Friday, September 14, 2012

Update 2: The Acorn Community

Acorn is at least three different things: an egalitarian community, a farm, and a business (Southern Exposure Seed Exchange).

As a community it is an outgrowth of and sister to the Twin Oaks community (which I will visit in November) and they compare themselves to Twin Oaks a lot.  Some differences which were pointed out to me in my orientation here are that Acorn operates by consensus  (whereas Twin Oaks has a complicated Planner/Manager system) and Acorn members don't need to fill out labor sheets--although visitors like me do.  Both Twin Oaks and Acorn require members and visitors to work 42 hours a week.

Here at Acorn work can be farm work in the gardens or with the animals (I've been doing some weeding), office work (I've spent a lot of time packing seeds for SESE), or house work (I've been doing some clean up after the meals and did the dishes once--which is a lot of dishes when it covers breakfast and lunch for around forty people).

As a farm, it has extensive plantings--plus chickens, rabbits, and goats.  However, most of the plantings are in support of the seed business--food is usually grown for the seeds rather than as food. Someone said that what was left after the plant reached the seed stage and had the seeds taken out was not thrilling food.  They buy most of their food from local farmers (and occasionally dumpster dive some).

The seed business is what keeps Acorn going--it's the community's work and they're very serious about it.  Most of their seed is organic, as well as adapted to the area, and much of it is heirloom varieties.  They see this as righteous work, something they believe it, and it also makes quite a bit of money for the community.  They feel lucky to have something that can support them well that they also feel so good about.

Acorn is a spinoff from the Twin Oaks community (see my post on Communities of Communities, 6/9/12, for details) and has been around for nineteen years now.  At the moment they are so full that all the visitors are staying in tents in the woods on their property.  They tell folks that even if they are accepted for membership it may be at least six months before there could be an opening that allow moving in.  The place is full, the waiting list is long, and the people here work hard.  This is a community that's working.

Quote of the Day:  " Our community encourages personal responsibility, supports queer and alternative lifestyles, and strives to create a stimulating social, political, feminist and intellectual environment....
"Remember, this stuff is hard! Living and working together, having fun and running a business, making decisions together and sharing income, are all challenging every day." - from the Acorn Website


Austan said...

From my short excursions into large communal living, I know how much work there is to do. For the one & two-week stints I've done it was cool. Don't know if I'd want it as a steady diet though.

Glad to hear you're out in the midst of it all, soaking it up!

vera said...

God I hate blogspot! It's eaten my comments too many times to count.

It's good to hear Acorn is thriving. 6 years ago, they were depressed and lacking in members. What a turnaround!

They work too hard though... eh?

MoonRaven said...

Austan: I'd love to hear more your 'excursions' into communal living at some point. Thanks for your comment.

Vera: The reason I'm so slow at responding is that Acorn's computers wouldn't let me comment. (I'm now briefly back in the Boston area.) Yeah, it is pretty wild that they are doing so well. A long term person there told me that a few years ago they were down to something like six members and several years back they went down to two people for a little while. He attributed them getting through all that to two things: Twin Oaks, and Ira, who has been there from the beginning. If a community needs to survive, it helps to have a good infrastructure (like the support of a big,strong nearby community) and at least one very dedicated member.

Thanks for your comment.

amulet pendant for good luck said...

It's interesting community.

MoonRaven said...

It sure is.