it’s been a busy time at Twin Oaks since I posted last. The big news on the commune is that Pier One, our biggest hammocks customer, has decided they don’t want to sell hammocks anymore. They’re loosing money, so they want to build a new image, and hammocks don’t fit that image.

So now our annual income is going a couple hundred thousand dollars less than usual. We’ve been having community meetings in abundance and talking and brainstorming about next steps. We’re looking at ways to save money, short-term and long-term, and ways of making more money, short-term and long-term. I’m loving it. It’s really drawing out the intentional part of this intentional community; we’re being forced to ask basic questions about what we want our lives to look like. Do we want to make more money? How much are we, individually and as a group, willing to sacrifice for financial abundance… or just financial stability? What kinds of new work do we want to be doing? Do we want to find another huge corporation to sell our products? (my answer, of course, is a resounding “no!”)

We’re looking at ways we can be more self sustaining, and that process is invigorating to my ideals of creating a sustainable earth. We’re pushing to stop buying banannas and oranges when we have an abundance of canteloupe and watermelon right from our gardens. We’re talking about more people getting trained in equipment maintenance so we can fix more things ourselves instead of sending them off to mechanics (we try to do that as much as possible right now, but the handful of folks who know how to fix things get burned out after the fourth refridgerator breakdown in one week!)

Looking at new possibilities for earning money is also thrilling. For the short-term, the opportunity I’m most excited about is substitute teaching (I know, I must be sadistic). I’m excited about it because it means connecting more with the local community, being of immense service (I’m a “2” on the enneagram scale), and doing this “social change work” on a more immediate level (balancing the revolutionary idealism of culture creation on the commune with an intense hit of immediate needs and challenges). Both of my parents and my brother are teachers, so it must run in the family.

Lots of long-term possibilities have been brainstormed, from expanding our current tofu and book-indexing businesses, to entirely new endeavors… like providing elderly care and recording audio books (my favorite).

It’s been exhilarating to see the people of the community engaging in this process. Many folks are really jumping in and taking on responsibilities and moving forward with integrity and determination. Our recent community meetings have been intense and rich. There’s a combination of excitement and fear that could be a recipe for charged conflict and tension. Instead, there’s a lot of respect, listening, and appreciation. It seems like something that people are appreciating most is the openness of the process and the accessibility of information about what’s going on. We trust each other more when there’s an abundance of information, and when we feel our concerns have been heard. The recent slew of community meetings have allowed for that, and it’s changing the culture of the community. And I love it.

in other news, my birthday was yesterday and Dar Williams wished me a happy birthday from the stage twice when she played at FloydFest! A friend of mine ran up on stage and gave her a note, and then she said “Where’s Kate?” (I raised my hand) “It’s Kate’s birthday today and her friends love her”. Later in the evening she played again and she saw me in the audience and asked me what song I wanted to hear! Ahh… I’m starstruck.

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