Kohlrabi, Dumpstering, and Spring Comes to East Brook

from the Commune Life Instagram site

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Kohlrabi, Dumpstering, and Spring Comes to East Brook

Herding Cats to Network Communities

by Raven Cotyledon
cats-lp

I have been posting, monthly, a detailed history of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities.  (Here’s parts one, two, and three. Part four will come out in early May, probably on May 13th.)  Looking over old posts, I realized that I have never written a post just about the FEC.

It’s probably easier to start by talking about what the FEC is not.  The Federation of Egalitarian Communities is not, as I have said, a governing body.  It does not tell any of the communes what to do. It cannot police them, or make policies for them, or organize them in any way.

The Federation of Egalitarian Communities exists to connect the communes, to facilitate communication and transportation between them, and to help work out labor exchanges. It also funds some activities that the individual communities can’t or won’t and tries to support new and/or small communes and holds regular assemblies.  And really that’s about it.

 

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Rejoice, Cat Wrangler in Chief

Unfortunately, as I have pointed out, communities are very imperfect places. And, when there is stuff going on in individual communes that people don’t like, they sometimes approach the FEC to step in.  And since the FEC has no authority over any of its member communities, not a lot happens. Which can lead to some frustrated people.

The communes are a lot like cats.  Each of them is different and each has a unique way of working.  (I once heard someone ask one of the founders of the umpteenth commune in the Louisa, VA area why they were starting yet another income-sharing community. The answer was that this was a different flavor of income-sharing community.)  While I think that the differences between the communes is precious, it can sometimes lead to tension.

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An early FEC assembly

It isn’t as if any of these difficulties are new or there aren’t people trying to work on these problems. At the last FEC assembly, we talked about creating a team to deal with conflict and mediation as well as a different team to respond to reports of harm or abuse. But the reality is that communes are very busy places and intentions often don’t lead to lasting initiatives. Without at least a few people with the time, energy, and enthusiasm to make sure that these things happen, it may take a good while before either team actually meets and gets working.

In the meanwhile, the FEC has monthly calls to keep communication open, figure out what activities can be funded, and where and when the next assembly will be.  The calls give the delegates from the member communities a chance to hear what is happening at the other communes. And the FEC also supports Commune Life. We have become one of their projects.

As I said last week, the communes are part of a worldwide movement, something that I want to see encouraged and grown.  By keeping the communes connected, hard as that is sometimes, the FEC is helping make that happen.

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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

  • 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
  • William Kadish
  • Em Stiles
  • Laurel Baez
  • Lynette Shaw

Thanks!

Herding Cats to Network Communities

Twin Oaks’ Guardian Angels

by Keenan
from his blog:  Keenan’s Twin Oaks blog
Posted 6th January 2012 by 
One of the line-items in the econ team’s 2009 economic report is a savings of $15,000. Much of that savings is from ex-member Denny Ray noticing (somehow) that Twin Oaks was being overcharged by the corporation that supplied our propane gas. Denny Ray took the initiative to come to the Planners (I was a Planner at the time), point out the problem, and propose that he help Twin Oaks by taking on the task of switching to a new, cheaper, locally owned company. In the intervening years this new company has been great to work with.
This is amazing, weird, or creepy

While involved in installing the new gas tanks, Denny Ray discovered two serious hazards with our gas lines in Llano and in Morningstar.  With the Planners’ blessings, Denny Ray fixed them. I joked with Denny Ray that someday Llano would not burn down, and we would all thank him. But of course we won’t; who notices when something bad doesn’t happen?

It seems that there are many ex-members looking out for Twin Oaks’ well-being. When the fire broke out by the hay barn, people brought the communal fire hose and hooked it up to the fire hose tap at the tobacco barn. The fire hose tap was marked by a metal pipe that said, in big letters, “Fire Hose Tap.” The fire hose and the fire hose tap were there compliments of Alexis-ex-member. Alexis has installed fire hose taps all over the community. Someday Twin Oaks won’t burn down and we’ll thank Alexis and Denny Ray.

The concept of hovering guardian angels came to me at my first Planner meeting a few years ago. Noah came in as the brand new tofu manager and was worried at how little he knew about the business.  With Aubby leaving, and other previous managers gone on sabbatical there wasn’t much managerial knowledge of the tofu business at Twin Oaks.  The Planners were re-assuring to Noah, telling  him that Jon Kessler (ex-member) used to manage the tofu business as did Jessie (ex-member) and that Alexis (ex-member) had built the tofu hut and installed lots of the machines. All three were available and happy to answer questions.

The next person to come in to that planner meeting was Alex, new member and newly appointed legal manager. He wanted to know where certain legal files were. The Planners directed him to Lynn(ex-member) living at Baker branch and ex-legal manager.  The next person in was Denny Ray to talk about the propane situation. There is a larger community around Twin Oaks that does things large and small to help promote, preserve and protect Twin Oaks. During the days of darkness this past winter, Alexis worked as hard as anyone, getting our generators up and running, moving the generators around and, also, shoveling snow.

As a Planner I saw how much ex-members do for Twin Oaks and as a long-term member, I know the ex-members and I know, a little bit, who does what. But most of the contribution of ex-members is invisible and anonymous. Ex-members don’t ask for credit, or for anything in return. As an example, the wonderful magazine cover photos of Greasel in ZK are by Denny Ray.

Most members are probably not aware that the thousands of dollars that Twin Oaks has earned over the years from doing the JPJ job is due to Rob Jones initially getting the offer of that job, but passing it on to Twin Oaks. There have been many other times that Hale and White  construction company (partially owned by ex-Twin Oaks members) has hired Twin Oakers in times when our income areas were languishing. Many of these jobs involved demolition, so Twin Oakers brought back doors, windows, wood, siding and many other useful building materials to Twin Oaks. The playhouse behind Degania is built mainly with Hale and White salvage, with a few materials given to us from two other ex-members Dr. Schwartz and his wife, Alta.

Since so much of the contribution of ex-members is quiet and anonymous, I am sure that there are many other examples that other people can come up with that I don’t know about. But I wanted to share this little bit that I know just to let members here be a little more conscious that beyond Twin Oaks’ borders is a larger, looser community that nurtures Twin Oaks but doesn’t have a location or a name. I encourage everyone, if you get a chance, to nurture that other, larger community as well.

Twin Oaks’ Guardian Angels

The Story

by Raven Cotyledon

There isn’t going to be a lot of new information in this post. Rather, I would like to look at the context that surrounds this information. I am going to call this context, “The Story”.

I will start off with a story that I am concerned about and is prevalent in this culture. It was popularized by Margaret Thatcher and goes by the acronym, TINA.  TINA stands for There Is No Alternative. It’s a story that keeps the status quo in place. Things may be awful, but if you believe that there is no alternative, there isn’t much that you can do.

The intentional communities movement, and especially the communes, have a very different story to tell. It is a story about creating many, many alternatives.

And I often start telling the story by talking about Twin Oaks. Twin Oaks is  contradiction to many of the stories that are told to support TINA. All the communes from the sixties failed and are long gone. Communism just doesn’t work.  A dictator (or small oligarchy) will always arise and use any communal situation for his (or their) benefit.

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Twin Oaks 50th Anniversary picture 

Twin Oaks is a commune that started in the sixties, has run for fifty-two years, has over a hundred people living there (including children), and is going strong. It is a small communist society, voluntary and built from the ground up, that functions pretty well. No dictator or oligarchy has emerged in those fifty-two years and, given how independent minded most of the Twin Oaks members are, if anyone tried, they would probably be thrown out.

But one commune doesn’t prove anything. The next thing that I talk about in my story is this blog.  Not because I manage it and write so much for it, but because of the massive amount of information here about communes around the US and around the world. We have articles about communes in Virginia and Missouri, but also in New York City, Washington, DC, Portland, Oregon, and Laramie, Wyoming , and rural communes in Quebec, New York state, Washington state, British Columbia, and Alaska. And beyond North America, we have stories about  Kommune Niederkaufungen in Germany  and Las Indias in Spain, and the kibbutzim in Israel, which were not only the predecessors of the commune movement but are still being reinvented.  I have heard of more, and will publish whatever I find. Twin Oaks is not a single exception but part of what may be a worldwide phenomenon.

LI In a Madrid Bus
Las Indias 

The Story expands from there. It’s not that I expect everyone to live on a commune, but that the communes are the far end of dozens of alternatives. There is a large world of communities to explore if you go over to the Fellowship for Intentional Communities website, ic.org–including cooperative and collective houses, ecovillages and cohousing projects, and, of course, communes. Beyond that is the world of cooperative businesses, alternative agriculture, soft technology, ecological design, sharing projects, and new ways of communicating, building relationships, and dealing with conflict. The Story that we are telling is not that there are no alternatives, but that there is an abundance of alternatives, the world is overflowing with alternatives.

As I have said, communities are laboratories for social change where we see what works and what doesn’t. This blog is important because it documents what is happening in the far end of those experiments. This is the new story, the story of the world we are building, one commune at a time.

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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

  • 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
  • William Kadish
  • Em Stiles
  • Laurel Baez
  • Lynette Shaw

Thanks!

 

The Story

Spring! (At East Wind)

from East Wind Community blog 

March 27, 2019

The East Wind Building Maintenance Crew has been pushing our infrastructure forward. The project for this Spring is remodeling of the floor and windows of our main Food Processing space.

Spring-8

We are still bringing in over a hundred pounds of milk everyday and dairy processing has been moved to the former showerhouse. Good thing the BM Crew got the new showerhouse up and running this past Fall, they just keep setting themselves up for success!

Spring-5
The old showerhouse, see previous blog posts for pictures of the new showerhouse 

Spring-9

Inside the temporary (possibly permanent?) Cheesehaus: the steam kettle, crucial for cheesemaking, in its new home. Featured here is East Wind’s newest Associate Member, a professional butcher and cheesemaker.

The East Wind’s agricultural areas keep bringing in the goods. Produce, dairy, meat. Potatoes, beets, and carrots are in the ground. We are still harvesting kale, spinach, lettuce, and radish. There are two new additions to the milking cow herd: Betty Boop and Carmen.

Spring-2

This is neither Carmen nor Betty Boop, but what a great picture, Beauxb!
Summer crop seedlings.
Spring-3
Derpiest dog on da farm.

The East Wind Nut Butters (EWNB) Crew is continuing to evolve. Members new to the management team are stepping up and taking on responsibility. Passing complex operations along in good, working order can be difficult in this income sharing context. Anna Youngs (Anna Young ran East Wind Nut Butters for most of the 2000s, thanks for holding it down) don’t come along but once a decade. Luckily, there are numerous young Annas here at the moment, all picking up a piece of the puzzle as they can. Effective training and effective leadership comes with time.

There was a relaxed Equinox, Easter, and Birthday combo party on the 21st (the actual Equinox was rainy). No pictures or comments from my end as I was in Dallas visiting my lovely Blood Fam, but I heard it was a good time. Happy Spring!

Spring-12

A relaxing Sunday morning at Rock Bottom.

All in all, East Wind is moving along quite nicely in this most interesting year of 2019. As my co Sage told me today: “things tend to work out for the best.”

Oh yeah, here is the latest video: Utopian Rope Sandals

Post written by Razz with edits from Boone. Pictures by Beauxb, Pinetree, and Panda.

Photo roll!

Spring-7

The garden right in front of our dining hall is being expanded with new fencing and a new gate. Get out and garden!
Communitarians hanging out. The skin being worked here was harvested from Marmalade, the Mother of East Wind’s modern dairy program. Parchment is the end goal. She was delicious roast beef and she lives on in her numerous progeny. God bless you, Marmalade.
The road leading to Fanshen. You can see one of the swarm traps (to capture honeybees) hung on a tree to the left (mentioned in the previous post).

Spring! (At East Wind)