Twin Oaks Community is an ecovillage and intentional community of about one hundred people living on 450-acre (1.8 km2) in Louisa County, Virginia. It is a member of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities.
Founded in 1967, it is one of the longest-enduring and largest secular intentional communities in North America.
The community’s basic values are cooperation, egalitarianism, non-violence, sustainability, and income sharing. About 100 adults and 17 children live in the community.
Thomas and I had the opportunity to visit twin oaks and here is the interview.
I don’t think this is a place for “radical” people unless those people want to continue the struggle that they may wage where ever they happen to be at the moment. There are some radical people who live at Twin Oaks, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to hit it off with them or that you and this other person or other people will accomplish more than complaining. You can learn to carve out your own lifestyle, you might have some of the best times of your life so far, and you’ll learn about various forms of community and real lessons that they learned. You might not hit it off with anyone, and mostly, Twin Oaks won’t care. They never have. There are Twin Oaks newspapers from the seventies, and they tried to get the community to care about lonely members. Twin Oaks is not a type of a community that someone may imagine where members look out for each other. They do have social gatherings often, and there are nice people. However, many members are much more competitive than that, i.e., type a alpha males, but even they will have some good advice now and then. Radicals will find the same need to organize people and the same kinds of apathetic people who don’t care and aren’t going to take a stand or rock the boat, and on the other side, you’ll see the same manipulation and deception that you see in mainstream leaders and politicians. They’re convincing at excuses, and coincidentally, they just kicked out their harshest critic. Some long-term members don’t want to improve the courtyard where most new members land. They don’t have to because they can keep controlling the narrative, instead, and keep recruiting new members to replace the ones who keep becoming disillusioned with Twin Oaks’ marketing. There are no bosses, but some managers pressure their reports to work. This can be an intense, daily stressor. Of course, behind them, the community pressures the managers to bottom-line the responsibilities that they have taken on. Even taking on a new job can be much more responsibility than one anticipates, but I guess you could just quit especially if they don’t say a bunch of shit like, “The community needs you to do this! Who’s going to do this work?! I’ve already trained you!” As Kat Kinkade wrote, Twin Oaks will use you up and watch you leave. (Is It Utopia Yet?) They believe in non-violence, but members can openly antagonize and verbally abuse other members to their satisfaction. To me, that’s a form of violence. This is related to how Twin Oaks doesn’t care about their members’ mental or emotional health. When an organization doesn’t care about their members’ mental or emotional health, how are they any different from your typical employer? With their main industry, Twin Oaks very much feels like another job: doing drudgery or risking your safety so the community can make money. If you feel like you can fix this, they might follow your lead, or if you try to change anything, someone might give you convincing push-back. Even if you and an affinity group manage to move out there at the same time, you will have a hard time changing anything. Many others will dig in their hills and remind you of one of the policies in the two binders of policy. If you can get beyond the divisions and isolation, you might be able to approach a consensus and improve life at Twin Oaks. In addition to verbal abuse, there seems to be some physical abuse just out of sight, so the consent culture and accountability seem to be superficial.