Russia Today Visit

If you had asked me perhaps even a year ago if the 24 hour news stations Russia Today would be playing on one of the TV screens at the breakfast buffet at a Hilton hotel between CNN and Fox News, i would have told you that you did not understand how america works.  And i would have been wrong.  The non-commercial, non-profit, state funded news station pays cable distributors to be show in the Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Sheraton and Renaissance hotels.

But if you had asked me if RT (as it calls itself) would be welcome to report on my favorite commune, the answer would have been an emphatic “yes”.  For you see RT had already covered us in 2010 and had done a fairly good job of portraying us in a favorable light.  [Something the NY Times was unwilling/unable to do.] If you watch this video clip, you can see that it is promoting use a communist alternative to mainstream US culture, mostly thru the words of one of my favorite members Keenan.

Kyle, valerie, Keenan and Rayne Comm Conf 2011

Alexey is a 33 year old reporter who has been in television much of his life.  He has two children and wife who speaks only Russian, who stayed in the Washington metro area for his visit.  He was soft spoken and when he called me he said he wanted to cover how the community celebrates holidays.

This does not work so well, as it bumps into several of our norms which restrict the freedom of outside media to shoot what ever it wants here.  One agreement we have, is that there are no unapproved candid shots.  You can’t simply pull out your camera here and start taking pictures of video of who ever you want.  Buildings, cows, bike parking lots, cars – those are all fine.  But if it has a human face you need to be asking first.

This means it is in effect impossible to cover some of the aspects of community that reporters are most interested in capturing – meals, garden shifts, holiday celebrations and other large group events.

Alexey wanted to come over the Xmas/New Years period and i told him this would likely be a somewhat frustrating experience for him, since he could attend many of the events, but his filming would be seriously restricted.  He wanted to try anyway, and because i mistakenly had thought he had been here before with the first RT crew and because he was working alone (no camera person or other crew), i gave him permission to come during this time.

Alexey from RT

He was very respectful of our peculiar norms around filming.  Diana gave him permission to shoot some starting small parts of the Coffee House at new years and the mad hatters tea party.  He did a number of interviews.  We will see how the 26 minute version of “communism in America” looks some weeks from now.