1992 April 1

What Might Have Been

Topics

Besides the morass of degenerating house plans, many of us were now facing actual graduation from college. Being so rudely thrust into full-fledged adult life was pretty much the final nail in the coffin of the Blackwood commune.

I’d like to finish this reminiscence with a look at what life in the commune might have been like. We all knew that establishing rules up front was crucial to ensuring domestic tranquility, so we drafted a contract that all prospective members would agree to. Sadly, only the first three pages of this historic document now survive. I can’t remember if we never finished, or if the remaining pages were just lost.

                        HOUSE CONTRACT

I. The Community. Membership.

    The Community is the body of persons inhabiting the House on
a permanent basis. The Community will consist of members and
dependents. Any others living in the House are guests (see I.G
below).

     A. Members of the Community to date are:

     James Purnell Davenport, Jr.
     Elliot Thomas Grant
     Peter Acton Hammond
     John Parker Manwell III
     Matthew James Shibla
     Sheila Kent Smith
     Katherine Irene Sullivan
     Jon Claude Thomason

     B. The only way to become a member is by a unanimous vote
     of acceptance by all existing members.

          1. Any member may nominate any non-member for
          membership.

               a. If a consensus vote of all members agrees to
               the nomination, the prospective member (or
               candidate) will become a member immediately upon
               fulfilling the obligations of article I.B.4.
               b. If a consensus vote denies membership, that's it.
               c· Alternatively, the candidate will be allowed
               to live in the house as a guest for a grace
               period of one week. At the end of the grace
               period, all members must reach a unanimous
               decisian whether to accept the candidate as a
               member, deny membership to the candidate, or
               extend the grace period (exact length to be
               determined by consensus). If the grace period is
               extended, the same decision must be made at the
               end of the new period specified.

          2. Any non-member who is or will be the spouse of a
          member (or common-law partner) is a candidate for
          membership.

               a. If the candidate is accepted, the couple is
               entitled to inhabit a double bedroom in the House.
               If one is available, the couple may take
               possession immediately. If not, the Community is
               under obligation to make one available (whether by
               remodeling, addition, or internal moving).

                    i. If the marriage or partnership
                    subsequently dissolves and the ex-spouses
                    agree to continue living in the House, each
                    is entitled to a single bedroom.

                         a'. If both ex-spouses agree, one may
                         retain possession of the double bedroom
                         (unless a couple of members are waiting
                         for a double). If they cannot agree on
                         who will retain the double, both must
                         move to singles.

                    ii. If the marriage or partnership
                    subsequently dissolves and the ex-spouses
                    cannot agree to continue living in the House, all
                    members must reach a consensus decision on which or
                    both leave. Whoever leaves forfeits his/her membership
                    entirely and unconditionally.

                        a'. If all members feel that the House
                        fund (q.v.) will allow it, a
                        contribution will be made to the
                        departing individual(s) to enable them
                        to begin a life outside the community.

          3. Any candidate denied membership may not be re-
          nominated for a period of one year.

          4. Any candidate accepted as a member must, if able,
          make a contribution to either the House fund (q.v.) or
          a departing member.

               a. Ability to contribute shall be determined by
               the existing members, as will the amount of the
               contribution (said amount shall not exceed a
               percentage of the House construction and
               maintenance costs equal to the percentage of the
               candidate's potential ownership).

               b. The contribution may be paid over a period of
               time (length to be determined by concensus vote of
               all members). The original amount of contribution
               will not increase from interest, inflation, or
               other adjustment.

     C. A member is entitled to a single bedroom to him/herself
     or a double bedroom to be shared with the partner of her/his
     choice (subject to I.B.1-2 above and I.G below).

     D. Any member may choose to leave the community at any
     time.

          1. A member who chooses to leave the community
          permanently forfeits her/his membership entirely and
          unconditionally. Any money spent towards House
          construction and maintenance is likewise forfeited.

               a. If all members feel that the House fund (q.v.)
               will allow it, a contribution will be made to the
               departing individual to enable him/her to begin a
               life outside the community.

               b. Should that individual wish at any future time
               to become a member again, he/she will be treated
               as any other prospective member (see I.B.1-2).

                   i. Upon reacceptance, the individual must
                   return any contribution reeceived at his/her
                   departure.

          2. A member who wishes to leave the community
          temporarily for a period of fqur months or more must
          receive approval from all other members.

          a. During the member's absence, she/he must
          continue to meet all financial obligations of
          membership. Failure to do so will result in a
          loss of membership.

     E. Should a member, by his behavior or temperment, prove
     impossible to live with, a concensus vote by all other
     members can strip him/her of membership.

          1. If all members feel that the House fund (q.v.) will
          allow it, a contribution will be made to the departing
          individual to enable him/her to begin a life outside
          the community. As with voluntary departure, all money
          spent towards House construction and maintenance is
          forfeited.
    F. Individuals who are younger than 18 years and/or do not
    share the Community's financial obligations are dependents.

    G . Any individual living in the house and not belonging to
    the Community is a guest.

II. Responsibilities.

     Each member must make available towards construction
(including purchase of land, equipment, labor, legal fees, etc.,
up until the the community