Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Twin Oaks Entrance Sign

Sky Blue: How Can We Peacefully, Equitably, and Sustainably Coexist?

Podcast at BlogTalkRadio

Intentional communities (ICs) address social and economic issues. Since 1987, The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC) has been a resource and proponent of intentional communities. Multiple secular models exist: housing co-operatives, ecovillages, income sharing communes & cohousing.

Restructuring society based on cooperation, sustainability, & social justice can be learned as people live while decreasing resource consumption & waste; foster peaceful relationships & conflict resolution & participatory democracy, economic justice, and gender equality.

Individual lifestyle choices are leveraged with collective action and experiment with a holistic approach to addressing social issues. Groups explore legal and financial structures; install renewable energy systems, share resources & collective governance.

Sky Blue, a member of Twin Oaks Community, helped start two worker co-operatives & car-sharing system; visited dozens of communities & coops in the US & Europe. 

Llano Office at Twin Oaks Community

Welcome To Twin Oaks Community

Twin Oaks is an intentional community in rural central Virginia, made up of around 90 adult members and 15 children. Since the community's beginning in 1967, our way of life has reflected our values of cooperation, sharing, nonviolence, equality, and ecology. We welcome you to schedule a visit.

Update, late November 2016:

We no longer have immediate openings for membership.
We do though expect to continue to have openings with a waiting list to join.
Learn about our Visitor Program here.

We do not have a group religion; our beliefs are diverse. We do not have a central leader; we govern ourselves by a form of democracy with responsibility shared among various managers, planners, and committees. We are self-supporting economically, and partly self-sufficient. We are income-sharing. Each member works 42 hours a week in the community's business and domestic areas. Each member receives housing, food, healthcare, and personal spending money from the community.

Our hammocks and casual furniture business has generated most of our income in the past. Making tofu as of 2011 has become roughly equal in importance to hammocks. Indexing books and now seed growing are also significant sources of income. Still, less than half of our work goes into these income-producing activities; the balance goes into a variety of tasks that benefit our quality of life—including milking cows, gardening, cooking, and childcare. Most people prefer doing a variety of work, rather than the same job day in, day out.

A number of us choose to be politically active in issues of peace, ecology, anti-racism, and feminism. Each summer we are hosts to a Women's Gathering and a Communities Conference where we welcome both experienced communitarians, and seekers who are new to community living.

We give tours of Twin Oaks almost every Saturday afternoon from March through October, and on most alternating Saturdays from November through February. Read about the Saturday Tour here.

We offer a structured three week visit designed to give the visitor some general education and experience in living at Twin Oaks. Read about the Visitor Program here

Please do not drop in and expect to get a tour or be able to stay overnight. Tours and visits must always be pre-arranged, and to be a guest here, a member must agree to be your host before you arrive.

Twin Oaks Community
138 Twin Oaks Road # W
Louisa, VA 23093 USA

888-424-8838 Fax
Email Us

When communicating with us by email please do not send attachments. Please send only plain text email, not HTML formatted mail. 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.

More About Twin Oaks

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

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.

Work Areas

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.

Interpersonal Relations

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.

We invite you to join our mailing list.

Twin Oaks
138-W Twin Oaks Road
Louisa, Virginia 23093
(540) 894-5126
(888) 424-8838 Fax

See founder Kat Kinkade's book, Is It Utopia Yet? which describes the first 25 years of Twin Oaks.

Why Income-Sharing?

It is a more economically just way to live in relationship with each other.

It avoids a luxury economy and many of the pitfalls/tragedies of the class system and of economic privilege. (although often not all of them, as income-sharing is complex and as subject to the pressures of the mainstream as anything that is outside of the dominant paradigm)

It frees up energy and resources in the group to pursue other activities, especially ones more closely tied to the values mission of the group. Since the group is collectively taking responsibility for covering the basics of life like rent, food, etc. this is much more efficient than each person in the group spending their life energy to provide those things for themselves. Therefore there is extra time, money, etc leftover for people in the group to spend on other activities that are important to them. For example, Twin Oaks sets aside a certain amount of money and labour hours each year devoted to members to do political activism—in this way, doing activism work counts as part of our weekly work quota. We've also sent people to seed-saving workshops, and given hours for a member to write a book about growing food.

By collectivizing their resources, the group can have access to more resouces than each individual could alone. For example, at Twin Oaks members have access to an outdoor sauna beside a pond, a fully- equipped woodworking workshop, free yoga classes in our home, etc. It is highly unlikely that any one of us would have these in our lives otherwise, but we do here because the group has had the resources and chosen to provide them for ourselves.

People have a higher level of interdependence and engagement in each others' lives—being financially connected results in connections of other types as well. For many people, this vastly improves their quality of life. Of course it brings up challenges as well, but again for many people this is well worth the trade-off, and to the extent that those challenges can be resolved with some level of skill, that can lead to a deepening of relationship and of the strength of the group structure.

Sharing income acts as a general purpose insurance policy.  All insurance schemes are simply arrangements for pooling risk so that the individual members of the pool do not have to keep as large a reserve of cash on hand. Income sharing allows members to insulate themselves from financial risk (loss of health, loss of job, loss of property) with a much smaller per capita cash reserve than an independent person.

Sharing income frees up individuals to do less income-generating work than they would need to do if they were living independently as long as the group as a whole is doing enough income generating work. This is one way that utility maximization comes in by allowing more specialization (social efficiency) and personal flexibility. Examples: One member is a talented programmer (easily monetized skill set) but terrible cook another is a talented cook and handy person (less easily monetized skill set). The programmer can spend more time programming without worrying about keeping fed and keeping their domestic machinery functioning, the cook and handy person can spend time cooking and fixing things around the house without worrying about earning money.  As far as personal flexibility goes, if your finances are not directly and solely dependent upon you earning money you can more easily take vacations or take time off when you need it as long as the group will carry you (and presumably as long as you are willing to do the same for others later).

Also, sometimes we broaden the definition—it's not just about income- sharing, but resource-sharing in general. We collectively own our vehicles, our houses, and over 500 acres of land—there are benefits to these that go beyond just having one bank account for many people.

Independence is very appealing but it comes with a high price tag.

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