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Commune Snapshot – Dragons and other mysterious creatures

Luna and Dragon gather compost

Luna and Dragon gather compost

William hale (ex-TO) supplies us mulch

William Hale supplies Acorn mulch – Luna eyes tractor longingly

Dragon and Monique at Pol y Winter Wonderland

Dragon and Monique at Pol y Winter Wonderland near Mount Storm WV

Sappho Gryphondaughter and me with weird mask - undisclosed location

Sappho Gryphondaughter and me with weird mask – undisclosed location

Check out these pictures of the back to the land movement in the late 1960s.

Vulture House at Freedonia

The new kids on the block are actually the old kids from the block, they are just back with a very politically potent offer which will hopefully be a new direction for the squatting movement – but i am getting ahead of myself, let’s begin at the beginning.

Freedonia is awesome.  They have pioneered a new approach to squatting which makes it more resilient.  They have tricked the police into giving them abandoned buildings.   They host clever workshops, feed local and poor people for free and throw bad ass parties.  All in an undisclosed location, in the shadow of serious urban decay, somewhere on the east coast of the US, far from anywhere Dick Cheney would think of hanging out.


An adventurous group of Freedonians (which is quite redundant phrase actually) set off on a bike tour to New Orleans.  They called themselves the Vultures.  There were puppet shows, there were narrow escapes from the police, there were complex polyamorous topographies – all the good things you would expect from our intrepid travelers.  And there were lots of talks around open fires about how to step things up back in Freedonia.

Vultures, Puppet Shows, No Relation

Vultures, Puppet Shows, No Relation

Normal people would have looked at the impressive accomplishments of this full featured set of squats and said “well, we have done quite enough and we are already impressive and sustainable just the way we are”.  But the Vultures would not know normal if it came at them with a knife (i’d bet on the Vultures in this fight though, normal don’t got a chance).

A west coast squat that has nothing to do with Freedonia

A west coast squat that has nothing to do with Freedonia

They decided they would kick it up a level and start income sharing.  They returned from their bike tour, promptly broke into a house not far from their original places (which they had let others move into while they were on the bike tour and they did not want them to leave when they returned) and squatted it.  And thus Vulture House was born.

They then offered to all of the other Freedonians to join them in this income sharing adventure.  Readers of this blog will not be surprised that i think sharing and especially income sharing are instrumental in saving the world.  We don’t know how many other local squatters will bite, but the Vultures are pretty compelling.

Stay tuned for more tales of intrepid revolutionaries from undisclosed locations.

We are watching these vultures

We are watching these vultures

A Multi-Generational Sober Edgy Party

The facilitator did not think it would fly.  “How many people would help organize a sober New Year’s Eve Eve party?”  But when more than half the room raised their hands in the Acorn Community meeting, the follow up question became obvious “How many people would attend such a party?” Almost the every hand went up in the room.

I’ve tried several times to organize large sober parties at the communes, there has not been interest or willingness to give up  a major holiday for this experiment.  But the case for New Year’s Eve Eve was pretty compelling.  For starters, New Year’s Eve was not going to be sober, so it is physically draining to party hard this way two nights in a row.  So a sober party first is an obvious fix.

But funologically sober parties bring a score of other advantages.  One is talented people who don’t like to be around intoxicated folks so much jump at the chance to help make sober event happen.  Purl performed a charming surreal puppet shows and enthused karaoke facilitation as part of the night’s complex mix of activities.

Purl's Puppet Shows are bizarre and lovely

Purl’s Puppet Shows are bizarre and lovely

One of the things which i did not pull off at this event, because i was too busy driving shuttles to Twin Oaks, was a real new year’s resolution game.  Using some as-yet undefined combination of appreciative inquiry and transparency tools, i wanted to craft robust resolutions that people would be excited about attempting, and compassionate with themselves around lapsing from.  Just like Validation Day fixed Valentines Day, just like the communes institutional sharing fixes brittle agreements, i wanted to try to fix the generally reckless process of making a new year’s resolution.  And at the center of this unfulfilled plan was sober, heady talk.


One of the things the commune does, which i deeply appreciate, is to throw multi-generational events.  At this party it meant having littler kids in the early stages and the teens show up when the Magic card game started around midnight.  Willow was the youngest, i was the oldest.  And what was clear was that it did not really matter what your age was; what mattered was how you played, and age held little advantage in this deeply competitive game (i was one of the first eliminated).

hippie versus punk

One of the things i realized only after the event was that while the communes tend to run in the hippie direction in terms of membership, many of our friends who came to this party are punks.  The punks are, because of their culture and because of the differences, inherently more edgy.  Pulling intoxicants out of the mix made it more comfortable to have edgy, different people in our midst, especially for those who had never met them before.

People seemed to enjoy this well attended event, with a bit of luck, it will become and annual tradition.

“Hacking” Facebook

If you really knew me you’d know that I never log out of facebook, and that I’ll steal your hamburger when you’re not looking.

Is what my facebook wall said, but i did not write it.  Earlier in the day at Acorn, i had discovered a hamburger in the conspiracy office.  It seemed an odd place for a hamburger, sitting on top of the low file cabinet.  i asked the people in the office, who had no knowledge of it.  I asked the cooks in the neighboring room. still no clues.  The lone person in the down stairs living room was also uninformed about this abandoned burger.  i ate it.


So busted

Turns out it was Mac‘s.  She had only left the burger for a few minutes (she claims) and my timing was terrible, or perfect depending on who you ask.  We spoke about it.  It was funny, it is one of those things which might happen in community – if your community is unfortunate enough to have people like me in it.  But later when i left FB open on one of the public computers she jumped on, she put out this funny line, making fun of me and transparency tools (“if you really knew me”) and my burger theft.  This seems a lovely response of my bad log out behavior.

One of the many things we share in commune life is computers.  While many individuals have personal computers, both Acorn and Twin Oaks have a number of “public computers” which are available to anyone who wants to use them.  i use these all the time.  And the nature of my life is that i also jump up from them all the time, to get a phone call, to respond to someones request of me, because i hear a song in the other room i want to dance to.  i dont always log out of everything i am logged into.

This has resulted in some funny blog posts by Belladonna Took including:

i twerk this badly

i twerk this badly

If you have not read these posts and need a laugh, i would encourage you to check them out, they are definitely some of the funnier entries on my blog.  And Belladonna, who is one of the few people in the world with surplus creativity, is happy to bang such things out when ever she finds my WordPress account open.  Though these days this is less often, since she is starting a new community on Staten Island across the street from Ganas which is affiliated with Point A.

Don’t let anyone tell you Facebook is simple.  It can be addictive, it is often petty, it can reconnect you with lost friends,  it also can have terrific blow back in which people lose jobs and friends and relationships, it can invade your privacy, it can allow you tell lots of people things quickly, it begs all kinds of questions about who your “friends” really are (does it include all your family? your colleagues at work?  your boss?).  Facebook is many, many things – but simple is not one of them.

Who are your real friends?

Who are your real friends?



“I forgot what i changed your password to.” – Willow

i feel a bit like the Soviet Union in 1965.  The US had amassed a tremendous stockpile of nuclear weapons which it already had a demonstrated capacity to use and appeared to have a dangerous attitude towards the other side of the iron curtain.

nuclear Stockpiles_500

My son is using increasingly clever hacks into my facebook account and that gives me this cold war feeling.  Despite me logging out of it much more reliably and changing my passwords.    Most recently he used a browser trick to bring back my logged in email account, told Facebook i had lost my password which then sent a reset code to my email account.  He then changed my Facebook password and replaced my profile picture with this:

Apparently, i look like a blobfish.

Apparently, i look like a blobfish.

Perhaps more disconcerting, Willow started chatting with people about his strange timeline postings (including a critique of contemporary movie genres) as though he was me and clearly fooled at least a couple of people.  Tho tragically, his spelling is even worse than mine.

We talked about it briefly in ZK today.

“Have you seen your facebook page recently? ” Willow says smiling broadly.

“i could not get in because you changed the password.  i suspected you.” i fail to look upset and he can tell he is on safe ground.

“i did not change your email password.” he fires back, which seems slightly beside the point to me.

“What is my new Facebook password?” i stand closer to him in a slightly menacing way.

“i don’t remember.” he says with a silent “whatever” on the end.

“How am i supposed to get in if you forgot the password?!” i start to get excited.

“The same way i did, tell Facebook you lost your password and get a reset sent to your email account.” there is a silent “duh, obviously” attached.

Don't be fooled by the innocent look

Don’t be fooled by the innocent look

i spent 5 years in engineering school and my 12 year old is explaining how to circumvent the new password he put on my account that he hacked for fun.

And i want to be in this game with him.  Despite the frustration some of my FB users experience, and especially as he ups his game, i consider this part of his nefarious home schooling experience, which is a small but important part of his overall educational experience.

We fly to Florida later today for Xmas.  Willow and Paxus circa 2014

We fly to Florida later today for Xmas. Willow and Paxus circa 2014

Famous for playing video games

Willow and Jonah in Al Jazeera

Willow and Jonah in Al Jazeera

i would be lying if i said i was surprised that Al Jazeera managed to catch a picture of my son playing video games.  He plays a fair few of them.  This was part of a slide show of pictures they took recently capturing community life, which is part of a larger article they did on the community, featuring Willows other dad, Sky Blue.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Anissa (who is part of the Star family and was part of Willow’s parenting collective at one point) is capturing a little media attention with her son, Jed about kids eating the food they grow.  And treated like the rock star she is the New Zealand Herald is tracking her get aways to the city.

anissa and jed

[This post has been approved by Anissa and Willow]

Thanks, but …

Over both of the last two nights Angelica and i have spent a couple of hours at Siesta Key Beach around midnight in Sarasota FL.  Sarasota is a town of 60K which my guess brushes up closer to 100K over the Thanksgiving holiday, with kids and grand kids coming to visit their less mobile older relatives.  Siesta Key is considered by many to be one of the most lovely beaches in the world, with fine white sands and good facilities.  There are literally thousands of condo and housing units within a few hundred yards of the beach for a very long stretch.  Unlike Virginia Beach, the water is warm enough to walk through it barefoot indefinitely during the night this time of year.

Both nights on the beach there was no one else there.

Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key Beach

Sarasota does have an impressive array of shopping centers, malls and strip malls.  These are busy when ever they are open.  I find myself thankful i only visit here. At my big Thanksgiving meal today i sat across from someone who leads mountain climbing exhibitions around the world who said,

I like fracking, because it means I can take explosives through my airport security easily.

Apparently she uses explosives for avalanche control.

Apparently this is a thing, who knew.

Apparently this is a thing, who knew?

This holiday i am thankful for Ferguson.  Not the murder of Michael Brown or witness DeAndre Joshua, of course, nor the clearly contestable Grand Jury verdict.  What i am instead appreciating is  the explosion of media attention on the homicides by the police of unarmed people of color in the US.  Murder is the largest cause of death of black males between 15 and 34 at 40%.  White males of the same age range died at a 3.8% rate. And in response to the Grand Jury verdict there have been mixed race protests in at least 37 locations across the nation. ferguson-protests-map-2-638x478 And i am thankful for my inspirational allies, including Jeff Winder, who very nearly got arrested with us at the UVa anti-rape protest.  Jeff does what no one else seems to be able to do at the Wayside Center where he works, which is to do organizing both from the secular community and the spiritually based one, on the same issues.  And Wayside is able to build resistance movements with people of color and whites working together on the same issues.  I had hoped to spend my couple of hours in jail last week talking with him.  But i am confident there will be another chance to talk, likely when both of us are getting arrested at the same action or at a court hearing. Jeff’s rant below is not your classic holiday fluff.  But i appreciate the he puts it out and want to repost it.

Jeff at Work

Jeff at Work

Ruminations of a white guy drinking alone on a fucked up excuse for a holiday Happy Thanksgiv . . . no! I won’t say it. Because now that I know the truth that just sounds like “Fuck You” to indigenous people, to descendants of enslaved peoples, to people forced to immigrate across lands that are ancestrally theirs. I can’t bring myself to celebrate a holiday that encourages us to gorge ourselves on more food than we need while we celebrate a lie – a lie that makes us forget our homes, our country, our lives, our jobs, everything that we have is built on genocide and slavery.
No shade on people who gather under another name, who do what they need to do to get through another celebration of this awful, depressing, soul-sucking lie. But I can’t do it this time.
This year I can’t sit comfortably and be grateful for the loved ones in my life, because I know the presence of these loved ones in my life is an unearned privilege. I will not insult the family of Sage Smith, the family of Michael Brown, the families of all the people gunned down by cops, locked up in private prisons or immigrant detention centers ripped apart from their families when this capitalist system could make more money by doing so than by exploiting their labor here by posting a facebook status about how grateful I am for my loved ones because that would not be a revolutionary subversion of this capitalist, revisionist, violent holiday but rather a celebration that I have by unearned privilege what should be a basic right for all.
captured alive
This week I heard firsthand, up close and personal when the father of Sage Smith told a community gathered in support that the cville police department did a half-assed job on the search for his black transgender working class loved one while putting all resources and concern into the search for cis, white university students. This week I was almost arrested for shouting “burn it down” on the steps of a frat house that was exposed as the site of a pattern of gang rapes that the university covered up. Upper class “concerned” people tried to shut me down for saying it and had the gall to tell rape survivors to stuff their anger because “anger never solves anything.” This week, instead of joining trusted comrades in the streets to rage, to rise up, to stand in solidarity with people in Ferguson who have the courage to rebel when the system says it is ok for cops to gun down unarmed black men in their community . . . Instead, I stayed home and held my teenage son in my arms as he sobbed uncontrollably. . . his depression a byproduct of this fucked up culture that we are all supposed to celebrate.
So fuck thanksgiving and christmas and easter and any other holiday that is engineered to make me forget, to let it be ok just for one day . . . because we know better – deep down inside all of us do. And the things that we have to do to make ourselves believe the lies are the causes of most of the alcoholism and drug abuse and “mental illness” and domestic abuse that exists in white culture. I mean really, what kind of a fucked up person could be well-adjusted to a world like this?
honor shotting
I wonder what it was like to gather together for holidays and celebrations to mark the passing of the seasons when we actually had a culture . . .to console ourselves at the end of the warmth and the approach of winter by gathering with beloved community to share the abundance of the season we are shedding. What was it like to comfort ourselves as the days got shorter and greyer and colder by pulling close with loved ones around a fire to share warmth and music and stories that sustained us? What was it like before every holiday had been coopted, twisted, turned into an occasion to whitewash and sanitize the demented history and bloody current reality our livelihoods are built on? To make us forget, prop up the denial that we spend our precious life energy maintaining, to sugar coat the deal with the devil so that we can continue to believe that we have what we have because we worked hard and we deserve it?
When will we realize that this is no way to live? If basic compassion and human decency is not enough, when will we realize that to rise up and rebel is not an act of generosity but the only hope of survival for ourselves, too?
Jeff Winder In the post above, where I talk about not joining trusted comrades to rage in the streets in the wake I Ferguson, that wasn’t the honest way to describe that. I should have said “instead of showing up to offer support to organized efforts by people of color who took to the streets locally to rage, to rise up, to stand in solidarity with people in Ferguson.’ Because that is the truth. And since we live in a white supremacist culture, for me to not explicitly acknowledge that is to make their organizing in defense of their own community invisible. I will post this everywhere that this status was re-posted in hopes that it will be seen. Probably too little too late. Unlearning white supremacy is an ongoing process for me and I still fuck up all the time. My apologies and much respect to Operation Social Equality, the UVA Black Student Association and the Anarchist People of Color Collective, the groups who quickly organized an incredibly powerful response to the verdict.

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