I just got back from spending three weeks at the Acorn Community in Virginia. Faithful readers (if I have any left) might remember that I began my community-seeking travels there back in September of 2012, a year and a half ago. (See my posts entitled Update 2: The Acorn Community, 9/14/12, and Update 3: Life on the Farm, 9/23/12.) At that time I went exploring the possibility of joining Acorn as a member. This time I went for completely different reasons.
I'm currently involved with a group exploring building a community in the Hudson Valley of New York (at some point I will blog about this--hopefully when it's clearer what we are doing), and went to Acorn for several reasons.
The first is that I'd like to see our community become part of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. (I wrote a little bit about the FEC in my post on Egalitarian Communities, 10/22/08--basically these are secular income-sharing communities.) The FEC was having its Assembly (a gathering of member communities) at Acorn this year and I came as an unofficial representative of our group. (Unofficial because, although I'm not the only one in our group that hopes we can eventually be part of the FEC, we haven't come to any agreement about what kind of community we will be.)
Full FEC members prior to this meeting, were Acorn, Twin Oaks (I've written a bunch about TO, including Real Models 1:Twin Oaks, 9/30/10, Update 6: Life at Twin Oaks, 12/4/12, and Snow, Darkness, and Fire, 3/13/13), East Wind (in southern Missouri--I've never visited there but I hear interesting stories about them), Sandhill (in northern Missouri, I posted on them as Sandhill Farm, 6/8/13), The Midden (an urban community in Columbus, Ohio that I've never visited but would like to someday), and the Emma Goldman Finishing School (in Seattle, Washington). All of these communities sent delegates except Emma Goldman.
There were also delegates from a bunch of other communities that were either Communities in Dialogue (and wanting to be full members) or communities wanting to be Communities in Dialogue. These included Living Energy Farm (Which I wrote about as Update 7: Living Energy Farm, 12/8/12), the Possibility Alliance (I wrote about them in The Possibility Alliance, 6/11/13), Sapling (a new community--an offshoot from Acorn--just starting in Louisa county, and located halfway between Acorn and Twin Oaks), and CRIChouse (a community in California). There were also some presentations from a project that a couple of folks at Acorn are doing to create urban communes along the East Coast, a project that they're calling 'Point A'. (I briefly alluded to this in my last post, A Long Pause, where I mentioned getting into dialog with someone wanting "to create urban activist communities." This was second reason I was at Acorn.)
Some highlights from the few sessions that I attended is that Living Energy Farm is now a full member, and Sapling, CRIChouse, and the Possibility Alliance are all now Communities in Dialogue. Unfortunately, the FEC has not (as of this writing) updated their website to reflect all these changes. Hopefully this will change soon. I'm personally excited that the FEC is growing--hopefully, in a few years, it may include the community I'm part of starting, and maybe a few urban communes coming out of Point A as well. (Point A folks are hoping to have their first communities up in running some time in 2015.)
Some of my other reasons for being at Acorn were to catch up with some of what was going on down in Louisa county (I got to find out more about Sapling and the current state of Living Energy Farm, for example), to see how things were going at Acorn itself (after two major fires in the last year--see my posts on Snow, Darkness, and Fire, 3/13/13, and Issues in Community: Recruitment, 11/11/13, for a bit about these--and some major new construction, I wanted to see how they were doing), getting a hit of community living in a well functioning community, and learning some skills about rural living from living in a rural community.
I'm pleased that Acorn is doing well. The building I stayed in and worked in didn't exist the last time last time I was there. It's called the Seed Palace and, although it isn't finished, it's in pretty good shape. Heartwood, site of the arson attempt, was in pretty good shape as well. It, too, is still a construction zone, but they were finishing rebuilding the kitchen and were just starting to use it while I was there. (The steel building, site of the first fire, was apparently only cleaned out and reused, even though it's not in very good shape. It's mostly used for storage and what I heard is that it leaks but they have simply thrown tarps over stuff stored in the leaky areas.)
As for my plans to do things, I had been sick before I arrived and discovered that the more I did, the sicker I got. Although I was able to help briefly with the goats there and got to feed a baby calf, mostly I worked with the seeds. Acorn runs a major seed business (Southern Exposure Seed Exchange) and I ended up doing a lot seed work--packing seeds, picking seeds, counting seeds, etc. It wasn't very strenuous work, so that's how I ended up spending lots of my time there.
Overall, I'm glad I went. I talked with a bunch of folks there about our community endeavor and got some good feedback. I was also able to do some outreach, posting a flyer at Acorn, and sending flyers to be posted at Twin Oaks, Sandhill, East Wind, and the Possibility Alliance. And it was good to get another taste of well functioning community.
Quote of the Day: "Being a thriving anarchist community (and consequently not having any bosses or supervisors) we are necessarily committed to a culture of personal responsibility; effective and healthy communication; and being serious about getting done what needs to get done on our farm. We are fairly hard-working ... We enjoy the hard work because it is our livelihood (that which provides us with direct connection to the healthy, cruelty & exploitation free food that we grow and nurture; as well as our shelter which we build), rather than a job which has no meaningful connection to that which we truly value in life and only provides money to buy things which we have no insight into or connection to. Its the difference between making a life and making a living." - from the Acorn website