Evolutionarily Stable Design
Say you have an event where you have brought together 200 participants and perhaps 100 of them are hunting for a new community (the others are from communities or are just community-curious). Let’s say there are 40 communities represented. How do you get the key information to the right hunters so they can make good choices?
I don’t know exactly who developed the Meet the Communities format that the Twin Oaks Communities Conference has used for decades, but it is an evolutionarily stable format, because it works so well.
You could say it is basically formatted around the controversial propagandist axiom “there is no such thing as a long story”. You line up all your communities and say “you have 1 minute to present yourself and then people who like you will come for more personal and longer talks after all the communities present themselves”. Yes, the communities movement basically invented speed dating.
After these introductions community presenters spread out to picnic tables and put up their signs and hunters who were intrigued at the short presentation come and have a longer, more personal and more focused conversation.
There are some organizational pieces you have to include to make it work. You need someone who is watching the clock and when people hit their 1 minute mark gently moves them off the stage. Ira did this for many years. [Which resulted in Pat Therrian intentionally running over her time so Ira would have to grab her, which Pat quite liked.] And you have to explain to the sustainability network guy how, while his project is important, he can not get up and present himself as a place based residential community.
Another proof of evolutionary stability is imitation. The West Coast Communities Conference (when it was happening before the pandemic) also used this format as does the QuinkFair event happening Oct 1, 2, 3, and 4 in Mineral Virginia. These are the communities who have been invited to present themselves during MtC (most of whom have confirmed and/or said they are likely to attend) on October 2 in the morning.
|Abrams Creek/CFNC||Storm Mountain WV|
|Baltimore Free Farm||Baltimore|
|Community of Peace||Louisa|
|Cosmic Honey||San Francisco Bay a|
|Cuckoo Compound||Cuckoo VA|
|Cville Ecovillage||Cville VA|
|Federation of Egalitarian Communities||US|
|Foundation for Intentional Community||North America|
|Living Energy Farm (LEF)||Louisa|
|Magnolia (LEF affiliate)||Louisa|
|Open Circle||Etlan VA|
Sadly, there is no Twin Oaks Communities Conference (TOCC) this year and QuinkFair is quite a different type of event. Nevertheless, this long held tradition will be repeated in an undisclosed location in Mineral VA on October 2.
If someone asks you “What is the best type of site for a transformative festival?” you might consider answering “a former paint ball course”. I would not have thought this way a year ago, but today I am delighted at our good luck in finding this beautiful site with supportive and engaged property owners. The paint ball course was designed with a spagetti like collection of roads an paths. Add to this wild flowers, bee hives and lovely water features and you have a ready made fairy land where with the right people and activities you might just change someones life.
Early map without most of the spaghetti trails, hidden nooks and magical features.
We had a pretty successful ProtoQuink event recently, which was a build up camp and systems test for the QuinkFair celebration. We got the first dome up, we tested the gazebo that will host the Temple of Oracles as well as the water system. The first pieces of the solar system kept the refrigerator going (once we remembered to plug it in, that is). And it was great to be with so many helpful, resourceful and thoughtful folks.
“Proto” means the earliest form of something, and we have definitely started forming the elements of the QuinkFair event which will happen in the first 4 days of October. We tested the kitchen, rain and drinking water systems, compost, humanure, electric, recycling and trash systems. We had some failures, but those have been mostly resolved by now. We’ve also had successes, both in building systems and in bringing new members onto the team to help with parking layouts, chili making, trail marking, and more.
We were sufficiently excited by the results of Proto-Quink (and the amount of work that still needs to be done so significant) that we decided to have two more work/test weekends. In the “starts with P” format that ProtoQuink established, we decided to call them “ProntoQuink” (Sept 11-12) with perhaps the thinking that we are in a hurry now, and “PrestoQuink” (Sept 25-26) on the weekend before the event we when will make it slightly magically all come together.
There are now several cultural elements we want to test while we are building up the infrastructure at the next Quink work camps. ProtoQuink is September 11 and 12, [Facebook event] and QuinkFair@gmail.com. ProntoQuink is Sept 25 and 26, which will lead into the final build week from Sept 27-30.
And the menu of things we are going to be working on and doing during ProntoQuink includes:
- Erecting the second 30’ dome – “New Amsterdome” (Saturday)
- Mini-talent show and fire spinning demo
- Setting up a yoga space
- Assembling wooden benches
- Naming spaces, mapping the layout, and sign making so folks can find places
- Testing sound system with DJs and dancing
- Building a dock for the lovely river access point
- Setting up the Temple of Oracles and doing readings (Sunday)
Saturday morning we will build the New Amsterdome
If you are interested in this event, write to QuinkFair@gmail.com or call 541-505-0803
And we will give you the undisclosed location.
On August 28th and 29 we will be preparing the QuinkFair site. We are in essence running a mini-festival to help prepare for the full sized event on Oct 1,2 & 3. This free event is at a location which will be disclosed to volunteers and is just a few miles from Acorn Community in Mineral VA. Below are some of the things we are working on:
- Assemble Domes
- Build a floating dock
- Mapping/Naming and Sign making
- Tiny bridge upgrades
- Assemble wooden benches
- Decorate the Temple of Oracles
- Craft a Riddle Garden
- Clear brush
Assemble Domes: We have 2 thirty foot diameter geodesic domes which we hope to assemble in this work weekend. These domes have seen many events and the components are well marked for easy assembly. And it is still a satifsfying and challenging experience getting these up.
Build a floating dock: The South Anna River flows thru the festival site and there is a well designed ladder down the banks to the river. We have boats and canoes a many, but we need to craft a simple floating dock to launch them and for folks who want to sit beside the water.
Mapping/Naming and Sign making: The property has a spagetti swirl of paths, creeks, rivers and roads thru it. There will be domes and temples scattered across the space and we need to name and maps the diffent aspects of this temporary village. The outhouse at the back far edge of the property is already called “Back Drop” but a myriad of sites need to be named and roads and paths identified.
Tiny bridge upgrades: There are several simple plank bridges over creeks and a ravine. We need to put hand rails in place and stabilize some for heavier traffic.
Assemble wooden benches: Our hosts have asked us to produce as sustainable an event site as possible. We will have workshops and performances which need chairs and benches. Fortunately a significant number of wooden benches already have their legs cut and bench bodies fashioned. It will take a bit of crafty woodworker magic to make these come together, but we have the tools, the pieces and the fasteners needed to make something rustic and functional.
Decorate the Temple of Oracles: The gazebo which houses the Temple of Oracles pops up in minutes, but creating the right ambiance and specifying the missing furniture and cushions is going to take some more time. You can brush up on the Temple of Oracles here
Craft a Riddle Garden : Beside the hammocks garden we are building a garden of riddles. Some of these are historic and logical (like the Riddle of the Sphinx), some are drawn from fiction (like Bilbo’s riddles with Gollum) others are comic or trivial. Bring your riddles and we will decorate this piece of the forest with tiny mysteries and revealing solutions.
Add a comment if you want to come and we will coordinate logistics with you. Or you can RSVP on this Facebook event.
This is an ambitious event. We are striving to create a temporary community celebration where we positively change the lives of participants. This experience strives to strike the delicate balance between joyous celebration and transformative self reflection. We want you to have a crazy good time, and we also want you to walk away from the event a wiser, wilder, and more inspired person.
To this end we are trying some unusual things: this festival has homework you need to complete before arriving. We are asking everyone to bring a very specific type of memory. A rememberance where you made a choice and things in your life improved. It could be a little thing, standing up for yourself or taking a small risk. It could be a large thing, like breaking an addiction, falling in love or reaching a spiritual enlightenment. Reflecting back on the lock downs, how are you different in an improved way and how did that happen? This memory will be the core of a story we want you to tell.
Homework for a festival?
What the talented storytellers explain is that the way you improve your story is to often retell it. And this is also the way you understand your own story. But we are often discouraged from telling these types of stories culturally because they are immodest. Yet especially in these extraordinary times, modesty is dangerous and we need to honor and herald these heroic choices.
What event is this? QuinkFair is an event on October 1,2, 3 and 4. It is located in Mineral Virginia to be close to the communes of Louisa county. A festival inspired by many other events and cultures including the rainbow gathering, burning man, and the intentional communities conferences.
The story we are asking you to develop is about a quink from your life, a quink is roughly defined as the opposite of trauma, where after some identifiable event your life improves or you experience a healing. When people share these positive stories we observe two important things happen. The first is that you think more about these experiences and pay attention to how they might happen in your future life and how you might best ride them. And secondly, these are intimate stories of (in part) how you became who you are and this vulnerability brings intimacy with the group.
Beyond crafting a story, we are asking folks to consider presenting about their quink experiences so others might learn from their paths. Examples bondage class, group building with challenge course material, or try your hand with divination at the Temple of Oracles. We discourage the term audience in favor of participant and co-creator or maker.
We borrow from other festival cultures and are strongly committed to both a high consent culture and a decommodified one. Consent culture means we have a shared respect for bodily autonomy and feel safe. For example, one of our the consent examples on the QuinkFair website suggests to “Ask open ended questions- for example, avoid saying “It’s okay if I hug you, right?” Instead try saying “I’d like to hug you, how would you feel about that?”
Decommodified cultures don’t use vendors internally: no vendors, no service fee, no barter, no corporate sponsors, no money based markets, and nothing for sale.
Can we guarantee you will have a quink at this event? Certainly not, but we do have both clever guides and powerful tools to help you find at least where you might look for your future quinks. We also have intentional communities and especially (income sharing) communes coming to present themselves, so perhaps your Quink will be leaving your straight job and moving to a commune in the country?
See who is going from Facebook
Lots more info about this event at www.quink.org
We have a strict “vax or test” covid policy, please understand it before you buy tickets.
As regular readers know i name my months. It is a practice i started when i was in the Czech Republic because the English translations of the Czech month names are so interesting and different from our month name origins.
I am calling the July 2021 “smoking spreadsheet” which is a reference to the second set of books which were discovered and implicated Alan Weiselberg, the Trump organizations top money man. [Two pieces of clarifying information about this name. In fraud cases, a second set of books (which in Trump Organization’s case were stored in the form of a spreadsheet) designed to conceal compensation is basically a confession. And “smoking gun” refers to incontrovertible and clinching evidence of a crime. Thus we have smoking spreadsheets.]
When i was younger, at the end of Trump’s term, i drafted a blog post of all Trump’s legal problems, because he was starting to get off on charges and i had not seen anyone keeping track of all the different cases against him. The project was overwhelming. It will likely never be published as a blog post, but you can read the draft here.
But this smoking spreadsheet is especially damning, because of the shoes that have not yet dropped. One big shoe is Ivanka. Ivanka was paid both as an employee of the Trump Organization and as a consultant to the same organization, this is not done and she did not properly pay taxes on these significant compensations. The NYT has already reported on this, but Cy Vance Jr is not leading with this, because it would be much easier and less explosive to start with an unknown faceless technocrat instead of the darling daughter of a controversial high profile president. But just like the illegal smoking spreadsheet has a tab implicating Weisleberg/CFO, it also has a tab confessing for each of the kids.
Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr has not said anything about Ivanka, but he is also meticulously building his case against Trump, trying to go for all the bigger fishes. It seems extremely unlikely that the only person guilty of criminal conduct inside of Trump Org was Weiselberg, and thus the mostly unreleased smoking spreadsheets almost certainly will implicate other people, especially Trump’s kids.
There are things Twin Oaks does reliably well and funerals are one of them.
I dislike most funeral formats. Too much religious singing or scripture, often reflecting the wishes of the minister rather than the person who passed. Too much waiting around for people who are not skilled at public speaking struggle to prove they really cared in oft too long and pained presentations.
Ex-member Kate facilitated the funeral in a Quaker style where people shared what they were moved to say. Almost everyone was funny in an appropriate way because we knew it would take powerful joy to cut the tragic sadness of losing this person with incredible potential. Very few prepared remarks (though Carly penned this amazing piece), lots of short heartfelt memories.
As an event organizer, I evaluate this from two perspectives: First is “What would Gwen think?” And I think she would have been very pleased at all these people from her life saying these comic and amazing things about her. She would have felt seen and celebrated.
But the other perspective is what it must be like to be one of Gwen’s girlfriends in attendance. What would it be like to be among so many people whose principal connection with my partner is that they raised her? Would they be like that relative who does not see how embarrassing it is to show these old photos?
No, we are better than that. There were some endearing stories of young Gwen, like the one Tigger, her father, told of Gwen at 4 years crying:
Tigger: Gwen, no one gets their way by whining and crying
Gwen: Dad you don’t know anything about whining and crying.
But this is a story of Gwen in control and defiant and it reveals perhaps the most important not-quite-secret ingredient in what makes commune collective child raising so great. We teach defiance.
We teach kids how to hide from their parents when that is appropriate. We teach kids how to know when to break any rule. But more importantly, we teach how to be a conscientious rule breaker. How to know when you’re breaking rules and which rules are silly and should simply be ignored and to know what rules matter and why.
Gwen was the closest thing Willow (my daughter) had to a sister. But in some ways commune life made them much closer than most siblings would be. For almost a decade they were in every class, preschool or play activity together. They ate most meals together, hung out together at most parties and celebrations. And they shared approximately 2 bazillion hours of various video game chats together. Most siblings a year apart in age spend much less time together.
Gwen’s coffin surrounded by family and clan
Understandably Willow is pretty broken up about it. She was crying often during the funeral. I don’t consider myself a particularly great parent. But one thing I feel our family did well with Willow was encourage her to cry things out. No shame in tears, they are expressing needed emotional release. Let them flow.
But I am not worried about Willow though she is clearly hurting. Because emotional resiliency is another not-so-secret ingredient.
Editor’s Note: Though it is a bit old fashioned, i try pretty hard to run blog posts past people who are featured and named in them, to make sure they are comfortable being represented this way. Willow gave her blessing and happily thought i was actually a fine parent. Kate who facilitates sacred ceremonies, was happy to be called out. And Gwen’s dad Tigger approved this text before it was published. Carly shared her letter and amazing pictures. Thanks to Summer for more pictures and Kelpie for edits and tech support. Thanks to all of them for quick turn around on this recent event
Gwen, it is incomprehensible that your spirit has flown so soon.
I have known for a few days but all of me is still crying out NO. It cannot be. There must be some mistake. You knew that road, you have things to do, the world needs you. You are too loved to be gone. But it doesn’t work like that.
Eighteen years. I am reeling, we are all reeling, that that is all you got. Sweet, fierce, wise Gwendolyn.
Going through my photos, through the heartbreak and tears, my overwhelming sense was of how loved you are, and what an incredible life you lived.
Like Hawina wrote, ‘All the mountains that Gwen would have moved will now be dismantled at a slower pace…’
Gwen at the Women’s march – Mountain moving will be delayed
I wish I could be with all those who loved you over the coming days. Many, like me, remember when you were born (sheesh your mama was ready to have you in her arms!). I remember your new baby smell. I remember holding your hands as you began walking, the youngest at that year’s Twin Oaks Women’s Gathering. I remember a wicked glint in your eye and hearing stories of you through the years, over the seas, and thinking, yes, this one will move mountains.
I will be there in spirit as beloveds carry your physical self to rest in the Twin Oaks cemetery, not far from where you were born. A circle complete far too soon.
All my love to your mama, dad Tom, Jonah, Robert and Madge, Willow, Hawina, Pax, Sky, Kristen, Keenan, and all the other mamas and papas, primaries and the many in your community, Twin Oaks and beyond. You gave so much in your short life. A little piece of all our hearts go with you.
Fly high beautiful.
Words by Anissa, pictures by Instagram
I have 10 minutes today to present on how communes can help us move away from money centric economies. I love this topic and have quite a bit to say about it. So much to say, that it does not all fit into the time i have.
I think recruiters have an obligation to talk about the shadow sides of the things they are promoting. Here is the slide i did not have time for on the disadvantages of commune life in general.
- Press your buttons
- Sharing work, home, and money with a large group can be intense
- Less autonomy (health care, kid care, snap long distance trips)
- Less Privacy
- Romantic breakups can be harder
- Insular – reduced access to urban culture
- Small social circle
- Dramatically reduced chance of getting rich
- Maybe shunned by family and old friends
- No 401k (although there is phased community retirement)
Most of these points are self expanitory but i want to elaborare on the first one. Joining a commune is going to push your buttons. If you know what your buttons are, then you are signing up for a personal growth class by joining. You will be confronted with this and have to grow, or suffer. But the second possibility is that you do not actually know what your buttons are, and then coming to the commune can be a difficult and disorienting wake up call. You could find out that you are crazy jealous and the partner of your dreams is polyamorous. You could find out that you need much more alone time than you thought (because it had not been much of an issue before, because it happened “naturally”) and you need to adjust your schedule accordingly. Maybe you like to make your own choices about which brand of shampoo or kind of desert you want, this could require some adjusting.
There are lots of advantages to living in a commune, but contrary to other peoples reporting, we have no illusions that this is utopia.
I often find people comparing Hitler to Trump and i find it quite problematic. It displays an ignorance of history that US Americans are famous for and it elevates Trump’s impact in a way which feels problematically inaccurate. So let’s just dive in:
Genocide: Hitler is responsible for killing millions of Jews, Romani, disabled folks, and other ethnic and religious minorities. Beyond those murders, millions were tortured, enslaved, and raped. Trump banned people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, tried (with varying levels of success) to build a souther border wall, and called Mexicans rapists. Trump sent unmarked Federal Troops after BLM and antifa activists there were a handful of fatalities.
Press: Hitler’s Ministry of Propaganda closed 3/4s of the nations newspapers and all we under strict editorial control, Nazi controlled press dominated almost all media. Trump referred to the mainstream media as “fake news” but was unable to bar reporters he did not like from the White House press corps. He can take credit for the birth of terrible news sources like Newsmax and One America Network, it is unclear if these will survive the lawsuits which have been brought against them by voting machine companies.
Military expansion: Hitler drove the growth military to over 30% of the total population (over 22 million people), as well as indoctrinating children through the paramilitary organization known as Hitler youth. Trump’s military growth was flat compared to GDP and never reached Obama’s highest spending levels. Trump created the Space Force division of the military, which will likely just get folded back into the Air Force where it mostly came from. The US active military is less than 1% of the population (about 2 million people).
Homophobia: Hitler’s Nazis put 100,000 LGBT folks into concentration camps, destroyed scholarly work on sexuality and banned gay organizations and burned progressive sexual institutions. Trump banned new transgender soldiers joining the military, and appointed anti marriage equality supreme court justices. Biden reversed the transgender ban on his first day as president. Trump’s supreme court is his most lasting legacy.
Dictatorship: Hilter’s party took complete control of the government, all other political parties were disbanded and outlawed. The Nazi’s ruthlessly killed hundreds of political opposition within Germany. Trump lost the House, the Senate and the White House and was unable to get a single one of his appointed judges to rule in his favor. Trump’s supporters’ assault on the Capitol was uncoordinated, fanciful, ill conceived, and destined to failure. Hitler burned their Capitol and pinned it on the communists and used that to seize power. Trump got crowds to chant “lock her up”, Hitler did it.
Fascism: Hitler seized control of the entire industrial infrastructure of Germany, this is what fascism used to mean. Trump claimed to be a businessman and capitalist. He moved resources away from the government and towards corporations and established wealth. Hitler built a ruthless, dedicated and effective secret police network. Trump diminished the power of his intelligence services by regularly replacing their heads and firing generals he did not like.
Military Action: Hitler invaded 20 countries. Trump bombed Syria and assassinated an Iranian General. Trump withdrew the US from support of the Kurds in Syria and started the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Trump supported proxy wars in Yemen and Palestine.
Death: Google sez: “Some 75 million people died in World War II, including about 20 million military personnel and 40 million civilians, many of whom died because of deliberate genocide, massacres, mass-bombings, disease, and starvation.” Without Hitler as the charismatic leader of the Nazi party, that probably would not have happened. Trump can take significant responsibility for spikes in mass shootings and racist police killings and assaults, the murders and suicides associated with Jan 6th failed insurrection, unnecessary starvation and abuse on the southern border..
As terrible as Trump was, Hitler was a whole different class of monster.
Minimizing the impact of Hitler by comparing it to Trump’s antics is something someone from the US is more likely to do than someone from Europe or Asia.
What is important and similar in these men is that they both succeeded in driving a significant fraction of their population into doing destructive, damaging things, which are not in their best interests. He held rallies which, visually and content-wise, bear some similarities to rallies in Nazi Germany. QAnon has not gone away, the Proud Boys are seeing a spike in recruitment. Nor is the 2020 election defeat of Trump anything like the 1945 demise of Hitler, this threat is active and must be addressed.
Like Hitler til the end, Trump has not significantly been held responsible for his failures and crimes. Recent raids on Giuliani will put tremendous pressure on him to flip on the former president. Trump may yet face the music.
Edit help from Angie Tupelo
“If the vaccine is effective, there is no reason for people who have received the vaccine to wear masks or avoid physical contact. So maybe it does not work and they are just not telling you that.”
Tucker Carlson on Fox News April 13, 2021
And with this Tucker Carlson announced he is running for president. Trump proved you need no experience nor governance talent to hold the highest office in this land. But more importantly,Trump proved that a good angry story is far more important than the truth, especially when you have the Fox News amplifying the grievance behind the message.
Do i know for sure this is Carlson’s intention, certainly not. I am speculating wildly. But this speculation might be useful, if it encourages us to focus on how the raging culture wars are affecting us. And even if he is not running for president, Carlson’s pronouncement says several other important things. It says Fox News is committed to profits over public health. It says that Fox News is not afraid of lawsuits like the two cases brought by voting machine companies for Fox’s promotion of the Big Lie. [ Each of these cases is suing for amounts which exceed Fox News 2020 annual income of $1.5 billion.] It says we are entering a new realm in which press freedoms and first amendment rights are used to actively disinform people while the government appears unable to stop them.
“But is this really different from Fox harping on Hydroxychloroquine as a covid cure?” you might well ask. I think so. While Trump was in power, Fox could make great ratings by covering him and amplifying the points which made him successful. Without Trump’s lead, Fox is making their own news, and more importantly enabling destructive white suppremisist tendencies of the population by fueling their endless set of grievances. The Murdock network is choosing the build on the alt-facts model after the Trump champion is dethroned.
Trump’s retirement does not mean we get to relax.