East Wind History

In 1948, Dr. B.F. Skinner, founder of a school of psychology based on a scientific analysis of human behavior, wrote a book entitled Walden Two. This book represented Dr. Skinner’s perception of how a society could be structured to solve many of our modern social problems. He believed that the effect of the environment on human behavior was paramount. He considered it necessary to plan and implement an intentional approach to the development of living centers in order to create the best environment for human interaction. He concentrated on structuring the environment so as to promote and reinforce behavior contributing to the well-being of society while minimizing punitive control, suppression, anxiety, and waste.

His vision of society called for a major movement away from current urban-rural dichotomies. He saw that if groups of 200 to 2,000 people founded communities in rural areas and developed their own agriculture and industries, they could create an environment in which the science of human behavior could be successfully applied. The societies would be capable of careful planning and would be responsive to the desires of their citizens. Together, hundreds of these communities could form the necessary foundation for a new economic, social, and ecological order. The complicated interdependencies of rural and urban areas would no longer exist. The communities would be, to a great extent, self-sufficient and independent. When interdependence did occur it would generally be between a network of communities in regional proximity. The communities would, in addition, be responsible for the health of the natural environment in which they were located.

Dr. Skinner's book Walden Two is about a fictional community that serves as an example of these ideals. In 1967, two small groups, one located in Washington D.C., and one in Atlanta, GA, came together and formed what was to be the first attempt at starting a 'Walden Two' community--Twin Oaks. Twin Oaks was one of the first communities to be established in the 60's. It is doing very well today, and is a fellow member of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. It was followed by many hundreds more in the last troubled years of that decade. Most of these communities were not, like Twin Oaks, inspired by Skinner's novel. Many were centered around some combination of the emerging influences of the decade, including self-actualization, non-consumerism, spirituality, sexual freedom, and self-sufficiency. Many of them failed, though many still exist in the U.S. and around the world today. Those that failed tried to tackle too many problems, too fast, with too little experience, organization, and resources.

In 1972, North Mountain Community was established several hours distance from Twin Oaks. This was the first of many communities to start with either direct help or inspiration from Twin Oaks. North Mountain and Springtree Community in Virginia, Aloe Community in North Carolina, and Dandelion Community in Ontario, Canada all grew out of conferences held at Twin Oaks. Los Horcones Community in Sonora, Mexico was much inspired by publications from Twin Oaks, such as Leaves of Twin Oaks and Communities Magazine. East Wind community was started in a different manner, by a contingent of Twin Oakers devoted to expanding the community movement.

They were motivated by the fact that Twin Oaks, due to space limitations, had been turning away many people who wished to join. This small contingent picked up more members in Vermont and later in Massachusetts, and settled on two different farms which they hoped to make into the new community's base. Neither of these arrangements proved suitable, and it was necessary for the group to move to Boston in order to earn money to purchase property. A scout was sent to find land, while most of the group held down city jobs. The Ozarks was chosen for its attractive land at modest prices, and we moved to our permanent location on May 1, 1974.

Our Story

When we arrived in the spring of 1974, all that we had was an old farmhouse, a barn, two small outbuildings, and a well. Our population jumped from 11 to over 30, so construction became imperative. We started by building a small showerhouse, which was since then expanded, and then replaced. Then we built a ten room dorm called Sunnyside, named for the street in Boston that our first members lived on. We had been using the old farmhouse, called Reim, as sleeping quarters, kitchen and dining space, as well as an office. In 1975 we completed a 21 room residence named Fanshen. At this point, our population was closing in on 40, and the facilities provided by Reim were no longer enough to feed such a number. We began work on a new kitchen/dining/lounge area. In 1976, Rockbottom was completed. We use the downstairs for cooking, eating, and hanging around, and the upstairs is used as a game room. Rockbottom is still a focal point of many of our social activities. In 1974 we started our first industry – the making of rope hammocks. We erected three large tents for hammock weaving, woodwork, and storage. Here we produced our first 6,000 hammocks. The winters were freezing, the summers hot and bug infested, so in 1976 we completed a 3500 square foot industrial building. This building provided quality space for hammock production, and later was used to make hammock chairs and Utopian rope sandals. We currently use the space for some of our recreation equipment, our community computer areas, and nut butter administration offices.

As our population continued to grow, we began work on a third residential building, Annares – by 1978 we had completed the dozen bedrooms, then outfitted a kitchen and bathroom. The common area here includes a TV and gaming consoles, as well as a large and well stocked community library. Our final dorm, Lilliput, was dedicated as the children’s building in 1992, and currently houses three rambunctious boys and their tired but happy parents.

In 1981, East Wind began its newest and most lucrative business – the making of high quality nut butters. The business has provided East Wind with a higher standard of living, and resources for experimentation in the garden, ranch, and other areas. East Wind Nut Butters supplies all natural and organic peanut, almond, and cashew butter as well as tahini to restaurants and retail outlets nationwide. We are very proud of our business.

Currently, East Wind is home to approximately 80 people living, working, and playing in relative comfort and harmony. We are a diverse group brought together by a common ideal; that we are all equal. We struggle with many of the same issues everyone faces. We may argue and we often disagree, but we do so with respect. East Wind may not be utopia yet, but we’re getting closer.