The commune almost missed the yearly CEOC Convocation. It turned out that this year’s convocation was being held at the Southern Breeze community which was located deep in the Old Dark Mountains. And it was being held only a few weeks after they filled out the CEOC application.
The commune decided to send Sal--and Dan. Fortunately now that the maintenance and renovation crew had Sowbug and Dandelion on it, Dan and Sal weren’t so needed for that work. And Cat seemed to have the produce stand under control--with lots of help from Blue Sky and Paul G.
The two communards were able to take a bunch of BeigeDog buses from the terminal in the state capitol (just a block away from the Statewide Bookstore) all the way down to a small town in the Old Dark Mountains where they were picked up by one of Southern Breeze’s rickety old minivans.
Southern Breeze was far down along a long county road, quite a distance from the nearest town or noncommunity home. The place, with almost seventy commune members, was nestled in the mountains on more than thousand acres of land. They were famous for their tasty fruit butters and rope belts.
The land was wooded and quite lush. Sal and Dan could see nothing but green stuff growing everywhere.
“Oh my, look at this place,” said Sal. “It makes our commune--or even Old Corn--look positively urban.”
“Welcome, welcome,” said a young man with a long brown beard and bright blue beads. He hugged each of them. “I’m Onion. You must be the folks from the new commune.”
“Yes, we are,” Sal said. “I’m Sal and this is Dan and, wow, this place is incredible.”
“Would you like a tour?” Onion asked.
“Oh, yes,” said Dan.
“Over here,” Onion said, pointing, “you can see some of our residences which accommodate anywhere from five to twenty-five people. We also are the only commune to have personal isolation shelters. There’s a couple of them over there. And that building over there is the Dark House, which is the guest building that you’ll be staying in.”
Onion walked Dan and Sal into the building and showed them where to put their stuff before continuing the tour.
“That building there is our main dining hall. We call it ‘Stone Bum’. And our business area is over there. There’s a few more buildings up over there, but that’s about it for the tour. Any questions?”
“When is the actual Convocation?” Sal asked. “Will you be part of it?”
“The Convocation starts tomorrow,” Onion answered. “Folks from the various communes are arriving today. I’m just the greeter for Southern Breeze. Our delegates are Fuzzy and Owl. And there’s Fuzzy over there with UniqueWay from DirtPile Farm.”
“Yeah,” said Sal. “And there’s two folks I know--Beechpest and Texas.”
“Are they from Old Corn?” Dan asked.
“Beechpest is,” Sal said. “Texas is from a new community starting up near Old Corn and Three Sycamores called Dead Battery Farm. They’re trying to create an energy free community.”
Pretty soon a small swarm of communards gathered, with Beechpest and Texas hugging Sal and being introduced to Dan, and Fuzzy and UniqueWay being introduced to both Sal and Dan. In the midst of this, the Lyon King from Three Sycamores arrived with Alice from The Trash Heap and Ralph from The Holly Near Elementary School and a very energetic guy named Ruckus who said he was with a project called Mark Z, which seemed to have something to do with starting communes in Los Angeles.
DInner that night was a very anarchist affair with lots of folks from Southern Breeze (including the wise and mysterious Owl) eating, drinking, talking, arguing, flirting, and planning with the CEOC delegates. Sal and Dan did not get to bed until very late that night. Fortunately, the first meeting of the Convocation didn’t start until noon the next day.
The first meeting was a bit confusing for Dan. The communards discussed whether they wanted to meet more than once a year and why or why not, whether they should fund a newsletter that they weren’t publishing, whether people were actually living at Dead Battery Farm, and who Ruckus was sleeping with and why.
At the end of the meeting they flip charted all the agreements, which were that the Convocation would continue to meet once a year and that they’d check back next year and see if that was working, that they would try to actually publish the newsletter that they were funding, and that there didn’t seem to be anybody actually living at Dead Battery Farm and so it would remain in the Commune Worth Talking With status. They decided not to take any action on who Ruckus was sleeping with, but they would check in with him next year to see who he was sleeping with then.
After that everyone broke for lunch.
Then, after lunch, Sal and Dan got to present the commune to the CEOC.
“So, how do you organize your income sharing?” asked the Lyon King.
“We don’t have that much income to share,” Sal said. “Farming doesn’t make us a lot of money.”
“Everyone gets an allowance of twenty-dollars a week,” Dan said.
“Wow,” said Fuzzy. “We only get fifteen.”
“Yeah,” said Owl. “But there’s a lot less around here to spend it on.”
“What does your commune bring to the CEOC?” asked Alice, who was the CEOC’s CEO.
“Well, first of all, we are the only commune in the northeast,” said Sal.
“Also, we’ve got a cookbook,” Dan added.
“Hey, “ Beechpest said, “We should have a CEOC cookbook.”
“I’ll make a note of that,” said Alice.
The question and answer session only lasted an hour and a half but it felt like longer to Dan and Sal. The rest of the afternoon was spent on a proposal from Ruckus that the CEOC help fund a new Mark Z project to create communes in San Diego.
“But you haven’t even started one in Los Angeles or San Francisco yet,” said Ralph.
“It’s only a matter of time,” Ruckus said.
Sal and Dan were asked not to attend the next day’s sessions which were supposed to focus on CEOC internal business. One of the items to be discussed was their proposal to be part of the CEOC.
Instead, the two of them helped out at the fruit butter making factory, learning how to make apple butters and raspberry butters.
Finally, on the final day, Sal and Dan were invited to the final session. One of the first things on the agenda was their commune.
“We’ve decided to make you a Commune Worth Talking With,” Alice said, “contingent on a site visit by someone from a CEOC commune to make sure that you really are a commune.”
“But we’ve had several people from Old Corn visit us,” Sal said. “In fact, I’m from Old Corn.”
“Yes,” the Lyon King said. “But those weren’t official visits.”
“Hey, Sal,” Beechpest said. “I’ll make an official visit to your commune soon.”
There were a bunch of other things on the agenda, including making sure Ruckus kept track of everyone he was sleeping with and the folks at Dead Battery Farm pay attention to whether anyone was living there or not.
Time flew by and soon enough the convocation was over and Dan and Sal were hugging everyone goodbye, getting a ride into town, and taking a whole bunch of buses north, all the way back to the commune.