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can be spent the next year. The answers on the survey are then added up for each specific area and divided by the number of participants. That way the planners come as close as they can to changing the budget spending according to the wishes of the entire membership. Interestingly, though, the size of the budget is not part of the Tradeoff Game. The planners determine what the weekly quota will be for the next year (which is the basis of the total amount of hours that can be used in the Tradeoff Game) and how much money can be spent overall during the next year. 12 The Appeal of the Labor-Credit System for the Communities Movement; or, What Communards Meant When They Said Walden Two the one aspect of Walden Two that proved to be most successful at Twin Oaks was the labor-credit system, which was interpreted by the community as a form of egalitarianism that functioned quite well without the Skinnerian framework of behavioral engineering. In the early to mid seventies, the Twin Oaks interpretation of Walden Two, and more specifically the community ’s advocacy of structure in the form of the labor-credit system, held a considerable amount of attraction for secular communities. “We’ve read that we’re supposed to have a strong common religion or a powerful, inspirational leader in order to prevent disintegration as a community ,” writes Kinkade in her latest book. “We have neither” (Utopia 4). This may well be the most remarkable thing about Twin Oaks: its success cannot be explained by conventional criteria.The community seems to draw stability from its high degree of structure, the one feature of Walden Two the communards fully embraced. Acknowledging a need for structure is unusual for the utopian, secular experiments of the sixties and seventies. Kinkade , who can certainly be considered a veteran at communal living, once remarked that the “anarchistic commune may be therapeutic, but it is not serious about proposing an alternative societal structure” (Walden 43). The the appeal of the labor-credit system . 111 03.79-132_Kuhl.indd 111 3/29/05 4:02:05 PM 112 . twin oaks community mere fact that Twin Oaks considered structure to be essential from the beginning put it in an awkward position between “the establishment” and the communal movement. Most of the intentional communities sought to free themselves of any kind of structure. “The word,” remarks Kinkade, “is pure poison to nine-tenths of the commune movement” (Walden 22–23). The Twin Oakers,however,sought to improve upon structure,which they deemed necessary to make living together a pleasant affair for all involved. The skepticism and even antagonism towards the early Twin Oaks within the communities movement is reflected in reports by people who visited the Virginian community: “The other visitors were already up. I went downstairs, stopping at the foot to read two typewritten pages marked ‘To the attention of visitors.’ . . . We were warned not to expect personal treatment. I was not surprised. This wasn’t a hip commune, and I hadn’t come here expecting to be welcomed as a soul brother. Twin Oaks was determined to create a ‘viable alternative’ to capitalism, and that was very serious business” (Houriet 297). The early Twin Oakers were unimpressed by the sentiments of their fellow communards and spent years refining the labor-credit system that is at the heart of the community’s structural organization. By now, the system is so intricate that it takes some members years to understand its finer points. However, the basic idea—one hour of work equals one labor credit—is easy to grasp and continues to facilitate the work integration of the thousands of people who have visited or lived at Twin Oaks in the course of its three decades of existence. Many members of Twin Oaks believe that the laborcredit system forms the nucleus of an economic system ensuring an egalitarian and joyful society. As the Harvard-trained sociologist and former Twin Oaker David Ruth proclaimed in 1978: “As a school of socialist living, therefore ,TwinOakshastaughtmanymemberssomeveryimportantlessons. . . . In the absence of differential material rewards, members have found that the pride of accomplishment, concern for the group as a whole, and the need for peer-group approval are powerful motivators” (Ruth 60). As the Virginian community prospered, suspicion was replaced by admiration in the communities movement. By the early seventies, Twin Oaks had heavily modified the originally autocratic planner-manager system, had...


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