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Just don’t put them all in the same room

I re-remembered, as she got out of the hot tub at absurd o’clock last night, why i have such a wild crush both personally and politically on Teagan.  It is in part because she is fiercely pro-active.  Disguised as a suburban housewife, she is actually a full partner and founder of the Catalyst Community project, which is raging forward at stunning speed.  “We already have 10 of the 20 units spoken for.”  The project has been going on in earnest for less than 3 months.

Teagan is just a mom, like Emma Goldman was just a Lithuanian immigrant

Teagan is just a mom, like Emma Goldman was just a Lithuanian immigrant.

Teagan and i met nearly a decade ago when she came to do a visitor period at Twin Oaks.  She understood the importance of community, from her earlier experience living in one.  She was also charismatic, clever and quick to jump in and make things happen. I really wanted her to become a member, but quickly realized the chances of this were quite small.

Burner, Activist, Organizer - the action is never far from her.

Burner, Activist, Organizer – the action is never far from her.

Teagan is perhaps the only person to ever fail the Twin Oaks membership process during the interview.  When asked by Shal what she thought of compromise, she replied shortly, “compromise is not part of my vocabulary” and with this sentence her path to our commune vanished.

And it was for the best, the rural communes never could have contained her.  Teagan is one of those high impact personalities that needs all the space of a really big metropolis like NYC to cast her networking and social agenda upon. During the wee hours of the morning as we were sitting in her hot tub in the shadow of Manhattan, she shared several philanthropic leads she had discovered in her work building her own eco-village, which look like they might be excellent sources for Point A.

Tieagan and Arrows place is always full of interesting characters - here with my allies Karin and Sienna

Teagan and Arrow’s place is always full of interesting characters – here with my allies Karin and Sienna.

As the night wore on she shared her story about doing local organizing that successfully stopped a new Walmart.  She also shared a story of how friends approached her only hours before the application deadline to get Hurricane Sandy relief money. How her crafting of the grant application netted her colleagues’ school $35K.  They were thankful and appreciative, but for Teagan there was no question – this is what she does: Help friends out of their last minute jam and make good things happen for good people.

The wild color is not localized to her hair, it runs thru her entire identity

The wild color is not localized to her hair, it runs through her entire identity.

Generally upbeat, fiery, and committed to helping craft a better world, i am always pleased to be in her company.  She only comes in her special intense flavor.  The communities movement desperately needs a dozen more Teagans; just don’t put them all in the same room.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

 

Cryptrographic Cat

I like writing about the contrast between communities, because it is illustrative of the choices we make and the different cultures we craft.  It has taken me over a year to write about this particular topic, because it was a secret for most of that time.

"You don't talk about Fight Club"

“What cat?”

For a number of good reasons and some poor ones many communities place restrictions on the numbers of some types of pets which can be in residence. Twin Oaks for example, limits the number of dogs to 4 and the number of cats to 10.  Dogs pack and thus howl at night, the number 4 was believed to be below the packing threshold (which it seems to be).  Cats have a high impact on local wildlife, birds, mice, moles etc.   In the egalitarian communities approved pets are budgeted for.   And while every pet must have a sponsor who is responsible for their welfare, the vet, food and other costs are paid for collectively.

One downside is that many people have allergies and try as we might, pets get into public spaces and make the lives of people who can’t share spaces with them difficult.  I am lucky and don’t have pet allergies, but i am highly aware of how we collectively basically discriminate against people with pet allergies in favor of the pets of some members.

One day when i was in the smoke shack at Acorn a grey cat strolled in who clearly felt like this space was theirs.  The cat was aptly named Fight Club, because it was a stray which had been adopted by some of the members and it was above the current cat limit.  So we just did not talk about it.

Fight-Club-movies-quotes-rules

The idea that a public cat could be a secret intrigued me.  I watched with interest as the Fight Club story unfolded.  The advocates for the cat were quick to grab the first cat spot which opened up for Fight Club when another cat departed when its owner moved on from community.  And despite the fact that the cat was then (and now) legitimate we kept the name. Good names are precious and this one had a lovely story to it as well.

Late last year, Acorn spawned Sapling.  At first it was a residence of Acorn which was not on the main campus.  But we knew it was quite likely to become its own community, since that is what most of the Spalingers wanted.  We agreed on a number of rules in the beginning to make it easier to sell the property in the event that the experiment did not work out.  One of these rules was “no pets”.  Sapling is now its own independent community (and there is a guest post in the offing describing it).  But a few months back when i came to visit Sapling a dog ran out and started barking at me.  When i asked what the dog’s name was i was told simply “That is Fight Club”.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

 

Would you wear it?

I breezed into commie clothes and got a funny t-shirt which i barely read.  After walking around in it for half an hour and a couple of people saying, “are you wearing that to the wedding?” i decided i should go back to commie and upgrade my attire.  On my return trip i found a nice embroidered lightweight shirt, which was praised by several people after i emerged with it on.

The next day i walked into the Acorn smoke shack and guest Johnny said, “Oh i like that shirt,” to which i replied, “Would you wear it?” to which he unhesitatingly shot back, “yes!”.  I immediately pulled the shirt over my head and handed it to him.  He stripped his shirt off before a slightly shocked new visitor and put the embroidered one right on. The total length of our exchange was less than 2 minutes.  I walked off wearing his simple green t-shirt.

Johnny and his new shirt

Johnny and his new shirt

The pitch i made to the PBS reporter who was just here is we basically have two choices: we can learn to share things, be generous and cooperate, OR we can continue to be selfish, possessive, and untrusting.  In the latter case, the world dies.  Let’s practice giving stuff away in a big way.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

About paxus calta

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found on Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

The easiest virtue

When i was in my early teens i thought (for some reason which escapes me now) that i should be more virtuous.   i did a bit of research and found a long list of virtues in some book (this is before Wikipedia would direct me here).  Having studied the list and being an efficient sort of teen (not wanting to have to work the new virtue problem too hard), i settled on patience.  My thinking was this, all you have to do is wait.

Turns out in my particular style of parenting, patience is the key to success.  Twin Oaks requires an increasing amount of work from it’s kids as they get older.  Willow needs to work a handful of hours now and it will bump up to 8 hours a week when he turns 13.  Mostly he is responsible for his homework and education.

My Tupelo Surf Helper and Mop

My Tupelo Serf Helper and Mop

For a while time i was worried that Willow would play video games and watch Star Trek and resist both school work and work around the community.  Over the last few months he has been doing more of both.  Hawina has been instrumental in helping him find work that he actually wants to do.  Like helping Sky with preparing lunch or doing a Tupelo Serf (cleaning shift) or boxing tofu or stocking his residence’s kitchen.

And good things come to those who wait.  And the big benefit to the more patient approach is that he feels he is making the choices (which he is), rather than being commanded by his parents to do something.  And some times the easiest thing to do is the right thing to do.

My favorite moment from this Tupelo Serf shift with Willow was after i asked him to help me spell something he said “i love it when adults ask me how to spell things.”

[Willow has Read and Approved the Post]

 

 

Two Speaking gigs – University of Baltimore and MIT

i quite like public speaking, especially when it is on topics i am passionate about.  I have two gigs coming up and i wanted to brag about them here.

Cuddle2-page-001

My charming and talented lover Bryonna at UB is organizing this first event.  My part of the presentation is just before the “cuddle in” part and while i will certainly talk about the basics of consent and why it is important, my real agenda is to use transparency tools and milling activities to build trust among these somewhat daring participants.

An earlier event is the workshop GPaul and i are doing at MIT on how intentional community and sharing technologies are the solution to Climate Disruption.

Workshop Poster-page-001

 

OK Cupid Blues and Greens

[It turn out, as a novice user, i significantly over-simplified both the status and the politics of the polyamory identity/recognition struggle within OK Cupid in this post.  Fortunately, my new friend Tara has added a long comment to this this post which gives the background and history.  In this case you might want to read the comments to this post before the post itself.]

Some months back i joined a secret polyamory group on Facebook (which means it can only be seen by its members).  One of the interesting aspects of this group was that there was an internal list of links to people’s OK Cupid (OCK) profiles and a few other links.  Many dating sites and sex positive social network sites use pseudonyms to hide people’s identity, so this key inside the secret poly group was quite valuable in seeing who was in the group and how they present themselves.   Almost everyone had an OKC profile, so i thought i should get one as well. Once i put it up, Cassandra heavily edited it for me.

What should your partner be doing of a Friday Night?

What should your partner be doing of a Friday Night?

One of the problems with OKC is that it was not designed to match poly people very well.  Under relationship status you could be single or married or dating, but there was no “Open Relationship” option, which is quite important to dating sites.  OKC fixed that this week.  We will see if this leads to a different experience for me with the system.

okcupid triad

i must confess an odd relationship with the OKC system.  i want to be validated by having people who it seems i am good matches with, but i am not super interested in finding romantic partners this way, at least i don’t think i am.  It has been slightly frustrating to find people who are 95% matches who have no interest in polyamory, since i have answered a number of questions about this, it seems like there is something wrong with the OKC weighting algorithm (or perhaps everyone else is just dodging all the questions on poly).

OKCupid key words

OK Cupid does have a number of revealing and curious statistics about it’s own users.  For example if your desire is to get a lot of messages from OKC as a straight female user, then you are much better off with some people thinking you attractive and others thinking you are ugly, then you are with the same number of people finding you beautiful but many men finding you cute.

OKC paradox questions

OKC paradoxical answers

The service is free.  You can add your own questions and answer the ones you like.  It is in pretty wide use (which is important for network effects).  It does not discriminate against non-heterosexual users (as a surprising number of dating sites do).  And while it is not the only game in town, it is a good game.  If you want to be in this world at all.

Other Polyamory Blog Posts:

And the latest news from Scientific American:  Polyamory may be Good for You

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temelin 3 and 4 are Dead

It’s late, i should be in bed, but i just read some very good news and there are some people i need to thank.

In 1991, i moved to Brno in what was then Czechoslovakia.  I started working with an amazing group of young Czech radicals who worked for a “dark green” group called Hnuti Duha (the Rainbow Movement).  “How green were there?” you might be asking.  I walked up the 4 floors worth of stairs for 5 years with my Czech comrades before i even knew the building had an elevator.  American friends came to visit at once and tried to give out oranges they had bought.  Thirty people in this office, and they could not give away one orange.  Why?  Because oranges don’t grow in Czechoslovakia, which means they are not bioregional, so they were not part of our diet.  When we started working on the nuclear power plants Temelin 1 & 2, which had been started by the Soviets and were being taken over by the Westinghouse and the US Export Import Bank, public opinion was 80% in favor of building reactors in that country.

Honza and Jakub

Honza and Jakub

Honza Beranek was my boss.  He was 21, i was 34.  He was the best boss i ever had.  Soft spoken, hard thinking, deeply dedicated.  One of the people who could have made a fortune in the private sector, but it was never really an option.  After a stint as president of the Czech Green Party, he would move to Amsterdam with his family and work for Greenpeace, ultimately taking the job i always wanted, the head of the international anti-nuclear campaign.  He would be promoted again to running the entire Greenpeace Energy Campaign.

Jakub Patocka was only 19 when i came to work for Duha.  Charismatic, deeply political, sharply literary and also hella bright he was the hand on the rudder of this exotic environmental campaigning organization, which would ultimately become the Czech chapter of Friend of the Earth.  While Honza went off to do international work, Jakub stayed in the Czech Republic and was the editor for a couple of political magazines and ran political campaigns. There were dozens of environmental campaigns in the Czech Republic that these two extraordinary young activists could have chosen.  They selected one that they were almost certain to lose, because it was the right fight to be in.

JanH and Adela

JanH and Adela

Jan Haverkamp and i started working together in 1990 at Ecotopia in Hungary.  He pretended to be a Westinghouse representative presenting the benefits of nuclear power to the environmental activists at the camp.  He was fantastically compelling and crazy frustrating to the young activists who knew he was manipulating them, but did not know their material well enough to counter his arguments.  Jan had the other job i coveted, he traveled across Europe helping small local groups defeat reactors.  He was at every Temelin action i was at for years.  He was instrumental in stopping the Belene Reactor complex in Bulgaria.  The last time i was in Prague, i expressed concern to my Czech wife Adela about the proposed new Temelin reactor blocks 3 & 4.  Adela, who is the mother of Jan’s daughter Bara, said “Jan will stop them.”

Crashing the gates at Temelin in 1996

Crashing the gates at Temelin in 1996

And indeed he has (with the help of many others).  News just arrived today that construction of Temelin 3 & 4 will not be started.  Unable to get the huge government subsidies and guarantees that the UK recently agreed to at Hinckley C, the Czech electric utility had to fold this completely uneconomical proposal.  In late 2013, Jakub joined the Czech Social Democratic Party, in early 2014 this party would cancel the government subsidies for Temelin 3 & 4, and the project would die.  I don’t think this is a coincidence.

Europe rests easier tonight knowing this ill-conceived reactor project will never be completed (and CEZ’s stock went up 3.1% on the announcement).  And to these heroes and teachers of mine, thank you for your tireless work and this tremendous success.

PS: Jakub tells me that the new minister of Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek refused to provide state subsidies for the reactor, which was central to the deal collapsing.  And while there is talk of a new tender, perhaps using the new wholly government controlled energy entity (unlike the utility CEZ which is 30% traded on the open market and the rest government owned), without state funding there is no future for new nuclear construction in the Czech Republic.  

 

 

My favorite Billionaire

About 20 year ago i got a call from Teddy Goldsmith.  The British publisher, author and philosopher who was actually calling for his billionaire brother Jimmy Goldsmith.  Jimmy wanted to assemble the worlds top anti-nuclear experts and campaigners and fund their best projects.   I was happy to help organize the event, and despite not being experienced or important enough, Teddy asked me to come to the event which was hosted in Jimmy’s castle in France.

My favorite Billionaire and his wife Lady Annebell

My favorite Billionaire and his wife Lady Annebel – before his death in 1997

Sir Jimmy was hardly a progressive.  We disagreed on immigration and a host of other issues.  This was a classic case of political rap around, where the anti-government conservatives agree with the anarchists.  

It was an eclectic, high powered gathering.  There was a Russian nuclear scientist who had jumped to the anti-nuclear resistance after the wall came down.   The head of Greenpeace International’s nuclear campaign was there.  A US energy efficiency expert who would later be selected by Clinton as an under secretary of DOE.  An expert in nuclear weapons non-proliferation attended.  We tried to get Amory Lovins to the event, who was friendly with both Teddy and Jimmy, but his schedule did not permit it.

Jimmy asked the grilled the group with smart questions.  In the end he said he wanted proposals from each of us for what we thought would be the most effective anti-nuclear projects.  i was doing a fair amount of grant writing at the time and asked how long the proposals should be.  He replied, “Just one page.  If you can’t convince me in a page, you won’t convince me in more.”  Various Goldsmith grants would fund anti-nuclear activities i was involved with for the following 7 years i was in Europe, mostly projects in eastern Europe.

One of the biggest projects Jimmy would support (not just in the field of anti-nuclear efforts) was his brothers environmental magazine, The Ecologist.  Which recently put out a brilliant analysis as to why the so called Nuclear Renaissance was dead.  The rest of this post is inspired and stolen from this article.

Globally, nuclear power is in decline.  In 1993 it produced 17% of the global electricity supply, in 2013 it was 10%.  Nuclear power suffered its biggest ever one-year fall in 2012 – nuclear generation fell 7% from the 2011 figure. And while most of this was from closed reactors in Japan, nuclear generation fell in no less than 17 countries, including all of the top five nuclear-generating countries.  Almost half of the worlds operating reactors have been doing so for 30 years, yet the average life of reactors which started operations is 23 years.

In the US in 2009 there were 31 applications for the construction of new reactors.  Only four of these applications turned into actual construction.  All for of these reactors are in states which permit utilities to bill customers for construction costs far before the reactor is finished, and even if the reactor is never finished.  At the same time, for the first time in 15 years, this year US utilities announced the closing of 5 rectors  which will put the US below 100 reactors for the first time in decades.

In western Europe there are only two reactors currently under construction.  The estimated construction cost  in Finland has ballooned from $4.5 billion to $12 billion. The estimated cost for the new reactor in France has ballooned from $5 billion to $12.8 billion.  Neither of these reactors are finished, there are expensive lawsuits which will add to the costs and further delays and cost overruns are nearly certain.  The proposed new reactors in the UK at Hinkley Point are estimated at a staggering $29 billion, making them the most expensive reactor construction project ever proposed and at a cost over twice what the UK is paying for power, even if it comes in on time and budget.

We can make better choices

We can make better choices

Nuclear power has always been a con game.  With efforts from billionaires and anarchists and the wake up call of a terrible accident, we might actually get to the other side of this terrible game.

Acorn Land Day Photos

Even the goats dress up for the party

Even the goats dress up for the party.

Samantha dresses up just for parties

Samantha dresses up just for parties.

We built a lovely stage

We built a lovely stage.

And build a huge fire in front of it

And built a huge fire in front of it.

Some costumes were exotic

Some costumes were exotic.

Dragon and Luna

Dragon and Luna

Grace guest fees a goat

Grace Guest feeds a goat.

 

Calf checking out party lights

Calf checking out party lights.

Ca[f spooked by lights flees

Calf spooked by lights flees.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

The Tanks are Rolling Out …

It is one of my oft told life stories.

Rabbit and Paxus

Prof Rabbit and his unreliable student

In the late fall of 1989, i was in Hawaii and i got a call from Rabbit, who said

They have just had revolutions throughout Eastern Europe.  We need to go, as soon as possible, we need to talk with the revolutionaries and find out what really happened.  Because soon they will write the history books, and once they are written, the truth will be lost forever.

So, in the summer of 1990, Rabbit and i went to Eastern Europe and talked to revolutionaries and discovered some precious pieces which would never make it to the history books.

I tell this story often when introducing myself.  It is one of my life stories which helps move the characters along.  Gets me from being an affluent ocean engineer living in a condo on Oahu to an oft homeless anti-nuclear activist in then Czechoslovakia.  Just one problem, the story’s not true.

Oh, parts of it are true; Rabbit and i did go to Europe.  We talked a bunch about the political changes in the world and the fall of communism, especially.  But we went to Southern Europe, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, which we had planned for months before the revolutions of 1989.  We had a wonderful thought-provoking adventure, it just was not to the east.   The urgent invitation conversation never happened, but it should have.  And thus the story.

Rabbit would spin off and head home to San Francisco, and i would do Eastern Europe by myself, because i was just figuring out what to do with my life.  And i would soon fall in love with Czechoslovakia.

I arrived in Prague on a hot August night.  I slept in Hlavni Nadrazi (the main railroad station) which is normally not possible, but because it was the day before the big Rolling Stones concert, the station was packed all night and the police had bigger fish to fry.

The next day i walked around the city where i knew no one.  Had you told me at the time i would spend most of the next eight years in orbit of this place i would have been curiously surprised and delighted.  When i walked through the central city, i found a curious thing.  It was a pink tank.

not quite my pink tank

not quite my pink tank

It was on its side, having been flipped by the locals when the Russians had tried to maintain control eight months earlier.  Once the protesters had uprighted the tank, the artists came in and had at it.

oink tank with grafitti

I timed my visit to see the inexpensive Rolling Stones concert.  It was being held in Strahov Stadium, which was (and technically still is) the highest capacity stadium in the world, seating between 220K and 250K people.  When it was an active sports arena it could house seven simultaneous soccer games.  Trouble is there are not many times you want the capacity to hold seven parallel soccer games or 220K people.

The first Rolling Stones concert in a recently liberated country, however, is exactly one of the times you need a stadium that size.

Strahov Empty

Strahov Empty

The posters for the concert read “The Tanks are Rolling Out, the Stones are Rolling In.”

More exotic Czech political art

More exotic Czech political art circa 2012

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

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