Emma Goldman Finishing School

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phone: 206/324-6822

address: 1309 13th Ave. S. Seattle, WA 98144

email: egfs@riseup.net

web: egfs.org


Founded in 1996, the Emma Goldman Finishing School is an intentional community in the North Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Formerly known as the Beacon Hill House, we changed our name in November 2003.

Our community is based on the principles of societal change, egalitarianism, non-violence, ecology, simplicity, community living. Our home is a fun and supportive place to live, and it is also an institution working to build economic, political, and cultural alternatives. We see ourselves as part of a growing infrastructure designed to oppose and replace the dominant system. As an egalitarian community, we value our labor equally.

Some of us work more hours at jobs which bring in money, others work more around the house and on community projects. Regardless, we all contribute equal time. Every member is able to have all their basic needs met by the community, including food, shelter, transportation, health care, and retirement.

Currently, the community consists of eight residents, five women and three men, ranging in age from their mid twenties to late forties. We are writers, musicians, socal workers, activists, gardeners, dancers, educators, anarchists, nurses, queers, geeks, unionists, kayakers ,artists, athletes, and revolutionaries.

We currently have openings for 4 long-term members, and are especially interested in folks in their 30s, 40s, 50+s. Although we work to maintain gender and age balance and to preserve our community's values and politics, we welcome all ages, ethnicities, abilities, orientations, and class.

For more detailed info about who we are, check out our website

Emma Goldman Finishing School


Below are stories, blogs and articles on Emma Goldman's Finishing School.

Emma Goldman Finishing School is Seeking New Members

We are looking for new members at the Emma Goldman Finishing School (an egalitarian housing community in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle). We are, like a lot of people all over the place, trying to figure out how to have different relationships with each other and the world. We think the world is burning and the time to collaborate and try and struggle and work is now. We would love for a group of 2-5 people who know and love each other to move in, as this has worked well in the past and we have a number of openings. Individual members would be great, too.

Our community started fourteen years ago when a bunch of radicals pooled their resources together and bought a funky old twelve-bedroom house. They turned it into an egalitarian commune where people lived together and experimented with different economic and political models. For example: we save up money every month in the hopes of seeding other radical and egalitarian communities in Seattle, and have a time-based micro-economy where everyone's time is valued the same as everyone else's. Core to our project is that people need a strong home-base to be effective and healthy activists, organizers, and humans, and that we should try to live with each other in more egalitarian and humane ways. To that end, everyone who lives here has healthy food, transportation, health care, and a safe and cozy place to call home.

We are just one strategy amongst many social justice projects in this town, this country, and this world. We don't have all the answers. We don't even know all the questions. We are messed up and problematic in interesting and specific ways, and could write tell-all books about the missteps and heartaches of life at Emma's. Another way of saying this is that we are a human project made up of humans. At the very least, we are an excellent training ground in direct democracy, and all the messiness that horizontal structures bring. And on our good days, we're a lot more than that.

Emma's Community Report

Happy spring from Emma’s! And it is starting to feel like spring here in Seattle. Yesterday the sun was out in full force, people were walking the streets in shirtsleeves, and the cherry trees and daffodils have bloomed. The warmer air (and rain ?) are a welcome change from what was a winter of abnormal snow. In December and January we had snow that shut down the city! At first the urban winter wonderland was a fun change that had us all inside crafting, cooking, eating, relaxing with our friends and fellow communards. But after a few weeks, that got old.

So now we’re busy planning our garden for the summer, cover-cropping, composting, starting seedlings. Along with a group of other urban farmers that calls itself Food Not Lawns, Marc built a greenhouse at a collective house a short walk away, so now we have a place to nurture our baby plants. In addition, our neighbor is letting us use part of his yard as garden space, so we’re looking forward to an even bigger garden this year. We’re also still participating in the collective farm Shoulder to Shoulder, growing some of our produce on Vashon Island.

This winter we also were able to host many great guests, including family and friends of our members, past Emmunards, friends in the wider communities movement in the region, and activists from the arts education collective The Beehive who were in town on their national tour. You can check out their work at www.beehivecollective.org.

The last couple of months have felt empty at Emma’s with Johanna, Sheldon, and their daughter Ruby on leave in Vermont. After the passing of Sheldon’s mother, they decided to spend a few months with their family on the East Coast, connecting with loved ones there and having a break from life-as-usual in Seattle. We’ll be happy to have them back home in May.

Emma Goldman Finishing School Community Report

This past year has been one full of changes. The biggest being the birth of our first baby, Ruby, who is the daughter of Johanna and Sheldon. As a community, we’ve been learning how to support new parents, how to do baby sign language, and how to relate with this little one. It has been a challenging and rewarding learning opportunity for us. Now, Ruby is walking/tottering and that is bringing with it a whole new set of fun and challenging things.

Also, we have seen some dramatic membership flux. After taking on two new adult members and two children in the fall of 2007, in the summer of 2008 one of our adult couples, and our new member and her two children moved on. So there was that. But we also had the blessing of bringing on our newest member Wilson. That brings us to our current membership of 7 adults (Sheldon, Johanna, Addy, Monica, Marc, Patience, Wilson) and 1 Ruby, which means we have 5 rooms available.

We decided to open up two of the rooms for non-membership-seeking subletters, and have Marc’s partner Tamara filling one room, and our past member Thea (also of Sandhill) in the other for the winter months. We’re excited to have their upbeat energy and great skills around Emma’s.

Each year, we are expanding our own food production, and this year we joined a collective farm on Vashon Island, which is just a ferry ride away. We have 1 out of 8 shares, where we put in $400 upfront, do 6 hours of a labor a week, and get our share of the harvest. That in addition to what we grow in our own garden has made it so that we have a pretty decent produce supply in the summer months. We’re planning on continuing this next year.


"Portland is where the zeitgeist in America is," Thomas, another Twin Oaks refugee, said to me recently.
"The what?" I asked.
"It's a German word. It means 'spirit of the age.'"

Intuitively I understood what he meant. I also understood why I'm so attracted to Portland. I've always been attracted to the cutting edge, the newest, deepest understanding of, well, just about anything. And in particular, as I have begun to think more and more in terms of what I should do with my life to create the greatest possible good in the world, Portland's identity as the premier green city in the country is a big draw.

Identity isn't enough. There seems to be a reality backing it up. Brush at Tryon Life Community Farm said to me, "the city likes the attention and realizes that it's because of all these young radicals doing interesting things, but the city's not quite sure what to do with them. There are more and more coming, but there are also people who are attracted to Portland who are just going to live mainstream lifestyles. That's easier to plug in on. So we've got to give these radicals things to do that will also allow them to afford to live here."

Emma Goldman's Finishing School in YES Mag

Check out this article in YES Magazine:

A Taste of Freedom at Home

by Adam & Kibby MacKinnon

“I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things.”

Emma Goldman (1869-1940)

Let's say you're a typical wage-slave: you work a 40-hour week—at least 160 hours a month—on top of which you've got a nasty, desensitizing commute. What little time you have left you spend feeding yourself, and then collapse in front of a DVD.

Come Together, Emma Goldman's Finishing School in This Magazine

Highly organized and efficient—and far from being marginal, they're
tackling some of today's most puzzling social problems. Cheri Hanson
tours a few of the best examples.

By Cheri Hanson, This Magazine

What do intentional communities look like? Maybe your mind has
already hit image overdrive: hippie crash pads littered with bongs;
tie-dye decor; Jimi Hendrix wafting through the marijuana haze;
blenders clogged with organic sludge; dogs, goats and chickens ranging
around a ramshackle farmyard; dysentery.

Clichés? Absolutely. And in today’s intentional communities,
these scenarios are not just stereotypical—they’re completely
inaccurate. Across North America, and around the world, thousands of
people are living collectively. Rather than dropping out of mainstream
society, many of these groups are committed to revolution from within.
Some even work closely—take a deep breath here—with their local
governments, rather than rallying against them. Clearly, the times they
are a-changing.

“All through history, intentional communities have been like
society’s research and development centres,” says Geoph Kozeny, a U.S.
community consultant, filmmaker and self-proclaimed zealot for the
co-operative living cause. Despite often being “seen as weird,” says
Kozeny, alternative community-builders are pioneers searching for new
ways to address ongoing human concerns. Economics, environmental
sustainability, urban alienation—these are hardly fringe issues.

Every group has its own vision, but rather than surrendering
their lives to social accident, intentional communities are all
tackling human challenges with practical idealism—tie-dye and daisy
wreathes optional.


From the outside, the Cranberry Commons development in Burnaby,
B.C., looks like any other family-oriented condo project. The neutral,
peak-roofed buildings hug an inner courtyard littered with toys and

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

The Revolution of Everyday Life

Emma Goldman Finishing School is a Beacon Hill anarchist commune whose
members are trying to live their revolution one day at a time.
By George Howland Jr.
It's midnight on Saturday, May 20, in the parking lot of a
natural-foods supermarket on the Eastside, and two of the members of
the Emma Goldman Finishing School (egfs.org), a 10-year-old, 10-member
commune on Beacon Hill, are doing their weekly food shopping. Emma's
Sasha Berkman (not his real name), 32, who co-founded and works for a
nonprofit computer collective, is inside the supermarket Dumpster
methodically going through the bags of garbage. An intensely skinny man
who suffers from Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammation of the
intestinal tract, Berkman is wearing gloves with blue rubber palms and
cotton backing and carries a non-battery-operated flashlight that
requires frequent noisy cranking to work. The Dumpster stinks. As
Berkman sorts through the garbage, the sound of glass breaking
reverberates off of the Dumpster's metallic walls. He starts handing
out treasures to another of Emma's members, Thea Schnase, 25, and a
houseguest from Canada, who are standing next to the Dumpster dressed
in beat-up work clothes. First he passes out jars of curry sauce. Next
comes cooked butternut squash in a microwaveable bag, then a plastic
container of muffins, apples, and pints of organic strawberries.

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