Twin Oaks is often seeking new members.
After a long period of having a waiting list, Twin Oaks now has a number of available membership spaces. Accepted visitors can move into the community as soon as 30 days after their visitor period ends. [Updated July 1, 2016]
Since Twin Oaks began in 1967, our lifestyle has reflected our values of equality and nonviolence. Our goals have been to sustain and expand a community which values cooperation; which is not sexist or racist; which treats people in a caring and fair manner; and which provides for the basic needs of our members. Although our original inspiration came from B.F. Skinner's novel, Walden Two, it is now just one of the many influences which have helped shape Twin Oaks' character. Our desire to be a model social system has broadened to include human-scale solutions to problems of land use, food production, energy conservation, and appropriate use of technology.
Size, Location and Facilities
Size, Location and Facilities
We are approximately 90 adults and 15 children ranging in age from newborn to 80 years.
Our contiguous land encompasses over 350 acres and extends over a mile up from the South Anna River. It includes creeks, woods, hilly pastures and farmland.
Over the years we have built seven large group houses, a children's building, a community center including our main communal kitchen, industrial buildings, and various other structures. We have incorporated solar and/or wood heat in almost all of our buildings.
We use a trust-based labor system in which all work is valued equally. Its purpose is to organize work and share it equitably, giving each member as much flexibility and choice as possible. Work is not seen as just a means to an end; we try to make it an enjoyable part of our lives.
Most people prefer doing a variety of work, rather than the same job day in, day out. We work about 45.5 hours a week, including domestic chores often not valued as "real work" in the mainstream culture. Over half of the work we do involves non-income activities ranging from caring for our children to milking cows to networking. We particularly seek to open work areas to women and men that are not easily accessible to them outside of community because of lingering prejudices about what "women's work" or "men's work" should be.
Twin Oaks supports itself primarily through the manufacture of handcrafted hammocks and other casual furniture items and a tofu and soy foods business. We also have a book-indexing service. Our direction is to develop other industries which will diversify our economic base, produce more basic goods and services, and provide satisfying work to the people who live here.
Our style of government is adapted from the novel Walden Two. We have three planners who serve 18-month staggered terms; they carry out executive functions and help focus the community's attention on issues and the long-range effects. Candidates for planner may be vetoed by 20% of the full membership; planner decisions can be overruled by a simple majority of the full membership.
Members normally make their will felt through personal conversations, opinion papers, and polls. We hold weekly community meetings at which the community planners receive input prior to making decisions. There are dozens of managerships covering large and small areas-anyone who wants to become a manager can. Sometimes several managers or a crew share responsibilities.
We don't always get along with each other perfectly, but we usually relate to each other with gentleness and tolerance. We feel we have been successful in creating a healthy environment which respects individual preferences while reinforcing group values of nonviolence, equality, and cooperation.
We don't expect people to always be sociable. Although we are a community, we are aware of the necessity for solitude and intimacy. Members have private rooms, and we also have a retreat cabin, a sweat hut and many living rooms available for individual use.
We provide our own entertainment in the form of homemade music, readings, coffeehouses, and occasional plays. We value the ways in which we create a distinct culture. Our holidays are social high points of the year; we celebrate each change of season and the anniversary of the community's founding.
Twin Oakers often go to Charlottesville, Richmond, Washington, and other nearby cities for cultural events, political involvement, or to visit friends. Sometimes there's a small group trip west to the Blue Ridge Mountains or east to an Atlantic Ocean beach. At home, our darkroom and wood shops are available for personal use. We have quite a collection of books and recorded music, and are connected to the world at large via radio, newspapers and magazines. We do not have television because we feel that would be too big a pipeline for just those values and products we are trying to avoid, but we do show videos and 16mm films.
Since 1983, we have hosted an annual Women's Gathering, combining music and celebration, education and support for the gatherers, who come from across eastern North America. These events serve as a way for members to connect with the women's movement-and are great fun.
We also host an annual Communities Conference, which draws a wide variety of experienced communitarians and interested seekers who are new to community living. The conference is a mix of workshops, networking, recruiting and socializing. Anyone interested in attending our conferences can write directly to that conference, care of Twin Oaks, and we will put you on the mailing list to receive a registration flyer.
Children are cared for by their parents. Parents often make voluntary arrangements with other parents or non-parents to mind their children some of the time.
Over the years, a number of schooling options have been used including homeschooling, public school, and Montessori.
Unfortunately, we do not always have child/family housing space available. If you are part of a family with children under age 18, please contact our Child Board for more up-to-date information.
We have open spaces for membership! Would you like to join us? Potential members must visit for three weeks before being considered for provisional membership. After the end of the 3 weeks, you must spend a minimum of one month away from Twin Oaks while the community decides whether to accept you. This is to give you time to contemplate your decision to live here, and also to give you time to get your affairs in order and pack. If Twin Oaks decides to accept you, you can move in after that one month away, or you can choose to wait up to 6 months after the end of your visitor period to move in. If you have to wait longer than 6 months before you can move in, you can extend your "window of acceptance" for an additional 3 months (making a total of 9 months) if you visit for 7 consecutive days and work up to the labor quota any time during the second trimester. Once you move in, there is a six-month provisional membership period, which is a time to decide whether you fit Twin Oaks and Twin Oaks fits you. During this time provisional members enjoy most of the rights and responsibilities of full members. (Exceptions to this are that they cannot vote or participate in the vetoing of planner's decisions, and they must incur the costs of any pre-existing medical conditions.) After new members have been accepted by the community for full membership they are asked to sign an agreement with us. The membership agreement covers financial arrangements worked out with the community and the community bylaws. Each member, in return, is guaranteed an equal share of all the benefits the community can provide.
There is no membership fee--we want to encourage people of diverse economic and racial backgrounds to live here. Resources may be held outside the community but one cannot benefit from their use while a member. Clothing and personal effects remain your own, unless you choose to share them. We ordinarily distinguish personal from shared items by keeping them in our rooms. We do not have private vehicles. For more information about this, see our Property Code
We are still maintaining an active visitor program. People who are interested in joining Twin Oaks must first participate in our three-week visitor program (though you don't have to be interested in membership in order to participate in the program.) It is best to make your plans to visit several months in advance. Well before you plan to stay here, read our 3-Week Visitor Program page, which will include the year's visitor schedule. You will be asked to write a letter of introduction including some personal history.
Visitors take part in our work, and attend meetings which help explain aspects of Twin Oaks. We try to give as good an idea as possible of what membership is like here. There is a $50 visitor fee, which we will waive if you cannot afford it.