Extended FAQs – Twin Oaks and Personal Possessions

i want to extend the Twin Oaks website FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).  i am choosing existing entries i am interested in and re-posting them in my blog and then extending them.  Here is the FAQ on personal possessions.

The community provides for all our basic needs–food, clothing, housing, health care, etc. Each member has their own private bedroom. The community will provide furniture (bed, lamp, dresser, etc.) or members can bring their own. Members bring their own clothing when they move here, and we also have Community Clothes aka “Commie Clothes” which provides additional clothing as members need it over time. Members can bring personal possessions with them (e.g. books, musical instrument, camera, stereo, CD’s, computer, etc.) and whatever they keep in their room remains theirs. Other personal possessions can either be stored elsewhere (usually at family/friend’s house), donated to the community, or lent to the community for the duration of the person’s membership. Please also see our Property Code for more information.

What do you really need?

What do you really need?

What is missing from this description is that you are also allowed to bring a personal bike that you can store outside your room.  Though for egalitarian reasons, technically you can’t ride your personal bike around campus as if it were a community bike., tho some members ignore this perhaps archaic rule.  Additionally, by becoming a member you can supplement your personal wardrobe with the collective clothes library, called commie clothes.

My bike before i lived at Twin Oaks, ridden by my ex-girlfriend Natasha

My bike before i lived at Twin Oaks, ridden by my ex-girlfriend Natasha

But what is more important generally, is that we are striving to avoid members feeling envious of materials things that other members have.  And in my evaluation this mostly works.  The culture of the community discourages people from showing off expensive presents they have received.  And this cultural norm has not (for example) eliminated the envy experienced by some members when others go on long trips away from the community.  This is not possible for many communards, because travel and lodging is expensive.

And even more importantly, from my perspective, the sharing techniques used by Twin Oaks and Acorn are models the rest of the world should embrace.  Americans hate sharing, but i am banking on them hating climate disruption more than they hate sharing.  It might turn out that entire planet depends on this assumption being right.

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About paxus

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

13 responses to “Extended FAQs – Twin Oaks and Personal Possessions”

  1. santalorena says :

    What do I need? I *must* have that 1980s-inspired blue and black two-piece dress!

  2. richard w. lisko says :

    what is faq again?

  3. Gryphon says :

    They may dislike climate change more, but not sharing is habitual and therefore may yet trump the dislike of weather apocalypse. As the poem says, “Love may be strong, but habit is stronger.”

    • paxus says :

      We are, like it or not, in the business of creating new habits.

      • leavergirl says :

        Paxus, I am sad to hear that envy persists. Have y’all discussed that all gifts from the outside be either money (into the common kitty so all benefit) or items that can be shared serially, like a snazzy bike. Would that work?

      • paxus says :

        Leaver Girl – Twin Oaks is not asset sharing community, We choose this because the community was born at the same time that the cult movement in the US. We did not to be confused with them. We currently let individuals have what ever independent outside gifts they want to have and this seems to work.

        Paxus in Tarrytown
        30 Stardust Rising 2015

      • leavergirl says :

        I am confused. What cult? I did not realize that asset sharing and income sharing is different. Aren’t you sharing houses and land? Them’s assets, no? And I heard that money-producing assets are held in escrow and their income goes into the community… or some such. (As I said, I am confused.)

      • paxus says :

        So i think i cult is defined by several factors:

        1) You give the cult everything you own, and you dont get it back when/if you leave.
        2) Cults have living charismatic/spiritual leaders
        3) You can not leave a cult when you like, this is prohibited.

        The intentional communities i live in:
        1) All your per-existing assets remain yours. When you leave they are yours again (we ask you not to use them when you live with us).
        2) They are democratic at least and consensus at best.
        3) You can drop membership and leave anytime (and actually there are several different kinds of leave available for short or longer periods).

        There are more differences, but these are at the top of the list.

        https://funologist.org/2013/06/01/unicorns-club-not-a-cult/

      • leavergirl says :

        Another list you made, Paxus:

        * it has a living charismatic leader
        * you give them all your money
        * you are kept away from your old friends and family
        * you can’t leave when you might like

        Wow. That’s what an abusive marriage is like! Plus the “walking on eggshells” part.

        But… to keep with the conversation. One of the ways tribal big men (my current research) made inroads into egalitarianism was by creating/importing/promoting prestige objects. I always wondered why the tribe did not instead circulate them. Anyone can get to have that precious fancy shell for a month or two, then pass it on to the next “enjoyee.”

        And so my question is, since TO is committed to egalitarianism, then sharing prestige/status objects would be something at least to be considered, no? (I mean, in itself it has nothing to do with cults, cults just take all you have, and that’s that.) Do you see any problems with that offhand?

      • paxus says :

        Well, the commune is committed to egalitarianism, which means lots of different things to different people. Equally valued work, equal access to collective resources. No special perks for high market valued jobs, etc. But really by any of these definitions the communes mostly qualify. There are some problems. People like me are able to travel more than other members, because egalitarianism does not restrict us from getting gifts from outsiders, or even making money for ourselves if we work beyond our 42 hour quota.

      • leavergirl says :

        And what’s your sense of it… if gifts were to be shared, either serially, or moneywise into the common pool — would the people there hate it? Do you think it’s going too far?

      • paxus says :

        Dearest Leavergirl: It is hard to say, it is not what we currently do – it is like asking “would consensus work at Twin Oaks” it is not what we are doing so it would need to be introduced, people would need to be trained and agree it is what they want. Some gift givers (my parents for example) would simply stop giving gifts if they were shared. They would think it was going too far.

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