Oregon Women's Land Trust
The Oregon Women's Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides land for collective living and community in the vein of lesbian separatism in the state of Oregon. The OWL Trust owns 147 acres of land in Douglas County, referred to as OWL Farm, and their mission statement says the group "is committed to ecologically sound preservation of land, and provides access to land and land wisdom for women." The OWL Trust is managed by a board of women who decide financial and residential matters pertaining to the land.
History[edit | edit source]
The Oregon Women's Land Trust was created in 1975, with the establishment of a farm for women to stay on. The idea for OWL farm came from a WomanShare conference about money and power, and women collectively contributed money to buy the land together, giving anywhere between 25 and 5000 dollars. However there were problems with purchasing the land, as many of the women involved did not have extensive knowledge about buying or owning land and others felt uneasy purchasing land communally. The goal of OWL Farm was to create a place where economically disadvantaged women could stay with other women without the need for permanent residence or invitation. Over time the community reorganized financially into a federally recognized 501(c)(3) organization for tax and ownership purposes. Over 100 women attended the first meeting that took place at OWL Farm.
After the formation of OWL Farm, the OWL Trust faced many issues in collective living, including health issues, theft of "shared" property, and debates over whether or not male children could live on the land. These issues led to the deterioration of the community, and by 1985 there was only one woman living on the property.
In 1987, Ní Aódagaín became caretaker of OWL Farm, and began hosting conferences and other events on the land. By 1992 the OWL Farm was back to having several women living on the land. However problems arose and Aódagaín left in 1995.
Goals[edit | edit source]
The Oregon Women's Land Trust's goals, as defined in their article of incorporation were to provide women with land, to promote women's well-being, to encourage community that was "ecologically harmonious," to preserve the land and its natural resources, and to be a resource for women.
Practices[edit | edit source]
Children[edit | edit source]
The women of the OWL Trust and OWL Farm were often divided on the subject of children. At some points there was only one child on the land, and at others it appears that there may have been several. The group was especially divided on the issues of whether or not children should be raised communally, and whether or not male children should be allowed to live at OWL Farm. By one autobiographical account, there was a time at OWL Farm when children were forcibly removed, possibly because there were no men living on the land.
Polyamory[edit | edit source]
By some accounts the OWL Farm was polyamorous in nature, as exclusive relationships were seen as "possessive" and not overall in the spirit of collective ownership. However, this may have been true at some points and not at others as there were monogamous couples who lived on the land.
Current status[edit | edit source]
As of 2011 there are no permanent residents of OWL Farm. Some of the cabins and structures at OWL Farm have fallen into disrepair or infestation by rodents. Part of the reason for the lack of residents and the general state of OWL Farm may be due to the dearth of jobs in areas surrounding OWL Farm and its location "off the beaten path."
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Sandilands, Catriona (June 2002). "Lesbian Separatist Communities and the Experience of Nature: Toward a Queer Ecology". Organization & Environment. 15 (2): 131–163. doi:10.1177/10826602015002002.
References[edit | edit source]
- Kopp, James J. (2009). Eden Within Eden: Oregon's Utopian Heritage. Oregon State University Press. p. 152. ISBN 9780870714245.
- Love, Barbara J. (2006-09-22). Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975. University of Illinois Press. pp. 274, 391. ISBN 9780252097478.
- "Natural Gas Export Plan Unites Oregon Landowners Against It". NPR.org. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
- Burmeister, Heather Jo, "Rural Revolution: Documenting the Lesbian Land Communities of Southern Oregon" (2013). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1080.
- "Lesbian Intentional Community: "Yer not from around here, are ya?"". Fellowship for Intentional Community. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
- Gorman-Murray, Andrew; Cook, Matt (2017-11-02). Queering the Interior. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 121. ISBN 9781474262224.
- Grossjean, Shelley (2011). A "Womyn’s" Work is Never Done: The Gendered Division of Labor on Lesbian Separatist Lands in Southern Oregon (PDF). Eugene, Oregon.: Ruth Mountaingrove Papers, Coll. 309, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries,.
- Summerhawk, Barbara; Gagehabib, La Verne (2000). Circles of Power: Shifting Dynamics in a Lesbian-centered Community. New Victoria Publishers. ISBN 9781892281135.
- "Ourlands: Culture, gender, and intention in women's land communities in the United States - ProQuest". search.proquest.com. Retrieved 2017-06-13.
- Lee, Pelican. 1985. "Nozama Tribe," in Lesbian Land, Joyce Cheney, ed. Minneapolis, MN: Word Weavers Press. — 2002. Owl Farm Stories. West Wind, P.O. Box 304, Ribera NM 87560.
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