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Twin Oaks Intentional Community
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Frequently Asked Questions - All FAQs

FAQs - All FAQs
Relationships

We have a quite wide variety of intimate relationship styles at Twin Oaks. Some members are single, some are married, some are in non-married but long-term committed relationships, some have a series of relationships over time, some people are celibate, and some are polyamorous (in relationships with more than one person at a time). We have bisexual, lesbian, gay and heterosexual people living here. (plus some who would refuse to be labeled). There is no community norm about relationship choices--it's up to the individual. Unlike mainstream culture, we tend not to have social or economic rewards for choosing a particular relationship style.

Social scene

We are very social creatures at Twin Oaks. We have all kinds of different social and cultural activities. We have innumerable on-going, weekly activities that are at least somewhat social in nature, and over time have included a singing group, a band, yoga class, juggling group, knitting group, art night, scrabble night, video nights, women's and men's groups, political discussion groups, etc. Events of a more purely social nature (dances, parties, games nights, etc.) also happen frequently. We also tend to socialize throughout the day, during work and at other times.We chat with each other, lay in the sun in hammocks, read, email, canoe on the river, play music, go to church, do political activism work, etc. However, members also take alone-time as needed, walking in the woods, spending time in their room, and other solitary pursuits. People can be as socially engaged or as solitary as they like, according to personal preference.

Spirituality-Religion

As a community, we purposefully have no one specific spiritual direction/path; the choice is left up to the individual. As a result, we have quite a variety. Many members practice no spiritual path or religion at all, and would be identified as atheist or agnostic. Our membership also includes Buddhists, Pagans, Christians of several (mostly progressive) varieties, and general "New Age" types.

In terms of religious observances: the community officially celebrates the Solstices and Equinoxes, usually with a day off of work, a party and an informal ritual. (all optional) There is a group of Pagans who gather throughout the year for more involved rituals. We host a local Quaker meeting, we sometimes have Friday night Shabbat gatherings, we sometimes have a meditation group, and sometimes members attend services at a nearby country church.

Businesses

Twin Oaks collectively runs several community-owned businesses.This is how we earn the income needed to purchase that which we cannot provide for ourselves. Most members work in at least one of our businesses,and a good portion of members work in several of the businesses.

Income-Sharing

Twin Oaks is an income-sharing community. Members keep all assets they come with (they are frozen during membership), but all income from our community businesses goes to the collective; no one earns individual "wages" or a "salary". We all work approximately 40 hours in our community businesses and domestic areas (for example, cooking, gardening, building maintenance, etc.) and more or less in exchange for our work, community members receive everything we need including housing, food, clothing, health care, etc. That is the economic agreement between the individual and community. The money received from the businesses is pooled and each year we collectively decide how to allocate it to our various community budgets. Also, each member receives a small personal spending allowance ($75 a month) to cover items the community does not provide (e.g. chocolate, a trip to town to see a movie, etc.). Our tax status reflects our income-sharing--we are a 501(d) entity which is based on having a shared treasury, and is similar to a monastery. In addition to being a working model of a more equitable and just distribution of wealth, pooling our income allows us to be able to afford amenities that can benefit the entire community that would be difficult for one or two people to afford on their income alone.

Vehicles

Twin Oaks collectively owns a fleet of about 18 vehicles (including cars, pick-up trucks, cargo vans, and a mini-van) for our approximately 85 adult members. Members do not have personal vehicles. One of our core values is resource-sharing, and we're able to get all of our transportation needs met with vehicles shared by all of us. Most of our day-to-day interactions take place within the community. We don't need a car to commute to work since most of our work is done here. We have a group-shopping-and-errand-running system where one person goes into town every day and shops and does errands for people here, so that 15 people aren't taking 15 separate trips into town. We carpool a lot. Our vehicle-sharing is also related to our value of egalitarianism. One of the most concrete ways we do this is by creating a system where members have equal access to resources. Access to transportation is a powerful tool and we don't want some members to have access to their own transportation while others don't.

Possessions

The community provides for all our basic needs--food, clothing, housing, health care, etc. Each member has their own private bedroom. The community will provide furniture (bed, lamp, dresser, etc.) or members can bring their own. Members bring their own clothing when they move here, and we also have Community Clothes aka "Commie Clothes" which provides additional clothing as members need it over time. Members can bring personal possessions with them (e.g. books, musical instrument, camera, stereo, CD's, computer, etc.) and whatever they keep in their room remains theirs. Other personal possessions can either be stored elsewhere (usually at family/friend's house), donated to the community, or lent to the community for the duration of the person's membership. Please also see our Property Code for more information.

Work

Work is a significant part of life at Twin Oaks. People often invest a lot of their identity in the work they do here. Members work 42 hours each week, both in our collectively-owned businesses and also our domestic areas (see below). No one earns individual "wages" or a "salary"; in exchange for our work, community members receive everything we need including housing, food, clothing, health care, etc. That is the economic agreement between the individual and community.

We use a labor credit system to track our work. Every hour of work a member does is worth one labor-credit; each member needs to earn 42 labor credits each week (this system is adopted from Walden Two, the book on which we were founded). Every week we each get a labor sheet, which we each fill out ourselves with our own work preferences, and then hand in to the labor assigner, who makes sure that all the work shifts are filled for that week. The only work each member is required to do is one two-hour kitchen cleaning shift each week; all other work is decided by each member, according to personal preferences (indoor/outdoor, physical/sedentary, day/evening, etc.). Each day as we complete our work, we record it on our labor sheet, and at the end of the week we turn our sheets in to the Labor Manager. This both helps ourselves to keep track of how much work we've done, and also tracks labor as it relates to our community budgets.

There are many different types of work available at Twin Oaks; in addition to our community businesses, there is plenty of work in our domestic areas which include gardening, milking cows, building maintenance, office work, plumbing/electrical projects, cooking and baking, cleaning, childcare, computer work, bike repair, yard work, sewing, carpentry, farm work, forestry, as well as serving on the teams that manage various aspects of life here (Membership Team, Health Team, Child Board, Planners, etc.).

Tours

We give tours of Twin Oaks almost every Saturday afternoon from March through October, and on most alternating Saturdays from November through February. Your tour guide will tell you about the history, culture and philosophy of the community and will be 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 the weather, wear comfortable walking shoes, and let us know if you have particular mobility needs. Do not bring pets. Phone (540) 894-5126 during regular business hours, or email us at our main email address, to make reservations. We will double-check that a tour is being offered on the date you want. (Sometimes we don't offer scheduled tours for various reasons.) We request a $5.00 donation per person for the tour.

Visting - The Visitor Program

Twin Oaks puts a lot of time and energy into our Visitor Program, and we haveThree-Week visitor periods scheduled throughout the year. We welcome people who think they might be interested in living at Twin Oaks as well as people who just want to spend three weeks experiencing the community but aren't interested in living here. During the three-week program, visitors live together in our visitor building, work alongside members doing the work of the community, and attend orientations about the systems, policies and culture of our community, including the financial, legal, health, labor and governmental structures at Twin Oaks. Visiting Twin Oaks is good way to learn an incredible amount about the workings of a thriving intentional community, and to meet a wide variety of people with quite diverse life experiences and knowledge. It's also a lot of fun! Lastly, a visitor period provides an opportunity for community members and people who think they may want to live here to get to know each other, and start to explore how good a fit there is between the visitor and the community.

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