Members Wanted: The Real Reason to come to the Communities Conference

For more than 30 years Twin Oaks has been organizing a communities conference, which this year is over the Labor Day weekend. We have a great organizing team, there is an excellent program, great workshops, and the whole thing is reasonably priced. But the reason to go this year is the opportunities.

By my count there are over half a dozen communities coming to this year’s event which are seriously looking for new members. No long waiting lists, new possibilities right now. You could come to this year’s event and have your life changed forever to a future in community.

Quercus is Latin for Oak (following the theme of Twin Oaks => Acorn => Sapling.) It is also the name of a newly forming (move in October 1st) permaculture-based urban homestead near the center of Richmond, VA. Quercus is a community based in social justice activism and ecological conservation. It is also income sharing and aspires to be a full member of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. This house is designed to be a radical space for public presentations, workshops, and performances.  Four fantastic folks are already together and they are looking for a few more pioneers.

A Quercuser and friends dress up

A Quercuser and friends dress up – Photo Credit Moth Dust

Karass is small community and bed & breakfast in Chester, Vermont (1 1/4 hours north of Northampton MA) and is currently searching for 3(ish) pioneering members. It is a sprawling 10 bedroom, 9 bathroom house with 6 guest rooms (the inn) and 4 member rooms (the community), with an additional 3 large common areas and other interesting spaces both inside and out. They believe in hospitality, community, sustainability, resource sharing, and egalitarianism. Their membership application gives insight into their values and expectations.  Karass is running volunteer work weeks in late September, culminating in a party on September 26 to celebrate the progress they’ve made so far.  A number of Oakers and Acorners are going up to help out with the final renovations of this new project. If you are interested contact me at paxus@twinoaks.org, or Angie (one of the pioneering members) at AngieTupelo@gmail.com.

The Fae: Founded by members of Acorn community, The Fae is a collective house on Staten Island in NYC with big aspirations, including developing plant based soil and environmental remediation techniques. As reported, “Roommate wanted: Must love activism, balloon art, and cats.” The Fae hopes to become an FEC community where communards from other places can stay and get involved and do art internships.

The Fae in full swing

The Fae in full swing

Groundswell Institute is a new community two hours north of San Francisco and founded by radical queer friends of ours, some of whom are ex-Oakers. Groundswell is interested in growing to about 15 people in the next year from the handful they have now. When I asked what type of people they were searching for, there was a short but comprehensive consultation amongst the members present. “Non-heteronormative” was the response.

The physical plant of Groundswell is impressive. It is an ecovillage on over 180 acres of land (with all human activity concentrated on 40 acres.) It is a former campsite which can sleep 80 people indoors in cabins. It has a full sized institutional kitchen, pond, amphitheater, dance hall, and some amazing trees.

I don’t actually know why they are an Institute and I am not 100% sure a representative will be at the Comm Conf to present them, but they are new and growing and important and a number of people at the conference have visited there and can talk about them.

Groundswell-header-image-v7Cambia Community is a new family-friendly, egalitarian community in Louisa County with a focus on permaculture and home school education. They have purchased 15 mostly wooded acres and a small house in rural Louisa, VA and are seeking to create a community of 10-30 people with a high level of sharing and connection. They’re looking for people with prior community experience and skills in farming and gardening in this climate and business planning, people who value and uphold some mindfulness practices, no drug or alcohol abuse or overuse, and possibly families. Unusually insightful into the culture of this forming community is the section on their blog which talks about what they are not.

Point A Washington DC has an income sharing group, space scouts who are looking intensely for suitable living locations (and clearly have big imaginations because they have found some amazing possibilities), and a growing cohesive culture. If you are looking for income sharing communes inside the big city, this might just be your best bet. This project is daring, ambitious and engaged – not for the faint of heart.

The Baltimore Free Farm is one of the most ambitious projects I have ever seen. It does food recovery in conjunction with Food Not Bombs and their own dumpster diving efforts. BFF also runs amazing events and concerts in their warehouse space.

These seedlings will be planted in the garden soon!

Living Energy Farm is a dark green ecovillage also in Louisa county and they are looking for members. Living Energy Farm is another ambitious and challenging project, of a different sort. Essentially their aim is to prepare for a post-petroleum world while it can still be done relatively comfortably. However they are using a prefigurative approach in which they model the practices which will be used in the resource-scarce future. This means lots of things by hands, living closer to the seasons and nightfall, and thinking about how to reduce one’s impact seriously.

LEF Barn Raising - Circa 2013

LEF Barn Raising – Circa 2013

So if you are looking for community, these are just the opportunities that i am aware of that are coming.  If you know more, please feel encouraged to add them in the comment section here.

[Proofread by Gryphon]

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.

4 responses to “Members Wanted: The Real Reason to come to the Communities Conference”

  1. Kip Gardner says :

    As much as I support intentional community, in recent years there has been a gnawing concern that there is something fundamental being overlooked. Reading the list of communities in this article, it finally came clear, perhaps because of a recent climate change report I read. Basically, I realize that with a few significant exceptions, the majority of communities and communitarians live in areas that will be MOST impacted by climate change – specifically, on or near the coasts or in arid parts of the West. James Hansen’s most recent report states that new Antarctic data makes a 10 foot sea level rise by 2050 a near certainty. Having worked as a climate scientist, I know that if he was willing to make that statement, he actually thinks that significant change will be sooner and worse, but the data on that is not yet conclusive. aside from the basic environmental shift, the social disruption of such rapid and large-scale change will be extreme. Basically, then, this means that most communitarians are putting huge amounts of time, effort and resources into communities that have a high likelihood of not surviving the next 25 years. Most climate models for the US show that the least disruptive changes will occur in the north central states (midwest and upper midwest), but these are areas where there is scant interest in community (I know from first hand experience). Besides pointing out these facts, I don’t know where to go with this. I understand the attraction of the coasts (cultural dynamism, social tolerance, etc.), but really, if we are promoting community as a way to ‘save the world’ (or at least a viable and humane society), does it make sense to put most of the effort into geographic areas that will not just be unsustainable going forward, but will very likely be uninhabitable?

    • paxus says :

      Dearest Kip:

      Thanks for your long and thoughtful comment. For me community living and especially income sharing are our best chance at averting climate catastrophe. Communities in coastal regions are going to have to move and some of the efforts put into these places will be lost. And if the communities movement simply gives up on the coastal regions of the US, then our message will be lost to some of the people who most need to hear it.

      Paxus at Twin Oaks

  2. bina says :

    believe it or not, but there are whole villages of people living just like you all, on kibbutz in israel, i live on a kibbutz that is still practicing like the old ways (no privitazation, as it were) i.e. shcooling medical culture housing water/electric transportation including communal cars etc… still covered by us the kibbutz. i work as much as i have to including managment, and receive the same as any others, we have extra duties for weddings funerals bar mitzvas and cultural events…. we still have a communal dining room, holidays are together (including sometimes almost 500 poeple from three or four generations!)- extended families live here from great grandparents to great grandchildren in a multigenerational set up… we ahve a communal laundry, and a community vegetable garden, we ahve 90 families, amost everyone has between 2-4 children; we have single people w/o families living here as well and we become their family; we have same sex families and single parent families… we are considered ‘green’ …

    • paxus says :

      Twin Oaks was in part inspired by the Kibbutz movement. The building originally designed for the child program is called Degania – and is named after a kibbutz.

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