The Federation of Egalitarian Communities does not involve itself with internal issues in its member communities very much, other than what I call “in-reach” projects and programs. Yet just like an individual community the Federation controls which communities can and cannot be a member. I have not yet located my copy of the Federation Bylaws and I don’t see it on the http://www.theFEC.org website so I cannot say what are the Federation’s membership criteria or process for expulsion. Someone else will have to find that.
What ever process the Federation has for responding to complaints about communities (the Fellowship definitely has such a process and the FEC can look at that if desired) I will work to support the Federation in beginning some kind of complaint process. Obviously, that will require dialogue with many people, both current and former members, and members of other FEC groups.
For my contribution to that inquiry I have produced a series of papers covering every aspect of the issue that I can think of, especially with regard to the history of how EW’s problems originated and developed. People generally do not know this history of the Child Program at EW and how it relates to the alcohol culture at EW, so conversations on EW’s Pregnancy Oppression may be different among those who have read my history and those who have not. While those documents are currently available on my blog and FB page, I am putting all or most of them together into one read and will eventually have that available.
Before going further, I will explain the timing of this letter. For decades I have been writing about pregnancy and children at EW and other communities, building a collection of material on the issue, to work with after the TO 50th Anniversary. I waited until a year after that blessed event, savoring the feeling of a community of present and former members in harmony, ending that period of sweet afterglow with my paper “Thinking About Twin Oaks.” After all that I planned to begin this Pregnancy Oppression campaign by approaching the Federation for action and possibly resolution before EW’s 50th Land Day (2024). If things are worse or no better at EW by then I have other plans that I will consider putting into place at that time.
What the Federation may or may not do is one thing. What I may or may not do is another. My current plan for before EW’s 50th Land Day is to put together enough people and funding to begin two or more new intentional communities near East Wind. The main reason is because, as the scouts who found the East Wind land discovered, there is plenty of water and few building codes in Ozark County, Missouri, unlike further West, and so it remains a good place to start remote, rural communities, now as in the 1970s. My goal is to develop a “Commonwealth” of several communities in one area of different designs, not all communal like what is developing around Twin Oaks. So while keeping my cash cow here in Denver I want to take equity from this property and invest it in land near EW, along with others. That means that I expect at some point to relocate to Ozark County. Depending upon many factors. (Actually it will be more like having both an urban and a rural location.)
The pregnancy and children-issues at EW did not arise after the alcohol culture was established there, they caused it. I will not explain that here since I have written about it elsewhere. For this letter I will assume that my audience has read all that earlier and elsewhere material.
Over-use of alcohol destroys communities. This may be general knowledge. Typically, alcohol abuse gets to the point of violence, yet with EW’s non-violence policies users at EW are usually careful to control the violence issues. What this means is that the alcohol population at EW has been able to grow quietly without making major waves, to the point now that it is difficult for others at EW to oppose the policies supported by the alcohol culture in the community, including Pregnancy Oppression.
Thus, the alcohol culture will continue to grow at EW, causing ever more of the non-alcohol culture to leave and shrink. Essentially, I think that the alcohol culture problem at EW has gotten to the point that other members cannot effectively counter it. They have to accept it or leave. I do not know whether the Federation has received any complaints about EW, yet I think that the Federation can probably find sufficient justification for beginning a process of dialogue with members of EW, past and current, to assess the degree of problems which the alcohol culture has created at EW.
While one of the problems of an alcohol culture is how it changes the community’s selection criteria for members, another is the tendency to refuse supporting children. EW may have more than one reason for its policies of Pregnancy Oppression, since as I have written, causing pregnant women to leave began with the commitment to communal childcare, yet it is likely now that EW’s pregnancy and child issues are directly related to the alcohol-culture issue.
An outcome of an alcohol culture is that those who oppose its use become outnumbered and lose the ability to resist alcohol-culture policies. At this point the community is lost to the alcohol-culture and no internal sub-group can change that. The question is whether at EW it has gotten to that point, and that is where the Federation comes in.
The Federation of Egalitarian Communities needs to decide whether or not it wants a member community controlled by an alcohol-culture. If not, it needs to figure out what to do about it, because that is happening at EW.
From people who have volunteered information to me, I understand that there are about half a dozen “hard-core” people at EW, otherwise described as “problem members.” Around that group is a supportive alcohol sub-group that protects their presence by a voting block I am calling the “alcohol culture.” I can give other examples of how this alcohol culture has affected EW in the past, yet the most recent example is the following: at least one of the hard-core men harassed a woman in the EW Showerhouse. Perhaps this happened more than once. EW had for about 40 years some private showers yet also a community shower, shared by women and men. Only in the past few years has that been a sufficient problem that EW has now built separate women’s and men’s showers. Maybe EW needed to do that long ago, yet it did not until now. Yes, EW needed to replace its burned Showerhouse yet it is unlikely to have changed this design factor without good reason. That is one small, anecdotal change which can be said to be traceable to EW’s alcohol culture. Most likely other former and present members can come up with more anecdotes. For my perspective, today the biggest issue related to Pregnancy Oppression at EW is directly related to the alcohol culture.
Obviously, that alcohol culture could figure out that by lessoning its restrictions upon pregnant women and children it may be able to remove criticism of itself similar to how it agreed to build separate-gendered showers for addressing a problem which likely arose from the alcohol culture itself, while that culture continues to subvert and redesign the community to its desires.
I am sure that there are people at EW like Quinn who will say that I know nothing and my perspectives have nothing to do with reality. That is the nature of complaints and responses that the Federation will have to slog through.
For my part, I did not devote eight of the best years of my live to create a community controlled by an alcohol culture, and I will work the rest of my life to see that changed.
The Federation of Egalitarian Communities has to find its own path for addressing this issue, unless it is willing to have a member community increasingly designed around the alcohol culture. I am available to help with that yet obviously there are perfectly capable people in the FEC to take that on. I think that the first step is as I mentioned above, collecting comments from past and present members, and from members of other FEC groups. I have contributed my comments, it is now for the Federation to seek others.