Salon article on Twin Oaks

Ali and i spent yesterday talking with students at McDonogh prep school outside of Baltimore.  As the day went on and we got bolder in our presentation, the students got more and more excited about the commune and at least three are planning on doing their senior projects with us.  I was especially happy to hear that the brief full school presentation that Janel X and i did last year had such an impact.  Several students said that they had gone to that presentation and afterwards our ideas had hijacked the regularly scheduled classes and students wanted to talk about commune life as an alternative to mainstream lifestyles.  We sat at the famous tables and answered the barrage of questions on every imaginable topic.

Janel's replacement at McDonogh Prep is new member Ali

Janel’s replacement at McDonogh Prep is new member Ali

This morning i woke up to find out that Salon had published a piece on us, which was largely favorable.

The places where the article misses include its characterization of Oakers as being obsessed with labor sheets.  They are useful, and they certainly influence our lives.  And people’s relationships with them are highly varied, including a handfull of members who barely interact with them at all.  I was amused at the idea that labor assigners user their power to try to craft new romantic relationships.  This is certainly something i thought about when i was labor assigning, but in the perhaps 2000 assignments you do in a week, this might be a consideration in 3 or 4 of them.

And if the idea of a commune appeals to you, but you can’t stand the idea of having scheduled work, there are a myriad of non-Twin Oaks options available to you, including my dear Acorn just 7 miles down the road from Twin Oaks.

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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.

16 responses to “Salon article on Twin Oaks”

  1. moonraven222 says :

    I want a commune in New England!

    Aside from that, thanks for pointing the article out. It was pretty good. (I noticed that you got a mention in it, Paxus–as someone’s older brother.)

  2. adder says :

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure I told Rachel that I used my labor assigning for matchmaking.

  3. Angie Tupelo says :

    I was obsessed with my labor sheet- I don’t think I left my SLG without it more than a dozen times in the 4 years I lived at TO.

  4. Jacqueline says :

    Thanks for putting a plug in for Acorn!

  5. tickledspirit says :

    I think the idea that labor assignors encourage new romances came from YOU, sir! I specifically remember you saying that to at least one college classroom…

  6. steve-chu says :

    Wonderful eyes! See y’all soon 🙂

  7. germanbini says :

    Hey Paxus, what about a shout out to East Wind? 😉

  8. Loran says :

    Just wondering – what is the gender ration at Twin Oaks? Several years ago I thought I recalled reading on the Acorn website that more men are attracted to the communal life than women. But the Salon article highlighted mostly female communards. Is communal life equally attractive to both men and women, or does one group predominate?

    • paxus says :

      @Loran: The community is currently slightly more female than male (with transgender individuals being counted as their destination gender).

      Twin Oaks has policies to keep us from getting too far tilted to one gender dominance. Specifically, if we ever get to 60/40, we stop accepting the dominant gender until levels are equalized. This has never happened in the
      15 years i have been here, but we have been close a couple times (tho interestingly, usually more women).

      Our sister communities East Wind has struggled with a male dominated gender imbalance for many years, demostrating that once you get lopsided, it can be very hard to correct.

      Paxus at Twin Oaks
      14 early Flwoers 2013

  9. dondi says :

    Paxus, I really enjoy reading your articles. I learned about Twin Oaks in a high school class where someone did a book report on Walden Two and a Walden Two Experiment! I’m trying to remember if I ever set people up in my 7 years of labor assigning. Maybe – but in the sense of who would get along with who…

  10. Eric says :

    It’s good to see that the commune model is appealing to young people! I never understood why it hadn’t become more prevalent in the US. Loved Walden Two back in college but was never able to convince friends to join me in that direction. Also could never convince my ex. haha. This summer, I’m gong to be in your area and will visit! I’m excited to do so and called the other day to set up a tour but I think the guy who answered the phone thought I was crazy… “It’s February”… I thought that was pretty funny. Looking forward to it.

  11. Eric says :

    Just finished the Salon piece. Fantastic!

  12. Allen Butcher says :

    I haven’t seen the Salon article, yet I would like to suggest, if the opportunity ever arises, like when doing future presentations, to stress how labor sheets at TO essentially replace money in the dominant culture, and remind people that if TOers obsess about labor sheets, just think about how much they in the outside world obsess about money! The labor system replaces monetary economics. From there you can go into all kinds of comments about how the time-based economy (as I call it) contrasts with the debt-based economy (as I call monetary economics). Do you already do that? I think it is the essential difference because the labor system makes possible the feminist aspect of gender-equality, the radical flex-time aspect of the labor system, the vacation-credit aspect of earning vacation time, the participatory governance in economic planning, and so on. Can money do any of that? Yes, it could, like maybe in Mondragon Cooperatives, yet for the most part money is designed for the competitive economy, not the cooperative or communal economy.

    • paxus says :

      @Allen: You certainly can obsess about your labor sheet. And many people only have minimal number of things on them and entire days or “weekends” off

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