Membership Process

In order to be considered for membership, you must live and work at Acorn for 3 continuous weeks.  Many people come for a three-week visit and use this to apply for membership.  People can also stay for work-trades or internships and then apply for membership.

On your first full day, your orientation will include a tour (so you can find buildings, bathrooms, food, bedding, tents, tools), a description of our labor system and meetings, expectations we have of visitors, and question-and-answer opportunities on anything that you want.  Please plan to arrive before dark so that you can explore during your first day.

Members may put together other orientations, including land walks, workshops on consent culture, having lunch or dinner to get to know a member or group of members, orientations to seasonal work or projects, garden walks, or anything that people request.  Ask us if you want us to elaborate on something that you want to know more about.

During the first half of your visitor period, you can get settled, figure out work areas you’re interested in, and meet people.  This is the time where you get an idea of what Acorn is like and decide whether you really want to apply for membership or not.

You are expected to work 42 hours/week after your first day.  Orientations count as labor.  You will need to talk to people in order to find enough work to do.  You will have an assigned buddy who will be able to answer your questions, help you find work, and introduce you to members interested in similar things.

Around the half-way point, you will have an in-depth interview. The purpose of the interview is to: (i) help foresee and/or work out any potential problems that may be arising; (ii) ensure that the any expectations you may have are realistic; (iii) make sure that you are well-informed about the community; and (iv) provide the community with information relevant to making a membership decision. The questions are available in advance.

During the second half of your visitor period, you will begin to do individual clearnesses. You make a list of every current Acorn member, track them down, and have a clearness conversation so you can check them off your list.  Getting clear means you talk about what it might be like to live together, along with raising and attempting to address any concerns.  There is no formal format to individual clearnesses, but the conversation will usually include topics such as:

– getting-to-know-you talk about your lives
– what kind of work you’ve been doing at Acorn
– what you like and don’t like about our community
– why you want to apply for membership
– what your plans are for the future and what you’ll do if you’re on our wait list

At the end of your visitor period, you will do a group clearness.  This is done during a Sunday or Thursday community meeting.  You have a chance to talk about your past, your experiences in the present at Acorn, and your plans for the future.  There is a go-around where each member present summarizes their individual clearness with you.  Then, the Lightning Round Of Affirmations gives space for everyone say nice things about you.

After your group clearness, you must leave Acorn while your membership is considered and processed.

Once a decision has been made you will be promptly notified. Generally, Acorn makes a decision within one week. But its not unusual for the decision to take two or three weeks. Our general policy is “If it’s not an obvious ‘yes,’ it’s not yes.” In other words, all members need to feel reasonably confident that you are a good fit for membership for you to be invited to become a provisional member.

We believe that visitors have the right to know why they were accepted or rejected. Reasons for accepting or rejecting tend to include things such as ability to get along with other people, willingness to accept feedback, organization and responsibility, completion of useful work, needs of the group at that time, dedication, respect of boundaries, ability to cope with existing mental or emotional issues, and commitment to nonviolence, community living and egalitarianism.

We strive to keep our membership as open as possible and are willing to consider any special needs (such as financial obligations, physical and mental health conditions, age, single parenthood, etc.). If you foresee potential concerns regarding your membership application, it is wise to bring them up as early as possible so that we have time to think about it and try to work something out. Similarly, if people here have specific concerns about you as a member, we encourage them to talk with you about it prior to the decision.

If accepted for membership, you are welcome to move in immediately if there is a room available.  Sometimes we have a wait list for rooms.  As soon as a member moves out and a room becomes available, we inform the first person on the wait list, who either accepts the room or passes.  If they pass, we offer the room to the next person on the wait list, if any, and so on.  It is a norm at Acorn that all members must have rooms, even if the new member is willing to camp and wants to move in before a bedroom is available.  Otherwise, we could acquire more members than we have bedrooms, and come winter it would be difficult to house everyone.

(Bureaucratic note:  Wait list order does not depend on when the person does their clearness, but when they most recently arrived at Acorn for continuous residence.  Example:  Hyena arrives at Acorn on January 1st for a three-month internship.  Panda arrives at Acorn on Feb. 6th for a three-week membership visit and does her clearness on March 1st.  At the end of Hyena’s internship, he applies for membership on April 1st.  Hyena would be above Panda on the wait list.  This is to avoid rushing people into making a decision about membership if they feel anxious about the current room situation.)

Once you are a member, there is a provisional period of at least one year.  In most ways provisional and full members are treated exactly the same.  The main differences are:  (i) that the community can decide to expel a provisional member with a shorter process than a full member (although this is extremely rare); (ii) provisional members do not receive health benefits for six months and do not receive dental benefits until full membership; and (iii) provisional members technically cannot block any community decision (however, their input is still taken seriously).

Since we operate by consensus, any one full member may block someone’s provisional period from continuing or from moving to become a full member.  However, except in cases of violence, abuse, or serious violation of policy, any member who has issues with another member is expected to make a full, good faith effort to work out the problems rather than force someone to leave the community.

If you’re interested in applying for membership, please go to our visit for membership page and e-mail us the information we request there.