McDonogh Prep Assembly Speech – Feb 19, 2014
There are nicer words for what I am trying to do here, i could be called a spokesperson or representative. Perhaps more precisely you would call me an evangelist or a salesperson. But my preferred term for this job is propagandist. My work is telling stories and making sermons. And propagandists like salespeople are trying to get you to change your mind, to get you to buy what they are selling. I use this reviled label, to put you on your guard, I want you listening with your sharpest critical thinking engaged.
I want to talk about models of success. McDonogh represents a classical model of success. You study hard, you get into a good school, then you work hard to get a good job, you build your resume, you marry, you have kids, you buy a nice house, and you live comfortably ever after. This is a success model which is focused on you and largely on the future. I come from a different place. There is still hard work. But it is work without bosses. It is work that changes as your desires and interest change. You might work in the dairy or the kitchen in the morning and in the afternoon you might manage one of our businesses or work on the computer or do child care.
We are doing some advanced experiments in sharing things: clothes and cars and buildings and bicycles and musical instruments. By sharing things we don’t have to buy as many things, which means we can work much less for money. The key to this sharing system is trust. To make these systems work and for the place to feel fair we need to trust each other. This success model is focused on us rather to me and unlike the conventional forward looking model, our success is quite often about right now.
If you get nothing else from these minutes of me speaking I would ask you to start thinking about sharing in a new light. Sharing is not the quaint notion that you learned in kindergarten and have mostly forgotten about. Sharing is one of the few long lever tools that can get us out of this jam that we are in.
The average group of 100 US Americans have 77 cars. Twin Oaks is a bit more than 100 people sharing only 17 cars. This means we don’t have to buy and insure and maintain 60 vehicles. That is a chunk of change.
It also means we need to design systems to satisfy the needs that those vehicles provide. In this and in most of our sharing systems, we have largely succeeded. And this is the key – when you look at the energy consumed, the carbon released, the solid waste produced, the per person water use. By any metric you can imagine we have dramatically less impact and are considerably more sustainable than our mainstream counterparts. If you are especially concerned with Climate Disruption, permit me to brag we are already at an 80% reduction from the average US america;s carbon footprint.
Most guidance counselors don’t include intentional communities like Twin Oaks and Acorn on their lists of possible job opportunities for the prep school grads.
But if you are bothered by the ambient level of fear and crime, if you don’t want to get bills or deal with money, if you want to live more sustainably and model a world which is not in decline, if you want to live in the now and want to foster something that is bigger than yourself, but is not a faceless corporation. Then perhaps you can do your senior project or spend part of your summer at these rural Virginia communes. [Edited by Judy Youngquest]