why folks come to acorn

recently i asked what you wanted me to write about here. i got one response from a reader named franklin asking for “reasons why folks move into acorn community… and what keeps them there.”

well, this is for you, franklin.

rainbow with onlookers
rainbow with onlookers

it is, of course, easiest for me to speak from my own experience, so i’ll do that first. i was drawn to acorn at the wee age of 19, when i had finished my ‘general ed’ courses in college and was required to choose a major to continue studying. i was paying my own way (and working three jobs while taking out loans – it still wasn’t enough), and couldn’t see any sense in paying for some degree that i couldn’t even afford unless i was sure i wanted it. and so, one spring day as i sat at my computer, my subconscious spoke up. a buzzword that i had heard but not noticed popped into my head. “intentional community” it said. i did a web search, and found ic.org and thefec.org. from there i realized that there were two intentional communities near my home – acorn and twin oaks.

acorn appealed to me because of the seed business – looking for something important to focus on in my life had led me away from college and out into adventure, and growing and preserving healthy organic seeds seemed pretty darn important. so i wrote my visitor letter and came for two weeks at the end of spring in 2007.

the healthiest meal of my life, up to that point
the healthiest meal of my life, up to that point

by the end of the two weeks i had

  • felt the exhileration of not needing an alarm clock
  • successfully eaten more healthy vegetables than i ever had in my life (no, seriously.)
  • enjoyed physical work in the outdoors with people who were fun and open-hearted
  • been in awe of the tolerance and understanding i found (e.g. not being yelled at for mistakes)
  • enjoyed a high number of quick friendships with mature, open, and honest adults
  • fell in love with the beautiful land, climate, and wildlife

so those were my initial reasons. there are ups and downs, of course. every community is different. i have been through two big personality clashes, cried at meetings, howled at the moon, thrown a surprise 60th birthday party for a dear friend, and enjoyed countless moments of wonder and awe with others here at the farm. there have been double rainbows, cool bugs, exciting projects successfully completed, delicious food tended from seed to seed, lots of silly moments, and many evenings of movie-watching and video games (don’t forget delicious homemade popcorn!). i’ve been supported in efforts to become a healthier person, but have also had the space to go within myself and grow. i have struggled through community process that didn’t always turn out how i wanted.

chocolate heart homecoming cake with a platypus sweet potato.
chocolate heart homecoming cake with a platypus sweet potato.

i suppose what it comes down to is this: i love this land, and i love many of the people here. they bring laughter and joy into my life much more often than sadness, and i am enriched by sharing a home with them. there is meaningful work to be done here, and the space and flexibility for me to pursue the type of lifestyle that i crave (mostly focused on sustainability and self-sufficiency). and that’s about all a creature can ask for, isn’t it?

i’ll post a poll in heartwood and see if i can get responses from other acorners. feel free to comment and ask more questions!

5 Replies to “why folks come to acorn”

  1. Hi Joan…you said if you can do meaningful work with your life it is satisfying to no end…I agree. Franklin

  2. What’s the difference between Acorn and Twin Oaks? Are you guys just an acorn off the old oak tree? Or is there a reason for the Acorn branch/development/seperation? 🙂

  3. hi michelle. acorn was created at a time when twin oaks was at population cap and a number of people were restless to move into community. so it was created as a branch off the old oak, but in the sixteen years since has evolved into its own style.

    acorn is much smaller than twin oaks – you can’t hide from folks you have issues with here as easily as you can there, which is in some ways good and in some ways bad.

    our main work is a seed business, southern exposure seed exchange, which to me seems very different from making either tofu or hammocks (twin oaks businesses).

    our structure is more loose and flexible. there is great opportunity for folks to commit to their time here at acorn and end up really helping to shape the community into their dream. many of the members here now are here specifically because they feel they have a great amount of influence in the direction and structure of the community.

    many of our policies are similar or the same, but we often are not as strict or as detailed. with a smaller community it’s easy to say “do such and such in this way… and if you want to do it differently, we’ll talk about it” rather than having absolutes.

    does that answer your question?

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