This is a lovely piece of corporate sponsored good citizenship modeling.
It is somewhat culturally inappropriate for the US in a number of ways. You don’t poke a woman you don’t know on the bus (though you could offer your seat if you felt moved). It is a guy always giving to somehow disempowered women.
And if we can see past these problems and get to the deeper message: generosity – particularly regular small generosity, is a highly desirable cultural attribute.
Curiously with almost 5 million Youtube views of this video, it points to a Thai language dominated and apparently uninteresting website.
On the most disturbing side there is this piece from Syria.
This Save the Children fundraiser has already exceeded it’s $100K goal.
What are the implications of this improving philanthropic art video form? Are our hearts going to more regularly be tugged at or stomped on?
And it begs the question, with the accessible media of video, what are the viral short films we should be making to draw folks our way?
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
If you have a Dutch parent, you qualify for the rights of a Dutch citizen. Every 5 years Willow and Hawina and i go to the Dutch Embassy in Death City and get Willow’s passport renewed. Willow is a US citizen, with a US passport, but the Dutch are completely happy to issue an EU one, if the parents apply. This is a no brainer.
The Dutch passport is actually a Schengen Treaty enabled EU passport. You can travel between all the blue areas on the map below by just flashing an EU passport.
There are multiple reasons for having a couple of passports, beyond the above listed convenience. The one most people are familiar with is traveling between hostile or warring countries. Donning a Cuba passport stamp in a US passport can result in a visit from the FBI. Should you wish to travel regularly between the Arab world and Israel, a second passport (even from the same country, which you can get by claiming you lost one) is advised.
But the real reason i want Willow to have a second passport is that if his life is at all like mine, there will be a moment when it is extremely useful. This moment will be when he is traveling and some agent of the state thinks that they control him, because they have taken his passport. Annoyingly confidently they will be leading him off to some undesired destination. Having a second passport gives you the chance to look for an opportunity to depart from the foreign state agent and make a break for it.
Part of our home schooling is learning for when you can successfully make a break for it.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
What do you give to the person who wants nothing (for themself)? Perhaps you would give them an idea. Ideally it would be an idea so novel, funny, daring, newsworthy and crazy enough that it just might work. This is where i need your help.
This Friday is GPaul’s 30th birthday and we will be in NYC continuing with our community building Point A work. I am responsible for his under organized birthday event. Pleasantly, he personally wants little, demonstrated by (among many things) his willingness to stay in a tiny shoe box room in the barn at Acorn for years after he could have moved into a nicer one.
What we want collectively is at the other end of the accessibility spectrum: High visibility, inspiring, urban based, income sharing, intentional communities. And what I am asking from you, even if you can’t join us for this post Pride Friday night party in NYC is exotic memes.
What preposterous yet plausible proposals do you have for how to spark new urban communities? Some examples might help.
Party til Occupation. Both the mainstream media and progressive activists were surprised by Occupy. A call was made for a broad protest, as thousands have in the past, and people showed up in Zuccotti Park and ultimately across the country and started building political community. What had not been expected was that people from different classes and races could work intimately together using consensus to improve the treatment of the poor and the homeless and highlight corruption in banking and politics.
What if (after finding a suitable site) we decided to hold an open ended party. Different collective groups from the city take responsibility for making sure there are people and party goodies for some specific set of days for perhaps the first month or so. Then if it turns out that people are enjoying the party, renew the invitations and simply start pretending that permanent occupation of the site is a desirable and possible outcome.
CommunityCupid.org. Instead of a one on one dating site, this new social network helps people find others to live in community with. This does not need to be a single place based residence, it could be buying clubs and other aggregate discount services. And the structure of the site and the data is such that it is designed to bring people who are looking to spark community into the conversation. A relatively simple solution for starting up such a project might be as a Facebook plug in.
These are two examples of unlikely, but desirable projects. I am hoping you can add your own to be part of the birthday fun.
On Friday we will gather all the cards and all the participants we have and each person attending the party will draw 3 or more cards and choose the one which they think they can defend to the group the best. Then they will present the bold proposal of their selection and the rest of the group will evaluate the proposal to see if it is worthy of pursuing.
If you are in NYC this Friday, then email me and I will tell you where this event is in Brooklyn. If you can’t participate, but would like to submit a preposterous plausible idea you can either email me or leave it in the comment field.
[Update: Please read the comments at the end of this post for the proper history of what has happened at East Wind Community in Missouri regarding Personal Shelters. They are the ones who have pioneered it, and the story i have in this post is slightly wrong. I will fix it in the coming days. Paxus]
Egalitarianism is tricky. It starts out tricky because we don’t even have a common definition of it in the income sharing communities where I spend most of my time. The relevant parts of the principals from the Federation of Egalitarian Communities which describe it are:
- Hold land, labor, income and other resources in common.
- Assumes responsibility for the needs of its members, receiving the products of their labor and distributing these and all other goods equally, or according to need.
- Uses decision making which gives members an equal opportunity to participate, either through consensus, direct vote, or right of appeal or overrule.
- Works to establish the equality of all people and does not permit discrimination on the basis of race, class, creed, ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
[There are other FEC principals, like non-violence and sustainability, but these are not the core of egalitarianism.]
So what is missing from this important list? For starters the idea that all work is evaluated as equally worthy. An hour of my time spent writing a blog about communities is worth the same as an hour spent making a hammock or cooking a meal for many members.
One aspect of egalitarianism (that is touched upon in the second point above, but some FEC communities take much further than others) is that we are trying to avoid envy. We do this in part by avoiding the uneven distribution of our collective resources, except in agreed cases of need (for example golf carts for people with mobility problems at Twin Oaks is a needs based intentional unequal distribution).
Which brings me to the controversial idea of personal shelters. The FEC communities provide housing for our members. In several cases these communities are located on pieces of land large enough for members to build their own housing separate from typical dorm-based housing. We call these usually small buildings “personal shelters”.
Quite some years ago East Wind community (on over 1,000 acres in the Ozarks) decided to permit their members to build personal shelters. This resulted in some handy/artistic folks building some really beautiful places. The problem is that these structures created envy. The bigger problem was when the original builder/owners left, they created a fairness problem. Members who had not been involved in the work of creating these shelters could potentially end up in housing that felt much nicer than what most people living in the community had access to.
The problem this created ultimately lead to East Wind banning the creation of more new personal shelters. Twin Oaks has never permitted them, largely because of East Winds’ experience. Acorn wrestles with permitting them and so far has not allowed them. Some Acorners who were really excited about the idea left to form new communities where such things are possible.
The arguments against personal shelters which GPaul outlined to me, late one night while we were driving back from a Point A gathering in NYC are:
- Energy Use/Carbon Footprint
- Psychic Space
One of the things income sharing communities do especially well is minimize their ecological impact. The dormitory style buildings we have share kitchens, bathrooms, living space and meals. This low impact living is very hard to achieve without a lot of people under the same roof. Personal shelters are usually just one or two persons under a roof.
The fairness issue is covered.
The issue I had never heard before was one of psychic space. In a regular community residence dorm, you know you can stand in the hall in front of someone’s room and not worry that you are infringing on their space. The same is not true of personal shelters. The space they take up is much larger than the physical footprint of their construction. Peoples don’t know how to behave around them and this can cause discomfort and confusion.
Do you think the benefits outweigh the costs?
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
Doing the “Louisa Bus” which is also called the “town trip” is one of my favorite jobs for the communities. This is the centralized shopping job in which a single person drives into town with a collection of requests from members as to the things they want purchased for them. As one person recently described it i am the “personal shopper” for the entire community.
I love the job because i get to learn about things which i never knew about before. I get to sort of do a favor for everyone who submits a request. People are generally quite pleased when their request slightly magically turns up where they wanted it. I get to go to the food bank and rescue pre-dumpstered food. Most weeks i can do both communities town trips at the same time. And i am pretty good at getting all of the requests (sometime terrifically under specified) correct.
Pretty good until yesterday.
Today is anniversary. Twin Oaks is 47 years old and one of our customs is the traveling brunch, where multiple cooks in different kitchens prepare somewhat different meals all over campus. The day before these festivities is a big day for the town trip, because all the cooks put in requests.
Ezra put in a request for “Brisket in a Tube”. i had no idea what this was, but was, as usual, confident that people in the stores would know. I asked the deli gal at Food Depot, no clue. I asked the deli guy at Food Lion, he did not know but he gave me a large piece of brisket and i assumed the tube part was unnecessary.
When i gave it to Ezra he pointed out that it was not brisket that he was asking for but rather biscuits. In my defense, Ezra does have quite exotic spelling and he had left out the “u” in biscuit, so my mistake was somewhat understandable.
Later in the day i went back into town and correct my mistake. Biscuits are out this morning. And Ezra also just presented me we the above dish, with the cooked brisket in a toilet paper roll. And while the deli staff may have never heard of it, but today we are pioneering new culinary delights here on anniversary.
“Were your parents disappointed that you joined the commune?” Aurora (new member Angelica’s mom) asked me on our long bus ride from Richmond to NYC. “They were not thrilled, but it was a big step up from me spending time in Ukrainian jails in their eyes.”
Which got us into the discussion of trade offs. Part of what is so rich about the “Should I join a commune?” discussion is the tremendous set of trade offs. Are you willing to give up fast internet to not have a boss? Could you give up the accessible culture and vibrancy of the city, so you no longer had to worry about money (no bills, virtually no living costs)? Would you be willing to live in a smaller space so that you had access to all of the resources which are collectively shared?
People come to the commune for lots of different reasons. Many are seeking a place to feel like they belong, a sense of clan or tribe. Others come because they want to dramatically reduce their ecological impact. Yet others want to reduce their stress or have more flexibility. But the reasons to come, often turn out not to be the reasons to stay.
To “make it” in the commune most people need to feel like they have friends to hang with and/or feel supported by. In the dozens to types of work we have, are there some which make you feel good about what you are doing? If you come from an advantaged class background, you are likely living with far less access to resources than if you stayed in the mainstream. If you grew up poor, you are likely living with at least some people who don’t realize how much easier they had it not coming from that background. Is your love life working with this small number of prospective partners?
I try to talk with people who are leaving the community about their thought process, about why they are choosing to move on. Most leave with good feelings about the commune overall. They need to try something new. Or they have an opportunity which is calling or won’t wait. Some feel like they are stuck or not growing as they would like to. Others never intended to stay and they have decided now is their moment.
And some leave less harmoniously. They have a difficult break up, or did not find the friend network that wanted. Some people don’t feel they have enough privacy or personal space in our hyper village. Others can’t make the diet work or miss watching live TV. Some feel disconnected from the events of the world or their need to influence them.
Every community has it’s own flavor, and for many it is an acquired taste.