Archive » Editorial: Black Lives Matter

If we want a truly egalitarian society, we need to support organizations and methods that change the dynamics which keep people in oppressed situations.  I have written several Facebook posts talking about ways to do that which I hope to reprint here.

Saying that we need to create more possibilities is saying that we need to build abundance.  Abundance is attractive and, when it is successful, it can create a positive cycle that can bring more energy to create more possibilities.  And with enough possibilities,  we can create the alternatives to replace all the oppressive systems.  It’s just going to take a lot of work, especially at the start, when everything is stacked against us.


PS. The first poster is by amber hughson who has a whole series of these posters and is very clear about what constitutes real alternatives to policing and what does not.

Creating More Possibilities