Tag Archive | personal bike

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.

Collective bikes

It started simple (or at least simpler)*.  We wanted share the bikes which were available on campus, so we ditched the concept of private ownership.  Anyone could ride any bike anywhere.  There was a slightly complicating factor, in that you could have a touring bike, for off the farm use, which was in a nice covered shelter near Nashoba.

But of course with time it quickly became more complex.   First there was Emerald City,  This “industrial park” part of our campus is about a 5 minute bike ride and a 15 minute walk.  So the norm became if you rode a bike up, you would ride it back and therefore if you found yourself up there without a bike, you would not take a public bike from the lots and ride it to the main part of campus.

Then there were the kids (though they might have come first).  They did not fit on the adult bikes, they did not want to share their bikes with other kids (especially since they were often presents to just them).  So we started putting kids names on bikes and restricting use to just the person who’s name was on the bike.

the largest public bike parking area is in the courtyard

Then after i had been here for a few years a very popular member named Hans was bike manager.  He was popular because he worked hard, was very pleasant, helpful and energetic and pretty quiet.  After he was in quite good standing he made a highly heretical proposal.  Every member of the community who wanted their own “personal” bike could get one from the community, put their name on it.  Then they would park it in a slightly different location to avoid confusion between public and personal bikes.

The Status Quo Syndicate – SQS (also known as the grumpies) screamed “this is the end of another important sharing system!” “Our collective values are being undermined!” And this was perhaps the beginning of the end of the SQS.  Hans was patient, has responded to every concern on the O&I board which raged for weeks.  He kept refining the policy.  Made sure that “personal bikes” would not be repaired for “free” by the communities bike manager and to repair or maintain your own personal bike you need to fix it yourself or you needed to give someone else (including possibly the bike manager) labor credits to fix it for you.  If you road the collective bikes, they were maintained by the community for you.  This “tax” on private control was the last thing needed to seal the deal.

Hans was heroic in has reasoned and compassionate defense of his proposal.  He was also tenacious.  Ultimately, the overwhelming majority of the community thought it was worth trying and we did.  And as with almost everything we try, we never went back.   This is another example of the champion effect that i have been writing about recently.  It happened because both it was a good idea and because someone was willing to weave it through our complex decision making process.

Now we likely have something like 100 bikes on campus, perhaps 40 personal and 60 public.  You might argue that this is not a great ratio for a campus which has perhaps 120 people (including kids) using bikes at any given time.  But part of what makes the system work is distributing bikes across campus and being robust when some collection of bikes needs repairs for a while.  And we have a pretty high rate of bike usage in the community, my guess is it is higher than the national average.  And this is a total guess.

*[This is a slightly revisionist history, i dont know what the actual sequence of these events are, but i like telling the story this way and so it is.]

Here is a post on our car sharing system

Here is a post on our cloth sharing system

Why it is far more important to practice sharing than recycling