The three week visit is a structured program designed to give the visitor some general education and experience in living at Twin Oaks. It is an opportunity for the visitor to consider membership and for the community to consider prospective new members. The visit is a prerequisite to applying for membership (although anyone is welcome to do a 3-week visit whether or not they are applying for membership), and visitors need to spend at least one month away from Twin Oaks at the end of their visitor period. The fee for the three-week visit is on a sliding scale of $50-$250. This is used to pay for outreach and to offset expenses of the visitor program. We strongly encourage people with significant financial resources to pay at/towards the high end of the scale. If you can't afford to pay at the low end of the scale, we can make arrangements for a reduced fee.
The visitor program includes meetings, tours and conversations with members, through which the visitor learns about what it's like to live at Twin Oaks, including the financial, legal, health, labor and governmental structures at Twin Oaks.
Work The visitor takes part in the work of the community and is required to work 42 hours a week, just as members do. Visitors are assigned some work, and have some choice in the types of work they do. Members often invite visitors to work with them on specific projects in a variety of work areas, and interested and/or qualified visitors can often pick up jobs by speaking with the manager of the work area. There are some jobs requiring familiarity with Twin Oaks or specialized skills that visitors do not take part in.
Accommodations Visitors are housed in our 6-bedroom, 2-bathroom visitor building. Depending on the size of the visitor group, you may be asked to share a room with one other visitor. Smoking is not allowed in the visitor building. Your visitor group will meet together to determine quiet hours and cleanliness standards for your group.
What To Bring The visitor building is well-stocked with bed linens, towels, and toiletries, including toothpaste, soap and shampoo. These are available for you to use during your visit. There will be laundry facilities available for you to use during your visit.
PLEASE DO BRING:
- Clothing: for general everyday wear and also work clothing (which may get dirty)
- In winter: heavy jacket, warm shoes and/or boots, long underwear and warm pajamas
- In summer: lightweight clothing (we have a humid climate and no air conditioning!)
- Footwear: including at least one set of closed-toe shoes or boots for work
- Cash, check, or money order made out to Twin Oaks or Twin Oaks Community for your visitor fee (sliding scale $50 - $250), to be turned in on Saturday morning at the beginning of the Community Tour. We cannot process credit or debit cards.
- A willingness to respect and abide by our norms, and to be open to the particulars of our alternative culture
YOU CAN BRING (IF YOU WANT A SPECIFIC KIND YOU LIKE) BUT WE ALSO PROVIDE:
- However, please do not bring very strongly-scented body products, and do not bring perfume or cologne
YOU MAY WANT TO BRING:
- Camera (can be used within our photography norms)
- Cell phone (can be used within our cell phone norms)
- Musical Instrument (to play with the multitude of musicians we have here)
Please be aware when bringing valuables that none of our interior or exterior doors have locks. We have a pretty strong culture of trust, and almost never have problems, but we cannot guarantee the security of any valuables and the community does not take responsibility for any losses.
Although it is possible to do your entire visitor period without spending any money, you may wish to bring some money to buy things not ordinarily provided by the community (eg. junk food, coffee, etc). We ask that you not spend more than $75 during this time, as this would exceed the amount of personal spending money available to members, and will give you an idea of this aspect of living at Twin Oaks. Similarly, we also ask that you not drive your car during the visitor group, to experience not having a personal vehicle while living here.
Pets. Visitors are not allowed to bring pets with them. Our Pet Policy allows a certain number of dogs and cats here, and the pets that we have are contingent on space being available in a compatible residence. Generally, new members do not bring their pets with them, but find someplace else for them to live. We do have a Waiting List for cats and dogs, but there are rarely openings.
Guests of Visitors. Members of Twin Oaks may invite friends or relatives as guests, but we ask that visitors not invite guests.
Mental health needs. Although Twin Oaks commits to providing for the basic needs of our members, we are only able to provide a limited amount of care related to mental health needs. Basically you need to be able to function well within the work and interpersonal structures of Twin Oaks in order to be accepted for membership. Someone with a history of recent suicidal tendencies, serious substance abuse problems or major, unresolved emotional trauma may have difficulty adjusting to communal life here. In extreme cases, an individual may choose or be asked to leave.
Children. Twin Oaks does accept new members with children when there is child space available. Families visit longer than the standard three weeks, and must make arrangements with the Child Board. If you are a family interested in community living we also maintain a list of communities we are in contact with that are interested in having more children living at their communities.
Age Policy for Joining Twin Oaks. Twin Oaks has members of all ages—people in their 20s to those in their 80s. Our Visitor Program is open to everyone, regardless of age. However, in order to keep a balance of members in all age ranges, the community has decided to adopt a limit on the number of "pensioners" (members who are over a certain age and therefore work fewer hours than younger members, according to our labor policies) that we accept for membership and this means that we have put a "hold" on accepting for membership anyone over the age of 54, until our average age drops. The average member age changes with arrivals and departures; thus the age limit hold will be removed whenever the average age again drops below 40.
We are still welcoming people of all ages to visit, to learn more about us and to experience life here for three weeks, but people who are age 55 or older would not be eligible to apply for membership to live here. However, it is also possible for visitors who are age 55 or older to apply for an exception to this policy. We cannot guarantee that every exception will be granted, but this possibility remains available. You would need to talk with our Membership Team about the possibility of an exception.
Creating this policy was a difficult decision, and controversial in the community itself. Our challenge was finding a balance between maintaining a non-ageist policy, and on the other hand being able to address concerns such as health care costs for our already sizable population of older people, a culture that remains a blend of youth and elders (and doesn't become a "retirement community"), and enough strong backs to fulfill the substantial amounts of physical work needed by the community.
A visit is arranged through correspondence rather than over the phone. Write us a Letter of Introduction according to the instructions below. Indicate your first, second, and third choices of visitor sessions--see the Program Calendar. The best way to get the visitor session you want is to write well in advance. If you are coming with another person, each of you should write individual letters, rather than a joint letter.
After we receive your letter and preference of dates, we will contact you and confirm your visit. Please let us know as soon as possible if you decide to cancel so we can offer your place to someone else.
If you are under the age of 18, Twin Oaks requires legal consent from a parent or guardian in order for you to visit. Please contact us for further information.
You can phone the community to make inquiries about the community or the visitor program, or to get directions, but don't try to schedule your visit over the phone. The best time to phone is during regular office hours (9:00 to noon and 12:30 to 5:30 weekdays, 9:00 to 3:00 Saturday.)
This is the community's opportunity to get to know you a little before we invite you into our home. The Letter of Introduction should be about 1-2 pages—if it's too short, we won't be able to get a good sense of who you are. It should include the following:
- your legal name
- the name you generally go by
- your age
- your gender
- the work or studies in which you are presently involved
- your work history
- your hobbies and interests
- how you heard about Twin Oaks
- why you are interested in visiting community, and why Twin Oaks in particular
- any physical ailments or limitations (e.g. back problems) which would prevent you from doing certain kinds of work
- any special skills you have or work you like or dislike, e.g. indoor work vs. outdoor work
- if you have any children, and their ages, even if you are not planning on visiting with them.
- your first, second, and third choices of visitor sessions
- your permanent postal address (or "most permanent")
- a phone number where you can be reached previous to your visit
- if you are emailing us from a school-based address, please include an additional non-school email address as well
- emergency contact information: we need information for a relative or friend who we can contact in case of an emergency during your visit. Please send the person's full name, postal address, email address(es), their relationship to you, and most importantly 24-hour phone number(s). (if you're from outside of North America, please include a US or Canadian contact as well, if you can.)
The letter of introduction greatly helps to pave the way for a newcomer to Twin Oaks, and will be posted for the membership to read. Someone in our diverse population is likely to share some of your interests.
Please address all correspondence to:
Twin Oaks Community
138-W Twin Oaks Road
Louisa, VA 23093
Please send no email attachments.
Please send only plain text email, not HTML formatted mail!
Send letter of introduction in body of email message.
When you write, please tell us how/where you heard about Twin Oaks.
If it was through another website, we'd like to know which one, and the URL if possible.
Phone (540) 894-5126
Fax (888) 424-8838
2016 Three Week Visitor Schedule
Visits begin on Friday and end on Thursday
|Jan 22||-||Feb 11|
|Feb 26||-||Mar 17|
|Mar 25||-||Apr 14|
|Apr 22||-||May 12|
|May 20||-||Jun 9|
|Jun 17||-||Jul 7|
|Jul 15||-||Aug 4|
|Aug 12||-||Sep 1|
|Sep 9||-||Sep 29|
|Oct 7||-||Oct 27|
|Nov 4||-||Nov 24|
Please plan on arriving before 5:00 pm on the first day of your visitor period. Phone us if you are going to be delayed. Please plan to leave on the day after the end of the visitor period.