One of the regular Point A heated discussions is around divergent approaches to resource sharing cultures. There is the typical communard way of free access to shared goods and then the libertarian solutions of decentralized micro markets. In home based hospitality services this is exemplified by couchsurfing.org (which is basically free) and AirBNB.com/FlipKey.com (which are renting previously idle living space).
Unsurprisingly, my personal feelings are the more we can keep money out of theses systems the happier we will be with the cultueffects and social impacts. And I am aware that these decentralized markets (where dynamic rents are exchanged) have tremendous appeal from both tenant and space owner. In lovely compromise of these diverse systems, one Brooklyn friend rents out his back bedroom via AirBNB and this pays the rent for the entire flat, and he camps out handful or more couch surfers in the living room, who are paying nothing,
One of the conventional after market sites on the internet is HoteWire.com which I have found about average air ticket prices and good rental car and hotel prices. In the case of hotel rooms, they don’t tell you the name of the hotel so as to not be in competition with the hotels own site. Bryonna and I wanted to run away for her birthday to the beach, I found an inexpensive two and a half star hotel near the ocean facing Virginia Beach. It had these two picture on the wall.
It was a cheap hotel. But I have to wonder, did they think they were putting up two identical pictures in this room and people would not notice, or not care. or would find it funny perhaps?
On the other hand, this monopoly of beach furniture rentals produces high prices and tremendous wasted surplus. The business makes money presumably, but that alone does not justify the resources used to create these items which is then mostly idle and inequitably distributed. Another small example that capitalism is pushing us the wrong way.
On Friday’s i do the Louisa town trip for both Acorn and Twin Oaks. This is basically a centralized shopping task, where any member of guest who wants something purchased in town fills out a pre-formatted form and slips it into the appropriate drawer in the main office at Twin Oaks (or writes it on the right clipboard at Acorn) and the town tripper goes and satisfies all the requests. If you get your request in before 9 AM, there is a 95% chance you have it where you want it by 1 PM the same day. This is a powerful and convenient system. You don’t have to handle money, you don’t have to do the accounting, you are not even expected to thank the tripper.
Last Friday i got this TOR (Twin Oaks Request)
i believe it is the first one Willow has ever written, it is certainly the first one i have ever gotten. And my immediate thought was “He might stay.”
i have always assumed that Willow would in his later teens go off and do something that might result in him never returning to the commune. In the last few years he has talked about becoming a lawyer. This is after some years of him saying he was never going to go to school. Parents who worry about their children’s college/employment plans before they are 15 are people who apparently don’t have enough to worry about. Kids change their minds.
But the emotional impact of getting this first TOR was significant. It was more than just a request for chips. It was Willow stepping into the complex set of systems which make the clockwork community of Twin Oaks work.
The last two teenagers who grew up at Twin Oaks did not go away to college, unlike the half dozen before them who all did. Instead they stayed and became adult members of the commune. [One of the most common questions we get at college speaking gigs about the communes is "What do you do about kids education?" For the college part, the answer is "We send them to college." The community does not simply write a check for the totality of tuition, fees, room and board. Instead we go thru the entire financial aid package, do some combination of loans and grants and money from other places. But what we make sure is that any one of our kids who wants to can go to the school that they get accepted at.]
To go from a kid member to an adult member is a non-trivial jump. Your quota goes from something like 14 hours a week to 42. You need to do a three week visitor period, but you dont go thru the regular membership input process, instead, if you make full quota as a visitor after 3 weeks we simply accepted you as a member.
Until this TOR i had never really thought seriously about Willow following the lead of our most recent teens. When they became adult members they moved out of the residences where they grew up and where that their folks live, into different buildings in the community, where their parents did not live. It is worth pointing out that both of these kids continue to have fine relationships with their folks. And it is some type of vote of confidence that the commune is attractive enough to hold it’s own kids.
i am guessing Willow won’t stay. He has an adventurous streak and will perhaps go see the world, or become a lawyer, or a lion tamer. But who knows. Kids change their minds.
The title of this post comes from an interview with former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. When asked why he was seeking a second term, having initially emphatically claimed he was only interested in one term as Secretary General he replied in part “Only stupid people don’t change their minds“
Katie came to Twin Oaks with a common enough name. She had a naming party and we came up with Charlie, which she liked and embraced. But tragically and slightly predictably, her name was quite close to another members name and they were unhappy about the new choice.
Charlie is an accommodating type of person. She did not want an existing member to be inconvenienced by her choice. She switched her name back. Only it was too late. Oh most people stopped calling her Charlie, but not all of them back to Katie. And her name dropped into a free fall. Some members started calling her Olive. Others Cabbage. I joined a few members in calling her Hazel, which had been a naming party second choice. Her close friend 3 decided to restart calling her Quigley. Lori prefers Bamboo.
I talked with Hazel today. She does not want to inconvenience the community by changing her name too quickly. She thinks in a few weeks or perhaps months might take on Hazel, but she might be called all manner of things, for the indefinite future.
If you are interested in new communities starting near NYC or DC then please come to Prospect Park in Brooklyn today (May 11) at 1 PM. Inside this huge park we will be at the Picnic House, look for the balloons. Here is the program and here is the Facebook RSVP. This event is a potluck, so please do bring food.
As a special treat after the event around 5 PM Maya Solovey will sing and play music for about an hour. She is an amazing local performer.
The Point A project is roaring along. There are new economic engines in renewable energy. A workers coop in NYC is seriously talking about becoming income sharing and joining the FEC. And the Point A crew in DC found a very interesting piece of “off market” land in the city, which we just might get donated.
All this and more today in Brooklyn. If you can’t make it you can get more information by writing to email@example.com
Willow had been talking about dumpster diving with Feonix for a couple of days leading up to the Tarrytown NY craft fair and he was excited. There was this slightly odd moment of role reversal in which I had blacked out and sometime after midnight Willow woke me and said “Are you ready to go dumpster diving now?” And while some part of my exhausted body wanted to decline, instead I was propelled by my desire to be a yes for my son. We jumped in the van and headed to White Plains where a Dunkin Donuts of known riches was to be found.
We pull in realize that we have neglected flashlights and Feonix uses her phones app to light the way. And we have donuts. The world is a better place and Willow is pleased. Later we would get a flashlight app for my phone, but even with the light the Trader Joes dumpster was being staffed way late in the night (actually crazy early in the morning) and the Whole Foods compacter revealed nothing that could be salvaged. As my son snuck from the security cameras in the parking lot I wondered about this aspect of his home schooling.
It is one of my favorite annual rituals, Feonix and Willow and Corb and Hawina and I doing the Tarrytown fair. In part because Feonix always has the new cool thing or three for us to experience. This time it was Bee and PuppyCat. Which has an inspired scene where Bee is in a temp agency and the cruel recruiter turns away from her to take a phone call. When he turns back his bowl of sweets is emptied and Bee says “You took too long. Now your Candy’s gone. That’s what happened. Kapow.” and she disappears thru the door.
This was one of our regular chants as we took the long drive down the New Jersey Turnpike after the fair. I took a five hour energy drink, Feonix was running her normal night owl energy and Willow was doing the sugar rush connected with low level donut poisoning. We all sang loudly and (at least myself) off key to Mackelmore’s Can’t Hold US on the radio at absurd o’clock somewhere outside Philly.
We arrive at the Keep late, but Willow and I are the last to go to bed. It may well qualify me again for the cover of Negligent Parenting Magazine, but I would not have it another way.
[Willow has approved this post]