This is Part 2 of 5 of an article series detailing my recent six-week visit to five intentional communities based in the D.C./Virginia area of the United States. Here’s the link to Part 3.
My Second Destination: Twin Oaks – The Serious Adult
During my three-week visitor period at Acorn Community, which I discussed in Part 1, I had the opportunity to stop by Twin Oaks a couple times to participate in community activities. These activities included weekly pickup games of ultimate frisbee and basketball, as well as a weekly poetry night hosted by one of Twin Oaks’ members.
While I never completed an official tour of Twin Oaks, simply from walking around the grounds and talking with others about it I got a decent glimpse of its structure and what is was like to live there. Twin Oaks had been around since 1967, so it was established in its infrastructure in a way that Acorn was not (Acorn was founded in 1993), and it showed.
While Acorn prided itself for its free-living, anarchist nature, Twin Oaks prided itself on its organization, professionalism, and work ethic. It is definitely not a place one can go to slack off or drop out of society, especially since all work hours are tracked digitally for analysis purposes and to keep the record straight if any work related issues came up.
The population of residents living at Twin Oaks is also more than three times the size of Acorn’s—Acorn having approximately thirty active members, while Twin Oaks has approximately one hundred. While Acorn felt like being on a family farm plot, Twin Oaks felt like being at a summer camp for adults. The common buildings were all much larger and polished than Acorn’s, and being immersed in the crowd of residents during dinnertime felt like being inside of a human beehive with people coming and going through the cafeteria from everywhere, an experience that reminded me of campus life at a state university.
I always found it interesting how all of the communities were so interconnected. Everyone seemed to know each other, and there was a lot of joint time spent between the different communities by many of the members. In other words, there was a lot of overlap and history between members, which gave the feeling of solidarity between communities, like one big family who lived at different houses but was always coming over to visit. This fact, of course, makes a lot of sense considering both Acorn and Twin Oaks are members of an umbrella organization called the FEC, or the Federation of Egalitarian Communities.
While there are certainly major differences in the tone and social values of each of these communities, they do have the same underlying principles of the contemporary alternative lifestyle, including egalitarianism, natural living, feminism, equality, eclectic sexual orientations, nudity, veganism, open communication, free living, and shared resources.
Overall, I found the people at Twin Oaks to be very friendly, dependable, intellectual, funny, athletic, and mature. There was a certain strength and unity, a common bond between the people that gave me a sense of camaraderie, and I blended in seamlessly with them like a fish swimming with its school. There was a power in this unity that provided a great level of creative potential, and I had a wonderful experience being a part of it each time I was there.