Here is a curious pair of statistics. Louisa County Virginia has 33K people in it. It also has four income sharing intentional communities (Twin Oaks, Acorn, Sapling and Living Energy Farm). NYC has 8.4 million inhabitants. NYC has only one secular partially income sharing community (Ganas) though there are rumors of another in Brooklyn, we are investigating.
What is going on here?
My theory, which is certainly disputed, is that the foundation of community is trust. Here in rural Virginia we have it pretty easy at least materially. Crime is low, we are practiced in being civilized, fair and pleasant to each other (though we don’t always succeed). Building trust feels good, so we build it.
One of the first thing you are taught by the natives arriving in NYC is “trust no one”. The city is dangerous and looking for suckers. Not just financially, but emotionally and if you swing that way spiritually. It can grind you up and spit you out if you don’t protect yourself from its wiles.
Beatrice disagrees. Her experience is that the (non-residential) community she experiences in NYC is deeper and richer than other parts of the country. Beatrice is part of Point A, a guest writer for this blog and is a world class networker. She is also certainly much more experienced with the city than I am and I often defer to her wisdom.
There are other factors as well, of course. Exceptionally high rents and real estate values means there is less room for social experimentation. There is also in my mind a “role your own” mentality in NYC, where everyone seems to cobble together a housing/work/social situation which addresses the pressures of the city. Generally, there is not much room for others in these ingeniously and carefully crafted arrangements.
We are having another event in NYC this very weekend. In Prospect Park if the weather holds (back at the Brooklyn BUZ if it is raining). If you are interested in forming community in NYC please feel invited. Details of where it will be in the Park will show up on Facebook. Or just email me at paxus at twin oaks dot org and I will hook you up. Please do RSVP on the Facebook page or in the comment section of this blog post.
Catalyzing Urban Communes Potluck Picnic
Come join activists, artists, communally minded, and friends interested in sparking intentional communities inside NYC. This lively somewhat structured conversation will explore how to form new communities in the city and what would it take for you to be part of them. We are also welcoming of people who aren’t interested in living collectively, or who are not seeking an urban setting, but still want to help these kinds of living solutions to exist and are willing to put time into helping or advising.
Share food, share ideas, share dreams, share each other
Prospect Park (exact location TBD)
rain location: Brooklyn Urban dZong
starts 1 PM – ends 5 PM Sunday May 11
bring a picnic dish, preferably vegan
bring your own plate/bowl/flatware/drinking vessel
|1:00-1:30||Opening Game and Potluck Feeding Frenzy|
|1:30-2:00||The Sharing and Solidarity Sermon (a focusing and inciting exercise)|
|2:00-3:00||Speed Dating Idea Factory: Pairs or small groups will talk to each other for a few minutes with different prompts relating to the Point A project and write down their best ideas on 3×5 cards which they leave behind when they switch partners to inspire and be added to by the next conversation.|
|3:00-3:30||Hot Idea Selection: Which of these conversations do we want to develop and work on further.|
|3:30-4:30||A Deeper Conversation: Medium size groups will coalesce around the selected hot topics for a longer conversation. Likely including a small group that wants to live in an income sharing community inside NYC|
|4:30-5:00||Sharing, Summarizing, Next Steps|
The Best Name Tags Ever: When you arrive you will be interviewed by a volunteer who will write you a descriptive name tag packed with relevant information.
The Churning: Facilitators will be collecting the 3×5 cards and flitting between the group conversations to collect ideas and reinject them back into the discussion and the ending session.
Go to school. Study hard. Get a job. Work hard. Make money. Marry. Breed. Die.
Wait a minute, aren’t there other possible life paths? Indeed, there are radical departures from mainstream life which are available to you, and several of them will be discussed at a workshop on Saturday Feb 2 at 5 PM at the Brooklyn Urban dZong (the BUZ) located at 778 Bergen St. 2FL, Brooklyn, New York 11238 [A few blocks from Clinton-Washington Ave A or C lines and ten minute walk from the Grand Army Plaza 2, 3, and 4 lines]
There are three income-sharing intentional communities all within a few miles of each other in central Virginia. Each of these provides fairly completely for the needs of the members who live there: housing, food, work, medical coverage, clothing, transport and more. At the same time, these micro cultures function without police, without bosses, while enjoying basically no crime and very little oppression. Most members who join retire their watches, their wallets and their keys – image how different a life that would be. Commune life is not for everyone and none of these places is utopia. But the quip is that on a good day you can see it from here.
We will also be discussing how to start new communities and the tools needed to do this. This is a DIY event teaching how-to-make-and-sustain-a-live/work-community.
If you are interested in more information about intentional egalitarian communities, come to our presentation at the BUZ. Here is a bit more about what we will be talking about.
Twin Oaks Community. Founded 45 years ago, Twin Oaks is a large, stable community of over 100 people (about 95 adult members and a dozen kids). We grow a significant fraction of our own food, build our own buildings, run our own businesses, and don’t really use money on a daily basis. The commune evaluates all work done by its members the same (an hour of business management counts the same as an hour of cleaning the dishes) and members work on average of 42 hours each week. A complex and flexible labor system makes sure that each week dozens of meals are cooked, the cows get milked and hundreds of other meetings and jobs get covered. Twin Oaks has developed robust resource sharing systems for cars, bikes, clothes and more.
Acorn Community: Started 20 years ago Acorn is a middle-sized community of 30 adult members with one baby and one on the way. Unlike Twin Oaks, Acorn uses a consensus decision making model, with a more anarchist internal organizational model. The economic engine for this community is a groovy and profitable heirloom and open-pollinated seed business called Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. For both it’s membership process and inner personal hygiene Acorn uses a clearness process which it has developed over the years. Acorn has a largely unscheduled labor system, in which it regularly seeks volunteers to handle any of the many tasks it takes to run a farm, which is also a business and home.
Living Energy Farm (LEF): is a newly forming community designed to function in a post-fossil fuel economy. This dark green ecovillage is off the grid, and uses Oxen instead of tractors for it’s agricultural work. Just 2 years ago, 127 acres of clear cut was purchased for this new community and now, construction of the first real residence is well underway. LEF is in the pioneering stages, but many volunteers and the strong team in place make success seem likely. Also, the established communities in the area are strongly supporting this initiative. Hundreds of fruit and nut trees have already been planted and what was a clear cut will soon be an impressive orchard.
All this and more will be discussed in the lively workshop and Q&A session at the BUZ Saturday night. If you are in the area, please come by, admission is free.