At Twin Oaks, we are very communal, sometimes to an extreme..... In recent years, we have begun posting a Collective Menstrual Calendar in the main bathroom. There are 365 little boxes, and people write their names on the day they begin menstruating. This helps to keep track of your cycle, and also see who else may be cycling along with you. This year's calendar theme is "The Wizard of Os" (the os is the opening to the cervix), in the photo below, you can see the field of poppies, Emerald City, and the Yellow Brick Road, and Dorothy having a topical experience....
Last year, Twin Oaks began to heavily examine the concept of privilege and its manifestations in community. One of the suggestions from the privilege discussions was having monthly workshops surrounding different forms of oppression. We liked the idea of broadening this to include things mentioned in our community Bylaws, since they should theoretically be things we are already working on and are committed to as a community. Starting this past January, we began focusing on a different social justice topic each month, with several events to get a variety of people involved. We've dubbed this effort "Visiting Our Visions" and while participation has varied thus far, it's a good start!
Monthly topics include:
The monthly activities/events include:
In addition to these activities, we have a big poster on the wall each month where anyone can write things we're doing well and/or things we could improve on for each topic.
This gives us credit for the things we're already doing and gives us direction for how to make things even better. Some of the changes that have come out of the first few months of topics include: using kinder language when speaking with each other, managing our "fight or flight" response while under stress, conducting an accessibility survey of our buildings, and working on policy guidelines for folks with service animals. We certainly have a long way to go and have not yet solved all of the social justice issues in our version of utopia, but talking about it and taking action are steps in the right direction!
August 19-21, 2016
Sisterhood. Renewal. Revolution!
Come join us for the 32nd annual Twin Oaks Women's Gathering! The Gathering is a three day celebration with 100 women gathering to learn, explore and play together. Workshop will include DIY music, art, movement, sexuality, gender justice, positive relationship building, and more. In addition to scheduled performance spaces and workshops, there will also be lots of free time to network, drum, dance, meditate, strategize, roll around in the mud-pit and generally live it up with new and old friends.
The best part of the Gathering is that it is a community-a sisterhood-by and for all of us. You can offer to lead morning yoga, set up a collaborative art project, host a spiritual retreat space, share a zine on political organizing-whatever you can imagine, you can create and share! Together, we refuel our collective spirit in preparation for the next task: changing the world.
Whether you are a seasoned feminist looking for a break from the patriarchy with your sisters or a star child looking for a drum circle and a dip in the river, there is a place for you here. Cooperative childcare is available, and registration fees are on a sliding scale. Find out more, including how to register, at www.womensgathering.org.
Labor Day weekend, September 2-5, 2016
Last fall, during a period of conflict at my housing co-op, I attended the Communities Conference, seeking inspiration and wisdom to bring back home. I went to workshops about conflict resolution, emotional processing, and consensus, shared stories of our troubles with the other attendees, and listened closely to their stories about conflict in community. In the span of just three days, I gathered several tools, like a structured format for discussing difficult emotions I was excited to introduce. I also returned reconsidering our co-op's consensus process, wondering if consensus was what we were really accomplishing. Most importantly, I now knew that countless others before us had experienced conflicts in their communities, that rough patches were a normal occurrence. I wasn't able to magically solve our house's problems with what I learned, but I was better able to understand the dynamics of conflicts as they played out, and I knew other communitarians were rooting for us.