Sample Letter to Visitors - Acorn - 1996
Sample Letter to Visitors AC-A1
Hello! We appreciate your interest in our community. This letter explains some things to expect on a visit to Acorn.
We currently have an old farmhouse with four rooms and a barn that has been converted to four rooms and two lofts. Our new residence, called Heartwood, contains a dozen bedrooms plus a new kitchen and dining room, but it is not quite finished yet. Most of these indoor spaces are currently occupied by members, as our population has risen to 20. There may be room available during your stay, but it's possible you'll need to share with another visitor or move around. Please let us know if you can bring a tent or if you require an indoor space.
We have three children living here, ages 2, 3, and 8. Our approach to child care is that it is integrated into our daily lives, so if you find it bothersome to have children underfoot and in the way, life at Acorn may not suit you. Let us know if you want more info on kids at Acorn.
Our labor management continues to evolve. These days most of us are using a looser variant of the Twin Oaks labor credit system. Due to our need for stable income, each person pledges to do a certain amount of hours in money-earning areas, but the majority of "creditable" work consists of activities that are unpaid for most people living outside community, such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, and childcare. Visitors are expected to contribute as much work as members, currently 43 hours/week (less if you are 50 or older). Work that visitors commonly "plug into" includes hammock-weaving, gardening, construction, cleaning, cooking, and other projects as they arise. This is intended to give you a chance to see how living here would feel--it's also a great way to get to know people.
There are generally three different types of visitors we host:
(1) If you live nearby or expect to be passing through, tours are available almost any time, although we prefer to schedule more than one person at a time. We request a $5 donation if possible.
(2) If you want to check us out for a few days, short visits (a few days or possibly up to a week) can usually be booked on fairly short notice. We ask for $5/night to help with food and
(3) If you are interested in applying for membership, the usual visit is 3 weeks. The charge is $5/night or $65 flat rate (whichever is less) for these longer visits. Occasionally if either you or the community needs more time to consider membership, the visitor period is extended. Membership visits often need to be booked months in advance, especially in winter. We are willing to lower or waive the fees for any of these visits if it;s a problem-- don't let it keep you from coming!
Tours can be booked over the phone, but longer visits must be arranged by mail (or email). If you haven't already done so, please write us a letter about yourself. Suggestions of what you could write include why you are interested in visiting community and why Acorn in particular; previous community experience if any; your age; job experience and skills to offer; work preference and any physical limitations; if you are a student, what you are studying; hobbies and interests; general background; and what you are doing now.
In addition, it's helpful to include the dates you would like to visit. When we write to you we may list dates that are open as of that writing, but things change fast and until there is a clear confirmation of dates, a slot in not reserved. Once we have confirmed your scheduled dates, please let us know if your plans change, so that we can offer the slot to someone else. We limit the number of visitors we take in at a time in order to provide a quality experience for both you and the community.
We are committed to maintaining our gender ratio within 60/40. Because we tend to receive more inquiries from men than women, if you are male, there may be a longer wait for a full-length visitor period. However, you are welcome to come sooner for a short visit.
If you decide to apply for membership, we'll ask you to answer some questions in writing and an interview with two members of the community, and attend an open meeting where people can talk about what it might be like to live together along with raising any potential concerns. The group will then be able to reach consensus whether to accept your application. We make no guarantee that we'll be able to reach a decision while you're still here, thus you must plan to leave at the end of your visitor period.
Information for folks with pets: We limit the number of domestic animals here, so you'll need to find out if a space is available. Once we assume responsibility for an animal, the community pays for food, shot, etc. Cats and dogs are not allowed in many of the residential spaces.
Re: food preferences: Some of us are vegan. Some of us eat meat. Mot of us are somewhere in between. We try to accommodate various allergies and preferences.
Here are some suggestions of what to bring in order to make your visit easier: durable footwear suitable for outdoor work, flashlight, raingear, work gloves, alarm clock, and clothing that can be layered and that you don't mind getting dirty. Also remember that we're not utopia (yet!)--flexibility and a sense of humor are vital.
Acorn can provide transportation to and from either Charlottesville or Richmond. Both cities are accessible by bus, train, and plane. If you can match your arrival with a regularly scheduled town trip from Acorn or Twin Oaks, the pickup is free. (You need to arrive before 3pm or sometimes later; if you arrive early in the day, be prepared to wait around until the "tripper" has finished their errands.) If we need to make a special trip to pick you up, there is a $5 charge. If you are coming by car, let us know to send you directions. We are about an hour's drive from Charlottesville or Richmond, and about two hours from Washington, DC.
If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to write or call. We look forward to meeting you.