An off-the-grid commune in Virginia, Twin Oaks, is garnering national attention due in large part to the community’s “Flower Child” throwback lifestyle. Members of the Virgina off-grid commune share everything – even their children and significant others, in some cases. Although commune is the term often used to describe such living situations, which became popular during the 1970s, the phrase “intentional community” is preferred by folks who are members of the thousands of communal groups which currently exist in the United States.
Asking permission to have a baby is reportedly also a part of the guidelines at the Twin Oaks Virginia commune. The off grid community is located in the rural region Louisa and is home to about 105 people. The members of the intentional community run about six reasonably successful businesses and members say that learning new skills and how to run a business in a responsible manner has allowed many who leave to become successful entrepreneurs.
When Twin Oaks was created almost 50 years ago, a total of 92 adults and 13 children opted to live a life of “clever poverty” on 450 picturesque wooded acres. The commune members work together to grow what they eat, share vehicles, and live in homes with up to 22 other adults and children. Monogamy is not necessarily a priority at the Virginia commune.
All of the Twin Oaks children are homeschooled and begin helping lend a hand with chores one hour per day at the age of four, according to a report on Nightline. All Virginia commune members earn a monthly allowance of $103 to compensate them for completing 42 hours of labor each week. Once the off grid community members turns 50, they only have to work one hour per week. Typical chores at the commune include cooking, gardening, milking cows, making rope hammocks and tofu, and cleaning. The tofu and hammocks are sold to the public.
Twin Oaks was founded in 1967 and the B.F. Skinner novel, Waldon Two, was the blueprint for the commune, according to Yahoo! Parenting.
“It’s nice to have a three-bedroom house with lots of lovely furniture and big closets and my very own washing machine and all these luxuries and air conditioning but they’re nothing compared to the sense of support and sharing, the sense of community,” Twin Oaks resident, Gryphon Corpus, said.
Before joining the Virginia intentional community, Corpus was the CEO of a high-end yarn firm. Corpus, her former husband, and their 8-year-old daughter, Sappho, moved to the commune while in search of a more simplistic and fulfilling lifestyle. During an interview with Nightline, Sappho said that she has lived a “pretty much free range” lifestyle at Twin Oaks.
“Having a child is not something you can take for granted, that you can just decide to do on your own because you’re not responsible for financing that kid’s upbringing. The entire community is, so the entire community has to make that decision,” Katheryn Simmons, also a resident of the intentional community, said.
Some residents have multiple boyfriends and girlfriends, sometimes in addition to a spouse. Polygamy is reportedly viewed as a benefit in the child rearing process. One resident told the media that polygamy and the communal child raising philosophy helps make a parent “stronger at communication” because you “really have to hype your communication skills to be in a polly relationship.”
There is a long waiting list to become a resident at the Twin Oak intentional community – background checks are required.
What do you think about the Twin Oaks commune in Virginia? Would you be happier living and raising children in an off the grid or communal environment?
[Images via: Twin Oaks Press Photos]