The Midden

A small yet established anti-authoritarian and egalitarian urban community

Click Here to view The Midden Image Gallery
phone: (614) 725-4333
(Please call between 12p-6p EST)
Contact: Mattie



We are a collective house in Columbus, OH creating a life together around shared principles, a wood stove, and much more!


A midden is an intriguing or marvelous rubbish heap. Packrats and octopi make middens—so do ocean currents and human civilizations. We call our house The Midden because we make use of the artifacts (groceries, furniture, shoes) thrown away or overlooked by mainstream society. And all the while, we’re using this stuff to build more whole and meaningful systems to provide for ourselves.

We also love to care for each other, share our skills and ideas, and do what we can to confront systems of oppression that bring us all down. We’re eco-activists, prison abolitionists, housing justice advocates, writers and theatre artists, adventurous human beings and more.


We believe in things like: doing it ourselves, anti-authoritarianism, using (and re-using) our resources responsibly, friends and hanging out, dumpstering, caring for each other and staying solid. You can read lots more on our website


Our agreements help us to build a life (and make a living) through things we enjoy. Some of these agreements include:

A labor-sharing system, where paid and unpaid work are equally valued

Sharing a certain degree of our income and expenses

Weekly house meetings, where we check in with each other and make decisions about house projects


The community started in 2008 with some folks living together on King Ave, and in 2010 we bought a house on Chittenden Avenue. We know our neighbors, are close to just about everything, and live very affordably.

We’re looking for new people to live here! If you’re interested in learning about how to become a member, or if you have any other questions, come stop by! Give us a call at (614) 725-4333 or send us an email at

[Note that The Midden was called Community Autonomy earlier in its existence, so some of the older posts and documents on this site will still refer to them as such.]

Below are stories, blogs and articles on The Midden.

Occasional Update #10

Well, since we’re a collective house, it’s probably good that we’ve transferred ownership of our home to an LLC. of which we are all equal part owners. Send us a message if you want tips on getting this done (it’s not too difficult).

Now that our land is owned collectively, we qualify for membership in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. The FEC is a union of–that’s right–egalitarian communities, which help to support each other by circulating skills, labor, and funds between existing and forming communes. Alex went to their conference in the Ozarks and presented the Midden’s official membership application. A couple weeks later they approved our application.


The FEC assembly in Missouri. Alex is down there on the bottom.

Sometimes they make time to update their website

Like any other FEC community our spring season involves lots of gardening. Cole is taking point on a lot of our garden work, with help from our newest member: Molly.


Molly had a birthday breakfast, so we made her a cake made of pancakes. She liked it.


Midden in pencil

Midden in pencil

The Midden

Occasional Update #9

Well, we finally taught Burglar to catch rats:

After clearing out and occupying the rest of this house, we’ve continued to re-arrange our main living areas to accommodate the new layout. We’ve nearly transformed the kitchen with a few key effects -


The sink’s backsplash is made from broken pieces of slate from our very own roof(!). Slate has become Mattie’s new material obsession—ever since he and Alex learned to repair some of the missing/broken slates on our (very high, very old) roof.

A slate roof looks like a book before it is bound. All of the pages

are written by a collaborative effort of weather and time. Hold one slate

in your hands. It is smooth and in places crinkled like handmade paper.

You can’t see yourself in the surface, it has lasted and will last much longer.

—from The Slate Roof Poem, by Philip Terman.

Occasional Update #8

Date: Friday June 22nd, 2012

The Midden’s Spring Update



In March we had the chance to host a prospective member named Shawn for a month and are currently going through the process of new membership with Cole. If you wanna live here too, let us know! We continue to try and work against development in the neighborhood.

Us and Spring Changes

At a recent pot luck, there was a question about what ‘who you were 5 yrs ago’ would think of ‘who you are now.’ People’s answers to that question highlight just how much happens with time, how everyone is constantly creating variations of who they are. So, here are some things that we’re up to these days that will make us someone else in 5 years:

Wes has given up screen printing for farm work, Mattie has started his own business called Living Wage Lending and Alex is beginning to get a Masonry business off the ground. Meanwhile, Neb is continuing to develop music and make small fires for audiences on High Street. Death row prisoners receive support from Ben and RedBird Prison Abolition. And last but not least, Kate quit her job and is spending time this summer writing and working around the house.

Mattie also continues to play a mentoring role for students organizing around environmental justice, and in April, Kate, Wes and Ben returned from a month long tour with their play In the Belly. Here’s a picture of us celebrating Student Move Out with a trash cake.

Occasional Update #7

Winter News from The Midden

Hello and sending warm thoughts from Wes, Kate, Ben, Mattie, Alex, and Burglar (yes, a new member!) at the Midden!  As you read this, we are probably all huddled around our new woodstove hatching plans to knock down walls, re-finish floors, paint things, build things, and generally realize our dream to create ‘one big house’, as we like to say.

One big house . . .

As you may or may not know, the house we bought in Columbus used to be a duplex.  We’ve been living mainly on one side, while the other side has been very messy, so the first and main task towards one big house was cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  I think we are all glad that the cleaning part is about finished, and now we get to move on to the fun stuff – renovations!  None of us have ever done home improvement quite on this scale, so we’re in for a fun and exciting learning process.  Our living room is scattered with drafts of crazy awesome ideas – our main criteria seem to be big kitchen and lots of common space. In the upcoming months, we plan to do lots of repairs on both sides of the house.  By the next newsletter we will hopefully have one big house!

Dogs, woodstoves, and other warm things . . .

Between the months of September and November we had 2 break-ins, which left us feeling pretty violated and un-easy.  As a result, we decided that the  house would benefit from having a big dog around.  Now we have Burglar, a 75 pound 11 month old boxer-lab mix, who is more likely to cuddle an intruder to death than bark at him.  Needless to say, Burglar has quickly become an important part of the house as we learn the ups and downs of collectively having an animal.  He belongs to no-one, and we share the tasks of caring for him.  If you come to visit us sometime, just tell him ‘down!’ :)

Occasional Update #6

September 20 2011

Hello Friends!

This summer, things have been really hopping at Community Autonomy! We’ve done a lot of growing as a house, a community and as people.

As a house!

We had a house work party and got a lot done in the yard. We’ve built up a bunch of garden beds to grow more foods for ourselves. We replaced the gutters off one side of the house to grow our water catchment abilities (and shrink the basement’s tendency to collect water). We’ve got so many more exciting plans to transform this space over the next year. We’ve also been calling the house “The Midden” with enough regularity that it just might stick. “Midden” is an archaeological term for a trash heap or rubbish pile. It’s a intriguing place where detritus is collected. In our case, that detritus is re-purposed and transformed into a home!

As a community!

We’re super excited to announce that we’re expanding our membership. Alex and Wes are now provisional members of Community Autonomy. Alex has been active in Columbus Housing Justice and other activist and documentary film projects for a long time. Wes lived with us at king house and has been very involved with RedBird Prison Abolition and Insurgent Theatre. We also hosted a really wonderful provisional member for a month this summer, but he’s instead settled at Acorn Community in VA.

Occasional Update #5

Spring Update — We Did It!
Hello you and hello springtime!  This is Mattie from Community Autonomy, bearing digital greetings and well wishes.  As you know, we are a group of people creating a life together around the principles of egalitarianism, sustainability, accountability, justice, and community in Columbus Ohio.In this spring edition:
- We Did It!
- Ad Seg
- New Economics

We Did It!

Occasional Update #4

Fall Update – Community Autonomy – Bought a House!
Date: December 8, 2010

Hello and happy fall! We have exciting news about our community project here in Columbus.

In this issue:
-New House!
-64 King
-Member News

We bought a new house together on December 1st! It’s a nice duplex on Chittenden Ave with a big south facing backyard, two houses down from our friends. The tentative “land day” is March 1st, with many fix-er-up tasks between now and then. This means we’ll be naming the house (and probably the community project), begin our “egalitarian economics” income/labor share system, and developing a positive relationship with our new neighbors. The house is in an area “in transition”, right on the border between Campus and Weinland Park, which presents particular challenges and opportunities.

In the meantime, 64 King is continuing for the moment as a cooperative house during our transition to the new place. Recent new members have integrated nicely here, and more new folks are lining up to come aboard. Mattie is leading the charge to fix up both houses to get them, as he says, “100 percent!”.

In other member news, Amy is studying to retake the bar exam and continues steady employment, Kate and Ben are developing a new play with friends to take to Florida this winter, Mattie is planning to spend a couple weeks with the Beehive Collective in Maine next month, Micah has cut his hair short and continues to love pizza, and weekly ultimate frisbee may be giving way to spontaneous (indoor) dance parties and aerobics due to cold fingers and toes. We’re all very excited to keep busy and keep each other active and warm through the cold months.

Keep an eye out for our big housewarming party. In the meantime, we welcome any help (tools, labor, pizza…) to fix the place up, and we’ll have bedrooms to spare if you’re interested in joining us!

Community Autonomy

Community Autonomy

Occasional Update #3

Summer Update – Community Autonomy
You’re Buying What?!?

Hi there! This is Mattie from the Community Autonomy project, I hope this message finds you well. :0) As you know, we are a group of people creating a life together around the principles of egalitarianism, sustainability, accountability, justice, and community in Columbus Ohio.

In this summer edition:
- You’re Buying What?!?
- Report: A Month of Touring
- The Big Leap

You’re Buying What?!?
Having completed a round of agreements and visioning, and with some savings and steady income, we’ve been looking at potential properties here in Columbus over the last several months. There have been a couple close calls, which recently led us to nearly buying a 44,000 square foot elementary school on 2 acres here in downtown Columbus. Alas, we could see an uncomfortable amount of daylight through the gigantic roof, and weren’t sure the container was right for this community. So it is! In the meantime, we have some room opening up in our shared house, if you or or someone you know is interested in community-oriented living – just drop us a line.

Report: A Month of Touring
Kate and Ben hit the road again with their show Ulysses’ Crewmen, first performing at the People’s Summit in Toronto, then going to the west coast with a noise musician friend and finishing up with three performances at the Buffalo Infringement festival. Touring is a whirlwind activity, not leaving a lot of time for getting to know people or places, but they made contact with interesting communities and radicals in a few places, notably Salt Lake City, Prescott, Denver, Portland, Olympia, Minot, Madison, and Buffalo.

Occasional Update #2

Subject: Community Autonomy – Spring Update, 4/10
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2010

Hey folks, this is Kate, a new member of the Community Autonomy project (and the 64 King housing co-op!). As you know, we are a group of people creating a life together around the principles of egalitarianism, ecological responsibility, mutual respect & accountability, social justice, and cooperation & community living, currently based in Columbus OH.

This is the blooming spring update on how we’re doing. Enjoy.

In this edition: – Status update – Geography Question – Next Steps

Status Update: Spring is keeping all of us moving – finding suitable employment, checking out possible locations for this community, fixing up our shared house at 64 King, while also pedi-cabbing around Columbus — we’re definitely workin’ it. Since the winter update, we have legally incorporated as Community Autonomy LLC, sent a representative to the bi-annual Federation of Egalitarian Communities assembly, begun an initial form of income sharing, and increased in size by two Provisional Members (I’m one of them!).

All in all there seem to be two sets of present needs and desires within everyone involved. One, to really comb through and examine some of the decisions we need to make, especially on the question of location; and two, to be active, to keep this project moving forward in a concrete way. The latter leading us to continue to check out different cities, develop our income sharing, and also meet and gather good examples of community from others.

Occasional Update #1

Subject: Community Autonomy – Occasional Update, 12/09
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 2009 12:22:51 -0500

Hey there, this is Mattie, Task Tracker and Accountant with the Community Autonomy project. As you know, we are a group of people creating a life together around the principles of egalitarianism, ecological responsibility, mutual respect & accountability, social justice, and cooperation & community living.

This is the first of hopefully many occasional updates we’ll be sending out.

In this edition:
- Status Update
- GeoQuiz/VA-NC Trip
- Next Steps

Status Update
We are settling in for the winter in various ways. One member is exploring possibilities and living their life in the desert southwest, one is at a Buddhist center in California, and of course a couple of us are holding it down here in Columbus. I myself have started doing non-profit door-to-door work 3 days a week which, I can assure you, is a true test of my ability to bear this cold climate!

All in all, there is less immediate cohesion in our group now than there has been in the past. The idea of egalitarian intentional community looms ahead, but lately we seem to be allowing it to come to us in time as much as we are actively seeking it.

GeoQuiz/VA-NC Trip
This spring we started a strategic location search dubbed the GeoQuiz (“An initial gauge of priorities and ideas in Collective geography”). After careful planning, surveys, and analysis, we found that affordable property, cottage industry opportunities, close proximity to cities, length of growing season, and minimizing fossil fuel heating are our top priorities, with several others close behind. If you’d like to know more about the GeoQuiz process and results, I’d be happy to talk more one-on-one.

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