The joke is that there are as many opinions as there are members at Twin Oaks on most topics. But one thing we are in general agreement about is that we co-create pretty amazing children, reliably. Finley is one of these kids: imaginative, daring, curious and creative. I have primaried Finley a couple times, and it is not uncommon if you are distracted that when turn around you will find Finley on top of the roof of the building you are beside.
Christian has the enviable and challenging job of bringing out the best from our kids with video. Below is the joint effort of these two community artists. All the actors are Oakers.
The year has been jammed and even though it is not done, it’s time for me to look back so i can guess where i want to go. And i want to ask for your help with these projects which speak to me, because i hope at least one of them will speak to you.
It was a joy and privilege to start the year with the successful conclusion of the Flip Georgia campaign. We wrestled two Senate seats away from the Republicans and stripped McConnell of Majority Leader status, and briefly felt hope on the country’s ability to recover from Trump. Rev Warnock’s win was confirmed the evening of January 5, and Jon Ossoff’s victory was confirmed the next morning on January 6th. A few hours later, we watched the Jan 6th insurrection at the Capitol (on tv).
Part of the Flip team was hired to explore remedies to disinformation movements in general and QAnon in particular, and we created the QRemedy project. We are trying all manner of different approaches with a special emphasis on games. We assembled an expert panel of game designers which concentrated on conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns, and was brilliantly facilitated by my dear comrade Crystal who was able to wrestle UCSC into partnering with us. Rez and Angie are working on curating our large body of research on this novel movement and its impacts, as well as misinformation and disinformation movements in general. You will find the first part of the resources we’ve compiled here, and more will be posted in the coming weeks.
It’s not all work and political struggle; i was also part of a team of “disorganizers” who pulled off a transformative festival called QuinkFair this last October. We had our share of quinks to brag about. Several people’s paths turned towards new opportunities: people quit jobs that were not serving them, joined communities, fell in love, and one chronicled the first annoyed use of the word “quink”.
He: And this relationship is important to me because …
She: Hey can we go, i want to get to this workshop which is happening soon!
He: Hold on, i am trying to have a quink here with you!
She: Okay, well, now you have my attention.
He: Will you marry me?
She: Wow – yes!
These stories and more made this one of my favorite events ever and we have been invited back to the same site for Fall 2022. QuinkFair will be in Louisa County on September 22-26, 2022. RSVP
Part of what was brilliant about QuinkFair was the work Serenity Community did helping with scholarship and work exchange especially for POC and queer participants. I have been very happy with the work i have been doing with Serenity on starting the first POC centric income sharing community in the county, and QuinkFair is a good outreach event as Serenity seeks more members and supporters. This small but important step created an unusually successful event and is why i am asking for funds for it
We are also seeking funding for QRemedy’s on-going work countering disinformation. Our work includes research and exploration of how to counter these movements, as well as crafting a new empathy/compassion guide book for people who have lost friends or family to these rabbit holes and are hoping to maintain their relationships.
Thanks for reading
Paxus on the Train
23 Exploding Mushrooms 2021
A quink is roughly defined as the opposite of trauma, it is a specific event (a spark) that transforms your life positively from that point onward.
There is a curious asymmetry in the English language in which words that describe negative or problematic concepts do not have named positive counterparts. Contagious, jealousy, paranoia, trauma just to name a few.
If we want to build a new world we need new words. Quink is not just part of the name of this event, it was coined to name a transformative personal experience.
What is a Quink?
- The spark of positive change
- Roughly the opposite of trauma
- A specific identifiable event after which the person has prolonged and possibly permanent positive memories and capacities.
Examples of Quinks
One of the easiest quink to understand are the ones we find through books. Most people can relate to the sentence “I read this book and it changed my life for the better”, that is their quink book. Another accessible quink is simply standing up for yourself, and especially when you are at a power disadvantage – save a possible disastrous response, drawing boundaries, expressing them and maintaining them can be a quink. Good consent culture enables risk taking, risk taking richens the environment for quinks.
The endless process of enlightenment is perhaps the most elusive quink. Any experience which informs your understanding of self and/or world is a point, from which forward, your life is positively influenced.
Love is perhaps the most accessible, yet fickle, quink. Love’s impact has the power to change us into a state of grace AND unravel us into some tough and testy feelings. Either way, the personal and shared growth from Love can be a quink trajectory in many ways.
Kicking an addiction, be it to drugs, media, or toxic relationships, is an invitation for quink. This involves your own agreement with yourself for betterment paired with more resilience for transformation.
Update Nov 1st 2021 – Success! Community of Peace raise the initial $150K needed to secure the land.
Secular intentional communities have a 90% values overlap with people in spiritual focused communities, but we get stuck on the 10% where we disagree and thus are often unable to collaborate effectively. As was recently pointed out on the Commune Life Blog, there are now ten intentional communities in Louisa county (population 36K). It is worth acknowledging that this is more income sharing and/or serious resource sharing communities than in the entire NYC metro area (population 8 plus million). A big part of why this is, is that the ecosystem of existing stable communities helps foster new communities’ survival.
Until recently there were no spiritually focused communities in Louisa County. [Little Flower Catholic Worker community in Louisa often describes itself as “neither Catholic nor Worker”]. I say “until recently” because this summer the new Community of Peace, inspired by the Taize singing order in France, opened in Louisa County. I sat down with Br. Stefan Andre Waligur, a monk who has been working on this project for over 20 years, and who moved to the land to begin the project earlier this year..
I spoke with Brother Stefan at my recent visit to Community of Peace, the former site of Sophia House and where the 2019 QuinkFair event took place. Stefan shared both his inspiration and what the requirements are for membership at this forming community. His inspiration was big.
While in France many years ago Stefan visited the Taize community which had at the time of his visit 6,000 visitors (not residents) living in peace with a simple daily program of singing, meals, celebration and working the land. The songs were all quite short, drawn from many languages and designed to be easy to learn and sing. A fantastic format which connected a singing field that was transformative to many of the participants.
When i asked Stefan to explain the project he focused on the 4 pillars that hold up this effort, supporting these pillars is also what the community seeks from it’s members
Radical Welcome (what i call Radical Hospitality). Even those who can not afford to pay are welcome to live, eat, and work in the community.
Service and Solidarity – Community of Peace is what i would call an inclusive Christian community with an ecumenical focus, which takes literally the Bible’s calls and actions in the Gospels for collective liberation, recovery, and healing.
Prayer: There are really two types of prayer at Community of Peace – silent and sung. For me the short prayers in multiple languages which are sung is a strong community building focus, while the silent are can be carried into most aspects of community life.
Dialog: This is the last principle, and when i spoke with Stefan about it, it really feels like the Christian version of the Transparency Games i spend a lot of time promoting. Through “courageous exploration and deep listening to similarities and differences” they are knitting together a highly intentional community.
Community of Peace has raised all but $20K to secure the land. If you have any capacity to support this worthy project I encourage you to 1) familiarize yourself with their website and 2) Donate to their cause before the Nov 1st deadline (so donate right now). If you are not able to contribute financially, you can also support the community by sharing this post to others in your network. This is a hard deadline, because the bank will repossess the property if they don’t make it. They have come so close, please help if you can.
If you are interested in visiting or joining the community, contact Br Stephan via email at email@example.com.
Originally published in Random Roads (a hitchhiking magazine).
In 1989/90 I sailed across the Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles to Sydney. Hitching on sailboats is easier than it sounds. I took 10 different boats, mostly on the west coast of the Americas.
Ten different captains and ten slightly different agreements for passage. Mostly, it was berth space, food and passage in exchange for some work around the boat and especially steering and adjusting sails.
In one case a skipper asked me to pay 1/4 of the diesel fuel bill for the passage, so I would sail as much as possible. There were several times when there was almost no wind and the captain would ask me if i wanted to start the engines and i would say “i am not in a hurry”. We sailed a lot. When we arrived in Panama, he declined my offer to pay my agreed share, saying he just wanted to cut fuel expenses which I had done dramatically.
Most sailboats are owned by persons of affluent background and they want to sail with their friends. Often their friends think it is a good idea and agree to come along and then find out that sailing is not their cup of tea (too dirty, bumpy, boring, too little personal space, cramped – any number of reasons). Thus crews are constantly unexpectedly reforming. This is your opportunity for a ride.
In all the ports I visited in Central America and the South Pacific including Australia at 8 AM local time all the boats in the harbor talk with each other over radio on channel 19. They talk about all kinds of things they need, like where to get the bottoms of boats scraped and where is a good place to buy diesel fuel that is not watered down. At the end of this broadcast I gave my name and said: “I am looking for a ride to the Marquesas and I can navigate.”
The four capabilities that boat captains are most often looking for are
- people with the capacity to repair diesel engines
- people with medical skills, especially emergency medical skills
I mostly choose navigation, since I am good with math and dangerous with cooking. Learning navigation is relatively accessible, by going to a course or getting a book.
The navigator also turns out to be one of the easiest jobs, because almost all sailboats going long distance have satellite navigation systems which make directing the boat relatively easy. Navigators, like medical folks, are to be able to deal with emergencies, specifically lightning hitting the boat.
I had a long time crush on Kat Kinkade. Our time at Twin Oaks overlapped for the first couple years of my membership and we were involved in several projects together and generally appreciated each other. In a configuration that would be impossible today, Kat, Keenan, Pam, and i were in a group which meet weekly that i called “the shadow planners” (Twin Oaks highest executive office is the plannership and all 4 of us had served as planners, though i had not been selected when this group started). We talked about the different problems the community faced and what we thought were clever solutions to them.
Kat had been married in her younger life, but had definitely moved on from romance being a focus; she was doing other things and happy with them. So i was not surprised at her hesitancy around my proposal.
“We should get married.” I proposed one day while visiting her.
“Why on earth would we do that?” Kat asked, more curious than surprised.
“Because we could throw a large party …”
“And we both know a lot of people who care for us and the commune …”
“…yes…” Kat was waiting
“And we could ask them all to give us only sheets and toasters.” I concluded.
Kat cracked up laughing and never seriously responded to my offer. We had spoken several times about the ephemeral nature of both sheets and toasters in the commune context. These are two of the things the commune burns through at a pretty stunning rate. We are hard on toasters and they don’t last long in our busy kitchens. And apparently we have some combination of sheet flight/hoarding or rough sleepers because we are regularly in need of sheets.
Kat cofounded Twin Oaks, East Wind and Acorn communities. She also wrote the books Walden Two Experiment and Is it Utopia, yet?
Kat was interviewed by Tamara Jones of the Washington Post Magazine in 1999.
We had an amazing QuinkFair event, really beyond what most of the disorganizers had dreamed would be possible. On a conventional funological scale it was an A+ event for me, it changed my life in positive and likely lasting ways. The emboldened friendships with Jason Taylor and Rick Haley have already changed what i thought i was doing. I got quinked hard this year, it was not always comfy, but it’s a better path.
From a more mundane perspective, we succeeded in avoiding common festival problems: no one got hurt (beyond a nick with a kitchen knife or a bruised knee), nothing got broken, no one freaked out, no one had to be asked to leave the event. We did not do serious damage to the property. After hanging dangerously below the 100 ticket “break even” point until the day before ticket sales closed, on the last day we sold 50 tickets, putting us comfortably into the black. (The disorganizers don’t make money from QuinkFair, but could lose money if we sell too few tickets to meet the cost of necessary supplies, which would likely have prevented any future attempt.) The weather was almost perfect, with warm days and cool dry nights, few bugs and a light breeze. Cold for swimming, but a lovely lazy river to watch and spark a new friendship.
But these measures can’t begin to capture the magic of the event which we created. Participants fell in love, got bounced out of funks, discovered new communities which they are now thinking of relocating to, and there were all manner of quinks. Many people announced they wanted to help more with the next event. Our Happy Hills hosts were sufficiently excited that they started talking about how we can build the site and what infrastructure will be completed by QuinkFair 2022 that will make things much easier (for example Happy Hills is digging a well, making our water transport issues dramatically smaller).
We gave responsibility to a number of people who had not done the particular thing we were asking them to do ever before. Jade stepped firmly into her stage presence power as the lead act and MC for the Friday night talent show. I have to confess I always worry when she does stand up, because for it to work everything has to go right – the jokes have to land, the audience has to be open, the comedian needs to deliver well and at best it is a hard act to pull off. Jade put it out of the park, the audience cheered her which set the tone for each following performer. Storytellers, accordion players, sexy dancers, musical numbers and tiny fireworks followed in a surprisingly professional show for being pulled together at the last minute.
Duncan volunteered to host the Saturday night effigy burn and coordinate the team of folks crafting it. Wolf organized an impressive fire conclave. Jason Taylor (who won the QuinkFair most valuable disorganizer award) repositioned light and sound systems at the last minute with grace. Macaco inspired a collection of drummers and percussion musicians. Carmen (aka “Beast”) drove the drum rhythms longer and harder and faster than most of us thought a human body could go. Several participants said they felt like Duncan successfully channeled Jim Morrison to the event, my personal feeling is this is a polite way of complimenting something that was a tad more dangerous and landed us in exactly the right mindset to burn the effigy monster which had been under construction for some weeks, but took its final form just hours before the burn. Duncan had us up dancing, screaming, chanting and crying. It was electric. For the burners in the crowd, this felt like home.
Wolf organized the fire spinners for a pre-effigy burn which was pretty impressive given the relatively small size of the event. This fire conclave had never performed before, but you could not tell that from the show they put on. Darrell brought in some ringers for the night which really added to the show.
Running an Aphrodite’s Temple at a small festival with a diverse group of participants is tricky work in the best of circumstances. Sage and Duncan pulled off consent workshops, play parties and more in the newly named New Amsterdome, at the far edge of the property. They took a basically empty 30 foot dome and converted it into a comfortable and beautiful, if slightly sparse, space. Altars from several cultures, low power lights, and impressive crystals drawn from the back of a jammed Subaru made this temple a space to be both respected and celebrated.
An earlier blog post spotlighted Serenity Communities involvement in the scholarship ticket program. In the end, over 20 scholarship tickets were offered and the participants were significantly more diverse than most gatherings in the region. Still more to do, but it is a strong start.
We were graced with amazing musicians of all ages and talents who collaborated in various fashions. Macaco was able to pull together the drummers and singers to help shape the group ceremony soundscape, so that everyone could feel included. Ambient sounds as well as vocalizations, drums, strings, as well as pre-recorded tracks were used to help pull our energies together and raise and heal our spirits. Several traditions including samba and capoeria were also introduced and enjoyed. Truly, our energy soundscapes were orchestrated well.
In our search for quinks, one of the things which came up was taking on a new name, which is a way to communicate that you are doing something which is truer to yourself than what you were doing before. You are moving towards being more the you of who you want and less how other people want to identify you. We had a naming party, in an express, but effective version of that commune-inspired activity and a Gibson became Meadow. A last minute choice to put themselves forward as the target of the workshops naming party, which she is still happy about.
And at this same workshop Ericka became Tangle. She had been looking for a community name for a while so she came to the naming workshop. The name “Twist” was suggested because of her organizing style of bringing diverse players together to manifest her projects (like the Carbon County Catholic Worker giant beautiful building or forming Serenity Community for Justice and Peace. But when someone suggested “Tangle” she jumped on it, it felt so right. Because both her dreadlocks were “tangled” as well as her enthusiastic style of organizing. Drawing from lots of different communities and movements she is able to tangle being a mom with direct activism at Line 3 direct activism at Line 3 , to forming a new community while handing off another one. Some newly taken names are hard for me to remember. Tangle will not be one of them. I often rename months for new babies or new beginnings. October this year is called Tangle.
There was also a Flip 2020/Flip Georgia reunion of sorts. Spiderman came up from Florida and did a workshop on Metamaterials, Cyprus (formerly Erik from Atlanta) told stories and played other peoples musical instruments. Allison (having just helped boot corrupt politicians out of Bridgeport) and Erik came down in time for the burn and Carlos and Malia did a workshop with many names but encouraged folks to move their activist experience out of their minds and into movement.
There are a couple of QuinkFair participants who i met for the first time and i want to call out because they are doing important work and they are offering to help with future events. Zoltan hails from nearby Emerson Commons Cohousing and is past president of the on thousand member Cohousing Association of the US. Unlike Meadow and Tangle, Zoltan’s parents chose his impressive name. And Zoltan surprised me by exhibiting the behavior that disorganisers cherish. After an engaged goodbye, saying he wished he could stay and help, but he was booked hours away, he came back and blew off his appointment and helped us take down New Amsterdone. Like a fair few participants Zoltan promised to help with future Quink build camps, and i am sure he is good to his word. I asked Zoltan to bring the two most engaging folks from his cohousing association next year and he says he’s bringing more.
Charles Plank is a visionary. He pioneered coworking which changed the way many workers interact and now he has his eyes set on the broader collection of community movements. He used QuinkFair as the first few days of the brainstorming retreat for a handful of new colleagues in a new project. The HomeWorlding project looks to train and strengthen the networking between members and their communities. Versions of this type of project have been discussed for years. [Aron Heintz, who developed this year’s festival map, coined the term Communiversity – a school designed to teach better shared living skills and how to build cohesion in a group of would-be communitarians and those needing refreshers. ] HomeWorlding has a beautiful host site outside Philly which is close to where i spend time these days at Jetpack. It’s an ambitious and important project and i have already been offering them more advice than they bargained for.
The origin story of the QuinkFair project was a challenge from Spacious (aka Darrell) who came to Cambia and said basically “i have the hardware you need, i have the network of possible participants – if you want to throw a festival i can make most of the logistics happen. “ It was not presented in this direct fashion, but Spacious was clear that if we wanted to try he would be willing to support the project in a significant way. With this offer comes hundreds of training moments, and in the months leading up to the festival Spacious really lived up to his name and showed occasionally frustrating volunteers how to operate the 10 thousand piece construction set which makes the infrastructure of Camp Contact.
“I come to these events to do contact improv” – Spacious
There were many quinks, especially stemming from the Temple of Oracles. We had nine different tarot and other oracle card readers. It was not uncommon for the Temple of Oracles to have three readings being done in parallel. Some people had intense (and often unexpected) emotional breakthroughs during their readings, including some folks who normally don’t hold the divinatory arts in much esteem.
And the Temple of Oracles in the heart of the festival encouraged these quinking conversations throughout the festival. Rick told me of one with Joy, who was the principal organizer of the Temple of Oracles.
After listening a bit to Rick, Joy said, “Rick you need to talk with the spirits of the land.”
“But” Rick protested “I talk with the land everyday here”
“You talk with the turtles and the trees, that is not the land” Joy replied.
In telling this Rick broke from the story and looked at me in disbelief. “How can she know that? How can she know that?” he exclaimed. He shook the grey beard of a hard working man weary of trying and said, “Well, I got my homework.”
When the nation was exploding in protests over the murder of George Floyd, some skeptics, perhaps tired of the nations inability to hold Trump for any of his many crimes, said “these protests won’t change anything”. They were wrong.
Viewers of mainstream news could be forgiven for thinking the big effects were removal of confederate statues and the confederate symbol from the flag of Mississippi and NASCAR races. And i fear the biggest effect of the Trump presidency is that many news sources now focus more on telling us what we will get upset about, rather than what is actually important.
However this short list misses most critical reforms and changes, many of which took place shortly after Floyd was murdered. Some terrible laws were cancelled, including A 50 in New York which protected criminal bad cops by hiding their disciplinary records and complaints filed against them. Colorado stripped cops of qualified immunity. LA cut over $150 million from the police budget and redirected it to other community services. Over a dozen police chiefs were forced to resign, including in large cities like Atlanta, Tucson, Richmond and Louisville. Police chiefs almost never resign suddenly or are fired. Letitia James, the Attorney General of NY State made history by being the first AG to sue their own police department for use of excessive force. At one point, i started to track all the things which had actually changed because of this uprising, it ended up being overwhelming by it and i quit.
The communes also changed. There were disruptive internal protests at these intentional communities about systemic racism and there was a lot of education of white communards about how despite their best intentions they were maintaining racist systems. And in part because of these internal protests POC members of communes started more seriously considering options which had only been discussed before. Importantly, a number of BIPOC community members realized there was a need for a BIPOC led income sharing community near the cluster of communes in Louisa county. And so Serenity Community was born.
While Serenity (taken for the name for the starship in the Firefly TV series) is still forming, it is already making good things happen. One of the things we are especially excited about is that Serenity has taken on the difficult task of dispersing scholarship (discount) tickets for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks who need economic assistance to come to QuinkFair. Recently, has also agreed to take on the granting of scholarship tickets to other economically disadvantaged participants.
And while they have been actively dispersing scholarship tickets, there are still more people who want to come to this event than can afford it. If you could help grow these scholarship funds it would be quite helpful. If you are on Facebook, you can donate at this fundraiser or you can venmo 541-505-0803, be sure to include a note “QuinkFair Scholarships”
George Floyds death forced America to admit it had a systemic racism problem and while these important changes are to be lauded, we know the real work lies in front of us, but i am glad and excited to have the talented and energetic Serenity folks help in crafting a more fair and equitable world.
Good festivals build on people’s excitement, this is why so many events are designed around performers and their personalities. But there are lots of other excitements which are available.
As we have been talking about quinks more, people keep asking for examples – and especially what are common quinks? Things that don’t require the heroics of breaking a toxic relationship or the mastery of enlightenment.
Wolf suggested Quink books. Almost everyone has read a book that has changed their life in a way which they look back on positively now. These books hold a power and story for you and as organizers we want to bring that to our event.
On Friday Oct 1st at dinner we will have the participants of QuinkFair bring copies of their favorite books to dinner with the intention of discussing them, why they changed their lives and seeing if that is a message someone else in the group needs to hear.
We ask that people consider bringing a copy to give away. [If that’s not doable (financial challenges, difficulty finding a copy, etc) then you could also print the title and author on one side of a 3×5 index card and write why it was so important to you on the other side. We’ll take photos of these cards and share them on the QuinkFair blog, as well as on Facebook. ]
These are the three clear quink books for me and a sentence about what i took away from them:
That anarchist societies don’t make problems go away, they just shift how they are discussed and decided.
Was a compelling smack in the head about how my blindness to gender and racial inequity did not exempt me from at least learning about them and hopefully doing something about them.
This book taught me that a good author can have me crying by page 4. It showed exhausted heroes who looked a lot like people i loved. And it showed our type of consensus decision making in impossible situations sparking effective non-violent resistance.
What are the books that changed your life and why? Can you provide copies for others to learn the things you did and perhaps other important lessons?
QuinkFair is a transformation celebration borrowing from several festival cultures and striving to spark positive and healing experiences. It takes place on beautiful private land in rural Virginia in the town of Mineral on Oct 1 thru 4. Tickets are still available.
For some event participants this has been a lovely exercise, they get to go to their favorite used book store, shop for the books which help them become who they are and then bring them to the event and press them into the hands of someone who you hope has a similar strong resonance with the book.
Like most white Americans I did not learn the history of the burning of Black Wall St until the George Floyd protests. And I am a bit embarrassed about my minimal knowledge of the history of Union organizing and civil rights. Unsurprisingly I do better with anti nuclear activism history
But the question I find surprisingly few US Americans (including highly educated ones) can answer is “Why was the US attacked on 9/11?” It seems like an important question for us to have a consensus historical answer to. It is not like this was something Osama bin Laden was cagey about. He gave three very specific reason for the attacks on the U
- the US boycott of Iraq which had already killed 600k children
- US construction of military bases in Saudi Arabia
- US political and military support for the Israeli’s war in Palestine
The more you dig into each of these reasons the more reasonable it becomes (if you lived in the region) to think the only way the US will stop doing these things is if you strike them dramatically at home. While bringing these issues to the attention of the world – because each represents an injustice or danger of US expansionism.
But with perhaps the most dramatic terrorist attack in history, in the US least, bin Laden and friends lost control of the message. Instead George W Bush told the country “they hate our freedom” as preposterous as that is. I find that collectively we are much more likely to remember the “Freedom Fries” debate with France that the actual US instigated actions that sparked this retaliation.
Interestingly, this is another thing the US tends not to recognize – 9/11 did not start these wars. There were already happening, people in the Middle East were already dying because of US policy , but people in the west were just ignoring humanitarian organizations which were trying to call out these injustices. 9/11 was a surprise because we were happily ignoring our policy effects in the Middle East.
While we are fighting the Big Lie, it is important to remember we have likely been duped by other politicians.