There are multiple cultural vectors which push people in community to changing their names. One of the more common ones is that we use only first names here so unless you arrive with an odd name (like Paxus or Hawina or Shal) there is some chance you may “have to” change your name to avoid being confused with someone who is already here.
And there are other forces which might be even more compelling. You never really liked the name you were given at birth. You want to take on some larger (River) or more charismatic (Cassandra) or more spiritual persona (Shakti). Or perhaps you want to try something funny (Mario Luigi Andretti) or light (Frolic).
Donna, a new member, arrived and while there was not another member named Donna living here, there was a very significant ex member named Donna who is regularly on campus these days as our general manager of the tofu hut expansion. In part to avoid confusion, but i think more as a personal challenge Donna our new member decided to change her name.
She changed it to Three. I have to say i am quite impressed. It is a strong name. She did not have a naming party, she knew what she wanted. When asked where it comes from, she sited her original soccer jersey number. She is sister number three (by some counts). Three also forms the body of her runner girl tattoo (see picture below) It is a daring name, easy to get mocked. Let’s wish her luck, and welcome her bold choice.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
Walter Cronkite wrote a preface to the 35th edition of Orwell’s classic 1984.
It has been said that 1984 fails as a prophecy because it succeeded as a warning–Orwell’s terrible vision has been averted.
It was this spirit in mind that the community went into the naming party for the new Prius we just purchased.
We have lots of naming parties at the commune. One of the more common things we name are new vehicles when we acquire them (to be clear we basically never buy new-from-the-factory vehicles, but they are “new to us” and generally in better condition than the rest of the fleet). The form of a naming party combines a long list of names suggested by members and friends, a dry erase board/butcher paper pad and a flamboyant MC.
Ezra was a wonderful MC for this evening’s naming party for the Prius. It is important background that this is our first hybrid vehicle. We have some Toyotas which get excellent gas mileage, but a Prius represents a significant step up. And it was clear from the suggested names that people did not think the commune was quite up for the responsibility of owning a fancier car. Here are some of the names which were proposed:
- Liberal Guilt
- Nikola Tesla
- Hybrid Vigor
- Inevitable Downfall
- Darth Dingo
- Tiny Bubbles
- False Hope
- This is why we can’t have nice things
The process is hardly democratic, people get multiple votes and there is rampant cheating, despite Ezra’s threats that he would dispatch kids to lick you on the face if you were caught cheating (i think Jess did get licked). At the critical moment when most people were expected to vote for the most popular name, Ezra swapped in the question “Who is voting to have me be Vice President for Life!” The president of the community is not a contested spot, but the vice president is, perhaps because of the incorrect assumption that the vice president will have greater access to vice (in egalitarian communities it is important that everyone have equal access to vice).
As you can probably guess from the blog title, the winning name, by a huge margin was “This is why we can’t have nice things”. When asked for the meaning of the name Kathryn suggests “come look at the car in a year and you will understand it.”
Unlike any vehicle we have ever had, this one requires a driving class, which is being offered by Trout on Saturday and Sunday. I will be away, but hopefully my pre-existing experience driving other people’s Prius’s will get me qualified.
So ask in a year, if the prophecy was a successful warning.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
Occasionally, people get upset at the way i run naming parties. I use a facilitation technique which has been called “Florida Style” after the voter fraud that got Bush II elected. Let’s just say being precise is not always my priority. Presumably because i am entertaining in my presentation (and i cant really influence the decision process) i get asked back to run naming parties again.
Over 10 years ago, after we installed the new rope machine we realized we needed a name for it. We had gone over 20 years without a name for the old rope machine, because there was no need to distinguish it from anything. But with two side by side, we threw a naming party for both and they were ultimately called “God” and “the State”. As Marx predicted, the State has withered away and only God is running these days, but the name lingers even tho there is nothing to be comparing it to locally.
And if you start something new, you can name it, so when Rick and Joanna started the current awesome child care, basic education program in the community (which now meets 5 mornings a week), they decided to call it Unicorns school.
Unicorns is fabulous in my never humble opinion. It is providing the introductory educational experience for our kids. It is run by people who love and are good with kids. It provides child care for the busy parents who are working to support the community and if you watch it (as i occasionally do) you get the feeling like this is the type of environment which is safe and fun and engaging to the kids involved.
And Joanna, who also makes rope, commented the other day that her labor sheet was filled with God and Unicorns.