Contrasting Commune Cultures – Visitor Orientation
“I wondered how long it would be before the honeymoon wore off,” said Puck to me when he saw me clearly upset about some members at Acorn who had concerns about my interaction with two teenage female friends.
It is impossible to live in both of these communities without comparing them. It is nearly impossible not to do it, even if you only move between them occasionally. Twin Oaks meals are on time. Acorn has quick decision capacity. Twin Oaks has multiple different businesses and lots of different work opportunities. Acorn does not use labor sheets. Twin Oaks vehicles basically always work and are signed out properly. Acorn runs the super cool Seed Business. Twin Oaks hosts the communities conference and women’s gathering. And it goes on and on.
We were talking recently about the differences in the visitor program. Visitors in the Twin Oaks program get labor sheets like Oakers and are required to work full quota, if they are interested in membership. Over the course of the three week visitor period, besides the regular community work they do, visitors also get 19 different orientations (what we call Oreos for short) these include:
- Community Government Oreo
- Hammocks Shop tour and lesson
- Community nature walk
- Tofu Oreo
- Child Oreo
- Health/Mental Health Oreo
- Labor Oreo
- Membership Process Oreo
- Movement Support/EcoVillage Oreo
- Social Oreo
- Land Walk
- Community Tour
- Process Oreo
- Legal Oreo
- and a number more which are not coming to my tired mind
At Acorn when people come in, we give then a 40 minute tour and outline of our norms and say “We depend on you to manage your visitor period, including your clearness and interview process, you need to make sure these things happen in a timely way.” Then everything else they want to know about the community they can ask members about. It is a completely informal orientation for visitors.
Twin Oaks has 19 orientations, Acorn has 1. Some will point to the size differences and claim this is why, but more fundamentally it is a culture difference. Twin Oaks believes it can control some things by monitoring and directly informing them. Acorn thinks (on some level) we are riding the crest of a chaotic wave and we will hold on and see what happens.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]