Information for Accepted Visitors
Twin Oaks is located in Louisa County, Virginia, 45 minutes outside of Charlottesville. There is no public transportation directly to Louisa or Twin Oaks.
CAR: If you are travelling by car, please arrive on the day the visitor period starts by 5:00 pm at the latest. Use this address for online directions: 138 Twin Oaks Rd, Louisa Virginia 23093
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Air, bus, and train connections can be made to Charlottesville from all over the country. Please plan to arrive in Charlottesville by 3 pm on Friday, the first day of the visitor period, if you want a ride to Twin Oaks. Someone on our town trip can meet you at the bus, train, or airport terminal. You'll need to contact us ahead of time requesting a ride, confirming the date and time of your arrival and giving details of your travel arrangements (eg. airline flight number, bus or train station). Depending on the errands on the town trip for the day, the driver may arrive to pick you up anytime between 1:30 and 3:00 pm. If it is impossible or difficult for you to arrive on Friday in time to meet our town trip, you may be able to make an alternative arrangement by requesting this ahead of time. (a separate trip costs $50, which we would ask that you cover).
EARLY AND LATE ARRIVALS: If you arrive early, you may need to wait a while to be picked up. If your plane, bus, or train is delayed, phone Twin Oaks (540-894-5126) during office hours. Let us know your expected time of arrival and where you'll be waiting. Make sure the person answering the phone understands that you need to be picked up.
RETURNING HOME: The last full day of a three-week visit is Thursday. Visitors leave Twin Oaks on Friday. Visitors returning home by public transportation can get a ride to Charlottesville with the town trip on Friday. We can get you to town by 9:30 am.
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 hot, humid climate and very little air conditioning!)
- In spring and autumn, a mix since weather is unpredictable.
- Footwear: including at least one set of closed-toe shoes or boots for work
- Ear Plugs if you are noise-sensitive
- Cash or a 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. Among other things, this means no perfumes / cologne, limited cell phone use, smoking in designated areas only, and asking before taking someone´s picture.
Visitors stay in Aurora, our Visitor Building. We provide a bed, sheets/pillowcase, towel and blankets. We also provide the following but you can bring your own if you have a certain kind you like:
However, please do not bring very strongly-scented body products, such as deodorant, perfume or cologne.
YOU MAY WANT TO BRING:
Cell phone, Laptop, Etc (can be used within our cell phone norms--but see info below about this)
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.
Visitors are welcome to bring a laptop, phone, etc to be used within our norms, which are more restrictive than the mainstream where you can essentially use your device wherever you have access. We limit use to certain areas of the community. Additionally Twin Oaks requires all members and visitors to register their devices in order to access our shared network. To set this up ahead of time, please go to this link: http://tinyurl.com/yxdtmt9b
7 a.m. My alarm wakes me up and I roll out of bed, ready to start the day. The other visitors and I chat as we're getting ready in the Visitor Cabin, Aurora.
7:30 a.m. I make myself breakfast (toast with homemade bread and an egg from one of the chickens) in the main kitchen. Lunch and dinner are served buffet-style, but there are a handful of smaller kitchens for breakfast and snacking. As I eat, I read a novel I pulled from the public collection of several thousand books—no library card needed.
(Summer) 8 a.m. I head to the main community Garden, a two-minute walk down the hill from my room—not a bad commute. It's a pleasantly cool morning, but I know it'll warm up quickly as we work. I meet the Garden Manager and chat with the rest of the crew until our shift begins and we're instructed on harvesting tomatoes and how to tell exactly when they are ripe enough for picking.
(Winter) 8 a.m. I head to my wood-splitting shift. The community heats most of its' buildings with energy-efficient wood furnaces using firewood harvested from their almost 500 acres of forest. I've never done this work before, but the "honcho" (what Twin Oaks calls their shift coordinators) shows me how to use the wood-splitter and what size to split each log. Soon I get into the rhythm of it and have amassed a pile of wood ready to be stacked.
11 a.m. My shift is over, and I head inside to briefly do some email on one of the public computers in the office. I've promised to give my friends and family "the inside scoop" on life on the commune, and I don't want to disappoint them.
Noon It's lunch time, so I walk up to the main dining hall. Lunch is mostly leftovers, supplemented with a fresh salad and baked potatoes. The community grows greens throughout the winter in the huge greenhouse, and they harvested enough potatoes in the summer and fall to last through the winter. Some members (adults and kids) are practicing their hula-hooping skills on the deck outside after they finish eating, and I end up giving it a try.
1 p.m. Time for a tofu shift. I head to the Tofu Hut and put on boots, gloves, a hairnet, and an apron, where my job is to weigh blocks of tofu, making sure each one falls within the total weight advertised on the package. All around me other members are using all manner of industrial equipment to grind and cook the soybeans, before curding them, draining out the whey, and pressing the curds into the blocks I will eventually weigh. The whole operation functions like a finely-tuned machine, all set to background music--each person in the Tofu Hut can choose a playlist for a part of the shift.
3:30 p.m. By mid-afternoon I'm ready for some more relaxing work. Today I've been assigned a shift helping out with some work in the office. It's not too challenging, and even though I'm focussing, I can take it easy while I work.
5 p.m. I hang out in my room a bit before dinner, reading or listening to music. I find it's important to carve out alone time for myself--it's very easy to get sucked into the social scene 24/7 here. There's always something going on, which can be fun for meeting people, but getting down-time is important too.
6:00 p.m. Dinner is served! Tonight it's veggie burgers, with a sides of steamed spinach and sweet potato fries. Some of each meal, both veggies and meat, is homegrown. I sit in the "Fun Table" with about ten people. Sometimes at dinner there's one main conversation but tonight several smaller discussions have sprung up. Besides copper-vs-plastic waterlines, people are talking about the new fruit orchard that is being planting, the latest news from Twin Oaks' sister community 8 miles up the road, and trying to work out if people's schedules will allow the belly-dance troupe to meet on the same night as the queer-theory discussion group.
7:30 p.m. Tonight is Games Night. A bunch of people show up and we end up playing Code Names, Settlers of Catan and plain old Pictionary. One person doesn't play at all but hangs out, knitting a pair of socks. It's a festive atmosphere, though there's no particular occasion; we just like to enjoy each other's company.
9:30 p.m. I head home to my room. I record the work I did today on my labor sheet and write in my journal a bit to unwind before bed. I'm very tired, but happy. It's been a good day.