We live in a curious combination of squalor and affluence. We have hot tubs and saunas and hybrid cars and expensive Eco-friendly buildings. And there is abandoned farm equipment, driveways with pot holes, a few too many mice and uncleared hallways. Communards shower significantly less than their mainstream counter parts. And i believe we are mostly pretty happy about the mix (except i think most of us would be happier if the places were somewhat cleaner).
The thing none of us like is things breaking, especially stuff that is difficult to fix, especially electrical and plumbing systems. This has lead to many discussions about how we might attract more “tool turners” to the income sharing communities. Here problems abound.
For starter, mechanics, electricians, plumbers and other craft persons typically command pretty desirable salaries. This means when you ask them to give it (almost) all up to come live on a commune you are talking about an especially dramatic drop in access to resources. This is a hard sell.
Then men trained in these trades (and the dramatic majority of tool turners we get are male identified) tend not to be feminist. Some would be quick to ask if there is an ideological purity test to get into the communes and the answer would be “only sort of.” Over my 15 years at Twin Oaks, we have accepted a handful of tool turners who did not identify as feminist and in some of these cases were dismissive of it.
Yet i would argue to be happy and thrive here, you need to at least understand and probably embrace feminist principals (some of which are within the egalitarian principals). Your love life will likely not work well if you don’t have your consent practices down. You can’t simply order people around because you have more knowledge or experience in something than they do. If you are wedded to the ideas of “men’s work” and “women’s work,” you will discover most people here strongly disagree. Part of the reason i think we have trouble holding on to some tool turners, is that they feel a bit out of step with the local culture and politics.
All of which leaves me with the vexing question, “From where might we recruit feminist plumbers or electricians?” Email me suggestions or put them in the comments field.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]