Utopia Found in Louisa County

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

July 13, 2005

During the Vietnam War, people frustrated with the world established thousands of communities they hope would be their utopia. Many of the communities were never successful, but one only 35 miles southeast of Charlottesville did succeed.

The Twin Oaks Community was established nearly four decades ago, and although different than the model it was supposed to mirror, many say it's still very close to being a utopia.

"The lifestyle I was living was not fulfilling to me," recalled Seamus Allman. "Waiting tables is a job a lot of people do, but not because they want to."

A year ago, Seamus was deeply depressed.

"It just seemed like we were a country based more and more on greed, more and more on lies," he explained.

He needed an escape from the outside world, or 'the mainstream,' as he calls it. Seamus found refuge in a commune nestled deep inside the farmlands of Louisa County, called Twin Oaks.

"The difference between Twin Oaks and the mainstream culture is that almost everybody that lives here doesn't wear a watch, doesn't carry a wallet, and doesn't have any keys," said Twin Oaks resident Paxus Calta.

Twin Oaks residents are not slaves to what are considered necessities in the mainstream because they are almost completely self-sufficient.

They grow their own food, make their own cheese, and rake in close to $1 million a year by selling hand-made hammocks and tofu. All the chores are completed because of a labor system that ensures everyone works, but what they do is up to them.

"The only thing that people are required to do here is wash dishes. We call it 'hard to assign work.' Everything else is left up to individual choice," explained long time resident 'Coyote' Foley.

This income-sharing labor system is one they think can save the world.

"The key to getting us out of the jam that we are in, in mainstream society, is that we have to break free of materialism," said Calta.

But people like Seamus believe it will be a long time before that happens.

"I think [that] until that point comes where life out there more resembles life in here, in community, I think I am going to prefer in here."

Many of the residents like Seamus said that they may not stay at Twin Oaks forever, but instead start their own commune that better fits their idea of utopia.

For more information, go to their website at www.twinoaks.org.

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