When organizing a large event there are always some pieces that are iffy. Will we get the hot tub together before the party? Will this promised out-of -town performer really show up? Can participants be trusted to bring an even distribution of food items for the pot luck, or will we have 20 different desserts?
The best way to tell if something is really going to happen is if there are a bunch of people excited about it happening and there are some strong organizers in the group. Using this metric, there is one thing i am sure is going to happen at this years Quink Fair! and that is the Temple of Oracles.
We have done a Temple of Oracles at every Twin Oaks New Years party for almost 2 decades now. It is a reliable hit and it is its own subculture inside the great party event. Card, rune and coin readers assemble on a comfortably decorated space and provide readings short or long for party participants for free. [For a full description of the Temple review this fingerbook.] For some this is the first time they have felt comfortable having this type of reading. And even for some of the most deeply rational, I often hear reports that these readings were both useful and important.
We are exporting the Temple of Oracles to Quink Fair! and our first meeting had both new and old Oakers as well as experienced card readers and people who are excited and trying for the first time. People were willing to give workshops on tarot and other divination forms. Several people volunteered to do readings and build up the dome which will house the temple. A small budget was allocated for new decks to supplement the many that the group already had.
“What is this Quink Fair! event?”, you might ask. It is a fusion of several different gathering and festival cultures. Specifically, the Rainbow Gathering, Burning Man, Network for New Culture Camps and the Twin Oaks Communities Conference. It is happening July 12 thru 14th at Sophia House, a mere 1 mile from Twin Oaks. You can read more about the event. And you can even buy tickets on line at http://www.quink.org or https://burnertickets.com/quink-fair-2019/
Quink is roughly defined as the opposite of trauma; we have a particular memorable experience and afterwards our lives are significantly transformed in a positive way. Kicking an addiction is a quink, enlightenment would be another, sometimes falling in love is a quink event. The idea of this fair is we are trying to create a nurturing environment for quinks to happen, in the midst of an interactive art festival with many workshops, music, dancing, and performance.
Looks like we are going to need new words, if we want to build a new world.
Feeling helpless and hopeless about climate disruption? Some of the most powerful solutions are in places most people are not looking.
In 1985, Amory Lovins wrote the ground breaking article, “Saving Gigabucks with Negawatts,” where he argued that utility customers don’t want kilowatt-hours of electricity; they want energy services such as hot showers, cold beer, lit rooms, and spinning shafts, which can come more cheaply if electricity is used more efficiently. Intentional communities and especially income sharing communes can use a similar approach to reducing their carbon footprint.
You can think of communities and climate in a way similar to negawatts. People living in community don’t really care if they own a car or bicycle or set of clothing. What they want are transportation services and clothing services. If these can be provided more efficiently than through personal ownership then their needs are met. This is where radical sharing comes in and changes the entire climate discussion.
If you are in the Boston/Cambridge area this Thursday, please come to the MIT campus and come to our workshop (Facebook RSVP) on the techniques and philosophies which help these communities reduce their carbon footprint by 80%
MIT Campus 70 Memorial Dr Room E51-145, , Cambridge, MA 02142 – 7 to 9 PM
If you are not on Facebook, but wish to attend please let us know at paxus @ twinoaks.org
I co-moderate a large diverse facebook group on intentional communities. Recently someone posted:
Gossip gets embellished as it travels. Things heard second hand should be verified with the speaker. Beware words taken out of context, even if the context is the room next door. Good communities practice all that.
While this is true as far as it goes, it misses the tremendous complexity around the issue of gossip and how important it is to both the culture and success of a community venture.
What is gossip? It is certainly more than an opinion expressed about someone who is not in the room. “Trump is a misogynist racist,” isn’t gossip, unless you are close to him. It is just an opinion. “Cindy is gifted at fixing cars,” almost certainly does not qualify either, as most people think gossip is a negative opinion.
“Paxus is a poor driver.” What if this is something I have said myself and you are simply repeating it? Is it gossip if the target is the source?
Let me propose a harsher definition: Gossip is a critical judgment shared about a person or group, often in conspiratorial or secretive tones, while not directly communicating with the subject of the gossip.
Using this definition one might reasonably be concerned that gossip would have an acidic effect on the fabric of the community. One of the common anti-gossip norms that exist in the communes is if you hear something critical about someone you could ask, “Have you told this to them?” This is the antidote to gossip; being transparent with the subject of the rumor.
Back in the 80s, as I was just becoming aware of community living, when I was making a critical comment about gossip, my dear friend and mentor Crystal replied “Gossip is the fabric of the community,” and it took me a couple of decades to understand what he was talking about.
Even when using the negative it turns out gossip is important for a community to be healthy. Members need to confide in confidants about their frustration with others in the community. Ideally, this is less about spreading rumors and more about seeking advice. “How do I deal with this headachy circumstance?” or “Do you understand their motivations for this strange behavior?” or “I was so upset and they were clueless, what is really happening here?”
In the best light, gossip is the flow of self-critical and self-correcting messages which members share in the lead up to actually addressing the problems. [Where the “self” here is the larger collective one, rather than the individual personal one.] You talk about things which are on your mind with the people who you live with and they help you reflect back on what you should do about it. Recognizing that if you are being critical of another member of your community, you are obligated to get back to them with your concern.
In this way, gossip within a community is different from what happens in the mainstream. If I am being critical or concerned about another member, I have a larger obligation to do something about it than I do if it is a co-worker or random stranger. If you have a substance abuse problem and we live collectively, not only can it blow back on me in a problematic way, but I have made some level of commitment to take care of you. If we are part of the same intentional community and I am worried about your mental health, I can’t casually gripe about it to another member, we have to be considering what our course of action is regarding this problem. Even less dramatic problems other members are experiencing like a poor choice of romantic partners or headache with a boss are much more shared in a community setting than when living independently. Gossip in community has more obligation to it.
It is worth pointing out that Twin Oaks does not embrace this culture. In my large commune, if you don’t want to deal with someone you can completely shut down communication with them. This is terrible for clearing gossip but might make it possible for some people who really do not see eye to eye to be able to live together. And because the community is so large these estranged members (including me) just try to avoid each other.
It is worth pointing out that when ex-Oakers founded Acorn with financial assistance from Twin Oaks, this was one of the most important things they wanted to do differently. Acorn (and many other communes) have a communication covenant which makes it the community’s business when members are failing to communicate. When you are designing communities one of the thorniest issues is when do you give power to the collective over the individual members. And gossip is one of the few places you should seriously consider it.
The morning after the super bowl more than half of Twin Oaks woke up without knowing who won the big game. You might correctly assume that since these people live in this egalitarian, rural, income sharing ecovillage commune they might not prioritize this national event. But this is not the whole story. Quite a number of these members who don’t know the result are actually very excited about the game and are looking forward to watching it. Let me explain further.
Twin Oaks has a long-standing “no live television” norm. There is no place in the community that you can just flick a switch and suddenly view broadcast television (or even live cable television). There is, however, a whole subculture of television and cable watching members, who draw from our huge archive instead of watching things live.
But sports are somehow different. People mostly want to watch sporting events as they are actually happening. I’ve never completely understood this. I will leave it to some sports enthusiast to enlighten me as to why this is important. And Oakers want to watch the Super Bowl; they want to watch it in their home, they want to watch it with a bunch of other Oakers. So to get all of these things a few years back we stumbled onto a solution. Watch the Super Bowl a day later.
This clever fix has its own problems and at the top of the list is that there are a couple of dozen Oakers who do not want to wait. They visit outside friends or nearby communes which don’t have such restrictive norms around the television. And basically, the whole rest of the community agrees that they have to keep the game a secret for one day and especially not say who wins.
Back in 2004, we were less into sports. I remember walking into the Morningstar kitchen and asking the dozen assembled people “If I were to say ‘Janet Jackson’s left breast‘ how many of you would know what I was talking about?” No one did. Perhaps I got lucky that morning, perhaps the commune has become more accepting of major sports events.