Like a post-apocalyptic zombie, the community that once was Oilseed continues to limp along in a deathlike state. Outrageous tales of unresolved conflict and violations of trust make their way down the road with disturbing regularity, often accompanied by tears.
It pains us to watch. We try to help by giving advice and offering to mediate. From our perspective, equanimity could be easily arranged. Community could be restored if only a few simple steps were taken. It would begin with an agreement to move forward as a democracy wherein all tenants have a say and every vote counts.
We lived at Oilseed when it was a thriving community of friends and helpful neighbors. We had weekly potlucks and monthly meetings. We didn’t always agree but we were able to make decisions as a group and more forward. The driveway got graded. We vetoed the wedding and long-term camping in the woods. The guineas were approved and came home to roost.
We remember well the painstaking care with which we crafted a pet policy and the evening we spent deciding what to do with one of our members who was behind in their rent. Better remembered are the laughs, deep discussions and warm hugs. Oilseed once meant music nights, craft nights, bonfires, shared meals, long walks and community projects.
We brought what we learned about community with us when we moved down to the bend. We take turns helping each other. We purchase, own and share community assets. We sit on the porch and discuss ways to build neighborhood resilience. We share projects, meals, bonfires, long walks, laughter, deep discussion and warm hugs. Our lives vibrate with positive energy and purpose. Life is good.
We met the latest horror story with disbelief. The situation had escalated beyond mistrust to outright disregard for personal privacy. It can best be described as a violation of human rights complete with illegal searches and legal threats.
What was once a cooperative community has become a not-so-benevolent dictatorship. As sad as this is, the level of outrageousness has actually given us hope. Hope that the community has bottomed out. That it can’t get any worse. That this time, remedial action will be taken to turn things around.
Or, if no fix can be had, hope that our friends at Oilseed will finally walk away. That they will survive this experience and, despite the bad taste in their mouths they will have the nerve to attempt community living again at some point in the future.