Last week, members of Virginia communes Twin Oaks and Acorn came to St. Mary’s to talk to students about several cultural movements in which they engage.
On Monday, Feb. 16th they held a sharing circle about polyamory, an alternative relationship model to monogamy, and on Tuesday they held a workshop entitled “Honest Seduction.” The commune members, who refer to themselves as communards, also gave talks at classes throughout the week.
Twin Oaks is a community of around 100 adults (currently 93) that was founded in 1967, and is one of the largest secular communes in the country. Members of the community share work and operate with an internal cashless economy. According to Paul Blundell, a St. Mary’s alumnus who lives at the similar commune Acorn, each community member lives on around $5000 and has a comfortably middle-class existence. Blundell said that the communards “live a pretty standard existence,” with propane and electricity, a recording studio and other amenities. More can be learned from their website, twinoaks.org.
During the Honest Seduction workshop, a member of the audience asked if polyamory was possible. “Well, if it’s not possible then for 30+ years I’ve been doing something quite impossible,” answered Paxus Calta.
However, Calta said that they wanted to do a workshop without having to cover “crazy” relationship models. Calta is known for being an anti-nuclear power activist and for a pamphlet on polyamory he has written.
The workshop mostly covered three topics: disclosures, love letters and radical romance. Disclosures are important bits of information that you tell to the person in whom you are interested, like disclosing that you have an STD or emotional trauma in a way that you can bond more closely with the person whom you are telling. Radical romance is the idea that relationships can be consciously used as tools to better onesself. People already learn and grow from relationships, of course. “We believe you can do that in a more deliberate way,” said Angie Tupelo.
At the Polyamory Sharing Circle, students asked questions about the interesting love lives of the visitors. This was essentially about 18 people sitting around cramped in the Womyn’s center asking questions of the four visitors about their experiences about polyamory, and how such a relationship model might work.
“Polyamory is for me less of a defined thing and more of an anti-definition,” said Blundell. “You can write your own script for relationship models.”
Polyamory is not for the indolent. “Since I became polyamorous, I read way less books,” said Tupelo. “It takes a lot of time.”
The communards say they want students to know that their lives are wide open. Tupelo said that “there are all kinds of ways of doing things and I want to show [students] a way they probably haven’t thought of.”