Commune as Applied University

In a recent blog post comparing the experience of life at Twin Oaks (or Acorn) with that of the mainstream i said a number of things including:

More security, less privacy.  More community, less personal access to money.  More flexibility, less resume building opportunities.

Tree responded to this by writing a comment that said:

You wrote, “less resume building opportunities.” I disagree. For all but the few members who are abandoning some high-profile career path to be there, TO has way *more* resume-building opportunities than outside. Arrive knowing nothing, manage a major program within a year. Many members use that knowledge to get or create great jobs when they leave.

And, as is almost always the case, everything Tree says is true.  It is perhaps because i once came from this high profile career path that i answered this way. career path

The FEC communities don’t require you to arrive with any particular skills or money, instead what you need is reasonable to good communication skills and a willingness to learn things and work. We will train you.  And as Tree points out, the training is vast.  You can learn how to run a business, or a dairy program, or a to program computers, or keep bees, or fix buildings, or teach kids, or how to get arrested at a protest, how to milk a cow, or run a saw mill, or a sewage treatment plant, or make cheese, or build a straw bale, or plumbing, carpentry or auto mechanics (please come and learn auto mechanics!).  And this is just the beginning of the list. A number of young members have come after college and learned many of the things which a trade school would have taught, but in a more relaxed and self paced environment.  They build elaborate tree houses, learned to cook tasty vegan food for scores of people at once, how to fish or skin a deer. work and life balance What the flexibility of community living provides in these cases opens an entire world of assisted self directed learning.  The communities have basically open “Teach” budgets in which you can get trained in anything that you are interested in and the member who trains you gets labor credits for the skills transfer (you as a student do not get labor credits, unless it is something you are learning to support one of our regularly budgeted domestic or income areas).

Nurturing a spirit of inquiry.

Nurturing a spirit of inquiry.

So Tree is right, if you are not trying to be the Chief Technology Officer at GigaCorp or the Senior VP for Operations at DowJones Inc, then a stay at the communes will not set your resume back, and could well advance it if you are motivated enough to learn inside of this myriad of possibilities.

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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.

7 responses to “Commune as Applied University”

  1. Soma says :

    How true is it that FEC communities don’t require new members to possess a particular skill set (besides interpersonal skills and self-motivation)? Wouldn’t you say Acorn/Twin Oaks is more likely to consider a person for visitation/membership who is capable of fulfilling a community labor-need than a person who is an apparent novice with regards to such labor-needs (construction, farming, cooking, childcare, etc.)? I applied to Acorn this past summer and was informed that y’all were at maximum community population and therefore would only consider people for visitation/membership with stronger and more relevant skill sets than the ones I have (plus the community gender balance was off).

    • paxus says :

      Dearest Soma:

      What is also true is the more full and the longer the waiting list is, the more picky the communities get. Acorn has now shut down membershiping people for some months, because we have no space and a waiting list. Clearly the solution is to start more communities.

      Paxus at Twin Oaks
      12 Begging 2014

  2. Sandy H. says :

    I know a number of former communards who have started businesses after leaving commune life. Perhaps the work and life skill sets gained at intentional community translate well to starting one’s own business.

  3. benjumin says :

    thing I am curious about: I think I saw you shopping the idea of an urban community, but in nyc where price of land/housing is complicated. have you thought about Detroit? lot of available land and people doing some very interesting stuff there with giant community gardens etc.

    • paxus says :

      We considered Baltimopre, where the BFF is working and saw the amazing things that they are doing and decided we did not want to do that (tho we very much support what they are doing). We are not trying to prove that you can start communities in economically depressed areas – we have lots of proof this is possible. We are trying to start communities in economically vibrant places, including expensive places – because we want to prove the concept.

      There is New York exceptionalism – “if it is not being done in NYC, then it cant be done in NYC.” We need to prove it.

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