Category Archives: My Journey


This post is long overdue. I had originally planned to update this blog about every two months or so, but that’s obviously not happening. So I’ll update when I do.

A lot has happened since I last wrote of East Wind. Perhaps most significantly to me, I became a Full Member at the start of February. Provisional membership lasts a year at East Wind, after which Full Members vote on the Provisional Member’s membership. I passed 🙂 . This entitles me to the same rights as any other member of East Wind, including full health care (major medical, dental, vision), a full vote, 1/73rd ownership of East Wind, three weeks vacation each year, and the security of knowing it would take two thirds of all full members to force me to leave.

It has been a beautiful and mild summer here, with ample rainfall. Everything is super green even now in August. The local area here actually made national news due to the torrential rainfall and subsequent flooding that we received in late April. Many local bridges were knocked out and many people in the area lost their homes. It was devastating. Luckily East Wind came through pretty much unscathed. We lost a canoe or two, but otherwise came out great. Our creek became a roaring river during the flooding; I witnessed entire trees whizzing by going at least 20 miles an hour. Our hayfield flooded, as it is land owned by Army Corp of Engineers for just such an occasion. For about two months we had lakefront property due to the high levels of Norfork lake. The creek has finally returned to its normal level lately and it will be fun to explore how it is different.

My labor here has become relatively settled. While I enjoyed keeping an open schedule when I first got here, over time I found myself taking on more and more scheduled labor. It suits me well. An average week goes as follows:


I teach a dance lesson at 11am. Though not actually labor, the lady I teach gives me 1 PSC for each hour I teach her, so it works out to the same thing. I eat lunch at noon. While we are in production I have a nut butter production shift monday afternoon. These last usually between 3 and 5 hours.


Tuesday mornings I get up early and milk the cows at 6:30am. We currently milk four cows, which produce more milk than we can drink. The only other scheduled labor I have on Tuesdays is my HTA shift after dinner. HTA stand for Hard To Assign, and refers to cleaning the kitchen. I wash pots for two hours every Tuesday evening and consider it a bargain for never having to cook. The rest of my tuesday I keep open to be able to work on projects.


I milk cows again on Wednesday mornings and teach another dance lesson at 11. After lunch I make cheese. Lately I’ve been making mozzarella, which is about a ten hour process. I’m starting to get good at it, it actually tastes almost the same as you would find in a store.


The only scheduled labor I have on Thursdays is my CP shift in the afternoon. CP stands for Consumer Products, and essentially entails answering the phones and every so often selling some of our products to the rare walk-in customer. Since I have access to the internet while doing this shift, I often research for my book or catch up with friends and family.


Friday mornings I milk again, this time at 6am. I have my third and final dance lesson of the week, again at 11. In the afternoon I do my second CP shift.


Saturday morning is my bread shift, which I usually start at 8:30. There is a bread shift every morning so that we always have fresh bread. I make white bread because most other people make wheat bread. After lunch I have comptoil which entails collecting all of the full poop buckets from the composting toilets and replacing them with empty ones. It’s not near as gross as you might imagine. I then shower thoroughly, which is labor creditable. I then usually clean an elevator in the factory if we are in production.


Sundays I have no scheduled labor. Our community meetings are Sunday at 2 however, and are labor creditable. I attend almost all of them. Otherwise I usually take Sunday as a rest day, or catch up on things I didn’t have a chance to get to over the week.

I’ve also undertaken a few projects in my time here. The project I’m most proud of is also the most boring. Nut Butters had been losing potential customers due to not being certified by a third party food safety company. To become certified we need a Hazards Analysis and Control Points (HAACP) program and the foundation of a HAACP program are Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). SOPs are essentially written out instructions for everything that gets done in the factory. Everything. And that was my job. I took notes left over from previous managers and wrote out an SOP for just about every job in the factory. What I didn’t do my friend Warren did. It was a lot of time in front of a computer and wasn’t the most fun. It was important though, and in the end we got a 99/100 on our inspection.

A less important but much more fun project was building shelving and drawers for our new walk-in pantry. Our old pantry was too small and too old, and so this spring Becky tore it down and built a much nicer new one. I undertook to build the storage spaces for it. Our kitchen managers told me what they would like – a wall of shelving and a wall of drawers – and left the rest up to me. I drew out a design, compiled a materials list, ordered materials, and with help turned my vision into reality. These shelves and drawers should serve East Wind for years to come.

As I mentioned in my last East Wind post, I had taken our nut butter onto Amazon. Since then I have sold over $38,000 of our product there, at about a 25% profit margin. In July of this year alone I sold $8k. Not a huge deal compared to our bottom line, but I’m still proud.

One thing that has been really nice is how much time my labor here affords me to work on my book. I have a number of jobs that have a good amount of down time to them, namely my cheese makes, my breadmaking, and my CP shifts, and these allow me to serve community while at the same time making progress on my book. One of the many perks of this lifestyle.

Something that might be of interest to you is how I view the turnover in membership here. While the bulk of people that were here when I got here are still here, there has been a fair amount of turnover in the last year and a half. However, by and large I think it has been really good for East Wind. In that time we’ve gained some great new members, and the vast majority of those who have left are what I would consider people I’d rather not live with. In general, I feel that East Wind has amazing momentum in the positive direction. Nut Butters just had it’s best year in years, we’re building two new buildings this year, and there are more and more badasses on the farm.

So life is good at East Wind. Again, no promises, but I might post some updates in the relatively near future; some writing I’ve done for my book.


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and the length of this post reflects that. I apologize for both the wait and the length. I’ve been pretty busy settling into my new life here.

April 18th marked my official three month anniversary as an East Winder, and I’m loving it more than ever. There is a vote on each provisional member’s membership at the three month mark, and I did not receive a single no-vote, which felt very nice. There will be one more vote on my membership at my one year anniversary, and should I pass that I will become a Full Member.

Spring is definitely sprung here in the Ozarks, and it is incredibly beautiful. I have never lived anywhere more gorgeous. The trees are flowering and leafing, everything is turning green, and it is all so wonderful. I have never before lived so close to nature, and find myself constantly grateful to do so now. I consider myself so lucky to no longer be trapped indoors when it’s a beautiful day out, and can instead either work outside or simply take the day off on a whim.

Being so much closer to nature has also given me the gift of looking at the natural world in ways I never have, and now wish I had been. The most notable thing is an appreciation of seasonality. Living in Babylon (what East Winders call mainstream society), seasons pretty much just meant the weather would change and the leaves would grow, change color, and then fall off. But watching winter turn to spring here has given me a completely new appreciation for the seasons, and their effect on the world around me. Working in the garden I’ve started to learn the order of planting, and for the first time became concerned about frosts. Being out in the woods first cutting down dead trees and now herding our goats, I see the land take on a very different character as some plants sprout and grow and others fade away. Strawberries, instead of being available whenever I want them, only come once a year (which is almost upon us!). I’m learning to identify the different plants that grow here, what they signify, and what they may be used for. I went mushroom hunting last week, and found my first morels, a highly valued delicacy. These too only appear for a few weeks out of the year.

Speaking of food, I need to rave about how well we eat here. It is absurd. I have never eaten so well in my life. I’m an admittedly lazy cook, and would be grateful simply to have food regularly prepared for me. But it is so much more than that here. I eat a huge variety of meals, in a large variety of styles. Every meal has at least five different dishes, and often more. And it’s all freshly made, from the best quality of ingredients I have ever heard of. Only the very, very best of restaurants could match the quality of ingredients here, and even then I would not be sure. I’m not sure it’s possible to be more local, organic, farm-to-table, than we are. There have been a large number of meat-heavy meals since I’ve been here as winter is the time to slaughter animals, which have almost all been born, raised and cared for, slaughtered, and butchered right here on our farm. I actually helped to butcher the last pig we killed this winter, and found it to be an incredible experience. Not only was I grateful to have the opportunity to learn how to carve and preserve an animal, but I also learned a lot about how bodies are built. It turns out a pig’s musculature is not all that different from ours, and I found my knowledge of human anatomy to be quite helpful in separating the different muscles of the pig. Our garden is getting into full swing and will provide us with delicious and nutritious veggies all year long.

Another form of food processing I have started to learn is the art of cheesemaking, which I am finding fascinating. Cheesemaking is important here because it allows us to preserve our excess milk, produced by our dairy cows, AND because cheese is delicious. I’ve made a couple cheeses now: simple farm cheese, ricotta, whole milk ricotta, and a passable attempt at feta. There have been some bumps, but so far I’m decently happy with what I’ve produced. We are very lucky to have an incredibly intelligent, knowledgeable, and meticulous food processing manager, Rin, from whom I consider myself very lucky to be able to learn from, as well as eat the products she presents to community. Cheesemaking is also my first venture into fermentation, which I find to be a really interesting field of study. Beermaking is next.

I’ve also:

… started to learn to use our sawmill. I think it’s so cool that some of the dead standing trees we cut down a few months ago during Forestry season are now being turned into lumber by us. The work itself is a little rote and mechanical, but I find it really rewarding to be able to produce our own lumber. I really enjoy working with and learning from Dusty, a co-manager of both Forestry and Building Maintenance. Before coming to East Wind he ran his own contracting company in LA building mega-mansions for movie stars and is incredibly knowledgeable and skilled.

… been working production shifts in our nut butter factory. “Nut Butts” is currently the lifeblood of East Wind, and allows us to do all of the other awesome stuff that we do here. I’m therefore more than happy to work in the factory and help support our lifestyle here. The shifts are usually 2-4 hours long and are pretty simple. There are a few different jobs on each shift, which one person will do for the length of the shift. Each job is straightforward and simple, and it’s actually kinda fun finding a rhythm together to bang out the job.

… worked at the local food bank a few times. East Wind grants its members labor credit for hours spent in community service, which we call Community Support. I think it’s pretty awesome. Working at the food bank was actually a pretty depressing experience for me. Ozark County (wherein East Wind is) is very poor, and until handing out food here I had never encountered poverty on this level before. To directly see and interact with their suffering made me sad for them, and angry at the system that creates that level of suffering. It also made me very grateful for the countless blessings in my life.

… worked a little bit in the garden. Nothing too special, mostly doing some planting and hoeing, but I find it’s quite enjoyable work. There are usually other people around and we chat and joke while working. When it’s a particularly nice day I usually work in the garden to be able to enjoy the weather and get hours at the same time.

… started goat herding. And it’s probably my favorite work on the farm. I get to walk around and chill on our beautiful land for three hours with our goats, which are great animals. And the mamas just kidded! Sadly it was a rough birthing season for our goats as four of the babies were stillborn, and we might lose one of our mamas, Ocean. The four kids that did survive however are ridiculously cute, friendly, and playful. Because of that they don’t like to go too far from the goat barn, but soon they’ll be going out again. I like to goat herd as I get hours to just sit in nature and do as I please: read, pet goats, practice music, or just be.

… been working to improve how East Wind handles it’s domestic grey water. Currently it empties out onto a hillside, which is obviously less than ideal. Apparently there used to be a sewage pond, but then someone decided to build a new system and left it unfinished in its current state. So another East Winder, Will, and I have been working first to cover up the standing water, which is just about done. Next step is to decide on and design a permanent solution, and then implement it.

The largest project I have undertaken since getting here has been creating an seller’s account for East Wind and listing our nut butters on there. It was unexpectedly hard to create this account for us due to Amazon’s unclear requirements to do so. Once I was finally able to get cleared to sell on Amazon it was a good bit of work to list all of our various products with appropriate information and pictures. However it’s all done, and we’re live and have already shipped five orders. I’m pretty proud. Should you be so inclined, you can buy our healthy and delicious nut butters on Amazon and support East Wind. Who knows, I could even have been on the shift that produced what you buy.

Dusty (of the sawmill) is also involved with the Ozark Neighborly Exchange, a local organization encouraging locals to come together and create self sufficiency through the unity of their neighbors. They put on a one day congress a few weeks back and a bunch of East Winders and I attended. There were some cool presentations by some impressive people there, and I learned a good bit. It was also encouraging to see about 200 people there, and to know that there is a community of like-minded people in the greater Ozark area. Until then I was unaware of the strong self-sufficiency/back to the land sentiment here in the Ozarks.

Something else I love about East Wind is all of the crazy talented musicians here. It’s so nice to have live music around. And then we have weekly jam nights, some of which have actually sounded really good. A couple will be getting married here soon, and an East Wind band has formed to play at their wedding, I’m looking forward to hearing them play. II still haven’t started working on my music much, finding that figuring out my labor and socializing take up the bulk of my time, but I have started playing the drums a little bit. There’s at least a few other people here into EDM production, and I’m looking forward to learning from them.

While I’m in fantastic spirits now, there have been a few rough patches for me. Nothing serious, but I have found myself lonely at times. What I told myself during these times (and which has since been proven true) is that it’s normal and to give it time. I’ve started to build real connections with people here, and feel it will only get better with time. When I would get a little down I would perhaps question if this all wasn’t a big mistake, but there was always an answer: I can’t imagine a more powerful way to fight for what I believe in.

Another much less serious… let’s just call it a complaint though it hardly qualifies is that the internet can be quite slow at times. Usually it’s slow but workable, but sometimes it just does not go. This is something I’m going to be looking into to see if we can’t find a better option. However I really like that I’m not connected to the internet 24/7 anymore, which I did not expect. Now I have to take a five minute walk if I want to use it, which is no problem when I need to but is enough to stop me from defaulting to browsing Reddit or Facebook when bored. When I first got here I asked about getting Internet in the dorm buildings and learned there was a community meeting about five years ago and community decided against it. Apparently at Twin Oaks and Acorn, the other two large FEC Communities people hardly ever socialize because they’re all in their rooms on the internet and it harms community. I find that a really compelling argument and no longer wish for Internet in my room.

I’ve been playing a lot of games here, which I enjoy. There’s a bunch of chess players here, and I play more chess than I have since leaving Dallas when I lived with a chess Master. I’ve also got back into Magic, which I used to play back in highschool. I never could quite bring myself to get rid of my cards, and now I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve also played a good amount of Catan, and have started to learn Go. Oh! And also Tak, which just got invented and will only be familiar to fans of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles.

The weather has been wonderful this April, and there have already been some days spent hanging out at the creek drinking and enjoying the sun and the water, something I’ll never grow tired of.

I’m sure there’s more I’ve done that I can’t think of at the moment, but that’s all I’ve got for now.


Originally published April 29, 2016


Hello from East Wind! I’ve finally made it into community, and have been here for two weeks. I can’t get enough.

I’ve only been here a short while but so far it is everything I was hoping for and more. I love that I spend a big part of my day outside. I love that I see the stars at night, way more than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I love that I’m learning a ton of new skills. I love that I essentially answer only to myself – that for the first time in my life I feel free. Being here just feels so right.

So far the majority of my energy has gone towards settling in and finding my groove here. My biggest priority has been getting my labor situation set up. Labor quota is 35 hours a week, with any additional hours worked getting “banked” to be used later. Building a nice cushion of banked hours is one of my first goals and I’m off to a good start. I banked 14 hours my first week, aided by a lowered quota for MLK Jr. day. This week I’ll bank around five hours, depending on what I do after I post this.

I’m trying to make a really good impression here and feel a strong call to make as big an impact here as I can. To that end I’m trying to figure out where I can  make the biggest difference. I’ve tried to spread my work out among many different activities to both get a better understanding of what makes East Wind run as well as figure out what I might best like to do here. One thing I’ve immediately found that I love is simply the freedom to have a diversity of labor throughout the week. I also really love that I am the only person that decides what I do and when I want to do it.

So far the biggest chunk of my labor has gone towards Forestry. We head out into our woods at 9am most mornings and fall dead standing trees. If the wood is in good shape and the tree straight we will cut it into long (10-16ft) sections and haul it to the sawmill to be made into lumber. The rest of the trees we cut into short sections (12-18in. “rounds”) and throw them in the back of a truck to be taken back to community to be chopped into firewood. I’d mostly just helped carry the rounds from a tree to the truck, but yesterday used a chainsaw for the first time. I was doing well until I poured chain oil into the gas tank by accident. It made the saw inoperable but otherwise didn’t hurt it, and I then learned how to take it apart and clean it’s engine – my first experience learning how engines work.

Last week I spent a good amount of time repairing an old greenhouse. I helped replace the main supports and reframe the end-walls. It’s almost finished, we’re just waiting for the plastic to come in so we can cover it.

I’ve also been helping out with a big project of reorganizing a big common space to make it more useful. It’s involved moving lots of file cabinets and such, organizing a massive vinyl library, moving said massive vinyl library and the shelves that hold it. Today I started breaking down a giant bench/counter that East Wind used to use to make their rope sandals.

I also helped instigate a work party to clean the community closet (“Commie Clothes”). It was overfull and really disorganized and would have been a very big and boring task for anyone person to do. So I bought a 30 pack of PBR to entice people to help. We got a ton accomplished and had a great time drinking beer, trying on weird clothes, and just being social in the beautiful weather. (Side note: the weather has been ridiculously nice this week. It’s been 60 and sunny for like the last 7 days. Simply gorgeous. I consider it a huge blessing that I can be out in it rather than stuck inside somewhere.)

I was asked to help plan a big party for Validation Day, which East Wind celebrates instead of Valentine’s Day. Everyone gets a blank card and people write nice things to each other and decorate each other’s cards. And then the party is apparently one of the bigger ones East Wind has, and I’m helping plan and organize it.

This past week I attended the weekly Nut Butters (East Wind’s main business) management meeting. While there I learned that they need people to do Sales and Marketing and so I started seeing if there was anything I could to help in that way. The reason I had been invited to the meeting is that I had expressed interest in exploring the possibility of selling our products on Amazon. We are not currently on Amazon and so I’m now spearheading seeing if that would be good for us.

I really like the people here and am starting to make friends. People have been friendly and welcoming, and there’s a cool social dynamic where there are a few “party spots” in community and on most nights there’s at least a low-key party going on in one of them. I also love the fact that at the end of the day when people are sitting around hanging out that the conversation will be a discussion of the best diet for the animals, or what’s being planned for the garden next year.

I want to give a special shout-out to the food situation here. I frickin’ love it. Twice a day (noon and 6pm) there’s a hot, delicious, and healthy meal served up for me. Big variety and always super tasty. There is always freshly baked bread sitting out with butter, jelly, and various nut butters. We have milk from our dairy cows on tap 24/7, which I take good advantage of. If I’m hungry later at night there’s always a yummy, easy meal to be made of leftovers. And the best part of it all is that a lot of that food is from our own land. We also get our water from our own well, and have a reverse osmosis filter, and it is the best water I’ve ever had. No fluorine nor chlorine, which I very much appreciate.

Other than friends and family, so far I don’t miss anything from mainstream life here. And I just love being here, it feels so right. I constantly find myself pausing at random points in my day and just appreciating life here. Somewhat relatedly, I find myself more present here and my mind clearer and quieter. This was an unforeseen but very welcome development. I feel I can be myself here more than I have anywhere else except for Burning Man.

That pretty much covers my experience so far. I’ll share more as I do more!

Originally published January 31, 2016


A week from now I will be at East Wind. Pretty crazy. It came much faster than I was expecting, and right after the holidays. Caught me a little off-guard but I’m super excited and have been wrapping up my business in “the real world.”

I’m also a little nervous. There’s definitely a small part of me that wonders if I’m not making a huge mistake. It’s hard to turn one’s back on all conventional wisdom. It’s not easy knowing most people think I’m making a big mistake. Will I really like it there? Will I be happy? Will I find meaningful connections? If I’m honest with myself the answer to these questions is: I don’t know.

But I do know that these questions come from fear. And I know that this has been my dream for more than eight years. And I know that I have yet to conceive of a more powerful way to fight for our future, which I believe with all my heart desperately needs fighting for. And I know I can see no way to be truly happy living a mainstream lifestyle. And most importantly, I know the only way I can know the answer to these questions is to do it. And so I am.

I’ve already stripped my possessions down to what could fit in my car when I came to Missouri from New Jersey, so I don’t have much packing to do. Throwing clothes in boxes is most of what I have left. I work four last restaurant shifts, and at last get to say goodbye to work as it’s normally thought of. That I know I won’t miss.

I won’t be doing it right away, but I will be cancelling my cellphone service. I’ll be using the Internet and East Wind’s landline to communicate.

I’m stepping into a big unknown. Wish me well 🙂

Originally published January 10, 2016


I recently completed my three week visitor period – part of the membership process – at East Wind. I absolutely loved it and want to share what it was like to be there. If you are curious as to what made me interested in community living, I’ve outlined my reasons in this post.

Perhaps what made the largest impression on me was how intentional this “intentional community” is. For a lot of people commune has a bit of a negative connotation to it and so Intentional Community is the current PC and umbrella term that covers any “planned residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and often follow an alternative lifestyle.” (Wikipedia) Before visiting East Wind I understood this in principle but seeing it in action really impressed me.

The very first thing I did upon arriving there was be directed to find Autumn, one of East Wind’s Membership team, who gave Para (another visitor) and I our introductory Orientation to the community. The point of this “Oreo” was to introduce us to East Wind culture. We were told how the norms there differ from the outside world (commonly referred to as Babylon by most East Winders). Some examples are lack of a nudity taboo and zero tolerance for violence. However this would be far from the last time I would hear the word “norm”. Almost anytime I would learn how something was done at East Wind I would be informed of the relevant norm. For example, the big meals are prepared and served at Rock Bottom (RB), and it is also a popular hang out spot, so there are often people around and thus it houses one of the few phones outside of the offices at the top of the property. Whenever someone from the outside world would call looking for someone the receptionist would transfer them to the RB phone which would of course ring. From observation I gathered most people found picking up the phone to be annoying and often times it would go unanswered for a good bit, even with a number of people around (perhaps an example of the Bystander Effect?). One member expressed frustration with this one time and informed me that the norm is whomever is closest to the phone should answer it. Despite this norm not always being followed, I was impressed that through agreement at some point in the past the community had intentionally decided how to handle the minor problem of no one wanting to pick up the phone. Though this is just one small example, life at East Wind is shaped by countless similar norms and many possible sources of contention are rendered harmless by past agreement on what constitutes best practice for the community.

On a bigger scale the very foundation of East Wind is intentional as set forth in its Charter, Legislation, Bylaws, and Policies (Legispol). These are intentional agreements made by the community at large that determine how things work at East Wind (you can check out their webpage on Government for more info). In sum total the norms and bylaws do a incredible job of manifesting a culture and lifestyle that matches the stated intent of a nonviolent, egalitarian, income-sharing community. This results in a general sense of freedom and mutual respect that I found to be simply wonderful. The sensation of chains being lifted from one’s spirit was so real it was almost physical – there was definitely a lightness of being there.

Another aspect of East Wind in which my anticipation was exceeded by the reality thereof was the impact of everything being held in common. Members have personal property which they keep in their rooms, but everything else in community is open for anyone to make use of. As an income-sharing community the profits of East Wind’s businesses go towards the benefit of the community in common, and over the years East Wind has accumulated some cool stuff. There are canoes – both for the creek on the property and also separate ones to take on float trips, a fitness room, a music studio, hammocks hanging all over, and many other facilities open to all. Each of the members is a part “owner” in the whole of community and this generates a spirit of cooperation rather than the competition that is endemic in Babylon. I was really impressed with how open everyone was with everything there, while I was a visitor I was treated as if I had just as much right to community resources as anyone else. I felt like I had received this great gift, the fruit of the work of all those who had come before me, and was inspired to add to it, to leave it greater than I had found it.

Likewise the fact that the fruit of each member’s labor directly benefits the community as a whole – and thus also that member – inculcates mutual appreciation of each other. Because no one is forced to do anything, all labor done is therefore a gift to the community in whole. Work has a distinctly different subjective feel to it in East Wind. One of the biggest difference is the complete lack of coercion. Other than the small amount (3-8 hours depending on the week) required at the Nut Butters factory and 2 hours of kitchen clean-up, East Wind gives members total freedom in how they do their 35 hours of labor benefiting the community each week. Each member is free to do what they want, when they want. Is the sun getting too hot and you don’t feel like digging up potatoes anymore? Then just stop and maybe go chill at the creek and cool off. Each member is their own boss, and yet everything still manages to get done. There are an immense number of different activities going on at East Wind at any given moment, and yet it all works out somehow.

In addition to labor hardly feeling like work, there is so much more leisure time at East Wind than out in the “real world”. Because everything that needs to be done gets taken care of through the labor system, other than your personal laundry there are no “chores” (and you don’t even have to do that if you live out of the shared closet of Commie Clothes like some members do). The time you are not laboring is completely free, and it is wonderful. As mentioned to me by a member, East Wind is a fantastic place to practice. This free time is often spent in play and socializing.

While I truly only caught a glimpse of it, I really appreciated another benefit of living in community that I witnessed: There are no strangers there. Even if two members might not be super close, everyone knows everyone else’s story. And everyone seems to accept each other, even if they don’t necessarily agree with everything they think or do.

There are also a multitude of incredibly talented people at East Wind. Musicians, gardeners, herbalists, ranchers, artists, construction contractors – the list goes on. Should one be so inclined there is a plethora of knowledge to be had for the asking. Everyone was really open and happy to share what they know and I look forward to the vast learning opportunities waiting for me there.

This is just a guess, but I have a feeling that a lot of the magic I have tried to convey above arises out of the egalitarian nature of East Wind. Each member has the same amount of “power” -each member has one equal vote- as any other member, and there is no tolerance for violence. Short of an egregious offense, once a person becomes a Full Member it is almost impossible to force them to leave. Since every member is on equal footing there is no one to tell you what to do and consensus is built through agreement and consent rather than intimidation and command.

It was also just wonderful to be “on the farm”. The property is gorgeous – over 1000 acres in the hills of the Ozarks – and has a “creek” (Missourian for river) run through the bottom of the property. Everything was a short walk away on foot paths through the trees. Nature comes right up to most of the buildings on the property and it’s really nice to be so much closer to it than I’ve been in any other living situation. At East Wind the air is fresh and the stars are many and bright. They have many beautiful gardens and the grounds in general are well maintained.

East Wind is also a real human community, like any other in some ways. As great as it is, it is not Utopia. People were quick to point out that East Wind is definitely still reliant on the outside world and needs the money generated by the Nut Butters business. Like in any community there are disagreements and “drama” between members. Having 1000 acres of land comes at the cost of being a bit of a drive from any decent sized town. Being close to nature meant being close to mosquitoes, chiggers, and seed ticks on my visit and being itchy most of the time. A downside of everything being held in common is that people sometimes take community property for granted and perhaps not give it the care they might if it were their own. I was told that over the winter cabin fever definitely sets in a little bit.

However even with these downsides, I found East Wind to be absolutely amazing and can’t wait to go back. Evidently a number of people feel the same because I’m currently on a waiting list to get a room there – which could take about a year perhaps. I plan on visiting from time to time until I get a spot “on the system” and can move there for good.


Whenever I tell someone of my intentions of joining a “commune” I invariably get asked “Why?” I do my best to answer them but there are many reasons- more than I ever really have time to explain. So henceforth I will be referring them to this post, in which I have the space to fully explain the many aspects of what motivates me to make this change in lifestyle.

My motivations can be summed up into two big umbrella reasons: I believe living in an intentional community will allow me to align my lifestyle with my personal values and at the same time grant me a higher quality of life.

In all cultures there are things that are simply taken for granted. Each person in a culture is taught what is and is not normal and how to behave and how not to behave. In the west we call this enculturation and/or socialization. As I have grown as a person and have looked around me at the world I find myself in, I have realized that the lifestyle I have been raised in has repercussions that I am no longer comfortable with.

I believe that we humans as a species are living in a way that is out of balance and is leading us towards some incredibly difficult crises on a global scale. We are running out of fresh water. We are facing human-caused climate change that is already causing real damage to both human and all other life. We have severely drained the oceans of fish and yet continue to fish in record numbers. Our inexhaustible thirst for oil has led to fracking and mining the tar sands of Alaska with severe ecological consequences already, and more sure to come. Our global political system and global money system have led to massive inequality, leaving billions of us with a terrible quality of life. We have already cut down half of the Earth’s tropical forests and destroy 18 million acres of forest (an area the size of Panama) each year. Species of life are going extinct at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate due to human causes. It is so severe that scientists have termed it the Anthropocene (Age of Man) extinction event, the first in 66 million years. Our rivers, fields, oceans, and skies have all been polluted with toxic chemicals which have been implicated in our many new health crises. We regularly kill each other on a massive level. This is not an exhaustive list.

Up until now my lifestyle has contributed to these problems. I drive a car and eat food from California, adding to demand for oil and creating pollution. I’m sure I have bought clothes made in sweatshops, contributing to human misery. I have eaten fish, helping create the demand that has led to overfishing. My tax dollars have gone to a government that kills civilians in the Middle East and all over the world. I have created what I am sure is an obscene amount of trash, adding to landfills. I have eaten factory farmed meat, which is produced under horrifying conditions. And I am no longer okay with these things.

Living in an intentional community such as East Wind will allow my lifestyle to align with my values. I will no longer need a car, and my carbon footprint in general will be massively reduced. I will be able to eat healthy, local, food produced without hormones, chemicals, or antibiotics. As I will no longer have money I will not participate in a system that breeds inequality, and also will not pay taxes that fund the death of others. In general by living a sustainable lifestyle I hope to no longer contribute to the destruction of the planet.

I also believe that by living in this manner I will have a higher quality of life and simply be happier! Like most people, work is currently a necessary evil in my life. I do the same thing for 40-50 hours a week so that I can have a somewhat decent standard of living. And then I have to get gas, and do laundry, and cook, and clean, and get an oil change, and discharge all of the various chores outside of work. Between these two things, work and chores, I end up with very little time that is actually free. And what free time I do end up with I usually just want to use to rest and recover from the work and the chores that I have been doing. And then the cycle repeats…

East Wind requires 35 hours of labor per week (and only 27/week on holiday weeks which occur once a month!). In exchange one gets a private room, food, clothing, and medical care and $150 a month for personal spending. Not only will I work less actual hours than I do currently, all those aforementioned chores are taken care of communally through the labor system. And no chores means that my free time is actually free. And as if that wasn’t enough, other than two hours a week of kitchen clean up (which is mandated), I will be free to chose how to allot my labor! I will be able to follow my interests and passions to contribute to the community as best I can. Furthermore, the works of my hands will be completely directed towards benefiting those in community with me (and myself!) rather than just making the owner of my company more money.

I am also very excited to live in community, despite not even really knowing what that means. We humans are very social creatures, and the modern world is very lonely. To quote The Ascent of Humanity:

“Simply observe that the financially independent individual, among other equally independent individuals, has no basis for community except for the effort to “be nice” and “make friends”. Underneath even the most well-motivated social gathering is the knowledge: We don’t really need each other.”

And we are not really needed. We could easily be replaced. While I can only guess at it now, I have a feeling that living in community will meet needs I never knew I wasn’t having met, and I will be a much happier person for it.

And I will be in a community with those who hopefully share most- if not all- of my values, and have also chosen to live a more harmonious life. East Wind is very open minded, and I will be so much more free to express my individualism than I am in modern society. As East Wind’s property is 1000 acres in the Ozarks, I will also be living much closer to Nature, which has always soothed my soul. And when the time comes to have children, I will be able to actually spend time with them and help them grow and develop as a father should, instead of disappearing off to this mysterious place called Work for the majority of their waking lives. All of these things are priceless to me. I am also excited to have a simpler style of living. To live in a culture that doesn’t emphasize material possessions and doesn’t constantly assault my attention with advertisements.

In short I believe that making this change in lifestyle will allow me to follow Gandhi’s injunction and be the change I want to see in the world. I will be able to live my beliefs and be an example to others.

Originally published May 19, 2015