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]
Some years back political cartoonist Stephanie McMillian did a visitor period at Twin Oaks and I had fantasies of one of the communities new industries being radical humor. She is a clever, quirky, cartoonist with an impossible message to deliver and just the right tool to do it. Her latest salvo in this on-going public education and activation campaign is on target and at exactly the right price.
I discovered Stephanie’s work while I was staying at an amazing squat in Barcelona called Can Masdeu. The squats library had a copy of the book she illustrated, As the Word Burns: 50 simple things you can do to stay in denial. Which is a quick read, if it does not cause your brain to explode.
Her impossible message is that all of the individual efforts to make things better (recycling, getting off grid, even sharing with your friends) don’t make any difference if you don’t take on the structural problems of capitalism. This is the acid test for radicalism. Either you believe that you need to step out of your comfort zone and fight for systemic change against quite impressive monsters or you think personal positive actions are enough. [If you think things are just fine as they are, you have somehow stumbled onto this blog by mistake.]
Stephanie is hardly a one trick pony. Using satire and the powerfully accessible format of cartoons, she lures you into a critique of the status quo which is inescapably tight in it’s reasoning while still amusing.
Like most good propagandists, Stephanie is prolific. With an impressive list of books and serialized cartoons. Above are a couple from her Code Green series which focuses on the ecological issues and how corporate media twist perceptions. Below is an image from her upbeat activist daily affirmations cartoon series.
And because I am confident that you have read to here, because the cartoons keep drawing you farther down this post. Here is the link so that you can get Stephanie’s latest coloring book for kids, priced at what ever you can afford – I paid $25. Or if you are looking for the longer, more adult version of the story (without coloring), you can order the full length hold-in-your-hands physical book here. Or for those who are fully digital these days, you can get the adult version of the eBook here, again at the price you choose.
I want my son Willow to understand this stuff, and the only thing more important than that, is that we adults act on this knowledge now.
For quite some years perhaps 50% of the time I would fly by myself, I would be sent through secondary inspection by airport security. I had long hair, often less than stylish clothes and with some regularity was donning a protest shirt or button. I fit the profile, though they assure us there is no profile.
My mother was awarded an honorary doctorate and she asked me to come up to see her graduate. I had cut my hair already for another event where I had to fain respectability. I wore nicer clothes, because it makes my mother happy and when I got to the airport I now apparently fit a different profile. With my greying hair and business outfit, I did not go thru regular security but some other line, basically by myself, where I did not have to take my shoes off, nor remove my laptop from my bag. Nor did they seem to care that I accidentally had more than three ounces of fluid in my tiny bag.
While all the other passengers were being herded around and jumping through TSA hoops, I breezed through. Apparently now having graduated (at least temporarily) to the class of travelers which don’t need to be inspected.
Frankly, I am more comfortable with the profile that has viewed me as a possible threat than the likes of the white collar criminals who have this, and almost all the other systems, stacked in their favor. For over all the years of secondary inspection I was never inconvenienced by more than a few minutes, never had an invasive cavity search, never was interrogated by intimidating TSA officers. For that treatment is saved for people who fit another profile that they claim they don’t have.
On Friday’s i do the Louisa town trip for both Acorn and Twin Oaks. This is basically a centralized shopping task, where any member of guest who wants something purchased in town fills out a pre-formatted form and slips it into the appropriate drawer in the main office at Twin Oaks (or writes it on the right clipboard at Acorn) and the town tripper goes and satisfies all the requests. If you get your request in before 9 AM, there is a 95% chance you have it where you want it by 1 PM the same day. This is a powerful and convenient system. You don’t have to handle money, you don’t have to do the accounting, you are not even expected to thank the tripper.
Last Friday i got this TOR (Twin Oaks Request)
i believe it is the first one Willow has ever written, it is certainly the first one i have ever gotten. And my immediate thought was “He might stay.”
i have always assumed that Willow would in his later teens go off and do something that might result in him never returning to the commune. In the last few years he has talked about becoming a lawyer. This is after some years of him saying he was never going to go to school. Parents who worry about their children’s college/employment plans before they are 15 are people who apparently don’t have enough to worry about. Kids change their minds.
But the emotional impact of getting this first TOR was significant. It was more than just a request for chips. It was Willow stepping into the complex set of systems which make the clockwork community of Twin Oaks work.
The last two teenagers who grew up at Twin Oaks did not go away to college, unlike the half dozen before them who all did. Instead they stayed and became adult members of the commune. [One of the most common questions we get at college speaking gigs about the communes is "What do you do about kids education?" For the college part, the answer is "We send them to college." The community does not simply write a check for the totality of tuition, fees, room and board. Instead we go thru the entire financial aid package, do some combination of loans and grants and money from other places. But what we make sure is that any one of our kids who wants to can go to the school that they get accepted at.]
To go from a kid member to an adult member is a non-trivial jump. Your quota goes from something like 14 hours a week to 42. You need to do a three week visitor period, but you dont go thru the regular membership input process, instead, if you make full quota as a visitor after 3 weeks we simply accepted you as a member.
Until this TOR i had never really thought seriously about Willow following the lead of our most recent teens. When they became adult members they moved out of the residences where they grew up and where that their folks live, into different buildings in the community, where their parents did not live. It is worth pointing out that both of these kids continue to have fine relationships with their folks. And it is some type of vote of confidence that the commune is attractive enough to hold it’s own kids.
i am guessing Willow won’t stay. He has an adventurous streak and will perhaps go see the world, or become a lawyer, or a lion tamer. But who knows. Kids change their minds.
The title of this post comes from an interview with former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. When asked why he was seeking a second term, having initially emphatically claimed he was only interested in one term as Secretary General he replied in part “Only stupid people don’t change their minds“
Willow had been talking about dumpster diving with Feonix for a couple of days leading up to the Tarrytown NY craft fair and he was excited. There was this slightly odd moment of role reversal in which I had blacked out and sometime after midnight Willow woke me and said “Are you ready to go dumpster diving now?” And while some part of my exhausted body wanted to decline, instead I was propelled by my desire to be a yes for my son. We jumped in the van and headed to White Plains where a Dunkin Donuts of known riches was to be found.
We pull in realize that we have neglected flashlights and Feonix uses her phones app to light the way. And we have donuts. The world is a better place and Willow is pleased. Later we would get a flashlight app for my phone, but even with the light the Trader Joes dumpster was being staffed way late in the night (actually crazy early in the morning) and the Whole Foods compacter revealed nothing that could be salvaged. As my son snuck from the security cameras in the parking lot I wondered about this aspect of his home schooling.
It is one of my favorite annual rituals, Feonix and Willow and Corb and Hawina and I doing the Tarrytown fair. In part because Feonix always has the new cool thing or three for us to experience. This time it was Bee and PuppyCat. Which has an inspired scene where Bee is in a temp agency and the cruel recruiter turns away from her to take a phone call. When he turns back his bowl of sweets is emptied and Bee says “You took too long. Now your Candy’s gone. That’s what happened. Kapow.” and she disappears thru the door.
This was one of our regular chants as we took the long drive down the New Jersey Turnpike after the fair. I took a five hour energy drink, Feonix was running her normal night owl energy and Willow was doing the sugar rush connected with low level donut poisoning. We all sang loudly and (at least myself) off key to Mackelmore’s Can’t Hold US on the radio at absurd o’clock somewhere outside Philly.
We arrive at the Keep late, but Willow and I are the last to go to bed. It may well qualify me again for the cover of Negligent Parenting Magazine, but I would not have it another way.
[Willow has approved this post]
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.
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]
For once I was happy to be forced to drive slowly.
We had just finished a pretty rich Point A meeting with the Washington DC group and an even more successful mini-communities conference in NYC. I was exhausted, but excited to have some hours in the snow storm to chat with ex-Twin Oaker Dream. In many ways the trip is like the 1981 movie “My Dinner with Andre“, where Dream was playing the slightly other worldly stage director Andre Gregory.
Dream reminded me of transformative moments in his life, about feeling a Kundalini energy awakening in his body, while in bed aboard the USS Missouri just before it was struck by missiles during the first Gulf War. About falling in love with East Wind while at UMass Darmouth and struggling to decide if he should return to school. About hearing a word in a dream “Constatic” whispered to him. Constatic contrasts the unique experience of ecstatic, with a collective euphoric state, which he would only learn was a real (though very rarely used) word many years later.
Dream and I have quite similar tastes in a number of things. We both loved Being John Malcovich and the new movie Her, where the hero falls in love with his AI operating system. We were excited about the ideas in Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and the works of Huxley. We shared a number of attractions to people in communities.
Without even a masters degree, Dream has somehow managed to secure teaching positions at both MIT and Harvard. Some combination of daring, charm and a highly accessible presentation style is what makes this story believable. But it is Dream’s imagination which makes him such good company for a long drive. He has all manner of wild ideas, some of which just might be huge, if they got the right attention. In this I also see the parts of myself I like best.
Dream is all about empowering kids using long-lever computer tools. Well after midnight when I finally left him behind at Morningstar, he had assembled a group of kids, including Willow to work with his new educational tech tool, called scratch. And within minutes of them working together my son was saying “I want to put up my own website.” And with inspiring teachers like Dream, it can’t be long before this is happening.
[Edited by Vermin F. Cockwolf]
Five years ago in February my father died. This is the eulogy i gave at the Harvard Memorial Church on the day of his funeral.
I disagree with people for a living. My father was one of the most agreeable people you ever met. And yet it was from him that I learned, if you wanted to be in the conversation, you need to listen deeply and to be able to reflect back what someone else truly believes.
I break the law as part of my work. My father was the most law-abiding man I ever met. And it was from him I learned that you need to have an unwavering moral compass, so that whoever meets you knows what you believe in.
My father built highly functional schools and elegant houses. I stop the construction of inherently dangerous and unnecessary nuclear reactors. It is from him I learned that my role is to serve in the building of a better world.
My father’s father was a large man named “Tiny”. He died when my father was a boy and I believe this helped make my father a careful and cautious man. I was fortunate to have a dedicated and supportive father for 5 decades and I am convinced this security helped make me comfortable taking chances.
When I get up in the morning and look in the mirror before days which tend to be busy and long, as my father’s were, I sometimes see the mirror image of the man, who despite being different, was one of my most important teachers.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]