A day at Acorn + A letter to Acorn

 For quite a while i have been intending to spend more time at Acorn.  [Acorn is a sister income sharing community which Twin Oaks helped found about 20 years ago, it is 7 miles from Twin Oaks.]  At various points in the past i have been at Acorn a lot, especially when they were struggling with low membership – i facilitated meetings, brought Oakers over to work and helped with recruiting.  But these are long past days now, Acorn is in the midst of a Renaissance now.

The community is full with about 30 members and has a waiting list.  The seed business is booming and Acorn is trying to figure out how to grow new parts of it wisely.  There is a very groovy new building with many ecologically friendly technologies showcased which is just starting construction.  i helped Milo put in an electrical box for it, yesterday.  There is a vibrant, inter-generational culture complete with quirky characters and dedicated communards.

In part because of it’s smaller size, but more because of an intentional cultural choice Acorn has more of a family feel than the more institutional feel that Twin Oaks has.  It is more anarchistic in ways, more likely to grant exceptions or morph old rules or agreements entirely.  They use consensus which helps insure groups buy in to new ideas.  And perhaps most important to me, it is more daring, which is why we the original Villages in the Sky tree houses were built there and the straw bale building (both of which were projects Oakers initiated, but knew would take forever to complete the process of here, so we went to Acorn instead).  And i am drawn to daring.

Below is the letter i posted there yesterday to explain what i am doing.

What is Paxus doing at Acorn?

i am going to try to come to Acorn most Fridays.  What i want to do while i am here is:

  1. fund raising with Thomas & Ira for SESE/Acorn projects
  2. play Magic with Abe and others
  3. re-start the Acorn transparency group
  4. small amount of construction help on the Seed Palace
  5. talk with Acorn about helping to form a new community

The last piece is both the most ambitious and most ambiguous.  I am not quite sure what this will look like.  From my side i know i am extremely interested in talking about parts of the SESE empire that could be a cottage industry for the new community (which is mockingly and temporarily being called Chubby Squirrels – like those that have gotten fat from the Okara at Twin Oaks).  Perhaps, the garden supply warehouse service which would order fulfill for SESE in a fashion like seed racks does.


Southern Exposure Team Picture – circa 2011

i am also hoping to do a visitor period here at Acorn in Jan 2013 and would like to be considered for dual membership with Twin Oaks.  My son Willow lives at TO and i want to keep a presence there.  My thinking is that Acorn is likely to be more supportive of starting new communities than Twin Oaks is and i am hoping to draw some of the pioneers for Chubby Squirrels from Acorn.

So what do we know about this place already?  Well, first off many of the items on the below list are up for grabs.  But these are some of the best practices that i am exciting about mixing.

  • income and resource sharing and part of the FEC
  • within 10 miles of TO and/or Acorn
  • consensus decision making
  • transparency group interpersonal work
  • internal cottage industry (possibly SESE affiliated)
  • family centric (high kid to adult ratio – esp single moms)
  • low cost to start – rent and fix, rather than build new
  • net zero ecovillage that generates the power it uses
  • commitment to activism and supporting political change
  • deep dumpster and radical reuse culture
  • high trust, low paper work, soft quota
  • intergenerational, cross cultural membership
  • radical hospitality mandate – open to many guests and visitors
  • open to personal shelters
  • open ended growth in membership

This is some of what i think is the best of the communities movements behaviors.  And there will be other peoples ideas in as well and this list will certainly change (tho the FEC, kid centric, consensus pieces feel pretty fixed).

Why Acorn?  There are lots of reasons, but one of the central reasons is that like the straw bale building and the tree houses, it is easier to do things at Acorn than at Twin Oaks.  But equally important is that an eco-system of communities (Acorn, LEF, TO, Chubby Squirrels) in the area will serve more people and create more possibilities for cooperation.

I’ll be around, we can talk about what ever is interesting in this for you.


Fav Acorners at Burning Man