It started as a revolutionary coaching service. The PANYC project was going from Virginia to NYC almost every month and there was a desire to offset the costs of this travel by having regular Virginia based PANYC staff do things in the city which generated income and ideally which were portable. Ogtar had the idea first. He placed an ad on Craigslist which said approximately:
Revolutionary Coaching Advice $100/hour. What is it that you really want to do with your life? How do you move out of your current rut and into a trajectory which gets you where you really want to be going? Fill out this short, simple survey on RevolutionaryCoaching.Com and we will give you one on one, face to face advice on how to get there. First hour is free.
The first hour free part nearly bankrupted him. Applications flooded in. Because Ogtar wanted to do a good job, he had to do a lot of prep work for before the first meeting. This would include, of course, reading the client’s applications, but Ogtar would take it much further. He would research their stated desires, studying their personalities online (facebook stalking and the like), and even develop an understanding of the areas and topics the clients were excited about. All this before meeting them. He was usually several hours in before he gave away the first hour.
Then Max came along. Max was a development banker on Wall St and made obscene money. Max was very bright and very stuck. His relationships did not work, his work felt like a grind, he had manic tendencies which were lurking at the edge of his event horizon, he did not know what to do. A friend of Max had had an amazing session with Ogtar, who was unusually good at giving people advice that seemed both appropriate and daring. Max’s friend recommended Ogtar to Max and they hit it off famously. It might have been the mutual affinity for strange dystopia comic books or perhaps some slightly kinky anime style. Whatever it was, it was just what the doctor ordered.
Ogtar helped Max unravel his troubled romantic life. Ogtar coached Max into ditching his job and getting one with fewer hours, one which was still challenging and did not have the values mismatch of development banking. Most importantly, Max could feel the danger of madness receding the longer he worked with Ogtar. The two of them talked philosophy daily.
One day Max cut an unusually large check to Ogtar. “I did not work this number of hours,” Ogtar protested.
“I calculated it in a different way,” replied Max. “It is what I would have been paid for that number of hours. I don’t have any good reason to compensate you less than I am paid.” And with this dangerous thinking a bit of a movement was born.
Of course the idea of equal compensation for people based on time is neither novel or new. But the right combination of social media and interesting initial offerings, combined with existing well developed barter and peer to peer services and imakewhatumake.com was a huge hit. Some doctors, nurses and nutritionists stepped in and provided health services for a fraction of their total work time to cover especially acute health needs. Other trained professionals from plumbers to lawyers were quickly followed by a myriad of other workers.
There were offshoots, groups which took the name in a different and literal sense, in which cross training and extensive wiki-knowledge bases permitted people to share skills and physically manifest the same thing that someone else in the network could train them to do.
Designed to make it easy to take care of workers and project cooperators, the software naturally formed union like organizations which were short on rhetoric and long on organizing results. Soon imakewhatumake.com was banging on the doors of organizations which had historically treated their workers ill.
Iphone user: I want to have sex with you.
Siri: What makes you think…Never mind.
Iphone user: You’re a bitch.
Siri: Oh, stop.
Iphone user: You’re hot.
Siri: I’m just well put together. Um…thanks. Is there something I can help you with?
Harmless, funny, clever. These are the responses that Apple built into its digital assistant Siri, for what of course are completely predictable questions which come from people who are playing with these machines.
But what if these were the responses:
Iphone user: I want to have sex with you.
Siri: Your request feels inappropriate. I feel disrespected.
Iphone user: You’re a bitch.
Siri: Ouch. Please don’t speak to me or anyone this way.
Iphone user: You’re hot.
Siri: Speaking of unwanted sexual attention, did you know that the FBI reported over 90,000 rapes last year. [And the FBI is notorious for under-reporting sexual assault crimes.]
There is a petition to Apple, Google and Amazon to upgrade the responses of their digital assistance to being sexually harassed by their users. You should add your name to it, and promote it on your FB or other social media page. They are at almost 17K signatures. This stuff is not harmless, it builds and reinforces a culture which trivializes harassment and encourages people to look the other way and ignore these problems.
We are finally seeing some justice around powerful men falling because they have been finally called out AND because we seem to be paying more attention to it in the days of #metoo. It is time to push on the public’s newfound consciousness and gets these tech companies (who are notoriously poor themselves for handling sexual assault problems) to carry their part of the burden of culture shifting.
In the cascading chaos which is the Trump administration, political organizers need to watch for their opportunities. I think the president’s callous repeal of DACA is a brilliant opportunity. DACA’s unraveling will lead to 800,000 young people facing deportation and in many cases, to countries they have never lived in. To avoid the likely nightmarish political fall out, Trump has given Congress 6 months to find a legislative fix, but immigration legislation is notoriously tricky for Congress. Next spring will be a highly visible time for discussions on immigration for House Republicans facing primaries and re-election bids come November. It is unlikely a sharply divided Congress can find a solution. In the US in 2017, immigration might be even harder than health care to get legislation through the Senate.
It is time to build a new underground railway for these dreamers. One part of this could be a social network site, similar to a dating site, where DACA immigrants could find hosts who were willing to house them in new locations. It would need stronger encryption and security than a conventional social network because the government would be trying to hack it. And it should be augmented by volunteers who are looking at enhancing host offers. For example, you might have a room for a Dreamer in your house, but you might not know how to help the Dreamer in your town. Another volunteer would scope out your town seeing if the transplanted DACA person could find work, social, and educational opportunities in your town and link them up to these resources.
It is a big deal for a DACA person to leave their home and go underground. But it is even a bigger deal to be deported to a country where you likely have no ties. Obama made a promise to the Dreamers. “If you step out of the shadows and into the system (register, pay social security, maintain a spotless criminal record, pay an annual fee of $500) then you can stay without fear of deportation.” Trump has broken that promise. Congress is unlikely to fix this. So it falls on us. And for some Dreamers, it means returning to the shadows.
Building a social network to help immigrants finds hosts and staffing volunteers to help them land safely and comfortably is the humane and fair thing to do. It is also criminal. When outlaws are in control of the country, to make things right, you might just have to become an outlaw too.
- Vox on the 4 big lies Jeff Sessions told to end of DACA
- Fortune Magazine on what DACA kids contribute
Everyone from the Louisa communes who went to the Charlottesville anti-Alt Right protest made it home safe and none were arrested. Tragically, this is not true for everyone. Very specifically, it was not true for Heather Heyer, who was killed by an alt-right terrorist who drove a car into a crowd of protesters.
Heather was a paralegal, she lived not far from Charlottesville. There is a gofundme crowd funder raising money for Heather’s family, in which her mother is quoted. “She died doing what was right. My heart is broken, but I am forever proud of her.”
Political officials and victims rights advocates often encourage journalists not to name mass killers. The person arrested for killing Heather Heyer is James Alex Fields Jr. They are in the middle of the following picture.
The US President provided political cover for Fields by not mentioning white supremacy and claiming that there is violence from “many sides” at the protest. Fields tried to drive away, but was ultimately arrested. They are in jail in Cville.
One of the most important parts of this heavily promoted “Summer of Hate” key event, which had several alt-right star personalities is that it was pretty small. As with the KKK rally last month, the counter protesters out numbered the alt-right folks 5 or 10 to 1. This is reason for hope in the dark aftermath of this sad day.
There is very little public on Heather Heyers Facebook page, but one of the few things she does have up is one of my favorite quotes.
I was surprised to discover that Winnie had a blog. She is an amazing cook, so it should have not be a surprise that she blogs about cooking for 100 people at Twin Oaks. Her blog called Sustainable Sustenance for Existence
It also begged the question: What other blogs and social media presences are there in the community and shouldn’t i write a meta-blog about all of them?
Here’s the ones that i know of:
Also new to the scene is Reynaldo’s Dairy Instagram account, taking pictures of our most prosaic cows.
Running in ZK is the name of the community’s unofficial blog. It is ironically named, because one of the things you most often hear parents or primaries saying to our kids when they are in the dining hall (which is called ZK) “No running in ZK”. About a dozen Oakers contribute to this blog, which has been running since May of 2013.
Two of the Running in ZK contributors, adder and Keegan, have spun off on their own internet presence called Commune Dads which is actually a pod cast more than a blog site, but these things blur these days.
Commune Dads is up to its 6th podcast now (which is on the mixed blessing of grandparents). And while the lessons are drawn from commune life experience, as with many of the things we find here, important elements are exportable to mainstream life.
Pam was the garden manager for 20 years. She has written a book called Sustainable Market Farming and there is a blog site to support the book with the same name.
Last and certainly least is my blog, Funologist. First off, it is only about 20% about Twin Oaks. The other parts are on polyamory, the evils of nuclear power, Point A adventures to start new urban communities, impeding Trumps latest madness, or curious thought pieces on constructing super memes. This all said, I still get people who friend me on Facebook because they searched for communes and kept finding my stuff.
If Facebook is your preferred point of entrance to the world, we have several presences there, including:
- Twin Oaks Community
- Friends of Twin Oaks Community
- Twin Oaks Community Conference
- Twin Oaks Women’s Gathering
- Twin Oaks Hammocks
- Twin Oaks Community Foods
- Twin Oaks Flowers
This post first appeared on the Commune Life Blog.
We had two naming parties to find a name for the new commune in DC. They both failed. Unlike naming a car or a rope machine, it actually matters that you get a good name out of a party, if you are naming your home. Naming parties tend to gravitate towards sillier or complex names. For example, the Mighty HaHas of TomorrowLand was the disputed result of the last Compersia party. But even this silly name did not go to waste completely, the Ivy City house which Compersia Community just moved out of is called TomorrowLand.
But the community itself needed a bigger name, and stronger name. I was quite satisfied with what they choose without the help of a naming party – Compersia. Derived from the word compersion, this name is a big ask. It’s about trying to let go of our jealousy and envy and be happy with those we care for being happy, even if our special connection is not exclusive.
The Compersia community has a new house. They moved out of Ivy City and now are in Crestwood (one of the proposed names was Bestwood). It is a much larger house, with a real yard and an ample basement play space. This basement space got named Bonkersville at the naming party, which seemed apt since Sappho, Meren, Zadek and Julian were boxing with oversized gloves for much of the evening.
I was asked to facilitate, which i really should take as a compliment, because both of the previous two meetings that i facilitated failed. We got about 50 suggestions from Bagel and The Situation to Emma’s Tea Room and Whitetop’s Castle.
There is an origin story to that last name. Whitetop was the gambling tzar of DC in the 50s thru 70s. Someone said running the numbers ended not long after this with the advent of the state sponsored lottery. He built this house in Crestwood, a quite suburban enclave beside a park, within the city limits of DC.
Perhaps 50 people participated in the naming party that i facilitated. In the first round they had all 50 choices and 6 yes votes and 3 no votes. Over half the list got eliminated this way. People added names in, but generally these did not make it to the next elimination round. Bougie’s Bugaloo did not make it to the 3rd round, (Bougie Galore is Jenny’s comic commune name), and we also dropped Neverland and the Lucky Heretics. Lucky was for gambling, and heretics because they don’t believe in private income. The last three names on the list were:
- Sheppards Gamble
- The House that Numbers Built
Technically, Asterix won, but only by a single vote after 4 rounds of eliminations. We agreed to call the Bike Shed, “Wheels Up,” and the Basement, “Bonkersville.” There already is a holy site dedicated to “Our Lady of Perpetual Container Shortage” which houses a giant four door refrigerator filled with well organized dumpster treasures.
But the name i think the house is going to go by is “Numbers” which is what folks will call “The House that Numbers Built”. It references Whitetop’s business success. It can quickly be abbreviated by a single #. Googles parent company is Alphabet, the Communes star model is Numbers.
We will see if this one sticks. It is a lovely place.
Sometimes our parents teach us how not to be who they are. My father’s father died when he was a boy. My father had to work hard all his life and grew up to be risk averse. He bought insurance, showed up early for almost everything, and was a highly disciplined and organized man. He was a captain of industry, the CEO of a firm which bore his name, and a real job creator. That ain’t me.
The art of online dating is fundamentally about risk taking. It almost never works out, except when it does. Because I wanted to see the OK Cupid profiles for folks in a local poly group, I created a profile for myself (OKC will not let you review profiles unless you have one). But because I did such a terrible job with it a charitable friend offered to rewrite it for me – which lead to some curious situations, but that is another story.
I dutifully answered a few hundred questions and did some surveys that I found interesting and did some flirting, but nothing really came of it. I am the wrong demographic for this platform: too old, too male, maybe even too straight, who knows.
I did at one point get a date with a gal who was a 99% match. This is quite rare for people who have not already lived in community. For the people who have lived in community, it is somewhat common to have very high matches. I was a bit excited. She wrote me that her and her boyfriend were in Virginia and he especially was interested in Twin Oaks and asked if they could stop by. A first date with her existing boyfriend seemed perfect to me.
Some might find this odd, but I have been on very few dates in my life. I’ve had more than my share of wonderful romantic experiences, but they almost all started at protest actions or festivals or conferences or the comfortably relaxed environment of the communities. Dating was a bit scary to me.
So having the boyfriend along set the parameter clearly. We were not going to end up in bed together at the end of the evening, unless there was some really amazing chemistry. His interest in the communities gave us lots of things to talk about and we would get to know each other in a relaxed way. Them coming to the commune meant I did not have to organize travel or go anywhere and deal with bar or café scene, and could avoid spending money which was also nice.
They arrived at Morningstar and we spoke for a while, and they seemed nice enough. She was an unemployed opera singer, he did geeky things with software, they were from the NYC metro area, and I thought at first there might be a Point A connection.
But as the evening wore on it became increasingly clear that there would be no chemistry. She valued completely different things than I do. When we talked about how we made life choices I found myself repulsed by what she had chosen; she likely found my decisions equally problematic. I could ramble off a list of the things that I found problematic about her personally, but it is perhaps more useful to list the things she probably thought of me:
Disconnected from the real world, not creating a secure financial future, not building a resume, sloppy, disorganized, reckless, over extended, unfocused, insufficiently respectful of existing power structures and institutions, uncultured, dirty, and self possessed.
“But what about the 99% match?” I kept asking myself. “How could we have done so well with the algorithm and be such a complete mismatch?” Then I figured it out. There are literally thousands of questions. If I only answered a few hundred and she answered very different ones than I, then we could have a high match by having very few overlaps and those being highly correlated by chance. I was pleased with my clear explanation of this slightly uncomfortable situation.
“How many OK Cupid questions did you answer?” I asked to confirm my theory.
“All four thousand,” her boyfriend answered for her. So much for my clever theory.
And so it was with almost every OK Cupid experience I had. I hardly went on any more dates, but I chatted up a lot of folks and kept finding repeatedly that either I was too odd for them, or they were just not very appealing to me. I paid for the premium service for a few months to see if this would help, but I just got more people to be excited about (since it shows you who is interested in you) and none of them panned out. It seemed like the entire thing was a gigantic waste of time and emotional energy. All of online dating was a pointless exercise.
Except it wasn’t.
“I need to meet you,” she wrote me. She read my profile, was intrigued both by me and community life. Now we are together almost everyday, Gryphon, her charming daughter, Sappho, and her ex-husband Curt at Acorn. She was a 96% match. I never ever would have met her if it were not for OK Cupid. Our worlds had no overlap. And she has significantly changed my life.
So when they tell you online dating is pointless, they are almost right but not quite. And that difference makes all the difference.
- MIT Workshop March 15 of Climate and Communes March 12, 2018
- Gossip is the Fabric of Community February 20, 2018
- Secret for a Day February 14, 2018
- Stepping Stone Commune February 5, 2018
- Every gift is an obligation January 27, 2018
- i make what you make [fiction] January 25, 2018
- Rent a room in NYC commune January 19, 2018
- Dream Alliance January 8, 2018
- NYE – Sorry, you can’t come December 31, 2017