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8 The Early Days of Twin Oaks Community amidst the behaviorists excitedly drawing up proposals and gathering for discussions during the 1966 Waldenwoods conference, some of the participants decided that the step-by-step approach favored by the academics was not for them. Although the conference had been organized for the explicit purpose of setting up an experimental Walden Two community,it soon became apparent that there was little common ground between the handful of basically nonacademic, energetic, and impatient-for-change activists and the larger group of theory-oriented behavioral psychologists.The conference did, however, serve to bring together the more action-oriented Walden Two enthusiasts who were to found Twin Oaks Community. Most important among these was Kat Kinkade,the only founding member who is still—however reluctantly—a member of Twin Oaks.1 Kinkade recounts her reaction to the endless discussions at the conference: “[W]e wanted community and we wanted it right then, money or no money , psychologists or no psychologists, planning or no planning.” The behaviorists , she felt, lacked the “necessary commitment to the ideas of community ” (Walden 26).This realization came as a disappointment,since Kinkade had hoped to attract behavioral engineers to whatever Walden Two endeavor might take shape as a result of the conference: “In Walden Two Frazier tells his visitors that techniques of behavior-management for human society are developed and ready for use. It was years before I recognized this as part of the fiction.I thought it was literally true,and at first I was most anxious to recruit some behavioral psychologists for our leadership. My concept of their role was that of technical consultants to the planners. I didn’t mean them to be officially in charge. I began to be disillusioned with psychologists even before Twin Oaks was founded. “The Waldenwoods conference in which I met the other people who were to become Twin Oaks founders was sponsored by just such psychologists,and 03.79-132_Kuhl.indd 81 3/29/05 4:01:59 PM 82 . twin oaks community they disappointed my expectations. For one thing they planned a psychologist -king role for themselves.They conceived of an experimental community as a group composed of selected candidates drawn from among the educated, personally committed to the goals of the advancement of behavioral science (and luckily possessing all the necessary work skills among them). Even in those early days, I knew that such a group did not exist. Puzzlingly, these selfappointed governors obviously had no talent for leadership in the ordinary sense, and could not seem to make their training work for them even in the elementary business of running a conference.They alienated the conferees by their smug assumptions. Apparently not one of them had any grasp of what would be ‘reinforcing’ to a group of eager idealists who had come together to try to form a community. Any small-town politician could have done better. Worse, they lacked the commitment even to consider starting a community with a small group and no money. It was clear they mostly wanted to become famous as the results of their ‘experiment’ got published. I despised them.” (Qtd. in Komar 10–11) The “eager idealists” thus decided to embark on the adventure of communal living without the support of behavioral engineers with questionable motives . This situation left a group of laypeople with very little background in behaviorism to found what was to become the most famous of all Walden Two communities: Twin Oaks. As the reaction of the future Twin Oakers to the Waldenwoods conference indicates, their understanding of Walden Two differed vastly from the behaviorists ’ interpretation. Not being behavioral engineers themselves, and not being involved in setting up token economies among dependent populations , these readers were less likely to identify strongly with Frazier the behavioral engineer. They were therefore less likely to plan “a psychologistking role for themselves,” as Kinkade suspected the behaviorists of doing, since they were not psychologists. This does not mean, however, that the future Twin Oakers were not enamored with the concept of omnipotent decision makers but rather that the behavioral aspect of the Skinnerian planner -manager system was of little importance to them. Instead of approaching Walden Two from the point of view of behavioral engineers, the future founders of Twin Oaks read it in a different context and in a different way. The driving force behind the founding of Twin Oaks was Kat Kinkade,and it is very much her personal interpretation...


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