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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]

Point A Plan B

If you are a working on long shots, you need a Plan B.  Something so that if your principal objective or campaign does not work out (which is likely after all because it is a long shot) you can look back at your efforts and say “this was not time wasted, despite not succeeding in our primary goal, we did make progress with Plan B.” Otherwise you burn out or drop out.  Failure after years of effort is a poison to the spirit.

PLAN_B_covershot

When we fought reactors in eastern Europe, Plan B was often movement building.  We failed in stopping reactors at Temelin and Mochovce.  But over these multi-year campaigns we would build organizations which continued on after the reactor fight was over.  The campaign itself was so compelling, the internal group culture and experience so bonding, that despite huge losses, very few people dropped out of these groups.  And these scruffy groups of teenagers and early twenty somethings would become more stable and become environmental NGOs or green political parties.  They would go on to campaign against NATO, toxins, GMOs and for renewables and government transparency, and more proposals to build reactors.

gmo-omg-wtf

The chances of quickly starting an income sharing community within the five Burroughs of New York City are vanishingly small (short Angels jumping to support this project, which is not actually what we are looking for).  There is even a fairly high chance that we will completely fail in getting a house together which fits the FEC rules for income sharing.   [I would guess chances are over 50% we will have an income sharing new community in DC int he next two years.]  So what is Plan B?

For me it is about the topic of our next event in NYC: Sharing systems, Gift Economies and Worker Coops.  On May 10 and 11 in NYC we will be running an Open Space Technology format conference on these important topics.  If we can’t start by building income sharing communities, we can take advantage of the density of NYC and start building libraries (distributed and centralized) and fair or generous economic platforms.  The city offers tremendous opportunity for creating more community, we need to identify it and promote and organize it.

So do you know any compelling speakers or charismatic advocates for these rejuvenating economic alternatives?  If so drop me a message and just to be safe, copy it to info@frompointa.org.

 

 

 

 

Anarchism Talk – University of Hawaii

Talk on Anarchism

University of Hawaii, April 26, 1990

George Bush, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi are all stranded on a desert island – who would survive? [Pause] We would, a bit of Anarchist humor.

When people here the word anarchy, the vision which jumps to mind is chaos. When someone says they are an anarchist, you picture a scruffy person, dressed in black, with a maniacal grin on their face, holding a bomb [Mess up hair, grin and pull mock bomb out of bag].

Instead of this ...

Instead of this …

I’m going to try to shatter some of these illusions.

The word anarchy comes from the Greek “without rule

Anarchists generally believe that governments are fundamentally coercive organizations, drawing there power from violence and that man made laws are a restriction of freedom and therefore both governments and laws should be abolished. Or if you want to look at it in a more affirmative sense, Anarchists seek to:

1) Maximize freedom 2) Minimize coercion

You are probably thinking “Laudable goals, but impossible to obtain without some type of hierarchy to maintain order.”

cant dance

Let me share with you the experience which first convinced me that there were non-hierarchical solutions to problems.

We were choosing teams for an ultimate Frisbee game, someone said “Find someone of approximately your ability and pair up with them.” after about half a minute we were in pairs “now everyone on the left is on one team and everyone on the right is on the other”. Now normally, captains are selected choices are alternated, w/ ego invested first picks and embarrassing last pick and the whole operation takes much longer. Why do we stick with this hierarchical system, which takes responsibility away from the individual, when it is inferior in so many ways – because it is what we know, what we are taught.

Now you are thinking “Nice trick, but life is not a frisbee game, what about more complex social organizations”

mutual aid

If the structure or “topology”, if you will, of the hierarchy is a pyramid. Then what is the large scale model for anarchist organizations? Why it is the buzz word of the 80′s – networks.

I’ve been involved in three different types of network each sheds a bit of light on how anarchists structure things.

First is collective businesses. Workers make the decisions. Frequently, they will choose to give authority to a manager or project leader. But these are fundamentally different from normal corporate managers, they serve a specific project or until the group replaces them, the workers give them the power to lead and volunteer to follow their instructions. Most collectives use a consensus decision model, borrowed from the feminists, in which problems are worked on until everyone agrees on the solution – this is a very different than a voting model. Typically business collectives don’t grow to be huge, but in my experience they are much nicer places to work.

All prices under $0.04. i hoe you can guess this one.

All prices under $0.01.

Secondly are collective houses. I want to focus on a single aspect of a collective house i lived in called Paradox to illustrate a point. Big houses w/ a lot of people (10 in this case) perpetually have problems keeping the place clean. At Paradox we developed a system where post-it notes with cleaning tasks were placed on a big calendar on the date they were last done. When you felt like doing housework, you went to the calendar, found what had not been done in a while, did that task and moved the post-it. Nowhere in this process is your name listed next to your fine work, it is a self policing system. The group having taken responsibility, when things slipped, as they always do occasionally, someone would bring it up in a house meeting and people would generally admit to not having done enuf – this worked better than rigid job wheels in my experience.

The third and last type of network is the political collective. These are important because they deal with the problems of bringing large groups of people together, frequently in short periods to solve specific problems. An affinity group structure is used, usually friends who make decisions using consensus. Often specific tasks are handled by an affinity group, media outreach, writing a handbook, transportation coordination, first aid, food preparation, etc. But the “spokesperson council” will make a decision for the entire group using consensus. Your thinking “It can’t work for a group over a hundred”, I’ve seen it work for several thousand. Not easy but doable.

And you end up with a better quality of decisions.

And flexible decision structure means sometimes the decisions take a long time for them to heads.

Flexible decision structures means be prepared for decision to take longer than voting

Now you are thinking “Okay, maybe this stuff works in special cases, but no government, means no police, no military – civilization will collapse!”

My contention is that these institutions do more to foster collapse than prevent it. Consider the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima after the Japanese petitioned for conditional surrender. Consider that 90% of the 2 million killed in Vietnam were civilians. Consider the Reagan-Bush escapades in Libya, Granada, Nicaragua and Panama. Or if you find these uncompelling, consider the Orwellian double think of nuclear weapons “Build more of these world destroying devices and the world will be safer” Sounds like civilization is quite sick to me.

“But we need the police!” you call. I want to do a survey, how many people in this room have been robbed in the last 20 years [about 80% raise hands] and how many of these crimes were solved with the criminal caught and punished [about 5% raise hands]. So what is the solution here, more police? No, the solution is to change the way society looks at property.

The point is that government is a responsibility dodge, we put it there to deal with the things we don’t want to deal with, and once in place it does things we don’t want it to do. Now you are thinking “This guy is dreaming of places which can’t exist”.

I want tell you about a place called Twin Oaks, it is an intentional community of 70 adults and about a dozen kids in rural Virginia – they don’t bill themselves as anarchists, but rather they use words like egalitarian, feminist and “embracing diversity” it amounts to the same thing. It is directly democratic (rather than a representative one), workers control everything (similar to the collective business i mentioned before), they don’t use money internally (tho they generate over a million dollars in exports a year), they contract with each other to work the same number of hours a week (writing software is worth the same as doing the dishes or childcare), they have some personal property but almost anything large is owned collectively. From the large list of possible jobs they are free to choose the which ones they like and when they will do them. And guess what, no crime. Probably $10 million in physical plant, equipment, and tools and no locks inthe whole place. Fourteen cars and trucks with the keys in them and only one has been stolen in the last 20 years – doing a lot better than this audience. “Well, they must be very restrictive about who they let in.” you are thinking. Nope, a significant majority of people who apply are accepted.

Now maybe you are thinking “I’m not quite sure what to make of all this stuff, but i don’t think these anarchist ideas will ever affect my life.”

I contend that everyone in this room has been effected by a relatively recent anarchist revolution, the sexual revolution. Not long ago, the church, state and nuclear family had incredible power over our sexual relationships. “Living in sin” was not a joke, adultery was a serious punishable crime. People said “this is fundamentally my choice” and whole scale rejected the external authority. The laws stayed on the books, people just ignored them and they became unenforced and unenforceable. They decided to form a network of lovers, if you will, mostly quite small, but the hierarchy lost it’s control over this issue.

So next time someone tells you they are an anarchist, don’t think about bombs, think about freedom [throw mock bomb to Rez in the audience]

... look for this

… look for this

I hope i have shattered some illusions.

[Total time 5 minutes 30 seconds]

From Point A

From Point A to…

An audacious proposal to form Urban Income Sharing Egalitarian Democratic Ambitious Engaged Communes in the cities of the American East Coast.

surreal journey

The Short Version

We know that a more humane, satisfying, sustainable world is possible.  There are any number of theories and plans for transforming society, many of which would likely be better than what we’re doing now.  With 7 billion humans and counting and thousands of years of inherited culture and trillions of acres of intensely varied world any plan we dream up will inevitably encounter vast realms of complexity in its implementation no matter how elegant it is in theory.  The wait for a cataclysmic revolution might exceed our window of opportunity for saving ourselves and, given the complexity of the project, is ripe for failure (a lesson history teaches us well).

So why wait?  If the revolution isn’t coming fast enough then let’s make it where we can (TAZ)!  If the solutions we propose are complicated let’s start testing them and working out the kinks (propositional politics).  If the status quo is corrosive then let us form membranes around our communities to protect us from it so that we can have the strength and robustness necessary to challenge it (counter-institutions).

The Point A project proposes a network of urban income-sharing egalitarian democratic ambitious and engaged communes as a starting point on the road to a more humane, satisfying, and sustainable world for all.  Our goal is social transformation and our actions and forms are aimed at maximizing our effectiveness at achieving that goal as quickly, robustly, and widely as possible.

Unpacking the Adjectives

Urban: Our project is social transformation and that means changing people and how they relate to each other.  Currently and increasingly the people and their relations are mostly in the city.  Also, the rural commune is a model that is pretty thoroughly explored and proven.

Income Sharing: Pooling the products of our labor, including money income, is how we form the membrane around our community that insulates us from the corrosive and isolating effects of capitalism.  Although scary to get into, once established, income sharing makes everything else we are trying to do easier.  From each according to their ability, to each according to their need!

Egalitarian: Let go of the idea of justice and deserving.  We’re making it all up anyway.  What matters is that we’re being taken care of and that so is everyone else.  Liberty, equality, community.  By basing our economy on equal access to resources rather than equal distribution of resources we celebrate and support differences and eliminate a lot of paperwork on our way to our post-scarcity utopia.

Democratic: No one is better equipped to make decisions about our lives than we are.  If we’re trying to meet our needs then we should be in control of the resources and organizations that meet them.  Electing your boss or master is better than not electing them, but we can do a lot more.

Ambitious: We’re taking on a big project not only in training ourselves to cooperate well and in maintaining this protective bubble, but in transforming all of society to more cooperative, democratic, egalitarian forms.  We need a crack team to establish the first beachheads and we need to acknowledge the scale and daring of our aim.

Engaged: The problems we are identifying and confronting are social and often global in nature and therefore demand social and often global responses.  To retreat into our fortress and build a good life for ourselves in isolation is to admit defeat and to abandon our fellow humans and the whole living world.  It is a failure of compassion, and then what sort of Bodhisattva would we be?

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

What Anarchism Isn’t

I generally don’t read Time Magazine anymore.  I am more interested in other less sanitized views of the world.  But i did find myself with the “Person of the Year” issue honoring Pope Francis.  Early in the long article there is a section about how the Pope can’t please everyone in his church.

The papacy is mysterious and magical: it turns a septuagenarian into a superstar while revealing almost nothing about the man himself. And it raises hopes in every corner of the world—hopes that can never be fulfilled, for they are irreconcilable. The elderly traditionalist who pines for the old Latin Mass and the devout young woman who wishes she could be a priest both have hopes. The ambitious monsignor in the Vatican Curia and the evangelizing deacon in a remote Filipino village both have hopes. No Pope can make them all happy at once.

The reason i bring this up is not because i want to talk about Catholicism, but rather because i want to compare this big church with another, which i actually identify with: anarchism.  I stumbled across this comic on Facebook.

who sez?

who sez?

The definition is pretty much right on, but the explanation below leaves me grumpy.  There is nothing inherent in anarchy which preclude chaos or lawlessness.  Especially when governments collapse there can certainly be periods of lawlessness which ensue and this can certainly be an anarchistic circumstance.

And it is definitely not the case that all anarchists are peaceful, even if you try to leave out the issue of self defense.  I have some anarchist friends who believe that the only way to move from the current extremely dangerous situation to a better one is to use violence against agents of the state – especially the police, the military and political leaders.

Perhaps the most famous anarchist, Emma Goldman, supported her lover Alexander Berkman’s efforts to kill Henry Clay Frick, the chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company for his ruthless treatment of mill workers and miners.  US President William McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz who identified as an anarchist.  There is no accrediting organization for anarchists, anyone who says they are an anarchist just might be – or they might be messing with you.

Some anarchists choose violence

Some anarchists choose violence – Czologosz kills the president circa 1901

More recently, black block/autonom protesters have chosen violent tactics and strategies in their struggles with police at demonstrations around the world, from anti-nuclear protests in Germany, to the famous WTO protest in Seattle in 1999, to the teachers protest in Brazil last fall.

Most anarchists i know don’t embrace violence.  This can be because of the “pre-figurative” arguments – we don’t want to use tools to create revolution which we are not planning on using once the revolution is complete.  Other anarchists argue that violence is not a very effective tool, because the state has superior access to violence, including a court system which almost never addresses excessive police violence.  And because in many cultures you can not win the hearts and minds of the populace using violent techniques.

Occupy was a pre-figurative exercise.

Occupy was a pre-figurative exercise.

I’ve been doing political organizing for over 3 decades and in all that time, in many countries and several cultures i have never been convinced that embracing violence was going to advance our political goals.  [I should be clear that violence is when someone gets hurt, property destruction is not violence and has on occasion been a tactic groups i work with employ.]

A paradoxical quip i quote is “All people who generalize are fools.” And so it is with generalizing about the large church of anarchism.  There is not much you can say that is true about all anarchists, except that they don’t think the government is going to solve their problems.

If this is interesting to you, consider reading:

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

BFF – Nothing Short of Amazing

Occasionally, some intellectually leaning person will try to make the case against hope.  They will tell you things are bad and that it is important to be realistic, and the cards are terribly stacked against us and you should not delude yourself, and you should prepare for things getting worse, and really this is the reasonable and prudent thing to do.  Nonsense, i say.

For if you were reasonable, you might well just give up on Baltimore. The city has seen a 30% decrease in population since 1950, collapse of infrastructure, a high violent crime level, a spike in heroine use, food deserts and more.  The folks at the Baltimore Free Farm (BFF) however are nothing like discouraged, taking every piece of abandoned property as they possibility can for a guerrilla urban garden or more.

Welcome Sign to the garden - classic anarchist suggestion

Welcome Sign to the garden – classic anarchist suggestion

When you arrive at the Ash Street community gardens you are met with the above sign.  It is the only “security” the garden has, asking people to be respectful and only to pick things if they have been involved in planting there.  Our enthusiastic tour guide Billy says it seems to work pretty well.

bounty of riches - mural beside the Free Farm gardens

Bounty of riches – mural beside the Free Farm gardens

The Free Farm gives away food it grows and recovers every Wednesday.  BFF also has a big warehouse, which it got control over when they agreed to fix the leaking roof.  Inside they also run a kitchen which supports the efforts of Food Not Bombs on Sundays.   So it is not just a “free farm” in name; in practice people are supplementing their diets with locally grown organic fruits and vegetables that they do not need to pay for. For the neighbors and for the economically disadvantaged, this is a significant direct improvement in their quality of life.

Radical Trust based Tool library

Radical Trust based Tool library

For me what makes the BFF crew so inspiring is their willingness to take risks.  The tool library is a classic example.  There are racks of shovels and leaf blowers and all manner of hand tools.  They are in a shed which is unlocked.  No librarian, but there are slips for people to sign out when they take things.  And they mostly do.  Billy tells me that they have lost very few items from the tool library.  And he tells me he has never paid for a tool in the library.  People give him shovels and other hand tools, and he often sharpens or fixes them and then they return to the public wealth.

One day someone will walk off with most of these tools and leave no note.  On that day i am confident the BFF folks will pull together some other tool donations, take some more risks and restart the library, perhaps after some cursing.

Rocket stove powered pizza oven.

Rocket stove fired pizza oven, Cooks a pizza in two minutes.

The above photo is a salvaged pizza oven which has been retrofitted with high temperature rocket stoves.  I am told by a mostly reliable source that they can get this oven hot enough to cook a pizza in 2 minutes – and it has that nice almost burned crispy bottom that so many people like.

What Billy points out is that if you know you are going to have a lot of people, due to this speed and the ability to cook multiple pizzas at once, you can feed a tremendous number of activists, musicians, volunteers, revolutionaries, traveling circus performers, homeless people or whoever else might be over that day for food.

Rabbits in their special house

Rabbits in their special house

BFF is not vegetarian.  They have chickens and meat rabbits (whom they also use the pelts from).  The structure of the rabbit hut is a mushroom shaped concrete hat which is on the ground and has fencing all around it, including underground so the rabbits don’t flee (or get attacked).  This concrete mushroom has holes in it so the rabbits can get under and burrow, but can’t go through the fencing under it.  The rabbits seem quite happy and they are quite large.

GPaul in the BFF salvage components greenhouse

GPaul in the BFF salvage components greenhouse

A huge fraction of the material infrastructure at BFF is salvaged materials.  The entire greenhouse GPaul is depicted in above is made from recovered materials.  Including all of this huge gauge plastic tubing that would not break short of a full on ice age.  It would cost a pretty penny to build this from materials purchased at a hardware store.  But the resourceful folks at BFF use their salvaging talents and patience in place of cold cash and the results are impressive.

The fancy dinner is another success story.  For the last 3 years they have had one large fundraising dinner per year called “the Fancy Dinner.”  They go out of their way to make nice food and purchasing organic, and from local sources as much as possible.  In past years they have used their own inputs as well as buying from health food stores.  The event now has something of a reputation and it has grown in both attendance and in the size of the meal.  This year Whole Foods approved their donation request and gave them $850 worth of food.

Fancy Dinner Poster outside BFF

Fancy Dinner Poster outside BFF

More comically, Billy and some of his comrades went bow hunting three times for deer so that they could have venison for the fancy dinner. They failed three times.

On the drive back after the last failed attempt, Billy pulled up next to a hunter with a pickup truck filled with deer he had recently killed. Billy rolled down his window and said “Can we have a deer?”  The hunter paused for a moment and said “sure,” then took the deer off his truck, called in the tag to the police so Billy could transport the deer body legally.

When Billy explained what they needed it for and tried to offer money to the hunter, he declined saying, “When you asked me if you could have a deer, I figured that you must have really needed one.” And thus there was venison at the Fancy Dinner as well.  This year they had 120 people buying sliding scale tickets between $25 and $50. That is a chunk of change for an event with very low costs and all volunteer labor.

These seedlings will be planted in the garden soon!

The Free Farmers are scrappy fundraisers. They have done two successful crowd sourcing projects. One to buy vacant land and one to repair the roof of the warehouse. They were both successful, and $12K went to purchase two small plots of land which are now urban gardens.

But these kids don’t always wait for money to move.  They will find abandoned vacant lots and start planting on them, even if they don’t own it.  Sometimes the land owner will come and tell them to leave and they may even lose some stuff.  But what happens almost all of the time, is that the land owner is happy to have someone maintaining the land in any capacity, because it reduces their costs.  Or they don’t care what happens to their land.

Some of the worst i have seen in the industrialized world

Some of the worst i have seen in the industrialized world

So you can sit with your intelligent hopeless friends and pontificate about the giant potholes and endless junkies of Baltimore.  Or you can pitch in at the Free Farm and actually build a better world.

Spring will come

Spring will come

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

Because ultimately we need sustainable education

My dearest friend Joan Jr altered me to this Indiegogo campaign for scholarships to the eco-village training course in Missouri.  As with most good crowd-sourcing pitches they have created a compelling video which i would ask you to take a couple of minutes and review.

While this is an international project, it has a strong set of local roots and a commitment to investing mostly locally.  This text from the Indiegogo project description.

Your contribution does much more than to help bring a student from the other side of the world to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in mid-America. Your contribution has further impact by growing our local economy and local currency system. Last year, 87% of our budget was spent within five miles of our community.  EEUS and Dancing Rabbit model the power of local economy 365 days a year using our alternative local currency, ELMs. Scholarship contributions help immerse students in our community and continue to strengthen our local economy long after the students return home.

imagine a better future and then help people build it

imagine a better future and then help people build it

Please feel encouraged to help this scholarship fund crowd sourcing appeal.

 

MLK comes to Heroes

When games masters (GM) have players who do something they don’t expect and they have to figure out how to respond, i call it “playing off the page”.  Because the GM has to make up what happens then, without the pre-designed script.  Robust games masters design elaborate worlds with many secret hatches and passage ways, so that characters who stroll off the page can gently wrap around and come back onto the page again.  Lazy GMs live off the page and just always wing it.  You can guess where i land.

martin-luther-king-jr-day

In my somewhat unusual prepping today for the Heroes educational fantasy role playing game i decided i wanted to put in a bunch of questions about MLK.  The form was to get the players to identify the one thing on the long list which was something which was not a characteristic of King.  For example, i choose these quotes:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

But the quote which spoke to me most powerfully was:

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

[From Brainy Quote]

King was arrested 29 times

King was arrested 29 times

Before my little research i did not know King had won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album in 1971.  But more importantly i did not know that the New York Times reports that the US government has been convicted in the conspiracy to kill King, including paying a Memphis cop $100K to assassinate king and make sure there were no police on the site.

But even more important than all this was the way he changed the lives of African Americans in this country.  And for this he deserves at least a holiday.

Willow’s only interview

My son understands the idea of labor credits.  [Twin Oaks and Acorn require people to work a quota of labor credits to maintain membership.]  He has to earn a small number of them to satisfy the communities child labor obligations (mostly the kids are responsible for their schooling efforts, but a handful of hours are requested working around the farm, the number increases slowly at the kids get older).  His current quota is about 5 hours a week.
Willow makes his weekly labor credits cooking lunch with Sky, cleaning Tupelo with me and at the Star Family regular K shift.  He has had this labor requirement for quite a long time.  When he was 5 years old he had an obligation to the community for a single hour of work a week.  When i told him that doing interviews with the various types of reporters who come through the community were labor creditable, he decided to do one.
Willow on Paxus - Circa 2007

Willow on Paxus – Circa 2007

A collection of NYU students came down and did a video of communards and they were especially interested in catching Willow on film. Here is the totality of the interview:
NYU College student:  Willow what do you want to tell to the world?
Willow (immediately):  More trees, less cars!
NYU College student:  Great – anything else?
Willow:  When you get that right we can talk again.
With this Willow retired from doing interviews, despite them being relatively easy labor credits.
Sometimes the Trees do win

Sometimes the Trees do win.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

Building the Better Party

I have long believed that the key to successful political organizing is building the better party, not a political one, but a social one.  For if organizers are honest, especially in these times we are a social movement first and a political one somewhere after that. I don’t just like organizing parties, i think when  it is done well it is transformative.

And i had such a feeling tonight as a scruffy group of Acorner party organizers wandered with me through the Seed Palace (which some of us are calling the Arc, because of the way it appears from the outside).  We talked about the ideal location for the ball pit and sound system.  Where there might be a kissing booth and a cuddle space.  There are rooms for writing love letters and another for dancing.  There are fantasies of a room with Cards Against Community.

tea_party_by_millertanya-d5t3c0m

The piece i am most excited about is the Pocket Party of Prizes, Puzzles, Pranks and Poems.  And presumably things that don’t start with P.  Participants are encouraged to wear clothes with many pockets.  They are also encouraged to bring odd presents and pranks to put in other people’s pockets (there were quite some charged moments in the planning meeting around banning glitter).  Pick pocketing is also encouraged.

For people poor at preparation there will be pre-formatted love letters with check boxes and curious graphics with options like “i would like to dance with you” and “we should wrestle in the ball pit” and “you could sing me a song”.  Some of the cards will be appropriate for kids (though we don’t expect any kids there) and some will be banned in 23 states.  You will have supplies to create clever notes and micro artistic expressions to slip into people’s pockets.  If you don’t bring enough pockets we have additional garments with pockets for you.

Just don't get caught

Just don’t get caught

Despite a small budget, an impressive array of snacks and decorations have been organized and the Ark is a beautiful large building with as many possibilities as there are rooms in it.

This party on New Years Eve Eve (Dec 30) at Acorn is in some ways like a practice party for New Years Eve at neighboring Twin Oaks.  You could come to the first party (assuming you had a host) and stay up late, then sleep late and stay up even later on New Years (assuming you had a different host at the other community).

And if we get it right, we can see the revolution from here.

Come try something different

Come try something different

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

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