I see living in community and being an activist as very compatible, and
even complementary. Living lightly and sharing things, rather than
working solely for oneï¿½s own profit at the expense of others, is in
itself a strong personal repudiation of capitalistic and overly
competitive values. Additionally, the outreach work we do through
recruiting, hosting visitors, offering tours to the public, and writing
about ourselves sends the message that ï¿½another world is indeed
possible, here is our model of what it might look like, take from it
what you will.
I've seen many a skeptic turn out to be impressed after a tour
with our strategies for resource sharing, alternative economics, and so
on. I also think that living in community opens up resources for
activism that aren'T available to most people leading mainstream lives.
Being able to set our own work schedules gives us the freedom to work
with activist groups and attend numerous conferences and political
At Twin Oaks, we can get work hours for a variety of projects ï¿½
volunteering at a shelter, cooking for homeless people, helping with
anti-nuclear lobbying - through the semi-annual labor budgeting
process, which allows such requests to be funded if enough members feel
such work to be consistent with our values and desires. Personally,
I've been funded to attend several activist conferences and to work
with Richmond Food Not Bombs while living here.
Living at Twin Oaks is a direct reflection of my desire to impact the
world, even in a small manner. By being a part of this community, I
help to strengthen it and maintain it as model and force for positive
change in society. It is my firm belief that "community", in whatever
form it may appear, is necessary for human development, be that
economic, spiritual, emotional, or political.
But here at Twin Oaks, there is an even greater ability to
shape things. The community actively supports those members who desire
to get involved in political/environmental/social/and even spiritual
activism. Each year a certain amount of money and hours goes to a
branch called Movement Support, of which I am a part. Members of the
community request funds and time for those projects and activities they
support, and these are allocated after discussion and a vote.
Personally, I have received substantial help in being actively involved
with groups dedicated to Middle East peace, such as the Tikkun
Community, and the Coalition of Peace and Justice. Thanks to the help
of my community via Movement Support, I have been able to attend
activist meetings in Washington, DC and dedicate some time to computer
work in support of their activities. A few of the other organizations
which I am involved in are World Federalists, Global Non-Violent Peace
Force, and the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice.
Now, Twin Oaks is one member of the FEC, the Federation of
Egalitarian Communities, the umbrella group of all the similar
communities in North America. The FEC itself also encourages
individuals to work for their beliefs and values, and has set aside
funds for this purpose. Through their generosity and support, I have
received partial funding to attend a Summer Peace University and Middle
East Peace Camp this August at Tamera Community in Portugal (they are
associated with the ZEGG Community in Germany). Additional funds and
hours for this important project have come from Twin Oaks Movement
Support, Weeds & Knots, and friends.
A note here about Weeds & Knots is also in order. This
unique concept was established in order to help Twin Oaks members fund
personal interests and projects (Weeds & Knots is a play on Needs
and Wants). Members make requests to this area and they are approved as
resources are available. These requests are not necessarily connected
to member activism, but they certainly can be, as is in my instance. I
have also received help from them concerning my activities in
Finally, there are my friends......other members who so much
support certain projects that they are willing to transfer their hard
earned vacation hours to the person involved. Here at Twin Oaks, you
need to simply post an explanation of what it is you are planning to
do, and request hours from whoever is willing and able to give. This is
another way that personal activities can be realized.
When I look objectively at the arrangement, I realize that I am
in a virtually ideal environment for getting involved in these
projects. There is help from a variety of sources, and it is unusual
that at least a large chunk would not be somehow supported. Unless I
were financially independent and didn't need to work, or engaged in
full-time employment for a certain cause, I truly don't see how I could
be in a better situation to impact the world in my own image.
I am indebted to the community and the FEC for giving me these opportunities!