Share or Die
One of the nice things about living at Twin Oaks is the visitors who come through invite you to their homes and offer to share their friends with you. Shortly before we left on this trip, Margarita from Greece suggested we contact her friend Marinos when we arrived in Athens, we did and he invited us to this alternative economy festival.
The organizers of this event were very welcoming of our suggestion that we present about Twin Oaks. Sky and i gave a 40 minute presentation which was followed by 2 full hours of questions. The presentation was the slide show that Sky and Kassia designed. The event was done with alternating translation into Greek, which despite the fact that it slows things down significantly, we still help most of our audience of over 60 people for the whole time. Sky did have to stop me a couple of times as i went into rants about things i was excited about.
In one case we were asked about the composition of the community in terms of race, class, age and gender and i said that Twin Oaks had largely failed in recruiting people of color. The translator said in such a way that some people in the audience thought we were excluding non-whites. Which came up in a subsequent question and i got upset that they thought that this was what we were doing.
One of the first questions we got was about how members could do anything outside the community (especially travel) on the low allowance we received. We explained that this was one of the significant difficulties of living this way. And while there were some fixes to this, including ex-members and many guests being happy to host communards who were traveling, ride shares, and the ability to work extra outside the community – this remained one of the things which discouraged people from choosing this way of living.
After the presentation, Sky and i met with several folks who were in or forming communities or were about to. We told them our experience that if you want to start a new community, it is strongly recommended that you live in one first, so you know what you are getting into. Many of the Greeks we met with were critical of the Greeks ability to cooperate and share. They said that in times past (particularly before Greece was part of the EU) when the country had been poorer, there had been a greater spirit of cooperation and more willingness to participate in collective experiments and systems. Several of the people we talked with felt like the subsidies which Greece had received from the EU over the last 30 years had made the population more selfish and individualistic. Several Greeks felt that the current economic crisis was an opportunity and incentive to return to their more cooperative past and create new communities.
For all our sakes, i can only hope so.