National Geographic visits the Communes

The media is a bit unsure what to do with the communes and National Geographic is no exception.  After being specifically asked not report on an expulsion meeting that was happening in 2005, the Nat Geo reporter lead their story about East Wind Community with the incident they had agreed not to mention.

“Well,” says Kara Jo, an East Wind resident for nine years, “people always show up for a lynching.” She’s kidding (mostly). Yet when a majority of the commune’s 75 free-spirited residents appear in one place at one time, something clearly is at stake: Yarrow, 26, has been getting drunk again. He’s failing to meet his labor quota; he’s smashed up a communal car; and he’s ticking people off

East Wind received an advance copy of the article for fact checking and freaked out.  The commune threatened to sue over the authors claims that the community was a revolutionary communist group which was a clear exaggeration.   Nat Geo changed the article before publishing but left in the lead on the expulsion meeting.

east wind in nat geo

 The only picture has a naked person.  Maria Stenzel Nat Geo 2005

In 2011, photographer Sarah Rice showed up at Acorn.  She was not with National Geographic when she arrived and she started taking pictures of Acorn which pretty much everyone loved.  She returned a number of times over the last 6 years and was generous with her gifted work.

paxus gryphon and pig

Lily pig, myself and Gryphon – Sarah Rice photo (perhaps) 2015

She worked with National Geographic on a recent story.    This time the story about commune life was quite idyllic.  After i read it i wanted to move there.

Time moves at a different pace on the farm and though hard manual work is expected, members are encouraged to explore whatever makes them curious. One woman took it upon herself to learn how to raise and slaughter turkeys and ducks, while another learnt how to build a garden that holds rainwater. No idea is considered “stupid”; all thoughts are nurtured and supported. “It’s interesting to see what crazy projects people want to explore when they have the freedom,” says Rice. One person made a ‘goat circus’ as part of their annual founding celebration; which consisted of a series of platforms for goats to climb, constructed purely for entertainment.

I wish this were all true.  Ideas that are “stupid” get shot down all the time at Acorn (though lots of crazy things do get consideration and some get implemented).  But the hyperbole of the article does catch some essence of the place.  And unlike the piece on East Wind, this new article is appreciative and respectful.


in , , on Thursday, May 12, 2016.  Sarah Rice

Xochitl (formerly Dragon) on Silks – photo by Sarah Rice

As a story teller, i have to be forgiving about the medias tendency to frame us in extremes.  Now i am going back to my place where time moves at a different pace.



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.

2 responses to “National Geographic visits the Communes”

  1. Donna Bloomer says :

    I remember a visit from Nat Geo in 1984, possibly. Nothing came of it, to my knowledge, but nostalgic me wishes I could see a draft of their impressions at the time.

  2. Gabriele says :

    My dear, i learn: the communes are a bit unsure what to do with the media and Twin Oaks is no exception.
    As the media, i have to be forgiving about the communes tendency to frame us in extremes. Now i am going back to my place where time moves at a different pace and nobody would muse about 12 year old mouldy articles in National Geographic.
    Cheers from your personal reporter!

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