There was a time before the internet. Many of my younger friends have some difficulty believing this is true or at least understanding how it might work. There is a story i often tell about a particularly dramatic job offer i got and then arriving at work before i got my job offer by crossing the international dateline. To buy that airplane ticket, because there was no internet and because i was in a hurry, I went to the Sydney airport and walked around the ticket offices until i found the next flight out.
While it is inconceivable to consider how we would run small business these days without computers, but early in the life of Twin Oaks, the decision to computerize our businesses was internally quite contentious. These days we are regularly looking for ways to use software and hardware to reduce or simplify our human labor.
This year Twin Oaks Validation Day made the jump to automate the six creatures game. If you are unwilling to click through to these links, let me summarize these cultural constructs you are possibly unfamiliar with. One of the best parts of big complex full service communities like Twin Oaks is we get to completely redesign holidays. Valentines day is a horrifically flawed event, so we redesigned it. Specifically, we made it principally about affirmation (which can be given to everyone) and secondarily about romance. This helps make the event inter-generational and accessible to all. We create validation day cards, which are like love letters from many people sharing the same collage container.
While it hardly seems daring in the age of Tinder, the 6 creatures game is a way people who are attracted to each other to find each other without indicating their attractions. The way it used to work is the players would fill out ballots for which of 6 different types of dates you are looking for with the people on the ballots. The creatures/date types are:
1 ) Ants – work dates
2) Puppies – play dates
3) Kittens – cuddle dates
4) Fish – kiss at the party
5) Rabbits – Sex date
6) Doves – Long term relationship
After the ballots are all gathered a trusted member (named iron lips) finds all the matches and lets people know of only their matches. Iron Lips is selected because they are very good at keeping keeping secrets. This game has sparked quite a few new romantic relationships.
This year the person of Iron Lips was replaced by an app. The six creature ballots were never seen by anyone other than the people who wrote them, their shared matches were spit out and given to members who were excited to see what shared possibilities exist.
Validation Day at Twin Oaks is a mostly internal affair. Unlike some of our larger events (like Anniversary or New Years Eve) we don’t invite that many folks from outside to this event, because we prefer to know people better for this more intimate party. I think there were fewer than half a dozen non-Oakers at this event (if you also exclude the Acorners, ex-members, and the handful of East Winders who are currently helping out at Acorn.)
The important piece of this party for me was that there was such a seamless range between kids and adults. This was helped significantly by the former member kids who joined our current group of teens and early 20s, many of whom are members. An ex-member pointed out that this was the first party she had seen where the kids really felt like it was their party too, like they were not just running through Tupelo, but were on the dance floor, with adults and other youth.
There are very few really integrated inter-generational parties. Think of the last time when 7- and 70-year olds were both on the dance floor enjoying themselves. I think many people have no experience of this. We are building the better party.
Having lots of kids at the event did not dampen the energy of the adults, though I think it does make the adults somewhat more discreet about their amorous attractions. Members got their results from the 6 creatures game and many were excited to find out their (perhaps formerly secret) attractions were shared.
Another indicator that it was a positive event for the participants was that I could not get shuttles to Acorn filled. As is my way at these events, I ran around checking in with people about when they wanted to catch a ride home to Acorn. I checked at 11 PM, no one wanted to leave, I checked at midnight, another failure. At 1 AM a small car went home but it was not even full. Finally at 3 AM I was able to fill the 15 seat passenger van.
The party was not perfect. Unusually, it was held in Tupelo, which is a very large and somewhat rambling space, and the party had several focuses, which made the dance floor seem sparse for much of the night. The kissing booth was a bit too dark and too close to the dance floor, so this funological long lever was barely used.
But even with these minor design flaws, we were clearly doing something right. Participants were praising the event the next day, many having slept in from the late night of celebration.
“I have a Shal request for you” my oldest commune friend and full moon buddy said nearly as soon as i walked back on campus.
He did not have to be more explicit, on the heals of Winter Storm Pax, there was only one thing he could want from me: Sledding. And while Shal is polite and frames his request as optional – our agreement is clear. There is no meeting so important that i can’t walk out of it to go sledding – turns out, there are always more meetings, but sledding is increasingly scarce in central Virginia.
And unlike me, Shal is careful, meticulous and prepared. “We need to go in the early morning,” he explains. “We want the ice from the cold night air to freeze the slopes solid for the best sliding runs.” After checking the weather we decided we would go at 8 AM the morning after the validation day party.
We tried a couple of different positions on the sleds where were made by Trout out of 55 gallon plastic barrels, hammocks rope and spreader bars [photo below]. What went farthest was me on the bottom laying stomach down and Shal on top. This meant Shal could steer and keep us from hitting trees or the barb wire fence at the bottom. We did a couple hours worth of runs, screaming and hugging every time we broke our own record. Our jubilation mimicked the preteens who took to the slopes the night before, we were certainly not acting our age.
Turns out Shal was right, the meeting was missable.
Shal’s addendum: Something Paxus did not mention that made this such fast sledding is that there was a hard crust on top of the snow that the homemade toboggan slid on top of, which only happens once in a few years. So we were sliding down hills that were effectively sheer ice – that was why it was an opportunity too good to miss, whatever else would just have to happen another time.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
There is a friendly rivalry between my two communes (Acorn and Twin Oaks). Like the younger sister who grows up to get the better job, Acorn has certainly learned from Twin Oaks’s missteps. But despite the myriad differences, we are far more alike than we are different. The number of folks not working directly for money, outside of a spiritual context is so small as to be laughable in the US. Yet bloggers, like myself, are drawn to comment on the contrasts more than the similarities.
When i studied classical economics one of the things which came through early was the advantage of international trade. The resources and skills of one region would give them a productive advantage over another land which had its own special abilities. Trading between these countries or regions was mutually beneficial to everyone. It was this advantage i was aware of last night at the Twin Oaks Validation Day party.
At 8 PM the dance floor was stalled. Caroline was playing quite compelling music but the Oakers were distracted by side conversations, various treats and their validation day cards. Around 8:30 the Acorn vehicles started to arrive, and it was like Great Britain discovering East Indian tea – everything changed for the better.
It is not just that the Acorners are younger on average (by about 10 years). And despite there being many fewer of them than Oakers (29 as compared with 91 adult members currently) they stormed onto the dance floor and we had a party. At a bit before midnight, i counted 22 people on the dance floor, a dozen of them had come w/ Acorn. [While Acorn is only 29 members now, it is more guest/intern/visitor friendly, so for any given event they/we will bring perhaps as many as 25% more participants who are not members but are in the social circle.]
Sometimes, you are really thankful for your little sister.
i also got the best validation day card ever. Pictures soon.
i would have to say Validation Day was a pretty wonderful party. It is one of our more insular events, with mostly people who are well known to the community in attendance and thus it is smaller than many of our holidays, but since it is one of our more popular/fun events a fair few ex-members and friends of community make a point of coming. This years also coincided with Willows 10th birthday celebration. Which brought some other wonderful people like Susan Posey.
Besides organizing the 6 creatures game with Joanna, i did almost nothing to make this validation day party happen. Which was nice for me. The validation card reading was fun, the dance party was wonderful, but it was the kissing booth that rocked my world.
At first i was annoyed about it. I went up to the kissing booth and looked at the sign up sheet and saw that someone had signed me up for the first shift, which was in a way funny, but since they did not ask me, it made me a bit grumpy. The woman who had legitimately signed up after me was curious if i was done and i said yes and crossed myself off the list.
Her name is Rejoice, she has been sort of an Acorn satellite for the last few months, but my very minimal connection with her goes back a bit earlier, in that she is close with Davi and is part of what i consider the second generation new culture kids. She is 20 something, bubbly and charming.
We ducked into the kissing both (which used the new years party Narnia closet as the doorway, which was an excellent addition). And we kissed. It was an amazing kiss. I have been lucky enough to have a lot of kisses in my life and for a kiss between near strangers, it was intensely passionate.
i left the kissing booth a bit shaken. Danced a little, thought a lot and finally came back to Rejoice and said
There are only two possibilities really. That you could come to that kiss with such passion and intensity, when we dont really know each other means either that you are fantastically empathic and can reach inside the emotional make up of this new person and experience them there. Or you are crazy.
Rejoyie smiled brightly and said “i am crazy.”
Afterward As Cardin points out, there is a problem with this post, which is that it trivializes the often misused accusation that women are crazy. There is of course a third option in this story, which is that Rejoice is tremendously daring. That she is willing to step in and step up to being present and connected in this way to someone who she barely knows. Funologically, the kissing booth created the container or frame for this behavior – and what she brought to it was amazing. Deep respect and appreciation. And thanks to Cardin for pointing out my error.