East Wind - First Impressions

I wrote this for a newsletter they were putting together at East Wind. I’ll write a more detailed summary about the mechanics of the community for another post.

I’ve been at East Wind for four days now, and I’m amazed that it exists at all.

When I first got in, Quinn (my greeter on the membership team) gave me the dime tour, pointing out the computer room, work areas, the men’s visitor hut (where I’m sleeping) and the RB (common house). He let me loose after about an hour. I bucked some hay (moved it from the field to the barn) with Dave, took a dip in the creek, and spent the rest of the evening hanging out next to the swimming hole. It seems like most of my time has been spent hanging out with people. Work gets done, but there are no schedules. There are quotas and sign-ups instead. Everyone seems to know how everything works. I didn’t need an orientation.

I could see myself settling into life here very easily. Everyone’s always got a clean bathroom, clean clothes, clean dishes and food in the fridge. Everyone puts in their fair share, but it’s not a job anymore, it’s part of life. East Wind seems like a place I’d like to retire. “Why not retire now?” I ask myself. Yoh (the village elder/idiot) loves talking about the “passive revolution” that East Wind is a part of. I’m just not ready to give into that yet. I’m not ready for that kind of bliss.

And this visit has been blissful. Two words: naked party. I have never before walked around bare-assed with a beer in my hand, and felt it was perfectly normal. It feels like an expression of humanity that gets repressed so often in mainstream society. The conversations have been great too. I feel like these are conversations among my friends. We talk about politics, religion, the nature of the universe - things important and inconsequential. It’s almost everything I want in life in one place.

There seems to be an undercurrent of interpersonal conflict, like the “constant low-level warfare” that tribal societies are known for. Catty notes on boards, gossip and rumors keep everyone on their toes. I’ve heard (but not yet experienced) that it can be much worse in other communities, where people are more passive-aggressive about their conflicts. I’m sure the social climate here serves some hidden purpose. It seems to be working so far, so who am I to knock it? Some people will always create drama, and some people avoid it.

How long does it take to get sick of the smell of roasted peanuts? I’ve only done three shifts but I still love it. There’s something about peeling dried Elmer’s glue off my hands that reminds me of kindergarten. Doing shifts in the “nuthouse” would not be difficult for me. I get to work with cool people, listen to great music, and I’m working from home! I wonder sometimes about sustainability at East Wind. It doesn’t seem to be a big priority now. But I get the feeling that when something needs to change, it will. There are a lot of creative people here - all problem solvers - and when the time comes, whatever needs to get done, will. East Wind seems to run itself.

I’ve had a great time at East Wind and would love to come back and visit again. And some day, when I feel like I’m ready to settle down, it might be a nice place to live.

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