Life in the FEC

Activism at Twin Oaks

by Raj

I see living in community and being an activist as very compatible, and
even complementary. Living lightly and sharing things, rather than
working solely for one�s own profit at the expense of others, is in
itself a strong personal repudiation of capitalistic and overly
competitive values. Additionally, the outreach work we do through
recruiting, hosting visitors, offering tours to the public, and writing
about ourselves sends the message that �another world is indeed
possible, here is our model of what it might look like, take from it
what you will.

I've seen many a skeptic turn out to be impressed after a tour
with our strategies for resource sharing, alternative economics, and so
on. I also think that living in community opens up resources for
activism that aren'T available to most people leading mainstream lives.
Being able to set our own work schedules gives us the freedom to work
with activist groups and attend numerous conferences and political

At Twin Oaks, we can get work hours for a variety of projects �
volunteering at a shelter, cooking for homeless people, helping with
anti-nuclear lobbying - through the semi-annual labor budgeting
process, which allows such requests to be funded if enough members feel
such work to be consistent with our values and desires. Personally,
I've been funded to attend several activist conferences and to work
with Richmond Food Not Bombs while living here.

by Brian

Living at Twin Oaks is a direct reflection of my desire to impact the
world, even in a small manner. By being a part of this community, I
help to strengthen it and maintain it as model and force for positive
change in society. It is my firm belief that "community", in whatever
form it may appear, is necessary for human development, be that
economic, spiritual, emotional, or political.

But here at Twin Oaks, there is an even greater ability to

An Urban Community Perspective

By Jon Dumont

The Jolly Ranchers have been an income sharing consensus based
community since the summer of 1995, when we managed to scrape together
a small down payment on two modest homes on a corner lot in Seattle�s
poorest neighborhood. Before that, and since college in the eighties we
had lived on the east coast in rented houses with lots of friends. The
lack of intentionality of those households allowed things to get messy
now and again, but we learned a lot in spite of ourselves, and always
had great fun. Seattle is about half the size of Boston, housing is
cheaper, and there is less pollution and crime. While the quality of
our lives has improved, the kind of life we lead remains essentially
the same. The rhythm and tempo of the city has significantly determined
our manner of being in the world. Work, play, relationship, even
ideology are in many ways conditioned by environment. We were then and
are now died in the wool urban dwellers.

Building an intentional community turns out to be no small
feat, and lots of friends eventually stepped off the merry-go-round,
but for us it did not constitute a radical act. It did deepen and make
us more conscious of a process in which we were already engaged. It is
difficult to be an educated person living in an eastern city and not be
outraged by the poverty, violence and neglect that have reached
epidemic proportions in the poorer neighborhoods. The logical next step
is to determine what ones responsibility is to that situation, and how
to live up to it. In my experience this led to a commitment to social
service, some union organizing, and to an understanding of my need for
internal change. Late night front porch conversations (and lots of
related reading) eventually provided a rough mental blue print for a
small family style intentional community with a primary focus on the
creation of a safe environment for honest communication about ourselves

The Art of Resistance

by Jon Dumont

A fully concentrated and conscious experience of art is
possible only to those whose lives do not put such a strain on them
that in their spare time they want relief from both boredom and effort
simultaneously. The whole sphere of cheap commercial entertainment
reflects this dual desire. It induces relaxation because it is
patterned and pre-digested. Its being patterned and pre-digested serves
within the psychological household of the masses to spare them the
effort of that participation (even in listening or observation) without
which there can be no receptivity to art. On the other hand, the
stimuli they provide permit an escape from the boredom of mechanized


Increasingly in late capitalist USA, and in direct contradiction to an
oft repeated, much revered and hoary old adage, you sure as hell can
account for taste. The people who own most of everything are working
hard to make sure that they have product on the shelf to satisfy every
desire. They work just as hard, if not harder, carefully constructing
and delineating those desires. Little remains that has been left to
chance. Those of us born after the second world war have grown up in
the cultural equivalent of a warm bath. What is truly an unbelievable
barrage of media has disciplined several generations of us now about
what to like, how much to like it, and when to move on to something
One of the reasons that many of us live in intentional
community is to escape the relentless manufacture of desire.
Furthermore, I would venture that, as a group, people living in
intentional community are more media savvy than the general population.
However, I would also posit that we nevertheless reflect the dominant
culture much more often than we oppose it. Who would expect this not to
be so? That millions too young to have viewed the original broadcast

Adventures In Egalitarian Living

by Jon Dumont

Seattle Weekly Article

Members of the Emma Goldman Finishing School (clockwise from bottom
left): Mitchell Johnson, Parke Burgess, Addy Adwell, Sheldon Cooper
(founder), Darlene Johnson (friend of the commune), Thea Schnase, Jamie
Lee Northern (standing), and Katie Howenstine.
photo: Rex Rystedt

Syndicate content