Sunday, December 6, 2009

East Wind Versus Twin Oaks

Part of the Villages in the Sky organizing team (Sara, Paxus and Bean) have traveled off to East Wind which will be hosting the event for a week of site inspection, meetings and negotiations. The community has been very welcoming, despite some quite difficult times they are going thru. One young member has just found that he has inoperable brain cancer which is growing very fast - he is only 25. The FDA is requiring a whole host of safety improvements and additional paperwork for their nut butters business (this is part of a trend across the food industry and Twin Oaks Tofu business will likely have to make similar expensive upgrades as a function of the soon to be passed Food Safety Act which is designed by the huge food processing corporations like Kraft).


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There have been lots of interesting late night
conversations since we have been here and of course one of the things which comes up often is the differences between Twin Oaks and East Wind. Last night Les (who was a member at both Acorn and Twin Oaks before moving out to East Wind) put it well. "Twin Oaks is more of a socialist/communist orientation and East Wind is more anarchist. TO is burdened with the bureaucracy of these political systems, but pretty reliably stuff gets done. East Wind offers its members significant freedoms and often that comes at the cost of unfinished projects and important work going undone."



The more i thought about what Les said the more i realized how big these differences were. East Wind has no labor budgets. There is Industrial Quota (which is income generating work, which means mostly Nut Butters, tho it could be Utopia Sandals) but this is just a handful of hours each week. Members at both communities are responsible for making quota (which i think is 40 at East Wind and 42 at Twin Oaks now).

At Twin Oaks we agonize over labor budgets. Keyvah has recently worked with the Planners on the Trade Off Game and spent dozens of hours pouring over managers requests for labor, previous years actual labor use, cutting budget requests to make it all balance in a tight economy. East Wind does none of this. [Both communities budget money by area fairly carefully.]

At Twin Oaks we have a very complete and complex labor scheduling system (which i love) - another function of our highly organized bureaucracy. At East Wind many members walk up in the morning unsure exactly what they will do that day to make quota. Both communities have survived for decades, both have survived hard times and difficult members (tho i do think East Wind has more tricky personalities than Twin Oaks does).

It is my hope that Villages in the Sky will bring these two communities a bit closer together. We are like sisters who have more in common than different yet we focus (like this entry) on what is different about us.

If you are interested in more information about the Villages in the Sky project you should check out the website and blog.

2 comments:

Keyvah said...

To me what is most interesting about the differences between TO and EW is how much it affects what kind of person is drawn to each of the communities, and how that impacts the culture of these places. This is certainly true for me- while I love the theory of a non-budgeted labor system, in practice the way it is implemented at EW would quickly drive me mad. My desire and need for structure and routine are well met at TO, and so the imperfect way we manage our labor works for me. Still, we're more alike than we are different, and at times like this it's useful to remember that.

tickledspirit said...

so the control freaks all go to TO? No wonder I loved it so much!