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Jon Norcross' TOCC Trip Report 2016

Thursday

At 5:30pm I arrived at Twin Oaks and met up with Hawyna, Sky and Nicole at ZK.  After dinner, Nicole and I found out where I would be staying which was in Tai-Chi and I got myself situated for the evening.  We then had a discussion in Tai-Chi with some of the members and guests who had come for the conference.

Friday

Early in the morning, I found Pam and worked on the Garden shift.  We picked corn, went on break for 15 minutes and then picked peppers and roma tomatoes.  Afterwards, we went to ZK for lunch where I learned that there was going to be an open community discussion with Reynaldo leading it.  Unfortunately there weren’t very many members that actually attended this one and we just jumped from topic to topic with no real central theme.

The purpose of the meetings was to allow for more face-to-face interaction between community members instead of just relying on responses from people on the O&I board.  The O&I board stands for Opinions and Ideas which has just a number of clipboards with various papers for proposals or information.  For example, one of the proposals was to change the over-quota system to be setup as a percentage refund of the over-quota time spent in each area so that managers wouldn’t need to be so tight with their hour budget with people working over-time.

After the meeting Nicole and I went to the parking area for the conference.  I checked in and setup camp for the weekend.  After I was setup, I went to the main registration tent to sign up for work shifts.  I ended up signing up for the same shifts Nicole did which was MOOP (Matter out of place) patrol.  This task involves picking things up that are left lying around like trash, dirty dishes, clothes etc.  Since I didn’t attend the Twin Oaks tour last year, I made it my first priority this time around. 

The tour walked us through the main areas of Twin Oaks and was led by Adder.  The main areas include the Woodshop and Storage area, the Tupelo music room, ZK, the garden fields, Oneida and Tai-Chi.  The woodshop is where they keep all of the wood working tools and include various saws and drills for cutting lumber and making hammock slats.  The storage area is where they keep all of the supplies for their various businesses such as hammocks and Tofu.  The Tupelo music room is where the members occasionally meetup to play songs and there are a few bands and groups that practice and sometimes go out to perform for money.  ZK is the main dining area which has plenty of tables and a full commercial kitchen.  The garden fields is where all the vegetables are grown which this time of year included corn, okra, peppers, roma tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, beets and romaine lettuce.  Oneida is the main office of Twin Oaks where they handle calls and it also has a kitchen for the residents of the surrounding buildings.  Tai-Chi is one of the residential buildings next to Oneida and also contains the hammock shop.

After dinner Nicole and I attended the evening session.  During this session Paxus led an opening activity which consisted of if you really knew me and declaring what you wished you could be appreciated for and ended with thoughts on how people felt about the things that were mentioned.  Alieda and Liywana gave a talk about the black movement such as black lives matter and what they were doing with it.

 

Saturday

After introductions at the opening circle, all of the communities were each given a minute or two in order to introduce themselves further to the group for the Meet the Communities session.  Nicole gave the introduction for The Transition, but then she was too busy dealing with the silent auction to actually participate in meet the communities so I had to talk about The Transition by myself. 
There weren’t a lot of people that came by to talk to me about The Transition this year which I suspect was caused by both Nicole not being with me so they may not have known that I am working with Nicole on The Transition and there were a lot of communities that were here this year.  There didn’t seem to be that many people who were looking for a community.  This session continued until lunch.

After lunch, everyone broke out into separate workshops.  I attended Consensus 201: Levels of agreement.  The original person who was supposed to do the workshop did not attend so Marty from Shannon Farms led the workshop instead.  The workshop mostly focused on blocks and how they function in Consensus.  The two main points that I took away were “the sunset clause” and “the continuum”.  The sunset clause is a clause that tells when the proposal must end.  This is really useful in consensus because it allows for bringing forth something that may be unpopular, but if it’s known that the proposal will only be in effect for 2 weeks then those who are opposing it may be willing to try it out for that length of time.  The continuum is an activity to gauge where people currently feel on a proposal so that the participants can see where everyone lies on a line and then try to convince them to go one way or the other.

During the second half of the afternoon new workshops were put on and I decided to attend "Creating a Participatory Culture".  This workshop was put on by a team that was part of Agile Learning Center which is a group of people who run “Free Schools”.  These are schools for children where the children get to decide what they want to learn and how the school should be run while the teachers act more as facilitators to keep everything running smoothly. 

The main topic was the Community Mastery Board which tracks all of the cultural norms for their schools.  The board is broken into 4 segments: Awareness, Implementation, Practice and Mastery.  The way it works is someone will notice something (could be good or bad), as an example we used “there are ants in the living room”, which was added to the board on a sticky note.  Next during the weekly 15 minute meeting you would quickly go through all the items on the board.  For every item under the Awareness section you would come up with an Implementation that will potentially fix the awareness that was raised.  So for the ants in the living room, the implementation might be to not eat in the living room anymore.  After this is tried for a week or so it would be revisited in the next meeting and if everyone was following it then the sticky note would move under the practice section.  Once the item has been under the practice section for a few months and everyone was following it without really thinking about it then it would move under mastery.  Every new member that joins the school would then agree to follow all the items on the board which would explicitly state the cultural norms.

After the workshops, there was dinner and then the dance party at ZK. 

 

Sunday

Sunday morning, I attended the Role of IC’s in a New Paradigm.  I was originally considering going to Boundaries: Truth, Needs, Attachment, but I met Jack the previous day during meet the communities and he was running the Role of IC’s in a New Paradigm which seemed related to what we wanted to do with The Transition so I attended this one instead.  The first part of the discussion focused on what we thought the Role of IC’s would be.  The second part of the discussion was broken into groups where we further discussed what IC’s could start to do to bring in the New Paradigm.   The most interesting thing that I got out of this workshop was a lot of websites that are potentially trying to do the same thing as The Transition.

There was then an organization session for the open spaces followed by lunch.  After lunch, I attended the Future is Now workshop which I found wasn’t very useful.  We spent the first 20 minutes of the workshop just waiting for people to show up followed by 10 minutes of meditation and then we went around the whole circle and stated what we thought the keys to the future are.  This was followed by a brief talk about the Peace Pentagon Hub which is fairly similar to The Transition, but with a focus on Activism instead of Intentional Communities.  The discussion then went back around the room where people gave their input about what was said.  Then we broke into groups to answer 3 different questions:

1)      What are you working on now?

2)      How can we support you?

3)      If this group were to start a new project to build a better future, what would it be?

 

After this open session, we had a meeting between the various projects that we thought were doing similar things such as The Transition, Pentagon Peace Hub, Infinite Trees Project and a virtual currency platform.  The Pentagon Peace Hub is a network of people who are interested in doing Activism.  The Infinite Trees Project is a network of contacts with various people in order to make things happen.  The virtual currency platform is a project that Eric was working on with one of his friends in order to have a platform where people could go to buy and sell mostly artwork, songs and written content.  We agreed to have a meeting later in the month or at the beginning of next month to figure out how we would work together and what could be done.

 

 

Monday

Monday was split into two sessions, the first session was about Ecovillages and the second session was about Freedom Songs.  During the first session, we got a briefing on what Ecovillages were and we were shown a short clip that showed how many ecovillages there are across the world.  Ecovillages have a focus on being ecologically sustainable.  After the briefing, they handed out cards with various items that are related to ecovillages such as Systems Design, Recycling Materials and Respecting Elders.  We placed the cards on the ground such that similar items were next to each other and then we placed a brown leaf on the card that we felt we had mastered and we placed a green leaf on the ones we wanted to learn more about.  We had a fairly diverse group so almost every card had a leaf of some kind on it and we discussed a bit about why people chose their cards.  During the second session, Alieda and Liywana talked about the history of the freedom songs and we sang them.

After dinner, Reynaldo invited me to sing karaoke in the Bijou.  So Nicole and I joined them later that evening to do so and there were roughly 12 people there.

Tuesday

Official end of conference was on Monday so this day begins my stay as a guest (not a visitor) at Twin Oaks.  A guest is a person who is temporarily staying at Twin Oaks and that person needs to be hosted by a member of the community.  A visitor is someone who is staying for a three week period in order to become a full member.

In the morning, I helped clean up and organize the conference site such that like objects were put next to each other in the main conference area.  Afterwards, Nicole and I went for lunch.  We then attempted to figure out where I would be staying, but in the meantime we helped Valerie clean up rooms for new members that were just joining this week.  While cleaning up Paxus came by and we eventually sorted out that I would be staying in his room for the duration of my stay.  I then gathered all my belongings and also retrieved some clothes from Commie Clothes.  There wasn’t much of anything else going on for the day so I spent 3 hours or so reading through the issues up on the O&I board.  A lot of the discussion was about the Tofu hut and how people didn’t like working in there due to the dangerous work conditions and the amount of effort involved in the labor.  There was also a discussion about over-quota and how mangers are hoarding their labor hours instead of giving them out to people who want to work over-time in their area.

Wednesday

I was up early today in order to attend the morning garden shift.  We started by picking corn, removing row covers, harvesting tomatoes and then finished with weeding beets and hoeing beds.  During lunch, there was another Open Community Discussion where the discussion focused on the over-quota system and how it was preventing people from doing work in the community.  The main issue seemed to be that there were people who wanted to work over-quota, but couldn’t do so because managers were not allowing their hours to be used.  Managers have only so many hours that they can give out for the entire year so they need to use them wisely so as to not run out before the year ends.  The proposal was to allow a refund based on a percentage of the time that was over-quota from each area the person worked in during the week so that managers could more freely give out those hours as they would receive some of those hours back at the week’s end.

After lunch, I met up with Pam and discussed the issue she was having with her computer and offered to assist her later that night.  I then attended an afternoon garden shift where we continued to clear weeds from the beets and I also stayed a bit extra with Finch in order to continue our discussion from lunch about the over-quota system.  After dinner, I met back up with Pam and went through some of the issues she was mentioning and offered her my advice.  Unfortunately the internet went down while I was helping her so I didn’t get a chance to download and install all the items I had suggested.  The rest of the evening was spent reading books up in Tai-Chi.

 

 

Thursday

Today was the day we decided to head over to Shannon Farms for the day.  When we arrived, we met up with Marty and he gave us a tour of Shannon Farms and he talked about how the farm is setup into clusters of buildings.  There are 3-9 houses in each cluster and currently 8 clusters in total.  Membership seemed to be fairly fluid where you visit and need to get 1/3 of the group to agree to let you join.  From there, you can stay as a provisional member for 6 months and afterwards, you need to get 2/3 of the group to agree to let you stay as a full member.  The land is made of mostly wooded area on steep slopes, but there were some open spaces for grazing as well as a community garden.  Marty continued the tour and showed us the small lake they had as well as some of the more interesting buildings like a geodesic dome.  We then met up with Virginia and we had lunch and talked about The Transition and asked them a number of questions from our supporters.  After lunch, Marty took us to see Dan and he talked about all of the passive solar heating that he had created in order to keep his house warm in the winter.  He discussed various items such as solar greenhouse areas where the hot air was then pushed in-ward, adobe bricks and straw/clay mixed insulation.  Dan then took us around to some of the other houses where they were doing similar things and also showed us one place that was built of stone and was set into the ground.  After, Dan finished his little tour we walked back over to Marty’s house and we said goodbye and left.  We then went to Charlottesville and ate at Taste of India for the evening.

 

Friday

In the morning, I worked the garden shift again and during lunch, there was another Open Community Discussion to which I only attended half of because I wasn’t aware until later that they moved it over to apple tree in order for it to be a bit more of a private discussion.  This discussion focused on how to handle inter-personal issues.  After lunch, I found out that Paxus had signed me up for work shifts without telling me.  Luckily Brenda found me in ZK and took me down to the hammocks shop where we loaded hammocks into a van and took them over to the warehouse and unloaded them.  We then took some items out of the warehouse and loaded those into the van and Brenda had me put hooks into bags which they use for their hammocks.  After working on that for a while, a man named Wizard came by and asked me to start the Tofu Box Making shift early.  During this shift we stamped cardboard tofu boxes with the sell by date and added stickers for the type of tofu that would be in each one.  We then built the boxes and stacked them together.  They would later be filled with tofu and sent out to their customers.  After that shift, I went back to ZK and played Magic with Gloria and she invited me to play magic with them later that evening.  After dinner, we met back up in ZK and I played a free for all game with Rowen, Willow, Gloria and Sky.  The game was fantastic and at one point I had a 50/50 shot at winning, but unfortunately the wrong card was selected and Rowen ended up winning instead, though it was very close as Rowen only had 2 life left.

 

Saturday

Nicole and I were up early along with Bill in order to attend the Heritage Harvest Festival which was a fair that was going on near the Piedmont Community College on top of Monticello.  I spent the morning assisting in running the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange booth which is the full name of the business that Acorn runs.  The booth allowed people to sample a number of different tomatoes and peppers so I spent most of my time stabbing pieces of peppers with toothpicks for everyone to sample.  Around lunch time, I was able to walk around and check out the other booths which were selling various products like granolas, chocolate, cheeses, ciders, salsa, alcohol, seeds and farming items.  As we were at Monticello, I took some time to listen to the men who recounted what it was like for the slaves that were living there.

After dinner, I tried to find some people who were going to play Ultimate Frisbee as listed on their board, but unfortunately when I went out to the field there wasn’t anyone there so I spent some time hanging outside of Tai-Chi and eventually entered the visitor’s social gathering.  Afterwards, we went down to ZK where Sky put on another dance party.

 

Sunday

 I departed from Twin Oaks early in the morning for my long drive back home.

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Nicole Bienfang's TOCC Trip Report 2015

THIS IS AN INCOMPLETE DOCUMENT. I WILL BE ADDING ADDITIONAL CONTENT AS I GO THROUGH MY NOTES AND TAKE-AWAYS. (This process may be post-poned due to building and launch of website)

 

NOTE:Please DO NOT friend request any of the people mentioned in this report without first introducing yourself and having a genuine reason for doing so (not simply collecting friends). The names and links to profiles are provided for reference only.

Twin Oaks Community Conference:

http://communitiesconference.org/

 

See Program of conference at:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1546024999010254/permalink/1622375544708532/

 

See photos from trip here: Will be added later

 

 

  • Transition Team members in attendance

            *Jon Norcross

            * Nicole Bienfang

           * Eric Stetson (we met our first year in 2013) https://www.facebook.com/EricWStetson?fref=ts

           *Tim Overath- https://www.facebook.com/tim.overath.9?fref=ts

           *Matthias Overath- https://www.facebook.com/matthias.overath?fref=ts

           *Kerstin Overath- https://www.facebook.com/kerstin.overath?fref=ts

           *Jeremy Blankenship- https://www.facebook.com/jeremy.blankenship.752?fref=ts

           *Mattrick Patrick- https://www.facebook.com/matthewph?fref=ts

  • Visited Acorn Community (see:http://www.acorncommunity.org/)  and reunited with community members I have met in years past as well as met new ones

  • Learned how to milk a goat with Rejoice ( https://www.facebook.com/kylara?fref=ts) as my instructor

  • Had meaningful moments with various community children

  • Attended workshop called State of the Communities Movement

  • Attended Cooperative Games Workshop

  • Talked with various community representatives about our group

- 5 back copies of Communities Magazine with topics covering:

* # 143 Ecology & Community http://www.ic.org/community-bookstore/product/143-summer-2009-ecology-and-community/

* #152 Right Livelihood http://www.ic.org/community-bookstore/product/152-fall-2011-right-livelihood/

* # 157 Endings & Beginnings http://www.ic.org/community-bookstore/product/157-winter-2012-endings-and-beginnings/

* #160 Youth in Community http://www.ic.org/community-bookstore/product/160-fall-2013-youth-in-community/

* #163 Business Ventures http://www.ic.org/community-bookstore/product/communities-magazine-163-summer-2014-business-ventures-in-community/

 

I've also renewed my Communities subscription for another year.

  • Was a co-lecturer/speaker at an Open Session (workshops presented by attendees) on the topic of networking existing ICs and Co-ops to buy and sell with each other to help grow the IC movement and create more momentum for growth.

  • Attended Open Session on changing the narrative of Intentional Community in mainstream culture.

  • Attended New Economics Symposium which addressed people's personal relationships with money and the emotional blocks they have with it. We discussed new models of financing, financial organizing and how we can all work together to help this movement further itself and out-mode the current system.

  • Acquired multiple takeaways such as detailed sheets about workshop material, flyers, brochures etc. of various communities, organizations. (Will add in detail ASAP)

  • 136 mass e-mails sent out to everyone who shared their contact info and attended the event with information of our Facebook group.

  • 33 personal contacts made via our index card exchanges (including notables and key influencers in this field- I will be following up with all of them via e-mail, phone and Skype chats in the coming weeks)

  • Posted on Twin Oaks Community Conference FB page an invite to be beta testers.


As always if you have any questions about anything feel free to contact me. :)

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Jon Norcross' TOCC Trip Report 2015

Thursday 
  At 7:30pm I arrived at Acorn and met up with Paxus & Nicole. While listening to the conversation between Paxus and other Acorn members, I noticed that people were casually walking around nude (both men & women). I'll later come to learn that this is fairly normal and would experience it more. Paxus gave me a quick 15 minute tour of acorn and showed me where I would be staying for the night. The building is named Stardust. It is a very small tree house structure just big enough for a bed. I ate dinner and joined in on a meeting. The meeting was about child care and how much "labor credits" should be given for taking care of your own children. I was shocked when I first went up because there were two women who were openly breastfeeding which I didn't expect considering that this is a common area with an ongoing meeting. After the meeting, those who were left talked for a bit before I went to bed.

Friday
  Early in the morning, Paxus introduced me to Irena who was supposed to help me get situated with working in Acorn's seed exchange business. Irena is a very soft spoken women who is incredibly busy at Acorn with assisting with both the garden and their seed exchange business. After we were introduced, she went off to do something so I waited outside Heartwood (the name of Acorn's main building) for her to return to provide me with further instruction. During my time outside I got to meet and talk with various people who are either currently living at Acorn or are a guest/visitor. One person in particular that I talked to was a woman named Liz. She was part of a non-incoming sharing community located in North Carolina. She mentioned that she wasn't particularly happy with it because the community was struggling so much that people were only looking out for themselves instead of joining together and sharing what they had. She had come to Acorn to see what it is like in an income sharing community and was interested in joining Acorn.
  At this point, I had been outside of Heartwood for a number of hours and Irena had passed by me a number of times, but still had not provided me with any instruction. I got tired of waiting around and Liz and Rejoice were about to leave to go to the smoke shack so I asked if I could join them. On our way to the smoke shack, Rejoice gave us a mini tour of the buildings of Acorn walking us through some of the residential areas as well as the seed exchange business. Once we arrived at the smoke shack, Liz and Rejoice enjoyed themselves while I waited outside. The smoke shack is the only building in which smoking is allowed inside and around the area. While we were at the smoke shack, Matt came around and mentioned that he was filling up the truck with water. Once the water container was partially full, we brought it around to provide water to all of the pigs, chickens and goats. After we were done, we went back to Heartwood as the lunch bell had rung. The bell at Acorn is rung 10 minutes before the food is ready to be served; Acorn doesn't follow any time schedule for when meals will be available if they are available at all.
  At lunch, I sat next to Irena and she mentioned that I could assist with preparing tomatoes to be used as tomato paste for Twin Oaks. So for about an hour, 7 of us worked to prepare the tomatoes. The work involved taking the freshly picked tomatoes and washing them, removing any remaining stems and cutting off the bad parts. By the time we were done, we had prepared roughly three 5 gallon buckets full of tomatoes. There was still more to do, but as many of us needed to leave to go to the Community Conference at Twin Oaks we cleaned up and left.
  Once I arrived in the parking area, I checked in and setup camp for the weekend. After I was setup, I went to the main registration tent to sign up for work shifts. I ended up signing up for the same shifts Nicole did which was MOOP (Matter out of place) patrol. This task involves picking things up that are left lying around like trash, dirty dishes, clothes etc. As I was interested in spending as much time as possible with Nicole, I hung out with her instead of going on the tour as I figured that I could always catch a later tour. Unfortunately, I never went on a tour of Twin Oaks as I was always interested in something else when they were occurring. Before dinner, we had a really bad storm come through which came with both hail and a ton of rain. So much rain that there was a river flowing around the living area under the tarp which was dug out further as the stream overflowed. During this storm we assisted Illy in keeping the communities magazines from getting wet. Once it calmed down, I went to check on my tent and found that it was still standing even though I had staked it fairly lightly, but it was fairly flooded with water. I was able to get most of the water out, but it was still damp until I was able to receive assistance from those in Twin Oaks who provided additional towels and dried the one I brought which was soaked. 
After dinner Nicole and I attended the evening session. During this session Paxus explained two of his transparency tools. One was kind of like a game where you play fill in the blank. The phrase you have to fill in is "If you really knew me _______" and then you proceed it with whatever you would like the group to know about you. We were in groups of 5-7 and went around with each person filling in the blank or passing if they didn't want to share. I really enjoyed this because everyone got a chance to share something with the group. The next tool that Paxus discussed was called "Crosstalk". This tool involves picking out something that was shared earlier with the group and then providing an experience which you had that is similar. During this tool, instead of going around the group, we used something called "popcorn" where anyone can jump in and share. I didn't like this setup as I could never find a pause long enough to feel comfortable that I wasn't talking over other people and thus, I never had a chance to share anything. Also, since people were sharing personal stories, some couldn't keep them short so I felt like they were monopolizing the time/conversation. After these exercises, we broke up into four different groups in order to answer the question "How can the FIC better assist the Intentional Community Movement?". The four groups had different focus areas such as finance and economics, organization structure/governance, and social outreach and activism. From this exercise, it was apparent that what we are doing here at The Transition is severely needed within the movement. We have solutions already available on our website for a fair number of issues which were brought up and we had previously discussed some other items which were brought up such as funding platforms.

Saturday
  This morning I'll talk briefly about the accommodations which were available on site. For restrooms there were two porta potties and two composting toilets. There was one shower and a couple of sinks. There were three larger sinks for washing dishes as everyone was expected to do their own. There was also a space for charging electronic devices. For food, there was a really good variety and most of it was vegetarian friendly. There were also some foods which were gluten free or vegan. Most of what was served for breakfast was eggs or granola/oats with vegetables (mostly potatoes). For lunch and dinner, there was rice or noodles with vegetables (green beans / eggplant / peppers), bread and lots of tofu. As everyone was required to assist with snacks, there were always snacks of all sorts available throughout the day. For sitting/eating there were a large number of picnic tables as well as a living room under a tarp. After introductions at the opening circle, all of the communities were each given a minute or two in order to introduce themselves further to the group for the Meet the Communities session. As there were a large number of people who lined up, Paxus mentioned that only those communities with actual locations should be in line. Nicole at this point jumped out of line, but I was able to convince her to go back in line after Point A from New York introduced themselves; they didn't have an exact location, but a general one. During this session we only had a few people come to us to start. However, as others found out that we were giving out a free book titled "The Internet is My Religion" by Jim Gilliam CEO and founder of Nationbuilder, we began attracting more people who were both interested in the book and what The Transition was doing. Nationbuilder donated 200 of these books for those at the conference and we were able to collect a large number of contacts in this manner. We have roughly 140 left to still give out. This session continued until lunch.
  After lunch, everyone broke out into separate workshops. This was the time slot for our workshop so both Nicole and I attended it. We were expecting four presenters, but two didn't attend so we were able to have half a session (roughly 50 minutes) to show case The Transition. We received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and were also able to sign up additional people for beta testing the site.
  During the second half of the afternoon new workshops were put on and I decided to attend "Intentional Villaging". This was led by a man named Michael who had a dysfunction in is brain which prevents him from remembering faces so each time I went to greet him after the session I needed to tell him my name before he understood who I was. This session was all about Allegheny Crest Intentional Village where they practice active outreach, local integration, radical acceptance, porous membership, compassionate anarchy and abundance. For active outreach, the community puts on a large number of events in which they invite everyone who wants to participate. Local integration means that they work with the people in their vicinity in order to provide services and build connections. Radical acceptance means that anyone who wants to participate in the community may do so even if they might have disabilities or different work patterns, thought patterns or priorities. Many intentional communities have very rigid membership agreements; at Allegheny Crest they practice Porous Membership which allows for people to have any kind of relationship with the community in whatever way they feel comfortable. For example, people within the community might be guests, renters, part time volunteers or full time residential members. Compassionate Anarchy is a form of governance in which everyone is free to do what they want so long as they take into account all members who may be affected by their actions. Instead of having centralized meetings, the meetings are more casual and decentralized and concerns are incorporated as they are brought up. Most intentional communities are happy with subsistence living, but at Allegheny Crest, the people strive for abundance in all aspects of life such as emotions, economics, energetics, social connections and time.
  We then had dinner and the FIC benefit auction. Lots of various items were auctioned off from community magazines to therapeutic healing services. Some of the items that went for the most were hammocks from Twin Oaks and a fairly large train set. Afterwards, we went to the dance party at ZK. The only thing out of place at the dance party was that there were a fairly large number of topless men and women, but otherwise it was a pretty standard dance party.

Sunday
  Roosters woke me up at 5:30am again when the sun is just barely rising from the sky. I was still fairly tired as I had gone to sleep around just after midnight when the dance party finished. Breakfast wasn't for another couple hours so I just started doing MOOP patrol early and cleaned up the site.
  Nicole and I were both interested in the same workshop today so we attended Cooperative Games together. I've done things like this a lot when I was younger so I was more interested in observing and seeing what additional things I could learn about communication instead of in the past where I usually just focused on solving the problem given. 

Description of the various games:
1) Named Pairs -> Each person was given a piece of paper with a name like gark, mark, lark, ark etc. Each person was then given a blindfold and starting in a large circle the task was to find the person with the same name and stop talking once that person was found.
2) Freefall; Trust building -> In the same pairs from the first game, we took turns with one person being the spotter and one person being the faller. The faller had to trust that the spotter would catch them. 
3) Tangled Rope -> This was the only competitive game. The task was to try to gain as much of the rope as possible. The rope was about 200 feet long and was completely tangled up.
4) Rope Transfer -> Split into two teams with a rope at shoulder level between the two. Nobody is allowed to touch the rope or have any part of the body go under the rope otherwise everyone has to go back to the other side. The task is to get everyone across to the opposite side.
5) Life Boat -> Everyone is standing on a tarp and the task is to flip the 'life boat' as it has been capsized.
6) Silent Shapes -> Everyone is standing in a circle with both hands on a rope. During this game, nobody is allowed to talk and both hands must stay on the rope. The task is to make a shape (equilateral triangle, five pointed star etc.)

From the various games I learned/observed the following:

1) Named Pairs -> Different people have different strategies/solutions to the same problem
2) Freefall; Trust building -> As long as we start small, building trust to higher levels becomes easier
3) Tangled Rope -> Once we have a mindset for a task, switching to another mindset seems illogical or impossible; people easily become rooted in one mindset and won’t try to change it.
4) Rope Transfer -> People may not always listen or understand through verbal communication, but through action they are able to see how the solution works
5) Life Boat -> Building on ideas works wonderfully once the group is able to let go of their ideas being their own
6) Silent Shapes -> When there is a lack of communication, we often give up and just go with the group to proceed to the next task. Knowing the end goal and understanding each other’s expectations is extremely important in completing tasks.

After the games, there was some organizing for the open sessions followed by lunch. I decided to attend the open session about Tiny Houses and ultimately concluded that they are for people who want to be more mobile which I'm not particularly interested in. I've found that it's much cheaper to buy an existing house than to build a new Tiny House after factoring in the cost for land. The second open session I went to was about Community Meetings which I thought was going to be an actual workshop with reflection on the issues that come during them. I later found out when the session began that it was just going to be a theatrical performance intended to create a viral video for another workshop Paxus is planning for the West Coast Communities Conference. The session was still fun and entertaining though I didn't participate. I probably would have picked a different session had I of known from the start.

After the open sessions, we went over to Acorn for a tour, dinner and additional activities. I went on the tour with Irena which focused on the garden area. We discussed various things about what Acorn is growing (tomatoes, beans etc.) and for what purposes (seed, eating). Irena showed us the small apiary they had which is mainly used to house bees for pollination rather than honey. We also went through a tour of the seed business and I got to see their packing machine, the air conditioned spaces used to store seeds and their loading dock for trucks. Afterwards, we ate dinner and I was invited to play a game of dominion. However, due to an issue with the children spilling paint everywhere, the game was put on pause for about an hour. By the time they were done cleaning up the mess, we barely had enough time to finish the game before the last shuttle to Twin Oaks left.

Monday
  Monday was all about Money; there were two sets of workshop times, but they were run by the same people and were intended to be the same or similar content, but that did not end up being the case for the workshop I attended. I went to the New Models workshop done by Laird Schaub former director of the FIC. In the first workshop in the morning, we were answering the question "What are the characteristics of a healthy system of economics?". Some of the characteristics are listed below:
- Tracking -> How is the system tracked if at all?
- Flow
- Corruption -> How does the system handle corruption?
- Accounting for Externalities -> How does the system take the environment/people into account?
- Trust 
- Enjoyable activities -> Econcomic activities should be fun; not monotonous and boring
- No Exploitation
- Consentual / non-coercive
- Balance of return
- Measurement of labor
- Quality rewarded
- Minimum standard -> Everyone should be given a minimum amount of stuff to be successful
- Transparency -> Everyone should be able to understand how the entire system functions and from where the products/services come from.
- Giving without receiving / positive balance
- Debt? -> Should debt be allowed?

We then went on to have a discussion on the question "How much do we really need?". We discussed having access to resources instead of ownership. We also discussed about security. Is it better to form relationships or have ownership of resources in order to be secure?

The final discussion was on "How do we intertwine the social with the economic?". The points which came up follow:

- Facilitating exchange between disassociated groups
  - Similar to Non-violent Communication (NVC) at the economic level
- Collision of usage
- Tragedy of the commons - who takes care of the commons?

During the second portion of the workshop, instead of focusing on economy, we focused on solving everyone's immediate problems. Some of the things which came up are below:

- Going back into the workforce after being a part of a community for some time or stay at home mother
- Marketing skills
- Public relations for new intentional communities
- Support for personal issues
- While being on the move, what are some places and ideas that will help people to stay connected?

The rest of the evening was spent with Nicole and we discussed our observations from the conference.

Tuesday 
Official end of conference was on Monday so this day begins my stay as a guest (not a visitor) at Twin Oaks. A guest is a person who is temporarily staying at Twin Oaks and that person needs to be hosted by a member of the community. A visitor is someone who is staying for a three week period in order to become a full member.
  In the morning, I helped clean up and organize the conference site such that like objects were put next to each other in the main conference area. Afterwards, Nicole and I went for lunch where we met up with Paxus. He brought me over to Acorn for the day as I had already been 'integrated' with that community previously. I spent the afternoon assisting with garden related tasks like removing older/almost rotten tomatoes from storage to be used for dinner that night as well as picking tomatoes and lima beans. Just before dinner Paxus came to bring me back to Twin Oaks. I moved into Aurora which is the building normally used for visitors where I would stay for a couple nights. Nicole introduced me to 'Commie Clothes' which is their building that stores all of the bed sheets and clothes for anyone to take as they need. The building also doubles as a laundry facility and houses community members.

Wednesday
  Twin Oaks doesn't serve breakfast so I was on my own there. Lunch is served at noon and dinner at 6pm. Paxus put me on an early morning garden shift from 8am to noon. The majority of all the garden shifts I attended were made up of roughly 70% women and 30% men. During the shift, I worked alongside other people at all times and we did the following things:

- Picked corn -> This involved finding which ones were firm and ready to pick and then breaking off the tops and removing any caterpillars which were inside.
- Assisted in sowing turnips -> My task was to cover and pack down the seeds.
- Picked weeds -> This is a daily activity on the garden shift and was included on every shift
- Break for 15 minutes -> about 5/8ths of the time into the shift we would take a break where people would eat, drink or read in the nearby kitchen space
- Assisted in sowing spinach -> This time I helped by marking the places where the seeds would be sown as well as covering and packing as I did earlier.
- Picked squash

Some of my observations from the first day include the leisurely pace that people work at as well as how inefficient the setup is as the manager of the garden manages all of the tasks and was making the groups so large that the work was being completed relatively quickly which resulted in time loss going back to the manager to retrieve the next task. However, this setup seems to have the benefit in that one is never performing a task which they do not enjoy for very long. Another observation is that the individuals in the group have partial say in what tasks they want to perform out of the master list which the manager explains at the start of the shift. Anyone who doesn't want to perform a certain activity only needs to say so and the manager will find some other work that they would enjoy doing more.


Thursday
  I worked another early morning garden shift where we did similar activities mentioned yesterday such as sowing more spinach, picking squash, pulling weeds and transplanting strawberries. At one point, we had everyone in the group picking weeds as we needed to clear an entire row that was right next to the strawberries we had planted. 
As Aurora was being used for incoming visitors, I had to move over to Tupelo where I stayed in North's room for the remainder of my stay. After dinner, Claire invited me to join a lecture on the Russian communist movement as well as revolutions in general which was led by a man named Spot.

Friday
  Due to the seasonal shifts, the morning garden shift was moved to the evening from 1-5pm. The only new thing we did on this shift was sifting compost and putting it into a raised garden. The trickiest part about the task was navigating the wheelbarrow full of compost over the cinder blocks which were connected only by wobbly planks of wood. We also played two games while sifting the compost. One was called contact and the other is called "Is it like waffles?". Contact is played by having one person pick a word and then telling the group what letter it starts with. The group then asks questions with a word in mind that starts with the letter given in order to find the question which results in the word the person is thinking of. If another member of the group thinks of a word that might answer the question then they yell out 'contact'. After some time if the person who picks the word has not provided an answer to the question which they would state in the form 'It's not _____' then everyone who said contact would count down and say aloud at the same time the word they are thinking of and if both say the same word then the person who picked the word gives the next letter. Play proceeds until the word is found. "Is it like waffles?" is played by having one person pick a word and then everyone in the group asks a narrative in the form "is it like {previous thing it was most like} or like _____?" So the first person may ask is it like waffles or like compost? The person then picks whichever word is closest to the thing they are thinking of. So if they say compost then the next question will be something like "is it like compost or like sand?". Play proceeds until the object is discovered.
I spent most of the day reading books such as Formal Consensus and Consensus for Cities as well as a book about fascism that I received from Spot the night before. It was a refreshing change from being social every day prior.
  

Saturday
  Nicole and I were up early along with Bill in order to attend the Heritage Harvest Festival which was a fair that was going on near the Piedmont Community College on top of Monticello. I spent the morning assisting in running the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange booth which is the full name of the business that Acorn runs mentioned in previous days. The booth allowed people to sample a number of different tomatoes and peppers so I spent most of my time stabbing pieces of peppers with toothpicks for everyone to sample. Around lunch time, I was able to walk around and check out the other booths which were selling various products like granolas, ciders, salsa, alcohol, seeds and farming items. As we were at Monticello, I took some time to read through the history of the building which had been previously owned by Thomas Jefferson and the view looking down into the valley was amazing.

Sunday 
I departed from Twin Oaks early in the morning for my long drive back home.

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Nicole Bienfang's TOCC Trip Report 2014

 

Please DO NOT friend request any of the people mentioned in this report without first introducing yourself and having a genuine reason for doing so (not simply collecting friends). The names and links to profiles are provided for reference only.

  • Old notebook used from last year's conference (Reduce, reuse, recycle ;) ) to take notes from workshops, open sessions and one-on-one talks 

  • One-on-one talks with:

*Paxus- Details about every day Twin Oaks things as well as crews and manager positions

*Keenen- Pluses and minuses of community and how it could be more child friendly

*Shaul- how new generations evolve the original vision and culture of community

*Valarie- Selecting new members and the membership process

* James- Creating a movement through grassroot efforts and utilizing the power of the "mob"

  • Neon index cards (left over from last year) to give fellow attendees The Transition contact info

  • White index cards (left over from last year) to get contact info from attendees 

  • 7 Paper folders with brads purchased to have 1st 4 Phases of "Our Plan"  printed out and available for Open Session viewing

  • Markers and large drawing paper purchased for small group demonstration for Open Session (ended up not using and donated items to Twin Oaks for Heroes program when I left)
  • Made Power Point Presentation in Anticipation of Open Session
  • Read book The Charge (which can help with understanding our supporters and igniting their passions to help us propel this organization and movement further)

  • Picked up 30 cases of unripe avocados and one case of pineapples with Paxus (https://www.facebook.com/paxus?fref=ts) from local food pantry because of a store donation that exceeded need of the local area

  • Helped Rayenbo  (https://www.facebook.com/raychel.bone?fref=ts) gather info to assemble FIC brochures at Acorn in new seed office (building was not completed last year)

  • Helped with Eggplant and tomato processing as well as make tomato sauce at Acorn for future meals with Amy (https://www.facebook.com/amy.hamburger.73)

  • Saw first hand how work shifts were divvied out to members and how work was accomplished as a community ( I was on MOOP detail MOOP= Matters Out of Place)

  • Attended Evening Program which included Transparency Tools by Paxus, a discussion lead by Alyson Ewald (https://www.facebook.com/alyson.ewald?fref=ts) of the challenges and triumphs of building community, and storyteller Robert Zachary's telling of his experience with community growing up in the South under Jim Crow to his present exploration of intentional communities and sustainable living

  • Learned Icebreakers/games to get groups of strangers to build relationships and create intimacy

  • Gave an introduction to all attendees about The Transition: who we are,what we do, and what our end vision is (and got a lot of “Oh you are The Transition girl”throughout the whole conference).

  • Talked with various community representatives about our group

  • Donated 3 items to FIC Benefit Auction raising a total of $22 for the FIC and bid on items as well. The following items were won:

- 6 back copies of Communities Magazine with topics covering:

*Making a Living

* Decision Making in Community

*Communication & Process

*Breaking Bread

*The Heart of Sustainability

* Can We Afford to Live in Community?

 

  • Purchased from FIC pop up bookstore book title: The Great Neighborhood Book- A Do-It Yourself Guide to Placemaking ( a fantastic book with lots of resources and ideas that will be utilized on the website)

  • Was a co-speaker at an Open Session (workshops presented by attendees) on the topic of Urban Intentional Communities and  Creating Better Communication Between Intentional Communities and Co-op Businesses in order to create bigger impacts on a brighter future for the planet. (Lots of attendees stopped me afterwards to talk in more detail  and ask questions, one person even referred me to our own Hybrid Group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/224148967647327/ )

  • Attended Open Session on ICs Working with Colleges and Universities

  • Attended Acorn Community's "Crops You've Probably Never Seen" Tour

  • Attended Building Cooperative Power Workshop lead by Michael Johnson

  • Attended an impromptou workshop (due to a cancelation of another speaker) on Community Business how to start them, which ones are successful etc. lead by Laird Schaub

  • Attended Starting a Cooperative Business: Worker Co-ops and Intentional Communities lead by Jim Johnson

  • Attended consultation session with Hawina Falcon (https://www.facebook.com/hawina.falcon?fref=ts) on Sociocracy and Membership Procedures

  • Acquired multiple takeaways such as detailed sheets about workshop material, flyers, brochures etc. of various communities, organizations.

* How to Build Community,Syracuse Cultural Workers- Card

Weareoneworldfoundation.org -Awareness Cards

* Twin Oaks Hammocks Rope Hammock Catalog 2013 & 2014

* Recipes: Spicy Fried Tofu, Tofu Egg Salad, Creamy Tofu Horseradish Dressing, Creamy Garlic Dressing or Dip- Recipe Cards

* Finger Books-

-With Open Hands: A Handbook on Open Relationships

-Transparency Tools & Transparency Groups

- Shared Path Shared Goal: Direct Democracy & Consensus Decision Process

* Catalyst Eco Village-Flier

*Building Co-Operative Power- Postcard

*Granite Springs Farm Community-Brochure

* Oran Mor- Brochure

* Network for New Culture- Fliers

* Allegheny Crest Intentional Village- Flier

*Goddard College- Brochure

* Connection Exercises- Packet

*European Commune Tour- Report/Analysis

*Resources for Worker Co-ops & Start-Ups- Sheet

* What is a Worker Cooperative?- Sheet

*Twin Oaks Community Conference Evaluation-Sheet

* The Oracle Institute-Flier

*Shopper's Value Foods-Flier

* Southern Exposure Seed Exchange- Catalog

* Fifth Estate- Magazine

* Mother Earth Living-Magazine

  • Attended  Open Session on Creating a Networking Website Platform to create better streams of communication among ICs and a Youtube "TV" show (person who suggested topic had no idea these are the main projects The Transition is working on and was delighted to hear of our work and progress, we get great feedback during this session.

  • Stayed at Twin Oaks Community for additional days and experienced communal living. 

  • Helped with Data Entry,E-mail Correspondance and Sales Representatives Box Assembly of samples and company literature for Twin Oaks Hammocks

  • Aquired book Living the Dream about Twin Oaks

  • Have contacted and will follow-up with other speaker's whose workshops I did not attend so I can get information and handouts on their topics that were presented

  • 15 personal contacts made (including notables and key influencers in this field- I will be following up with all of them via e-mail, phone and Skype chats in the coming weeks)

  • 1 attendee was a pre-existing Hybrid member!

  • Posted on Twin Oaks Community Conference an invite to this page as well as the link to the survey to help build the website.

As always if you have any questions about anything feel free to contact me . :)

 

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Nicole Bienfang's TOCC Trip Report 2013

 

  • New notebooks purchased for notes for workshops

  • Neon index cards purchased to give fellow attendees my contact info

  • White index cards purchased to get contact info from attendees (and survey data if they had the time)

  • Url purchased- www.thetransition.info  (used for survey to make it easy to remember)

  • Online survey created

  • Our online survey was printed out to run people through it if they had time availability

  • Finished Reading Philanthrocapitalism book on train ride to event

  • Purchased used book at random gas station read in its entirety: Transitions- Making Sense of Life’s Changes, Strategies for Coping with the Difficult Painful, and Confusing Times in Your Life (which really applies to our group and how it is hard for people to transition from one thing lifestyle, job, relationship etc to another even if it is more beneficial)

  • Saw first hand how work shifts were divvied out to members and how work was accomplished as a community

  • Participated in Twin Oaks Community 2 hr. Tour

  • Participated in Acorn Community Tour (not sure of length of time)

  • Learned Transparency Tools (Unsaids and Withholds)

  • Learned About 22 Reasons to Share Housing (http://www.sharinghousing.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2013/08/22-Reasons_TwinOaks.pdf)

  • Learned Icebreakers/games to get groups of strangers to build relationships and create intimacy

  • Gave an introduction to all attendees about The Transition: who we are,what we do, and what our end vision is (and got a lot of “Oh you are The Transition girl” "Someone told me I should talk to you" because of it, throughout the whole conference).

  • Talked with various community representatives about our group

  • Participated in the Community Development “Track” of workshops which covered:

-Starting a Community

-Online Storytelling: Modern Tools to Build Your Community

-Alphabet Soup: Legal Structures for Communities

  • Donated items to FIC Benefit Auction and bid on items as well. The following items were won:

- 5 back copies of Communities Magazine with topics covering:

*Health & Well Being

* Community in Hard Times

*Festivals and Gatherings

*Politics in Community

*Scarcity and Abundance

- DVD The End of Suburbia-Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream

  • Purchased from FIC pop up bookstore book title: The New Social Learning A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media (only a few pages in so far too much work to do!)

  • Was a co-lecturer/speaker at an Open Session (workshops presented by attendees) on the topic of transitional concepts and the “in between” here and now and where we want to be. (This is when what we are dong started to click for people).

  • Attended New Economics Symposium which addressed alternative currencies being used by people attending the conference and learned about Plenties in particular (see: http://theplenty.org/).

  • Acquired multiple takeaways such as detailed sheets about workshop material, flyers, brochures etc. of various communities, organizations.

  • At a restroom stop purchased a blueprint book at a big box hardware store. The designs focus on entertaining, organized, de-stressing and flexible use spaces. These are perfect for co-housing concepts as well as main community buildings for intentional communities. This book will serve as inspiration for our organization to form blueprints of our own for our site to be used by our online virtual community.

  • 125 mass e-mails sent out to everyone who shared their contact info and attended the event with information of our Facebook group as well as our online survey.

  • 1 survey done in person other personal contacts committed to doing it online)

  • 21 personal contacts made (including notables and key influencers in this field- I will be following up with all of them via e-mail, phone and Skype chats in the coming weeks)

  • 1 attendee was a pre-existing Hybrid member!

  • Posted on Twin Oaks Community Conference an invite to this page as well as the link to the survey to help build the website.

As always if you have any questions about anything feel free to contact me directly. :)

 

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