It’s been a long week here on the commune — last week at this time I was still in DC for the Inauguration protests, and I returned late Friday night to a snow- and ice-covered community.  I’ve been deep into Cabaret rehearsals all week — on Sunday I spent 7 hours working on the show!  It’s so nice to get labor credit for doing something that I love…

We had parties three nights in a row last week — on Monday, two Twin Oaks bands (the Vulgar Bulgars and Super Daughter) played at a bar in Charlottesville.   A bunch of Oakers went in and I had another “on the town with 20 of my closest friends” experience.  I loved watching other people watch us, seeing such a large group of people with such obvious connections with and affection for each other.  Sometimes I wonder if we appear too “cultish”, especially as we all pile out of our 15 passenger van… I guess we either look like a cult or a church youth group.

The next night we had a Twin Oaks version of an open mic, which we call a “coffeehouse
” (I’ve talked about these before).  As always, I was struck with a mushy love bug for all of my fellow communards as they jumped up to the front
of the audience to share themselves in their own ways.  We had a hilarious puppet show (a parody of a chaotic travelling puppetista performance that happened here about a week ago), belly dancers, guitar players, a trombone player, onomatopeic police cars, a cappella singers, the Vulgar Bulgars, and a couple more hilarious puppet
shows.   I’m always floored by the onslaught of appreciation we have for each other at events like this.  People share themselves in such creative and often vulnerable ways, performing songs they’ve written or singing a much-loved song boldly and off-key.  We seem to appreciate each other more for the willingness to share than for the overall
quality of the final result.  And I love that.

The night after the coffeehouse, this month’s visitor group hosted their goodbye party.  Each month we have a group of 3-10 visitors here for 3 weeks as a way to learn about this place, and often at the end of their time here they throw a party to say goodbye.  This group decided to have a “Carnival” themed party, so a bunch of us went up into “Commie
Clothes” (our communal cache of clothes available to any member) and found wacky costumes.  We went to the party, which the visitors held in our 6 bedroom visitor cabin.  We crammed into the living room and drank beer (delightfully provided by the visitors, who on average have more disposable income than your typical communard!) and ate little pies and chatted like old friends.  As a community, we go through this every month, so visitor parties are fun and festive.  For the visitors, though, it’s a pretty significant rite of passage, I think.  Their three weeks are often intensely transformative, and the party is a way of letting go and saying goodbye, to the community and to each other
within the group.  The group lives together for three weeks, forming their own sub-community within Twin Oaks.  Two other people from my 6-person visitor group ended up moving here a few months after I did, and we still share a bottle of wine on the anniversary of our initial arrival to Twin Oaks.

In other commune news: because of our economic “austerity” (due to losing Pier One as a hammocks customer), we’ve stopped buying communal coffee.  People now have to buy it themselves (we all get a small monthly allowance of $70 for personal spending), and there’s quite an obvious coffee-crisis culture emerging here.  A buyer’s club is
forming.  Casual support groups form over lunch to talk about how their coffee withdrawal is going.   People are having “lack of coffee” nightmares.  Not much of a coffee drinker, I watch with curiosity.  Buying coffee has been a long-standing debate within the community.  We don’t collectively buy cigarettes or alcohol, so why should the community support an addiction to caffeine?  That’s the question… and lots of people, including non-coffee drinkers, answer: because it makes the community a more enjoyable place to be for a significant number of people.  “I don’t want to be around ‘Anonymous Co’ when co hasn’t had co’s morning coffee!”

On the other hand, the catalogue company LL Bean is inquiring about the possibility of us making thousands of hammocks for them.  Questions abound in the community… wouldn’t this be just the same as Pier One?  Do we want to be relying on one large account for a significant fraction of our income?  Do we want to be working for another
corporation that caters to rich people?  And yet, it’s money, and money is tight right now.  (TickledSpirit’s take: I like it this way… I want to be more intentional about buying less and living more simply)

and finally, a friend of mine has bribed me to post his suggested links.  I can vouch for him,  he’s a brilliant sociological nerd (much like yours truly), and he’s full of interesting thoughts and ideas.

So, here’s your first ever Raj Ghoshal‘s Link of the Day.  It’s a network of folks who will let you sleep on their couches, in cities around the world.   I’d add my name, but I think I’d have to go through too much community process to have random strangers as my guests.  So, do it yourself and I’ll live vicariously through you.