Saturday, November 21, 2015

Acorn: Ten Learnings

I’ve been to Acorn several times during the last three years, for two or three weeks at a time, and I’m always impressed with the energy and creativity of the place.

  1. The Clearness Process This is related to but different from the Quaker process.  At Acorn this is a way to make sure that people are ‘clear’ with each other by checking in with every member.  I think it’s pretty effective.
  2. The Seed Business  Acorners run Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, which is a company focused on selling heirloom seeds and ecologically grown seeds.
  3. Young Energy  While there are some folks there in their forties, fifties, and sixties, there is a significant clump of folks in their twenties who bring a lot of ideas and enthusiasm and willingness to try new things.  
  4. Consensus Decision Making  I’ve heard folks complaining that consensus is difficult to do in groups larger than a dozen and that it’s not done in newer communities (they’re talking about anything not formed in the sixties and seventies).  Acorn has thirty members and was formed in 1993 and makes all decisions by consensus--and has done very well with this.
  5. The Rec Collective  A cute little building where someone put six bunks on the wall to house short term folks.  (See my post on Becoming MoonRaven, Sleeping Submarine Style, and Other Tales from the Communes, 3/21/15.)
  6. The New Seed Building  This houses SESE and has all the offices and packing and picking facilities.  Plus it has a gorgeous mural that was created with help from members of the Little Flower Catholic Worker house. I think it’s a great looking building (and the photo shows the building, mural, and a bunch of Acorn members).
  7. Goats & Pigs & Chickens & Dogs & Cats & Rabbits  If you like animals, they have them at Acorn--all of the above plus a lonely cow that wandered into the place and they house with the goats.
  8. Using Bamboo  They planted bamboo as a privacy screen and it got out of control (as it often does).  As a result, they’ve used bamboo to create all kinds of structures, from canopies above stages to bike sheds.
  9. More Options for Non-Members   Where most places just have visitors, and Twin Oaks has two categories: Visitors (who are in a structured visiting program) and Guests (who are people hosted while they’re there by members), Acorn has both of these plus Interns (who stay for longer periods) and Associates (who are semi-members that are at Acorn part time)
  10. More Open to Non-Member Involvement  Acorn is also more flexible about what non-members can do.  For example, at Twin Oaks, only members are supposed to be able to use ‘Commie Clothes’, but at Acorn, it’s open to visitors, guests, etc.

Next, ten learnings from Dancing Rabbit

Quote of the Day:  "An egalitarian, income-sharing, secular, anarchist, feminist, consensus-based intentional community. Supporting radical sharing, positive communication, compassion, consent culture, sustainability, and anti-oppression activism. Living free of hierarchy and coercion." - Description of Acorn Community from their website


vera said...

Um. Love your series. At the same time, I note some discomfort with you describing "young energy." It kinda sounds as though older folks are not willing to try new things. Yet both you and I prove that wrong. :-)

Bamboo got out of control in EH as well. Urban folks going rural and not having enough of a clue, I say. And permies feeling too full of themselves to exercise caution.

MoonRaven said...

Thanks, Vera,

As you note, older folks are often willing to try new things, and you and I are great examples. And I know of younger folks reluctant to take risks. Still, as a group, younger folks are more up for adventure and I think this accounts for Acorn's greater willingness to experiment and try things than Twin Oaks (for example). (And this may also be a case of younger community vs older community.) Maybe I'm off, but it seems that way to me.

As for bamboo, someone pointed out you need to plan for what you're going to do with it (and I mean lots of projects) or have some clear way to contain it, before you plant it.

I'm glad you're enjoying the series. I hope it's helpful for a bunch of people thinking about community.