East Wind was founded on May 1st, 1974 by a small group dedicated to the principles laid out in our bylaws and inspired as such to grow the communities movement. A part of this group had been living at Twin Oaks, which was founded in 1967 in Virginia. Twin Oaks is also a founding member of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC). This pioneer group was motivated by what they had learned about living in community at Twin Oaks and aimed to start a differently structured communal experiment. The 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 and the rest of the group held down city jobs to save money.
The Ozarks was chosen for its attractive land at modest prices. The founders of East Wind learned from their observations of how Twin Oaks operated and sought to create a less rigid governance structure that would suit their needs. All FEC communities have distinct governance structures that attract different types of people that in turn create different cultures. Diversity lends itself to resilience and prosperity and each new community that joins the FEC is unquestionably unique.
East Wind’s Story
When the original founders arrived in the spring of 1974 the land had only an old farmhouse, a barn, two small outbuildings and a well. The community’s population jumped from eleven to over thirty in a small amount of time and construction quickly became an imperative. First, a small showerhouse was built and immediately expanded upon. Then a ten room dormitory dubbed Sunnyside for the street in Boston that the first members lived on. The old farmhouse, called Reim, was used as a sleeping quarters, kitchen and dining space, as well as an office. In 1975 East Wind’s largest dormitory, Fanshen, was built with twenty one rooms. At this point, East Wind’s membership was approaching forty and the facilities provided by Reim were no longer enough to feed such a number. Work began on a new kitchen, dining hall, and lounge area and by 1976 Rockbottom (RB) was completed. RB is a hub of social activities with people commonly hanging out on both floors of the building.
In 1974 East Wind’s first industry began – crafting handmade rope hammocks. Three large tents were erected for hammock weaving, woodwork, and storage. Under these conditions, through the hot sweaty summer and cold winter, the first 6,000 hammocks were produced. In 1976 a 3500 square foot industrial building was built to support an expanding business. This building provided quality space for hammock production and part of it is used to make hammock chairs and Utopian rope sandals today. We also use the space for recreation, commie computers, and our business office.
As membership continued to grow, work began on a third residential building, Annares – by 1978 one dozen bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom were completed. The common area here includes a room with couches and chairs as well as a large community library that anyone is free to browse. The last dorm to be built, Lilliput, was dedicated as the children’s building in 1992 and currently houses many young families.
In 1981, East Wind began what is currently its most lucrative business – the making of high quality nut butters. East Wind Nut Butters provides a high standard of living and resources to allow for other areas to grow. East Wind Nut Butters supplies all natural and organic peanut, almond, and cashew butter as well as tahini to restaurants and retail outlets nationwide. Nut Butters has given East Wind financial security and respect in Ozark County as a local company and large taxpayer.
Currently, East Wind is home to approximately eighty 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 disagree sometimes, but we do so with respect. Living in community is engaging and can be challenging, but we are invigorated by being a part of a radically alternative and constantly changing communal experiment.