Posts Tagged ‘East Wind’
Community founder and author Kat Kinkade passed away in July at the age of 77. Kinkade was involved in the founding of Twin Oaks, East Wind, and Acorn, and published two memoirs of life at Twin Oaks, A Walden Two Experiment, and Is it Utopia Yet?. Several US newspapers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, published obituaries of Kinkade, highlighting her involvement in the communities movement.
Both articles highlight these accomplishments, as well as Kinkade's move in and out of the communes she helped form. The New York Times wrote of Kinkade's involvement in the early years of Twin Oaks:
It was not easy. The farm's well ran dry, cows starved over the winter and rammed-earth bricks did not generate the kind of revenue that the founders had hoped for. Pot-smoking hippies who drifted into the commune found themselves at odds with work-ethic missionaries like Ms. Kinkade, whose blunt practicality and executive talent - rare qualities in the counterculture - helped the stumbling colony achieve not just self-sufficiency but something resembling prosperity.
"She was the Hillary Clinton of Twin Oaks," her daughter said.
Ultimately, Twin Oaks succeeded, and Kinkade put her energy into founding other communities. The Washington Post wrote:
Unlike thousands of other communes that sprang up in the 1960s only to succumb to the perplexities of shared living, Twin Oaks gradually began to flourish, despite early hardship and dissension. It grew to almost a hundred communards, became a self-sustaining land trust of 450 efficiently managed acres and began to thrive financially when it signed a long-term contract with Pier 1 for its hammocks.
Although she was involved in founding two other income-sharing communities -- in Missouri and Virginia -- she told The Post in 1998 that communal life had not measured up to her expectations.
"My mother was disappointed that Twin Oaks did not turn out to be the model for what the rest of our society would be," said her daughter, Dr. Josie Kinkade of Louisa, Va. "When she found out that it was really just a nice place for some middle-class people to live, she was disappointed."
Although, I suspect that few kitchens in middle-class homes contain a cross-stitch sampler reading, "From each according to their need, to each according to their ability".
Here's an interesting one from Investment News: a very successful financier who says "his best business lessons came from a commune".
Malon Wilkus now manages a $21 billion private-equity firm but he got his start at East Wind, an income sharing commune in southern Missouri.
Returning to the United States and college in 1974, he joined the East Wind commune in Missouri.
"I think my parents were distressed by that," Mr. Wilkus said ruefully. He spent the next nine years at the commune, where he made hammocks, sandals and nut butters that were sold to food co-ops and Pier 1 Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas.
"I learned most of what I know about business today from that experience," Mr. Wilkus said, explaining that he grew to understand the motivation of customers and investors.
In 1983, he left the commune for a job in marketing at the Calvert Group, an asset management firm in Bethesda, where he learned how to gather assets.
Three years later, Mr. Wilkus launched American Capital from the living room of his two-bedroom condo, which he shared with his wife, Susan, and their three children. He got a $75,000 loan from people he had known from his commune days and maxed out his credit cards for an additional $75,000.
Initially, American Capital focused on helping workers at small- and medium-sized companies acquire their employers by using employee stock ownership plans.
In 1997, he took American Capital public as a business development company, offering debt financing or taking equity stakes in buyout situations. Today the company boasts 700 employees with offices in 13 cities around the world.
"We built a private-equity firm that the average American can invest in," Mr. Wilkus said. "We've democratized private equity."
Its not often you hear stories of a former communard turned high-powered capitalist but he is surely not the only one (maybe just the only one willing to admit it).