Important background material for Visitor Program, and helpful for Tours. Twin Oaks is a communal living group in rural central Virginia, made up of around 75 adult members and 15 children. Established in 1967, we are self-supporting, self-governing, and partly self-sufficient. No one has to work outside the community. We earn our communal income by various cottage industries, especially rope hammocks. We grow a lot of our own food, heat with wood from our own forests (and many of our buildings have solar features), and do most of our own construction.
Each member has a private room, and we all share in the numerous public rooms, shops, and other facilities. All of the work of the community - business, domestic, maintenance, childcare, administration, farming, etc. - is divided equally among the members and distributed according to personal choice. We work about 42 hours a week, including all domestic chores.
Our beliefs are diverse, but we all practice cooperation, nonviolence, and equality. We govern ourselves by a form of democracy with responsibility shared among various managers, planners, and committees.
Our money is spent according to a yearly economic plan which we all help to make. We allow ourselves a small amount of private spending money. All necessities (food, shelter, clothing, childcare and healthcare) and many amenities are provided by the community for all members.
In addition to our income areas, we offer a wide variety of work options to our members, including gardening, food processing, cooking, office work, accounting, construction, woodworking, equipment maintenance, childcare, forestry, domestic work, and the list goes on. The 42 hour workweek at Twin Oaks is different from the standard 40 hour workweek in mainstream society. At Twin Oaks, "work" includes such activities as washing dishes, shopping, doing laundry, etc. Traditional "women's work" and "men's work" is performed by both women and men. There is a high degree of flexibility in our labor system, with members maintaining a lot of control over when they work and which jobs they do.
Twin Oaks is a busy place, and there are plenty of activities for people to participate in. Visitors are welcome at many of these: Rental videos several nights a week, community meetings, Women's Tea, various and support groups, co-counseling sessions, rituals, sweats, volleyball, aerobics, yoga, and meditation, crafts, swimming in our pond and river (and skating in winter), dances and parties, games, amateur dramatic productions, talent shows, canoeing, woodland walks, bird watching, skies, sunsets and stars. We also house an extensive library, including children's books, a large music collection of records, tapes and CDs, and various musical instruments including pianos, guitars, recorders, drums, etc. We celebrate the Solstices and Equinoxes, and various other Twin Oaks holidays.
The Twin Oaks diet is as diverse as the membership. There are vegans, vegetarians, meat and potato-eaters, weight watchers, no onion, no egg, no dairy food preferences and several people with food allergies. All are accommodated by the Twin Oaks cooks. We produce a significant amount of our food in the community - fruits, vegetables, dairy products, soyfoods, beef, and herbs. We also make a lot of homemade salad dressings, jams, jellies, and salsas. Nutritious snacks and herb teas are always available.
Twin Oaks culture places a much higher value on cooperation than mainstream culture. Sometimes, this can mean we need to learn new skills, and we strive to "raise the cultural bar" around communication skills. To a large extent, the expectation at Twin Oaks is that if conflict does arise, members be willing to engage in working it out, and to use respectful communication in doing so. The ability to see and understand (although not always agree on) more than one perspective of "the truth", and each of us being able to take responsibility for our own behavior in partially creating the conflict are two such skills, and will go a long way in integrating well and manifesting our value of cooperation. We're still learning. Conflict resolution exists here along a spectrum; different members have different opinions. We find common ground in our hope that ultimately we can find a way to work out our differences and work together.