Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Validation Day

When I talk about Twin Oaks Community, I still say 'we'. A part of me is still there I think. I still have dear friends still living at Twin Oaks. I talk about life there because communal living is rich in lessons on how to live more sustainably, the importance of art and activism in daily life and sharing resources. I have given many talks on Twin Oaks and workshops on Creating Healthy Culture, and one of the stories I find myself telling over and over again, is about the culture at Twin Oaks. One overt hijacking of popular culture at Twin Oaks is Validation Day. 
Tomorrow (in the Southern Hemisphere) is February 14th, Valentines Day. At Twin Oaks, it's Validation Day. 
A few weeks ago communards signed up to make cards for each other. These are no ordinary cards. They are works of art, many pages long. The cards sit in a box in Zhankoye, the main kitchen/dining/living room building, and people take time to write messages of validation in each one. The idea is that even if two people have been clashing over business decisions or personal issues they can still access things they value about the other person. Life is busy and lived full-tilt at Twin Oaks, I reckon one year in the commune is worth three in the outside world, and it is easy to let the months and years roll by without stopping to reflect and really appreciate fellow communards. Even those you share a house with. 

Tomorrow night there will be a glorious feast and after everyone has eaten and gathered in the main dining room an MC will read excerpts out of Validation Day cards and the crowd makes wild guesses about whose card it is. Then the recipient goes up to collect their card. It's touching and fun and is the perfect lead up to the Validation Day party later that night. Folks get dressed up, the kissing booth may make an appearance, there is a dating game for those who want to be involved. Wild dancing ensues. Quite possibly to an in-house band. There are about 100 people resident at Twin Oaks, plus visitors and various ex-members stopping by so it's no small thing. 

I have one surviving Validation Day card and it's one of my most treasured possessions. I pulled it out this week and realised it's the best of antidotes to impostor syndrome. It made me miss my tribe there. And the land. I look forward to taking my boy one day. I'm not into the commercialism of Valentine's Day but I miss Validation Day. 

Also, an aside - Two of the most amazing people I know were born on February 14th. Happy Birthday Tobias and Willow! 


  1. How nice to read about "us" and our rituals. So happy to hear that you are still connected with Twin Oaks even half a world away. Here is another blog post on Validation Day and designing your own holidays. https://funologist.org/2011/02/14/recrafting-holidays/

  2. Anissa......so much time goes by, then I find some time to have a binge read of your blog. It's so wonderful because I feel like I'm hanging out with you again! I thought I would let you know that my beautiful twins were also born on Feb 14th!
    Hope we get to sit in the sun with a hot tea one day soon.
    Love and miss you two, love Em (aka Pups) xx