Twin Oaks Conference Site- Wildfires and New Beginnings

As some of you have likely heard, Twin Oaks Community was impacted by the devastating 200-acre W Old Mountain Rd wildfire on March 20. The Twin Oaks Conference site was destroyed, along with the majority of their industrial and business infrastructure at the EC/warehouse site. But things can be replaced; we are so thankful that the people, pets, and farm animals who live here are all safe. 

We’re also very lucky that (while there were a few close calls) there was no damage to the residential buildings, ZK dining hall, the tofu hut, the office, and other key infrastructure. The damage is major, as you can see in the images below, but we will recover and rebuild.

Twin Oaks member Paxus Calta shared details and pictures of the fire and initial damage on their personal blog this morning– “Before 7 PM (on March 20th), we were being told we needed to evacuate the entire Twin Oaks campus. A school bus was brought in and took people to Acorn and the Louisa middle school, where they waited out the fire fighting. The fire spread from the neighboring land and took out the kilns, the warehouse and all the woodworking spaces (called ECW). It also spread to the conference site and destroyed the pavilion, the kitchen and all of the material storage up there.”

We are deeply grateful for the many offers of support we’ve received today. The fire is contained but still smoldering in many places and fully assessing the damage will take time. Please bear with us for these first few days, as we don’t know exactly how the cleanup process will go or what the recovery process will look like. What we do know is that it will be a lot of work, and probably cost a lot of money. Contributions can be made to the general Twin Oaks Community Fire Relief Fund and/or the Twin Oaks Conference Site Fire Relief Fund. In the coming weeks, we’ll announce other ways (financial and non) you can help support the rebuilding process.

You can contribute to the general Twin Oaks Community Fire Relief Fund via Stripe. These contributions will focus primarily on general business repairs and restoration. You can contribute using a debit card, credit card, Apple Pay, Cash App, Klarna or a bank account. ​​Donate to the Twin Oaks Fire Relief Fund here.

We’ll post major updates here as they become available. Smaller, more regular updates will be available on our DonorBox page, the Friends of Twin Oaks Facebook group, and the Twin Oaks Community Facebook page.

Thank you again for your support and kindness, we look forward to welcoming you back to a new and improved Twin Oaks Conference Site soon!

A photograph of the former conference site pavilion reads "Living Together is an Art"

2023 COMMUNITIES CONFERENCE UPDATE #4

If you missed them, you can read Update #1 and Update #2 and Update 3 on our blog. 

Online ticket sales are now closed, but you are welcome to purchase tickets at the conference between 1 PM and 8 PM on Friday and between 8 AM and 2 PM on Saturday. For additional details about on site ticket sales, please contact conference@twinoaks.org

It looks like we are going to have a larger event.  There are already over 100 sold tickets plus more than 20 invited presenters, and we are in discussions with many more folks about attending and rides.  If you’re still searching for a ride, or can offer a ride to someone else, please fill out the Ride Share form.

The 2023 Communities Conference Program and schedule are available now on our website.

Please complete this Participant Survey to help us understand your plans, schedule your volunteer shifts, and re-affirm covid protocols.  

Covid Protocols- As a reminder- all attendees must show proof of a negative covid test, with a sample taken less than 24 hours before arrival on site (at-home tests are fine). You can test in advance and send us your results via email. If your are not able to test in advance, tests will also be available at the gate for $5 each (cash preferred, but credit cards, Venmo, and PayPal are also options).

When packing for coming to the Communities Conference, don’t forget to bring items for the “FREE TABLE” – This is a place where folks can offer up their pre-loved items to become somebody else’s treasure. In the past, people have brought art, CDs, jewelry, toiletries, clothing, books, and anything else you can imagine. Take part in the radical act of sharing by bringing some items that might be useful or of interest to other attendees –no exchange of money involved.

Sunday Evening Program: The Communities Conference ends on Sunday afternoon.  Acorn has invited all of the participants to come over for dinner and evening activities (tours and celebration).  Acorn is 7 miles from Twin Oaks and we will organize a shuttle to dinner and back.  Conference participants are welcome to stay at the conference site Sunday and Monday nights.  There will be a morning tour on Monday of Twin Oaks for those who are interested. 

Monday Program: On Monday following the Communities Conference, Rustling Roots Ecological Education Center as a part of Cambia Community will host a series of workshops on topics ranging from permaculture and ecology to community building to music and dance. 

Tickets are $40, or $20 for those who only attend one session (morning or afternoon). Tickets include lunch and dinner. Food will be vegan and include local produce from our network of community farms. You can find more details about Monday’s program on our website  

If you have any questions about the Communities Conference please write to conference@twinoaks.org or call 541-505-0803

2023 Communities Conference Update #3

Headlines

  • Newest Workshops
  • Sunday Dinner and Party at Acorn
  • Cambia Monday Program
  • Cooks wanted
  • Rideshare Form
  • Covid testing policies and reminders
  • Work Trade info
If you missed them, you can read Update #1 and Update #2 on our blog. 

Tickets are on sale now on Eventbrite. They are $150 for adults, $50 for youth ages 6-17, and free for kids 5 and under. We will close online ticket purchasing at noon eastern time on Thursday, August 31. After that you are welcome to purchase tickets at the 134 W. Old Mountain Road parking entrance to the conference between 1 PM and 9 PM on Friday and between 8 AM and 2 PM on Saturday. 

Curated Workshops – We got many more proposals for workshops than the 20 curated time slots we had.  Fortunately, most of the presenters who did not get selected have offered to present their content in the Open Space portion of the event.    A full list of workshops and events is now available on the 2023 Communities Conference Program website.

Sunday Night Dinner and Party at Acorn – Acorn Community is located 7 miles from the Conference Site and will be hosting dinner, a set of tours and a party after on Sunday eventing Sept 3.  Rides will be provided for people interested in attending.  This is part of the Communities Conference program and is offered at no cost.

Cambia Monday Program – Cambia Community is located just 1 mile from the Conference Site and is offering content for $40 on Monday, which is the Labor Day Holiday, Sept 4th.  Read this link for more complete descriptions

Cooks Wanted- We are still in search of a few honchos (lead chefs) for a few meals during the conference, if you’re interested in this role please email us at hawinafalcon@gmail.com. You’ll have volunteer helpers to assist with chopping, prepping, etc. If you’re interested in helping (but not being a meal lead) you can sign up for kitchen shifts at registration when you arrive.

Ride Share forms, drivers needed– To find or join a carpool, fill out this request form. We are especially in need of drivers who have seats available, so if you have an open seat in your vehicle please let us know by filling out the rideshare form or contact 

Covid testing policies/reminders– All attendees must show proof of a negative test covid test (at-home tests are fine), with a sample taken 24 hours or less before you arrive at the conference. We encourage attendees to test at home, as in 2022 several attendees had unexpected positive results. Tests will also be available at the gate for $5 each- cash is preferred but venmo, paypal, and credit/debit cards are also an option.

Work Exchange: If the standard ticket price is more than your budget can absorb, work exchange tickets are available for $50 via the eventbrite ticket portal. All participants are expected to contribute 2 hours of work during the conference, our discounted work exchange ticket option requires an additional 4 hours (6 total). If you are attending on a work exchange ticket, you can purchase youth tickets for $25 each (there is no work requirement of youth attendees, and no additional work requirements of adults who purchase this type of youth ticket). We are committed to making the communities conference affordable/accessible to as many people as possible. Please get in touch to discuss additional discounts, scholarships, or barter options.

If you’d like to be added to our update mailing list, email us at to.communities.conference@gmail.com with the subject line “subscribe”.

Communities Conference 2023, Update #2

Headlines

  • Buy tickets
  • Work Exchange tickets
  • Deadline Today for Call for Presenters of Curated Workshops
  • Some selected Workshops
  • How big with this year’s conference be?
  • Rideshare
  • Promote the Conference on Social Media

If you missed it, you can read Update #1 on our blog. 

Tickets are on sale now on Eventbrite. They are $150 for adults and $50 for youth. It is also very helpful for our event planning when people buy tickets early. 

Work Exchange: If the standard ticket price is more than your budget can absorb, work exchange tickets are available for $50. All participants are expected to contribute 2 hours of work during the conference, our discounted work exchange ticket option requires an additional 4 hours (6 total). You can read more about work exchange tickets, and fill out a work exchange ticket request form, here.  We are committed to making the communities conference affordable/accessible to as many people as possible. Please get in touch to discuss additional discounts, scholarships, or barter options.

Call for Presenters– We are still in search of a few more curated workshops for the 2023 Communities Conference, and the deadline is today August 7th. If you would like to offer a curated workshop, please fill out this form. Please remember that curated workshops must be focused on intentional communities, and/or relate to one of our two major threads/themes- starting new communities, and building diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in community. We are also interested in workshops about racial dynamics in community, restorative justice, economics of community living, and controversial topics within communities.  Depending on the number of participants at the conference, we will have between 16 and 20 of these workshops.  

New Workshops- We have a great collection of curated workshops which have already been accepted, especially in the thread of diversity, equity and inclusion.  Some of the offerings include:

  • How to Start a Community – by Sky Blue
  • Community Safety and Accountability – by Crystal Byrd Farmer
  • How to Build Trans Inclusivity into your Intentional Community –  by Jules Amanita
  • The Two Worlds of North America – by Macaco
  • Polyamory in Community – by Daniel Greenberg

How big will this conference be?  It is a bit hard to tell, as of August 7th we have 65 ticket holders and presenters currently confirmed, which puts us on track for a 120 to 150 total person event including members of Twin Oaks who attend.  We expect about 25 to 35 communities and networks to present at Meet the Communities.  

Rideshare-  If you are coming from more than an hour away, please contact us about rideshares, either if you can offer one or if you need one, via our Ride Share form or at conference@twinoaks.org.  We can help you coordinate getting to the conference site from Charlottesville and Richmond, as well, if you are arriving by public transport, train, bus, or airplane.  

Promote the Communities Conference on Social media.  If you are willing to help promote this event on social media, please email us at conference@twinoaks.org with “promote” or anything vaguely like that, and we will get back to you with easy use posts that will bring more of your friends to this important event.

If you’d like to be added to our update mailing list, email us at to.communities.conference@gmail.com with the subject line “subscribe”.

Call for Presenters

The Twin Oaks Communities Conference is looking for presenters for this year’s gathering which will take place Sept 1 through 4th in Louisa Virginia.  If you are confident you should be presenting, here is the form to become a presenter.  [Deadline Aug 1, 2023]

If you are unsure, the following article introduces the culture of the event and background to help you decide. Please note this is the Call for Presenters of curated workshops on intentional communities. There are also Open Space workshops where anyone can present on any topic without asking in advance.

We are especially looking for workshops on the two 2023 topic threads/themes:

  • Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion
  • How to found or find an intentional community

Should you offer a workshop at the Twin Oaks Communities Conference?

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:

“Are you on topic?”:  Let’s say you are an expert in sustainable building design, every community needs these types of structures, you have done dozens of workshops and seminars on how to design and build sustainable structures of many types.  Certainly, it would seem you are an appropriate presenter for this event, but not necessarily.

The focus of this event is Intentional Communities (self-selecting, place-based, residential communities who share material and cultural things).  The only way a workshop on sustainable design fits our program is if it demonstrates how this technology serves the needs of ICs specifically.  The intentional community focus needs to be baked into the content of the workshop, 

“The 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. If your plan is to give a lecture, this is the wrong event for you to present at.  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.

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? A Q&A or a hotseat format could be more appropriate.. 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 guide you to adjust your presentation for their level of expertise and their areas of excitement.

Flexible is key [Image by Bing/Dalle]

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?  

Not a fancy event:  The conference will provide chairs, rain protection, white boards, and, with advance notice, some sound system, but we’re in quite a rustic environment. Your powerpoint presentation, for example, might dictate which workshop space you need to be in.

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 presenters with a free or reduced cost ticket.  We can also help coordinate transportation for presenters from many places.

If you are convinced, here is the Call for Presenters 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 cost is a concern you can request a discounted work exchange ticket here.  If you want to read about how to get the most out of this conference check out this article.  If you would like to receive email updates about this event you can sign up for our newsletter with the form on the right hand column of this page, RSVP on the event facebook page, or simply read them on the communities conference blog (Here is Update 1).

The Communities Conference has two types of workshops, these IC specific curated workshops which are selected in advance and Open Space workshops on any topic.  The Open Space technique self selects for each workshop’s audience, so all are welcome to present on Sunday of the event.  So if you hate filling out forms, or don’t want to be constrained by having your workshop in part on intentional communities, the Open Space section of workshops is likely best for you.

We are very proud to have Avi Kruley and Sky Blue doing the keynote address: Doing the Impossible: Generating what we need to manifest the potential of Intentional Community

Avi & Sky

Communities Conference 2023, Update #1

Headlines:

  • Communities Conference 2023 themes
  • 2023 Keynote Address
  • New Covid-19 policies for 2023
  • Call for presenters
  • Tickets are on sale now
  • Work Exchange Tickets are available
  • Interns wanted

We hope to see you at the Communities Conference this fall, September 1-4, 2023. The 2023 Communities Conference will have 2 main threads/themes. One thread will explore starting new communities, the other focuses on the ways communities (old and new) can embrace and improve their Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion practices (DEAI).  

Our 2023 Keynote speakers are Sky and Avi, presenting “Doing the Impossible: Generating what we need to manifest the potential of Intentional Community”. The experience of living in Intentional Communities (ICs) changes us. It expands our understanding of what’s possible, and cultivates a sense of belonging and accountability, which inspires us to act from a deep understanding of our interdependence. The world needs this now more than ever.

But the world is an increasingly unfriendly place to do this work. Thoughtful attention and intention are needed to generate the inner and outer resources we need to start new ICs and take established ICs to the next level. How do we stay balanced and maintain our ability to rechoose to do this work everyday in the face of so much stress and uncertainty? Join us for this keynote session where we’ll explore the challenges and opportunities of IC movement building, how to stay personally resourced for the long-haul, and what’s needed to bring what ICs are learning to the world. You can learn more about Avi & Sky, and read the full description of their keynote address, here..

New Covid policies in 2023– As the impact and prevalence of Covid-19 shifts with time, so do our policies and precautions. All attendees must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test with a sample taken 24 hours or less before arrival, but there is no vaccination requirement this year. We strongly encourage testing at home before traveling to the conference and sending us a selfie of your test result via email or text. Tests will also be available at our registration desk at cost (estimated cost $5). 

Call for Presenters- We are still in search of a few more curated workshops for the 2023 Communities Conference. If you would like to offer a curated workshop, please fill out this form. Please remember that curated workshops must be focused on intentional communities, and/or relate to one of our two major threads/themes- starting new communities, and building diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in community. We are also interested in workshops about racial dynamics in community, restorative justice, economics of community living, and controversial topics within communities.  Depending on the number of participants at the conference, we will have between 16 and 20 of these workshops.  

What is a “curated workshop”? At the Communities Conference, workshops come in two types – curated and open space. Curated workshops are ones selected by the organizers to be part of the early program and are on topics of general concerns to existing communities or people seeking community or starting one. 

Open space organizing allows the conference content to grow organically. Open Space workshops are held on Sunday, can be offered by anyone on almost any topic (not necessarily focused on intentional communities), and go through the open space selection program. This process involves everyone at the conference and selects workshops that are the most popular and enthusiastically supported. This gives conference attendees a greater say in how the conference looks and feels, and offers you a taste of what organizing in community is like. So, you can send us any workshop ideas you have in advance, or bring your workshop pitch to the conference and we’ll organize it in real time!  [Here is more info on curated workshops and open space technology from the 2018 Communities Conference.]

Early Bird tickets are available now at https://tocc2023.eventbrite.com/. Buy your ticket before July 15 and pay $120 for adults, $40 for youth, and free for kids 5 and under (a 20% discount on our general admission prices). After July 15th, tickets are $150 for adults (plus taxes and fees), $50 for youth aged 6-17, and free for kids 5 and under.

Bring your Comrades:  Conferences are better with known partners and allies.  If you are representing a place-based intentional community, the second person you bring from that community comes at 50% off the ticket price. They retain their full work obligations to the event.

Work Exchange: If the standard ticket price is more than your budget can absorb, work exchange tickets are available for $50. All participants are expected to contribute 2 hours of work during the conference, our discounted work exchange ticket option requires an additional 4 hours (6 total). You can read more about work exchange tickets, and fill out a work exchange ticket request form,here.  We are committed to making the communities conference affordable/accessible to as many people as possible. Please get in touch to discuss additional discounts, scholarships, or barter options.

Interns Wanted – Organizing conferences and gatherings is complex work. Twin Oaks is looking for conference interns to help with events this summer, the Communities Conference being the last. Come live at one of the communes in Louisa County, work on these conferences and gatherings, and see what it is like to live this lifestyle. More details about our conference internships are available here. If you’re interested, please fill out our intern info form and we’ll be in touch.

If you’d like to be added to our update mailing list, email us at to.communities.conference@gmail.com with the subject line “subscribe”.

 

Communities Conference 2023

We are going to have the Communities Conference on Labor Day weekend, September 1-4, 2023.

The 2023 Communities Conference will have at least 2 threads/themes.  One thread explores starting new communities, and another examines diversity, equity, and inclusion. Ticket prices for 2023 are available here. Tickets, work exchange applications, and call for presenters, and more, will be available in spring 2023.

We are back in 2022!

We are going to have the Communities Conference in 2022! After two years of having to cancel for the pandemic, we are coming back on labor day weekend (Sept 2 thru 5).

We will discuss several themes, including reconciliations (between members, between members and communities, and between communities that don’t have the relationships they would like) and diversifying membership.

It will be held at the expanded and improved Twin Oaks conference site. Both Acorn Community and Serenity Community will have significant roles in developing content, promoting the event, and granting scholarships and work exchanges.

the Communities Conference as a network

the Communities Conference as a network: an interview

by Paige Carlson

I sat down to talk with Sky, who has been helping organize the Communities Conference in varying degrees for 18 years, he is currently serving as the executive director for the Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), and is actively working on growing a flourishing lawn at the conference site at Twin Oaks Community, which is also where he lives. I was interested to know his thoughts and feelings about what goes on there. Following is my synthesis of what he had to say:

But first, i want to define intentional communities and the communities movement, in this writing, intentional communities is used to refer to “groups of people who live together or share common facilities and who regularly associate with each other on the basis of explicit common values,” (definition from the FIC values page) these often look like housing co-ops and communes. The communities movement is the social and economic movement towards co-operation in the stewardship of resources guided by explicit common values. These phrases are used to refer to communities that self identify as Communities as such and usually have some knowledge about the larger communities movement, though there are many other communities that do not formally identify as a part of the communities movement but have kindred structures, Wildseed community in New York is an example.

what is the Communities Conference? (or, the communities conference as a door)

First and foremost the Communities Conference is an opportunity for people living in, or interested in living in, communities to come together to meet, co-educate, and for the people who already know each other to gather in reunion. People camp, or stay at a neighboring facility, and all meals are provided. There are workshops which are relevant and useful to intentional communities. Last year the theme was inclusivity and diversity, and we had 8 workshops on the theme, most led or co-led by POC and folks from other marginalized groups. This year we’re carrying that theme forward, as well as bringing in content on cooperative business and sustainable building. 

In a segment in the program called Meet the Communities, the communities who are present share about themselves to the group, creating space for them to learn about one another. Sky says, “knowing each other and knowing what’s out there helps to strengthening our movement, especially when we rely so much on word of mouth and there is little to no frame of reference for what living in community is like for huge swaths of the population.” Sky also reflects that there are more and more people coming into communities and the conference these days by doing things like internet searching for “are there any more 60s communes?” and after discovering the conference attend without previous experience, or discover only one community on the internet and move directly to it. In this way the Communities Conference is a place in which people who know of only one community can come into knowing the larger networks.

who is best served by this event?

Sky says, “People from new and struggling communities can benefit from what they can learn from other ‘veteran’ communities, and have fun. If they’re new and struggling things are probably stressful at home for them, and there is opportunity to have fun with people who you know get the struggles you are having and are coming from a similar experience.” He gives me a knowing look here.

There is also a contingent of people who come year after year and have been coming for a long time, the conference is like a family reunion for them, and Sky, and he believes that from a movement building perspective that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Best served are also the people who just did an internet search or heard a whisper of community on the wind of communities. Sky says, “We do a good job of offering an introductory experience into the world of communities. Also, Twin Oaks is part of a sort of neighborhood of communities and part of the conference is a tour of the five neighborhood communities: Twin Oaks, Acorn, Living Energy Farm (LEF), Cambia, and Mimosa. You can come, maybe expecting to learn about just one community, and get a tour of four more all of different sized, with different focuses, and at different stages of development.”

what is the culture like at the conference?

There are structured group times, workshops and meals. Friday evening there is an opening circle, as wells as Saturday afternoon circle, and Sunday morning closing circle. Sky says. “These are spaces where we get people talking to each other and create space for them to get to know each other. We have more emphasis on that than other conferences do. We also discuss the norms of the conference, stuff like: taking photos, consent, peeing outside, quiet hours and smoking, which helps provide an experience of being in community intentionally. We make a lot announcements throughout the weekend and that’s an opportunity to create group cohesion. We have a work exchange as a payment option and we also have everyone who comes to the conference expect to work 2-3 hours as a way of sustaining the conference and building a sense of community amongst the participants.”

what about social justice? (or, the communities conference as a window)

Sky reflects and says “What does a future look like where all of these social and economic movements are successful? is a question that intentional communities attempt to answer,” or extrapolate on.

“The lived experience of being a part of communities is hard to quantify in terms of its ‘activism’ or ‘social change’ because they are often composed by and contain segments of broader social movements and the beginnings of expressing a holistic vision that we can work toward and hopefully live inside of.”

“Intentional communities ally with movements that are working for more explicit structural change within the current governing systems. This creates a strength via a two way street of resources and knowledge. For example the larger intentional communities organization, the FIC, is a member of the New Economy Coalition which is an organization fostering relationships between groups, organizations, and communities who are working to build more just, sustainable, and cooperative economies.”

“It is true that the communities movement is disproportionately white.” Sky says, “though, i think it’s less white than we think it is, because the communities movement is essentially a network of groups and white people have been at the center of it, who know each other in varying degrees. We tend to associate with people of the same race, leaders tend to be white tend and tend to have white friends, this directs who we know and who we know about especially. There are more people of color led intentional communities out there that are not within the “mainstream” of the communities movement.”

“In regards to the makeup of our communities, part of privilege is being about be able to avoid the conversation about it, and if nothing else I intend to keep bringing it up. The theme of last year was Inclusivity and Social Justice, and I hope that that becomes not just a theme but a regular part of the programming.”

Intentional communities put themselves in a position of stewarding resources. Sky wonders, “How can we get support to groups who are working on the ground by leveraging, funneling, and directing resources and knowledge?”

“Communities exist as models for collectivizing. As more and more people start to need to do it out of necessity models for doing it well will be more and more important.”

how does the communities conference effect twin oaks?

Sky says, “I think in all communities, especially rural communities, there’s a danger of becoming insular. It’s helpful for Twin Oaks to remember other people, other communities, and the broader communities movement. Sometimes people who live at Twin Oaks have never been to another community, so it’s a good chance to meet and see others.”

what’s your favorite part of the communities conference?

Sky smiles, “the dance party for sure! Also any time, when i look around and everyone looks really absorbed in each other and what they are doing. I’ve started doing this from time to time during the conference to see how we’re doing. If everyone seems positively, highly engaged, I feel like we’re doing something important. They almost always do.”

the beginnings of a communities conference national event

There are 3 committees conference around the country at similar times. The same weekend as Communities Conference, is the Southwest Inter-Community retreat at Llama foundation, and soon after is the West Coast Communities Conference. Sky shares, “It is a hope of mine for the communities conference to become a national event.”

in conclusion

From what i gathered talking with Sky it seems as though there are opportunities to learn more about communities currently in existence, meet people who may have similar interests and desired living paths, and camp in the woods in Virginia with people working towards more interpersonal and infrastructural organizational harmony and joy.  

 

 

 

30 years of community building

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of the Fellowship for Intentional Community. A lot has changed in 30 years.

For one, in 1987 the internet wasn’t commercially available. No websites, no email. As a child of the digital age it’s hard for me to fathom how people found communities before the internet, and how communities found each other. And yet, the network existed well before the FIC came
together.

Communities magazine started in 1972 as an amalgamation of several newsletters about communal living, which was a result of meetings at that year’s Twin Oaks Communities Conference. The first issue of Communities included the first Communities Directory. It also mentioned the North American Students of Cooperation, which focuses on student housing cooperatives, and was formed in 1968. But like the FIC, it is a successor to an organization that goes back to the 1940s. We are growing this movement in very rich soil that’s been cultivated for generations by people all over the country who somehow had the passion, dedication, and faith to build their communities and build a movement.

The social and political landscape has also changed dramatically. The counterculture and back-to-the- land movements of the ’60s and ’70s birthed many of the communities prominent in 1987, yet the schism with mainstream society they represented was only widening and intentional communities were becoming increasingly obscure and marginalized. It was an important time for the FIC to come together to help keep the momentum going.

Before long, in the early ’90s, cohousing and ecovillages would join the mix and help begin the
process of bringing intentional communities back to a more mainstream audience. Progressive
movements and organizations in general were recovering from the Reagan era, and with the
explosion of the internet, organizing for peace and justice only became easier. Things like the
Zapatista uprising in Mexico, MoveOn.org, and the WTO protests in Seattle in ’99 started
showing us what was possible.

The 2000s were about the world finally coming to recognize that there are global problems
facing humanity as a whole. And as we progress through the 2010s, it’s clear that more and more
people are looking for solutions. Intentional communities have always been models of integrated
solutions, merging social, economic, and ecological concerns. But while the stalwarts of previous
generations struggled to get this across to society, it seems younger people understand this
intuitively. A number of news outlets have contacted us about the surging interest amongst
millennials in intentional community; the interest major news outlets have been showing in
intentional communities clearly represents a growing recognition in society that there must be a
better way to do things.

There is so much wisdom embedded in the last 30 years of this movement and beyond. Sometimes wheels
do need to be reinvented, and sometimes people just need to learn from their own mistakes, but
sometimes knowledge can be shared and utilized and we can move beyond the challenges that
vexed previous generations.

In some ways, the world belongs to the youngest generation. They are the ones who will have to
deal with the mess we’ve made. The social, economic, and ecological problems intentional
communities have long sought to address are only compounding. Old ways of doing things might
simply no longer be relevant. But history does repeat, and the collected experience of decades of
community builders is invaluable. The commitment and perseverance that people brought to
their efforts to create the amazing intentional communities we see today cannot be
underestimated. Let’s carry forward the best of the past as we create a better future.