Tag Archive | blogging

Being a Censor

Being a Censor

Anarchists hate censors.  Who should have the authority to prevent someone from expressing their right to free speech?  Certainly not the state which has it’s own oppressive agenda.  Yet these days, somewhat reluctantly and distressingly, I am donning the hat of a censor.  There is, of course, a story.

Twin Oaks has a number of ways it presents itself to the world.  There is large, complex website which gives information about the community, how to join the visitor program or participate in our 3 hour Saturday tour, media coverage about the community and more.  There are distinct business websites for Hammocks, Tofu, the Women’s Gathering in August and the Communities Conference over Labor Day.  There are also numerous presences of Facebook, including one for ex-members and long time followers of the commune called “Friends of Twin Oaks”. There is a new collective blog called “Running in ZK” and soon there will be an official blog.


Valerie and I manage outreach and recruiting for the community.  There are a number of different tasks which fall under this managership. Valerie corresponds with prospective visitors and guests, answering their questions and scheduling their visits.  She also responds to media requests for interviews and information.  I work with people who are considering the community and have obstacles to membership (typically debts or pets or complicated family or legal situations).  Also part of this area is the TOAST program, Twin Oaks Academic Speaking tour, which presents about the community at colleges and universities.  We coordinate the articles written about the community for the progressive and mainstream press as well as reviewing posts for some of the various blogs.

you will never know

you will never know

And now, we are the ones who resolve disputes about what is posted on the various official community facebook pages.  I don’t really want to go into the content of the recent controversy, which has consumed a bunch of time and frustrated a number of people.  However our internal process as how and what to delete from these facebook pages is worth of note.

Several ex-members started complaining about the posts of one person and asking us as administrators to take them down.  This was novel, we had not had this experience before.  They pointed out that besides being insulting and disrespectful to them, it was damaging to the reputation of the community.  This presented us with problem of how do we decide to pull someone’s writings off the Facebook page?  Is there are free speech right on what is basically an archival and promotional site for the community?

Indeed, don't block exit

Indeed, don’t block exit

In the end we decided on a very simple, and perhaps dangerous method. If someone asks for a post to be removed, we remove it.  My guess is that this wont happen very often.  And my feeling is that for most people who are looking at our various internet presences, this feels like a big request and thus wont happen frivolously.

I have been in touch with the author of the offending posts and he has gracefully agreed to stay off the site for a month and let things cool down.

Bucket Brigade Lines at Ganas

We are at Ganas on our way to the Tarrytwon craft fair.  There are a number of things i appreciate about Ganas, and one of them is the bucket brigade food unloading line.

Stars join Ganasians to move food from truck to kitchen

Stars join Ganasians to move food from truck to kitchen

On the surface this might appear quite mundane, just moving food from place to place.  But this is more like a complexly coordinated dance, where some participants need to opt out of heavier packages and people who are on top of it are always moving.

Stuff is picked up in a cargo van and unloaded by perhaps 20 people

Stuff is picked up in a cargo van and unloaded by perhaps 20 people

But using this approach no single person is burdened for very long, there are lots of short treks and you can always extend your rest by stepping out of the queue or by taking on another job in the unload.  And there is a beautiful self-correcting aspect to these lines where people move closer to each other or further apart depending on their enthusiasm and ability.

Willow and Hawina on Corson Ave on Staten Islamd

Willow and Hawina on Corson Ave on Staten Islamd

And as Confucius once said “Many hands make light work.”  We were done in less that 20 minutes, moving food to feed a couple hundred.  A handful of introductions and some sweet conversation later, we were back in the dining room finishing up other conversations.

This is an earlier blog post on this food line as a collective ritual.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 140,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Burning Man Bump

It is so easy to be misunderstood.

Some months back i wrote a post about why i think Burning Man is significant funologically.  It outlined a number of aspects of the festival which i think are important (from dust storms in which you safely lose control, to the replication of the theme of the event at regional burns across the country and around the world).  I was quickly challenged to put out my critique of the festival, which i have had my own run ins with and i have a lot of constructive (i think) criticism for.  I called this post The Dark Side of Burning Man.

As fate would have it, the critique got reposted a number of times and this week, because of these reposting and presumably because the festival is just about to start, traffic to my blog is way up.

If you have never been to a Burning Man event, consider going to a regional festival (which is much more accessible and cheaper) and seeing if you like it. i encourage you to consider these events, because they have a significant chance of touching something within you which makes you see the world differently.

Rogue Content Engines

“What does logistics mean?”  My son asks earnestly while we are at the playground between Morningstar (where he lives) and Degania.  The Star family has some guidelines about questions, when ever Willow asks you take it seriously and you dont talk down to him in your answer – you respond as you would to an adult.

I describe the content versus logistics dichotomy as it is found in event organizing.  That the workshops topics are the content and logistics is the infrastructure of how people get there and where they sleep, how they register and what they eat.  Willow understands quickly and cuts off my answer.

Is this infrastructure or content?

I am working with this great team on the communities conference.   We hove logistics people, we have people working on outreach and workshop threads.  And we have a blog, it is not uncommon for larger events to have blogs these days.  What is tricky, is the content is often weak in them.

I am blogging for the communities conference and i want to produce quality content.  The article i just wrote on community living not being running away from politics i feel pretty good about.  This conference is hopping on the Occupy bandwagon and looking at how this amorphous political movement can synergistically operate with amorphous residential living movement.  So there is all manner of things i can hit on as this events rogue content engine.

Occupy Toronto – Circa 2011

Watch these spaces, please.