Visiting Twin Oaks - 1998

Shared by Twin Oaks Community
Tags: Visits and Visitors, Behavioral Expectations

Visiting Twin Oaks
Twin Oaks

Visiting Twin Oaks TO-E3

Visiting Twin Oaks 1998

Three Week Visits
Saturday Tours

Twin Oaks is a communal living group in rural central Virginia, made up of 90 adult members and 15 children. Established in 1967, we are self-supporting, self-governing, and partly self-sufficient. No one has to work outside the community. We earn our communal income by various cottage industries, including rope hammocks, book indexing, and tofu production. We grow some of our own food, heat with wood from our own forests, and build our own buildings.

Each member has a private room, and we all share in the numerous public rooms, shops, and other facilities. All of the work of the community-business, domestic, maintenance, childcare, administration, farming, etc--is divided equally among the members and distributed according to personal choice. We work about 46 hours a week, including all domestic chores.

Our beliefs are diverse, but we all practice cooperation, non-violence, and equality. We govern ourselves by a form of democracy with responsibility shared among various managers, planners, and committees.

Our money is spent according to a yearly economic plan which we all help to make. We allow ourselves a small account of private spending money. All necessities and many amenities are provided by the community for all members.

In addition to our three main income areas, we offer wide variety of work options to our members, including gardening, food-processing, cooking, office work, accounting, construction, wood-working, equipment maintenance, childcare, forestry, domestic work, and the list goes on. The 46 hour workweek at Twin Oack is different from the standard 40 hour workweek in mainstream society. At Twin Oaks, "work" includes such activities as washing dishes, shopping, doing laundry, etc. Traditional "women's work" and "men's work" is performed by both women and men. There is a high degree of flexibility in our labor system, with members maintaining a lot of control over when they work and which jobs they do.

Twin Oaks is a busy place, and there are plenty of activities for people to participate in. Visitors are welcome at many of these: rental videos three nights a week, community meetings, Women's Tea, various discussion and support groups, co-counseling sessions, rituals, sweats, volleyball, aerobics, yoga and meditation, crafts, swimming in our pond and river (and skating in the winter), dances and parties, games, ameteur dramatic productions, talent shows, canoeing, woodland walks, bird-watching, skies, sunsets, stars, but no television. We also house an extensive library, including children's books, a large selection of magazines, especially alternative publications, a large music collection of records, tapes and CDs, and various musical instruments including pianos, guitars, recorders, drums, etc. We celebrate the Solstices and Equinoxes, and various other Twin Oaks hoidays.

Twin Oaks diet is as diverse as the membership. There are vegans, vegetarians, meat and potato-eaters, weight watchers, no onion, no egg, no dairy food preferences and several people with food allergies. All are accommodated by the Twin Oaks cooks. We produce a significant amount of our food in the community-fruits, vegetables, dairy products, beef and herbs. We also make a lot of homemade salad dressings, jams, jellies and preserves. Nutritious snacks and herb teas are always available.

Each summer, Twin Oaks hosts a Women's Gathering and a Communities Conference, both of which are attended by upwards of 250 people from the East Coast and nearby regions. We also offer day-long herb workshops several times throughout the summer. Please write us for further information about any of these events.

For more information about Twin Oaks Community, please see our listing in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities brochure "Sharing the Dream". Much of this information is reproduced on the World Wide Web, on our homepage, and on several other related pages. Additional community resources can be accessed through the Communities Directory (see enclosed flyer or contact Twin Oacks for more information) or through the Intentional Communities Web Page. (

Visiting Twin Oaks

There are two ways to visit Twin Oaks. You can come for a three hour tour on a Saturday, or for a three-week visit. Unfortunately we don't have any options for any other length of time. We encourage you to contact other communities in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (especially Acorn, which is 7 miles up the road-see their address at the end of this brochure).

The Saturday Tour: We give tours of Twin Oaks every Saturday in the summer and every other Saturday int he winter. The tour guide will tell you about the history, culture and philosophy of the community and is available to answer any questions you may have. The tour is from 2 - 5 pm, and much of this time is spent walking around the community. Please dress appropriately for theweather, wear comfortable walking shoes, and let us know if you have particular mobility needs.
Please phone or write ahead to double-check that a tour is being offered on the date you want (sometimes we don't offer scheduled tours for various reasons) and to reserve a place on the tour. There is a $3 fee per person for the tour.

The Three Week Visit: The three week visit is a structured program designed to give the visitor some general education and experience in living at Twin Oaks. It is an opportunity for the visitor to consider membership and for the community to consider prospective new members. The visit is a prerequisite to applying for membership (although anyone is welcome to do a 3-week visit whether or not they are interested in applying for membership), and visitors need to spend at least a month away from Twin Oaks at the end of their visitor period. The total fee for the three week visit is $50. This is used to pay for outreach and to offset expenses of the visitor program. If you can't afford to pay the full visitor fee, we can make arrangments for a reduced fee.

The visitor program includes meetings, tours and conversations with members, through which the visitor learns more about what it's like to live at Twin Oaks, including the financial, legal, health, labor, and government structures at Twin Oaks.

Work The visitor takes part in the work of the community, and is required to work 46 hours a week, just as members do. Visitors will be assigned some work, and will have some choice in the types of work they do. Members often invite visitors to work with them on specific projects in a variety of work areas, and interested and/or qualified visitors can often pick up jobs by speaking with the manager of the work area. There are some jobs requiring familiarity with Twin Oaks or specialized skills that visitors do not take part in.

Accomidations Visitors are housed in our 6-bedroom, 2-bathroom visitor building. Depending on the size of the visitor group, you may be asked to share a room with one other visitor. Smoking is not allowed in the visitor building. Your visitor group will meet together to determine quiet hours and cleanliness standards for your group.

What to bring The visitor building is well stocked with bed linen, towels, and toiletries. You should bring clothing and reliable footwear suitable for outdoor work, as well as rain gear. In the winter, bring a heavy jacket and warm shoes or boots. Summers are typically hot and humid; bring light clothing. A flashlight is recommended. Although it is possible to do your entire visitor period without spending any money, you may wish to bring some spending money to buy things not ordinarily provided by the community (eg. junk food, instant coffee, etc). We ask that you not spend more than $60 during this time, as this would exceed the amount of personal spending money available to members, and will give you an idea of this aspect of living at Twin Oaks.

Please Note Visitors are not allowed to bring pets with them. We have a certain number of dogs and cats that live here. If someone wishes to bring their pet after becoming a member, the pet makes a formal visit after the person has become a member, and will have a separate membership poll. You may have to wait months before your pet can visit -- please expect to make arrangements for your pet's care during that time. There are no exceptions to our Pet Waiting List.
Members of Twin Oaks may invite friends or relatives as guests, but we ask that visitors not invite guests.
Please do not bring illegal drugs into the community.
Although Twin Oaks commits to providing for the basic needs of our members, we are only able to provide a limited amount of care related to mental health needs. Basically you need to be able to function well within the work and interpersonal structures of Twin Oaks in order to be accepted for membership. Someone with a history of recent suicidal tendancies, serious substance abuse problems or major, unresolved emotional trauma may have difficulty adjusting to communal life here. In extreme cases, an individual may choose or be asked to leave.

Children Twin Oaks does accept new members with children, but only when there is child space available. Families visit longer than the standard three weeks, and arrangments to visit ar begun by contacting our New Fmily Committee. Please send correspondence attention "Visiting Family Manager".

Arranging a Three Week Visit

A Three Week Visit is arranged through correspondence rather than over the phone. Write us a letter of introduction according to the instructions in the section below. Please send a typewritten letter if possible. Indicate your first, second, and third choices of the dates in the visitor schedule listed in the back of this brochure. The best way to get the visitor session you want is to write well in advance. If you are coming with another person, each of you should write individual letters, rather than a joint letter. You can also email your letter to .

After we receive your letter and preference of dates, we will contact you and confirm your visit. Please let us know as soon as possible if you decide to cancel so we can offer your place to someone else.

If you are under the age of 18, Twin Oaks requires legal consent from a parent or guardian in order for you to visit. Please contact us for further information.

You can phone the community to make inquiries about the community, the visitor program or to get directions, but don't try to schedule your visit over the phone. The best time to phone is during regular office hours (9 to noon and 12:30 to 5:30 weekdays, 9 - 3 Saturday). If you phone after office hours, let the phone ring for a long time--someone will eventually answer.

The Letter of Introduction The letter (1 - 2 pages, typewritten) should tell us your age, your gender, the work or studies in which you are presently involved, your work history, and your hobbies and interests. We would also like to know why you are interested in visiting community, and why you are interested in Twin Oaks. let us know aout any physical ailments or limitations (e.g. back problems) which would prevent you from doing certain kinds of work. Let us know if you have special skills, or work you particularly like or dislike, such as indoor vs outdoor work. If none of these conditions apply to you, it is not necessary to address this in your letter.
Please include the address and phone number or a friend or relative whom we could contact in case of an emergency during your visit. Also include a phone number where you can be reached previous to your visit.
Your letter will be posted for the membership to read. The letter of introduction greatly helps to pave the way for a newcomer to Twin Oaks. Someone in our diverse population is likely to share some of your interests.

Please address all correspondence to:
Visitor Program
Twin Oaks Community
138 Twin Oaks Road
Louisa, VA 23093

Phone: 540-894-5126 Fax: 540-894-4112
Webpage: E-mail: [email protected]

We encourage you to look into visiting other communities int he Federation of Egalitarian Communities. All FEC communities, including Twin Oaks, hold cooperation, nonviolence and income-sharing as values, and our cultures are similar in many respects. Please see the FEC brochure or ask Twin Oaks for more information. Acorn Community can be contacted at 540-894-0582, e-mail: [email protected]

Visitor Dates on Following Page.


January 2 -- January 22
January 30 -- February 19
February 27 -- March 19
March 27 -- April 16
April 24 -- May 14
May 22 -- June 11
June 19 -- July 9
July 17 -- August 6
August 14 -- September 3
September 11 -- October 1
October 9 -- October 29
November 6 -- November 26

All visitor periods start on a Friday and end on a Thursday. Please plan on arriving on Friday before 6 pm. Phone us if you are going to be delayed. Please plan to leave on the Friday following the visitor period.

Do not just drop in at Twin Oaks for any reason. We are not able to deal with people who just show up.

Visiting Twin Oaks Community (1985)

Thank you for your inquiry about Twin Oaks. If you have not already received the Federation of Egalitarian Communities brochure, you will receive it along with this information sheet. It will give you a sense of Twin Oaks and what it is we hope to accomplish here.
Our visitor program is designed primarily for people who are potential members. Therefore we ask that visits be three weeks in length. This seems to be the amount of time it takes for use to become acquainted with each other and to get a sense of how we will live together.
Folks who cannot come for the full 3 weeks due to family, job, or other considerations, please let us know and we will try to work out a mutually satisfactory visiting time.

Saturday Tours

In addition to our visiting program, we also give a tour at 1 o'clock on most Saturdays. This tour allows you to see Twin Oaks and to talk to a member in depth about our community. Bring good walking shoes, you will be walking quite a bit. We do not have tours every week so you must call in advance for tour reservations (703-894-5126). Each participant pays $3.

3 Week Visitor Program
Visitor Periods
Mar. 30-Apr. 19
Apr. 27-May 17
May 25-June 14
June 22-July 12
July 20-Aug. 9
Aug. 17-Sept. 6
Sept. 7-Sept. 27
Oct. 5-Oct. 25
Nov. 2-Nov. 22
Nov. 30-Dec. 20


Your visitor group will have many evening workshops together during your 3 weeks visit. These will include a general orientation session as well as discussion of Twin Oaks' labor system, decision-making systems and child care methods. Your group will also have gatherings with individual members to give you an opportunity to talk to and ask questions of several different members.


If you are interested in joining Twin Oaks you must attend one of our three-week visitor sessions. During your first week here you will probably work 35-40 hours. After that you will be expected to work about the same number of hours members do, 45-49 hours per week, including meetings. We ask this so we will have an indication of how well your work habits fit in with community needs. Because we are are a community that is continually striving to grow and thrive, our emphasis on work is quite strong. At the end of your three week visit you must leave the community for one month. This month is to allow you time to think about what it means to join Twin Oaks and to allow us time to get community input on your visit.


Our visitor program is designed to give you some social contact with many of our members. You may find opportunities for meal-time conversations, participation in evening gatherings, or spontaneous hanging out. Much of our social life revolves around work, and your time in the hammock shop and doing other work is good exposure to life here.


We have fewer bathrooms here per person than you may be used to. Often we share bathroom facilities with each other. Nudity is acceptable in places where we do not come in contact with businesspeople or neighbors.
DRUGS are against the law in Virginia; visitors are asked not to bring them onto our property.


If you have a child, please write to us again and we will let you know if space and facilities are available. If you want to bring your children, you need to visit for 5 weeks rather than 3, in order to see how well your child interacts with ours. We have very limited space in our community for new children.


The fee for a 3-week visit is $10 registration fee to reserve a space in the session refundable if you cancel more than 2 weeks prior to your scheduled visit), and $2 a day after that to help defray costs of food, housing, workshops, etc. (Total cost for a 3-week visit is $50).

**PLEASE DO NOT DROP IN. This is our home and we welcome visitors but we are happiest and friendliest when we have only a few new faces in our home at a time.
**PLEASE DO NOT BRING PETS. Our dogs and cats take several weeks to warm up to new animals-it's not worth it. Thank you for respecting our home.

Saturday Tours $3 per person
Make reservations in advance. We cannot offer transportation, overnight accommodations or meals. The tour begins at 1:00.

3 Week Visit $10 registration, $2 per day; $50 total.

Things to bring:

sleeping bag (light blanket in summer)
work clothes
work boots
work gloves

You will be rooming with one to three other visitors in one of our three visitor rooms. We find that housing you with other visitors helps provide you with a support group during your visit. We don't separate visitors by their sex.
Please bring a sleeping bag in cold weather, or a light blanket for the summer months. We can provide sheets and pillows but you must bring the rest of your bedding. Bring towels and a flashlight. You will probably want some work-type clothes and sturdy shoes. Wintertime here can be cold and sometimes rainy or snowy along with a number of beautiful clear sunny days. Warm clothes, heavy jacket, and a raincoat are appropriate. Fall and spring are usually moderate seasons. Summer is hot and humid enough for swimming in the river to be an everyday occurrence.

Please do not drop in!

Travel Information

Directions from Washington D.C. And Points North
A. Take I-95 to the Thornburg exit (there is a Stuckey's at this exit). Turn right off of exit onto Va. 606. Follow 606 through Snell to where it merges with Va. 208. Follow 208 south for 19 miles. Turn left onto US 522 (skip to C.)

B. Take I-66 to US 29. At Culpeper follow signs to US 522 South.

C. Follow US 522 through Mineral (34 miles). 2 miles (approximately) past Mineral take Va. 605 (522 bends left and 605 goes straight ahead, watch for the sign, this is easy to miss). Follow 605 for 6 miles. Turn right at the sign for the Yanceyville Christian Church (Va. 646). Follow 646 1 mile to just before the bridge (Va. 697). Turn left on 697. Take the second driveway on your left (it's about ¼ mile on 697).

Directions from South of Richmond, Va.
D. Take either I-95 or I-85 to Richmond. Take I-64 west toward Charlottesville. Take Shannon Hill exit (exit 29, Va. 605). Turn right (North) on Va. 605. (skip to F.)

E. Take US 29 to Charlottesville. Take I-64 east toward Richmond. Take the Shannon Hill exit (exit 29, Va. 605). Turn left (north) on 605.

F. Take 605 north for 4 miles. Turn left at the sign for the Yanceyville Christian Church (Va. 646). Follow 646 1 mile to just before the bridge (Va. 697). Turn left on 697 for ¼ mile. Take the 2nd driveway on your left.

Travel Information

Trailways Bus Schedule (804) 295-5750 or (804) 285-5131
(Don't take Greyhound)
From Richmond to Shannon Hill Fare 2/85

Leave 10:00am Arrive 11:06am $8.00
Leave 3:30pm Arrive 4:30pm $8.00

From Charlottesville to Shannon Hill

Leave 7:50am Arrive 8:30am $7.00
Leave 5:15pm Arrive 5:45pm $7.00

Call us from Richmond or Charlottesville and we will pick you up at Shannon Hill. There is no phone at Shannon Hill. Remind the bus driver not to skip the Shannon Hill stop.

--Shannon Hill is much closer to Twin Oaks. Please try to take the Shannon Hill bus--

From Wash. D.C. To Gordonsville Circle Fare 2/85

4:15am 6:30am $14.75
8:45am 11:00am $14.75
7:00pm 9:15pm $14.75
Friday only:
5:15pm 7:30pm $14.75
Remind the Bus Driver not to skip the Gordonsville Circle stop. There is a pay phone at Gordonsville Circle.

**PLEASE call us if you can't make it, so we can accept other visitors.

Arranging a Visit

1.Write us a letter about yourself, including your background, why you are attracted to community, what in particular attracts you to Twin Oaks, and where you heard about Twin Oaks. This will give the community and opportunity to know a little about you before you arrive.
Your first work week schedule will be prepared before you arrive. So, to match you with appropriate work let us know if you have any work limitations, such as a bad back or allergies; special skills, such as carpentry or typing; or work you tend to prefer or dislike, such as outdoor work or office work. Also include your phone number.
2.Indicate your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices of visiting periods and send the $10 registration fee. If we can't schedule you, or if you cancel with at least two week's advance notice, your money will be refunded. If you can, please send an additional $2 to help defray costs of postage and handling.
3.After we have received your letter and requested visiting dates, we will let you know when your visit is scheduled.

Write to:

Visitor Program
Twin Oaks Community
Louisa, Va 23093

or call: (703) 894-5126
**Please call us if you can't make it, so we can accept other visitors.**


The Leaves of Twin Oaks is a newsletter published 4 times a year that gives an honest portrayal of life at Twin Oaks. The growth and development of the community is described in articles written by our members. (4 issues): $3 North America, $6 foreign countries and institutions.
Address orders to: Leaves of Twin Oaks
Rt. 4 Box 169
Louisa, Va. 23093

Communities: Journal of Cooperation is a quarterly magazine published by and for people involved in cooperative living. Communities explores and reports on the development of intentional community; people deciding to build together in rural communes, urban coops, and neighborhoods.
Address orders to: Communities Magazine
The Stelle Group
Box 312
Stelle, IL 60919

The Directory of Intentional Communities is a regular feature of Communities. Published every other year, it is a complete listing of intentional communities and living cooperatives. $3.50 a copy. $5.00 foreign.

The Guide to Cooperative Alternatives is a book published in 1979 which features articles, essays and hundreds of resources on the cooperative movement. $5.00 a copy. $6.00 foreign.

A Walden Two Experiment is a book by Kat Kinkade, a member and founder of Twin Oaks. This book covers the first five years of Twin Oaks. $7.50 (paperback).

Living the Dream is a more current description of what life is like at Twin Oaks. Published in 1982 by Ingrid Komar. $26 (hardback). Soon to come out in paperback. Write if you are interested in the paperback edition of this book.

Both Twin Oaks books together: $32
Address orders to: Books
Twin Oaks Community
Louisa, VA 23093