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Riddle Garden

“How is a raven like a writing desk?” It sounds familiar, it’s a riddle you have heard before, but you can’t remember the answer. It won’t help you when i tell you it was written by Lewis Carroll.

It is not a complicated dream, but i have not been able to manifest it. I want to build a riddle garden.

Many of the places i live are wooded. Forests are the right venue for this type of chaotic, temporary micro gallery. And the plan is to pepper trees with posted riddles and then you can lift up the riddle to reveal the answer (or possibly an explanation or history in place of an answer).

Clouds

When i lived at Cambia, one of the gentle challenges was for members to build sustainability exhibitions. And while i did not have a conventional sustainability exhibit, it made me think what i was actually excited about was creating a display of different riddles and types of riddles.

What makes this year different from all the times i have failed at this in the past? Well, this time there are conference and festival interns. Ogtar, Orion, Dash (formerly Bee) have all been helping make different events happening in Louisa this summer and fall possible. And they are excited about making the riddle garden happen.

We are looking at four classes of riddles: historic, logical, nonsense and literary. It is unclear if they will be separated by zone in the garden and we are still gathering materials. If you want to help, you can email me or drop your riddles into the comment section below.

But why is a raven like a writing desk? It turns out that when Carroll crafted this riddle, the plan was for it to be a riddle without an answer. But Carroll’s fans were quite dissatisfied with this non answer.

Lewis Carroll himself got bugged about this so much that he was moved to write the following in the preface to the 1896 edition of his book:

Enquiries have been so often addressed to me, as to whether any answer to the Hatter’s Riddle can be imagined, that I may as well put on record here what seems to me to be a fairly appropriate answer, viz: ‘Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!’ This, however, is merely an afterthought; the Riddle, as originally invented, had no answer at all.

Here Carroll is intentional misspelling of “never” as “nevar” which is raven spelled backwards.

Workshops at the Communities Conference

Approved Workshops for Twin Oaks Communities Conference September 2-5, 2022

These are the approved workshops for this year’s Communities Conference, with links to the community or organizational affiliation of the presenter under their name.

  1. Aging in Community – Raines Cohen
  2. Alleged Urban Squatting Workshop – Peaches
  3. An FEC Community in Costa Rica? – Keenan Dakota & Lyndya Geiger Ross
  4. Apocalyptic Wakanda & Zion  Building a New World – Aleta Toure
  5. Authentic Relating in Community – Mike Jadoo
  6. Biophilic EcoVillage Design & Building – Fred Oesch
  7. Can You Power Your Community Entirely With Renewable Energy? Alexis LEF
  8. Collaborative Community Design – Moonraven 
  9. Community Business: Making Money Together! – Xander Astra
  10. Community Legal Workshop – Jenny Hoffpauir 
  11. Community Singing: the Craft of Co-Enchantment – Craig & Cleo Green
  12. Funding ICs thru Airbnb Rentals & Retreats – David Vanderveer & Victoria Bryant
  13. I Didn’t Mean It That Way: Identity-Related Harm in Cmty – Crystal Farmer
  14. Panel: Starting POC Communities
  15. Panel: Stump the Chumps
  16. Politics, oppression, and creative forms of liberation – Gil & Ella Cambia
  17. Quilombos Culture for EcoVillages & Intentional Communities – Macaco
  18. The Revolution Will be Indigenized – Roberto Mendoza
  19. Transforming Founder’s Syndrome – Cecile Green
  20. Travelers in Community – Ozgard

Below is the summary workshop description and presenter biographies.  

Aging in Community

Whether or not your community is (or plans) to be intergenerational or senior-focused, you need to be preparing for members getting older — it’s a natural part of all our lives. By consciously approaching aging and building collective community consciousness about it, you can make it much more likely that you and your neighbors will be able to not just stay in their homes longer, but also help everyone, from birth on up, experience longer, healthier, richer lives.

While many traditional approaches to “Aging in Place” focus on the “deficits” and physical, social, financial, and mental issues, ICs are full of opportunities for “positive aging” where our unique lives as elders and age diversity can become a strength..

We’ll look at examples from many different kinds of communities that have successfully laid the groundwork, share what we’ve seen in (or anticipate in) our own communities, and together help each other create a plan and path to take home. Join us for lively discussion, role-playing, and simulations, plus sharing of established and home-grown resources to bring back to our communities and a network to support each other in continued connection.

Raines Cohen is a Community Organizer. Facilitator. Cohousing Coach. EcoVillage Ambassador. Aging-in-Community Author. Certified Senior Advisor. Certified Sage-ing Leader. Founding Member, Elders Action Net. Past board, FIC/Coho/US. Leader, East Bay Cohousing/Cohousing CA. Living in community in Berkeley, CA.

Alleged Urban Squatting Workshop (draft desc) 

Squatters have no rights in the US, but some tenants pay no rent – and tenants do have rights. This workshop explores no rent and low rent tenancy in metro areas like DC which have good tenant protection legislation.

How can you find such a place? Public records and other no rent pioneers can be some of your guides. How to respond to aggressive landlords to your legal advantage and how to maintain good relations with neighbors who are burdened with conventional rents.

Peach’s will share the short version of how they landed in a lovely home in DuPont Circle for the cost of parking and how they are sharing this bounty.

Peaches is the only sales rep for Southern Exposure Seed Exchanges Wholesale business and runs a bike repair service in DC.  They are also the driving force behind Casa Peaches which houses activist, abortion refugees and legally disadvantaged international.  They have lived in several intentional communities and communes.

An FEC Community in Costa Rica?

There is a 200 acre of land in Costa Rica that has two houses and a big concrete dome. A group of people are going to try to start an FEC-style community on that property starting October 1st 2022.

Keenan has lived at Twin Oaks for 35 years.

Lyndya Geiger Ross:  Lyndya lives in Costa Rica.  She is associated with La Finca de La Tierra Nueva. Lynda is also associated with the Foundation that has been developing this property for 20 years. She will happily answer questions about westerners choosing to live in Costa Rica. 

Finca de la Tierra Nueva – Costa Rica

Apocalyptic Wakanda (Panther) & Zion (Matrix) and Building a New World

We are not going back to normal.  African Americans are reviving the Black Cooperative Movement by replacing our assimilation amnesia with a Liberated Zone training ground.  Some call it Beloved Community, Some call it African Time banking Village. We call it LandCorps.   Hear from three cooperative members of Parable of the Sower Intentional Community as they build it (community) so they will come.

Aleta Toure  homeschooling mother, community organizer, filmmaker, Mindfulness practitioner, dancer, & visionary.Yehudit Chef, clothing designer, Peoples, jewelry franchise owner, youth organizer, & dancer.  Justice – Kayaker, environmental justice worker,  cooperative bicycle worker & gamer.

Authentic Relating in Community

Authentic Relating (AR) is the practice of freely expressing yourself with others in order to bring about a richer human experience.   This practice of free expression to bring about a more truthful human experience builds on the Quink community of self-reflection and positive shifts for one’s own life and community.  

Expressing in a more truthful way enables connections in the world based on who you really are. 

When practicing Authentic Relating we keep the 5 Practices of Authentic Relating in mind:

1.    Welcome Everything – We welcome everything that arises in our field of awareness, in ourselves, in others, and in the world

2.    Assume Nothing – We notice our assumptions of people and situations, and check them out with others

3.    Reveal Your Experience – We let ourselves be seen, known, heard, and touched as who we really are, and invite others into our worlds

4.    Own Your Experience – We take full responsibility for whatever we experience, and for having an impact on others

5.    Honor Self / Honor Other – We honor our own needs and wants while also honoring the needs and wants of others

Mike Jadoo have over participated in many Authentic Relating workshops.  He recently completed the Authentic Relating Training (ART) Level 3  and is ready to serve the community by providing AR games.   He has previously hosted  many NVC practice groups and book readings. 

Biophilic EcoVillage Design & Building

Earth’s climate and our man-made environment is at a tipping point. Intentional Community designers and builders must embrace a more urgent and far reaching purpose and responsibility, in ways that nourish and regenerate the health and beauty of our built environment and planet. This presentation will cover EcoVillage state-of-the-art practices and conceptual future systems and methods needed to create a regenerative built environment and organic buildings that embrace accountability with respect to climate change and quality of life. Inspiring current opportunities and evolving case studies will be explored.

Fred Øesch (“Esch”) is the principal of Øesch Environmental Design in Charlottesville, VA. An award winning Design / Build firm, Øesch has produced EcoVillage Master Planning, Architecture, and Interiors utilizing healthful, energy efficient, regenerative organic materials and methods.

Cville EcoVillage

Collaborative Community Design

Many people think about or try to start communities by putting out all the things that they want.  In this workshop, a small group of participants will design a potential community by each putting out a few things they want and seeing what collective design emerges.

Raven is a long time communard (Common Threads, Ganas, Cotyledon, Glomus Commune) now attempting to build an income-sharing community in New England.  Also 70 yo white cis man.

Community Business: Making Money Together!

Want to know how to start a community business!? 

Want to make your existing businesses more profitable?!

Too frequently we see communities fail over getting the bills paid or just never start for lack of funds!! Let’s talk about how you can hate capitalism and still make that money.

The history of intentional communities  is filled with fascinating examples of communal businesses! Let’s learn from other communities successes and failures!

Leverage the skills, knowledge, and support of the amazing people around you!

Learn about some the newest tools and cutting -edge concepts from Startup Culture!

Running a local small business and regional manufacturing can be a radical act!

Leave this workshop with a new business plan that will align with your community values, make the world a better place, and pay the bills!

Xander Astra is a Designer and Inventor from the San Francisco Warehome Communities.

He has launched 60+ Mass Products, Started 3 Community Businesses, Won National Business Competitions, Blah, Blah, Blah… He thinks we should steal some ideas from Silicon Valley to make Capitalism suck less!

Community Legal Workshop 

When should a new community seek tax exempt status?  Is an LLC enough legal protection for the members to pool money and start covering expenses together?  Do we have to be religious to be a monastery?  What are the advantages of a land trust?  We are doing public service work in our community, should we become a B corp?  These questions are examples of what you might be interested in exploring in this legal clinic.

This workshop is designed for people who are in the forming stages of an intentional community or wish to understand these legal and tax structures.  Jenny will start with a basic presentation and then take questions from the attendees, answering both specifics and sharing general principles which are more broadly applicable.

Jenny Hoffpauir is a lawyer and experienced communard who helps forming communities navigate the various legal, financing and other landscapes to create lasting structures which reflect community values. Jenny has particular expertise in the structures and agreements which enable income sharing communes.

Community Singing: the Craft of Co-Enchantment

Joining voices in song can nourish intimacy, enthusiasm and shared vision in community life. In this workshop we’ll explore the craft of growing co-empowering vocal communities in diverse contexts of work and play, celebration and grief. We’ll practice co-enchantment, sharing dynamic and easily learned songs accessible to all. If you can talk you can sing! 

Craig and Cleo have spent decades living and singing in community. Out of this experience they’ve grown “The Contemplayful Songbook: a Field Guide to Co-enchantment.” They are members of Charis, a small regenerative community near Charlottesville. 

Can You Power Your Community Entirely With Renewable Energy?

Energy Permaculture means energy embedded in a community context. Living Energy Farm has pioneered energy systems based on battery-less solar power, as well as durable battery systems, biogas, woodgas, and other durable, affordable renewable energy technologies, all in a context of self-sustaining community. No energy bills, no battery replacement costs, energy systems that last the rest of your life. Ask questions, find answers, and grow our community’s future.

Alexis Ziegler is the founder and chief technologist at Living Energy Farm in Louisa Virginia.  LEF is working both locally and internationally to bring appropriate, low cost, clean energy solutions to individuals and intentional communities.

Air-based Active Solar Space Heating

Funding Intentional Communities through Unique Airbnb Rentals and Retreats

We will explain the history of the White Lotus Eco Spa Retreat and how it has evolved into a community of people that work and live together. Community members contribute by helping manage, repair, and expand the retreat center and Airbnb units.  We also provide space for events and retreats as well as creating our own. The community began with just 5 people and one building on 3 acres and now have a full time community of 13 people, 17 Airbnb units, and 125 acres.  As we develop spaces on the land, we rent them out and use that income to add more spaces on the property that are both for the community and guests. Some of the amenities we have for our community members and guests are a sauna, cool dip pool, movie theater, meditation room, massage room, conference rooms, kitchens, ponds, gardens, frisbee golf, outdoor fire place, paddle boat, and nature trails. Our community organically grew out of friendships and part time guests that decided to make this their permanent home.  Community members all have unique talents and skills that are given opportunity to flourish and contribute to our lives as well add to our guests’ experiences while they are here.  

David VanDerveer, founder and architect of The White Lotus Eco Spa Retreat has worked professionally as an electronic technician, D.J, videographer,  chef,  yoga instructor, builder, and  heavy equipment operator, but he is best known as an international comedy juggler. 

Victoria Bryant is an educator, performing artist, and serves as the event manager at the White Lotus. She has been a resident there for almost two years and enjoys planning as well as hosting events that bring the community and guests together to celebrate and connect with one another.

White Lotus Eco Spa Retreat

I Didn’t Mean It That Way: Identity-Related Harm in Community

When marginalized people experience harm in a community, they often withdraw from community life or leave altogether. If you’re a community member who wants to know why, take this workshop. We’ll discuss the common types of harm that occur around identity (microaggressions) and tools for addressing the harm in the moment and after it has occurred. We’ll also cover ways to initiate accountability processes and healing around specific incidents.

Crystal Byrd Farmer is an organizer and speaker in the intentional communities movement. She serves as a board member with the Foundation for Intentional Communities and serves as Co-President for the BIPOC Intentional Community Council. 

Crystal Byrd Farmer

Panel: Stump the Chumps

This is a Q&A panel of experienced communitarians who take on the toughest audience generated inquiries about how to build and maintain intentional communities.  Panelists will be announced shortly. 

Politics, oppression, and creative forms of liberation:

a Live Action Role Play on the ins and outs of both national and international politics, and whether we can change the course of history. 

this is will be a simple game with very complex strategy of how to create international solidarity against oppression, while taking a deep dive into the nature of oppression, power, conflict, facism and pacifism. 

Gil Benmoshe has been living in intentional communities for over 20 years. with a strong focus on permaculture, natural building, and education. in his professional life he works in facilitating teams towards effective communication, leadership, and conflict resolution. these teams often include academic, professional, athletic, military, and government agencies. 

Gil has a specific interest in “imagineering” a post-national future and how people can self organize without the state or capitalism. 

Quilombos Culture for EcoVillages and Intentional Communities

Learning that happens deep inside each of us during group activities.

 Liberation Arts (LA) residencies offer

Joy and celebration that energizes everyone

  • Arts and fitness education for children
  • Tools for synergy between children, adults and elders
  • Dynamic schedule options for meetings, classes and events.

Macaco is an expressive arts facilitator helping people experience warrior arts culture. He is a Contremestre in the Afro-Brazilian art of Capoeira. He is one of the lead members of Grupo Liberdade de Capoeira and received his Capoeira artist name Macaco (monkey).

The Revolution Will be Indigenized

We all need to reclaim our Indigenous values, in order to build the foundation for a new equitable and sustainable society. We start by decolonizing our minds from Capitalist values, like individualism, competition and exploiting the Natural World and embracing community, cooperation and living in harmony with the Natural World.

Roberto Mendoza is a native (Muscogee tribe) and Mexican Indigenous (Purepecha). Born in Tulsa, OK. Lived in NYC, San Francisco and Maine. Part of the occupation of Alcatraz Island by Indians of All Tribes, AIM, the Bioregional Movement, the Greens and founded Cooperation Tulsa, an intersectional, ecological movement.

Transforming Founder’s Syndrome: An Exploration of the Territory and the Ways Through

Founding a community is an enormous challenge and requires a tremendous investment well beyond the financial resources. Once more people are involved, many communities struggle with the power dynamics of founder’s syndrome, a complex set of interactions which often result in community stagnation, high turnover, isolated and overworked founders and cliques. 

We’ll start by examining common issues that communities and founders face. We’ll look at a workable definition of “founder’s syndrome”, including some of it’s key symptoms. Then, we’ll dig into specific practices and tools for navigating out of founder’s syndrome. 

An intentional community enthusiast and founder, Cecile Green has a passion for helping humans share power more effectively. She synthesized her experience in intentional community with the research she’s done into power and organizational development into a set of communication tools called Collab.

Travelers in Community

Exploring the possible mutually abundant relationships between travelers and communities, including methods and wisdoms on community traveling.

Ozgard✨ (they/them) is some sort of fae critter of many names, who has been a community traveler for roughly a decade, having visited over 40 intentional communities of varying forms across the US.

If you are interested in attending the Labor Day Weekend Communities Conference at Twin Oaks in central Virginia you can find tickets on Eventbrite

Transformus Post Office

Glow in the dark croquette

Transformus is a regional Burning Man influenced event which used to be on a glorious site near Asheville, NC and has moved to a different beautiful place near Masonville, WV. Rick from Happy Hill came for the first time to this location and observed things i never would have noticed. Specifically, that the huge fields were not actually a monoculture, but a complex mix of different types of plants as part of a sophisticated wildlife and field management program. There is a huge need nationally for this type of soil regeneration and specifically Rick pointed out that they had planted Asclepias which are critical for supporting monarch butterfly populations.

Hammocks research is always part of our work
Dash’s happy place

Transformus was the first time i really got to see Dash (our new conference intern) shine. Dash is a gifted cook out of Boston who is helping to organize the Communities Conference and they put out impressive meals on the Camp Contact stoves. No matter where people were in the sprawling Tranformus campus, pretty much everyone made it back to camp around mealtime, despite there being a lot of great food all free at the festival.

Our neighbors had a durable climbing dome
Jade beside fire breathing 3 headed beast
There were inspiring multi level hammocks.
Ali relaxing at Camp Contact

Jason Taylor is a hero of mine. A Louisa local who did not discover the communes til he was a teenager, he is now an integral part of holding them together. From building the replacement Llano kitchen (after the actual Twin Oak tree fell on it and crushed it), to repairing the Twin Oaks sawmill and kiln, to repairing and running the seed packing robot machine at Acorn – Jason is our favorite handy person who keeping the communes operating. Jason is the site manager for QuinkFair, last year in that role he manifested all manner of elements from designing and wiring the solar system to leading the effort to build and burn the effigy.

At Transformus he led the screen-printing workshop, using Acorn’s new screen-printing device. This was a test run for the Communities Conference where we plan to print dozens of participants’ clothes (as we successfully in some years ago).

Postal recipients did strange things to get their mail

In the above picture Jason is paying for his postage due, by stuffing a huge pineapple top in his mouth. Which requires me to explain a bit about the post office.

The post office is a Burning Man inspired activity, which we ran at Transformus back in 2013 when i was a dual member at Acorn. Burning Man influenced events discourage the use of money internally (as does QuinkFair). Instead of monetary transactions they encourage cultural and comic exchanges. So to get a inter-festival letter sent, you need to pay into the post office with perhaps a skit or a joke or a dance. Similarly, your incoming letter is “postage due” and the postal carrier may try to get you to perform out of character. Asked to “read something that moves you”, a postal customers name Snax who was working registration at Transformus read the section of the Velveteen Rabbit on being real and started crying during their rendition – momentarily all activity stopped at the busy registration to witness this dramatic rendition.

The power of a post office funologically, is it can bring a little culture bomb into a camp. Another postal recipient asked for one of our “Daring” cards and got. “Make out with someone you have never kissed before, consensually, for 30 seconds starting now.” The dare was heard by a lovely person named Freefall, who after a short discussion about risks and STIs, they kissed. Somehow the 30 seconds recommendation got blown threw.

Postal Challenge Cards – back sides

One of the modifications we tested on the regular post office format is we developed a number of postal challenge cards. These including Daring, Beautiful, Funny and Wild Cards. This allows the postal customer to think about what type of way they want subsidize the mail service by delivering a tiny cultural performance of these different types.

An unlikely pair – Sarah Hailey of Happy Hill and Spacious of Camp Contact

Spacious is the principal organizer of the Camp Contact theme camps within several regional burns and at the big burn in Nevada. To the untrained eye, his principal contribution is a tremendous amount of specialty hardware – kitchens, giant shade structures, domes, chill spaces, solar powered refrigerators, drinking and cleaning water systems, showers, bikes, trucks, hand tools and much more. If you are a decerning organizer, you know that the inter-personal stuff is more complex than even the most sophisticated of these inanimate objects: lovely attendees, who can’t afford camp fees or telling prospective participants who make people uncomfortable that they cannot be part of the camp or figuring out how to cover an internal camp task which someone promised to take responsibility for, and then they flaked on it or dealing with people who promise to pay their camp fees and then do not or getting exhausted campers to break down many structures before the rain hits at the end of the event or figuring out just how much the camp attendees are open to building without deciding not to build it or not to come back to the next camp ‘cos it was too much to build.

Camp Contact would not exist without Spacious, the hardware (as complex as it is) is the easy part, creating a harmonious, financially viable, well-equipped camp with a bunch of diverse participants who are not always reliable – that is the heavy lifting of an organizer.

Early attendee at star viewing benches.
QuinkFair and Communities Conference organizers (L to R) – Kelpie, Orion and Jade

Perhaps because i am so disorganized, one of the things i appreciate in other organizers is being nimble. Being regularly interrupted and still being effective, being able to change plans gracefully on short notice, rapidly adopting to the shifting variables are all signs of a nimble event organizer. Orion Posey is the son of one of my favorite activists Susan Posey and the generous traveling electrician Milo MacTavish. Orion was supposed to be performing in a play near Norfolk, a few days before Transformus, but the play got cancelled and Orion reached out to me about being a conference intern. He agreed to come to Transformus, without really knowing what it is, but knowing that their festival activities would be secondary to the networking and outreach work we wanted them to do. Orion delivered a bunch of mail, dispersed a number of fingerbooks, acted as an ambassador from our events to workshops on topics we are interested in. With Twin Oaks population the lowest it has been in years; we can use all the help we can get, and Orion is the addition of a nimble set of hands.

Camp Contact at Transformus 2022

If you are interested in our small regional burn in Virginia Sept 23 thru 26 – check out QuinkFair:

If you are interested in intentional communities, consider our Labor Day (Sept 2 thru 6) event, the Communities Conference:

Call for Presenters -Twin Oaks Communities Conference

Should you offer a workshop at the Twin Oaks Communities Conference? [deadline Aug 1, 2022]

Twin Oaks Communities Conference (TOCC) is looking for some compelling workshop presenters on the topic of intentional community.  Perhaps you are asking yourself “Am I a talented workshop presenter?”  Here are some ways you can tell:

“Truth is in the room”: What we’re looking for are interactive workshops that draw from the participants and the collective truth from the room. We’re hoping for workshops that introduce participants to ideas that they perhaps have never considered before or advance beliefs which are challenging or engage everyone in the space, including the presenter. We’ve found that open-ended questions and role plays are methods that work well with our participants.

29597573_10156247620047365_7772699634743048174_n.jpg

The room has no walls, but the truth is still in there

Flexible  We’re looking for workshop facilitators that can sense the energy level of the participants. Does it look like a playful group? Perhaps games and simulations will be helpful.  Is this a serious (perhaps intense) group or topic? Maybe perhaps a Q&A or a hotseat format will benefit. Conversely,  perhaps the opposite prescription will work – the serious and intense folks could lighten up with games. The point is that you as the workshop presenter want to build a good connection with your participants and tailor your presentation to the group you have before you. You could do a go round (if there are less than 20 people) and ask everyone for a single sentence about why they are in the workshop. Their answers will help guide you to adjust your presentation for their level of expertise and their areas of excitement.

Flexible is key

Reflect on Impact: Is it possible that you are going to share an exercise that will engage your participants beliefs or behavior? Is it likely they will be amused and entertained?  We’re looking for workshops that will lead participants towards a greater understanding of themselves and how they present in community.  How can we have more healthy and transparent relationships with fellow communitarians? How can libraries of shared material goods be created so we are living more sustainably and cooperatively? Can we be in romantic relationships with more than one person, in the same place? What are the details we can learn and share to live together more cooperatively?  Perhaps not as fun as a beautifully illustrated atlas or teaching haddocks (or goldfish) to jump through hoops, but definitely a bigger takeaway.

Fish thru hoops

The conference itself can provide some chairs, and, with advance notice, some sound system, but we’re in quite a rustic environment. Your powerpoint presentation, for example, might need technology that will take a while for us to assemble. If you cannot provide what is needed for your workshop, please let us know well in advance. 

It’s important to us to maintain the low cost and low overhead for this conference, so we cannot afford to pay you to present, although we can provide approved presenters with a free or reduced cost ticket.

If you are convinced, here is the Call for Presenter form to complete,  and the deadline for submission is Aug 1st.  If you just want to buy a ticket and come to the event here is the link.  If you want to read about how to get the most out of this conference check out this article.  If you would like the irregular updates about this event you can either write to conference@twinoaks.org or RSVP on the event facebook page

Apologies in advance if you are really into teaching fish to jump thru hoops.

https://www.howspace.com/resources/how-to-facilitate-a-workshop#activate

Festival Interns Wanted

QuinkFair Festival Intern Job Description

On Sept 23 thru 26 the third transformative QuinkFair festival will be held in Mineral Virginia.  Hosted on the lush and maze-like property of Happy Hills, this event is inspired by a collection of well established events including the Rainbow Gathering, the Communities Conference and Burning Man.  Experience with festival culture is desirable but not required for the festival intern position.

The festival intern will work on a wide variety of tasks, depending on their skills, interests and the needs of the project.  These include:

  • Landscape and construction work on site
  • Social Media and internet based event promotion work
  • Helping build the interactive art exhibitions on site
  • Rideshare and registration coordination with participants  
  • Curating workshops, musical program and ritual design

The intern would live at one of the income sharing communities in Louisa (depending on which seemed the best fit) and receive room and board and a stipend of $100/month, which is the same compensation as the members of these communities and thus you can live comfortably basically without money.  There will also be an opportunity to work in the many labor areas of the community and balance work of different types over each week.  There are also several events happening before QuinkFair and if they are of interest it is possible to work on these as well.  

QuinkFair starts from the proposition that there are positively transformative events (Quinks) which can be inspired and sparked.  Through a colorful and chaotic mix of exhibits, interactive art, music, guides & readers, workshops, dance, books and your own curiosity, this event seeks to create experiences and insights for personal growth and cultural change.

If you are interested please contact paxus@twinoaks.org with information about your interest and experience with festivals and availability.

Suggested Reading

Dome building QuinkFair 2021

Serious Planning QuinkFair 2019

Reciprocating Roof Septagon building at QuinkFair site – June 2022

Stock Festival Image

It’s time to get arrested

The Supreme Court is the triumph of the Trump administrations authoritarian desires. Rights are being stripped by religious zealots who lied during their confirmation hearings and should be impeached, but wont be. You are frustrated, you are angry, you want to do something, but you are not quite sure what to do. Please note new information about bail from Angie at the bottom of this post.

It’s time to get arrested.

For many folks, this will seem counter intuitive. How can getting myself thrown in jail help anyone or anything? It just seems like a waste of time, money and a hassle.

It turns out it is one of the most effective tools mass movements have to change the political tide. It has been used effectively around the world, even in some of the most repressive regimes. In the US, the end of the Vietnam war, the death of new nuclear construction and getting the right to vote for both women (1920) and POCs (1965) in the US relied on civil disobedience to win.

If you want to dig into the logic and practice of civil disobedience, I encourage the excellent Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which goes deep into both how and why.

From the Boston Tea Party to Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt March, and from suffragists’ illegally casting their ballots to whites-only lunch counter sit-ins, civil disobedience has often played a crucial role in bending the proverbial arc of the moral universe toward justice.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

But if you are willing to consider this option, i want to encourage you to go to this Saturdays action defending abortion rights in DC. Here is some of the more practical advise, i shared with Oakers who are organizing this action.

Who you get arrested with matters. The Women’s March organizers have an arrest training and orientation on July 8th at 6 pm in DC.  Folks interested in this should fill out the form of the principal organizers.  and plan on being there in person.  If you get arrested with or near the black bloc who are breaking Starbucks windows, your police experience will likely be much more headachy and physically difficult. Try to stay with other protesters the night before (avoid the temptation of hanging with DC friends not involved with the action).

The key piece of information, especially for people who have not been arrested before is the overwhelming experience of this choice is boredom and some confusion. You will spend lots of time after you are arrested waiting to be processed, sometimes in a hot police vehicle.  You will spend a lot of time in holding cells.  You will be told to wait often with no indication how long.  Your cell phone will be taken from you (typically) once you have been processed and usually (but not always) any reading material you have. Often you can smuggle a zine or some other pocket sized reading in. This is recommended to help cut the boredom.  And of course make friends with other arrestees.

Bail is complex. If you do need it, it is designed to insure you come back for your court hearings. When you do, you get typically get your bail money back (or 90% of it if you use a bail bond person). Angie is the queen of bail, she is copied on this message, supportive of this action and will have useful contacts on bail bonds services and how not to get stung by them. 

For 90% of non-violent actions in DC there will not be a need for bail money, assuming arrestees are willing to identify themselves to get released and go thru the legal system.  DC mostly has a “catch and release” policy around non-violent protesters – usually you are released with a summons to appear before the court. There is a high chance you will get a fine or community service at your court hearing, because you will almost certainly be found guilty – but this is not bail.  And thus not needed at the time of arrest.  

Separately, the organizing groups will likely have lawyer services available to folks risking arrest.  You should get their legal contact info and write it in marker on peoples arms. Also you should have a TO support person who is not getting arrested and is in DC and their number should also be put on peoples arms, with instructions to call when folks are released. 

While it is pretty easy to get arrested (block any intersection and refuse to move when the police arrive). After some hours of processing and being held, they will quite likely release people (who have identified themselves with id) on their own recognizance without a fine. Remember holding people is expensive for the city, they don’t want to feed you and also they don’t want the jails overwhelmed by protesters.  They also don’t want you once released to go back and immediately get arrested again, so they will often hold folks until most of the actions are over.

They will hold you and not release you if you refuse to identify yourself.  People wishing to do this type of action (refusing ID) should talk with action organizers to see what support and advice they offer.  I discourage people from carrying full wallets into arrest actions – instead ID, a metro card plus $20 or so, recognizing this will be taken from you at the time after you are processed (as will your wallet if you bring one). 90% of things confiscated from arrestees will be returned by the police.

People who require daily medication need to know they will be separated from their meds for at least hours, possibly an entire day if there are many arrests and lots of on going actions that the police/the city don’t want you to return to. People should not assume the police are going to be either reasonable or accommodating around getting your meds to you once you have been arrested and separated from them.

Wear comfortable clothes and while the action will likely be hot, your holding cell experience will be air conditioned (often set very low) and folks should dress accordingly (typically using layers). Skip jewelry. 

I personally discourage people from resisting arrest, especially on their first arrest action. Mostly because it is frustrating (you can’t do it for long without serious hardware) and the DC police are experts in compliance holds and you will feel disempowered by how quickly they are able to stop you from resisting and are likely to face more serious charges. 

If people want to “hit harder” then instead of arrest and release I recommend hit and run actions (this is not civil disobedience).  And if people are interested in this I have other contacts to offer.

Organizers have to make sure you have sufficient support people (not risking arrest) to accommodate how ever many people are getting arrested. The most important thing here is getting folks after they have been released. Especially for people who are getting arrested for the first time, the terrible part of the experience is not over until there is a friendly known face checking in with them after release.  This means some support people must be willing to stay until everyone is released, this could easily be 2 AM on Sunday.  [Here again I am assuming people want to ID and return for trial or pay the fine, refusing to ID can leave you in jail for days] assuming you have multiple vehicles in the city, a 3 arrestees to 1 support person is a good ratio. Several of the DC detention facilities are not near the metro, so getting people back can be slow or frustrating, every arrestee should have a metro card (which works on the buses) with over $5 on it.

It is wise if support people have something nice to give people when they get out – candy or some other appropriate treat.  Getting arrested for the first time often changes peoples lives, in slightly unpredictable ways. Some will never do it again. Some will realize it is their calling. Nearly universally it will result in detainees disliking and not trusting the police more.

Support people need to realize there is an important emotional part of their job. Even short stints in jail can mess people up. Mass actions arrests usually do not have you in solitary- so you might end up in gender segregated general population. If gender is unsure to the police, they will generally use the gender listed on your ID to determine where you are detained.  Police will not respect your selected pronouns.

It is important to remember that these are very popular actions. This means if you don’t bring a phone – every other person in DC will lend you theirs if you say “Hey I just got arrested defending abortion rights and I was hoping to borrow your phone to call my support people to tell them I have been released”.

As an organizer people are going to want to know that you are going to take care of them in their on going legal hassles. This means getting rides back to DC for court stuff (typically two trips) and labor credits for that work. Here I would assume you will be able to accommodate folks, we have in the past.

And while getting arrested is a fine, desirable and noble thing. People should take the decision seriously and not be shamed in anyway if they chose not to do it and attend the protest or do support work instead. Especially people in fragile or compromised mental health circumstances or who are likely to be traumatized by physical boundaries being disrespected by the police should consider support roles instead of arrests.  There will be many more options for getting arrested in the future – this is a long haul campaign.

If you are getting arrested for the first time for a protest, try to stick near someone you know and like who is also getting arrested – for the same crimes as you. Generally this will mean you have company and someone to talk with.  This does not always work, you can be separated for all kinds of reasons.

People need to be ready for police to completely change their behavior on short notice. They can be friendly and accommodating one minute and the next they can be pushing you around or using unnecessary force for no apparent reason. The police are not your friends in this situation- even if they mostly have been in your life before.  That said, DC police are better than most in dealing with NV protesters, because they have so much experience. 

A note from Angie:

Two big things- first, whenever possible (especially if you’re working
with low bail amounts), it’s better to post cash bail than to use a
bail bondsman. Bail bonds usually cost 10% of the bail cost, and you
do not get that back- even if you’re found not guilty, even if the
charges are dropped, that money is a set cost that the bail bondsman
receives. OTOH, cash bail is also a risk, especially if someone other
than the arrestee is paying- if the person doesn’t show up to court
dates then the bail may be forfeited. Think about who is paying the
bail ahead of time, have a plan for how you’ll deal with $50 bail vs
$500 bail vs $5,000 bail. And obviously, a 10 person bail of $50 is a
different burden than a 2 person bail of $500.

Second- there may be other, more violent protests going on in and
around DC this week. That kind of thing can impact how smoothly (or
not) your nonviolent arrest action goes. Cops are people, they get
tired and worn out and stressed (1312 tho, don’t get me wrong). If DC
cops are dealing with violent protestors on Wednesday, Thursday, and
Friday, the might be harsher on nonviolent protestors on Saturday.
The big one I’m watching is the trucker convoy, now called the “1776
Restoration Movement”. they have been in DC on the national mall since
the morning of the 6th, are violent, some are registered sex offenders
(including one who pleaded guilty to child molestation of a kid under
14),  and they’re all facist religious bigots. A few have been
arrested. The situation is fluid and changing fast.

A few of the 1776RMers know about the Saturday action, some many
attend, most are instigators and shit stirrers. If the action is near
the mall then it’s a major concern, if not it’s probably not as big a
deal. If you want more info let me know.

Best of luck with your action, and if I can help or support let me know!

Angie

Balloons is Popping

The pandemic disrupted my life a bunch. I was on leave from Twin Oaks and when the commune locked down, i had the choice to be in or out. Because Jade, who was not an Oaker, could not join me, we decided to leave Virginia and by summer of 2020 we were settled in Springfield Missouri hosted by the lovely and talented Bliss and her tennis prodigy son, Solace.

The best part of Springfield

Besides running the comic and poignant novelty textile company Lewd Linens, Bliss manages the Farmers Market of the Ozarks (FMO). As part of her management of this large market she needs to chat with vendors, collect fees, repulse anti-mask idiots and generally make sure things are running smoothly. This leaves her little time to monitor her own Lewd Linens booth at the market, so Jade and i stepped in and watched her booth on Saturday mornings.

Bliss promotes the Farmers Market of the Ozarks

Booth watching gave us time to practice balloon animal making, something Jade had been teaching herself by watching youtube videos. We gave balloons to kids at the market for donations. It was quite a hit and over the course of a Saturday morning we would often make $50 to $75 in donations from parents who were happy to have some small joy inducing present to give to their kids and because it was “pay what you like” everyone was a winner.

FMO balloon vendors

Fast forward to the 2020 elections, Jade and I joined the Flip team and worked in Maine to try to save Democracy from the Trump madness. Balloon making followed us and was incorporated into a number of political actions and our repertoire of balloon animals expanded. Jade taught the whole Flip Maine crew how to make balloon animals.

Flip Maine Crew: Tew, Spencer, Jade, Thumbs and Charles learn how to make balloon animals

But it was really not until we got to New Jersey that the balloon animal business took off. The Collinswood farmers market was initially very reluctant to have us be part of it or even near it. It was pre-vaccine covid and the organizers were under tremendous pressure to do what ever they could to minimize risk. A couple of folks drawing crowds of kids at no gain to the market felt like a losing proposition.

So we located ourselves a bit far from the entrance to the market, around the corner towards the parking lot and connected to kids as they were heading towards or away from their parents cars. Business was good and by the end of the summer of 2021, we had moved ourselves to across the street from the entrance and owner Dave had warmed up to us, because we were bringing in kids who were excited about getting this week’s balloon. And in my version of the story, because we were donations, no one felt pressured to pay anything in particular making it accessible to all participants and we actually give away a fair few balloons for free.

Enter Filbert. Just before Thanksgiving 2021, we met Josh who “used to be in the balloon game”. He had held onto his large specialty pump for reasons which were a bit mysterious to him, but he sold it to us quite inexpensively. This changed everything. We call the pump Filbert (because that is the company that makes it, because it is a funny name and because it actually fills the balloon extremely effectively, with a single push, as contrasted with 14 pumps of our previous hand pump). For a team that prides itself on quick turn around (otherwise you end up with a line of impatient kids and frustrated parents) this was a breakthrough.

Funological Heavy Equipment

Spot often comes and juggles and sells buttons with us. The juggling draws onlookers, especially kids and the coat tree holds the colorful balloons making us easy to find. As business grew we started to bring inventory to Collinswood, typically making 40 units (mostly swords and flowers) the night before we arrived, always selling out within the first couple of hours, despite replacing it often as fast as we can pump and tie. As we had bigger crowds to handle, Jade’s mom, Maureen joined us. Maureen worked the line, got orders from kids who were waiting (what color balloon, what type of animal), she counted and sorted money in our donations basket and would bring water and cookies she made for us.

Spot at Philly Pride

We have a collection of pitches we give to the parents “So if part of your balloon sword pops while you are still here at the market come back to us, we have the only free, while you wait, balloon repair service in New Jersey”. Alternatively, i say “If the balloon pops you might be tempted to explain Zen non-attachment to your 5 year old, or describe the ephemeral nature of all things. Don’t do that. Come get another balloon. We have a bunch of data on this, trust us, everyone is going to be happier this way”. We explain that we have the only warranted balloons in the state (likely the world) and if they pop we will replace or repair it for free and parents often laugh at this, but the kids always remember and we get perhaps half a dozen repairs most Saturday mornings.

And in our effort to reframe kids scary experience of balloons bursting we often say “When a balloon pops we tell people you should make a wish, but you should wish for something nicer than a balloon”

We do have quite an array of balloon colors and types. Typically we use 160 and 260 balloons (which are one and two inches in diameter and 60 inches long, respectively) and get a number of fancy colors including reflex gold and silver, which are popular blade colors for swords and neon pink which is often requested as flower pedals. In quantity, balloon prices vary from 7 to 10 cents. They are all biodegradable latex.

This last Saturday there was a street fair in Collingswood, which we walked to from the farmers market. We had lots of attention at both venues, we burned thru over 60 inventory items and spent much of the afternoon with no inventory and Filbert going full blast. Jade is modest about our take, but let me just say i have not been paid this well since is was a software development consultant 30 years ago. We’ve come a long way from the Ozarks.

FMO bathroom sign

Conference Intern Wanted

Conference/Gatherings Intern Job Description

Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia is hosting 4 conferences and gathering in the Summer and early Fall of 2022.  We are looking for an intern who will help organize these events. The intern would live at Twin Oaks (or possibly one of the other nearby communities) and receive room and board and a stipend of $100/month, which is the same compensation as the members of these communities get and thus you can live comfortably basically without spending much, or any, of your own money. There will also be an opportunity to work in the many labor areas of the community and balance work of different types over each week. 

Lots of workshops at the Communities Conference

Responsibilities for this internship will vary depending on the skills and desires of the intern and would consist of a mix of the following:

  • Physical landscaping and set up work at the conference site
  • Social media and other online work to promote these events
  • Organizing work supporting participants with registration and orientation
  • Child care at the events working with engaged parents
  • Workshop coordination with presenters and event organizers

If you want to learn or experience the inside of making an informal gathering work, this might be an ideal job for you. The ideal candidate for this job is proactive, works well in informal groups and is a clear communicator.  It is not a requirement that you have organized or worked on a conference or gathering before.   Ideally, this position would start soon, and there is flexibility around both start and end dates.  More than one internship position is available.  

The Conference Site

Apply via email to conference@twinoaks.org. This position should start soon, and there is flexibility around both start and end dates.  Please introduce yourself and complete the regular Twin Oaks visitor letter of introduction and say a bit about why this would be a good position for you.

5 ways to get the most out of the Communities Conference

Communities Bounce Back – 5 Events

Most intentional communities took a population hit during the pandemic. Germs and illnesses spread quickly in communities because of how much we share- food, homes, bathrooms, work spaces, etc. With this in mind, most communities that those regular visitor sessions canceled them (at least until there was a vaccine) to protect their more vulnerable members. It was likely the best, safest choice, but meant that members who left communities during the pandemic weren’t replaced with new folx and populations dropped significant. At Twin Oaks we went from 85 members to 63 members at the lowest point (we are back up to 78 now).

The pandemic also forced many to deal with unusual isolation and question our relationship with groups and what people in close orbit are important to you. Intentional community is an invitation to being part of a group designed to foster and take care of each other, and while it does not always succeed the intention and results are favorable (or prove worthy .. or something)

This summer and fall there several events which showcase these intentional communities which are bouncing back or in the case of Serenity Community springing forward from the George Floyd energized racial justice movement.

These events are celebrations of many different identities all seen through the lens of intentional community. If you want to feel what it is like to live with others cooperatively, this is a glimpse.

The Community Festivals, Gatherings, and Conferences are Coming Back!

Mark your calendars, there are several different weekend events which you will want to consider.

  • Serenity Food Sovereignty Festival June 24 thru 26
  • Twin Oaks Queer Gathering Aug 5 thru 7 
  • Twin Oaks Women’s Gathering Aug 19 thru 21 
  • Twin Oaks Communities Conference Sept 2 thru 5
  • QuinkFair Sept 23 thru 26

All of these events are happening in Louisa County and the first 4 of them are all happening at Twin Oaks.  Here are the brief descriptions of the events and how to RSVP.

Serenity Food Sovereignty Festival June 24 – 26

Learn about mutual aid and BIPOC centered intentional communities that focus on restorative agriculture and ecovillages.  BIPOC activists and organizers are working in conjunction with the central Virginia income sharing communities movement to host BIPOC participants and our allies, to bring incredible food and learning opportunities to attendees.  POC farmers will discuss their techniques and challenges and participants will learn about income sharing communities and Serenity Community projects.

White allies can attend this event if they are genuinely interested in this cuisine and culture. We ask white participants to step back and let BIPOC participants drive the conversations and workshops. This could mean your question might not get answered in the workshop or you should hold off on getting seconds.

RSVP via this free ticket survey required (or via Facebook optional).

Twin Oaks Queer Gathering August 5 – 7

Join us for a weekend of queertranstastic fun, learning, workshops, networking, revelry, and more! This is a participant-led/co-created event, so while the organizing team will set up the event site and create a general schedule of activities, the content is largely up to YOU! There is opportunity to lead a workshop, DJ some of the dance party, bring your instruments to jam, offer an interest/identity-based meetup (BIPOC dinner, non-binary lunch, comic book breakfast, etc), and more! Registration fee is suggested at $80 (sliding scale – pay what you can : $40-$140) includes all meals and tent space. Work trade available. No one turned away for lack of funds. BIPOC travel stipends available by emailing us at queergathering@twinoaks.org.

Get all the details at www.twinoaksqueergathering.org

Please RSVP by pre-registering at our eventbrite page!

Twin Oaks Women’s Gathering

The Women’s Gathering is back in 2022! The event will be a three day conference on themes ranging from sex and sexuality to positive relationship building to DIY music, art and movement. There will be scheduled workshops and performance spaces, as well as lots of free time to network, drum, dance and play. Registration fee $85 (sliding scale – pay what you can : $80-$160) includes meals and tent space.

 Learn more at womensgathering.org

RSVP via Facebook or email gathering@twinoaks.org 

Twin Oaks Communities Conference

If you are looking for an intentional community, or if you are in a community looking for new members, this is the event for you.  The Twin Oaks Communities Conference brings experienced collectivists and communitarians to central Virginia over the Labor Day weekend. We expect at least 40 different communities to be represented, workshops in intentional community specific topics, and open space so you can bring your own content.

The Twin Oaks Conference Site gets busy

There will be an opportunity to tour the communities of Louisa county (including Acorn, Cambia, Community of PeaceLiving Energy Farm, Serenity and Twin Oaks).  There will also a separate Monday (Labor Day) program hosted at least at Acorn and Cambia.

The Twin Oaks Communities Conference is a kid friendly event which can accommodate many different dietary needs- meals and tent space are included in the registration fee. Full price adult registration is $125, full price youth ages 6-17 is $40, kids 5 and under are free. Early bird discounts, work exchange, and scholarships are available.

RSVP via Facebook or buy tickets at our eventbrite page.

QuinkFair

QuinkFair! is a celebration crafted to spark personal and collective positive change and healing. Through a colorful and chaotic mix of exhibits, interactive art, music, guides & readers, workshops, dance, books and your own curiosity, we will seek experience and insights as a catalyst for personal growth and cultural change.

Quink is about transformation

Inspired and influenced by several festivals, QuinkFair asks every participant to step away from being an amazed audience and into being an inspired co-creator.  If you want to be entertained enjoy a music festival, if you want to become someone new come to QuinkFair.

Adult tickets are $160 (or $128 if you buy early) and kids between 6 and 17 are $80 (or $64 if purchased early).  Kids under 6 are free.  This is a camping event and food is provided. 

QuinkFair takes place not at the Twin Oaks Conference Site (like all these other events do) but instead at the beautiful Happy Hills land in Mineral VA.

RSVP via Facebook or Pre-register on our Eventbrite page. Tickets go on sale June 1.

Internships available

If you are interested in supporting the first 4 events all hosted at Twin Oaks you could apply to be a Conference/Gathering Intern If you want to help manifest the QuinkFair celebration consider applying to be a Festival Intern

The Hull is Breached: Covid at Twin Oaks

Twin Oaks has been quite conservative with regards to the pandemic. On March 16th, San Francisco was the first city in the US to lock down. Twin Oaks would lock down the next day, before California or the rest of the nation. For the last two years, the commune has done a surprisingly good job of keeping the pandemic outside of our peculiar island.

But with increasingly virulent variants, it was only a question of time before covid cropped up inside our borders. Yesterday that happened, our first two cases were discovered on the main campus of the commune. To be clear this is not the first Oakers to get covid. One of the members who attended the horticultural trade show in Mobile Alabama came down with covid earlier this year, but they discovered this before they returned home and they quarantined at Casa Peaches in Washington DC until they were asymptomatic and testing negative.

We pretty quickly got almost everyone vaccinated

I have written very little about the pandemic at Twin Oaks, because for most of the pandemic and all of the communes lock down, i was on leave and did not have direct experience. Now it is more personal and direct.

Intentional communities have to make hard decisions about quarantines and vaccines which many entities can avoid. Twin Oaks decided pretty early on that we would lock down hard and try to get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible and almost everyone agreed to this requirement. We created a restriction requiring everyone who visits to be vaccinated and show their vaccine card to their host before they arrive. We shut down our visitor program for months (which resulted in a collapse of our population, because we did not replace members who left through attrition). We stopped our weekly Saturday tours and have still not restarted them.

I wish my fellow communards a quick recovery and i am pretty confident we will take good care of them while they are quarantining. And i take some pride that we were able to keep it at bay for so long.